§ 19. £499,801, to complete the sum for Public Education, Ireland.
(12.18.) COLONEL NOLAN
In the discussion on the Irish Education Bill we were told, if we wished to bring any fresh classes under the Bill, we ought to deal with the matter on this Vote. The Bill is a vanishing quantity, and the First Lord of the Treasury is constantly putting if off. It has been pushed off in many ways, so that I would like now to say a few words on an important question which is agitating the minds of the Irish people—the question of the rules of the National Education Board under which the Christian Brothers are excluded from any share of the grant. The Chief Secretary has been absent from the House for some time, but I would like an explanation from some other Member of the Irish Government, or from the First Lord, of why they are excluded, and why steps have not been taken to include the very best schools in Ireland. It is admitted that the Christian Brothers give the best primary education in Ireland, and yet the Government insists on excluding them from this Vote. In England, schools of a similar character get grants; I do not say in every case. In Ireland these schools are excluded, because the Christian Brothers will have certain religious emblems in their schools; but I think a fair compromise might be arrived at by the introduction of a Conscience Clause in all those schools where the Protestants have no school of their own persuasion to which they can send their children. In the majority of cases, however, there are excellent Protestant schools where the Christian Brothers have schools, as 995 in Londonderry, Dublin, and Cork, and in these places any money given to the Christian Brothers would be spent on Catholic children, and would not affect the Protestant children in any way. It may be said that such a course would be against the original policy of the national education system. It was originally a proselytising system for turning Catholics into Protestants, but that was resisted by the late Archbishop of Tuam, with the result that now it is no longer a proselytising system, but varies with the people who work it. It might be worked as a proselytising system; it is largely worked as a denominational system, and in some cases as a secular system. It depends very much on the Commissioners and the Government as to how it is worked, and I think the Government might now see their way to a compromise, and to so modify the rules that the Christian Brothers should have the grant extended to them. The chief objection has been that they will have a crucifix and the statues in the schools, but many Protestants do not object to them. I do not think Ireland is in a fair position compared with England so long as the best schools are excluded from the grant. There is another point. I am informed that in consequence of the introduction of the Education Bill, the Government are making reductions in the allowances to teachers, and I would like to ask if that is the case. The reductions are small, cheese-paring economies, which are injurious to the teachers; and I should like to know if they are being made on the ground that the teachers will benefit by the Education Bill?
§ MR. JACKSON
There is no connection, so far as I am aware, between the reductions which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has referred to and the Education Bill. As regards the other question, it is one, no doubt, of considerable interest; but as I suppose we shall have a discussion on the Education Bill, it is hardly worth while going into the question now.
I will be satisfied with that answer for the present, on condition that the right hon. Gentleman will not throw the question over on a future occasion.
§ (12.30.) MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)
I should like to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he ought to follow the precedent set in England in regard to higher grade schools, and establish in Ireland higher grade schools, under which system of higher grade schools the Christian Brothers might very well come in, taking advantage of the primary grant, and also taking advantage of the intermediate education grant.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 20. £605, to complete the sum for Endowed Schools Commissioners, Ireland.
§ 21. £1,700, to complete the sum for National Gallery of Ireland.
§ 22. £3,028, to complete the sum for Queen's Colleges, Ireland.