(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £258,525, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
said, that it was his painful duty to bring before the Committee a subject which had become one of the standing questions of this and previous Parliaments. In fact, he was beginning to 1499 look on the question of National Education in Ireland not only as a standing question, but as a standing joke. But as one Chief Secretary for Ireland after another had trifled with the question, he must at the same time say that it was no joke to the National School teachers in Ireland. Neither was it any joke to the Irish Members of Parliament, who had to bring forward the subject year after year—and sometimes even more than once a year—reiterating the same demands time after time, and bringing forward the same arguments in support of them. Neither was it any joke for the Chairman of Committees to listen to statements which must have become wearying to him, as they had become wearying to the Committee from constant repetition. It was, nevertheless, their duty, and, disagreeable as it was, they had to perform it. In doing so to-day he should bring before the Committee, and before the Chief Secretary, the case of the National School teachers of Ireland as briefly as he could; and he thought the strongest argument he could use, and the beat possible way in which he could introduce it, was to place before the Committee and the Chief Secretary the promises which had been made to the Irish Members on behalf of the National School teachers in the past, and the very little that had been done to fulfil those promises. In the year 1878 a Resolution was passed by the House of Commons unanimously, and in a full House, declaring that—The National School Teachers Act of 1875 and other means adopted by the Government having failed to satisfy the just demands of the Irish teachers, this House is of opinion that the position of the Irish National School teachers calls for the immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government, with a view to the satisfactory adjustment of their claims.That Resolution having been passed unanimously, some little was done, which he would state by-and-bye. In continuation of the promise the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan), when Chief Secretary, stated that he was strongly impressed with the representations which had been made to him by a deputation from the National School teachers who waited upon him, and thought that immediate action ought to be taken by the Government, if possible, to increase the teachers' salaries. The right hon. Gentleman added that he 1500 fully recognized the pledges which had been given by the Government. In 1883 a further recognition of the pledges given by the Government was made, and the right hon. Gentleman said that he would be extremely glad to introduce a measure. That was promise No. 2, and he came next to promise No. 3, which was made on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary. It was at a time when he (Mr. John O'Connor) had brought the question under the consideration of a Committee, and the right hon. Gentleman happened to be out of the House. His place, however, was taken by Mr. Holmes, who was then Attorney General for Ireland and now a Judge; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in reply to a Motion made in Committee by the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Tuite), used these words—I can assure the hon. Member that my right hon. Friend has been working assiduously for some time in certain matters, in fulfilment of his promise to look into this subject.The Attorney General, speaking on behalf of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith), said that—The right hon. Gentleman had left the result of his work to his successor, the present Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.Under these circumstances, he wished to know what the Chief Secretary had done from that day to this in fulfilment of that promise? Had he searched the pigeon-holes of Dublin Castle? Had he looked into the charnel house for the dry bones of some skeleton Bill suggested or thought out by his Predecessor in Office? If the right hon. Gentleman had done so, the Committee would be glad to hear that day what the nature of the measure was, or if he had any intention whatever of giving effect to the promise made on his behalf by a responsible Law Officer of the Crown. He should like to know what the nature of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal was, and if it were such as to satisfy the demands of the National School teachers of Ireland, he would receive from the Irish Members every facility in passing the measure, and every assistance in rendering it a complete and final measure. He (Mr. John O'Connor) proposed now to point out the various grievances of the National School teachers of Ireland; 1501 but first and foremost he might inform the Committee what little had been done in fulfilment of the various promises which had been made to the teachers since the Resolution to which he had referred was passed unanimously by the House of Commons in 1878. A sum of money had been granted—namely, £44,000, and it was to be divided among the school teachers of Ireland in proportion to their salaries, but it was contingent on their paying out of their salaries a sum of £12,000 towards the establishment of a pension fund. Consequently, the £44,000 which was given on one hand was, to a very large extent, taken away on the other, because the teachers were required to contribute to the establishment of this fund. That was one loss to the National School teachers, but they suffered a greater loss than that, because a great deal of their salaries depended on the payment of fees by results. After the Act of 1875 came into operation, a considerable number of the Boards of Guardians in Ireland made their unions contributory, but after the Act had been in operation for a few years the contributions of the unions fell off until, in the very short time, no less than £5,000 was lost. Adding this £5,000 to the £12,000 the teachers were obliged to contribute for the establishment of a pension fund, it would be found that £17,000 out of the £44,000 was taken away. As time went on, the contributions of the unions continued to fall off; the school fees became less and less every year, so that the position of the school teachers became worse and worse, and a more crying evil every day. There was another reason why, in regard to the result fees, the position of the National School teachers was becoming gradually worse, and their stipends becoming beautifully less every day. He referred to the chronic state of agricultural distress and depression in Ireland. Up to 1878, the position of the National School teachers was tolerably good, as compared with their position from that time to the present, because, owing to the diminished profits of the people engaged in agriculture—farmers and labourers—they had not been able to send their children to school as regularly as formerly. Therefore the payment by school fees and by results had been diminished in a very great degree, so that the position of the Irish National 1502 School teachers was, at the present moment, very much worse than it had been at any time since the passing of the Act of 1875. Even at the best of times, the National School teachers of Ireland were paid upon a much lower scale than the National School teachers of this country, although the results of their labours would compare favourably with those of the labours of the National School teachers of England, Scotland, and Wales. The average payment of an Irish teacher was about one-half of what it was in England, Scotland, and Wales, although the result obtained by their labours was absolutely greater. He would ask the Committee to listen to a few figures which he would quote in order to prove this statement. The average salary of teachers in England was, for males, £120 19s. 2d., and for females £73 15s. 9d; the corresponding figures in Scotland were £135 1s. 4d. for males and £64 13s. 11d. for females, while it would appear, from a Return issued in August, 1881, authenticated by the signature of Dr. Newell, the Secretary of the National Board of Education in Ireland, that the average salary of male teachers in that country was £57 9s. That was in 1881, and, as he had stated, the condition of the National School teachers of Ireland had since been becoming worse every day, so that the figure of £57 9s. which represented the average pay of the school teachers in that year was more than the average at the present moment. He maintained that that was a state of things which ought not to be allowed to exist, particularly when they had regard to the result of the labours of the teachers. Notwithstanding the many disadvantages that the Irish National School teachers laboured under, the following table would show that the result of their labours compared most favourably with those of teachers in the same class in the rest of the United Kingdom. The pupils in Ireland in 1885 obtained the following results:—For reading, 93.4, whereas in England and Wales it was 91.9 and in Scotland 92.6; writing, Ireland, 95.8; England and Wales, 83.8, or 12 per cent less; and in Scotland, 91.5; arithmetic in Ireland, 80.7; England and Wales, 79.7; and Scotland 87.5; and it would, therefore, be seen that only in the one particular of arithmetic was Scotland ahead of Ireland, and so far as 1503 every other subject was concerned in the important items of school examination in the primary schools of the Three Kingdoms, Ireland occupied a superior position, in point of results, to England, Wales, and Scotland. Although this satisfactory position had been obtained by the result of the labours of the Irish National School teachers, they received only one-half of the remuneration that people of the same class received in England and Scotland. He maintained that this was a monstrous injustice, that it was a wrong they had for years asked Parliament to rectify, and that Chief Secretary after Chief Secretary had promised to rectify it. Nevertheless it still remained a crying grievance, and compelled the Irish Members year after year to occupy the attention of Parliament in order to enforce the just claims of these unfortunate persons. But this was not the only respect in which he desired to see the condition of the Irish National School teachers improved. He also desired to see them provided with proper residences attached to the schools. He thought he was appealing to the sympathetic feelings of hon. Members when he advocated the necessity of providing residences near the schools for the teachers. In Ireland they expected that the teachers of the National Schools, or of any schools whatever, to have respectable houses to live in. They were persons of some culture, and they ought not to be condemned to dwell in houses that were devoid of all comfort and everything necessary to satisfy the requirements of men pursuing an important and arduous vocation. As a matter of fact, as they were now circumstanced, many of the Irish teachers had to go many miles before they could obtain a respectable house to dwell in. Consequently, they had a long journey to the school, and a long journey home again, and they all knew that teaching was a very fatiguing operation. When a man was called upon to impart knowledge to children at school, it was necessary that he should be in the possession of all his best faculties. But a man who had to walk many miles to the scene of his labours, and arrived there fatigued, with all his energies dull and weakened by his long walk, was not in as fit a condition to perform a day's teaching and to get through the enervating work of imparting knowledge as if he dwelt 1504 on the spot and could go to his work fresh and with unimpaired energies. He had, at various times, urged on the Government the importance of providing facilities for the acquisition of sites in order to build these residences, and he had urged the necessity of increasing the facilities for obtaining advances of money on easy terms in regard to the payment of the principal and interest; but all to no purpose, for nothing had been done in this respect, although it was a very serious question to the National School teachers, and one that pressed for a settlement almost as much as the other. Upon this point of residence, he had said that he thought he should appeal to a sympathetic audience when he pointed out the necessity of bringing unimpaired energies to bear on the work of school teaching. Hon. Members of that House knew that if in the early part of the day they indulged in long walks, or took violent exercise, such as hunting, they were totally unfitted for the discharge of their Parliamentary duties in the evening. It was a well-known fact that business men, who spent their time in the City attending to commercial transactions in the day time, were not the most active men in the House of Commons in the course of the evening. They might be seen lolling on the Benches asleep while important speeches were being delivered, and they were able, therefore, to apply their own experience to the condition of the National School teacher of Ireland, who had to travel five or six miles to the scene of his work, and would sympathize with his demand that such a state of things should be put an end to. He thought that residences for the school teachers ought to be built as rapidly as possible, and that they should be erected near the school house, in order that they might not only discharge their duty to the public, but to the children they educated and to themselves. He trusted that that argument would have some effect upon the Committee when they came to give a decision upon the question, and also upon the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who was responsible for the government of Ireland. With regard to the question of residences, he had to say that, sincet he passing of the Act of 1875, there were in the 10 years 1505 ending with the 31st of December, 1885, 500 residences built under the Act, and, at that rate of progress, it would take about 120 years to supply the wants of the teachers who now required residences, and not less than 150 years if they were to make provision for the increased number of teachers that were required. It might be a good thing for the National School teachers who were living 120 years hence to find themselves in the possession of good houses, but for the teachers who were living now it was a very poor look-out. He desired to impress upon the Chief Secretary and the Government the necessity of remedying this state of things. There was another matter which he also wished to bring under the notice of the Committee—namely, the question of pensions. The chief ground of complaint in regard to the pensions was the very advanced age at which a teacher could retire in order to become entitled to one. The age of retirement was 65 for males and 60 for females. Teachers who were unable to discharge their duties until they attained those ages, were compelled to retire upon such a reduced pension that they found themselves practically without a provision for their declining years. What was demanded in this respect was that the age of retirement should be lessened, and also that, if from ill-health, after many years' service, a teacher was compelled to retire at an earlier age, he should be awarded a pension in proportion to the number of years he had served. These were the principal points that they wished to receive satisfaction upon. They were the heads under which the Irish National School teachers desired to have their case brought before the Committee for consideration. He asserted boldly that they had strong claims upon the House and upon the country. Not only by reason of the justice of their demands, but also on account of the promises which had been made to them, or to the Irish Members on their behalf, by successive Governments and by successive Chief Secretaries. Thirteen years had now elapsed since 1875. The justice of their demand had been fully acknowledged, yet nothing had been done to give effect to the promises which had been made to them. Their condition, instead of having been improved, had become worse; but, nevertheless, 1506 under the most disadvantageous circumstances, the result of the labours of the Irish National School teachers would bear favourable comparison with that of the labours of a similar class in any other part of the country. On these grounds the Irish Members felt themselves justified in again inflicting upon the Committee the grievances of this deserving and much-injured class of the community. Abundant promises had been made to them, but a body of men could not exist upon promises any more than an individual. With them it was a case of "live, horse, until you can get grass." They had been dragging on a living for a long time, but the grass was not yet forthcoming. He hoped this would be the last time there would be any necessity for urging the claims of the National School Teachers upon the attention either of the present Chief Secretary or any of his Predecessors, and he pressed the right hon. Gentleman to state candidly what he had done since the early part of last year, when the Attorney General for Ireland, now Judge Holmes, made a promise to look into the case of this most deserving body of men. He should expect the right hon. Gentleman to state to-day what he had done to unearth the scheme which, according to Judge Holmes, his Predecessor was preparing, and what steps he had taken in order to give effect to that scheme. His Predecessor in Office was practically bound by the pledge he had given to the National School Teachers. It was he who passed the Act of 1875, and who had twice promised the National School teachers that their case should be considered and their claims conceded. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had inherited these promises, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to take them up and give effect to them. He was as much bound by them as the right hon. Member for Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) himself. He trusted they would not be put off again with any side issue whatever. When the present Chief Secretary dealt with the question before, his reply was most disheartening to every man who took an interest in the question. The right hon. Gentleman simply tried, by riding off on a side issue, to get rid of the question. He endeavoured to point out that the 1507 Irish National School teachers after all were not in such a very bad position, and that a great deal had been done for them. He utterly ignored the promises which had been made to look into the case of these unfortunate persons; but he trusted that they would receive to-day a more honest and straightforward statement. If the word "honest" was out of Order he would withdraw it, but at any rate he hoped that on this occasion they would have from the right hon. Gentleman a more straightforward recognition of the teachers' claims and a full inquiry into their grievances. He certainly trusted that no attempt would be made to postpone the consideration of the case, or to throw dust into the eyes of the Committee by shirking the real question. For his own sake the Chief Secretary ought to recognize the demands of the National School teachers, and make an effort to redeem the promises that were made on his behalf by Attorney General Holmes. It was quite time that the question was settled once for all, and removed from the Floor of the House. At present the Irish Members were compelled to bring the matter before the Committee of Supply year after year, and to occupy time which might be otherwise engaged.
§ MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)
said, that before the Chief Secretary replied to the remarks of the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. John O'Connor), he wished to put a few questions to him on matters connected with popular education in Ireland. He had a lively recollection of the speech which was made by the right hon. Gentleman last year. It was a speech which created a great deal of unpleasant feeling in Ireland, and a good deal of dissatisfaction; but he had no wish to add to the friction which existed by any remarks of his. He wished to approach the question solely in the interests of a class of men who were deserving of every sympathy and indulgence. In the first place he would suggest that in a Vote of so much importance, dealing with a sum of money approaching £1,000,000, it would be well for the Chief Secretary to imitate the example of the Vice President of the Council (Sir William Hart Dyke) when he introduced the English Education Estimates, and gave a succinct account of the progress of popular 1508 Education in Ireland. Such a statement might have the effect of arousing their sympathies in favour of what was being done, but at present, when they came to discuss the Irish Estimates, they were more or less creeping in the dark. If hon. Members wished to get at the character of the work done in Ireland, they had to journey all over the country in order to obtain an accurate idea of it. Last year he had combined with other duties a short tour through some of the remote districts of Ireland, in order to understand the progress which popular Education was making in the country, and the conclusion he arrived at was that the Government Inspectors must be blind to the unsatisfactory condition in which some of the schools in the West of Ireland were. After some investigation he had felt it his duty to move for a Return of some of the schools of the worst character—schools built in grave-yards, sand-pits, gravel-pits, quarry-holes, and other unsuitable sites; also of schools that had clay floors, thatched roofs, imperfectly ventilated, and without sanitary accommodation. That was one of the questions which he thought might very well engage the attention of Parliament, seeing how desirable it was that accurate information should be in the hands of hon. Members in order to enable them to know exactly what the condition of Ireland was. He was willing to admit that some progress was being made, and at Carrick-on-Shannon—a very poor neighbourhood—and in other parts of his own constituency, there were schools of a most satisfactory character. If hon. Members who interested themselves in public Education would visit Ireland, and see the schools in many localities, they would find that many of the scholars had to walk to them a distance of several miles, bare-footed; that they then had to remain in attendance for five or six hours in a building badly sheltered from the inclemency of the weather, badly roofed, and with a clay floor. Surely this kind of thing was sufficient to arouse the indignation of every man who had the slightest sympathy for the welfare of the people. In the investigation which he had conducted there were other features presented to his mind, and he desired to put one or two questions in regard to them. For instance, he wished to know the number of teachers who had not yet 1509 received residences, the distances such teachers had to walk to and from the schools, and whether the want of residences was owing to the persistent refusal of the landlords to give sites for their erection. He did not propose to discuss the whole of the grievances of the teachers at length, after the speech which had been made by his hon. Friend, but he was satisfied that general education in Ireland received no sort of encouragement. They never heard in Ireland of any Commission going down to Cork, Dublin, Belfast or any of the large cities in order to encourage education and award prizes. A cut and dried plan was pursued, and for the results that were obtained no credit was due to those who might be supposed to take an interest in popular Education. No encouragement was given either to the scholar or to the teacher, but a hard and fast line was drawn in the examinations as to the subjects they were required to go through. So far as the teachers were concerned, he believed they were only visited by the Inspectors at their annual visitation. And when the Representatives of Ireland got up in the House of Commons, as a matter of public duty, to expose the grievances under which both the children and the teachers laboured, it had been their unfortunate fate to meet with very scant sympathy indeed. He wished to see this state of things altered in some degree. It would be balm to his soul if he thought that any labour of his would encourage the Commissioners or the Authorities in this country to use their influence in obtaining better school buildings for the children, with more cheerful rooms and better apparatus. If the landlords refused to grant sites, they should be obtained from them compulsorily. He would even desire that popular sympathy should be directed towards the children in the first instance, because he was satisfied that that sympathy would soon be developed and that the teachers would then come in for a share of it. In Ireland there were less than 5,000,000 people; in England there were 30,000,000, and in Scotland 3,000,000. But while Ireland received less than £1,000,000 for the instruction of more than 1,000,000 children, or less than £1 per head, England, with 4,000,000 of children at school, and with a large and wealthy middle-class population who paid, to a large extent, for 1510 the education of their own children—although some of them found their way into the board schools; and while the upper classes were glad to lay out a tremendous sum for the education of their children, because they looked forward to their becoming, one day or other, the rulers of the country—while there were a less number of the children of the poorer classes going to the public elementary schools than in Ireland—nevertheless, the Government were willing to spend no less than £4,000,000 against the £750,000 spent in Ireland and the £500,000 spent in Scotland. In Ireland twice as much money was spent on the police as was spent upon public Education. One-and-a-half million of money was spent on the pay of the police, and only £750,000 for popular Education—a fact which he thought need only be announced to stigmatize the system of Government which prevailed in Ireland. But although this enormous sum was paid in order to maintain the Royal Irish Constabulary for the government of under 5,000,000 of people, only £20,000 was paid in Scotland for the government of 3,000,000, and only £200,000 went from the Consolidated Fund towards police purposes in England, with a population of 30,000,000. He had stated these facts before, both in that House and at public meetings, and he only repeated them for the purpose of showing how the people were ground down in the matter of government in Ireland. What they should do was simply to reverse the position and give £1,500,000 for public Education, leaving £750,000 only for police protection. He was satisfied that the result would well pay them for the alteration. All these facts would naturally present themselves to anyone who took the trouble to go over to Ireland and investigate the question of popular Education for himself. The hon. Member for Tipperary had spoken of the pay of the Irish teachers. He held in his hand a Return of the average pay, but, as it had already been alluded to by his hon. Friend, he would only call attention to the fact that, according to the Return, the average pay of an Irish teacher was less than £60 a-year, while in England the average pay was £120. Several hundred teachers received over £300 a-year; indeed, the average salary paid to a School Board teacher was, he believed, £350, and the Scotch teachers 1511 were even better paid than those in England, some receiving as much as £500 a-year. In Ireland no teacher received more than £120; and he had heard that sum paraded in the House of Commons as a tremendous encouragement to young men in Ireland to enter the teaching profession. Such was the immense fortune dangled before the eyes of the youth of Ireland; whereas, if they left their own country and entered the teaching profession on this side of the Channel, and with a little of their well-known energy and zeal, were to pursue their studies in Great Britain, they would soon be able to obtain positions where their emoluments would reach more than £200 a-year. He had known Irishmen come over here, engage in teaching, and receive £250 a-year. At the same time he would not encourage his own countrymen to leave Ireland as a mere matter of speculation. What Parliament ought to do was to invite them to remain at home and develop their skill and energy there, giving them sufficient encouragement to do so by increasing their pay. Notwithstanding the friction of the political situation at the present moment, he really thought that the pay of the school teachers demanded more attention than it had received, and he trusted that the Chief Secretary would be prepared to deal with that unfortunate class of persons, if not with generosity, at any rate with justice. The pension scheme was one which, to a certain extent, held out to the Irish school teacher repose at the end of his days; but it must not be forgotten that a youth of 18, when he entered the teaching profession, had to speculate that he would live to be 65 before he obtained a pension. The teachers of Ireland demanded that service might be taken into consideration in according a pension, and, considering that they had to contribute towards a superannuation fund, he thought that 35 years' service ought to be sufficient to entitle them to benefit from it. Only the other night they were told that 10 years' service, in the case of a public servant of the higher class, was sufficient to entitle the officer to a pension; and it appeared that Mr. Maconochie, a County Court Judge, who entered office at the age of 65, was entitled to a pension as soon as he had served 10 years. In the case of professional men, 10 years' service were 1512 absolutely added to their actual service in order to entitle them to a pension. In this case he did not think that any number of years' service should be added, nor did he ask that teachers should be taken on at 40 or 50 years of age; but he did maintain that 35 years' service ought to entitle them, and that after 10 years' service they should be entitled to so many 35ths. A pension in all cases, according to length of service, should be given to a teacher who failed in health or broke down from overwork. He believed that a former Chief Secretary did give some encouragement to the teachers in regard to this matter, but service should be taken into account and not age. It was well known that when a man reached 55 or 56, whatever his state of health might be, he continued to drag on until he reached 65 years of age, although it would have been far better for the interests of the public if he had retired upon so many 35ths of his salary, enabling younger men to occupy the position and throw the whole of their energy into the work. He sincerely trusted that some encouragement would be given by the Chief Secretary to the teachers, and that he would not throw a wet blanket upon their claims. Even a word of sympathy would go a long way, and would act as a stimulus to the whole of the teachers of Ireland. He regretted that the Vote had been brought on so untimely. There were a number of other questions he would have liked to have asked, but at this period of the Session Votes were brought on at a very short Notice; and, in regard to the Education Vote, it was only intimated last night that it was intended to be taken to-day. There was only one other point. Was it the practice in Dublin to give the Commissioners of National Education who attended the meetings of the Board five guineasfor every attendance, whether they came from the country or were resident in Dublin? He believed that most of the Commissioners lived in Dublin, and he wanted to know whether, in that case, their attendance at each meeting entitled them to a fee of five guineas? Some of the Commissioners never left Dublin; and Dr. Newell, the Secretary to the Board, had a settled residence there, although he never refused the fee. Then, again, he wished to know whether Tyrone House in Dublin belonged to the 1513 public Authorities? He asked the Chief Secretary to speculate upon some scheme by which popular Education in Ireland might be made progressive, and whether he could not devise some measure by which the National Schools should be enabled to take advantage of intermediate Education. Could there not be some ladder, as it were, by which smart lads would be able to take scholarships, and by that means work themselves up to a University Education? He was satisfied that if the right hon. Gentleman would look into the matter, some scheme might be formulated by which popular education in Ireland might be made progressive until it reached the University point. Nothing would be more calculated to promote the interests of the people of Ireland than a good and solid system of popular Education. They must not stop at the National or Elementary Schools, but must make some provision by which smart, industrious, and energetic boys might enter the ranks of the first scholars of the country. With the large public funds at the disposal of Her Majesty's Government, some such system of scholarships ought to be arranged by which the humblest lad in Ireland would be able to enter the same door that opened to the children of the rich. He trusted that the Chief Secretary would refrain from flouting the Irish Members on this question of popular Education as he did last year.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down expressed a hope in the earlier part of his speech that the difficulties of the present political situation in Ireland would not prejudice the minds of the Government against the claims of the Irish National School teachers. He could assure the hon. Member that there was nothing he knew of in the political situation which would deter the Government from ameliorating the condition of the school teachers in any part of Ireland. Nor did he think there had been anything in the policy of the Government which would indicate that they were more reluctant than their Predecessors to use the Imperial resources for the benefit of the people of Ireland to whatever class they might belong. He entirely concurred with the hon. Gentleman that 1514 the position of the teachers in Ireland ought to be a matter of solicitude to every Government, and he felt as much as any of his Predecessors had ever felt that there was no exertion on their part which they would spare to carry through the House of Commons any measure which could make that important body of men contented and prosperous. But at the same time he must frankly admit that he could not altogether concur in the criticisms which had been passed on his action as Chief Secretary in this respect, or allow that the teachers were labouring under grievances which Parliament had done nothing to remedy. He proposed to go through some of the chief allegations which had been made by the two speakers who had already addressed the Committee. As to the question of school buildings, he would remind the hon. Member for North Leitrim (Mr. Conway) that far more was done in Ireland than had ever been done in England in the shape of the erection of buildings out of the Public Funds. There had been an enormons increase of late years in this particular source of public expenditure, and when the hon. Member alleged that the landlords were unwilling to provide sites for schools, he must be reminded that at one time many of the landlords only held a life interest on the property required for school sites. That limitation had now been removed, and the result had been an enormous increase in the sums of money expended in the erection of school-houses. Both the hon. Member for Tipperary and the hon. Member for North Leitrim had alluded to the question of teachers' residences. There again there had been a very large increase in the amount expended out of the public resources. He found, for example, that in 1882 the amount contributed out of the Imperial Exchequer was £500; in 1883 it was £600; in 1884 £800; in 1885–6 £1,000; in 1887–8 £1,700, and for 1888–9 the Estimates had been prepared for £2,000. Therefore, the Committee would see that under this head alone there had been a large increase.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the hon. Member was altogether mistaken. The hon. Member seems to think that these figures represented the entire sums devoted 1515 to the purpose. That was not the case. It only represented the portion of the annuity contributed by the Exchequer; the locality contributed a corresponding sum. Looking at the matter from that point of view, the result was very different from what the hon. Member supposed.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the sum was £1,700 last year, and £2,000 this, so that there was only a difference of £300
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, no doubt that was so; but this increase in the annuity represented a very large increase in the capital expenditure in respect of which the annuity was payable. Nothing was done by the State in England or Scotland to provide residences for the teachers, and he maintained that the arrangements made in this respect in Ireland were on a liberal scale. If the friends of the teachers and those locally interested in Education in Ireland would come forward and make greater exertions their contributions would carry with them increased contributions from the State. At present the amount granted by the Exchequer was limited by the amount subscribed by the locality. In this matter therefore the teacher had no legitimate ground of complaint. And now he came to the question of Pensions. Both the hon. Member for Tipperary and the hon. Member for North Leitrim complained of the position of the teachers in Ireland in regard to pensions, and as he understood it their point was this—that although they had a pension they only became entitled to it at so late a period of life that it was of very little use to them, and some provision ought to be made for the grant of pensions to teachers who were compelled to leave their calling at an earlier period than the age of 65. He would remind the hon. Members who complained of this that in England there was no provision for pensions at all. There used in former times to be a provision, but it was coming to an end, and there was no scheme now for the provision of pensions for teachers, whereas in Ireland in 1878 or 1879, a large sum of money supplied out of the Irish Church surplus was set apart for this object. The Committee would notice, therefore, that the sum provided was strictly limited, and consequently if they altered the distribution of it and 1516 increased the benefit which a certain class of teachers now received, it must be at the expense of some other class. He was sure that the Board of Education was quite prepared to consider any claim that might be put forward by the teachers, consistently with due regard to existing obligations for a redistribution of the existing amount of the pensions—that was to say, that if the great body of teachers in Ireland thought 65 years too late a period for a man to receive a pension, and if they were prepared to accept pensions at an earlier date but necessarily of a less amount—if that were the opinion of the teachers of Ireland, and the question were brought before the Board of National Education itself, he was sure the Board would be happy to give it their attention, bearing in mind, however, that it would be impossible to interfere with existing rights. He very greatly doubted, however, if the case was put before the teachers as he had put it before the Committee, whether they would desire an alteration of the existing method by which pensions were allocated. Passing from the question of pensions he wished to advert to an observation which fell from the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken. The hon. Gentleman said it was the custom in England for the Chief Secretary responsible for this Vote to open the discussion with some statement in regard to the progress of Irish education. He did not know how far that practice was a desirable one, but he should be glad to lay before the House certain figures which he thought indicated that in Ireland they were really making progress in education in a most rapid and satisfactory manner. He found from a paper prepared by the present Registrar General for Ireland, an able and trustworthy statistician, that while the portion of the population who could read and write in 1841 was only 28 per cent. it was in 1881 59, and while the proportion of those who could neither read nor write in 1841 was 53, the proportion in 1881 was only 25 per cent. Not only had there been an increase in the proportion of persons able to read and write from 28 to 59 per cent. but there had been a decrease in the proportion of those unable to do either from 53 to 25 per cent. When they took it into account that the education in Ireland was not compulsory 1517 as it was in England and Scotland, it would be felt that these figures were not without interest, and that they showed a substantial improvement in the general condition of education in Ireland If any hon. Member would examine the more recent figures he would find that they were equally satisfactory. He found that in 1881 the average number of pupils in daily attendance, which was the fairest test of the school attendance, and a better or more correct one than any based on the school roll, was 278,000 odd. In 1887, with a somewhat diminished population the number had risen to 515,000. The Committee would see that these figures, like the others, were of a kind which made it evident that education in Ireland was prospering. Perhaps this was only a subsidiary question in the estimation of some hon. Gentlemen to that which he gathered was the chief point and intention of the two speeches to which the Committee had just listened. The gravamen of those speeches was that enough was not done by the Imperial Exchequer to improve the amount of the teachers' salaries in Ireland, and the hon. Member who opened this discussion said that the position of the teachers was getting worse and worse. Now he could not find the slightest justification for that assertion from any of the figures which had been placed before him. On the contrary, there was no class of public servants whose condition had been more rapidly improved financially than the school teachers of Ireland, by the various Acts of Parliament which had been passed to regulate their salaries. In 1855 the salary of a first class teacher was only £36, but in 1885, after the lapse of a generation, that sum of £36 had risen to £101, and he believed that the increase had been still greater in the salaries of third class teachers between 1855 and 1885. If, instead of confining his survey to the period of a generation from 1855 to 1885, he were to take the actual increase in the present year, it would be found that the result was even more interesting and more startling. If hon. Members would look at the Vote they would see that it had largely increased from last year, and almost the whole of the increase had gone straight into the pockets of the teachers. The Estimates this year showed an increase of about £24,000 1518 in respect to which sum he believed he was right in saying that every 6d. of it had gone to augment the salaries of the Irish school teachers.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he thought he was right as to the amount of the increase. The figure alluded to by the hon. Member was that which had gone to one class of teachers alone. But even admitting that the increase had only been £19,000, it could hardly be denied that it was a substantial increase. The increase was not only gratifying in itself, but it was gratifying because it showed an improvement in the qualifications of the teachers, the increase being due to many of the teachers having qualified themselves for a higher grade. Therefore it did not represent a dead weight of expenditure from the Imperial Exchequer from which no result was obtained, but it represented the increased efficiency of the teachers themselves, due to their own exertions. And whereas the English teachers could only obtain a larger grant from the public resources by increasing the amount of the results, the Irish teacher had not only that means of increasing his salary but he was able to obtain an increased contribution from the Public Funds if by his own exertions and study he would qualify himself for entering a superior class. In adverting to the question of the remuneration of the teachers, he would put before the Committee some figures which he thought were of great interest in connection with the subject. He found that the total income of the teaching class in the year 1882, from all sources, was £739,000; six years later, in the year ending March 31, 1888, it had increased to £894,000.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he would give those figures presently. The increase of income between 1887 and 1888 amounted to £255,000, in six years of which £131,000 was voted out of the Imperial Exchequer. The number of teachers in 1881 was 10,621, and in 1887 11,159. If they worked the sum out it would be found that while in the earlier years the sum per head was £69, in the later years it was £80. Therefore the hon. Gentleman would see 1519 that if they took that estimate which merely applied to a period of six years, the results were as startling as could be deduced from a survey of the longer period from 1855. He did not think the hon. Member who opened the debate would venture to say that these figures bore out their contention that the position of the teachers were getting worse and worse year by year. Then the hon. Gentleman, basing his contention chiefly on a wholly imaginary deterioration in the position of the teachers, accused the Government in general, and the Chief Secretary in particular, of not having carried out the pledges which were made by his Predecessors in 1875 and in subsequent years. Now, let them consider what had been done since 1875. In that year his right hon. Friend the present President of the Board of Trade, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland, passed an Act through Parliament by which a large increase was rendered possible in the salaries of the Irish teachers. The proposal of his right hon. Friend in substance was this—that Boards of Guardians should locally contribute a certain amount and that a corresponding amount should be granted out of the Imperial sources. He based that proposal largely upon petitions signed by Boards of Guardians themselves, recommending the increased remuneration of the teachers. His right hon. Friend found that a comparatively small proportion of the Boards of Guardians would consent to impose a rate upon the community for this purpose, and the number that did consent, small as it was at the beginning, had shown no signs of increasing; but, on the contrary, had steadily diminished year by year. But the efforts of Parliament had not been confined to that measure. Finding that the Local Authorities were not inclined to provide a moiety, Parliament actually went the length of saying "If the money comes from any source whatever—be it from endowments, from local subscriptions, from charitable gifts, or from the school pence, the State will be prepared to add an equal amount." What had been the result of that relaxation of the conditions under which the State proposed to add to the teachers' salaries. He found that the teachers were actually receiving 99 per cent of the total they would have been entitled to 1520 if every Board of Guardians had contributed under the Act of 1875. And this had been followed by, or rather been consequent on, an extraordinary increase in the liberality of private individuals and in local subscriptions. The figures were most remarkable, and remarkable not merely from the point of view with which he was now dealing—namely, the position of the teachers in reference to salaries, but remarkable as showing the great interest taken by the public in the work of education in Ireland. He found that in 1870 the amount so contributed was £60,000 odd; in 1875 it had risen to £84,000; in 1880 it was £131,000; in 1885 £145,000; and according to the figures in his hand the actual amount now contributed had risen since 1885 from £145,000 to more than £160,000, an augmentation which he thought spoke volumes for the increased interest taken in education in Ireland, and was further satisfactory from the fact that it carried with it an increased contribution out of the taxes towards the salaries of the teachers. So much for what Parliament had actually done since 1875 to ameliorate the condition of the teachers and the result. He fully admitted that every Chief Secretary had expressed the necessity of doing all in his power to ameliorate the condition of Irish National School teachers, but every Chief Secretary had added that the amount of contribution from Imperial resources towards education in Ireland was so enormous that it was practically impossible for the Government to augment it further unless they were met by increased local contributions from the community. He had on more than one occasion given figures to show the relative contributions from local sources in England and Scotland on the one hand, and in Ireland on the other, and, however the figures were put, it would be found that they showed an extraordinary disparity. The contributions in Ireland amounted to £7 per head, whereas in England and Scotland they were about £24 a head. If he might venture to speak from memory, he thought he was right in saying that while the proportion expended out of Imperial resources was about 24 per cent of the total in England and Scotland, it was about 70 per cent in Ireland. Therefore, if they looked at the actual cost or the percentages, the result was 1521 equally startling, and led equally to the conclusion, which had forced itself upon the mind of every Government who had considered the question, that it would be in vain for any Minister to come down to the House and ask the Imperial Exchequer to make a larger contribution than it did unless it were perfectly clear that from local sources some further effort would be made. He thought the hon. Member who opened the debate would not now be able to accuse him of attempting to go off upon any aide issue, or of shirking any of the main contentions which he and his Friends had put forward. He would now conclude by replying to the specific questions put by the hon. Member for North Leitrim. The members of the Board of Education did receive a fee when they attended the meetings of the Board, and Tyrone House was the property of the State.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, it must be admitted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had carefully applied his mind to this subject. There was a considerable improvement in the tone of the right hon. Gentleman, although, to be strictly correct, he ought to say that the manner of the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with Irish affairs was susceptible of improvement. While, however, the manner of the speech they had just heard was satisfactory, the matter of it was wholly delusive, and would create amongst Irish teachers, and those interested in their position, a feeling of bitter disappointment. The only figures quoted which he heard with any degree of satisfaction were those which denoted the great extension within the last generation of primary education in Ireland. He heard those figures with satisfaction for two reasons. Firstly, for the sake of education itself, which was the greatest good which could be conferred upon any community; and, secondly, because the spread of education in Ireland was the most conclusive assurance that the right hon. Gentleman would fail to inflict his general policy upon that country. Now, he found he was right in interrupting the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech. The increase of £24,000 in the Estimate did not go altogether towards increasing the salaries of the teachers.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, there were increases in the salary of higher officials; £19,000 went towards increase of salaries, £6,000 was duo to the ordinary bettering of the teachers' classification, and £13,000 was due to an increase of the Estimates contingent upon result fees and local contributions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, that if the hon. Gentleman would look at page 412 of the Estimates he would see that £19,000 went to the teachers and assistant teachers, £4,500 to work mistresses, and £1,000 for training monitors. The total was £24,500, which was the figure he had in his mind when he made his observations.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the net increase in the Estimates was £24,000; but he found on page 413 the increase of grant to training Colleges was £2,000. There were also increases in the salaries of higher officials. But that was a minor point. Upon what was the vital question—namely, the salaries of the teachers—the right hon. Gentleman had resorted to an argument the soundness of which he (Mr. Sexton) could not for a moment admit. The right hon. Gentleman resisted the claim for an increase in the salaries of the National teachers in Ireland, upon the ground that the contribution by the State was much heavier in Ireland than in other parts of the Kingdom. That argument was fallacious, for this reason: the system of primary education in England and Scotland was a system acceptable to the people. It was a system which the people had practically within their control; they could mould the system according to their view. He might add that England and Scotland were comparatively wealthy countries compared with Ireland. [An hon. MEMBER: Oh, oh!] He was surprised to hear any doubt thrown upon that assertion by one who hailed from Scotland. Unquestionably England and Scotland were comparatively wealthy countries. If they considered the greater poverty of the people of Ireland, and that Parliament imposed upon them a system which in many aspects was disagreeable to them, and at the same time refused to give them any control of or influence over the system, he thought he was entitled 1523 to draw the inference that Parliament ought to pay for the system. It was notorious that in the curriculum of Irish National schools Irish history and literature found no place. The literature of Ireland included many works of illustrious fame and many of very high distinction. With how many was an Irish child made familiar through the class-books of the National Board? An English child was considered to be ignorant unless he had learned the history of England, but Parliament imposed upon the people of Ireland a system of primary Education by which they compelled the Irish child to remain in ignorance of the history of his country. So long as the system of education was conducted on this principle, even if Ireland were as wealthy as she was poor, they could scarcely expect that the popular contribution to the cost of education would be large. In this debate already a contrast had been drawn between the dealing with the Irish Police Force and the Irish National teachers. The Estimate for the Irish Police Force increased by leaps and bounds. He had glanced at the two Estimates, and he found that whilst for 10,650 National teachers they provided £643,000, or an average of £60 per head per annum—that was to say, 21s. a-week per head—they provided for 12,897 men, who formed the rank and file of the Police Force, upwards of £1,000,000, or an average of £80 per annum, or 30s. per week per man—that was to say, that they gave the men who were employed in beating the people 30s. a-week each, while they gave to those employed in teaching the people only 21s. a-week. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would admit that, from his point of view, the best thing to do to remove the necessity for beating the people was to teach them. He (Mr. Sexton) thought a reversal of the case would be wise. If they gave an average of 30s. a-week to the men who taught the people, there would be so little beating to be done that men who only got 21s. a-week would be competent to do it. He must comment now upon the nature of the transactions in reference to the contributions of the Poor Law Guardians. Thirteen years had passed since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bristol (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) 1524 passed the Act under which Poor Law Guardians contributed towards the payment of teachers. The right hon. Gentleman declared the Act to be an experiment—it was a very bold experiment, an experiment which, in the opinion of many, was foredoomed to fail. The right hon. Gentleman declared that if the experiment was found to fail, something better would be substituted for it. Why had it failed? Because they had already in so poor a country as Ireland over weighted the Poor Law Guardians with accumulated charges in reference to diverse functions concerning various Acts of Parliament. A Board of Poor Law Guardians was the pack-horse of miscellaneous legislation. The English Parliament expected the Irish Poor Law Guardians to contribute to the teachers—that was to say, to make an annual grant out of the rates for a function moved from their specific functions, and having no relation to it, and, moreover, for the maintenance of a system over which they had no control. It argued crass ignorance of human nature that men would continue to contribute under such circumstances. The Poor Law Guardians began to contribute, but the circumstances they had to submit to became overpowering. The Guardians, being an elected Board, were required to contribute funds which were administered by a Board nominated by the Lord Lieutenant, and as little under the control of popular feeling or judgment in Ireland as if it were a celestial Body. The contributions from the Guardians had failed. He saw from the Report that they were only £16,000 last year. Therefore, the Act of 1875 had been an absolute failure, and he recalled again to the recollection of the Committee the circumstance that when that Act was passed the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), who was then responsible for the affairs of Ireland, declared the Act to be an experiment, and said that if the experiment failed something better would be substituted for it. He maintained that the experiment had failed, and that the pledge given stood in unabated force, and nothing had been done to redeem it. He and his hon. Friends asked that the experiment should be reconsidered, and that something substantial should be done for the teachers of Ireland, which would have been done if that Act had been a success. He was not 1525 unmindful of the circumstance that the teachers of Ireland had received 99 per cent of what they would have received if all the Boards had contributed. Now, what was the system under which result fees were administered—and he thought it was a very hard thing that in a country placed as Ireland was the incomes of the teachers of primary Education should depend so largely upon payments by results—a system which bore very hardly upon the teachers in the poorer parts of the country. In Ireland the mass of the poor people got their living out of small farms, and many of them had to resort for assistance to the labour of their children, even their very young children, at certain seasons of the year, and, moreover, in some remote and thinly peopled parts of Ireland the poor children, thinly clothed and very ill-fed—with perhaps only one meal of Indian meal a day—had to go long distances to school, in many cases often without breakfast. When inclement weather came—and Ireland was not the driest country in the world—these poor children were unable to attend school. But the regular attendance of a child at school was an essential element of the system of payment by results, because a child could not pass his examinations except after regular attendance. Competent judges were of opinion that the examinations could not be satisfactorily passed by a child who made less than 200 attendances in a year. That number of attendances could not be made in the circumstances of Ireland, therefore it was unjust to make so large a proportion of the income of the teachers dependent upon the result system. It was absolutely necessary to shift the incidents and make a larger proportion of the incomes consist of class salaries. The system in force at present was this:—One-third of the whole salary was paid absolutely by the Treasury, a second one-third was supposed to be paid from local sources, and the third part of the payment was only made by the Treasury to an amount equal to that proceeding from local sources. By so much as the contribution from local sources fell short of the full one-third the contribution from the Treasury was reduced. The right hon. Gentleman had said that there had been increased munificence in the contributions from local sources, but he (Mr. 1526 Sexton) had heard grave admissions made upon the subject. He had heard that the present system operated immorally, and tempted the teachers to make incorrect returns. As he had stated, a certain sum from the Treasury every year was dependent upon an equal sum being contributed from local sources. He was told by the very best authorities that the system induced some of the poor teachers in various parts of Ireland to represent that they had received from local sources a larger sum than had actually been forthcoming, in order to qualify themselves for the second payment from the Treasury. It might be called a fraud, but it was an intelligible fraud. At any rate, Parliament had no right to continue a system which exposed poor men, to whom a shilling was of importance, to the temptation of making returns which were not justified by the facts. The hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney) shook his head.
§ MR. SEXTON
The hon. Gentleman misapprehended his argument. He was not speaking now of the contributions of Poor Law Guardians. They had seen that those contributions had fallen short. He was speaking of the arrangement by which one-third of the result fees were made dependent upon local contributions to the same amount, and it must be obvious to the hon. Gentleman that when local contributions fell short by what would entitle the teachers to the full amount from the Treasury, there was a very seductive temptation to the teacher to represent that he had got a larger amount than he really had got. He maintained that the present system was an immoral system, and that the salaries of these men should be arranged upon some basis which would not subject them to the temptation of making representations of an improper character. Teachers had bitterly complained of the temptation to which they were subjected, and they desired to be put beyond it. He thought that what he had stated entitled him to regard rather critically some figures submitted by the right hon. Gentleman, the result of which the right hon. Gentleman declared to be that the average salaries of teachers had increased in the 1527 last 10 years by £70 or £80. The right hon. Gentleman would observe that his assumption rested upon the conclusion that the total local contributions represented in the accounts had been forthcoming. He submitted that the local contributions in very many cases were imaginary, and that they were represented in the accounts for the purpose of obtaining the full contribution from the Treasury. If that was taken into account, it would be seen, he thought, that the figures which ware given were subject to some reduction. Moreover, when they lumped all the classes together, and gave the average salaries of the whole, it would be seen that the result was, to some extent, misleading, because the bulk of the teachers were teachers of the third class, and the average payments these men received were, of course, very much lower than the general average. He thought it would only be fair of the right hon. Gentleman to lay before the House the average incomes of the third-class teachers, for then it would be seen that these men—the rank-and-file of the army of education—were paid, not only less than the ordinary constable in Ireland, which was a most scandalous anomaly, but paid less than the artizan, and in some cases, he believed, less than ordinary labourers in this country. It was evident that since the right hon. Gentleman could not deny that the salaries of the mass of the teachers were less than such teachers would get in this country, and the results of the system of Education in Ireland obtained by the labour of these teachers were more satisfactory in regard to two or three essential primary branches of education than those obtained either in England or Scotland, there was a conclusive case, from the teachers' point of view, for an improvement of their condition. The remarks of the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of pensions were also disappointing. It must be borne in mind that men and women went into this service at a very early age—in fact, that they were boys and girls when they began to teach—17, 18, and from that to 20 years of age. To say to these people—to a woman that she must be 60, and to a man 65, before she or he could receive a pension, amounted to a denial of all benefit of a pension. How long did they ask a constable to 1528 serve before he was entitled to a pension? Must he be 65? No; he had a much easier life than a schoolmaster, except when the right hon. Gentleman sent him to bludgeon a meeting, or to jump in at bedroom windows when he wanted to make an arrest. So long as a constable in Ireland was left to the ordinary functions of a constable, he had an exceedingly easy and genteel life. But the Irish constable had not to wait until he was a certain age, but after a certain period of service, and even in a case of casualty after service, however short, he was entitled to a pension. He (Mr. Sexton) failed to see on what principle a constable was entitled to better terms than a teacher, unless Ireland was to be considered a Grown colony, and the Irish were to be regarded as inferior people, to be governed by Coercion Acts, and not upon any ameliorating principles of legislation. Of course, if there was any improvement in the matter of pensions there must be some financial re-organization. It was useless for the right hon. Gentleman to tell them that re-arrangements could be made by which some teachers would benefit at the loss of others. He and his hon. Friends hoped there might be some system created under which teachers in Ireland might receive pensions either on attaining a certain age or after a certain period of service. It was unreasonable to expect the teachers of Ireland to serve 50 years before they were entitled to a pension. Last year it was suggested to improve the condition of the teachers by the aid of the teachers themselves. If the salaries were made better of course it would be easier for the teachers to co-operate in such a scheme. He should be glad to hear if anything had been done in furtherance of the scheme, because he thought, even in their miserably poor condition, the teachers of Ireland would make some effort to co-operate for the purpose of securing better provision for old age. He was sorry to say that no practical advance had been made on the question of residences. He knew very well from personal knowledge that a great mass of the teachers of Ireland had to live in homes that were not conducive to health, and which were not favourable even to the ordinary decencies of life. Many of them lived miles away from their schools. People who 1529 had to go through the physical strain which teaching children necessitated ought not to be compelled to walk long distances to and from school in all kinds of weather. The right hon. Gentleman said that, because the annuity under the head of Residences had increased from £1,700 last year to £2,000 this year, material improvement had been made. But how many residences did £2,000 represent? He supposed the average moiety did not exceed £6 a-year, so that £2,000 only represented a little over 300 residences. But there were 10,000 teachers, and two-thirds of them were living in places remote from their schools, and unfit for habitation in many cases. He admitted that there had been a tolerably liberal system of advance by the Treasury, but in these days, when they had determined to advance the whole amount to enable tenant-farmers and labourers to purchase their farms and allotments respectively, he thought the Treasury might well consider whether the whole amount necessary for the residences of the teachers in Ireland might not be advanced. He had no doubt that the annuity could be regularly provided, and he failed to see why, when farmers and labourers were provided with the whole of the money, the same consideration should not be extended to the teaching class. There was also a difficulty about the question of sites. Undoubtedly, there were places in Ireland where residences would have been provided long ago if sites could have been procured. One of the persons who had imposed the greatest obstacle in the granting of the sites was that sorry protégé of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, the Most Noble the Marquess of Clanricarde. The two points he submitted, therefore, on the question of residences were:—Would the Treasury consider the advisability of advancing the whole amount; and would they consider an amendment of the law by which sites might be obtained, when necessity arose, by compulsion? He noticed that the amount set aside for the Model schools appeared to be very excessive. The expenses of these schools amounted to £31,000, whilst the receipts were only £5,000. The schools were attended by the children of the middle and professional classes, and, therefore, he thought the 1530 Government ought to be able to show a bettor return for the expenditure of £31,000 than £5,000 in the shape of receipts. He should be glad to know whether extended provision was to be made for the training of teachers. The right hon. Gentleman had said that teachers could improve their salaries by improving their classification, but the right hon. Gentleman would admit that the first thing to be done was to afford the teachers facilities for training. He especially wished to know to what extent the desire of Catholic teachers for training under Catholic supervision had been met. Undoubtedly, if the National system of education in Ireland was to be made efficient, the teachers would have to be trained all round. It was equally certain that the bulk of the teachers would not avail themselves of the present training system, and therefore a satisfactory advance of the training system in Ireland greatly depended upon the extent to which the desire of Catholic teachers to training establishments under Catholic supervision was satisfied. There were two other matters of very great importance—namely, the teaching of Celtic and handicraft. He did not know whether any improvements had lately been made in respect of the teaching of Irish, but he knew that as late as last year Irish was treated in the National schools of Ireland as a foreign tongue, that it was put on the same footing as French and other modern languages, and, therefore, could not be taught in school hours. In fact, whilst under a Home Administration in Ireland everything would be done to stimulate the teaching of the Native tongue, under the present system every possible embarrassment was thrown in the way of the teaching of the Irish language. He did not say that Irish should be taught as a competitor of English, for he hoped he was sensible enough to admit that English had become the social medium all over the world. But he did not think that the individual student who desired to learn the Irish language ought to be discouraged in the matter. In certain districts in Ireland, Irish was still the language of the home. Children spoke Irish by the fire-side, but learned English at school. That was an absurd system of education. One of the school Inspectors had reported that in one 1531 school he found the children writing "We get turf from the bog," but that they neither knew what "turf" or "bog" meant. A very eminent authority, the Resident Commissioner, Sir Patrick Keenan, reporting on the system of education in Trinidad, had said that a knowledge of two languages sharpened the faculties, and he maintained that where there was a vernacular tongue and a language that was used socially, children should be taught through the language of the home. What was done in Irish districts—and he impeached the policy as an absurd one—was to ignore the language the children spoke at home, and to endeavour to teach them solely by means of another tongue. The Commissioners issued a Memorandum stating the conditions under which handicrafts might be taught; and he was anxious to ascertain whether that was anything more than a flash in the pan. They were woefully deficient in technical education in Ireland, and this was one of the subjects to which the attention of a Home Administration would be particularly turned. If the right hon. Gentleman knew anything on the subject, he should be glad if he would communicate his knowledge to the Committee, because there was no department of education which could be more usefully developed. The circumstances of the Albert Model Farms at Glasnevin were somewhat peculiar. There were three farms—one of five acres, another of 25, and a third of 140 acres; and although they were supplied with the best appliances and conducted under circumstances most favourable to profit, and although the rent paid for the three farms was only one-fourth of the value of the produce, which was less than the usual rent in Ireland, the profit acquired was only 1–10th of the produce. The Committee would do well to take that into mind in relation to the general question of education in Ireland. What must be the ordinary condition of Irish agriculture when skilled agriculturists could only make a profit amounting to 1–10th of the produce? Upon the question of class books, he objected altogether to the system by which the Commissioners produced the class books themselves. The class books had been improved in recent years, but they were still very far from what any Irishman with a feeling 1532 for the history and literature of his country desired. They were books which might be used in any country. He maintained that the class books of Ireland ought to be largely made up, as those of England and Scotland were, of the history of the country. This, however, was not the case, and the Commissioners had the great advantage in having the command of the market by the circumstance that they sold the books at cost price. If any other people of the country desired to produce class books and put them in the market, the children ought to be allowed to buy them and the teachers allowed to use them. The money spent upon class books was about £5,000 a-year. If that market were practically thrown open to public competition it would give an impetus to literary effort. Indeed, there were many gentlemen of his acquaintance who were perfectly competent, and no doubt would under other circumstances produce class books suitable to the condition of Ireland. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether the same free trade in regard to class books which was allowed in England and Scotland should not be permitted to apply in Ireland. The last word he had to say had regard to the constitution of the Board of Commissioners. He had already described the Board as a celestial Body. It was composed, under the Charter, of 20 members. At present there were 17 members and three vacancies. Who were the people who constituted the Board? Would it be denied that in the matter of the primary education of the children of the people popular feeling and opinion were matters of great importance? If such a Board existed in England and Scotland, was it not obvious that either representatives of the people popularly elected, or persons acceptable to them, would have a large if not a controlling influence upon the Board. Of the 17 Members, five were Judges. They had very little to do with the rostrum of the teacher. Their appearances were generally behind a piece of carpentry of another kind. One of these Judges was actually an English Lord of Appeal, who spent his time and earned his salary in London. Two others were officials. The Provost of Trinity College was a Commissioner of Primary Education, who surely had enough to do to mind his own affairs. Then there 1533 were Mr. William Cogan and Mr. J. Dease, whose only qualifications—as far as he (Mr. Sexton) knew—for the position were that they were defeated candidates at Parliamentary Elections. It was one of the peculiar principles of Irish administration, that when the electors of the country refused to have anything to do with certain men they were appointed, no doubt as a consolation, to perform functions of the State. Then he found that James William Murland was a Commissioner. What had that gentleman to do with education? He was a well-known railway shareholder, but what he knew about primary education he (Mr. Sexton) was at a loss to understand. Then there was the Rev. Hugh Hanna, popularly known as roaring Hanna. Mr. Hanna was distinguished 30 years ago as an open-air preacher and as an inciter of popular feeling. He was better known as the fugleman of a certain set of active politicians in Belfast who resorted to the use of stones and bullets at Belfast on a recent occasion, than as a friend of education, primary or otherwise. This was the kind of Commission by which they administered education to the people of Ireland. He thought the time had come for a change. He had said there were three vacancies on the Board. He had no doubt whatever that the time was near at hand when the Board would have to pass entirely to popular control. He imagined that even the right hon. Gentleman would admit that it was not likely that this Board, as at present constituted, could continue for many years to come; and he though the right hon. Gentleman would show some instinct of statesmanship if he would entertain the idea of reforming the constitution of the Board. Under the Charter the Lord Lieutenant appointed 20 Commissioners, half of them Catholics and half Protestants. That was an antiquated system, and what he (Mr. Sexton) suggested to the right hon. Gentleman was that he would show some instincts of government if he invited the Irish Representatives to nominate some gentlemen to fill the three vacancies on the Board. His hon. Friends might accept the functions or not, but at any rate, such an offer on the part of the right hon. Gentleman would show some regard for the authority of the Representatives of the people. As he had said it would be necessary very shortly to 1534 re-constitute the Board; but what he suggested was that the right hon. Gentleman should break the fall, or, if he might put it in milder language, soften the transition to which the Board was destined in the near future, by filling the three vacancies existing by men chosen from the ranks of the Irish Party.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said, he rose to speak on account of the International comparison which had been made, and which he thought had not been sufficiently cleared up. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton) that it was unfair to Ireland, being a poorer country than either England or Scotland, to make the disadvantageous comparison which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland made between the local contributions towards education in Ireland and those in England and Scotland. He agreed also with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sexton) in condemning the system of payment by results; indeed, he went a great deal further than the right hon. Gentleman, because he objected altogether to the whole system of Imperial Subvention. He disliked the whole of that system as applied to education, whether in England, Ireland, or Scotland, and he would rejoice to see the day—although he feared from the expressions which had been used that day, it was far distant in Ireland—when the Local Authorities would assume control of the educational system, and at the same time bear the whole cost of it. He thought the International comparison made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was made a little unfairly, but, on the other hand, a very positive statement was made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leitrim (Mr. Conway) which filled him (Mr. E. Robertson) with some astonishment. He would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would throw some light upon that statement. He understood the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Conway) to say that the proportion per head contributed by the State to education in Ireland was greatly less than the proportion per head contributed in either England or Scotland. As the representative of a Scotch constituency, and partly responsible for the Imperial contributions to Ireland, he would like to know whether that statement 1535 was true or not. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had been Secretary for Scotland, and therefore he was, no doubt, conversant with the precise facts regarding Scotch education. If there was to be Imperial contribution at all, he thought the contribution should be made on the principle of perfect equality.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, that a great many English Members were under the impression that the contributions towards education in Ireland from the Imperial Exchequer were enormously larger than those made towards education in England. There was no doubt that they were 14 or 15 years ago, but during those years the expenditure on education in England had risen by leaps and bounds. There had not, however, been any considerable increase in the contributions to Ireland, and the consequence was that there was not a very great discrepancy between the amount of the contributions. The difference between the local contributions in the two countries was to be accounted for by the fact that in Ireland the money was applied in a very extravagant manner. In England schools were, as a rule, built in the great centres of population. That was not the case in Ireland. In Ireland, owing partly to religious prejudice and partly to the action of landlords, schools had to be put up wherever land could be got. The consequence was there were certain districts in which there were no school facilities, while in many places there were too many schools. A very considerably increased expenditure arose from the fact that the schools were not originally located in the best places. It was much easier to educate a concentrated population than to educate a population scattered over a large area. He altogether differed from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson), because, in his opinion, the cost of the elementary education of the children ought to be borne exclusively by the State. As to the question of administration, he thought that until Ireland had a Parliament of her own, it would be very dangerous to disturb the present National system of education. It was only after the greatest difficulty that a compromise had been arrived at between denominational and secular education. The pre- 1536 sent compromise did not work altogether badly, for at any rate it allowed perfect freedom to the children. Certainly the present system was not satisfactory to the great bulk of the Catholics, but the danger of breaking it up would be very considerable. His hon. Friends were quite justified in saying that the National teachers of Ireland were extremely badly paid. The fact had a very bad tendency upon the general feeling of the country. It was not wise that the children should see that their teachers were so extremely badly used, or that the teachers should feel that there was an invidious contrast between their position and that of similar teachers in England and Scotland. He claimed that the ordinary school teachers of Ireland were as good as the ordinary English teachers. The Irish teachers were perfectly willing to submit to any examination, and were willing to be paid on the same standard of literary attainments as the English teachers. He knew the answer would be that there ought to be large local contributions. But it was absolutely impossible. The voluntary contributions would always be extremely small, and he did not see how they could put on a local rate without disturbing the whole National system of education. He regarded the establishment of agricultural schools as of the greatest value and importance. At present, however, the Northern farmers got the greatest advantage from the schools. Personally he should like to see two or three of such schools established in the South of Ireland; they would not cost very much; they would not altogether pay their own expenses, because it was impossible that farms as teaching institutions could pay. There would be some small loss to the Exchequer, but the good the farms would do would be enormous.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said, he rose for the purpose of saying that so far as the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland were concerned, those representing them on the Irish Board of Education had their entire confidence. Not only had the Presbyterian representation been augmented during the past year, but the constitution, so far as the Presbyterians were concerned, was in accord with their views. The attack which had been made upon Dr. Hanna he considered 1537 extremely ungenerous, as this gentleman had the largest schools in Belfast under him, and had been a National teacher himself. If there was a person in Ireland qualified to sit on that Board that person was certainly Dr. Hanna. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) regretted that hon. Members should have thought it necessary to make an attack upon a political opponent. One hon. Member had talked about three vacancies, but he (Mr. T. W. Russell) did not believe there was one, and so far as the Provost of Trinity College was concerned, there was no man more fit to sit upon the Board. He (Mr. T. W. Russell) sympathized with the case which had been made out for the National teachers. He thought the teachers were underpaid and badly housed; but then there were great difficulties on the other side, owing to deficiencies in local contributions, and to lack of local interest in education in many parts of Ireland. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes, he thought that was shown by the Boards of Guardians refusing to become contributors to the schools. If this did not demonstrate, at any rate, the lack of interest in the schools, and a state of things different from that prevailing in England and Scotland, he did not know what test they could apply in the matter.
§ MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)
said, that no doubt for the establishment of this National School system in Ireland they were indebted to the Conservative Party, and with all its drawbacks he thought the system was a benefit to the country. But education was a thing which from its very nature was progressive, and he was sorry to say that the various Governments who had been in Office from time to time did not seem to recognize the importance of this fact. The National teacher in the country parishes in Ireland held a very peculiar position. Their position ought to be a very high one. He was extremely anxious to see the worldly position of this class improved in a manner befitting their attainments. Taking all in all and comparing the position of the National teachers with that of the members of the Constabulary Force, and other public officials, he thought there would be no doubt that they were very largely underpaid. Their occupation was that of educating the masses of 1538 the people, and if the Government protested against going further in the direction of advancing money for these people he would point out that the masses of the people whose children they desired to educate, contributed the largest share to the revenue of the country in an indirect way. It must be remembered that a large proportion of the revenue was derived from drink. Whiskey was one of the largest sources of revenue to the State. The tax upon whiskey was really a tax upon labour, and it was a canon of political economy that labour should not be taxed. Unquestionably a large part of this tax on drink should go towards the education of the people. Speaking as a working man himself, he did not know that it would be a desirable thing greatly to increase the comforts of the poor part of the population without making a proportionate increase in the education of the people. To his mind one of the most valuable things which could be put before the community was the education of the masses, and he was bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) had gone very ably into this subject, and had left him (Mr. Harris) nothing to say. The right hon. Gentleman had been fully justified in his criticisms upon the Commissioners, and for the reason that they lived in a very progressive age, when people, knowing the sentiments and wishes and desires of the masses, usually endeavoured to have those desires and wishes typified on the Public Boards of the country. What had they on the Education Commission? Why, in the first place, a number of Judges with fixed notions of this, that, and the other connected more with old times than the present time. Then there was a certain number of learned professors and Bishops on the Board—old men, educated nearly a century ago, rigidly tied down to the old system which they rose by. These persons considered it their duty to sustain the old system. There was no one on the Board with broad views capable of dealing with things as they were. If they examined into the school books connected with the Irish National Schools, what did they find? Why, they found, in the first place, a book on Political Economy by Dr. Whately, which was altogether 1539 one-sided. He did not wish to disparage this gentleman, who was one of the most distinguished men of the time—a Churchman, and a man of broad Liberal principles, a highly educated Liberal man, but it was necessary to get both sides of the question in the Blue Books. There were two great principles which political economists turned to nowadays—namely, the system of individualism and the system of collectivism. Well, this gentleman in his Political Economy, which all the children of the schools had to study, the writer went altogether into individualism. He did not modify it even to the extent that Adam Smith or even Mill modified it. With reference to the schools themselves and the teachers, he thought that some better method of selecting sites for the buildings should be adopted. He was well acquainted with the West of Ireland, and whenever he went there he always took care to inquire into the condition of the dwelling-places and schools of the National School teachers. Sometimes he found these buildings in a swamp, most unhealthy, both for teachers and children. At other times he found schools so built that there was no ventilation in them. Very often the schools were below the surface of the road, and had damp floors, and externally were equally as bad. In very many cases no attention whatever was paid to the health and comfort of the children. There was room for very great improvement in this direction, and the condition of the schools, he maintained, showed what a worthless, incompetent body of men the Commissioners were. They did not look after these things. Then as to the teachers themselves; any hon. Member who would take the trouble to inquire into what were the requirements of a first-class teacher in Ireland would find that they were very high. A teacher must be a man of a high order of intellect, and of great educational attainments. In education, as in everything else, he should think that if a man was required to possess attainments, even much superior to those required by persons taking positions in the Civil Service, he ought to be paid proportionately. Though Ireland was poor, the poorer the country was and the lower the people were, the more was it necessary to pay attention to education, 1540 and the Government of the country was especially bound to look after the education of the Irish people. For many centuries education was forbidden to the Irish people, and in the early part of the century, owing to the want of schools and school teachers, the education had got very low indeed. There was, therefore, a great deal of loose ground to be pulled up. The question of technical education again was a very important matter. In an agricultural country like Ireland, under the system of tenure which had prevailed, farmers being removed from time to time, the education of the people in matters affecting the cultivation of the land had been very bad. He contended, with his hon. Friends, that in connection with the National Boards there should be some effort made on the part of the Government to establish agricultural schools. It was wonderful how Irishmen grasped at improvements in matters of this kind when they had an opportunity. The Irish were very much more susceptible to educational influences than English people gave them credit for, and if such a system as he recommended were adopted, he was certain that it would be attended with most beneficial results. He did not wish to go further into these matters. As he had said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast had treated them in such an able manner, that little further statement was necessary from him (Mr. Harris). There were two further points, however, upon which he should like to say a word. First, as to the conduct of the patrons and managers of the National Schools in Ireland. Sometimes the patrons were landlords and Churchmen, and the statistics showed that the managers gave very little attention to the poor children whom they were supposed to look after. It would be wonderful what great benefit would accrue if those who undertook to supervize the schools were to go to those establishments now and then to look after the cleanliness of the schools and the progress of the children. He thought they ought to spend half an hour a day examining the children and looking after the progress they were making in education. From his own personal experience he thought the patrons and managers of the schools were wanting in their duty, and he thought the Government, when patrons 1541 were appointed, should make a point of seeing that they looked after the schools efficiently. There was one point in particular he desired to bring under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. In the country districts boys might get very fairly well educated in the primary schools, but after leaving the schools they had no means of continuing their education. He need hardly tell the Committee that the education received in the schools was merely the dry bones of education, and that it was after leaving these establishments that a man acquired that intellectual power which was necessary to carry him successfully through life. It was in leaving school that a boy perfected the structure of which he had laid the foundation in school. What he (Mr. Harris) was anxious for was, that in connection with the Irish National Schools, public libraries should be established, and if an increase were given to the National teachers it should be given in consideration of their taking charge of circulating libraries. There should be one of these libraries in every National School throughout Ireland. He was acquainted with a parish where the boys themselves and the people of the neighbourhood established a circulating library, notwithstanding that it was a very poor parish. The subscription to the library was only ½d. per week, but notwithstanding that small sum books were so cheap nowadays, that before long a fairly good library was got together. Well, a change took place in the circumstances of the gentleman who gave the room in which to keep the library, the room had to be put to other uses, and the result was that the library had to be broken up. Now, if each of the National Schools were made a receptacle for a public circulating library, many young men, who often had a very large amount of time to spare on winter nights, would be able to avail themselves to the fullest extent of such library as he proposed should be taken care of by the master of the school. He was sure it would do the greatest good in the cause of education. At the present time he had noticed a great want of these institutions in almost every country district he had been in. There was a great desire for literature on the part of the young men, but nothing to read. He, himself, when in country districts, had frequently been 1542 unable to get a book to read. No doubt many gentlemen in Ireland had large libraries, but they were altogether closed to the public. The result was that the country youth had nothing to read but a penny newspaper. He did not think that better literature was to be got anywhere than in the newspapers of Ireland, but at the same time he should like Irish boys to have something else to study. He would strongly recommend this plan to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. There was, he thought, £120,000, or, at any rate, a large balance at the right hon. Gentleman's disposal through the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If that money were to be spent—
§ MR. HARRIS
said he would not pursue the point. He had only been anxious to show the source from which the money to carry out the plan he proposed might be obtained.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said there were one or two points which had been mentioned by hon. Gentlemen opposite on which he should like to say a few words. He did not agree with the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken (Mr. Harris) in the charges he had made against the National Board with regard to their duties of maintaining the National Schools of Ireland. So far as his (Mr. Macartney's) experience had gone, speaking with regard to the National Schools, he thought the National Board paid every attention to their instructions, and the Committee ought to know that it was within the power of every ratepayer in the country, whether connected with the management of a school or not, to go to a school and ask to be allowed to look into the condition of the school. The master of every school was bound to afford any ratepayer, coming to him under such circumstances, opportunity for making such examination. The schoolmaster would produce the books, so that the ratepayer might make any observation he chose in them as to the way in which the school was managed. He (Mr. Macartney) had frequently had occasion to do that himself. He had had to make observations on the state of affairs in the schools, and had invariably found that the Board of Education, through their Inspectors, almost immediately 1543 attended to any observations made in that way. That, at any rate, he could say with regard to the place in which he lived, and he was very sorry that hon. Gentleman opposite should have thought to make a contrary statement. He would point out that the Board of Education were not so much to blame as the managers and teachers that the schools were not in good repair. As to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) with regard to the question of additional contributions to Scotch rates, he was bound to say that with regard to the question of the contribution of the Union, he had never heard in any one of the numerous debates which had taken place in the Boards of Guardians—and he had been connected with one union himself, which at one time contributed, and he was well acquainted with another union, which formerly contributed—the statement alleged as a reason for the Guardians refusing to pay contributions. He had never heard it alleged by the Guardians that they had no control over the education given in these schools. The Guardians, he believed, based their refusal to contribute on the fact that the ratepayers objected to paying a single farthing towards education. From his own acquaintance with the Boards of Guardians he was certain that they were perfectly satisfied with the education which was given in the National Schools, whether good, bad, or indifferent, and they absolutely declined to assist the State by one farthing out of their own pockets for the purpose of improving education or increasing the salaries of the schoolmasters. This was, no doubt, the great difficulty they experienced in bringing about an improvement in the condition of the schoolmasters in Ireland—namely, the fact that there was an invincible repugnance on the part of the people, whose children were being educated at the expense of the State, to put their hands into their pockets to contribute a farthing for the improvement of that education. He should like every hon. Gentleman who had any influence in Ireland to exert that influence in inculcating upon their followers that they ought to do something to assist the education of their own children, which at present was paid for entirely, or almost entirely, by the 1544 State—that was to say, which was paid for as much by England and Scotland as by Ireland. As to the condition of the masters of the third-class in Ireland, a point had arisen in the administration of the National Board, which led, he believed, to these masters receiving lower salaries than they would otherwise get. The theory and principle of the National Board had been very well stated in the course of this discussion by one of the speakers—namely, that it was undenominational where the population was mixed. Well, he (Mr. Macartney) did not object to that. He could quite understand the feelings of repugnance which ministers of various denominations, whether Roman Catholic or Irish Church, or Protestant, naturally viewed the fact that the children of three denominations might be under the influence of masters or mistresses who were not of their way of thinking. The result had been that ministers of all denominations had endeavoured to establish denominational schools of their own, and the National Board, rightly or wrongly, had given in to their desire and had invaded the undenominational system of education. The result of this was that in Tyrone, and other counties like it, a number of schools had been created which ought not to exist—that was to say, if they wished to have a high-class system of primary education, because, as hon. Members well knew, they could not get a first-class master or even a second-class master to go down and undertake a school unless they had a large body of pupils for him to preside over. There were one or two schools with the management of which his relations were intimately connected. At these schools the masters were first-class masters, and they had obtained 97 per cent of the result fees. The masters were of the same religion as their pupils. He was not now blaming the clergy, but he was obliged to state that these gentlemen were desirous of withdrawing the children of the members of their congregation from the school because the managers of the establishment, with whom they found no fault, did not belong to their church. In one case a clergyman under these circumstances had succeeded in establishng another school within the two miles limit, to which he persuaded or directed the children of the members of his congregation 1545 to withdraw, and the result had been that the master of the original school had had his salary enormously reduced—or would have had his salary enormously reduced—owing to the loss of result fees, if the school managers had not undertaken to pay out of their own pocket the deficiency occasioned on the establishment of another school within the two miles limit. This was a point over which the managers or patrons of schools had no control. The managers of the old school to which he referred wrote over and over again to the Board of Education stating that the fathers and mothers of the children had no objection to the old school, but that they were obliged to withdraw their children from it and take them to another of which their own clergyman would be patron or manager. The clergymen of all denominations in Ireland were anxious to have their children under their own control. They were all more or less of a jealous disposition, and hated the interference of laymen; but the result had been very disastrous to teachers of the third class, because it had been the cause of the creation of an inordinate number of small schools to which no manager could induce a first-class teacher to go. The result was that the teachers of the third class had been enormously swelled in numbers, and in the mixed counties the masters of schools had suffered enormously. There was only one other point on which he would like to say a word. The right hon. Member for West Belfast had alluded to the question of the absence of the Irish language from the curriculum of the National Schools. He did not see how anyone could devise a system of historical education which should at once satisfy hon. Gentlemen opposite and be in accord with the facts of the case. Furthermore, he would say this—that there were, no doubt, some of the class books already used in the schools which were far above the powers of the children who were called upon to use them. He did not think the agricultural classes in the schools were as good as they ought to be. They were too far above the comprehension of the children, and very often the masters themselves were absolutely incapable of explaining the matters they were called upon to teach, notwithstanding that a large proportion of the masters belonged to 1546 the tenant-farming class themselves. The Board of Education had given every possible facility for the increase of the knowledge of agriculture on the part of the scholars, because, where the managers or patrons took the slightest interest in it, there could always be established a small agricultural class, which was the best way of teaching that subject. He did not wish to detain the Committee any further. He had touched on one or two points which he believed to be at the bottom of the difficulty of increasing the salaries of the teachers, and he could only say that he believed that hon. Members opposite, perhaps unintentionally, had been somewhat unfair to the Board of Education. It was not a Board that he altogether agreed with; but he believed that on the whole, considering the enormous conflict of opinion which existed with regard to their work, they had done their best to work out the system practically so as to suit the great divergence of opinion, religious and otherwise, which unhappily existed in Ireland.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgton)
I am bound to say, because this is well-known ground to Chief Secretaries for Ireland—and I am only too glad to be able to pay my tribute in this debate—that I never heard a debate on the Irish Education Question more satisfactory, both in tone and substance, than the present, if I may take upon myself to compliment the House of Commons on the matter. It has been especially marked by two long and pertinent and interesting speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). These subjects were made from very different points of view, but I think I agree with every word of both of them. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary defended the taxpayer by a statement of figures that in themselves, I believe, to be absolutely incontrovertible. He put them with the greatest clearness. They were the same figures in essence that I had the honour to put from the same place, though I do not pretend to say that I arranged them with equal ability. The right hon. Member for West Belfast says that as we imposed a system of education on the 1547 Irish people we should pay for it. I take it that that view is equally incontrovertible with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary's figures; but we are upon the Estimates at this moment, and we are concerned with figures, and I desire to support the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in the most emphatic words I can use, and to say that, so far as the lump sum is concerned, I think the taxpayer pays all that he ought to. You only have to compare the annual expenditure from the Treasury in England, Scotland, and Ireland with those other figures, which I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary are the only authentic figures that can be used—namely, the figures as to the children in average attendance, to see that the taxpayer does his duty in this matter. But that is a very small part of the question. The serious matter is one which was suggested to the Committee, and put forward by the Committee in a very few statistics, and in very few words. More pregnant statistics have never been laid before this House. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the cause of the very great contribution of the taxpayer to Ireland, as compared with England and Scotland, is the very small contribution which comes from Irish sources. That proportion is relatively 7s. per head in Ireland, as against 24s. per head in England. Now, in the few words I am going to say, I propose to devote myself entirely to an examination of this great disproportion. The 7s., I conclude, includes the fees from the children, and, if that is so, it reduces the contribution from Ireland almost to nothing. Now the contribution, from the statistics of England and Scotland, is derived from two sources—the first, voluntary subscriptions; and the next, rates. The hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney), in a speech which was exceedingly practical and very brief, appealed to hon. Members opposite, and asked them to use their influence to induce their fellow-countrymen to pay their fair proportion towards the education of the Irish children. Now, under that appeal there was very great fallacy, for in England, and still more in Ireland, the enormous majority of schools are in country districts. If that is the case in England, where we have the enormous 1548 centres of trade and commerce which existed in our great towns, far more is it so in Ireland, which is an agricultural country, if ever there was one. What are the facts of the case? I will venture to say—and I speak from general knowledge of many parts of the country—that in an ordinary English village the contributions from the inhabitants are very small indeed. Every English landowner, however, who knows his duty—and that includes the large proportion of the landlords of England—considers that the first charge upon the land is the education of the people who live upon it. Before the landowner pays £100 out of his yearly rents into his banker's to be disbursed upon the support of his family, I will venture to say he considers what is to be done for the maintenance of the school building and the teacher's residence. He provides, likewise, over and above this grant and the fees of the children, the funds which will enable the inhabitants of the district to be educated up to a very considerable degree of intellectual advancement. The landowner of England considers that it is his absolute duty to provide the money for this purpose. Now, that I conceive to be the case with all landlords who, in any sense, can be called good landlords. But that is not the case in Ireland—it simply is not the case. I am not now speaking of schools of the class to which the hon. Member for South Antrim referred. I have no doubt that in the North of Ireland, and in places where there is a large population, and where religious sentiments are the same as those of the landlords of the soil, that in many cases the landlord doer his duty in the same way that the landlord does it in England; but over three of the Provinces of Ireland it is not the case that the man who receives the rents of the soil considers that he has the same obligation on him to provide for the intellectual and moral training of the children who live on the soil which exists in England. Now, that holds in regard to the annual current maintenance of the school, but it holds still more with regard to the provision of the school itself and the provision of the house of the schoolmaster. In England the house of the schoolmaster is the very first house in the parish which the landlord thinks it 1549 necessary to make respectable, and in many cases to make highly ornamental with any spare money he may find; but in a great part of Ireland not only is the provision of the school left to the overtaxed and overburdened resources of the mass of the people, but it is difficult, and in some cases absolutely impossible, to get a decent site for the school. I think it would be a very practical result to follow from this debate, and that the time spent upon the subject would not have been spent in vain, if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary were to give respect and attention to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast and make it his business early next Session to introduce that Bill which has more than once, I think, been introduced into the House of Commons, but has never been pressed to a successful issue—in connection with which, I dare say, I have reason to take blame myself, although I do not remember it. Now, the other source of local expense is the rates; and here, I think, the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Antrim laid himself open to the charge of slight confusion. He said that the real cause of the refusal of the Guardians to contribute was the unwillingness of the ratepayers to spend a penny on education. Well, now, if the hon. Member will examine what happened in England, I think he will find that exactly the same is the case. Why do people pay-rates in England for the support of education? It is not their own desire to do so. They pay for education through the rates in places where there is a School Board, and in many cases a School Board was imposed upon a district very much against the wish of the inhabitants. The ratepayers pay because they are obliged to do so by Act of Parliament. But we passed the Act of Parliament which obliges them to pay, the great majority of our constituents being satisfied with the system of education already existing. Now, when I was in Office I had the honour of laying on the Table a Bill which, if I remember rightly, made the payment of rates in Ireland towards education compulsory. That may be the general description of it. But it was quite idle to try and pass it against the wish of probably the whole of the Irish Representatives, but certainly against the wish of the enormous majority of the 1550 Irish people. And that objection on the part of the Representatives of the Irish people arose from the fact that they were not satisfied with the way in which this National education was conducted. I would venture to say that if the people of England and Scotland were as dissatisfied with the way in which their National education is administered, you would have found it quite as impossible to pass the Bill establishing School Boards on the rating system in England and Scotland as I found it impossible to pass the Bill establishing a compulsory rate in Ireland. Now, what are the grievances in the Irish system of education? I think that anyone who heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast must have felt that there was something almost scandalous in the fact that a gentleman who had such an intense and deep interest in Irish education, and such a feeling about it, with such ideas of his own, be they right or wrong as to what Irish education ought to be, should have no influence whatever in determining the course of Irish National education. Out of this sum, which, from the point of view of the taxpayer, I regard as an enormous sum to pay for education in Ireland, I would venture to say that, if you had an administration adopting Irish education on the principles which Irishmen desired to see it conducted upon, you would at once be able to strike off £80,000 and apply it to other purposes. Well, what is there amiss in the conduct of Irish education? I should be the last to say anything against the administrators. I say against the administrators, because I do not count amongst that Body a large number of the Members of the Board. My firm belief is that Sir Patrick Keenan administers the Department with care, diligence, and with great knowledge of the country, and with an earnest desire to make the best of the system he finds; but the Board of which he is the working mind may be said to contain no effective representation of the views of the great body of the Irish people. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast referred to one grievance which I should like to say a word upon before I sit down, and that is the question of the training colleges. Now, I concede this to the right 1551 hon. Member for West Belfast—in fact, I have shown in the most palpable manner that I do concede it—that, however much was paid from the Treasury towards Irish education under any other head, even if I thought it excessive, I would not hesitate to add to it whatever is necessary for the training of Irish teachers. I always thought—and that at a time when I was, as now, a Scotch Member, and therefore may be supposed to be extremely adverse to endowing Roman Catholic education anywhere—I always thought that the most cruel grievance that was inflicted upon Ireland was that while in Scotland the teachers were trained to the extent of 75 per cent at the expense of the State, the teachers of the Irish people got nothing whatever from the State. Well, that has been altered. I do not know whether enough has been done. I cannot myself make out from the Estimates whether, practically, an equal proportion is paid towards the maintenance of the Irish teachers. Perhaps not quite an equal proportion, but I think the hon. Member for Belfast is incorrect in thinking that there are too few teachers in training in Ireland. He says, and my computation from the figures exactly bears him out, that there are 600 teachers in training at this moment. The hon. Gentleman would wish, I suppose, the untrained teachers gradually to be withdrawn in a certain proportion during the year from their work and passed through the training colleges. I think that a most practical and valuable suggestion, and I hope the Government will consider it. The debate having elicited this suggestion from the hon. Gentleman, which is also novel and reasonable, I think it has not been taken in vain. I earnestly trust that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland will consider the question of sites, and that he will use more open-mindedness and more indifference to precedent than has hitherto been displayed either by him or by any of his Predecessors, including myself, in lopping off from this Vote those items which do not meet the needs and the real wishes and aspirations of the Irish people, and applying the saving to meeting Irish views and Irish necessities.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Trevelyan) commenced his speech by 1552 reminding the Committee that he agreed with every word spoken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), and with much that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He (Mr. Clancy) thought that the greatest portion of his hon. Friend's remarks were valuable, whatever substance there was in what the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had said. The hon. Member for South Antrim had raised the question of denominational versus undenominational education. He thought that if any prolonged debate arose from this, the Government must blame their own supporters, but the hon. Gentleman had, however, supplied one great refutation of his own theory, for he pointed out that in Ireland you could not teach the history of the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had spoken of the ardour with which he approached the subject of the contribution of the Irish people to the cost of education in Ireland, but hon. Gentlemen on those Benches had not been able to discover much of that ardour in what he said. He agreed, however, with one remark of the right hon. Gentleman, and that was that all Chief Secretaries for Ireland had adopted practically the same attitude on this subject; he (Mr. Clancy) could not see any distinction as to the action of any Chief Secretary for Ireland on the question for the last 10 years at least. Chief Secretaries on both sides had taken up the same attitude—namely, that Ireland pays far less in proportion to the cost of education than England or Scotland, and he said if it were the case, and it undoubtedly was, that it was no more than it ought to be. He could not even give thanks for the increase in the Estimate this year. The right hon. Gentleman had himself pointed out that the increase was due to the greater efforts of the teachers to improve themselves, and he did not think there was any ground for gratitude on account of an increase brought about by such a cause as that. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of all that had been done to further education since 1875, but he desired to enter his protest against the idea that they had to thank that Parliament for anything done since then, because all that had been done had been dragged out of Parliament by the 1553 action of Irish Members. The British taxpayer had not contributed a penny to the increased money voted in recent years for Irish Education; the whole of it had come out of the Irish Church Surplus Fund, which had been a kind of milch cow to almost every demand made by Ireland for pecuniary assistance which the Government could not fairly resist. When he found hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House taking credit for improvements paid for out of that Fund, he refused to admit any claim upon his gratitude. In England and Scotland the system of education was controlled by the people themselves; the School Board elections were only just over, and they were controlled by the people, but in Ireland the Government managed the whole system by a Board appointed by an irresponsible Lord Lieutenant and removable by him. If the people of Ireland were to take up that attitude and say, "So long as you maintain the present system of education against our will, managed by persons not appointed by us or responsible to us, we will not pay a penny to the cost of it," he thought they would be entirely justified in doing so; and he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken adopted his opinion that England and Scotland would be justified in taking the same course. But there were other reasons why the State should contribute in Ireland more than it did in England and Scotland to the cost of public education. Ireland, as compared with those countries, was overtaxed; he said that deliberately, and it had been proved over and over again, and although sophistical arguments had been advanced to prove the contrary, he was convinced that Ireland bore far more than its proper proportion of Imperial taxation. But he thought the greatest reason for that was that this Parliament and this country owed a historic debt to Ireland in that matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had spoken in the previous part of the Session of the debt which England especially owed to Ireland in regard to the suppression of its manufactures. He had never read a truer expression in any speech than that in which the right hon. Gentleman referred to the manner in which Irish industries had been crushed out of existence and the consequent debt which England owed to Ireland. In this 1554 matter of education she owed a debt equally great. It could not be forgotten that at any rate for 200 years education was practically forbidden in Ireland; during nearly all that time the profession of schoolmaster there was made a felony, and the English Government had set a price on the head of a schoolmaster as on the head of a wolf. Up to the institution of a national system of education there was no single step taken to remedy this great wrong which for centuries had been inflicted on the Irish people. When English Members recollected those historical conflicts he thought their consciences ought to be touched and that they should no longer taunt Irish Members with not contributing as much as they did to the cost of Irish education. He had now to draw attention to a small but very important matter. He had on a former Vote referred to the different treatment which Irish Civil Servants experienced according to their political opinions in regard to their participation in political meetings. He had pointed out on Wednesday that the chief officials of the Board of Works—on the occasion of the visit of certain agitators to Dublin—namely, the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen), visited a meeting and were also present at a banquet given to those Gentleman; and he believed they also signed the address to those two strollers through the country. In saying that, he was only using the language of Mr. Justice Boyd, who so referred to respectable English gentlemen who went over to sympathize with the people of Ireland. Now, he thought that in a normal state of society, and in a country which governed itself, Civil Servants ought not to be deprived of their rights as citizens, and that they should be perfectly free to take sides in politics. But he thought that the rule was in Ireland that Civil Servants should abstain from political movements; at any rate, he contended that there should be one rule for all classes of Civil Servants with regard to political movements. Let all be forbidden to participate in them, or let all be free to join in them. He contended that while Tory officials belonging to the various Departments of Dublin Castle—for instance, General Sankey, Mr. Roberts, and Mr 1555 Soady—were permitted ostentatiously to join in politics, the National teachers that participated in them should not be visited with the censure of the State. In the county of Cork a short time ago, a Mr. M'Sweeny received a letter from the Commissioners of National Education, of whom the right hon. Gentleman was ex officio head, telling him that Mr. J. Hagan should be very severely censured for conduct unbecoming a National teacher—namely, the crime of being present at a political demonstration, which, said the Commissioners, exposed him to the suspicion and imputation of participating in such proceedings. Why, then, should not the gentlemen he had named be censured for attending a political meeting, by which they exposed themselves to the same suspicion and imputation of taking part in them? Not only did they so expose themselves, but they took part in the proceedings he had referred to in Dublin openly and avowedly. This unfortunate teacher was probably only a spectator on the outside of the meeting, but the eagle eye of some local sergeant of the Constabulary fixed upon him, his name was transmitted to Dublin Castle, and it was a great wonder that he had not been dismissed instead of censured. Then there was what, he thought, a very mean case—two assistant schoolmasters, Messrs. Cummings and Dempsey, were reported by the National Educacation Commissioners with a view to their dismissal for the crime of being members of the Cork Athletic Association, and also with signing an address of sympathy which was presented to Mr. William O'Brien on his release from prison. The right hon. Gentleman finds that to be the case, and he reports them to himself. Thus, in the case of these unfortunate teachers, the impartial Governor of Ireland, who would not rebuke the Officials of the Board of Works whom he had named, came down upon them like a ton of stone. He denounced such conduct as not only partial, but mean—and it was all of a piece with the Government of Ireland under the right hon. Gentleman. He believed if he were able to get a Commission to inquire into the proceedings of the Board of Works, Ireland, it could be proved that they had been guilty of actual corruption, and that they were unworthy of being retained in the Public Service; but 1556 while the members of the ascendant faction might do what they liked, the slighest public act disagreeable to the political opinions of the right hon. Gentleman opposite—who boasted in this matter, as in everything else, of the directions which he got from eight or nine Members who represented the loyal minority—was visited with the severest censure. There must be in Ireland one rule for Tories, Orangemen, and Nationalists in regard to political movements, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that, as long as they were treated differently and partially, he should bring every single case that came before him under the notice of the House of Commons.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to labour under the impression that there was some very special disqualification attaching to Nationalist schoolmasters in Ireland. He could assure him, however, that there was nothing of the kind. The National Board of Education bad, from an immemorial period, laid down that the schoolmasters were most carefully to abstain from anything in the nature of political controversy, and that was a rule of universal application. It applied to Orangemen and to Radicals. It applied to supporters of the Union just as it did to Nationalists. The National Board of Education were absolutely impartial in this matter, and certainly, so far as he was concerned, he would take care that even-handed justice in this matter should be meted out to every teacher in Ireland, no matter to what branch of politics or sect of religion he might belong. He hoped the Committee would not think he was going beyond his duty if he urged that, as they had had an interesting and instructive discussion, the Vote should now be taken, or that the Committee should be allowed to divide upon the question at once.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, if the right hon. Gentleman wished him to deal with the other portion of his speech, he could not, of course, refuse to do so. He did not know that payment by results was a perfectly satisfactory method of dealing with elementary education, but he reminded the hon. Gentleman 1557 that in Ireland this was only one of the methods by which schoolmasters were paid. In England it was the sole mode of payment; and whatever grievance existed in Ireland with regard to it was a great deal mitigated by the other means adopted there. The right hon. Gentleman told the Committee that a system by which there was payment from the State in direct proportion to local contributions was open to danger of false returns being made. He was aware that suggestions of the kind had been made before now, but he was not willing to believe that teachers were willing to do such a thing, or that, if they did, they could do it without being found out, because the Manager and the Inspector would have to join in the conspiracy to rob the Treasury. The right hon. Gentleman had asked a question about the Widows' and Orphans' Scheme which was on the stocks last year. That scheme was for the compulsory reduction from the teachers' salary of an amount out of which annuities were to be paid on their death to their widows and children. But it had been found that there was an insuperable actuarial difficulty to that scheme, and it had in consequence been dropped. He believed there was another scheme under consideration not dependent on any compulsory reduction from the salary of the teacher, and which, therefore, would not require any Act of Parliament for carrying it out. When that scheme came before him he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that it should receive the most careful consideration, and he sincerely trusted it would not be open to any objection on actuarial grounds. With regard to the cost of model schools, he did not think the cost would be objected to if it was recollected that the schools were intended to hold up before the people of Ireland a system of education in its highest perfection. It was obvious that to carry out that object there must be a considerable sum of money expended in buildings, and the amount expended he did not consider extravagant. The right hon. Gentleman asked what facilities could be given for the training of Catholic teachers; he observed that as in Ireland the great majority of the people were Roman Catholics it was proper that some means of training teachers of that faith should exist, and 1558 he asked what sum would be voted for that purpose? He was aware there had been an objection on the part of the Roman Catholic population to taking advantage of the existing College; but he was not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the State gave in Ireland precisely the same privileges to the Roman Catholic training Colleges that it gave in England to denominational training Colleges. The system in Ireland had not been very long in operation, and he did not know whether there was any other method by which really better results could be obtained. He would, however, inquire into that subject. Then the right hon. Gentleman had asked him a question with regard to the teaching of the Celtic language in Ireland. What had been done in that respect was stated in a Minute laid upon the Table of the House; it showed that as much as could be done had been done in the direction of encouraging the teaching of the language. From something that dropped from the right hon. Gentleman he seemed alive to the extreme injury that would be inflicted on the population of Ireland if Celtic was perpetuated as their vernacular. A fatal check would be put upon voluntary emigration, a great obstacle to success in other parts of the world would be put in the way of those who left Ireland. He could not imagine a more cruel kindness than an attempt to perpetuate the language in question by the means suggested. He might say that encouragement was given to the teaching of the Celtic language as an extra subject; and, so far, he thought that encouragement might be given; but he should venture to doubt whether it would be desirable to go further than they had in the matter. With regard to technical education, on which the right hon. Gentleman had asked him a question. It had been his lot to answer questions on that subject, and also to receive deputations about it in Dublin; and he thought he could show that, although he should like to see more done in that matter in Ireland, there was, as a matter of fact, far more technical education in that country than in England or Scotland. Education in agricultural matters was practically unknown in England and Scotland; but in Ireland there was no less than 79,400 pupils examined in that subject, and the grant 1559 obtained on 48,000 of that number. Allusion had been made to the Glasnevin School. The right hon. Gentleman was aware that the advantages of that school to the population of Ireland were not to be measured by the number of pupils passing through it. It ought to be regarded as a training College, and from that point of view it was invaluable. The labours of the school were now being supplemented by the Munster Dairy School; he was not able to say how far the Dairy School had been able to increase its efficiency through the grant given last year, but he had reason to believe that there had been an increase. With regard to the supply of Class Books. He had been given to understand that the National Board of Education, owing to the fact that they had to deal with enormous masses of papers, were able to buy their class books at very much lower cost than that at which they could be bought by anyone else. He believed the Board watched very closely the progress of literature, but under any form of the Government in Ireland difficulties would be met with in the selection of books dealing with the historical and theological controversies which had left so deep a mark on the national character. Having now gone over the whole ground taken by the right hon. Gentleman, he trusted the Committee would allow the Vote to be taken.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
said, the Committee had some reason to complain of the treatment by the right hon. Gentleman of the observations of his right hon. Friend. It was one of the misfortunes of hon. Gentlemen on those Benches that they were obliged to repress their debates on contentious matters to suit the convenience of English Business; and he thought they had ground of complaint that this demand on the part of the right hon. Gentleman had been made upon them. He objected to the way in which the Estimate with which they were now dealing was presented to the House, and he would point out how difficult was the form in which the Estimate for the Royal Irish Constabulary was presented. He asked hon. Gentlemen to consider that while they grudgingly paid £898,000 for the cost of education in Ireland, they cheerfully encouraged the spending of £1,490,000 1560 upon the cost of police. If hon. Members would turn to page 420, they would find large sums lumped together under the heads of "Salaries, Principal Assistant and Junior Assistant Teachers, National Schools" and so on. He would respectfully urge the right hon. Gentleman to drop that compendious method and give the Committee as many particulars as he gave in the Constabulary Vote, in which even a sergeant major had a line to himself, and, indeed, the whole of the items were stated in the minutest detail. As an example of the way in which the Government lavished money on the police, as compared with the comparatively small amount spent on education, he would take the case of Castleisland, the most disorderly part of the County of Kerry, and there there was one National school and 70 policemen, the cost of the latter being £6,000, while the schoolmaster was paid£60. Why were not they, who knew something about the matter, allowed to manage these things for themselves? In that diseased part of Ireland the Government spent £100 a-year on Education and £10,000 on coercion, and that, he thought, was a sufficient condemnation of the system. His hon. Friend the Member for North Dublin County (Mr. Clancy) had complained with justice of the treatment in the case of teachers who attended public meetings in Ireland, or who were even lookers-on at them, as compared with that of officials of the Local Government Board who attended the meeting at which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) were present. The right hon. Gentleman said there would be equality among the teachers in respect of participation in political matters. But that was not the demand of Irish Members; it was that there should be equality among the members of the Civil Service. He knew there were two sides to these questions; but in a recent case in Limerick or in Cork, the children of a school left because the son of a land-grabber persisted in attending it—that was to say, 200 or 300 children left school and refused to attend. The schoolmaster went to the father of the boy and pointed out to him that he was destroying his means of living, and 1561 also stopping education in the district. He asked the father, under the circumstances, if he could not send the boy to school somewhere else. He was afterwards dismissed as having encouraged Boycotting. The view of the Government was that in order to please one pupil they were to get rid of 300 others; but surely one land-grabber's son was not of more importance that all the rest of the children. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that he should found a land-grabber's institute somewhere, by which that class might be able, without annoyance, to get that education of which they stood much in need. They were asked to believe that the Government were acting fairly in threatening National School teachers who attended public meetings, but what example did these men get from the Head of the Board, from the head of Trinity College, who was the President of the Goschen and Hartington Committee, or from Mr. Inglis and others, with whose names he need not trouble the Committee. These teachers presumed to act as their masters acted; they attended a meeting and they were threatened with dismissal. The Government had gone on the principle that the members of the Irish Board of National Education should be selected from all the odious classes in the country; there was no member of the popular Party upon it, and he contended that some rectification was absolutely necessary.
§ MR. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
said, he wished to endorse the statement of his right hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Sexton), that on Monday, when the National teachers in Dublin read the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to the statements of the hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) and others, there would be bitter disappointment. He knew, as a matter of fact, from conversations and correspondence with National teachers in Ireland, that they expected that something would be done for them even at the end of the Session, or, at least, that some promises would be given of a better state of things in the future. They knew that a certain sum of money had been allocated from private sources, and they thought that some might be given to them. They knew that the present Government had. 1562 £5,000,000 as well as the £5,000,000 already voted to relieve the Irish landlords, and he ventured to say that many of them would look with envy to the position of the landlords, and say to themselves—what might not have been done for them and the cause of education in Ireland, if £10,000,000 of the Imperial funds were devoted to these purposes. Having regard to the amount of their salaries, the question of residences, and the unsatisfactory arrangements with regard to retiring allowances, and comparing the position with that of the English National School teachers, it must be said that the comparison must be to them particularly odious. His hon. Friend had brought under the notice of the House the sorry condition of some of the school buildings, and he (Mr. Nolan) had observed that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary did not touch upon his hon. Friend's statement that some of the schools were built in grave-yards, stone-quarries, and sand-pits, and that throughout the West of Ireland many of them had earthen floors, on which the children, with neither boots nor shoes, spent five or six hours after a long walk on winter mornings. His hon. Friend had spoken of a certain increase of salary that had taken place, and said also that an increase had taken place in the number of residences, but the principal fact remained, that the present condition of the teachers in Ireland, in these respects, was very bad indeed. He wished to call the attention of the Committee to a statement of Mr. Rowntree, Inspector of National Schools in Ireland, on the position of teachers with regard to their salaries. This gentleman said that out of 164 teachers only one had a gross income of upwards of £100; out of 123 only five had incomes of upwards of £90; that there were 14 with incomes between £80 and £90; 13 between £70 and £80; 23 between £60 and £70; 108 between £50 and £60; 20 between £40 and £50; 5 between £30 and £40; and 3 received salaries of under £30. It appeared that the average income of male teachers was £63 8s. 2d., and that of female teachers £51 14s. 7d; in other words, the average for the entire district was £50 10s. Again, of the whole number of teachers almost 80 per cent were unprovided with residences, and many of them suffered great hardships 1563 in walking to and from the schools. Although these were men of considerable talent, and produced results equal to the teachers in England and Scotland, and although they were men of strong moral character, their position was not only worse than the position of the teachers in England and Scotland, but it was worse than the position of a common policeman in this country.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that in the discussion a number of practical suggestions had been made, and the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had been completely empty of relevant matter. The right hon. Gentleman had not approached any of the suggestions that had been made, and his speech was a remarkable illustration of the absurdity of a system under which the rule of a country was committed to the hands of strangers, whose indifference was so great that they would not make a decent attempt to overcome their ignorance. The only way of protesting open to them was to oppose the Vote.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 77: Majority 41.—(Div. List, No. 332.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, perhaps it would be for the convenience of the Committee that he should say something on the Land Commission Vote, and therefore he would not bring that on now. But he would ask the Committee to pass, as Votes upon which no discussion would arise, the Queen's Colleges Vote, the Endowed Schools Vote, and the Vote for the Royal Irish Academy.
§ (2.) £200, to complete the sum for the Endowed Schools Commissioners (Ireland).
§ (3.) £881, to complete the sum for the Royal Irish Academy.