§ 1. £327,067, to complete the sum for Public Education, Scotland.
§ (4.43.) THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON, Bute)
There is an increase in the Vote as compared with last year of £25,486, due almost entirely to the larger amount given for day and evening scholars. This increase arises in the first place from the higher rate of pay for each scholar, and in the second, from the increase in the aggregate attendance. During the year the rate of pay for each scholar has been 19s. 3¼d., which is the highest point yet reached, and the estimate for next year is no less than 20s. 2d. The progressive advance of the amount earned per scholar since 1873 is striking. In that year it was only 9s. 10¾d., and any stoppage in the increase has been due entirely to the anxiety of the Department in insisting that for each increase in the rate there shall be a corresponding high degree of efficiency. There is an increase in the aggregate attendance from 503,100 to 512,690, and at the present time out of every 100 children of school age in Scotland, 82 are on the register and 63 in daily attendance. The average attendance has been steadily increasing over a course of years. Since 1881, while the population has increased by 8 per cent., the attendance of school children has increased by 25 per cent. The total number of children presented in the higher standards has been smaller this year than in former years, and this is due to the fact that there are now more children who are working to improve themselves in the lower standards, and fewer who are forced up, although unfit, into the higher standards. The total number of presentations, including those under the Third Standard, is 474,873, against 469,518 last year. This increase is largely in the lower standards. 946 8,908 being children in Standard III. There is this year a percentage of passes in all subjects of 80.54, while last year the percentage was 79.9. There has been a steady increase in the percentage of passes. The actual number passing in Standards V. and VI. has increased by more than 1,000; but there is a decrease of passes in the Third Standard. The conclusion to be drawn from that is that the decrease of presentations is due, not to the falling off in the upper standards, but to the fact that children who, under the system of individual examination, would have been presented in Standard III., now drop into standards under Standard III. The figures show that there is no falling off in the amount of the sound education in the higher standards, but the diminution is due to the school authorities keeping the children in the lower standards because they think they are better employed there instead of being mechanically raced through the higher standards. The results as regards class subjects are improving, and the record there is quite satisfactory. There are two rates of payment—one of 2s. for a good pass, and the other of 1s. for a fair pass. At the former rate the payments are increasing, while at the latter rate they are decreasing. As regards special subjects, there is a somewhat ambiguous result. There is an advance here in presentations, but the results are less satisfactory. It would seem to be worthy of consideration whether too much attention may not be given in some instances to special subjects, and this again suggests whether a concentration of special subjects might not he bettor than the diffusion of them over a large number of schools. The Committee are aware that a novelty of some importance was introduced recently by the Scotch Education Department in the shape of a merit certificate for proficiency in purely elementary branches as an encouragement for sound work, and in the hope that it would be, if not an introduction to, at all events a recommendation in, seeking service. After conference with the Local Educational Authorities the scheme has practically received their unanimous approval. With regard to the education of the blind and of deaf mutes, it is too early to predict what will be the work 947 ing of the new system, but it is satisfactory to see that it has been started and is in progress. I present the Vote to the House in the belief that there is ground for reasonable satisfaction, and that, despite the uncertainty of recent changes in the working of the educational system, the main current of education is steadily flowing in the right direction; and I trust that the changes already made and others which are in contemplation will go in the same direction in regard to this main element of national prosperity.
§ (4.50.) MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
We have in former years had the advantage of a whole sitting for the discussion of the Scotch Educational Estimate, but during the last two years if has been hurried through at the end of the Session without much consideration. I think it is very unfair it the Reports of the Inspectors are not made public at an earlier date. The country ought to have an opportunity of considering those Reports as well as the Report of the Department. The latter Report professes to give a correct idea of the progress of education in Scotland since 1872. The average attendance is given as 213,549 in 1872 and as 512,690 in 1890. The apparent increase is most remarkable, and undoubtedly it is the intention of the Department to convey to the people of Scotland the idea that the attendance has practically increased by 140 per cent. since 1872. But the fact, as pointed out recently in a letter to the Glasgow Herald, is that the average attendance has not really increased more than 10 per cent. The explanation is simple. The Department are comparing the present state of things with a state to which it is in no way comparable. In 1872 only one-half of the children were in State-aided schools. In 1871 there were 542,000 children in school attendance in Scotland. That was before the Education Act came into operation, and in those days there was no inducement to return as at school children not in attendance. The percentage of children in attendance was 70; in 1881 it had increased to 80 per cent., and since then it has remained practically stationary. In order properly to compare the attendance in 1872 with that of 1890, we ought to take the aggregate attendance of children both in the 948 State-aided and in the non-State-aided schools. The curious fact is, that although a School Board is entitled to see that every child is attending school, and has the most ample means of information, up to this moment the Department cannot give us any information regarding the total number of children in State-aided and non-State-aided schools. That is information which we ought to possess. If we had it the utter hollowness of this pretended progress in education would be apparent. In 1872 more than half the children attended non-State-aided schools. The effect of the School Board system has been to shut up these private schools, and to transfer some 200,000 children from them to the Board schools. We want to know, for the purpose of comparison, what is the number of children in State-aided schools to-day. I do not suppose that as long as the present Government is in power we shall get this information. I asked the question in 1877, and the answer I got was that the Department had the information for 1872 but not for later years. Why have they not got it for later years? Because they have wilfully shut their eyes to it. The information could be got within a fortnight or three weeks. Table B of the Report of the Commission assumes that one-seventh of the children are attending higher-class schools. It is well known that most of these higher-class schools have been closed, and that not a fourth of the children are attending them now. The table proves too much, because it shows that there are 24,000 more children attending these schools than there are in Scotland at the present time. After I had put a question on this point, a foot-note was added to the table stating that the number to be deducted as attending higher schools is not nearly as high as one-seventh. I maintain that the only object of putting this table in is to mislead. I find from the Return that the accommodation in the schools was for 723,840, and the Education Department gives an elaborate calculation to show that the school accommodation in Scotland exceeds the number of children who ought to be at school by about 30,000 places. That is a pure arithmetical exercise. The school supply is based upon the average attendance. There are 723,840 places and an average 949 attendance of 512,690, so that the real excess of accommodation is 211,150. To conceal the fact that there are 211,000 places vacant at a cost of about £2,000,000, the Department gives this elaborate calculation. I object altogether to a series of arithmetical calculations which are true in themselves, but are calculated to mislead and have no bearing on the exact state of affairs. During the past year the number of children under 7 years of age has increased by about 12,000, the number between 7 and 13 years by 4,000, and the number between 13 and 14 by 112, whilst the number above 14 has decreased by 229. The increase in the schools is an increase of children under seven years of age, and above seven years of ago the increase has not been equal to the increase of population. In England the presentations to Inspectors amount to 90 per cent. of the school register, whereas in Scotland they are only 81 per cent. of the school register. Of course, if you keep your duffers away from the Inspectors and have all the bright children present, the percentage of passes will be higher than would otherwise have been the case. I know of a teacher who out of his own pocket paid the expenses of children who had left the district in order that they might attend the inspection. We ought to know whether there will be a greater number of children presented in Scotland than there are now. In Standards III., IV., and V. there is a total decrease of 4,553 in the presentations, without taking into consideration the increase of population. Now we come to the question of the passes of children between three and six. In the year 1888 the progress of education was such that the number of passes increased by 10,704. In 1889 the increase was 8,433, but in 1890 there was a decrease of 233. The decrease of passes in Standard III. this year was: in reading 3,623, in writing 3,111, and in arithmetic 1,376. Such a state of matters never existed in the educational history of Scotland before. As to specific subjects, we find that this year there were presented to the Inspectors 556 more children than were presented the year before. We find, however, a decrease in the passes of 256. In 1889 the increase in the passes in specific subjects, as compared with the previous 950 year, was 2,931. Then, in Standard VI. we find that in 1889 there was an increase of 959, whilst this year there is a positive decrease of 67. The Lord Advocate told us that the Government Grant last year was 19s. 3½d., which he said was the highest there had ever been. The Report says, however, that the grant has decreased from 19s. 3¼d. to 18s. 11¼d. for each scholar in average attendance. I think we are entitled to an explanation why we are told from the Treasury Bench that there is an increase, whilst the Report says there is a decrease. The Report attributes the decrease in the number of children attending school above 14 years of age—In large measure to the increased attendance of infants and to the earlier age at which the standard of exemption from attendance is reached.The increased attendance of infants has, however, only taken place during the last two years; and how is it possible that the standard of exemption can have affected the attendance of children of over 14? I do not see any connection. I can quite understand that if a child is sent to school earlier he will be withdrawn earlier, but why on earth should A's child of 14 be withdrawn because B's infant child is sent to school earlier? Certainly there has been a considerable increase in Standard V., but a child of over 14 years of age is not bound to attend school at all. One would have thought that the Department would have made some inquiry to ascertain how the decrease in the higher standards was brought about. We do not hear of any inquiry having been made on the subject. The speech of the Lord Advocate would make it appear that education is going on satisfactorily in every respect, and I feel bound to refer to facts with which the Department ought to be acquainted, and ignorance of which would prove them to be utterly incompetent for their position. I shall endeavour to point out the causes of the decline in education. Some may say that the abolition of fees in the lower standards has influenced the attendance in the higher standards. That is a matter for inquiry. The Department ought to have inquired in what schools the decrease has taken place, and whether fees are charged in 951 the higher standards in those schools. Do the Government want to promote Scotch education? If so, and they find the numbers decreasing after the age of 14, why are they doing nothing to help education after that age? There are only 14,000 children who would be affected by the abolition of fees after the age of 14, and yet the Government stood out against extending free education to those children. Has the change in the examination had anything to do with the matter? The Lord Advocate said the School Boards probably kept the children longer in the infant department before sending them to the upper departments. But the result of that would be that the children would be better trained in the infant department, and one would consequently expect better results in the higher departments. I have no hesitation in saying that the result of the introduction of the collective examinations has been to lower the standard of instruction generally in the schools. There is another cause, which is, I believe, largely in operation. Why, for a great many years, has the attendance in the higher standards been increasing in Scotland? Because you have been gradually killing the middle-class schools. The children imported from those schools have been running up your educational results. Having killed the middle-class schools practically, as far as you can kill them, you now find a decrease in your higher standards. When we take the results of secondary education in Scotland as a whole, what do we find? My hon. Friends who sat on the Departmental Committee will bear me out when I say that the result of their inquiry was to show that secondary education in Scotland was in a state of decline. You have the Board school competing for the middle-class people against the private school and, with the aid of the grants, killing the private school. The Education Act of 1876 provided that in order to obtain the grant a school should not charge more than 9d. a week in fees; but the School Boards have been put up to a dodge whereby they can really charge more than 9d. a week and return their schools as not charging more than 9d. I will not, however, go into that question now. What I say is that you cannot have secondary education without also having 952 an Elementary Department as a feeder, the profit made on the elementary education helping to pay the enormous cost of the secondary education. You have taken away the younger children from the elementary schools and have thus to a large extent killed private school enterprise. I find that the attendance at the Universities gradually went up in 1880, but since then the increase has been arrested and there is a positive decline. This shows that secondary education has got a blow in Scotland, and that it is not able to work against the present undue and unfair competition of the Board schools. If you entirely killed private school enterprise the number of children who go in for secondary education would decrease, no matter how much money was spent on the Board schools, because the teachers would know that they had no competition to face. I come now to the Highland schools. The grant given this year for those schools is £5,972. We are told that the object of this special grant is to increase the attendance, and I think we are entitled to ask what has been the effect upon the attendance. There is a, special grant for 210 passes. We want to get a list of the schools where those passes have taken place, and to know how far there has been an increase to account for those passes. You have taken over the management of certain schools, and I want to know what was the attendance before you took them over, and what it is now. The Highland grants altogether come to about £10,000, and I should like to know what have been the general results of those grants. The Accountant General's Report shows what have been the results from a ratepayer's point of view. I think that in the Island of Barra a rate of 4s. in the £1 has been reduced to 1s., and in another parish there has been a reduction from 2s. 6d. to 6d., so that the proprietors are getting 3s. in the £1 off their rates in one case, and 2s. in the other. We want to know whether the £10,000 is granted for the benefit of the people, or for the purpose of reducing the taxation of the landlords. In conclusion, I have only to say that I think on the present lines the education of Scotland will go down whatever money is spent. Apart altogether from the question of money, you 953 are preventing the people having any interest in education. You have not got interest and enthusiasm on your side. You are killing them in the private schools, and you will reap the result of your policy. You are spending £1,196,340, in addition to the Science and Art grant, on your schools, and yet the number of children who are being educated has only increased by 10 per cent., and you are getting poor educational results.
§ (6.0.) MR. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
I think the Report of the Department, and the exposition of it by the Lord Advocate, have been most satisfactory. We are accustomed to have satisfactory statements on this subject, and I think the Scottish nation regard the experiment that they have made in the way of national education as one that has borne, and continues to bear, a rich fruit. It may be that there is anxiety as to the early age at which children are withdrawn, but I have no doubt that some effort will be made to meet that. The point to which I wish to draw the Lord Advocate's attention refers to technical and intermediate education. I think the State, so far as it can exercise its function, is now called upon to frame a policy with regard to intermediate education. It appears from the Report that, as regards technical instruction, not very much has yet been done by the School Boards, who are the agents for disseminating it under the Act of 1887. That Act does not place us so favourably as England is placed by the English Act passed two years later, when County Councils were established, and which enabled the framers of the English Act to take advantage of those bodies for the administration of technical education. With regard to secondary education, the Report points out that it is in many respects weak, and that such schools as exist have many difficulties to struggle with, and that the struggle is not maintained with particular success. Everyone who knows anything of Scotland will confirm that view. As a link between the elementary school and the University, secondary education lacks vitality and energy. We shall have a large sum at the disposal of the country next year, and there will be many claims upon it. 954 Any money given in relief of rates should not be dribbled away in minute sums to individual ratepayers; and so long as that evil is avoided, I acknowledge that the claim of the ratepayers is a strong claim. I trust that the amount at disposal will be such as to encourage the Government to consider also the claims of inter mediate education. I do not believe, in my conscience, that the Lord Advocate, the Secretary for Scotland, and the Government would be in the least disinclined, if they have the means, to take that subject into their favourable con sideration. I should be the first to protest against any expenditure of public money which took a fanciful and luxurious aspect. But I very much mistake my fellow-countrymen if they would not warmly welcome a well-considered plan of intermediate education, as beneficial to the industrial classes as it is to the classes above them in the social scale. It would enable the hewers of wood and drawers of water to take part in developing the higher branches of the occupations in which they are engaged. This is an object which, if carefully and prudently worked, will commend itself to the approbation of the people of Scot land. I think that such an application of public money would be approved of under two conditions—
§ MR. CRAWFORD
The Report of the Department divides the subject into technical and intermediate education, and, differing from England, the Department has power to inspect the secondary schools. Under these conditions, may I ask whether I am out of order?
The hon. Gentleman is entering into the question of the appropriation of additional grants, which is outside the Vote.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
I know that there are other points to be discussed by hon. Members around me, and I will not pursue the matter further.
§ (6.10.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
I hope the Government will give us some information, if possible in the form of a Return, as to the number of schools in which fees are charged in any, or all, standards, the number of scholars in each parish or School Board district who pay these fees, and the number of schools. What I 955 wish to know is to what extent, under the grants to Scotland, education is already free. I do not think it would be desirable to take these figures until after the holidays, because I think the Minute of the Department came into effect only about June. If the Government would be good enough to obtain the statistics in some week of September, the information would be extremely useful when we come to consider the appropriation of the sum of money which falls to Scotland. As to the result of abolishing fees, the Inspectors bear testimony that it has had the effect of largely adding to the number of infant children in schools. On the other hand, all the Inspectors are equally unanimous that the result of limiting free education to the Fifth Standard is a diminution in the number of children in the higher standards. I am sure that this is a matter which must engage the most serious attention of the Government. There can be no question about the feeling which exists as to the early withdrawal of children. I know the right hon. Gentleman will say that the School Boards of Scotland are not bound to charge fees for children between three and five years, or over the age of 14. That is quite true. And one point I wish to learn is to what extent the School Boards of Scotland avail themselves of the power which they have of making education entirely free for the children of the elementary schools. The opinions of School Boards must not be taken without qualification. The School Boards are elected on a peculiar principle. They represent sects, interests, coteries, cliques, and associations, but they do not represent the bulk of the people of Scotland. The School Boards of Scotland are remarkably shrewd about keeping down the rates, and the question of children between three and live is likely to be determined by them rather upon considerations of economy than considerations affecting the interests of the children, or the education of the working classes. I trust, therefore, the Government will not be solely governed by the representations which no doubt they will receive from the School Boards, for I am perfectly confident that their views are not the views entertained by the people of Scotland. The Government must take 956 a broad view of the question, and I hope they will see the great impropriety of holding up to the School Boards a false standard, because the fact of the Government saying that they are not bound to pay the fees under a certain age, although technically legal, would have a damaging effect.
§ (6.20.) MR. J. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
In Scotland we have now had a few years' experience of" free education, and I think it is almost time that the Lord Advocate should say here what effect it is having on attendance and so forth. I hope he will be able to give us in the pages of the Report some account of what is happening in this matter. "We are also entitled to ask how the new Code, which has been in operation for half a year, is working. As to free education, while it is increasing the number of infant children attending the schools, there is an unfortunate diminution in the higher standards. In England the number of children under five years in attendance is 10 per cent. of the whole number of children attending. In Scotland it is less than 2 per cent. That shows a very different state of circumstances. The larger number of children in attendance in Scotland are-between the ages of five and seven—an age when they are capable of admirable discipline, as evidenced in the great schools of Glasgow. But it seems to me a very doubtful expedient to get these children to school between the ages of three and five years. Certainly the unsatisfactory feature of the Report is the diminution in the higher standards. The Inspectors speak of the difficulty of keeping the children at school up to the higher standards. I should like very much to see this point elucidated by figures, and I should like to know whether the Lord Advocate would be willing to give a Return on this point, giving the percentage of children under the age of 10, 12, 14, and 15 who pass the examinations? I believe that a means of checking this diminution in the higher standards would be to give greater elasticity to the new Code, and the Government might: do something to encourage the children to stay longer at school. We have heard that all compulsory education should be free. I do not know whether anybody is pre- 957 pared to enunciate the converse, that all free education should be compulsory; but certainly free education gives a Justification or opportunity for going in the direction of securing that the children pass the higher standards before they are exempted altogether. As to the secondary schools, they are at present very hard pressed by the higher class of public schools, which tread upon their heels very closely. Parliament has done all it can in the matter; money is needed, and money, I hope, will come. I can only say that while I would be exceedingly sorry to make the secondary schools the slaves of the Education Department, still I think a great deal could be done by putting them under its control. I am glad to see by the Report that during the Recess the Department will spare no pains in gathering information with regard to the present condition of secondary schools and endowments in Scotland. It is a wider promise than that given by the Lord Advocate in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow. I suppose we may take it to mean that the inquiry will be into the whole question of these secondary schools, and that we shall have the full information before us. I hope the Department will also give information as to any change in the destination of the funds, which hitherto have been devoted to primary education, and which are now set free from secondary education. There is one point on which I should like an explanation. We have lately crossed the 9d. limit, and it was recently laid down by the Public Accounts Committee that we have acted upon an interpretation of the law which, in their opinion, is a wrong interpretation. As this involves some hardship to the schools which acted on the former interpretation of the law, I should like to hear some explanation on the subject from the Lord Advocate. In conclusion, I beg to join with the hon. Member for Lanark in congratulating the Lord Advocate and the Government on the satisfactory condition of education in Scotland.
§ (6.40.) MR. ANGUS SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)
I have not the enthusiasm for private schools possessed by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Rollox. I do not suppose they are animated by the disinterested motives which my hon. 958 Friend has attributed to them. All I can say is, that they have shown a greater zeal in many cases for the reduction of the rates than for the education of the people. I think some means ought to be taken by the Education Department to ensure that the money that accrues to them in excess shall go to increase the quality of the education rather than to reduce the fees. I have spoken to members of School Boards as to the teaching, and they have said that they satisfy the Department. On inquiry, I have found that satisfaction was caused by merely meeting the minimum requirements of the Department. That is not a gratifying state of matters. As to the subject of collective teaching, I am bound to say that, when I introduced it before, the Lord Advocate met me in a fair spirit; and on looking to the Report, I am glad to see that the Board are, on the whole, satisfied with the system. I would like the Government to consider whether that system could not be extended, knowing as I do that it would give greater elasticity to the arrangements of schools, and also that it would make more rational the work of the Inspectors if the Standard Codes were included in this system. Another point is, that no encouragement is given by the Department to teaching beyond Standard VI. The School Boards do not want any grants; all they desire is that subjects shall be given them for examination beyond Standard VI., and they are prepared to meet the expense. As regards secondary schools, I think that the Department should have the power to introduce among them higher standards than those now existing. They should provide a more efficient and more numerous staff of teachers. I think that is the only way in which any rational steps can be taken to meet the requirements of intermediate or secondary education, in the rural districts of Scotland particularly. In the case of towns, they have more income and more favourable circumstances. I think the interest taken by this House lately in educational questions, and the grants made by the Department; should encourage local School Boards to keep children longer at school where there is a desire in that direction on the part of the parents.
§ (6.48.) MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I wish to call attention to the question of the training colleges of Scotland. It has been my custom for some years past to take a Division upon this question; but I shall not upon this occasion, in the absence of so many Members for Scotland, put the House to the trouble of a Division, which would afford no true indication of the real opinion of the Scottish people on this subject. The Report of the Committee of Council, as usual, contains an allusion to this subject, which is in the nature of an excuse, and, therefore, being an excuse, is a condemnation of the system of management. It says that, although these colleges are denominational, it is but little more than in name, and that they are conducted with the utmost care, so as to respect any differences in religious views. We depend upon these Colleges for the supply of schoolmasters in Scotland; and even though they are denominational but in name, still that very fact is evidence of the necessity for some reform. I wish the Lord Advocate and the Department to take heart of grace, and declare that these institutions, which almost entirely depend upon public support, should cease to be denominational, even in name. Many of us object to the training of public schoolmasters being divorced from the more liberal culture of the Universities. We hold that the benefit of the Universities should be extended to the rising generation of schoolmasters. I do not know what is the exact position of this question, and whether or not it is in the hands of the Commission. The subject has been before the Government in one shape or other for a very considerable time, and I suppose you have, at all events, some University institution to which a portion of the rising generation of schoolmasters might be drafted. Possibly, the University of Aberdeen and other Universities might be invited to take charge of part of the work of training the schoolmasters of the public elementary schools of Scotland. I hope the Lord Advocate will give us what information he possesses upon the subject, because I feel sure it is a matter of the greatest interest to the people of Scotland and to all who are concerned in the work of education.
§ (6.54.) MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)
I think the Government may be congratulated on the Debate on the Education Estimates. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not consider it a left-handed compliment to his speech if I say that it seemed to me as good an education speech as even the people of Scotland could have expected to have compressed into the space of ten minutes. In these matters Scotland, from her history, has perhaps given the lead to England. As regards free education, we know, of course, that it has been so; but on this question of free education in Scotland, I could have wished that the Report had given us a little more light and leading than I find in it. My hon. Friend mentioned the number of 38,000 as the number of school seats in excess of the demands of the population, but he also pointed to a table which seems to show that a very different result might be obtained—Table 9 in the Report. That Table shews that the average attendance is 517,738 out of a population of 728,340, leaving a difference of about 150,000. We have an additional £300,000 of expenditure in Scotland, and we naturally look for some educational results there from, and certainly the chief result appears to have been the increased attendance of children. There has been a complaint that Scotland does not equal England in the attendance of infant children, and I certainly think that if the former country is beginning to get hold of the neglected classes at an earlier age, thus being able to subject them to a salutary and beneficent discipline, a real and distinct gain will accrue to the community. Then we have the fact of the falling off in the higher standards. I do not think the School Boards are altogether responsible in this matter; but, on the other hand, I do not think it well that the whole responsibility should be thrown upon the Central Department. I think there are ways in which the Department could encourage the attendance in the higher standards. The Department might say that if the pupils passed before the age of 13, they should not be allowed to go to work, and so lost to the school at the most profitable age; the Department might say that 961 they should go on to the Sixth Standard. Whether or not that proposition would excite the opposition of the people is very difficult to say; but the Department might do something in the way of giving pecuniary recognition of work in the higher standards, and work towards the University. In reference to what the hon. Member for Dundee has said, I agree that it is necessary we should have an improvement and an extension of the teaching staff. Parents will not need compulsion to send their children where good teaching is to be obtained. I trust the Lord Advocate will consider the point, and be able to give us some assurance with regard to it. At present there is a great strain upon teachers, from which it is desirable that they should be to some extent relieved. If the Department would give some encouragement to the teachers in the higher grades out of this extra money, then the children would be able to receive sufficient education to start them in University studies. The case of the training colleges is important and urgent. I think I know, from recent information, how this matter stands, for it is but a few hours since I attended a deputation to Dover House on the subject of training colleges. Here is the difficulty that arises: We have given all this for free education, but the practising schools in connection with training colleges have lost considerably in their finances. They were receiving 9d. a week, or say 30s. a year, for each pupil in the practising schools, and that enabled us to give them all the advantages of the schools at Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, without any charge on the Estimates. 30s. from the parents paid the expenses, the staff of teachers being provided from the masters in training. But now the difficulty has arisen thus: These schools will get only the new grant—11s. to 13s.—instead of 30s. The question raised to-day was whether these practising schools should be treated as national rather than as denominational schools, whether they have not a fair claim to some of this public money. They are an essential part of the system for training teachers. I do not suppose the Lord Advocate can give us an answer yet, but it is a matter of serious consideration how these practising schools are to be kept alive. It was recommended by the Departmental 962 Committee that there should be required from teachers a rather longer discipline in connection with practising schools—that the present period of 12 weeks should be considerably increased. The Member for Dundee has raised in a practical form, in connection with the question of training colleges, a point which is important and urgent. All I wish and say is this: that it seems to me the Education Department has an excellent opportunity of experimentally trying a new system by favouring the demand made by the hon. Member (Mr. Robertson) on behalf of the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews—that they may be allowed to train teachers. In some form or other the special training of teachers must be continued, and it might be done by the application of the same principle of a grant for their training at the Universities as at the Colleges. I am quite willing that the training of teachers should be transferred to hands entirely unconnected with churches, provided that it is a special training, and perhaps the first step in that direction would be to give the Dundee and St. Andrews Universities the power asked for, while the practising schools might also be nationalised. If Church Bodies no longer find it to the interest of their denominations to support these schools, then we might relieve the denominations of those practising schools and organise them as national institutions. Individuals, of course, could be retained on the staff under the new management, though changes may he made in the system of training. Without developing the subject, I merely express the hope that more attention will be paid by the Department to evening schools both in town and in rural districts.
§ (7.10.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
I acknowledge with pleasure the great moderation which hon. Gentlemen have exercised in discussing this Vote, in which they take great interest, and the manner in which they have accommodated the length of their speeches to the time at the disposal of the House. I am sorry my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Lanark should have found that this is not the occasion for entering on a subject in which he takes an especial interest; and I do not think I shall go wrong if I say 963 that his speech—or so much of it as was delivered—has been noted, and shall receive attention in proportion to the importance of the subject discussed. I will do my best to answer the questions put to me, taking the subjects in order. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) has asked for further information regarding schools in which fees are paid, and he wishes to have a statement as to the number and condition of these schools. In relation to the important and interesting subject he has discussed, my impression is that the hon. Member for North Aberdeen will find most, if not all, the information he desires in the present Report; but if not, I shall be prepared to consider whether any further information with regard to schools in which fees are charged, and the number of scholars paying them, can be given. As to the number of children who are paying fees over the Fifth Standard under the Minute recently abrogated, about one-half of the children were paying fees; but the result of the Minute of the 11th June will be that that proportion will practically disappear, and only the small number of children over 14 still in that standard will pay fees. I think it would be premature to make a statement, as desired by the hon. Member for Partick (Mr. Parker Smith), on the general effect of the remission of fees on attendance. I must wait for more matured experience to be able to speak as to actual results. In the opinion of the Department, the system of collective examinations works well. At first it was confined to the lower standards, but under the Code of 1890 it is applied to all the standards.
§ MR. ANGUS SUTHERLAND
There are certain grants given on the results of individual examinations in Standard VI.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
I do not think that is for examinations under the standard; the system has been extended to all the standards. I think the hon. Member for Sutherland is in error in his criticisms as to teaching above the Sixth Standard, but grants are paid for specific subjects. With regard to the question which came before the Public Accounts Committee, payment will be allowed, after due inquiry, in all cases where the rules that are this year for the first 964 time definitely laid down by the Public Accounts Committee have been contravened. In future not only must the average fee not exceed 9d., but not more than one-third of the scholars must be paying more than 9d., and deductions must be made in the fees returned only for subjects (1) that are optional; (2) that are outside the necessary two hours of secular instruction; and (3) for which no grant is claimed. In each case the Department will ascertain the exact facts. I acknowledge the good sense and forbearance shown by the hon. Member for Dundee in abstaining, under present circumstances, from his time-honoured Division on the subject of training colleges. The subject of University training of teachers has been for some time under the consideration of the Department, and now the University Commission has it under consideration. The Department has submitted to the Commission proposals which have been made by some of the Universities, and I do not doubt that St. Andrews and Dundee Universities will have a special claim on the attention of the Commissioners. It is obvious that in this matter the action of the Department must, to a considerable extent, depend upon the new University arrangements. The present moment is not opportune for dwelling on the subject. The hon. Member for Perth has raised another point regarding the table of attendances given in the Report of the Scotch Education Dapartment. I can not say that I am a great partisan of the table, but the note that is added I consider to be sufficiently explanatory. The substance of the statement to which the table is applied will be found in the body of the Report. I trust I shall not again incur the somewhat kindly censure of the hon. Member for Perth for undue brevity. I do not undervalue the importance of the subjects he has touched upon, but I think it will be in accordance with the general wish if I follow the example of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have treated this as a business matter, realising the conditions under which the Session is now closing.
§ (7.20.) MR. CALDWELL
I think the Committee will acknowledge that the criticisms I ventured to offer on the Report of the Education Department showed that I had made some 965 inquiry into the subjects I dealt with, and, as this is the first occasion of the kind I remember, I think I may be allowed to express some surprise that after criticising the Report of the Department, as I have found it my duty to do, the Lord Advocate has not said one single word in reply to that criticism. It is not a matter in which personally I have any feeling whatever, and no doubt everything I said of importance will be reported in the Scotch newspapers, I gave facts capable of proof on inquiry, and those facts in my speech will appear before the people of Scotland. It is a personal slight which I consider unworthy of the Lord Advocate, and it is utterly without precedent for a Member of the Government, after listening to a Debate on an important subject like this, to reply to every individual Member who spoke on the subject, but not to say one single word in answer to the criticisms offered by myself. If the Lord Advocate thinks it is a clever and convenient way of treating a speech pointing out defects in the Education Report, he is welcome to think so, but perhaps the real reason is that the Lord Advocate cannot reply to the facts which I brought forward. I did not make assertions merely; I stated facts which carry their own conclusions. Perhaps the Lord Advocate found that on those facts no reply is possible. We all know that it is more prudent when you have no reply for your opponent not to attempt one, and so I will not deny the prudence of the Lord Advocate. No doubt considerable time has been taken up in attacking the Report of the Department, but let me point out that on former occasions the Ministerial statement on Scottish educational matters has occupied an hour and a half, and the whole evening has been given to the discussion, and it is necessary that even more time should be occupied now, because we have reached a condition of affairs in Scotch education that is utterly unprecedented. For the first time in the history of Scotland there has been an arrestment of educational progress, if not an absolute decline. An important matter like this deserves serious treatment, and I think it would not have been right if I had made random charges against the Department without supporting my attack with facts. It was 966 necessary to lay the foundation and clear away the cobwebs in this Report of the Department, and having shown the actual state of facts, to inquire into the causes, and indicate how they should be dealt with in the future. I venture to say that, looking at the matter in a serious light, there are ample reasons for asking the attention of the House on the present occasion, and though the Government think it convenient to ignore the facts, the facts remain and demand attention. There has been no reply to what has been said by the hon. Member for Sutherland in regard to examinations. You have abolished individual examinations, as I predicted you would have to do, and this is the only opportunity we have of drawing a comparison and showing the effect of collective examinations versus individual examinations. The Department may think it convenient not to answer my speech, but I do not think that those who read that speech will think that the subject has been dealt with in a manner too extensive, or otherwise than in the interests of education. I am quite content to allow the Lord Advocate to do what the right hon. Gentleman knows no other Member of the Government has ever had the discourtesy to do in this House—namely, not to reply to criticisms made. This shows the difficulty under which we labour in not having the Secretary for Scotland in this House, and in having the Scottish business managed by the Lord Advocate, who replies to us with all the subtleties of legal acumen, but without those courtesies and amenities which we receive from every other Member of this or any other Government. We have had no reply, and I assume there is no reply to make. There are other matters we were prepared to discuss, but I will not take them up just now. It is evident that this subject is to be hurried through the House, and that no time is to be given to Scotch matters. They are left until the end of the Session, when nearly all the Scotch Members are away and discussion is not possible. Looking at the enormous sum we are giving from Imperial sources towards this object, at least one evening should be devoted to the discussion. Whatever boast the Government may make, and undoubtedly will 967 make, as to their legislative achievements this Session, the people of Scotland shall know that they were performed by the Scottish Estimates being hurried through at the end of the Session, when most of the Scottish Members were absent, by the Western Highlands Bill being taken early in the morning, and by the Education Vote itself being brought on at half-past two in the morning, sought to be taken without a word of explanation, and postponed by a species of bargaining unworthy of the Government and of the House.
§ *(7.30.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
Whatever cause of complaint the hon. Member may have, I think the Scottish Members have been treated better than Members representing English constituencies were treated last night, when the English Education Vote was not commenced until after 12 o'clock. I am glad to think the Scottish people have been treated a little better, although not, perhaps, so well as they deserve. I am sorry that it should be necessary to go into these matters here. I am of opinion that it would be much better if all these local matters were dealt with in Scotland, and if the Imperial Parliament were not troubled with going into them at all. However, as we have to deal with them it is our duty to make a few inquiries. I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he does not think that the office in London could be removed to Edinburgh in the interest of education in Scotland. I see that in the office in Edinburgh—under sub-head "K"—there are officials whose salaries amount to £640. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not think that this office could be transferred to London, and that office in London under sub-head "A" transferred to Edinburgh. That would be something in the way of Scottish Home Rule, and as I am in favour of Home Rule for Scotland as well as for Ireland, I should not object to it. Then, I would ask the Lord Advocate if properly qualified teachers have an opportunity in Scotland of obtaining the posts of Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors, and so on? I have seen somewhere a statement to the effect that they have that opportunity, but I wish to obtain precise information on the point—information which, pos- 968 sibly, at some future time may guide us in dealing with England. As to sectarian training colleges, something was said about them just now; bat I did not gather that the right hon. Gentleman gave any reply. Early this morning we had the courage to take a Division against sectarian training colleges in England, and I am sorry that hon. Gentlemen representing Scotch constituencies have not had the courage to do the same. At any rate, unless we can get an assurance from the Lord Advocate that changes have been considered in regard to this matter, I may feel it my duty to move a small reduction in the Vote as a matter of principle. I will not go into the accounts, as I fully and frankly admit that Scotland is the only part of the United Kingdom where something like economy is considered in connection with the public offices.
§ *(7.36.) MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
In reply to the hon. Member I have to say that it would be impossible to disturb the Scotch Education Department to the extent of removing the office from London to Edinburgh. The Minister responsible for Education in Scotland must be in his place in Parliament, and moreover, the whole system of education in Scotland must be very much in touch with Parliament. The Department in Edinburgh is an accountant's office. It is found convenient to maintain this office, but I can assure the hon. Member that it is not a separate establishment performing double work or anything of that kind. As regards the appointments to Scotch Inspectorships, teachers are under no disqualification. The Department choose for these positions men of experience in educational work, and so long as they get efficient teachers the whole field is open.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
Certainly appointments have been made amongst gentlemen engaged in educational work of some kind or other. The Department, however, make it a rule to take the best man wherever he is found. As to the question of training colleges, I do not know whether the hon. Member is fully acquainted with the point raised by the hon. Member for Dundee. The hon. Member adverted to the question of training colleges, but is he alive to the 969 fact that at present the question of supplying educational training to teachers in the Universities is mooted, and effectually mooted, before the University Committee? The Universities would be in competition with the training colleges, and the hon. Member has acknowledged that the Universities would be formidable competitors to the training colleges were they to enter the field.
§ *(7.40.) MR. MORTON
I am not quite satisfied with the answer I have got—especially having regard to the way in which the Lord Advocate finished up. I will not now deal with the question of the Universities however, as they will come under another Vote. I am surprised at the right hon. Gentleman's statement in regard to the Education Office, and it does not appear to me to convey a very good reason for the Vote. I do not wish to put the Committee to the trouble of a Division, but I must say I very much regret that on the sectarian question the Scotch Members have not had the courage to follow the example set them by the English and Irish Members last night. I hope they will yet have the courage to move the reduction of the Vote—and if they do I shall be happy to vote with them. I hope the day is not far distant when Scotland will have Home Rule, and when all these local affairs will be managed in Scotland, for the benefit of Scotsmen. I am sure that they will be much better managed than they are at present by South Kensington Scotsmen.
SIR G. CAMPBELL&c.) (Kirkcaldy,
I have some doubts as to whether the training colleges are the best colleges for training teachers. You want training colleges where you can get teaching of a particular character. My objection is not to the colleges, but to their sectarian character. I object to enormous endowments being given over to the Churches. It is not right that they should be given over in this way, and you cannot expect under such a system the same efficiency that you would have if you had a national system.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I do not intend to discuss the matter further on this Vote, but when the proper Vote comes on I shall certainly refer to the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Advocate—as I should to the conduct of any Member of the Government who 970 acted as he has done in this Debate. I shall take the opportunity then, if I see fit, to go into this subject at as great a length as the necessities of the case require. I say that without any feeling or temper. Discourtesy is a thing which the Lord Advocate can monopolise. I will not say one single word which could be interpreted as in any way rude or in any way angry. I shall bear myself with dignity and state my case with prudence and great patience when we come to the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill.
§ *(7.45.) MR. MORTON
Before the Vote is taken I desire to put a question to the Lord Advocate which I promised the hon. Member for Haggerston to put. I desire to ask what are the hours of work in the Scotch Education Office in London?
§ MR. CALDWELL
Again I would refer to the conduct of the Lord Advocate. While he will not say a word in reply to me he has been kind and considerate to questions put by every other Member who has spoken on this side of the House, including the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Morton).
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. £506,539, to complete the sum for Public Education, Ireland.
§ (7.49.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I desire to point out that, while there is an increase in the Education Votes in the case of England and Scotland, in the case of Ireland there is a decrease, from £933,000 last year to £927,000 this year. In spite of all our protests, some Irish Votes, for purposes which we consider useless, grow year after year, yet we find that a heavy reduction occurs in this Educational Vote. Moreover, we find that whilst the cost of administration and inspection, and the salaries of the higher officials, are maintained at an undiminished amount, the reduction—and it is a heavy one—takes place in the item for the salaries of the teachers. That is precisely the item which we should be glad to see increased. The result fees have fallen short this year by £18,000, and that, I have no doubt, means a considerable increase of hardship to a very hard-working and poorly-paid body of men. I think the time has 971 come when we may claim from the Chief Secretary some statement of a fundamental character as to his opinion about the continuance of this system of payment of teachers in Ireland, which has been abandoned in England. The system of payment by result fees, I say, has been abandoned in England, and 24 hours have not passed since the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council congratulated himself, the House, and the country on the fact. Still, we have heard nothing as to the system being brought to an end in Ireland. We hear of no intention of abandoning it. It exists in Ireland in a very aggravated form, because whilst you pay half the amount absolutely, the payment of the other half depends on an appropriation from local resources. This leads to very undesirable results in regard to the frankness and candour of the teachers, as it causes a tendency to paint the local receipts in too glowing colours. With regard to this Vote, the Irish Members stand in a very peculiar and very exceptional position. By the Customs and Excise Act, a sum of £78,000 was given last year to Ireland in aid of the salaries of teachers. We do not yet know how far that allocation has resulted in practical benefit. As a matter of fact, that money is still due, and the fact illustrates the Oriental manner in which the National Education Board in Dublin are pleased to discharge their functions. We have also yet to ascertain not only the mode of the distribution of the new grant to Ireland, but the principle upon which that distribution is to be based. Therefore it is difficult at present to discuss the Vote so far as it concerns the salaries of teachers. The operation and the principle of the Act of next year are hidden from us. The Chief Secretary will have next year not only a Local Government Bill for Ireland, but also a Bill for the allocation of the free education grant. I presume that in connection with the latter, he will make some proposal for securing the compulsory attendance of children at school. This is a question which, in regard to Ireland, would have to be approached with the greatest circumspection and with the greatest possible care. In a comparatively wealthy country, where the parents do not 972 depend on the labour of the children, it is an easy matter to direct that parents shall be obliged to send their children to school, but in Ireland the people are so exceedingly poor that the labour of the children, even at a tender age, in some parts of the country is essential to the family. We have carefully to consider to what extent and on what gradations we must oblige parents to send their children to school. There is the question of age and also that of distance—and the latter is an important matter in a country where the children are very poor, badly clothed, and sometimes shoeless. It is apparent that the principle of compulsion in regard to education in Ireland will have to be very carefully considered. The question will resolve itself very much more into one of detail than of principle. Then it appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman can hardly approach the drafting of his Bill—certainly he cannot submit it to the House—without obtaining some precise authoritative information as to the condition of the people of Ireland. I would suggest the appointment of a small Commission, not an ornamental one, but a working Commission, who will present a Report by the end of the present year. If such a Commission were appointed, the right hon. Gentleman might find it extremely useful even beyond the scope of the question indicated. The time, I think, has come when there must be an overhauling of the system of so-called national education in Ireland. It requires examination from beginning to end, and the right hon. Gentleman could not do better than choose the present time to inform himself and the House on other matters which have been and will be the subject of controversy. We are not willing any longer that this National Board should be wholly nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. That may have been all very well generations since, when the Irish people had not either by their own reflection or by following the example of this country, educated themselves up to a higher conception of their rights. Nowadays, when they have almost manhood suffrage, and the Ballot Act, you cannot expect the people, in a matter so deeply affecting their interests as the education of their children, to accept the 973 sort of administration that would have been accepted a generation ago. We cannot consent to this Board being nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. The result of the present arrangement is that the control of the system is thrown into the hands of one man—the salaried Commissioner. We, in Ireland, are not in the humour to stand one man dictation any longer. Then, again, there ought to be inquiry into the model schools, which cost £30,000, and are attended by 7,000 children. Each child costs over £4 a year; there is nothing like that in the civilised world, and, in regard to mixed education, these schools are really denominational institutions of the most sinister kind. The question of the school books used by the National Board also requires investigation. Teachers are obliged to sell and the children are obliged to use the books issued by permission of the National Board, and those books alone. The Commissioners, in fact, impose the teaching from their own books by founding on those books the questions which are put in the examinations. Is it too much to ask that in Ireland as in England there should be free trade in school books, provided, of course, that they are not of an objectionable character? I trust also that the condition of the assistant teachers will be taken into careful consideration this year. At present whatever may be the classification of an assistant teacher he only gets the pay of the third class. If all the assistant teachers were to get the highest salaries of their class the difference in the Vote would be only £10,000 a year. Then the pension scheme is not in a satisfactory condition. It is sometimes unjust that a person should not be entitled to a pension until he has reached a certain ago. Teachers ought to be entitled to pensions either on attaining a certain age or on completing a certain term of service. As for the question of teachers' residences, I fear it cannot be treated in a satisfactory manner until an Act is passed for the compulsory acquisition of sites. The next point I wish to refer to is in regard to the training colleges in Ireland, which are included in this Vote. I find an outline of the scheme for the future management of those institutions. It might interest the hon. Member for South Tyrone to 974 know that the college in which he feels such a profound interest (Marlborough Street College) will benefit by the changes made to the extent of £2,600. Last year the provision for Marlborough Street was £7,485, but the provision made this year for the College is £10,094. I noticed from the speech of the Vice President of the Council last night that the system of training colleges in England has been supplemented by a system of day colleges besides the resident colleges, and the Vice President has during the present year allocated out of the Education Vote as much money as is necessary for the working of his own scheme of day colleges, subject to approval by Parliament. What I would suggest to the Chief Secretary is that he should, in face of the obstruction that has been shown to his Bill, deal with the second part of his scheme in the same way as he dealt with the first—by the use of his Executive authority, and that he should this autumn make his valuation of the colleges as contemplated by the Bill, and out of the Education Vote, which always contains a sufficient surplus, should pay this year the first instalment towards cancelling that capital sum which is to be regarded as a debt to the colleges from the State. It would be quite in keeping with the action of the Vice President and in accordance with the scheme developed in this Estimate, and would be justified by Executive responsibility in financial matters of this kind.
§ (8.8.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
The first point raised by the hon. Gentleman relates to the salaries of the teachers in Ireland. That matter has often occupied the attention of the Irish Members, and successive Governments have endeavoured to deal with it. The great difficulty in dealing with it has always been as to the provision of more money to improve the position of the teachers, who already, however, get more in proportion than is given to the teachers of the same class in England and Scotland. But I am very glad to be able to say that the present Government were enabled to give a large sum of money last year for increasing the salaries of the teachers—£78,000. And the money 975 was given in such a way that the benefit is not to be measured by the sum of £78,000 only, because it is so distributed that it may be made to earn for the teachers a contribution from the Government almost corresponding in amount. Therefore we may say that the Government have directly added to the renumeration of the Irish teachers last year not merely £78,000, but also a large corresponding contribution, which the Exchequer is bound to give under the existing regulation. With regard to the Bill of next Session, I quite agree with the views expressed by the hon. Member for West Belfast, and admit that the question of compulsory education is a matter of great complexity and delicacy, and one that will have to be dealt with very carefully, for I can well understand that in remote districts compulsory education, in consequence of the habits of the people, the long distances they are from any school, and other reasons, would not only be ineffective, but would be very burdensome and repulsive to a large number of the people. Whether it is wise or not to appoint a Commission I will consider, but I do not think it will be possible in any Bill to parcel out the districts where compulsory education should or should not be enforced. We must proceed in the matter on some easy, intelligible principle, though such principles might be somewhat arbitrary. The hon. Member referred to the Education Board, and said he thought it should have some elective element in it; but I think the Board should be compared not with Town Councils or County Councils, or other bodies which are controlled by the elective element, but rather with the Education Offices in England and Scotland, and with such Councils as the India Council and bodies of that kind, in which, so far as I know, the elective principle has never been admitted. However, this a matter far too large for me to adequately grapple with at the present moment, and I cannot hold out any hope that I shall next year be in a position, even if I think it desirable on other grounds, to make any proposal to disturb the existing arrangements. On the next point referred to by the hon. Member—that of the model schools—I have to give a somewhat similar answer. If those schools are to be interfered with at all I think it 976 should be done on different principles to those which apply to other schools. I grant that it might be difficult to altogether defend the existing scheme or arrangements, but I must say that I think it would be most unwise for any Government to interfere with the model schools in Ulster, and, for my own part, I should never think of suggesting or recommending any such policy to the acceptance of the House. As to the alleged monopoly of the sale of books by the Education Department, it should be stated that the Department allow the schools to purchase their school books anywhere, provided only that they meet the necessary conditions. The fact simply is that the Department is able to supply the books at cost price, and, therefore, the school managers find it to their pecuniary advantage to purchase their books of the Department. The hon. Gentleman met that argument by remarking that, if the children were examined only by those books, the masters, being paid by results, were practically compelled to use them henceforth. All I can say is that I will make inquiries into this point, and if I find, as I am sure I shall not find, what I may describe as any failure of policy such as has been described in this matter, I will try to remedy the defect as far as possible. With regard to the question of the salaries of assistant teachers, the hon. Member says they are fixed at a rate far lower than the amount they earn by their classes. I do not gather he is prepared to say that the system is in essence wrong, and I take it he will be inclined to agree with me that to pay a man as much for undertaking the less onerous, less burdensome, and less responsible duties of assistant teachers as is paid to the man who runs the concern, simply because he is capable of passing the higher examination, would be absurd.
§ MR. SEXTON
My point is that it is not fair to treat a man who has climbed to the top rung of the ladder of classification exactly as if he remained at the bottom.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The danger is this. There are many men quite capable of passing the examination and becoming teachers who will not take the trouble to do so unless the assistant teacherships are made very much less remunerative. I will, however, consult with my advisers 977 as to whether the difference between the assistant and the head masters in this respect is too wide, and, if so, I will do my best to devise a remedy. As to the question of sites for school buildings, the Treasury are prepared to make advances for the whole cost of the site. They are prepared to charge a very low rate of interest, and of the rate so charged they will pay half themselves. These, I think, are extremely generous terms, and one satisfactory result is that the number of applications made for sites has rapidly increased of late years. Complaints have been made about the difficulty of obtaining sites, but, having gone through the reports, I can find no such complaint coming from the Board. It may be true, as has been said, that nothing short of compulsory power will enable us to provide sites in all oases where they are required. That is a question for consideration, and if the result of the inquiry is to show that the efficiency of many schools is destroyed or impaired by the fact that a teacher has to live a great distance from the place where his business is carried on, some remedy will have to be provided by this House. I have no doubt a system of compulsion, carefully safeguarding the interests not so much of the owner as of the occupier, will be devised. With regard to providing the capital sum required for the training colleges, the view of the Government was that the best way of doing so was to proceed by Bill. It was in that view I asked the Treasury to frame the Bill which has been discussed at such great length, and I still think the course I proposed was the best in the abstract; but when I brought in the Bill I never contemplated that it would receive any opposition at all, still less that there would be any opposition of the kind and from the quarter of which we have had some experience. I frankly admit that the course which my hon. Friend opposite and one or two hon. Friends of mine on the Ministerial side thought it their duty to take last night—the course which I understand they propose to follow on any future occasion—renders it necessary, or at all events advisable, for me to consider whether the Government may not, departing somewhat from the original plan, be content with carrying out the practical object, even though that is attained in a less theoretically perfect 978 manner than we should desire. I certainly have come to the conclusion that that is the case. Under the circumstances, I think it will probably be more convenient to do that which the Government has a legal right to do. The Bill provides substantially for two things. It provides that a valuation shall be taken of the houses and appurtenances of the three denominational training colleges, and it provides also that the interest of the capital sum so estimated shall be paid out of the Votes. It is not at all necessary to obtain legal sanction for making a valuation, and I propose to give instructions immediately to Sir John Ball Greene to proceed with the work. When that is done, and when we are acquainted with the capital sum which will be required in order to provide the three denominational training colleges with what in these discussions has been called a free home, I shall then, as I understand I have a right to do, pay the interest on the money out of the Votes which are now being taken. I believe there will be ample money for the purpose, and, if not, I shall provide additional security in any case in next year's Estimate, and I shall provide a special head under which this particular item of charge can be most conveniently taken. That, I hope, will save my hon. Friend opposite a great deal of unnecessary trouble, and also carry out a policy pressed upon me, I repeat, in the main, not by the Diocesan Synods, but by the United Synod of the Church of Ireland, and not on one but on two occasions—a policy which I initiated as much for the purpose of saving the undenominational colleges from the fate which undoubtedly awaits them if some such policy is not carried as for aiding the denominational colleges—a policy which I do not admit to be in any sense inconsistent with the system of mixed education now prevailing in Ireland. It is largely because I desire that the interests of the Presbyterian colleges, which my hon. Friend opposite specially represents, should not be injured, that I brought forward the Bill which has caused so much trouble and anxiety, I will not say so much bad blood, but so much heated controversy. I shall still feel, if and when this policy is carried out, that the persons to be congratulated upon its consummation are not merely or principally those who 979 are interested in Protestant training colleges or in Roman Catholic training colleges, but those who think with my hon. Friend that the educational future of Ireland is bound up with the prosperity of the mixed system which has so long been established in that country. (8.45.)
§ (9.19.) Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ (9.21.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I listened with attention and interest to the speech the Chief Secretary has just delivered. In regard to the matter of training colleges in Ireland, I gather from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that he proposes to withdraw the Bill which has caused so much feeling within the last 48 hours, and to relieve the House of responsibility until he asks for a Vote next Session. He proposes to take upon himself the responsibility of providing the money, and, having done so, will afterwards come to Parliament for a Vote. So until then the responsibility of Members here will cease. To that course I have no objection, and I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has seen his way to remove a bone of contention; but in parting with the measure I would give it a final kick, though the fundamental objection I have will, of course, arise on the Vote for Training Colleges in the Estimates.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) and the Chief Secretary have discussed the whole question—
The intention of the Government has been stated, but it would not be in order to discuss the question.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I will reserve what I have to say until the Motion for the withdrawal of the Bill, and I will remain in town for that purpose, merely remarking now that without a Bill the Chief Secretary cannot touch the Irish Church surplus at all. Judging from the speech of the hon. Member for 980 West Belfast, the model schools are the next educational institutions to be attacked. There are 29 on the Vote. The Chief Secretary says he does not intend to allow any attack in the Province of Ulster, which contains 14 out of the 29, and these 14 are, therefore, safe as long as the right hon. Gentleman remains in his present state of mind. But there are model schools outside Ulster which have as good a right to be maintained as those within it. There is one in Dublin which is as great a success as that at Belfast, and ought equally to be maintained. The same is true of the schools at Cork and other large centres of population, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will think twice before laying his hands on schools which provide a first-class education. I admit that there are schools which are less successful, but that is because the Roman Catholic clergy will not allow children to attend them. Even these were successful while they had the support of the Roman Catholic clergy; but since these clergy have turned against them and do not allow Catholic children to attend they have been failures. Still, outside Ulster there are schools that deserve to be maintained if the cost is not too great. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] The Vote includes £10,000 for the Marlborough Street Training College, and £21,000 for the other three colleges. Marlborough Street College commenced training teachers in 1833, and has trained altogether 11,868, or an average of 201 a year. St. Patrick's, which received an endowment in 1883, in seven years has trained 593, or an average of 84. The Lady of Mercy College has trained 620, or an average of 88. There appears to be a disproportion between these averages and the grants voted. I coincide with what the hon. Member for West Belfast has said as to an Education Bill next year, and the Chief Secretary must not take me as hostile to that. I am quite prepared to discuss the Irish education question, but not at 3 o'clock in the morning, and I hope the House has seen the last of these efforts to get the Irish Estimates through by throwing a bone to the Irish Members.
§ (9.30.) MR. SEXTON
The hon. Member, as is usual with him when he wants to push a case, has not recited all the facts and figures that are relevant. The 981 hon. Member apparently has not noticed the explanation which is given in the foot-note.
§ MR. SEXTON
There is no meaning in the hon. Member's allusions, unless he means it to be inferred that there is something unfair in the proportion awarded to Marlborough Street College. We find that the average attendance at Marlborough Street College is 99 men and 99 women, and in the others, 184 men and 214 women; that is the arithmetical explanation of the figures £10,000 and £21,000. The money for Marlborough Street College is calculated at the same rates as in the case of the other colleges—on the attendance.
§ (9.32.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
The Chief Secretary has hinted at the course he might pursue; he has not positively stated that he will abandon the Training Colleges Bill, but has only said that he may do so. We have refrained from discussing Irish Votes in order to allow the Bill to come on, and that people might understand the tactics of the Ulster Members. If the right hon. Gentleman does not proceed with the Bill he will have got a good many Irish Votes on false pretences.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Well, I suppose we who are not on the Treasury Bench are not in order, but I submit if the Chief Secretary makes a statement we should be allowed reference to it. I have myself refrained from making a good many speeches during the last few days in the hope that the Bill would be brought on. But, of course, if it is not brought on we have no longer any responsibility, and the hon. Member for South Tyrone will have his way. Next year we do not know what new arrangement or combination of Parties may arise.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
The Commissioners of Education have reported upon the training colleges, and I wish to point out how few there are in Ireland for denominational education, whereas in England out of 41 training colleges something like 38 are conducted on denominational principles. Such is the 982 existing state of facts as indicated by the Commissioners, a state of facts so bad that I think we would be justified in moving a reduction of the Vote for the salary of the Commissioners. Still,. I admit the Commissioners are painstaking men, and I see no advantage in taking that course now. Now, as to model schools. The hon. Member has spoken in praise of model schools, and I am willing to let him have his way with the model schools in some districts; there is a large portion of Ulster as to which I would raise no question. I would raise no question whatever about model schools in localities where Protestants are in the majority, but I am opposed to them in other parts of the country, because they are so very expensive. They cost a great deal more for each child educated than the ordinary national schools, and why should this additional expense be incurred? Why should you insist on paying more for children being educated in a certain way—that is, alongside other children of a different religious persuasion and against the wish of the parents? It is positively unfair towards the parents of children who wish to have religious and secular education combined. This is the state of the case outside Ulster. In some of the schools the teaching is well done, but this is a fresh injustice in this way: it swells the statistics of the highly-paid teachers for ordinary national schools. When you look at the scales of payment you find that a few are moderately well paid, and the greater number of these belong to the model schools, so that it appears as if the ordinary school teachers are slightly better paid than they actually are. But the principal object for which I rose was to call attention to what I consider the leading feature in Irish education. One of its greatest, most fatal imperfections is the low rate of payment to national school teachers. The Chief Secretary has taken credit to the Government for having given £78,000 towards the payment of Irish teachers, but really that is not a concession to Irish teachers; it is only a recognition of a tribute to the spirit of the age. The English Commissioners point out that the average rate of pay in 1870 was £94 2s. 1d. and that now it is £119 18s, 3d. Look at that enormous rise in England. I will not 983 say it has been so all over the world. I believe in America schoolmasters have been well paid for the last 20 or 30 years; but Irish teachers have shared in the rise to a very small extent, and they are not now anything like so well paid as the English teachers. It is said by some people that it is cheaper to live in Ireland, but that is a mistake so far as the class of people to which teachers belong are concerned. To a man who keeps servants and horses living may be cheaper than in the same position in England. But that does not apply to the schoolmaster, who finds all the articles of consumption as dear as in England. I doubt if house rent is much cheaper; and while a third of the teachers in England get houses rent free, not more than a sixth of the teachers in Ireland have houses supplied by the managers of schools. It is extremely difficult for a national schoolmaster to get a residence. The average pay of the immense bulk of the teachers in Ireland is only £78, whilst it is £119 in England, and a great deal more in Scotland. Two-thirds of the teachers in England get over £100, while only one-fourth of the masters in Ireland receive that amount. It is evident that the Irish schoolmaster is very badly treated relatively to his brother teacher in this country. It is sometimes said the English teacher is a better educated man. Well, the Irish schoolmasters make no unreasonable claim. The Irish teachers declare that they are willing to pass the same examination as the English schoolmasters, and agree not to ask the same salaries unless they succeed; and I believe they would do so, for Irishmen hold their own in all competitive examinations. The Chief Secretary says that sufficient money is not given from local resources in Ireland. There is a misconception on this point. In consequence of Ireland being a Catholic country the contributions often take a different form from those given in England. Take, for example, the schools of the Christian Brothers. They only receive a very small contribution from the State under the Science and Art Vote, and they educate something like an average of 8,000 children. The contributions to these schools, and the money paid for the maintenance of convents belonging to the teaching Orders are really sub- 984 scriptions in aid of education, but these contributions are not taken into account as such. I admit that subscriptions in England are larger; there are old grants in England, and so there were once in Ireland, but they were confiscated a couple of centuries ago. You have a rich Established Church in England, and Churchmen, greatly to their honour, subscribe largely to education. The Catholic clergy make contributions, but their incomes are nothing like so solid or so large as the incomes of the clergy of the Established Church in England. Take these things into account when you reproach Ireland for the smallness of her local contributions towards education. My contention is this: That when the State has taken on itself the duty of educating the children of the people, then the State has taken on itself the duty of seeing that the social condition of the schoolmaster is a proper one. The social condition of the schoolmaster in Ireland is not sufficiently elevated, and that is chiefly due to the fact that he is underpaid, receiving only 75 per cent. of what is given to schoolmasters in a corresponding position in England. This I consider a very great grievance, and it is at the root of all the faults of Irish education. The Irish people value education quite as much as do the people of England; and considering the difficulties of getting their children to school, their poverty, and the sparseness of population in rural districts, the long distances that children have to be sent, the attendances show that the people value education. Though the position of the English schoolmaster is so much better, though the Irish schoolmaster is underpaid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to give a very large sum to the English schoolmaster directly, and not a penny is going this year to the Irish schoolmaster. That is to be the state of facts for the next six months, and I do not know that it is going to be better afterwards. [Mr. GOSCHEN: Why?] If the right hon. Gentleman imagines that any large portion of the grant will find its way into the teachers pockets he underestimates the intercepting powers of management in Ireland. I shall be glad if it should be otherwise. In England the school pence are paid tolerably well; in Ireland the payment is very irregular, 985 and managers, I think, have been in the habit of returning accounts that represent more than they actually receive. You are not going to give them money for the next six months; you are going to improve the position of the better-paid English schoolmaster—I do not say he is paid too well—and you leave the Irish schoolmaster in his present impoverished condition. Of course, the question of obtaining sites for teachers residences is an important one. I agree that very often there is as much difficulty with the occupier as with the owner. I think Irish Members have done their duty in this respect. We have exhausted all our powers. Many Bills have we moved the Second Reading of on Wednesday afternoons; we have done all we could, but it seems to be a task beyond the powers of private Members. The present Chief Secretary, who is a friend to education in Ireland, should draft a Bill for compulsory acquisition of land; and if it offers reasonable compensation to landlord and tenant, I do not think any portion of the community will object. On another point raised by the hon. Member for West Belfast, I cannot speak so boldly as he did. Compulsory education in Ireland will be a very dangerous experiment. There is a strong feeling against it—I do not say among the majority; but there is a strong outcry against the prospect of members of the Irish Constabulary running after little children and bringing them before the Magistrate for not attending school. Much ill-feeling will be engendered by such prosecutions, and I doubt if the remedy will not be worse than the disease. Nearly all the children do go to school; and where attendance is irregular—for instance, in mountainous districts—the Chief Secretary says there will be exemption.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Well, I speak from experience in small towns, where I know that, simply from the influence of public opinion, children do attend extremely well; but, of course, in large towns the effect of the feeling among the community is lost. On the whole, I do not see that there is any great necessity for compulsion. Certainly 986 you cannot have compulsion unless you take the greatest care in the arrangement of the denominational system. Prosecutions will arouse strong religious feelings, and much trouble will ensue. The great grievance is not the unsatisfactory attendance of scholars, but the inadequate pay of the teachers and the bad placing of the schools. Of course, if you could map out the country into educational districts, you could place schools according to the configuration of the country and to the population. In Ireland the position of the school is generally determined by the position of the church—a convenient arrangement if the church stood in the midst of the population; but in most cases the difficulty of getting land has been such that the priest has put the church not where it would be most convenient, but upon the only piece of ground he could get. If the Chief Secretary should adopt the suggestion of a Commission of Inquiry into matters relating to education in Ireland, I hope there will be upon it a strong minority representing popular principles in Ireland. There is another long standing grievance which I hope will receive the attention of the Chief Secretary. There are some Religious Orders whose schools come under the Department and get assistance, but that is not the case with the schools of the Christian Brothers—a most useful body of men, who educate some 8,000 children.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I believe I am under-estimating. It is a standing grievance that the Christian Brothers, who give the best education to a very large number of children in the South and West of Ireland, do not receive any assistance from the State, except, to a small extent, through the Science and Art Department. I do not say that it is worth while the Christian Brothers insisting on the objection which prevents this assistance being given; but I do think that an arrangement might be arrived at. The Christian Brothers have no objection to receive Protestant children into their schools, and do not insist on their receiving religious education, but they consider it necessary to keep in their schoolrooms certain 987 symbols of their faith, a crucifix and a few pictures. Surely the difficulty ought to be overcome in some way, and the State might afford assistance to the education of the poorest children in the country. Those Brothers are most useful servants of the State, and I say unhesitatingly that either the Government or the Christian Brothers ought to change their rules. I would as soon offer my advice to the Christian Brothers as to the Government in this respect, although I do not know that either side would receive it. I believe it is only a technical matter which prevents this teaching body from receiving assistance, and it is an absurd thing not to bring it under the rules. It must be borne in mind that by refusing contributions to this body you are punishing not merely the Christian Brothers but also the children who are going to the schools, who ought to have better accommodation, and the people of the towns in which they live, because they have to contribute largely towards the support of the Brothers. The Brothers have a little money of their own and they live very frugally, but really they have to be maintained by the congregations. I look upon this as a most important point, and I should like to have some explanation of it. If we have some expression of opinion from the right hon. Gentleman it may turn out that the reasons they do not get State allowances are not of such real consequence, and that some way may be found out of the difficulty. There are more than 30,000 children in Ireland receiving a solid education from the Brothers, and I think some recognition should be given of that education by the State. We now have a unique opportunity of doing it—now that a very large sum of money is being given to education. I am anxious to see the whole of this £200,000 given to Ireland, devoted to primary education, and I think that a fair share of it should go to the Christian Brothers.
§ *(10.5.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
One matter referred to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman is worthy of serious consideration—that of the Christian Brothers. There is no Religious Order in the world which commends itself so much to every class as the Christian Brothers, especially those in Ireland. 988 They have had some gifted Irishmen among them, such as Gerald Griffin; they give their lives to the teaching of the poor, and it does seem to be an anomaly that these self-sacrificing men should be deprived of any share in the grant owing to the rule of the Education Department as to religious symbols. I do not believe there is anybody in Ireland—not even Protestants—who would consider it a grievance if the rule in this respect were relaxed. I cannot say whether or not the point is a merely technical one, but it does seem to me that as the Christian Brothers have adhered to it so long, it is hardly fair to expect them to change the whole system and form of their schools. The Christian Brothers being excluded from all the benefits of primary education have applied themselves to compete with other schools in secondary education, and that is not always good for the pupils, as it leads to some children being forced, and to their receiving an education not suited to their course of life. It leads to inspiring children with ambition, which they have not afterwards the means of satisfying. To come to another point. I think we understood the right hon. Gentleman, in replying to the hon. Member for West Belfast, to say that he would take into favourable consideration the proposal that a School Commission should be appointed to inquire into certain questions connected with the system of education in Ireland—especially with a view to seeing how far and in what way compulsory education can best be adopted in that country. With regard to the introduction of compulsory education, the great difficulty will be in finding an authority to enforce compulsory attendance rather than in laying down rules. In some parts of Ireland the difficulties will be very great. The right hon. Gentleman is inclined to confine the experiment to the towns, and it is in the small towns that compulsion is most required. The attendance in some of the smaller towns is not at all what it should be, and in these cases especially something is wanted; but the great difficulty would be to arrange how compulsion is to be enforced. I am very much afraid that unless care is taken in framing the measure we shall have another outburst of those peculiar ideas 989 of religious toleration which were exemplified last night by those antiquated bigots—
§ *MR. KNOX
Then, I will say we shall have further speeches from gentlemen who expressed views of antiquated bigotry last night. I refer to such Members as the hon. Member for Camberwell (Mr. Kelly) and the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell). It is understood that the reason why this action is to be taken, if possible, to enforce compulsory education in Ireland is that a certain sum will be available next year for the increase of the salaries of the national teachers corresponding to the decrease in their present income owing to the abolition of fees. Of course there are foes in the country districts as well as in the towns, and I should like an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that he does not intend the abolition of fees to apply only to districts where compulsion is enforced. It is in remote country districts that the teachers at present lead such a severe life. There are an extraordinary number of them who receive less than £1 a week, and who have to eke out their livelihood by getting their wives to keep shops and by occupying themselves with business outside the work of teaching which seriously interferes with their efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that it will be impossible next year to introduce the principle of election in the Education Board. That may be so, but the right hon. Gentleman might to a great extent improve its composition by making the Catholic portion of it more representative of the feelings of the majority of the people. At present the Catholic portion are not in accord with the views of the Representatives for Ireland in this House, and I cannot think that that is a natural state of things. Without introducing the principle of election, it would be possible, as vacancies arise, to make this Board more in accordance with the feelings of the people. With regard to the books used in the elementary schools in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to understand how ridiculous the position is, and seemed to think that it was possible for the school managers to use what books they liked. That, as a matter of fact, is not the case. The rules of the 990 Board specify the reading books to be adopted, and they say that those books only shall be used which are prescribed and actually drawn up under the direction of the Commissioners of Education. The books absolutely prescribed in the schools are not only antiquated, but are about the most ludicrous things ever brought out in any country for the education of youth. They are dull; they teach nothing; they have no literary merit; they are selected from the worst authors in point of style. Then, is it too much to expect that some relaxation should be made in the rules which prevent the history of Ireland and any other history being taught in Irish primary schools? It is true that the history of the Jews may be taught—in an ordinary unsectarian way—but every other history is absolutely proscribed. It is true that a certain number of pupil teachers and training college pupils are examined in history, but I have looked through the papers that have been set for the examinations in history, and I must say that anything more out of date could hardly be imagined that the questions proposed. In one large batch of papers the only question I could find relating to the history of Ireland was a question dealing with the condition of things before the introduction of Christianity. I suppose that the examiners thought that at any period subsequent to the introduction of Christianity sectarian matters had been so introduced into the history of Ireland that it was dangerous to set a question. So far as the pupils in the elementary schools are concerned, they are not allowed to learn anything about history at all. In England it is entirely different, and I venture to suggest that the rules which are in force in England with regard to reading books may, with some little modification, be applied to schools in Ireland. The rule in England is to bring in history in two ways. In the first place, the history of England may be used as an alternative for reading books in the fourth and higher standards, these books not being prescribed, but being chosen by the school managers, and in the next place it is taught directly. I would suggest that reading books should be used in Ireland dealing with the history of that country 991 —so long, of course, as the books were not obviously unsuitable. There are many histories of Ireland of a comparatively simple kind that might be used in the higher standards. Take the well-known history of D'Arcey McGee. This, if revised by modern scholars, might very well be used without offending the political or religious susceptibilities of most people in Ireland. The effect of proscribing the history of Ireland is that in some parts of the country there is less known about the history of Ireland than about the history of almost any other country. In the City of Belfast it is only in the back streets that you can find in a bookshop any book dealing with the history of Ireland, and this is due in a great degree to the fact that the history of Ireland is proscribed in the Irish schools. I should not have the slightest objection to the use even of a history of Ireland which did not entirely accord with the political views which personally I hold. Whatever Irish history were taught would be better than none. I once met a person who having read Froude's History of the English in Ireland said that if all therein contained were true it would make her become a Home Ruler. I do believe that if the facts are given, however anti-Irish the spirit in which they are written, they would not have an anti-Irish effect. At present it is nothing less than a scandal that children in Irish schools are not allowed to read history in any form. Not only ought it to be introduced as an alternative reading book, but history should be introduced as an optional subject in which the teachers can earn the grant. In England the teacher can earn 4s. a head on this subject, and why should not the same rule prevail in Ireland? I would suggest that if a School Commission is appointed it should inquire generally into the present system of prescribing the books to be used by the pupils. I venture to think that a worse system could not be introduced. I believe it is 40 years since the books now in use were first drawn up, and the result is that the science lessons taught are absolutely nonsensical. I venture to think that if education in Ireland is to be put upon a sound basis these books should be abolished as soon as possible.
§ *(10.26.) MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
The hon. Gentleman has suggested that the Christian Brothers in Ireland should be relieved from some of the rules of the Education Board in Ireland; but that seems to me an absurd proposal. It is not for the State to lay down rules for a particular body. The State grants money and lays down general conditions on which that money can be received, and it is for the religious bodies who wish to obtain a share of it to conform to the conditions. I do not undervalue the work the Christian Brothers do; but, at the same time, it is quite impossible for the State to make an exception in their behalf. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Nolan) has to-night had an opportunity of letting off that steam which for two or three days has been accumulating, so much to his discomfort, but I doubt whether the Chief Secretary will thank him for having told us that he and his friends have held their tongues for three days in consequence of what has been given in the endowment of the training colleges. On that subject I would ask the Chief Secretary whether I have correctly understood him. I understand that he proposes not to obtain the money by means of a Bill, but to enlarge the Vote for Education next year. Well, he will do that on his own responsibility; and it will be open to those who have opposed him on this subject to move a reduction in the proposed Vote next Session. That policy is entirely on the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility, and I and my friends are relieved by the course he intends to pursue. I should be glad if the Chief Secretary can see his way to give £180,000 or £200,000 to the teachers, which they are entitled to under the arrangements of this year.
§ (10.29.) MR. FLYNN
As to the Christian Brothers, the hon. Member is under a misconception. Let me inform him that they took up the work of primary education in Ireland 30 years before the National Board was established. The Christian Brothers have been in existence for 90 years, and have now over 78 establishments and between 30,000 and 35,000 pupils attending them. It is acknowledged that the primary education given by that body would be difficult to beat in any part of Great Britain. The 993 elementary, English, mathematical, and scientific education given by the Brothers is acknowledged by all experts in these matters to be superior to anything of the kind in England. We are justified in asking that something should be done to assist this most deserving body. I do not know whether the Christian Brothers, if they read a report of these proceedings, will be at all obliged to the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan), who appears to think that the objection of the Order arises on a mere technicality. The Christian Brothers are perfectly willing to submit to all the reasonable requirements of the Board, but they will not remove those religious symbols that form the distinctive mark of their association. The Chief Secretary will remember that two years ago we called his attention to this matter, and claimed for the Christian Brothers some share in the primary education grant. The right hon. Gentleman gave a more or less favourable reply; but it was not essentially definite. We referred him to the Reports of various Committees on the subject. The real point of difference between the Christian Brothers and the Board is this: The Board give grants to schools that are practically denominational, to schools under the control of various orders of nuns for the teaching of girls; but the religious teaching is given at certain hours, and they obtain grants for primary education. The Christian Brothers are willing to submit their books for the approval of the Commissioners, they are prepared for the inspection of their schools, and for examinations, and are prepared to fulfil every reasonable requirement, and in view of what they are doing and have done for the cause of education, I do not think it is asking too much when we appeal for a relaxation of the rule in their favour, enabling them to get a little of the additional money to be devoted to primary education. I share the regret that the £78,000 provided by Parliament last year has not yet been divided among school teachers. Reference has been made to the books used in the National schools, and I agree they are a discredit to any educational system. They are out of date, as dry and uninteresting as 994 can be imagined. The Chief Secretary shuddered at the idea of reading through the books during the recess, and I would not suggest that such a punishment should be inflicted upon him; but such a task might be entrusted to a Lord of the Treasury, or, say, the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, whose duties are not very onerous, and I am quite sure that the report would be that they are the dullest and most absurd compilations ever put before children.
§ (10.38.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I will not go into the comparison presented by the amount devoted to national education and to other purposes in these Votes. Much has been said on the teachers' salaries, and much may be said on behalf of the children who are taught. The question of books was raised many years ago by the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), when, I think, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton (Sir G. Trevelyan) was Chief Secretary; and now, when the present Chief Secretary contemplates a new departure in Irish education, it is fitting that we should say a few words on this topic, though the time and circumstances of the Session do not admit of full discussion. I desire to offer a general protest against the system of education in Ireland. If we are going to have compulsory attendance, then I say we must provide the children with some better instruction in the schools into which they are forced. The books contain the greatest nonsense imaginable. What is the advantage a child will get from reading Dr. Whateley's nonsense on political economy. Why are the children tortured with spelling and grammar and geography in the form presented in these books? What the children ought to be taught first is to read, but under the system of spelling it takes five years to teach a child to read, whereas in other countries a child can be taught to read in 12 months. If you take up the grammar in the Irish National schools, you will find that nothing more difficult could be put into the hands of children. What interest can be excited in the mind of a child by a "demonstrative adjective pronoun;" what is the use of burdening his memory with the height 995 of the Himalayas? Let the Commissioners turn their attention to the system pursued in France, and I believe also in Germany; let them teach the child something of the body he runs about in, the sky over him, the earth under him; something that will enlarge his mind and awaken his interest, and banish much of the nonsense of so-called education. If you are going to make education compulsory, we have a right to ask what you are going to teach the children. The least we can ask yon to do is to give them an education that will be of some good to the children. Especially with regard to a country where music was so much cultivated formerly, something ought to be done to sweeten the peoples' lives by bringing them up with a knowledge of the old melodies which prevailed in the country some years ago. There is in Ireland Dr. Joyce, a man of enormous range of knowledge, in thorough sympathy with the people, and whether the airs are Munster airs or Ulster airs, he has practically a knowledge of them all. Dr. Joyce has produced the Irish airs in a series of volumes, which must have cost him immense pains and labour. A man like Dr. Joyce ought to be put in the front of the educational system of Ireland.
§ (10.47.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I certainly agree with the spirit which has animated the hon. and learned Gentleman in the remarks he has just made, and I must express my hearty concurrence with the general sentiments he has expressed. For grammar I have a respectful toleration, and for spelling a hearty aversion. As far as music is concerned, my own opinion is that the more music is taught in the primary schools, not of Ireland only, but of England and Scotland too, the more brightness shall we introduce into the lives of the people. With regard to the books used in the primary schools, I desire to supply an omission in my earlier speech by stating that I understand the books are at this time undergoing careful revision—["By whom?"]—by the authorities of the Board; and I have no doubt that many of the defects that have been adverted to will be removed. The statement that Irish history ought to be more largely taught 996 I do not wish to traverse in any dogmatic way. But there would be some difficulty in getting Catholics and Protestants to accept the same version of certain historic events, such as the Revolution of 1641, the Rebellion of 1688, and the Union of 1800. I gladly recognise the service of the Christian Brothers to the cause of education, but it will hardly be held that because the Christian Brothers decline to make their rules consonant with those of the Department, therefore the Department must make its rules consonant with those of the Christian Brothers. It is not as if the rules of the Department are of so rigid a character that no Monastic Orders find it possible to come under them. The French Order of the Christian Brothers have come under them, and a great number of Monastic and Conventual Institutions have no difficulty in arranging their course of education so as to earn the Government grant. I think I have explained earlier that the Vote will be sufficient to meet the interest that will accrue upon the capital sum determined upon by the valuers in the case of the training colleges. If it is not, there will have to be a Supplementary Estimate next year; and, of course, the Vote will have to be introduced in the ordinary Estimates. The capital sum will not have to be provided at all. What will be provided is an amount of annuities which will pay the interest and repay the capital in 35 years. So far as this year is concerned, I am content to take on my shoulders the responsibility which hon. Members have thrown upon me.
§ (10.54.) COLONEL NOLAN
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what is the action on the part of the Christian Brothers that prevents them coming under the rules of the Department? I have some knowledge on the subject, but I think some official statement might possibly go a certain distance towards removing the objection.
§ MR. FLYNN
I am in a position to say that the Christian Brothers are prepared to make very large concessions. They will submit, for instance, to an examination of books to show results, and everything of that kind. The right hon. Gentleman has said that convent schools have come under the National Board. Let me 997 point out that the Christian Brothers have been engaged in teaching in Ireland for 90 years, and that short of an absolute surrender on one particular question of principle they are prepared to comply with every reasonable requirement of the Commissioners of National Education.
§ MR. LEA
In view of the desire to bring the Session to a close, I and my hon. Colleague (Mr. T. W. Russell) have no intention of continuing the discussion in respect to the training colleges. We will reserve anything we have got to say until next Session. May I ask, however, if we are to understand that when the Bill is reached to-night the Order will be discharged?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Certainly; the Bill will not be proceeded with; but I am not sure whether the Motion will be made to-night for the discharge of the Order. As to the Christian Brothers, I believe I am right in saying that the essential point of difference—the around of separation—at this moment has relation to the use of symbols.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
With regard to the valuation which is to be made of the buildings, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the work is to be entrusted to the Board of Works, or are the Government going to proceed under the Public Works Loan Act, 1889?
§ MR. MORTON
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to be good enough to explain how it is that the office in Dublin costs so much more than the Scotch Office.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 3. £3,028, to complete the sum for Queen's Colleges, Ireland.
§ (11.4.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I desire to ask what are the intentions of the Government with regard to the vacancies that must be created in the teaching staffs of these colleges under the Civil Service rules? As I hold that the Queen's Colleges will never meet with anything like approval, I do not feel entitled to make the same strong representation as if I were a supporter of them; at the same time, from the point of view of public policy, it is extremely desirable— 998 as at some time those colleges will have to be abolished—that in staffing them we should have men who will not necessarily be laid on the table, but can be used in the creation of another system by, say, a Home Rule Parliament. We could not depend on the existing staff if you are going to appoint gentlemen hostile to the feelings and religious convictions of the people.
§ (11.7.) MR. SEXTON
I should like to ascertain whether the case of Professor Pye has been considered. He is a gentleman who, by the alteration of the University Act, has suffered considerable hardships, and I think the Government should consider the possibility of mitigating his position. The Queen's Colleges cost the country about £40,000 a year, and are regarded as institutions in which mixed education is maintained. I do not think the system can be called a success. The Queen's College, Belfast, is practically a Presbyterian college, and the staff of the college is, I believe, Presbyterian. I should not complain of that, if the colleges of Galway and Cork, both of which are in Roman Catholic districts, were officered by Catholics for Catholic students. I am disposed to think that the only way out of the difficulty will be to give Queen's College, Belfast, to the Presbyterians, possibly as the centre of a Presbyterian University, and in the same way to give the Galway and Cork Colleges to the Roman Catholics. As to Queen's College, Galway, it is situated in the heart of a Catholic province, and the intention of Parliament in founding the college was to afford the means of University education to the Catholic population. In that respect it is a total failure. The total number of students at the college is about 100, of whom not a dozen are Catholics. Of the staff, the President and the Standing Committee are all Protestants, and out of 15 professors only throe are Catholics. This college is maintained at a cost of £12,000 a year, and it is time for Parliament to consider whether it is any longer justified in spending this large sum to no purpose. The Cork and Galway Colleges have been rejected by the population of the districts in which they are situated, and consequently 999 their educational efficiency is low. The students at Belfast have acquitted themselves honourably; while the students at Blackrock have shown themselves, by the honours which they have won at the examinations, to be better students and better scholars, although they have to provide their own educational machinery and go for examination before the professors who educate their rivals. I object to these Queen's Colleges root and branch, and shall take every opportunity to end them.
§ (11.16.) MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
I wish to call attention to a grievance which has existed since the time of the abolition of Queen's University; and I am sure that my hon. Friend, although he objects to Queen's Colleges root and branch, will bear me out in the statement I am about to make. Queen's Colleges were first opened in the year 1849, and in 1852 they were formed into a University, the professors appointed to the Queen's College becoming professors of Queen's University and examiners for the Royal University. I think my hon. Friend rather understated his case when he complained of the Queen's College professors acting as University examiners. I wish, however, to refer to one particular case of hardship. The case came before the Dublin Courts. It is that of Professor Pye, of Queen's College, who, it so happens, labours under the great disadvantage of being both a Nationalist and a Roman Catholic. He is one of the ablest men in Ireland at the present time. It has been my good fortune, under the Irish system of mixed education, to enjoy his intimate acquaintance. I was a student at the time he took a high and distinguished degree in medicine; he secured a gold medal and first honours, and I believe is the only Doctor of Medicine who was specially complimented by the Lord Lieutenant. Shortly after he applied for and obtained the appointment of Professor of Anatomy at Queen's College, Galway, and although he might have started as a medical man in the town, and secured the first practice, he devoted himself solely to the duties of his professorship. His income ranged from £700 to £800 a year. In 1863 an arrangement was made under which the professors, whose classes were 1000 largely attended, should accept a smaller annual endowment from the College. In his case the endowment was fixed at £200, and the fees amounted to between £500 and £600. Last year, however, they fell to £130. Why has the number of students diminished so seriously? Professor Pye is still looked upon as being as able a man as when he was first appointed. The reason is, that up to 1882 every student who intended to graduate in Queen's University was compelled to attend the Queen's Colleges classes. The fees each student had to pay amounted to 12 guineas, and in addition there was a fee of £7 or £8 more for practical anatomy. But when the Royal University was established no such rule was laid down. Any student can graduate at that University, no matter at what college he attended; and since that year Professor Pye, through circumstances he could not control, has lost an aggregate sum of £2,900. His income is now under £400 a year, after having held his chair for 14 or 15 years. In order to try and put the matter right he went to the Law Courts. His petition was heard by Baron Dowse; but the Judgment was given for the Crown, although the Judge expressed an opinion that a scheme for compensating Mr. Pye should be submitted.
§ MR. RENTOUL
I mentioned the matter to the Attorney General for Ireland, and understood that I could bring the case forward. Professor Pye has failed in obtaining a legal remedy, and the only hope of redress lies in bringing the matter before the attention of the Government. I hope we shall hear from the Chief Secretary that he has done something to meet the hardships of this case.
§ (11.30.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The case to which the hon. Member (Mr. Rentoul) has drawn attention is acknowledged to be one of great hardship, but it is also acknowledged that it would be very difficult for any Government to deal with it. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) has raised certain questions about the appointment of professors to the Queen's Colleges. The 1001 practice adopted is this: The principal of a college sends the names of selected persons to the Lord Lieutenant for approval, and the Lord Lieutenant almost invariably appoints the candidates so selected. The present is not, in my opinion, an opportune time for raising the whole question of the constitution and position of the Queen's Colleges. I cannot hope to deal with the question during the remainder of the present Government's tenure of Office, but I shall watch my successor's efforts to deal with it with a benevolent interest.
§ (11.32.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I hope that with regard to the appointment of the staff of the colleges the Government will not allow the vices that now exist to be perpetuated. It is new to me that these appointments are made by a kind of co-optation: the longer we live the more we learn. My hon. Friend has pointed out that Protestant ascendancy in its most virulent form prevails in the colleges at Galway and Cork. Of course, as to the appointment of Professor Sullivan, it was a wonderful instance of the benevolence of the British Government to throw a few crumbs to a Catholic. We believe that any Government which succeeds the Government of the right hon. Gentleman must do something in this matter. It would not cost the State more to appoint a Catholic than a Protestant, but it would harmonise with the general feelings and prejudices, if I may use the word, of the population. Accordingly, I say the Lord Lieutenant ought in his appointments to have regard to the general colouring of the district in which these colleges exist. We do not object if in Belfast you appoint a gentleman of the religion which prevails in that city. You have, as regards Galway and Cork, such a state of things that we may fairly call upon you to bring the colleges into harmony with the religious opinions of the populations. If the Lord Lieutenant does his duty he may do something to render the appointments less obnoxious to the populations in the midst of which the colleges are. Such appointments will certainly be made when the Irish people have the management of their own affairs.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
If hon. Members from Ireland desire to promote Home Rule in their country they will do well to say as little as possible about their intention to govern the country in accordance with Roman Catholic views.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I beg to inform the hon. Member that we shall say in this House just what we like, whether it pleases him or his friends or not.
§ Vote agreed to.