§ MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's Co., Ossory)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that, according to the Report of the Auditor General upon the Vote for Public Education in Ireland during the last financial year, there has been a saving in the salaries of national school teachers as compared with the grant made by Parliament of .£34,866; whether this is attributed to the existence of epidemics and to unusually bad 1372 weather which prevented pupils from qualifying for examination for results, and thus caused a serious falling off in the incomes of teachers without any fault of theirs; and whether, since the system of payment by results in respect of primary schools has been abandoned with regard to England and Scotland, he will consider the advisability of putting an end to it in Ireland?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The statement that there has been a saving in the salaries of national school teachers of £34,886 on the grant made by Parliament is somewhat misleading. The amount that would be required for that part of the salary of the teachers which arises from "results" fees is always doubtful. In 1885 and 1886 the amount was under-estimated respectively by £20,000 and £15,000, necessitating Supplemental Estimates. In 1888–9 an amount that would, in the opinion of the Commissioners, both amply cover the ordinary increase in the "results" fees, and obviate the possibility of the Supplemental Vote being required, was asked for, but it appears that they over-estimated the amount of the increase, with the result that more money was asked in the Estimates than actually proved to be necessary. It would seem to be inaccurate to say, as is said in the second paragraph of the question, that a serious falling off in the incomes of the teachers, has occurred. The actual amount paid in remunerating the teachers has increased, while the ratio of the total number of teachers to the total amount paid to them shows that last year the average diminution arising out of the exceptional circumstances alluded to has been extremely slight. I say nothing of the grant of £78,000 made by Parliament during the current year. As regards the third paragraph, I have to say that the hon. Gentleman appears to have put it on the Paper under a misapprehension. In England and Scotland the whole contribution of the State was, till last year, in the way of payment by results, whereas in Ireland "results" fees are only employed as a supplement to the fixed class salaries which form by far the larger portion of the teachers' income. I do not think that any sufficient reason has been shown for departing from this system.