Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum not exceeding £90,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892, as a Grant in Aid of the Capital of the Pension Fund created under the provisions of the National School Teachers' (Ireland) Act, 1879.
§ (6.40.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
This, Mr. Courtney, is a Vote of very considerable interest, if not to English Members, who are now leaving the House in such numbers, at any rate to Irish Members. By this Vote it is proposed to take the whole of Ireland's equivalent, for the current year, of the grant given to England for freeing education. It is proposed to take this whole sum of £90,000, and apply it, not to any immediate purposes, but in aid of the National Teachers' Fund. Now, the question of the application of this money has been lying over since last year. It was frequently mentioned in the House in the later months of last Session; and now, when we are in close proximity to the end of the financial year, we find we are obliged to deal with it, not by a Bill, but by a Vote in Supply. I feel obliged to confess that, whilst a Vote in Supply is a very proper and convenient mode for dealing with money, when the principle of expenditure has been already affirmed, yet I can conceive nothing more inconvenient or prejudicial to the privileges, or destructive of the rights of Members than to present a new proposal, never affirmed 1533 or even debated, and perhaps to carry it into effect by procedure in Supply. If it were a Bill, we would have an opportunity of proposing useful Amendments which might have a chance of acceptance; but under this procedure, if we think the sum is not enough for the purpose we cannot move to increase it, and we cannot reduce it if it were thought that the amount was needlessly large. Again, Sir, it will not be denied that the information on the face of this Estimate is of the most meagre possible kind. There is a foot note in which we are told something which we know already, and upon which we do not require to be informed. We are told where the money comes from. Members are well aware that this money is 9 per cent.—Ireland's share—of the Free Education grant. But upon what we do require to know we receive no information. We are not told what circumstances have arisen to render necessary the appropriation of this great sum to the particular purpose in question. It is only a week ago that the right hon. Gentleman told us that—Either the payments into the fund had been too small, or the payments out of it had been too large.Now, that might be a description of any fund that had ever been found to be in an unsatisfactory condition. What we want to know is, which is it? Have the payments been smaller than was originally expected; or have the payments out been larger? The right hon. Gentleman has truly said that the fund showed a tendency to get into bad water. Surely we are entitled to more information. Is it in bad water now? It has been suggested that the State is not responsible for the condition of this fund. Why, Sir, this fund was founded by a public Act of Parliament in 1879, and by that Act £1,300,000 was taken out of the Irish Church Surplus Fund, and applied in aid of this very fund now before us. Under that Act an elaborate system was devised. Three-fourths of the teachers' premiums were to be paid out of the Church Government subvention; the other fourth was to be supplied by the teachers who joined the fund. Who is it who is responsible for the Vote? If anyone will turn to the Estimates, and look at the Vote for the Treasury and subordinate Departments, he will find that one of the subordinate Departments is the 1534 office of this very Pension Fund. The superintendent of the pension office is a gentleman who receives £200 a year, and who is besides an actuary. So that you have an official actuary recognised in one of the great Departments of State in charge of this pension office in Dublin. It was his duty to see that the fund did not get into backwater, or even into the tendency to get into backwater. He should have warned the Government, and the Government should have warned this House, that the fund was getting into an unsound condition. I see in the Estimates we are told that the receipts of the fund are not in excess of liabilities as declared by the recent valuation. Why did not the recent valuation disclose that? I would suggest we ought to have a copy of the recent valuation; at least, we ought to have the substance of it. I now ask whatever Minister rises to reply, to inform us as to its precise effect. Moreover, when did the deficiency begin to arise? What is the amount of it at the present moment? I particularly wish to know whether, if we agree to apply this £90,000 to the Pension Fund now, we may assure ourselves that the fund will be in a sound position, and that we shall not be told at the end of another five years that the fund shows a tendency to get into backwater, and that some money is to be devoted by the Government to the fund for the purpose of assisting it. I think I am entitled to say that it is hardly treating Irish Members fairly in regard to a matter of finance, when it is only in a speech upon the Debate that the Chief Secretary tells us incidentally what he intends to do. We have received numerous letters from Irish teachers upon the subject. One teacher, writing on the 28th February, said, with reference to the report that the Chief Secretary intended to hand over the £90,000 accruing since September last to the Pension Fund—It is not fair, as it was meant that the teachers would charge no school fees. They will be at a loss for the half-year ending 31st March, so that they are entitled to be compensated in lieu of the school fees.The suggestion here made is that upon the announcement of free education last year some of the teachers ceased collecting school fees—depending upon the establishment of free education. Their income for the present year is 1535 consequently seriously diminished. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has inquired of the Commissioners of National Education if within the past half year an expectation amongst the people has led to the cessation of school fees; and whether, if so, he has any proposal to meet the case? I do not myself oppose the principle of the allocation of this fund in aid of the Pension Fund, but I submit that as some teachers may have incurred loss, we are entitled to have the most specific information given as to the circumstances of the Pension Fund.
§ *(6.52.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir JOHN GORST,) Chatham
I will give the hon. Member the fullest information I possibly can in reply to his questions. The fund was created, as he indicated, by the appropriation of £1,300,000 out of the Irish Church surplus, to which was added a contribution by the teachers themselves. About three-fourths of the fund consists of the Irish Church surplus and accumulations, and about one-fourth consists of the contributions made by the teachers themselves and the accumulations. The whole difficulty has arisen from an unfortunate, and I must say I think a mistaken, actuarial valuation made in the year 1885. That was at the end of the first quinquennial period of the fund. The Report made at that time to the then Government showed that the assets of the fund, on the 31st December, 1884, amounted to £1,664,872 and the liabilities to £1,468,285 only, showing a surplus of assets over liabilities of no less than £196,587. The Government of the day, 1885, had to deal with that surplus. It clearly belonged to the National School teachers of Ireland. It had to be allocated in some way—either by reducing the amount of the subscription, or by increasing the benefits which had been provided by the Act of 1879. The Government of 1885 decided to take the latter course, and they changed the scheme of the Act of 1879 by promising the National School teachers of Ireland certain extra benefits.
§ * SIR JOHN GORST
The hon. Member asks a question which I shall be glad to answer later. This was what was done. In the first 1536 place, provision was made for a return, to the representatives of a teacher who died, of the premiums which the teacher had paid towards his pension, and which according to the scheme of 1879 would have been lost to the teacher's representatives in case of death; and the cost of this was supposed to amount to £35,000. Then there were the claims of members of certain abolished classes of teachers to somewhat increased pensions to be considered. These claims were admitted, amounting to a capital liability of about £3,500 more. Then there was a rule introduced that male and female teachers should be allowed to retire after 40 years' service upon their maximum pension, reckoned from the age 21 in the case of males, and 18 in the case of females. This concession was calculated to involve a capital liability of about £150,000. Therefore, by these concessions which I have, enumerated, nearly the whole estimated surplus of £196,000 was disposed of. The new rules were in operation for-another quinquennial period, and then there was another actuarial valuation made. And it turned out, that so far from the fund being then solvent there was a deficit in it.
§ An hon. MEMBER: Was the valuation made by the same actuary?
§ * SIR JOHN GORST
I believe so. The actuarial valuation brought out in 1891 that the liabilities were £195,000 more than the assets, so that whereas at the end of the first quinquennial period there was a sum of £196,000 to the good, at the end of the second period there was £195,000 to the bad. Of course the merits of highly technical actuarial calculations form a subject upon which Members of the Government, and, I daresay, Representatives from Ireland are not properly qualified to express an opinion. Therefore the Government, with this extraordinary variation between the first and second actuarial valuation, appointed a Committee consisting of three actuaries, one being the actuary who made the first Report—and, I believe, the second Report also—and two being independent actuaries. They are now preparing a Report which has not yet been submitted to the Government. Therefore I am as much in the dark as hon. Members from Ireland are as to how this extraordinary difference between the 1537 first and second valuation arose. But when the investigation is completed Her Majesty's Government will carefully consider the Report, and will see how this important fund can be brought into a condition of solvency.
§ * SIR JOHN GORST
I do not think that is likely; but, of course, it is possible. However, when this careful valuation is made, the Government will take the matter into their careful consideration to see that such steps are taken as can be taken to put the fund into a condition of solvency. With regard to the dates in 1885, I may explain that the valuation referred to the condition of the fund on the last day of 1884, and it was received in the middle of 1885. I am afraid that the question as to exactly what Government was in Office is rather doubtful. The probability is rather in favour of the last Government but three. I do not commit myself to a positive statement on that matter, but it was not the present Government, and not the last Government but one, but either the last Government but two or the last Government but three. Then there was this sum of £90,000, which was due to Irish education in some form or other as an equivalent to the English free school grant, and it was represented to Her Majesty's Government that it could not be applied to free education in Ireland, because the fees had already been paid for the current year. The Government could not find any object on which it could be spent which seemed more in the interests of Irish education than applying it to this fund and putting it in a condition of solvency. By the rules of 1885, the teachers received greater benefits from the fund without being called upon to subscribe more to secure them. The object of the present proposal is to continue those benefits at the low subscription under the Act of 1879. I am sorry that more time has not been given to the Irish teachers and Members of Parliament to consider the matter. There is a great deal of force in the suggestion that the matter should be dealt with by Bill, but it is necessary that the money should be disposed of before the 31st of March of this year, or it will have to be paid back to the 1538 Consolidated Fund and go towards the reduction of the National Debt. There is, therefore, scarcely time to pass an ordinary Bill on the subject, and I thought hon. Gentlemen from Ireland would accept it in the form of a Supplementary Estimate, which would be equally conducive to their interests.
§ (7.5.) COLONEL NOLAN (Louth, N.)
I cannot quite understand the position with regard to this money which belongs to the Irish teachers, and has been simply confiscated by the Treasury. This sum of £90,000 became due last year, and we were told that it was the equivalent to the £500,000 or £600,000 which was the proportion of England. The then Chief Secretary for Ireland said:—I have a delightful scheme by which this sum will come into my fund for making my Land Act perfectly secure.We Irish Members protested against the money being confiscated in that way, and the disposal of the money was postponed till this year. Now it ought to go to the teachers in some form or other. They may give it in the shape of class salaries, pensions, or capitation grants as they choose; but they are not going to do that. The Government have no right to dispose of this money as they are proposing to do. This fund was started in 1879 with £1,300,000 from the Irish Church surplus and went on well till 1885, and then the Treasury comes forward and says it will increase the benefits to the teachers. I do not know which Government it was, but it is a significant fact that whenever there is a dispute as to Ireland's share of any advantages Ireland always goes to the wall. In 1885 you made us a present of £196,000, and now you want to take it back again, which is the way you always behave towards Ireland. You have no right to give and take in this manner. Last year you told us that Ireland was to get a proportional share of the Grant, and now you are giving us none at all. You are putting the £90,000 into a reserve fund of the Treasury, and the teachers will get no benefit from it. Then what is the cost of administering the Fund?
§ COLONEL NOLAN
In 1885 you pretended to make a gift to Ireland of £196,000; what right have you in 1892 to take this £90,000 to make up that 1539 original sum without the consent of the Irish Members? If I can get any of my hon. Friends to support me I shall be inclined to vote against this £90,000. I do not believe it will be confiscated: on the 31st of March. It is confiscated already. The teachers lose it actually either with or without the consent of the Irish Members, and I rather think the latter way is the better of the two.
§ * SIR JOHN GORST
In 1885 fresh rules were made under Section 10 of the Act of 1879, which empowers the Treasury, at any time after the passing of the Act, with the consent of the Lord Lieutenant, to make rules from time to time for the administration of the Act. These are the rules which prescribe the amount of benefit to be given to the teachers under the Act. The new rules of 1885 gave the teachers greater benefits, the Treasury being under the impression that the fund was more than solvent. The fund was, however, found to be less than solvent on an actuarial examination in 1891, and it was found that unless something of this sort were done, some capital sum carried to the relief of the fund, teachers entering the service in the future would have less benefits than those at present in the service are receiving. The fund was created out of the Irish Church surplus, and the investment of the fund is prescribed by the Act, so that the Office of the Treasury is purely ministerial in carrying out its provisions. It is only on the fund created by Parliament that the teachers have any claim, and therefore if that fund is insufficient without a subvention of this kind it becomes the duty of the Treasury to make fresh rules which would give less benefits to teachers.
§ *(7.15.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
The statement of the Secretary to the Treasury was perfectly clear, but I do not think it will be very satisfactory to Irish Members. The Actuarial Report in 1885 showed a surplus of £195,000, but we are told that the Actuarial Report in 1890 showed a deficit of £190,000, and now there is another Actuarial Committee sitting to inquire into its actual state. Will this £90,000 make the fund solvent? At any rate it will help in that direction, and I must not be taken as objecting to it. I want to point out that we have one precedent for dealing with this fund. Last year 1540 the Constabulary Pension Fund was found to be in the same condition—insolvent. But the Government did not take any money of this kind to make it up; the Government made it up themselves. I think the Irish teachers are entitled to this money, and if there be a deficiency in the Fund I do not say that this is not a good way of meeting it. But I should like some explanation from some Member of the Government as to the difference in the treatment of the two Funds.
§ (7.20.) MR. J. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I want to know if there is any precedent in the history of Parliament for calling upon a Committee of this House to vote a large sum of money to make good a deficiency in a fund when nobody knows if there is a deficiency at all? I understood the Secretary to the Treasury to say that the actuary who made the valuation in 1885, and the one in 1890, producing such utterly different results, is one and the same individual. If that be so, no reliance can be placed on the valuation of that gentleman. We are left entirely in the dark as to the deficit, and the Government has appointed a committee of this gentleman and two others to look into the matter. Yet we are asked to vote this £90,000 to make up the deficit while that committee is still sitting, and has not yet reported. The Government has given us no reason for believing in this deficit at all, and it is most unjust to the teachers to take the money and apply it in this way. If the Government had been able to deal with the money when it dealt with the grants to England and Scotland the teachers would now have been in the enjoyment of it; and if the fund had then been found to be insolvent, does anyone doubt for a moment that it would have been held to be the duty of the Government to make up the deficiency which had arisen entirely from their maladministration. The Irish teachers are admittedly the worst paid in the three countries, and that makes it a greater hardship that this money should be disposed of as the Government proposes. Last year the principle on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid it down that this money was to be distributed to the three countries was most unjust. On what ground was it decided that Ireland was only to have 9 per cent. of the total sum? The Govern 1541 ment proclaims itself Unionist and determined to keep Ireland part of the United Kingdom, but when it comes to distributing money they are Separatists, and set up a totally different principle to guide our finance. The right hon. Gentleman, instead of taking the number of children to be provided for and giving the grant at so much per head on the school attendance, as in the other two countries, asks us to accept from him what are the relative contributions from the three countries to the Imperial funds, which contributions are calculated by him in the dark, and which he gives us no means of checking. We are told over and over again that Ireland is to share to the fullest extent in all the benefits of a division as part and parcel of the United Kingdom. Here, because she is the poorest part of the Kingdom, and, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, only contributes 9 per cent. of the Imperial funds, her school children are to get a very much smaller grant per head than those of the other parts of the Kingdom. I want to know on what ground he justifies that proportion. Scotland is treated far more justly than Ireland is. The principle which underlies the distribution is the principle of separatism in finance. When the question of the distribution of money comes to be considered, the Government are Separatists and not Unionists; they act as Separatists in the matter of finance, and in that only. Instead of giving the grant at a rate per head of the children attending school, as they do in England, they act on the principle of the relative contributions of the three countries, and even then they give us no means of checking the figures. In conclusion, I have only to say that in my judgment the appropriation of this £90,000 to make good a mistake of the actuaries in regard to the Teachers' Pension Fund is a great injustice to the teachers of Ireland. The Government are responsible for the mistake that has been made. and I hold that it is their duty to make good any deficiency out of Imperial funds,
§ *(7.35.) SIR JOHN GORST (Chatham)
I am anxious that the House should understand how this matter stands. As to the question of the proportion which Ireland ought to have, I admit that it is, upon the whole, a very large question, and I must decline to go into it. 1542 This is not the time when such a matter can be approached. But I wish to state to the House that the figure before the Committee was based upon the very best information which was accessible to the Government, as to the proportion of revenue paid by the three parts of the United Kingdom respectively.
§ * SIR JOHN GORST
It is based upon that principle. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is most anxious to have the matter investigated, and it is not the fault of my right hon. Friend, nor is it the fault of the Government, but because of the opposition coming from other quarters of the House, that an independent Committee has not been appointed before now to ascertain the justice or otherwise of the amount to be paid to Ireland.
§ * SIR JOHN GORST
That is quite another matter. With regard to the fund, there is little doubt that it is at present insolvent. The actuarial calculations in 1885, after the fund had been only five years in operation, was necessarily based a good deal on conjecture or opinion rather than upon fact; but the calculation made in 1891, after more than ten years' experience, was to a much greater extent based on fact as distinct from opinion, and therefore it is more likely to be correct. However that may be, I can assure the House that every single penny of that £90,000 will go to the benefit of the teachers, whatever may be the results of the investigation of experts. Supposing the fund is proved to be solvent, then the whole of the £90,000 will go to the benefit of the Irish teachers; and if it be insolvent, the money will go to relieve the teachers from the reductions which they might otherwise be compelled to submit to. I think it only right that the House should understand the question, and I think I have made plain the reasons for submitting the Vote now before the House.
*(7.42.) SIR UGHTRED KAYSHUTTLEWORTH
It is gratifying to find that the whole of this money should be going to the teachers. But, at the same time, it is right that attention should be called to the loose way in which public money is 1543 being dealt with. I think this should not be left to Irish Members, and that the House has reason to complain that, although the Government and the House are alike in the dark as to the state of this fund, a Vote should be asked for.
§ (7.50.) MR. SEXTON
I must confess that this whole arrangement looks excessively awkward. Three explanations have already been placed before the House, and it is difficult to understand any one of them. I should say that if the English Government persist in managing Irish affairs in this fashion, Irishmen will be justified in the impression that they can manage their affairs better themselves. I do not admit the distinction the Secretary to the Treasury attempts to draw between school teachers and the Constabulary, and I contend that the school teachers are just as much officers of State as any other body of men, and that they should be treated accordingly. In fact, there is a large amount of suspended judgment in regard to this Vote, and I think it is perfectly plain that we cannot pass it to-night, considering the important fact that the representations upon which it has been presented are, to say the least of it, inexact. I think the Vote ought to be adjourned until such times as the Report of the Committee of Experts has been placed before the House, and I must protest against the Vote until we have some assurance that the teachers will benefit by the Vote.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
I wish the Committee to understand that under any circumstances, whatever may be the result of the investigation, the whole of the £90,000 will go to the benefit of the National School teachers.
§ (7.55.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I understand from the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury that this money is not to benefit a single teacher. Is it not a fact that no existing teacher will get one single penny of benefit out of this £90,000? Let the House recolect that the money ought to be given to the Irish teachers in exactly the same proportion as it was given to the English teachers. It appears from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the Irish teachers are not going to get any benefit from the grant; not one single penny of benefit are they likely to derive. 1544 If you apply the money in this manner it simply means that it is going to make out Treasury balances. I think the teachers, roughly speaking, ought to get £8 or £9 apiece as back money. If you give this £90,000 to the Irish teachers, almost exactly as you have given the money to the English teachers, then you will be doing justice.
§ MR. JACKSON
With respect to, the opinion of the class of persons interested in this matter, I think it right that I should read to the House the following telegram, which I have just received:—The Executive Committee of the Irish National teachers authorise me to state that they heartily endorse the allocation of the £90,000 to the pension fund.From that it appears that the National School teachers highly desire the allocation of the £90,000 to the pension fund; and probably that may assist the House in coming to a decision on the matter.
§ *(8.3.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)
Our contention is that the Government find that a mistake has been made; it is the Government that ought to pay for that mistake; and the £90,000 ought to be paid additionally to the teachers. The manner in which this is brought before the House is very extraordinary. First we were told that there was a deficit in this fund, then we are told that this was very doubtful and that there is a Committee sitting upon it; and now, when it suits the convenience of the Government, we are told that there is no doubt whatever about it. If there is no doubt whatever about it I do not understand why a Committee should be appointed at all. It has been asserted by the Government that they have not the same responsibility towards the National School teachers as towards the Constabulary of Ireland. We know the Constabulary is considered a more important force in Ireland in the government of the country than the teachers. That the people should become better educated and better able to do for themselves is a matter of small importance. As to the treatment of the Irish National teachers, during the last ten years I have myself known instances where National teachers, because they had opinions of their own as to political questions and political reforms which were afterwards carried out by the 1545 Government, were obliged to give up their situations and leave the country. It is idle to say that the Government are not as much responsible to them as to the Constabulary. I trust this Vote will not be allowed to pass without being brought to a Division.
§ (8.5.) MR. PIERCE MAHONY (Meath, N.)
The right hon. Gentleman has just read a telegram which he has received from the Irish National teachers approving of the allocation of this money to the Pension Fund. Perhaps he could also tell us whether the National teachers of Ireland or their Association are aware of how this money is to be applied—whether it is to be applied to the Pension Fund or not?
§ MR. MAHONY
Might I ask are they aware of the alleged deficit in the Fund? What we are asked to believe is this: that an Association representing the existing body of the National teachers of Ireland wish this sum of money to which they are entitled as individuals to be used for the benefit of teachers in the future—that they wish it to be used for the benefit of a Fund from which they will not derive one single halfpenny. That may be a very praiseworthy state of mind of the Association, but I, for one, have very serious doubts on the subject. I do not believe that the National School Teachers' Association have at all realised how this fund is to be applied. I do not believe that they realise the fact that they as individuals will not benefit to the extent of a single halfpenny if this £90,000 is to be granted to the Fund. That is why the right hon. Gentleman said the Government were not responsible to the present teachers.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
What I said was that the new rules could not be altered as applied to the existing teachers, and that if this fund is inadequate a reduction would be made all round.
§ MR. MAHONY
We are now told that the Treasury of this great Empire makes rules with regard to certain servants.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
With regard to the beneficiaries, the Government make rules under an Act of Parliament 1546 regarding the beneficiaries of a certain statutory fund.
§ MR. MAHONY
The Government make rules with regard to certain of its servants. A Minister of the Crown gets up and says these rules cannot be altered as regards the existing servants of the State. One would naturally suppose that the Government, who were responsible for framing the rules, and who have no power to alter the rules regarding the existing servants of the State—that the Government of this great Empire would at any rate undertake that the servants of the State will receive what they are entitled to. The right hon. Gentleman does not say that if there was a deficit under these rules this House would not make it good. But what we are asked is quite a different matter. We are asked to take this sum of money, this £90,000 to which the National School teachers are entitled and ought to get, and transfer it to a fund which will benefit not the people entitled to this £90,000, but some future teachers in Ireland. I think it is most unjust to the present body of National teachers in Ireland, and I am confident that the telegram sent to the right hon. Gentleman was sent in ignorance of the facts, because the teachers in Ireland at the present moment are not in a position to understand the facts. There seems still to exist a very great doubt regarding this fund. But under any circumstances, whether a deficit exists or not, I do not see how it is just to the present teachers in Ireland to take away this sum of £90,000, to which they are entitled, and put it to a fund which will not benefit them individually, but some future teachers.
§ (8.15.) SIR JOSEPH McKENNA (Monaghan, S.)
I believe this to be absolutely a misappropriation of this fund. A fund that was intended for the immediate benefit of the teachers in Ireland is, by a Vote in Committee, to be allocated to make good a mistake made by an actuary in the Treasury some years ago. I think this actuary has proved himself unfit to make such calculations at all; and if his calculations in the first instance were wrong, and if they are right now, it does not alter, in my opinion, the appropriation of this £90,000, which was intended for the immediate benefit of the existing teachers. The late Secretary to the 1547 Treasury has read a telegram from the secretary of the teacher's body in Ireland or some other representative. I should like to know in reply to what communication that was read.
§ MR. JACKSON
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that no communication was made; that the telegram came to me quite spontaneously, and was received by me quite unexpectedly, and that is all I know about it.
§ SIR JOSEPH McKENNA
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has given entirely what has occurred; but I venture to think that the gentleman who sent it was entirely ignorant of the circumstances which surround this question; and, therefore, I think we should treat the matter as if the telegram had not been sent at all, and we must fall back upon our own common sense in this matter. I hope that when this Vote is put from the Chair every Irish Member in the House, on whatever side of the House he may sit, will vote against such a misappropriation, for it appears to me to be a misappropriation of this Fund.
§ *(8.17.) MR. HAYDEN (Leitrim, S.)
We have been told, and we have no reason to doubt the statement, that there is a deficit of £195,000. The Chief Secretary and the Secretary to the Treasury say that unless this deficit is made good new rules would have to be made; but we are told at the same time that the rules cannot be changed; so that the existing teachers are concerned. But are we to understand that a deficit exists to the extent of £195,000, that the teachers are to suffer, and that the Government will not make it good? As regards the case of the Constabulary, it has been very well pointed out by the hon. Member for South Tyrone and the hon. Member for West Belfast that this fund was not a fund originally started by the Government, but contributed to by the police themselves, and therefore stands in the same position as the Teachers' Pension Fund, so far as Government responsibility was concerned. Neither the teachers of Ireland nor the people had anything whatever to say to the administration of this fund, and I do not think that either the teachers or the Irish people should be made responsible for it. I think, before this Vote passes, 1548 it ought to be made clear whether the Government intend to make good the deficit, and whether steps should not be taken in future to see that the fund was kept in a sound condition?
§ *(8.20.) MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. The remedy which the Government propose is the old one of robbing Peter to pay Paul. I do not think the House ought to consent to any such bargain with them. As has been pointed out by more than one Member of the House with regard to their dealing with the police, wherever the money came from, the Government always took care that those who were breaking men's heads should get their pay, and there have been a large number of men pensioned for breaking people's heads, and for no other reason that I know of. And it has been often pointed out that while the police are paid big salaries and pensions the poor teachers, who are endeavouring to develop the brain-power of the people and give them an education, are utterly neglected. With nothing except coercion from the present Government during the past five years, the people have been told that they are not fit for Home Rule; but I think that the mismanagement of this Fund shows that the British Government is not fit to administer the funds of the country at all. What would be the action of the Government if this happened in a Board of Guardians in Ireland? I have known several Boards of Guardians, composed of men who gave their services voluntarily to the public service, who came long distances at their own expense to attend the Board meetings, and the Boards got into debt. What was the procedure? Why, they were suspended at once. They were not paid large salaries, like Members of the Government, for looking after the public interest, but they were suspended peremptorily by an order from Dublin Castle. And the coming County Councils that are going to be newly appointed are to be put into the dock for less than this. I should like we had the power to put the Government in the dock for such administration as has been disclosed in this House to-night. I shall resist the passing of this Vote until the assurance is given that this deficit is to be made 1549 good. I am quite of opinion that if the gentlemen—the associated Irish teachers—on whose behalf this telegram has been sent to the Chief Secretary, were aware of the fact that this money is gone astray and that they are likely to be deprived of it entirely, they would not have sent any such telegram. I shall not trespass on the time of the House any longer, but I hope every hon. Member in the House will press this question until we get an assurance that the Government will make good the deficit. If the gentleman who was in control of this fund was in a City counting-house and could not account for his employers' money they would put the detectives on his track, and keep him under observation until they got satisfactory evidence on the subject. We have got responsible Ministers under observation, and we will keep them there until we have got sufficient satisfaction on the subject.
§ (8.25.) COLONEL NOLAN
I look upon this case as one calling for the most careful investigation. This is one of the few cases that come before the House of Commons in which Irishmen can actually obtain money for a very valuable class in Ireland, and a considerable sum—£90,000—by forcing this question on the attention of the country. I suppose the telegram from the National Teachers' Association was from some members sitting in Dublin, and who had got some short account that £90,000 was to be allocated for the Pension Fund, and they thought they would relieve their feelings by trying to get a larger pension. I do not believe—I say it is impossible—that the report of this Debate that occurred here up to eight o'clock could have reached them; and they have evidently sent this telegram in sublime ignorance of everything that has happened in this House. I always suspected that this £90,000 would be collared; I always suspected that some of this £90,000 would be taken away from the teachers. The teachers have not had their suspicions aroused; but if they heard the position taken up by the Secretary to the Treasury to-night I think they would alter their opinion. In 1879 certain calculations were made, and in 1885 the Treasury suggested that it would be well if the fund could be stretched out a little more. Then as re- 1550 gards these quinquennial periods, the Secretary to the Treasury has not been exactly frank with us.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
There was a quinquennial period in 1884; in 1885 new rules were made. They came into force in 1886, and the new quinquennial period was therefore 1891.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
The actuary has made no suggestion that his calculations in 1885 were wrong; but supposing they are wrong, they have no right to take this £90,000 simply to rectify the error of one of their own officials. I do think this £90,000 ought to be given to the teachers. It will really be a great deal to them, and will help to place them on a footing of equality with the English teachers.
§ *(9.5.) MR. LENG (Dundee)
I should not have interfered in the discussion upon Irish Estimates if I did not feel that this was not entirely an Irish question. We are suffering from the strange fatality which has attended all proposals resulting from the vicious system of finance introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in creating a surplus by levying taxes before knowing that its object was approved by the country, and then fishing for other purposes to which that surplus might be applied. We Scotch Members spent a whole night last week in discussing the equivalent grant for Scotland, and then towards midnight it was found that our whole time had been wasted; and here to-night it must be admitted that the Committee is in a financial muddle. We are told that there is a deficit of £195,000 on the Report of an actuary in the service of the country. But the Government are not satisfied, or they would not have appointed two other actuaries to make inquiries. If all three were to be unanimous, it would be an exceedingly suspicious, and almost unprecedented, circumstance. It may prove that the deficit is less, and if so this Vote will be too much; or it may prove that the deficit is even greater than has been reported, and then this Vote will not be enough. But whether the deficit is too much or too little, I agree with hon. Gentlemen from Ireland that this money should not be applied to the Pension Fund, but should be devoted to educational purposes, and that before the 1551 money is so allocated further explanations are required.
§ (9.12.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
In the course of the few remarks I made a few nights ago on the introduction of the Government Bill, I stated that I should not oppose the appropriation of £90,000 for increasing the National Teachers' Fund, and I feel, therefore, it is necessary for me to offer some explanation of the Motion I am now about to make for reporting Progress. It is in no spirit of opposition to the appropriation of the £90,000 that I make this Motion, but because I object to taking a leap in the dark as we are invited to do by the Government this evening. There is every reason for delay. A sort of appeal ad misericordiam has been made to us on behalf of the teachers; but I hold it would be the falsest economy to devote this sum to bolstering up a fund which needs to be investigated. No damage can be done to the teachers by withholding this grant for a little time; for the £90,000 will still be there, and will be increased by interest while it is invested. What the Irish teachers want is a fund administered on a solid basis. They wish to have established a permanent, solvent, and properly-managed fund; and if the £90,000 be added to it, when it has been placed on a solid basis, it will be a sub-substantial advantage to the teachers; but according to the proposition now made it would only be a something thrown in to fill up a gap. For these reasons I beg to move that you now report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. J. O'Connor.)
§ (9.20.) Mr. JACKSON
I do not believe the hon. Member thinks for a moment that the Government will consent to report Progress. The case has been stated with great clearness by the Secretary to the Treasury; but hon. Members opposite have seemed to lose sight of or to ignore the fact that if this fund has been brought into this condition, it is because too large an amount of benefit has been given to the teachers who have been admitted to it. It is quite clear from the Act that it is our duty from time to time to have these 1552 actuarial valuations made, and it is also clear that it is open to the Treasury from time to time to vary, revoke, or alter the terms and rules regulating the distribution of the pensions. There can only be two alternatives: either we must use this money to add to the Pension Fund, or changes must be made which will give to the teachers less benefit. I have already stated that I am informed that the Teachers' Association endorse the allocation of the £90,000 in the manner now proposed, but I think the Member for West Belfast was not in his place when I read the telegram.
§ MR. JACKSON
I only mention it because the hon. Member referred to a letter received from teachers taking a different view.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the teachers who signed that telegram are aware of the unsatisfactory state of the fund, as it has been stated here?
§ MR. JACKSON
I have told the Committee all I know on the subject of the telegram, which came quite unexpectedly; but I think the question is one of such interest to the teachers that they will have already very closely followed what has been said upon the subject. After listening carefully to the speeches made this evening, I see no reason for reporting Progress, or for altering in any degree the proposed allocation of the grant. It belongs to the teachers only, and the Fund cannot be diverted to any other purpose than for benefitting them. It was intended, when the Act was passed, that the interest on £1,300,000, plus the contributions of the teachers themselves, should be so dealt with that the benefits to be given should not exceed the resources of the fund so constituted. Up to 1885 the experience was short, and the actuarial valuation then made showed that there was a surplus. For some time past the teachers desired, and they still desire, as hon. Members from Ireland must be aware, to get larger benefits from the Fund, and that in many ways modifications should be made. There is no doubt that in 1885 the Treasury, believing that the condition of the fund justified some relaxation of the rules, assented to some increased benefits being given to the teachers. There are many 1553 ways in which the question of solvency can be affected, and I may mention what has been the result of increasing the age at which teachers are admitted. It is obvious that if they are admitted at a later age than formerly, the tendency is to limit the period of years during which they will be on the Fund. There has been a growing tendency for teachers to pass examinations so as to enable them to get into the second and first classes, and the proportion of teachers in the first, second, and third classes is so much altered from what it was that there is in the Fund a very much higher percentage of the first and second class, and a very much less percentage of the third class.
§ MR. JACKSON
No; they do not pay according to their class salary, and that is rather important. In the Act the number of the first and second class is limited, and the result is that supposing the number of the first class was limited to 150, although there may be 400 of the first class on the Fund, only 150 can contribute towards it, according to the first-class salary. Supposing a teacher is classed as a first class, and in receipt of a first-class salary, if he does not contribute to the Fund as a first-class teacher, and supposing he retired, and was pensioned during that period, he would only be pensioned in accordance with the second class, he having contributed as a second-class teacher. But it must be borne in mind that the limit is only as regards contributions to the fund, and not as to the number of pensions to be given.
§ MR. SEXTON
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that a man who can pay only at the second-class rate may get a first-class pension?
§ MR. JACKSON
I mean to say that he may have paid at the second-class rate up to last year—I am putting this as a mere illustration, and not binding myself to any particular order—and then this year get into the first class; and if then he happened to be pensioned, he would be pensioned on the first-class rate. When the valuation was made in 1885 and it was found there was this surplus, there was an anxiety to give the teachers the benefit of this improvement in the Fund. Now, further experience goes to 1554 show that the additional advantages given at that time have been just sufficient to turn the scale in the opposite direction. I have given very anxious consideration to the question. I think it is of great importance that we should take this opportunity of making this contribution to the Fund. There is no doubt the question will have to be faced as to what is going to be done with regard to the Fund. No doubt the Fund shows a deficit on the valuation; but the Treasury, in order to be quite certain about the matter, have decided to have the actuarial valuation again checked. I do not think there is the smallest hope that they will be able to show that the valuation that has been made is otherwise than a correct one. It will be some time before we can know the result of the further examination that is being made; but I put it to hon. Members—assuming what I have said to be correct, that there has been a disposition to give more to the teachers than the fund would bear—is there any purpose to which we could devote this money that would be more agreeable and more satisfactory to the teachers themselves? It is desirable, if we can, to maintain the advantages that have been given to the teachers under the old rules. It is very undesirable, I think, to alter these rules if we can avoid it; but the alternative is either to make this contribution now or endeavour to modify, it may be, the conditions under which the Fund has been administered so that there should be brought about a state of solvency. With regard to the school fees, it may be that they will have to continue even for a while longer—certainly until we get our Education Bill passed. I do not know what may be the view taken in the future, but I do feel it is incumbent upon us, now that we have found out the position we are in with regard to the Fund, to make this contribution to it, and this is the view of the Teachers' Association. I believe this is a wise allocation of the money, and I hope the Committee will not agree to reporting Progress, but allow us to take the Vote.
§ (9.35.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I think the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman are rather in favour of reporting Progress, because the Government have no right to ask us to vote 1555 this money until they are satisfied it is really required and until they verify their facts. When they have verified their facts and know the exact amount of money they want, then they can come to Parliament and ask us to vote the money. I think this is the first time since I have been in the House that I have seen a real Irish financial grievance. I will also support the Motion on another ground. I think the Government would have been wise if they had adopted the precedent of the Irish Constabulary Pension Fund, and voted the money in the same fashion.
Order, order! The Motion before the Committee is to report Progress. If the discussion on the Vote is to go on, the Motion to report Progress should be withdrawn.
§ DR. CLARK
I was going to argue that it is desirable for the Government on many grounds to withdraw this Vote altogether and bring it up in another shape. The statement of the Chief Secretary for Ireland is rather in favour of reporting Progress. Let the Treasury wait until they have verified their facts and figures, and then come before us and tell us what they have done.
§ (9.40.) COLONEL NOLAN
I think there is a good case to be made out for postponing the Vote, to give us an opportunity of knowing what the teachers of Ireland think of the matter themselves. I think it would be better for the Secretary to the Treasury to withdraw the Vote now. It is so unbusiness-like on the part of the Treasury to come down here and ask us to come suddenly to a decision on a question of figures, when we have heard for the first time of these actuarial calculations. We have only gradually extracted from the Treasury a good many of the financial facts. We have drawn them out one by one but we do not yet know the whole facts of the case. If the Vote was postponed for three or four days and all the figures were laid on the Table, we would then be in a better position to come to a decision. The Government may frighten the teachers, but I do not think they will frighten the Irish Members. We know that in the long run the money will come back to the teachers in some way or other. I think a very fair case has been made out for postponing this Vote. We 1556 have not the materials in our possession for forming a correct conclusion upon the matter. The Government themselves are not thoroughly well informed, and, perhaps, in a day or two they will be properly coached by the officials of the Treasury.
§ (9.43.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I hope hon. Members will not press this Motion. The way matters stand is this. I do not propose to traverse again the grounds so admirably mapped out by my-right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury. This money will go to the Irish teachers,whether the Fund be insolvent, whether it be solvent, or whether-it be more than solvent. If it be insolvent, the money will go to diminish the insolvency; if it be solvent it will go to increase the benefits to the teachers; if it be more than solvent, it will still go to the same excellent object. Whatever the condition of the fund, and whatever the actuarial calculations ultimately determined upon by the various experts, this £90,000 will go to the Teachers' Pension Fund in augmentation of the money they would otherwise derive. That, at all events, is perfectly clear, and I do not propose to dwell upon it any longer. Now, what hon. Members say is this—"There is an inquiry going on to investigate the precise amount of the deficiency. Wait until the inquiry has come to a conclusion before asking for a Vote of this money." These calculations are of so difficult and laborious a character that there is not the slightest possibility that they can be completed and in the hands of Members before the end of the financial year. I do not pretend that the £90,000 is not due to Ireland. I think it is due to Ireland. I think it extremely doubtful if the thing is hung up whether the Vote will go to the teachers at all. The teachers, as teachers, have no claim to it whatever. If you are going to follow in Ireland the precise analogy of England it will go to the parents, and not to the teachers. There are in Ireland large bodies of public opinion desirous of promoting technical education among other most valuable objects. Let it be understood if this Vote is adjourned it will not come on in the course of the Parliamentary financial year, and the money will this year go to the extinction of the National Debt. There is no ques- 1557 tion about that, and when, either in this Session or some subsequent Session, this House took into consideration the things to which this money shall be voted, there is no security or probability that it will necessarily go to the particular object to which this Government desire to vote it. Under these circumstances, I ask hon. Gentlemen not to postpone indefinitely the decision of this question to-night. There is other very pressing and important Business of interest to Irish Members before us, and I would ask them to be content with a Debate which has proved this, at all events, conclusively: that whatever is the state of the Fund the Irish National teachers will benefit by this allocation, and let us pass to other not less interesting and important matters.
§ (9.47.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
The Government have changed their ground considerably since the opening of the Debate. When this Debate opened to-night, the evidence before us was a positive declaration that a deficit had arisen which this grant of £90,000 would partly meet. Now, the First Lord rises and delivers a strictly hypothetical statement. He says, "If there be a deficiency this grant will go to meet it."
§ MR. SEXTON
He put it in the form that if there is any deficiency this money will go to the teachers. That is what I do not see. These teachers are entitled to certain benefits. They will receive no new benefits unless new rules are made. What assurance have we that new rules will be made?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR ;
This £90,000 may be considered as added to the £1,113,000. The Treasury are bound to make rules by which that £1,113,000 will be allocated to the teachers.
§ MR. SEXTON
There are two sets of rules. The teachers are entitled to certain benefits, and these benefits must be made good by the Treasury. ["No!"] Does the Chief Secretary mean by that "no," that after men and women have been paying into this Pension Fund you can alter these rules so as to take away the benefits conferred on them? I say that is impossible. There is a contract, amounting to a statutory contract, between the Treasury and the teachers, and it would be impossible to alter it. 1558 We have no means of satisfying ourselves, if we were to vote this money, that it would secure the teachers any further benefit. That would be at the discretion of the Treasury. We know how plausible the Treasury is at the moment when it is seeking a concession, and how slippery it is afterwards. I am sorry the First Lord has made an attempt to overbear Members of Parliament by threatening us that unless we consent to pass this Vote the money will not go to the teachers. What right has the right hon. Gentleman to take to dictating to the Committee?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The postponement is asked for on the ground that the investigation is not terminated, and it will not be terminated before the end of the financial year.
§ MR. SEXTON
Is it not strange that the right hon. Gentleman is able to say the valuation will not be completed before the 31st March? Upon what day were these gentlemen set to work? Where is the letter appointing them? How long have they been at work? How long will they be at work? Did the actuary who made the calculation of 1891 make any Report? If he made a Report that the fund is £90,000 to the bad, let that Report be produced. I suppose all the business at the Treasury is not by word of mouth. There is, I suppose, some written correspondence. I hope it will not be considered too much to ask that proof of the deficiency of last year should be placed in our hands. I think I can throw some light on the telegram which the Chief Secretary read. I take it that the telegram came from the Executive Body of the National teachers in Dublin.
§ MR. SEXTON
That is a body of 20 gentlemen living in Dublin who have sent the telegram without sufficient information, and probably because these gentlemen were aware that last year the right hon. Gentleman, who is now First Lord, proposed to apply this £90,000 to his Irish Land Purchase Act reserve fund which has not worked at all. The teachers naturally preferred that the money should be given to the Pension Fund rather than to the Purchase Act reserve fund. I beg the Committee therefore to discount the telegram from the Executive of the National teachers. I 1559 would respectfully ask the First Lord if he can see his way to accept the Motion to report Progress. I cannot honestly vote away £90,000 without knowing why. Let him consent to the adjournment, so that he may procure some general memorandum from the three actuaries, or else show us the document upon which the actuaries calculated last year that the fund was in an unsound state. If he does so, I do not think he will find the progress of Business has been injured.
§ (9.55.) M R. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I say we have no information to justify the statement that there is any deficit at all. The actuarial calculation of 1883, which was very elaborate, is now in the Library. The actuarial valuation of 1891 has been carefully concealed by the Government, until it suited their purpose to quote it; and they have quoted it without putting it on the Table, or supplying Members with the information it contains. It is very curious that we have not seen this document showing that there is a deficiency. The right hon. Gentleman, now the First Lord, when he was Chief Secretary, made a statement as to the capital of this fund in the month of May, and from that it appears that the interest alone on the £1,300,000 was £39,000, showing a surplus of £2,000 on that item alone. Besides that, you were receiving from the National Debt Commissioners £8,000 by way of interest and premiums to the extent of £9,000 a year. Therefore, you had a surplus of £20,000, and that fact is borne out by this, that you transferred from income to capital account last year no less than £27,000.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think the hon. Gentleman overlooks the fact that what he has quoted is the question of receipts and expenditure. The question of solvency depended upon the actuarial estimate of what will happen to the Fund in the course of years when certain charge fall upon it.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
The explanation appears to be a little elementary. Anyone can make this calculation for himself. I have been at the trouble to check the calculation of 1885, and I think I can see one or two points on which the actuary has made a mistake I am not a all satisfied that the 1560 actuarial estimate laid before the Treasury for the year 1891 is any more accurate than the actuarial estimate made in 1885. Before I am asked to vote on the strength of it, I should like to see the actuarial estimate examined. The First Lord of the Treasury says this £90,000 is to go to the teachers.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman appeared to lead the House to suppose that he was speaking in the interest of the teachers. He was not doing so. He was speaking in the interest of the Government, as shown plainly by the words of the Act. The 7th section says—If at any time the Pension Fund shall be insufficient for the repayment of the advances by the National Debt Commissioners for the pensions payable to the teachers, the Treasury, upon being informed thereof by the Commissioners for the reduction of the National Debt, shall issue the amount of such deficiency out of the Consolidated Fund, and the growing produce thereof, and the Treasury shall certify such deficiency to Parliament.So that, in reality, this apparent anxiety for the interest of the teachers is merely an anxiety to save the Treasury; and in order to enable the Treasury to perform this little evolution we are asked to vote in the dark a sum of £90,000, which it is admitted ought to go to benefit the position of the teachers, but which the First Lord thinks will go to pay part of die National Debt. It is mere affectation for the First Lord of the Treasury to say that whatever happens to this Fund the teachers can suffer. You have entered into a contract with every one of them The interests of the teachers will not be hurt in any way if this question be held over till we have an opportunity of seeing the actuarial report.
*(10.2.) SIR UGHTRED KAYSHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)
It seems to me that the Government are in this position. They find themselves under two obligations to Ireland. The first obligation is to give to Ireland, in some shape or form, this grant of £90,000, or whatever sum may be her fair proportion equivalent to that given to England in the form of the fee grant. The other obligation is to keep this Teachers' Pension Fund in a state of solvency. If this Fund 1561 were to break down it would be a great disappointment to a large number of teachers, and the Act says that under certain circumstances the Treasury is to meet any deficiency out of the Consolidated Fund.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The clause to which the right hon. Gentleman refers is one dealing with the capital sum. There is a schedule stating certain benefits which the teachers are to receive, and that would appear to involve an obligation on the Treasury, but if hon. Gentlemen will look at Clause 11 of the Act they will see that it provides—That the rules and schedules of this Act may from time to time be revoked, varied, and added to by the Lords of the Treasury.The duty of the Treasury is simply to see that any teacher gets such pension or benefit as his contributions to the Fund may justify, and that the rules under which teachers receive benefit from the Fund shall, if necessary, be varied in such a way as to keep the Fund solvent, not out of the taxes or funds voted by Parliament, but out of the £1,300,000 of the Irish Church surplus.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
The clause is no obligation at all—it only applies to such advances as are made from time to time out of the Consolidated Fund, which are to be repaid to the Consolidated Fund. The Act provides—That the Commissioners for the reduction of the National Debt may from time to time until the payment of the whole of the said capital sum of £1,300,000 make advances for the purposes of the Act, and may apply for that purpose any funds for the time being in their hands. All such advances shall be repaid to the Commissioners out of the pension fund, with interest at the rate of 3½ per cent. per annum. If at any time the Pension Fund shall be insufficient for the repayment of such advances, the Treasury, on being duly informed of it by the Commissioners, shall issue the amount of such deficiency out of the Consolidated Funds of the United Kingdom or out of the growing produce thereof.The 7th clause is a provision for advances by the Commissioners till the Irish Church surplus is realised, and for the subsequent repayment of such advances.
* SIR UGHTRED KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH
The right hon. Gentleman does not answer my point. Supposing this Fund were to be in a much worse state of deficit than was reported last year, do right hon. 1562 Gentlemen opposite mean to say that all they would have to do would be to so whittle down the rules that the expectations held out to the teachers would be falsified? Is it not a fact that they must come to Parliament to make the Fund solvent? It does seem to me there are two obligations: an obligation to pay Ireland an equivalent sum in respect of the fee grants in England; and the other, an old obligation, to keep the Pension Fund solvent. They are trying to meet both obligations by one payment. That is very ingenious on the part of right hon. Gentlemen, but I am not surprised that hon. Gentlemen from Ireland do not look upon the matter in quite the same light.
(10.10.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 106; Noes 132.—(Div. List, No.10.)
Original Question again proposed.
§ (10.20.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
I think it would be well if the Vote were postponed in order that the Committee may have time to get some knowledge of the actuarial report which is now being prepared. No harm can be done by delay. It is very strange that a Fund which was £196,000 to the good in 1885 should be £195,000 to the bad now. The Chief Secretary read a telegram from the Executive of the Irish National Teachers' Association, but we are prepared in the interests of that body to take the responsibility of postponing the Vote. The question of this £90,000 also involves another consideration. The right hon. Gentleman in his argument assumes that there will be a deficit in a very short time; that the actuarial valuation when properly worked out will show a deficit of £195,000; but, Sir, the Government are not sure of that, and I think the Committee is entitled to a fair statement on the matter. The Treasury are not in a position to give us such a statement to-night, and they should, therefore, allow the Vote to be postponed for a week, during which time independent actuaries, of whom there are many connected with large insurance companies, might be employed to work out the calculation. The Chief Secretary was the only Member of the Front Bench who endeavoured to give some explana- 1563 tion of how the deficiency arose, but he was dealing hypothetically with a certain state of things. We want to see exactly how the fund stands. If there is a necessity for £90,000 and the teachers are entitled to it I should be inclined to vote for it. I hope the Government will not press the Vote on to-night, but will bring it forward again when the Irish people, and especially the teachers, will be in a position to judge how the Fund stands at the present moment.
§ (10.30.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I take the result of the last Division as showing that, though we are in a minority, we are at the same time sufficiently strong to be recognised in this House. The Division has only resulted in a majority of 26 to Her Majesty's Ministers, and I think that fact in itself should be sufficient to remind them to stay their hand. I would suggest that the Report stage in connection with this matter should not be brought on for at least a fortnight, and that before then the figures should be placed in the hands of hon. Members showing what the actual state of the fund really is. This I think would be a proper course for the Government to adopt, having regard to the confusion that exists in the minds of most hon. Members in regard to the figures.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have no objection to the Report stage being postponed for a fortnight, as is suggested by the hon. Member; but what I desire to say is that, after the prolonged debate, and, to say the least of it, the exhaustive debate which has taken place, I think the Vote should now be allowed to be taken, so that the House may proceed with some other business.
§ (10.40.) MR. MAHONY (Meath, N.)
I think it must be plain to every Member of the House that the Government are obliged to make good this deficit, and I do not see why the Irish National School teachers should lose in consequence of the default of the Government. I think the Irish National School teachers are being unfairly treated, and that in all the relations of the Government with them their interests have not been fairly considered. I think that the Government are much to blame in this matter, and that there is every reason why they should make good the deficit out of Imperial Funds. If there is any new statement which the Government have to make before we go 1564 to a Division, of course we should like to hear it. But if that is the position of the Government, that they cannot alter these rules as regards the present staff of teachers, then the present staff of teachers——
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
Question put, "That the Question be now put."
(10.45.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 146; Noes 113.—(Div. List, No. 11.)
Original Question put accordingly,That a sum, not exceeding £90,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892, as a Grant in Aid of the Capital of the Pension Fund created under the provisions of 'The National School Teachers (Ireland) Act, 1879.'
(10.50.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 157; Noes 120.—(Div. List, No. 12.)
Resolution to be reported.