HC Deb 22 March 1892 vol 2 cc1463-95


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd February], "That leave be given to bring in a Bill to improve National Education in Ireland."—(Mr. Jackson.)

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

(3.18.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

The Leader of this House lately developed an opinion to the effect that the Government have expounded their views upon the introduction of this Bill, and that there is no need for anything further to be said upon that stage of the Bill. I absolutely demur to that proposition. I hold that when a Bill is not only important but novel, it is desirable that the views of independent Members should be expressed, and when, in addition to the Bill being novel and important, it is an Irish Bill, the Irish Members being a small minority here, it is expedient and necessary, even before the House is asked to affirm the principle of the Bill, that the views of the Irish Members should be heard. I have, in the first place, to protest against the mode in which the division of the money has been made. I should not have uttered a single word upon this subject if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made the slightest reasonable effort to fulfil the promise to appoint a Committee to consider the financial relations between England, Scotland, and Ireland. That promise was given two years ago, in reply to a speech which I made on the Budget Debate. The whole of one Session and parts of two other Sessions have since passed, and although the question to be determined by the Committee was a question of the fundamental principle which ought to govern the contribution of each of these three countries to the Imperial revenue, the right hon. Gentleman, in the whole course of that long period, has never thought it worth his while to put down the Motion upon any day at such a time as would save it from being blocked by the act of any individual Member. I think I am entitled to say, when the Motion has been treated in such a manner, there is no serious intention of promoting it, and I, for the future, will not attach any serious Parliamentary importance to any promise made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If the division of the education grant is to be proportionate to the contribution of each country to the Imperial revenue, the grant ought to have been divided as if taxation were being remitted. And, if taxation was being remitted, what you would have done would have been to take the tax which presses most hardly upon the working people, and which presses most hardly upon the poorer countries in this partnership as compared with the richer. You should in that case have remitted the. Customs and Excise, and, if you had done that, you would have given 12 per cent. to Ireland, 13 to Scotland, and 75 to England. If this is a United Kingdom at all, and if there is a matter of common concern—of common and inseparable concern—it is the question? of primary education; and I maintain if there were any reality behind your theory of a United Kingdom, you would have taken the whole of this education grant and divided it between the three countries upon the basis of the average school attendance. If you had done that, Ireland would have been entitled to one-sixth or one-seventh of this money, and not to one-ninth. On these occasions I am reminded bitterly of the statement of Pitt, that one of the objects of the Act of Union was to give Ireland—a poor country—the advantage of being allied with a wealthy country. Upon every occasion when a financial question comes up here, if you were the poorest country in the world, and we were the wealthiest, you could not be more eager and resolute to take advantage of us in every transaction. Our share of the education grant, on a fair division, would be £300,000, not £200,000. Whenever it is a question of placing Ireland at a disadvantage then the union between us is close; but whenever it is a question of distributing advantage, then your Unionist becomes a Separatist in the twinkling of an eye, and he makes off with the lion's share of the spoil. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, taking the £200,000, has accepted a policy of compromise. He has been asked to give the whole of this money by way of a capitation grant. He has adopted the course of compromise, substantially giving one half of the money in capitation grants and the other half in improving various classes of salaries. If the right hon. Gentleman could make good his statement, that the benefit to the three religious communions would be substantially the same as if the money had been given either wholly for capitation grants or for class salaries, it would have been an element of considerable strength. I notice, however, that although two objects of this legislation are first to abolish school fees, and second to improve the condition of the teacher, it is not altogether clear to me that the condition of the teacher will be improved. I rather think the position of some teachers will be injured. Upon the other hand, although the object is to abolish school fees, and, although the fees in Ireland are only £100,000 a year, you do not abolish school fees, there is a balance left, although the money to be given is twice the amount of the school fees. I think it would be convenient if the meaning of this trans action were immediately made clear. There are some obvious defects in the scheme of the Chief Secretary for Ireland to which I must advert. The first is the case of the assistant teachers. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary proposes to make some improvement in the condition of the assistant teachers after seven years' service. First, let me ask him what he means by seven years' service? Does he mean seven years' service as assistant teacher? If so, that will work great injustice, because the general case, the ordinary case, of these assistant teachers is that many of them serve as principals in a rural school before they become teachers in a town school. I am informed, by a person thoroughly competent to give an opinion, that if you insist upon this condition of seven year's service there will not be a dozen assistant teachers in Ireland who will get the benefit. The question is not one of service, it is a question of classification. What is the grievance of assistant teachers? It is that although the assistant teacher shares with the principal the responsibility of all the work of the school, at the highest possible classification he only receives the salary of the lowest class. £35 is the salary he receives; £70 a year is the salary of the highest class; and although the assistant teacher by passing examinations may have placed himself in the first position of his class he is not thereby entitled to a salary of £70 a year, but only receives £35. In like manner with respect to female teachers, the principal receives a salary of £57, but the assistants receives only £20. I am told in regard to those assistant teachers, in the case of a male this salary does not mean more than £1 per week, and in the case of a female teacher of the highest class only 10s. a week. The sum of £10,000 a year would place this question on a satisfactory basis. I would urge the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to endeavour, possible, to give assistant teachers their full class salaries, for there is a great difference between them and the principal teacher, because of the fact that he gets a share of the fees and the whole of the capitation grant. Work mistresses in the school receive a salary of £12 a year, and they are entitled to a share of the fees; but I am informed that their actual share is so insignificant that it does not amount to more than £1 a year. It is discreditable to a great State to employ women in the position of work mistresses for such remuneration. If the work is worth being done at all it deserves to be done at a better rate than 5s. a week. And I would request the right hon. Gentleman to take the present opportunity of making an advance in that respect. I know that the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) has recently been, with much energy and chivalrous wrath, assailing the convent schools, both on public platforms and in numerous magazine articles which have come from his pen. He has said that the teachers of these convent schools are under-trained, and that their teaching is indifferent. What test would he like to apply? Convent schools, like all other schools, are inspected and examined by the Inspectors of the Board. Is there any better test of the capacity of a teacher or of the efficiency of a school than the test of inspection and examination by an independent Inspector who is a servant of the State? And I may here say further that the Inspectors are usually Protestants. I refer to the last official Report of the Commissioners on Education, and I find there the most conclusive evidence in support of the contention that convent schools, apart from their excellent technical training, are, take them all round, the most efficient schools in Ireland. Comparing convent schools with the national schools, the result of the examinations show that the percentage in the infant schools is 1 to 3 per cent. on the side of the convent schools. And, as you go upwards from class to class, the percentage in favour of the convent schools as compared with the national schools becomes higher and higher until you reach the highest class, and there the advantage of the convent schools as compared with the ordinary schools is 16 per cent. I would remind the Chief Secretary that the convent schools, notwithstanding these results, are paid less by one fourth under the head of capitation grant than is paid elsewhere, and in the equivalent class of salaries, less than the less efficient national schools. Take the schools of the Sisters of Charity in King's Inn Road, Dublin. I have seen the return of 20 percentages showing the results of the examinations in these schools, in reading, writing, spelling, and arithmetic, and out of 20 percentages in those convent schools, 17 reached 100 per cent., two 99 per cent., and one was 98 per cent. With respect to the national schools, in the girls' department 20 percentages show that only in five cases did they reach the maximum, and that the remaining cases ran down lower than 60 per cent. And yet the Sisters of Charity are paid by way of capitation grant less than one-fourth of what is paid in the girls' department of the Central Model School under the head of salaries alone. I trust the hon. Member for South Tyrone, after hearing what I have just stated, will cease to make attacks on those convent schools which he cannot substantiate; and I trust further that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary will attend to the facts of the case, and not to the magazine articles of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. Any proposition, therefore, which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary has to make in the direction of a more equitable distribution of the capitation grant will be gladly accepted. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the introduction of the Bill produced on my mind a feeling of the deepest disappointment. I expected to hear him propose some elective element on the National Board, to throw open the supply of school books, as in England, to public competition, or to reform what I call the scandalously, wasteful, and most inefficient system of the model schools, or to make some provision for technical education. But for those reforms, so eminently required, I fear we shall have to wait until an Irish Parliament takes them in hand. Then the Chief Secretary has admitted that by the efforts of both Catholics and Protestants there has been a continuous growth of unmixed schools. He said:— The question of religion in Ireland has very considerable influence on education. It is a system which was intended to combine secular and religious instruction, but there has been a great growth of unmixed schools. We have practically a system of denominational education in Ireland, and there has been an increased disposition on the part of Catholics and Protestants to provide separate schools. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) rushed into the lists against the right hon. Gentleman and denied the growth of unmixed schools, and appealed to 500,000 of Irish Protestants, and finally to Ulster, in support of the mixed system. The facts are on the side of the Chief Secretary, and not on that of the hon. Member for South Tyrone. The assertion of the Chief Secretary was that, by the continuous efforts of both Catholics and Protestants, there has been a growth of unmixed schools, and they have practically established a system of denominational education. In the year 1867, when the Powis Commission was appointed, the mixed schools were 60 per cent. of the whole number, and the unmixed only 40 per cent. By mixed schools I mean those which are attended by children of more than one religious belief, and by unmixed schools I mean those attended by children of only one religious belief. In 1890 the mixed schools had fallen to 47 per cent., and the unmixed had increased to 53 per cent. The attendance at unmixed schools in 1867 was 380,000, and in 1890 it was 569,000; so in the course of 20 years the number of schools had increased by three-fourths, and the attendance by one-half. That justifies the statement that there has been continuous effort. The hon. Member appealed to Ulster, appearing to think that in the facts as they stood in regard to Ulster, he would find a better support than in the rest of Ireland in regard to the maintenance of a system of the restriction of religious instruction to schools where only one religion attends. The hon. Member said there was a strong feeling among Protestants in favour of a mixed system. In Ulster, in 1867, there were 380 unmixed schools attended by 50,000 children, and in 1890 the number of schools had risen to 1,150 and the attendance to 150,000. So that while all over Ireland the unmixed schools had only increased by three-fourths, in the Province of Ulster the number had trebled, and the attendance also. The hon. Member also appealed to the Protestants of Ireland; they are more determined opponents of mixed schools than the Catholics. In 1867 the Catholic unmixed schools all over Ireland were 2,300, and the attendance 360,000; and in 1890 the number of schools had increased to 3,400—that is, by one-half, and the attendance to 468,000, an increase of one-third. Taking Protestant Ireland in 1867 there were 196 unmixed schools, attended by 20,000 children, and in 1890 there were 979 schools with an attendance of 100,000, so that while the Protestant schools in Ulster had trebled in number, the Catholic schools had only increased by one-half; and the Protestant unmixed schools in Ireland had actually multiplied fivefold. I expected that the right hon. Gentleman would have said that the Government had determined to adopt the recommendations of the Powis Commission, which was composed of seven Protestants and seven Catholics. Eleven of the Commission, including a majority of Protestants, were of opinion that in the majority of schools attended by children of one creed and in localities where the other creed was provided with another school and where there could be no religious minority, it was expedient to remove all restrictions on religious teaching. They also suggested that they should draw up a schedule of such schools, to be confirmed by Parliament, and that in such schools religious teaching should be allowed. The right hon. Gentleman, who says that the system is practically denominational, appears as the spokesman of a Government which is determined to maintain the rule, which has no other foundation than fiction, and which was made when the national system was established—that religious and secular education should be separate. In these 4,400 schools in Ireland, where there can be no religious minority, you actually will not allow a text of Scripture to be exhibited on the walls, and in the Catholic schools a crucifix or picture to be seen; nor will you allow any religious fact to be conveyed or dogma explained at any time except for a few moments at the beginning and end of the day when the ordinary instruction is not in progress. I say such a rule, founded on fiction, is offensive and irritating. Thus, while the system is denominational, so far as the people can make it so, you maintain a secular system so far as the power of the State can maintain it in that condition. The mixed schools in Ireland were, by the last Return, 3,800 in number. If we leave out 50 schools where there are Protestant and Catholic teachers, and take the remaining part, we find that while the total number on the roll is 467,000, the religious minority is only 34,000. In these schools all over Ireland there is only a religious minority of 1 in 13, proving clearly that these schools remain where the minority is so small that it cannot have a school of its own. I complain with energy that upon this question of the claim for freeing the schools where only one religious belief attends, the Member for South Tyrone has been busy with his misrepresentation. He has spoken of this as purely a Catholic claim, and said that the Catholic Bishops wish to expose Protestant children to some danger to their creed.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S)

That they might, not that they will.


Their object is to bring the children into a Catholic atmosphere, to induce them to imbibe the Roman Catholic creed. The Protestants claim it for their unmixed schools as much as the Catholics for theirs. It is to the interest of both parties to retain the rule where there is or can be a religious minority, in the school; but the Catholic Bishops and laity, and the Protestant Bishops and laity, are at one in Ireland on the claim that where a school is unmixed and where it can be nothing else, because the other denomination has a school of its own, the rule made 50 years ago on the establishment of a different system should no longer be enforced. By maintaining this rule yon shut our the Christian Brothers from the work of primary education, and this is a gross and most unjustifiable grievance. The Christian Brothers were the pioneers of primary education in Ireland long before this Parliament cast a single thought on the subject. In 1802 the Christian Brothers established their excellent system and showed what could be done; and if they had not led the way, I do not know when you would have moved. You did not move for 30 years, and during that time they made their system successful, distinguished, and beloved by the people. They are shut out because you maintain the rule that no religious emblems must be exhibited. They have schools in Gibraltar, Calcutta, and in Newfoundland, and in all these places they are State-aided. Their schools are admitted to the scheme of the Science and Art Department at South Kensington, and I think they have shown that there are no more efficient schools connected with that Department. If the Christian Brothers had schools in Eng-land, conducted on precisely the same principles as those in Ireland, they would be entitled to the fullest aid from the State. This anomaly cannot be defended, although it may be retained. There never was a body of teachers who deserved better from the State, or who have ever been treated Worse. It is demanded that if they be admitted to the benefit of the grant they must take down the crucifix, though a Protestant child should never attend the school. Though this body preceded you by 30 years and made their system a great success, you expect them to strip themselves of all their characteristics as a religious teaching Order for the sake of pecuniary gain. But if you adopt a system of compulsory education, you will not be able to shut them out. They have schools in 60 of the principal cities and towns of Ireland, and in these schools they are the sole educators of the Catholic youth, and in 30 of these towns there is no choice between the Catholic and the Protestant schools. If in any of these towns a Catholic parent is summoned for not sending his child to school, he may say that Parliament has granted free education, and that he cannot send his child to the school of the Christian Brothers without paying a fee. If you have established free education you can not send the parent to gaol for not paying a fee. You cannot refuse to pay the fee for the child. I now come to the question of compulsion, which divides itself into two parts—the mode of compulsion and the principle of compulsion. Where an English precedent makes in favour of liberty, you ignore it in Irish affairs; but where an English precedent favours restriction, you are eager to apply it to our case. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to fix the school age and the age for employment on the basis of the English system—school age from 6 to 14, no employment before 11, and none before 14, except on certificate. You inquired carefully before you put the system into operation in England. Why should you not also inquire in Ireland? In any case I would say that it would be absolutely necessary to have some form of inquiry as to the conditions of life and labour in different parts of Ireland before you can fix the Irish school age and age of employment. I object altogether to having the precedent of English restrictions applied to Ireland. You will not be able to recommend any fixed scheme of this kind until you have an inquiry to show that it is suited to the particular conditions of Ireland. When you started compulsion in England it was optional, and it was so for some years. Why do you not apply that precedent to Ireland? You propose that County Councils shall have the power to decide whether compulsion shall be applied or not but in the towns under municipal government you propose to at once apply compulsion. This is about the most curious proposal ever made to the House. Why should there be this difference between town and country?


It is a question of the machinery.


That is the strangest part of the proposition. In the country where there is no Local Authority you act in a spirit of deference to local opinion, and will wait for the creation of a Local Authority to express an opinion on the question of compulsion. But in the towns where you have a Local Authority you do not wait, and the spirit of deference becomes the spirit of despotism. Such an extraordinary reversion of reasoning has never come tinder my notice. How does the right hon. Gentleman think his system will work in Belfast or Derry? In Belfast a fourth of the population is Catholic, while the Local Authority is purely Protestant. Do you propose that this Protestant Local Authority shall appoint the School Attendance Committee, by which a Catholic parent may be prosecuted? A proposition more fatal to the harmony and progress of education could hardly be imagined. In the non-corporate municipal towns you propose that compulsion shall at once be enforced. Here you will have a high franchise for the election of the Corporation; and so a few people, never more than a few hundred, will elect the Local Authority which will appoint those who will have to carry out the principle of compulsion, such as the school attendance officers. The most absurd part of the scheme is that the County Council, which is an elective authority, is to decide if compulsion is to be applied to the county; but you leave to the National Education Board, wholly nominated by the Lord Lieutenant, without a representative of the people on it, the real and essential question of the standard of annual attendance. Everything depends on this. If there is a low standard compulsion means nothing, and if there is a high standard it may be undesirable. Suppose a County Council decrees compulsion in the expectation that a certain figure of school attendance would be fixed by the Board, and that the figure fixed by the Board is not that expected, but is considered by the Council to be oppressive, will the Council have power to withdraw the decree of compulsion? If they are allowed to withdraw, the decree of compulsion breaks down; and if they are not, you create a deadlock between the Elective Board and the Government Board. I say with confidence that the power to fix the standard of attendance is the fundamental power of the whole case; and if you give elective authorities power to decide the question of compulsion, you should give an elective authority power to determine the standard of attendance. I suggest that you must appoint an Elective Committee for all Ireland, composed, say, of one member of each County Council and Corporation, which shall determine for each district the standard of attendance. Otherwise the differences of the system will be conflicting and so inharmonious that it would not work. I do not argue against the principle of compulsion. I will admit that compulsion would be good if you could show a manifest necessity for it, and if you were convinced that it would achieve what was desired. But in the present case I beg the House to consider the influence of religion on primary education in Ireland, and to think what would be the result if the ministers of religion were ousted from the sphere of usefulness which they now filled and their places taken by policemen or other agents selected by the Government. There is a difference also in the way in which compulsion would be regarded by the people of England and the people of Ireland. The English people, if compulsion were imposed upon them, would feel that it was imposed by an Assembly which they had themselves elected; but the Irish people would feel that it was imposed upon their country by an Assembly in which the opinions of the Irish Members are constantly disregarded. It is possible that coercion, if properly applied, might be useful in Ireland if ordered by an Irish Parliament; but on the eve of the establishment of an Irish Parliament, I should hesitate to think the subject of compulsion in Ireland was a suitable one for this Assembly to deal with. I believe the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson) founded his claim for compulsion, to some extent, on the fact that greater progress had been made in the matter of school attendance in England, but the figures which he gave were entirely misleading, tie showed that the increase in the number of children examined in England between 1872 and 1890 was 8.83, but he did not show that the increase was greater since the introduction of compulsion, and that, in fact, compulsion was responsible for the increase. As a matter of fact, since compulsion was introduced the increase had only been 1½ per cent. In the figures which the right hon. Gentleman has given with respect to the decrease in the school attendance in Ireland, he has not attached proper weight to the decrease of population in that country.


I took it on the population of two years.


However, we come back to the main fact that the great increase in school attendance in England took place in the years in which compulsion was not applied, and I do not think any Member of this House will contend that, when a comparison of the school attendance with the population shows an increase from 6½ to 10½ per cent. of the population, that is a fact which justifies or suggests compulsion. I must now call attention to a remarkable blunder which the right hon. Gentleman has made in his figures. He has taken a comparison between the two countries, and stated broadly that the average attendance in England as compared with the number on the register was equal to 90 per cent.


No; I think the figures I gave represented the average attendance in England as equal to 80 per cent.


That makes a very considerable difference; but, still, take it at 80; and he represented that in Ireland the average attendance was only 60 per cent., leaving a difference between the two countries of 30 or, as he now would say, 20 per cent. As a matter of fact, the average attendance in England is only 77, and I maintain that a mistake of 3 per cent.—I thought it was 13—in a case where a Minister founds an argument on his figures is greater than ought to be made. But look at the real facts. In Ireland we have 22 per cent. of the people on the register; in England you have only 16½ per cent. With the present population of England there might be upon the register 5,800,000, but the Returns only show 4,800,000. Where are the other 1,000,000? If compulsion is like charity and begins at home, I should think it might, with advantage, be applied to England. If the Irish register were only one-sixth of the population, the attendance would not be 60, but 74 per cent. But the right hon. Gentleman, when dealing with these comparisons, has forced up the attendance in England and Scotland and forced it down in Ireland, and he calls the percentage 13 for England and Scotland and 10 for Ireland.


I take the full responsibility for those figures.


I regret to hear the right hon. Gentleman say so, because he was warned that the attendance in 1890 was abnormally low in consequence of the epidemic of influenza and other causes, and was warned that he ought to go back and take the figures of the previous year. But beyond that he has taken no account whatever of the children who attend other than the national schools. If the right hon. Gentleman takes the responsibility for the figures—


I do.


Then how does he justify them? He has ignored the fact that 20,000 more children were included in the school attendance in the previous year, and he has taken no account of the Catholicschools of the Christian Brothers, the Protestant schools of the Church Education Society, and numerous other smaller voluntary schools which number, I should think, something like 60,000 children. That brings up the percentage of attendance in proportion to the population to 12, and in England and Scotland it is only 12¾. Is a difference of ¾ per cent. a sufficient basis for an argument in favour of compulsion, especially when you remember that whereas in England and Scotland the country is three-parts urban, in Ireland it is three-parts rural? The difference is so slight that I contend that I am entitled to say that the attendance in Ireland under the voluntary system is as good as it is in England and Scotland after all these years of compulsion. I do not oppose the Bill, but on the Second Reading the Government will have to justify themselves.

(4.19.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

I should like to make an explanation of what I said on the subject of the teaching of the nuns. I hold that the nuns are untrained teachers, and that they are indifferent teachers because they are untrained. I did not intend to convey any slur upon these ladies, but merely to found an argument in defence of the model schools, as against the schools in which the teachers are, as I say, untrained.

(4.20.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

The hon. Member for South Tyrone forgets that these nuns are educated ladies who have been specially trained before they go into these schools, and are quite competent to teach. The only reason why the word "untrained" can be applied to them is because they do not submit themselves to examination, and therefore have no certificates; and the highest test to which the training of a teacher can be submitted is that of efficiency. The model schools in Ireland are, with few exceptions, monuments of the incapacity of the National Board—monuments of the dual administration and extravagance of the system of national education in Ireland. I have asked the Chief Secretary a question with respect to the assistant teachers, and I hope he will see his way to reduce the period of seven years during which they must remain in that position, and be unable to read a higher salary than £35 a year. The present system places a premium on indolence and a disqualification on industry, and I hope the period may be reduced to a nominal one, and at most not more than three years. References have been made to the denominational system, and I will say that it has not lost its hold in Ireland, but, on the contrary, has struck wider and deeper roots into the hearts of the people; and if you want to make primary education a success in Ireland, and you desire to introduce compulsion, you must treat Irish education according to Irish ideas. If the overwhelming majority of the Irish parents require that a certain system of education shall be maintained, that is their business; if they prefer a system in which religion is combined with secular instruction, that is their business; and if this money is to be applied to Irish education, it should be applied in such a manner as the Irish people desire. The treatment of the Christian Brothers by the Government is, I hold, a scandal and a disgrace. At a time when widespread ignorance prevailed in Ireland, these fathers, in the spirit born of missionary zeal, went to Ireland, and in the face of obloquy, of calumny, and frequently of persecution, they founded these schools, but the Government have refused to recognise the self-sacrificing labours of that body. The education given by the Christian Brothers is of a higher standard than that given in the national schools. In Ireland technical education is receiving an increasing amount of attention, and I hope it will soon be part of the education given in the primary, in the secondary, and even in the higher class schools. The Christian Brothers notably at Cork, Dublin, Waterford, and Limerick, are the only teaching body giving technical education in connection with ordinary education. They give practical lessons in the sciences and the arts as applicable to industry. Now, Sir, there are no technical or other difficulties justifying the Government in excluding the Christian Brothers from this Bill. The only difficulty is the narrow exclusive bigoted spirit of the Commissioners of national education in Ireland. All over Ireland, the Town Commissioners, Corporations, Poor Law Boards, and other Local Bodies representing public opinion, have in large numbers signed petitions to the Government asking them to give some attention to the claims of the Christian Brothers; and I tell the right hon. Gentleman that no Bill which excludes them or which fails to include the Christian Brothers as a teaching body will be satisfactory to the people of Ireland. If compulsion is introduced, and children are forced to go to school they will go to the Christian Brothers school. Then why refuse the Christian Brothers any State aid? You cannot logically do it. I entreat the right hon. Gentleman to go forward with this Bill in no niggardly spirit. Let him consider Irish opinion, and Irish feeling, and not the opinions of that prejudiced and reactionary body, the Commissioners of national education.

(4.37.) MR. SINCLAIR (, &c.) Falkirk

I only wish to touch upon one point, and it is this. The hon. Member for West Belfast said that the idea of applying compulsion to Ireland must have arisen in the brain of the abstract theorist who had not devoted a quarter of an hours examination to the practical working of the system now in actual operation. Yes, Sir; but he very carefully left out the practical application. He omitted to refer to the great number of illiterate voters in Ireland, and the practical evidence we have there as to the imperfect education given in Ireland at the present time. At the Election of 1885, there were no fewer than 98,000 illiterate votes cast in Ireland, and of these 90,000 were cast for Nationalist candidates. I might therefore fairly assume that the 90,000 were members of the Roman Catholic Church, Now, Sir, as regards the question of compulsion I admit it ought not to be enforced through the agency of a police officer. That was tried in the beginnings of the compulsory system in England, and was found to fail, and now in all places, as far as I know, the policeman has nothing to do with compulsion, but there are attendance officers, independently of the police, who look after the school children, and see that they are sent to school. If compulsion is to be introduced, as I hope it may be, I hope no mistake of that kind may be made. School attendance committees ought to be created to look after the matter, and to insist upon the attendance of the children at school. In Ireland local arrangements of that kind might easily be made, and if made would meet some of the difficulties which would undoubtedly otherwise exist. I hope, Sir, it will be found that compulsion can be applied to Ireland with the same advantageous results as followed its application to England and to Scotland.

(4.42.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)

As a Protestant representing a Catholic constituency, I desire to say something respecting this Bill. I am not going to cry down the present system of national education in Ireland. It has conferred upon the country immense benefits. Englishmen must remember that what is called undenominationalism in Ireland is not the same as undenominational in England. What is called undenominational teaching in England would be called Protestant in Ireland. The undenominational system in Ireland has entirely broken down. There was an effort to dissociate education from the religious establishments, and it failed. No Protestant parent would allow his children to go to a school in connection with a convent, nor would a Catholic allow his child to attend one of the national schools under Protestant management. In Enniscorthy the Christian Brothers had all the teaching, and in the model schools in the town there are Protestant children who come between five and six miles to get there, passing many national schools, nominally undenominational, on their way. The reason of that is that the parents do not care for their children to attend these national schools because of their Catholic atmosphere. The percentage of schools with mixed attendances is rapidly declining, and the tendency to become denominational is more rapid than it ever was, and it is more marked in Ulster than in any other part of Ireland. Moreover, in Ulster, where the schools are undenominational, the standard of education is lower than it is in other parts of Ireland. The statistics show that the Catholics are as progressive in the matter of education as their Protestant brethren. The Christian Brothers have largely increased their teaching power. Since the year 1870 they have added 76 schools, and they are making strenuous efforts in the cause of education. There is no parallel to it in the United Kingdom. From 600 to 700 men are devoting their lives, living on the simplest fare, taking only the necessaries of life, tearing themselves away from their families and submitting to a long initiatory discipline, in order that they might devote the Whole of their lives to teaching. That is a wonderful and an ennobling spectacle. They give a better education all round than the national schools, including history, and I have remarked that men educated thereat are, if possible, more liberal in their feelings than those educated at the undenominational schools. I think it is only fair that the teachers of these schools should be placed on a par with other teachers, as they are in England. We all feel that they have hitherto been badly treated, and we hope that they will receive more consideration in future.

(5.3.) MR. W. O'BRIEN (Cork Co., N.E.)

I have only risen for the purpose of giving a word of advice to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who will sooner or later have to face these claims of the Christian Brothers. They cannot much longer be ignored, because, as has already been pointed out, the education of nearly the whole of the urban population is in their hands. The most leading and influential men in all the large towns of Ireland are the pupils of the Christian Brothers, and the people of Ireland are ardently attached to them. You cannot permanently ignore an organisation of that kind and exclude it from the educational arrangements of the country. The Christian Brothers system is regarded in Ireland as the true national system, and not the so-called official system that goes under that name. It is one in fact that is particularly adapted to the genius of the Irish people, and I believe you will not do much good in the way of education so long as you refuse a grant to the Christian Brothers, just because religious emblems are displayed in their schools. As to the question of compulsory education I am myself very strongly in favour of universal free education. One other point to which I would refer is the lack in this Bill, as in other Educational Bills, of any provision for including the teaching of the Irish language, which I consider to be a disgrace to the Government. I would strongly urge upon it the advisability of substantially increasing the salaries of the teachers, and of not keeping out in the cold the Christian Brothers who have done such a good and substantial work for the people of Ireland.

(5.10.) Mr. A. BLANE (Armagh, S.)

I have never supported a Coercion Bill in this House; but I am nevertheless, glad that this is a sort of Coercion Bill. It is as much the duty of a man to have his children instructed as it is to feed and clothe them. A man who neglects to educate them is a criminal, and I should like to see him treated as such. There is no greater blot in the history of any people than the action of the Government of this country with reference to education in Ireland. In England, from 1870, after Mr. Forster had brought in his Education Bill, the criminal statistics of that country went down 40 per cent. and it is evident that if you educate the people there will be less need for the lawyers, for policemen, and for gaolers. I therefore hold that it is far cheaper to have compulsion in the matter of education than to keep up gaols and penal servitude establishments, with all their paraphernalia. As for the Christian Brothers, I agree that they should have assistance from the State for the purposes of education, and I hope that the Government will not give up the principle of compulsion. I need scarcely say that the education now given in Ireland is given more with the idea of making the boys clerks than to render them fit for manual labour. There is not a single technical school which can be properly so called, and there is, therefore, no chance of their obtaining technical education. We have nothing in Ireland to compare with the education that is given in England in that respect. I hold, however, that no system of education should be made a proselytising system. I hope that the Government, when dealing with this question, will deal with it in a generous spirit, so that the schools of Ireland may be made useful to the people. It is not pleasant to go into our schools and to see in the wintry weather the poor children huddled together with no fires, shivering with the cold, and not properly clothed. How can you expect such children to learn? Even the teachers must fail to have any heart in their work under such conditions. Altogether, the teachers are a very excellent body of men and well deserving of support. There have been many instances in which they have been very hardly dealt with, and I am of the opinion that the Government should do something for them and prevent them being victimised by the managers. We believe that justice and humanity calls not only for intervention but redress. Before they lose their prospects and all chance of a pension an independent inquiry should be made. I will only say, in conclusion, that I am in favour of compulsion in regard to education, and the more compulsory you make it the better I should like it.


Sir, I am very glad to hear that the hon. Member for South Armagh is so strongly in favour of the principle of compulsion. I think, Sir, he was a little too hard on the hon. Member for West Belfast, because I did not understand the hon. Member for West Belfast to argue against the principle of compulsion. I think he said he was quite prepared—

MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)

What I said was that the hon. Member for West Belfast did not give a definite statement as to whether he was in favour of compulsion or opposed to it.


Very well, Sir, I will not enter further upon that point; but I would like to touch upon one or two points raised by the hon. Member for West Belfast. And first as to his objection as to what is done in Ireland, his statement is hardly well founded when he says that less is done for Ireland than for England or Scotland. I think his contention was that Ireland did not receive a fair share of her contributions to the Imperial Revenue. Well, Sir, there have been some figures presented to the House which, I think, show that at all events the expenditure from the Votes for Irish purposes is certainly quite proportional, and, indeed, more than proportional, to the income derived from Ireland. I will take the two years 1889 and 1890. The total revenue contributed by the three Kingdoms shows that Ireland contributed £1 12s. 5d. per head of the population, and received an expenditure of £1 1s. 6d. per head of the population, leaving as a contribution to Imperial purposes the sum of 10s. 11d. per head. In the case of England the contribution was £2 11s. 8d., the expenditure was 13s. 8d., leaving as a contribution for Imperial purposes £1 17s. I think those figures will pretty conclusively show that at all events Ireland does not suffer by reason of a lack of expenditure in proportion to her contributions. Now, Sir, I do not complain of the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast. I recognise the fairness of the spirit in which he stated his point, in a matter in which, admittedly, he takes great interest. He made a short reference to the question of school fees, and asked how it was or upon what basis the 6s. limit was selected by the Government as the point at which schools are to be freed. Well, Sir, on former occasions I pointed out that the 6s. limit had been adopted, not because there was any special reason for it beyond this. Personally, I should like to have put it higher in order to set all schools free up to 8s., which is about the equivalent of what the schools will receive from the Budget Grant, but there is one great difficulty to be faced. The object of the Bill is twofold—first, to free the school-pence; and, secondly, to give additional assistance to the teachers. Practically, if you free the schools up to 8s., and 8s. be taken as the contribution given by the Bill, then this result will follow: that the teachers in the schools at and above the limit of 8s. would receive no benefit under the Bill at all. It is proposed to charge no fees in any schools where the average receipts from school-pence do not exceed 6s. Therefore, all the schools where the average fees are under 6s. would, under the operation of the Bill, be made free. However, this is a question of detail, and I cannot claim perfection for the Bill in every respect. The hon. Gentleman has urged that assistant teachers may have been principal teachers for a period of time, and may then have been transferred to other schools, where they had to hold a lower position. I will look into that point, and see whether it is likely that it will interfere with the object which I have in view in fixing seven years as the period of service which an assistant teacher must have had before he becomes entitled to the benefit of the scheme and to the bonus that is proposed. The seven years' period was very carefully considered by the Education Department, and I wish to point out that it is extremely undesirable to take any action that will tend to encourage assistant teachers in making no further efforts to better their status. It will be generally admitted—I say it without disrespect to the teachers or to their work—that the assistant teacher who has continued in that position for ten or twelve years has either mistaken his vocation to some extent or has not made sufficient effort to pass the examinations for the higher grade.


An assistant teacher may have passed the higher examination without receiving the higher post.


lam informed that the assistant who has qualified for the higher grade seldom remains more than seven years as an assistant. The advantages given to the assistant teacher by the Bill are very considerable. The salary of the third-class assistant teachers is about £35 a year, and it is proposed to give a bonus to the male teacher of £9, and to the female of £7 10s. That is a very large increase. But this is not necessarily the only remuneration which the assistant teacher receives. In the 1890 Report it was shown that the average income of 618 male assistant teachers was £53 9s. 7d., and of females £43 4s. 11d. The salaries of the two classes are £35 and £27 respectively. Now, Sir, if you begin by making an addition of 20 per cent. to the class salaries, and if you give assistant teachers further bonuses of £9 in the case of males, and £7 10s. in the case of females, the teachers will get a large increase. They must recognise that an honest effort is being made to benefit them as a class. As to the question of technical education it is a subject rather for regulations of the Department, and, practically, all arrangements are within the power of the National Education Board. The Board is, as a matter of fact, gradually extending the payments made for instruction in technical subjects. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast dealt with the very difficult question of the Christian Brothers' schools. That is, I admit, a very difficult question; but it is not quite a fair statement of the case to say that the Christian Brothers are excluded from the benefits of the primary education scheme contained in this Bill. It must be borne in mind that for a period of five or six years after the National Education Board was instituted the Christian Brothers did make compliance with the rules and regulations of the National Education Board. They themselves withdrew voluntarily, and, however much the sacrifice might be to their credit, it cannot in any sense be urged that they have been excluded by the National Education Board. Let us for a moment consider what consequences must follow supposing an exception is made in favour of the Christian Brothers, by which they are admitted to the advantages of result fees and all the other advantages which are given to other schools. It will be admitted that the Christian Brothers' schools voluntarily withdrew, because they desired to give sectarian education in their schools. I think that cannot be denied. But supposing you make this concession to them, it is obvious that you must make it to the Church educational schools, you must make it to the Catholic national schools, to all the Presbyterian schools, and to the Church of Ireland schools; and, therefore, you will have purely and simply not only denominational teaching, but schools separated into denominations, and you will set up in Ireland a system of sectarian education throughout the length and breadth of the land. That may be good or not according to the different view taken of it, but I venture to say that it is contrary to the fundamental principles upon which national education in Ireland rests. So far as I can judge, that would be absolutely contrary to the policy of Parliament, and of this country in recent years. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: In England.] Yes, contrary to the policy Parliament has applied to England. In England we give a certain amount of freedom in regard to emblems which is not given in Ireland, but Ireland and England are not the same in that respect, and we must face that fact. In England you have set up School Boards which have gradually permeated every district, but I think there would be very strong opposition to applying in Ireland the principle of School Boards in the same way as it has been applied in England. I doubt very much whether it would be in the power of the Government, certainly not this Session, to pass a measure imposing upon Ireland School Boards as they have been imposed upon England. Practically, we are in this position: it is in the power of the Christian Brothers' schools to bring themselves into connection with the National Education Board, and so to get all the advantages which are given to any other schools in Ireland. [Mr. SEXTON: HOW?] By simply conforming to the regulations of the National Education Board. Can it be contended that it is necessary for the purpose of education? If so, then you must condemn all the Catholic schools and the other schools in which this system is followed out at present, and I maintain that it is not necessary for the purpose of education. Education is the question we have in hand, and I do not feel myself justified in accepting the responsibility of making a concession which must bring about consequences such as I have described. Bear in mind, also, that there are the 3,800 mixed schools of which the hon. Member for West Belfast spoke as existing in Ireland; and if you apply this principle, you must provide in every district of Ireland a separate school wherever those schools are in operation. Obviously a Protestant child, at any rate under present conditions and circumstances, would object to attending a school presided over by Roman Catholics and where the principles of a particular creed are taught. Therefore, as a matter of course, if you adopted a plan of that sort, you must follow out the logical consequences and provide separate schools in every district in Ireland. The hon. Member, referring to the question of compulsion, asked why we should differentiate between the towns and the country. There are several reasons why we should do so. I might ask the hon. Member whether he could suggest how or why we should differentiate between the City of Belfast and a city like Glasgow? So far as those places are concerned, at all events there are schools within reasonable reach of all the children who would be called upon to go into them, but it is not necessarily the case in the country; and, therefore, the Bill provides, as one of the reasonable excuses that may be made for a child's non-attendance at school, that there is no school within two miles of its residence. That may be the case in many districts in Ireland, but, of course, it is not so in the cities. In the towns there is no reason why the whole of the children of school age should not be at school and receiving the benefits of continuous education. The hon. Member pointed out, in reference to certain figures that had been quoted—and he pointed out very fairly, although I did not agree with his conclusions—that from 1870 to 1880—certainly to 1876 or 1878—there was greater progress made in bringing children to schools, as shown by the average attendance, than has been attained in later years. But for that fact there is an obvious reason. From 1870 onwards there was an enormous increase in the number of schools and of the school accommodation provided in this country. I think the hon. Member hardly did justice to the fact that, although compulsory attendance was not universal, there was a power on the part of School Boards to adopt bye laws, and in a great many cases they did adopt those bye-laws; and wherever they were adopted in a particular district, of course there compulsion was applied—I will not say to the fullest extent, but in an effective manner. Again, the earlier application of those compulsory bye-laws drew, if I may say so, on a larger reservoir of children in non-attendance, or not in average attendance, than was the case in later years.


No doubt; but the Commissioners say there are a million of children unaccounted for.


They say there are a million of children unaccounted for. No doubt that is a very large proportion; but I do not know that we have any complete statistics on the subject. It is calculated that of those who might be in average attendance at the Board schools the children of school age represent about 20 per cent., or one-fifth, of the poputlaion.


Oh, no; 23.74.


That is putting it rather higher, I think, for, at a rough rate of calculation, it should be one-fifth.


Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to state that the Commissioners say that children of school age are 23.74 per cent.; that the number of children who ought to be on the rolls is 20 per cent.; and that the children who ought to be in daily attendance would be one-sixth.


Well, I will not press the point. I do not quite agree with the figures, but for my purpose it makes little difference whether we take 20 or 23 per cent. But, of course, there is a considerable percentage of allowance to be made for the children who would not, under any conditions at present, be on the register or in average attendance at Board schools. I think the conclusion, however, cannot be avoided—and I do not think the hon. Member for West Belfast will deny it for one moment—that the application of compulsion in England has tended to produce a great improvement in the average attendance in the schools. The hon. Member seems to doubt its efficacy in Ireland. He points out, and very fairly, that the number of children on the rolls in Ireland in proportion to the population is actually greater than it is in England, and, therefore, you may infer that the parents in Ireland are so favourably disposed towards promoting the education of their children that they put them on the registers and rolls of the schools. But the child being put on the register, what is wanted is some power of securing that it shall make, at any rate, a decently continuous average attendance. But I think everybody admits that to receive the full benefits from the education given in the schools it is desirable that the attendance should be as continuous as possible. Now, Sir, the hon. Member suggested that we did not deal with Ireland as we had dealt with England and Scotland, and he rather indicated than said that he would like to see a period during which compulsion should be entirely optional not only as regards the country but also as regards the towns. I think any one who has taken an interest in this question must admit this fact, that although in 1870 there were great doubts in the minds of a great many men, who had done a great deal for education in this country, as to the wisdom of applying compulsion—and those doubts were only removed gradually—no one who has seen the beneficial effects that have followed from this legislation would desire to go back to the conditions antecedent to 1870. The condition of Ireland in this respect is no different from the condition of England, and I would appeal to the House not to refuse in the case of Ireland what I claim to be the benefits of compulsion applied to education as it has been applied in this country. The hon. Member referred to several other points which I think, perhaps, it is not necessary for me to touch upon; but I should like to say on the question of compulsion, and specially as regards big towns, that it has been supported by every authority which the House would pay regard to. It was supported, if I remember rightly, by the Powis Commission, it was strongly supported by the Technical Commission, which sat so long and inquired into the question of technical education not only in this country and in Ireland, but also on the Continent, and they said that the foundation of everything must be the application of the system of compulsion. I do not gather that anybody is really opposed to the principle of compulsion. I admit that it ought in Ireland to be applied with the greatest care; I admit that it ought to be applied so as to try to avoid all those difficulties which we know exist in the way of it. But I think we have taken precautions. To whom is to be entrusted this power? The power of forming these attendance committees and of applying compulsory powers is to be given in Ireland to the elective bodies representing the Local Authority in the various towns. Well, now, taking the case to which the hon. Member referred, I am quite sure that the Local Authorities in that case would be in sympathy with the general body of the people by whom they were elected and amongst whom they lived, and I feel confident and have no doubt whatever that when the principle comes to be applied it will be found that all the difficulties that have been conjured up will disappear in the reasonable exercise of the powers vested in these Bodies. I would like to make just one quotation from a speech by Archbishop Walsh in 1890. He was following the proposer of a resolution at the Teachers' Congress, and said something on the question of compulsion, guarding himself carefully by pointing out that he must be taken as expressing only his own opinion, as he had not consulted his colleagues, and, therefore, did not feel at liberty to speak in any general way or in a more definite sense, as he was not aware of the views of the other Bishops on the point. He said— It is understood, then, I trust, that I speak only for myself. So far, however, as the City of Dublin is concerned, I say here publicly, without hesitation, that I should most gladly welcome the introduction of an effective measure for securing the regular attendance at school of the children who at present rarely attend there, if indeed in some cases, they attend at all. That is really, I believe, what the Bill is calculated to effect, and, speaking my own view, I would say if you will give to the principle of compulsion, as regards attendance at school in Ireland, a trial; if you let us test it in the towns, I am satisfied that the benefits resulting from the application of this power will be so great that there will not be for any long time any district in Ireland to which the principle is not extended.

(6.10.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

The right hon. Gentleman said that the policy applied to Ireland was the same as that applied to England. I will put this simple question to the right hon. Gentleman. Would the Christian Brothers, with such an institution as that in Ireland, be deprived of the educational grant if it existed in England? If a Christian Brothers' school existing in England would be entitled to the grant, the same school is entitled to the grant in Ireland. The policy is not the same. We do not want schools in Ireland to be used as proselytising instruments by either Catholics or Protestants; we do not want the liberty of the Catholic to be greater than that of the Protestant, or the privilege of the Protestant to be greater than that of the Catholic. The Catholic school is no more sectarian in its real essence and purpose than the Protestant school, and Catholic schools exist all over Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Christian Brothers were not excluded from the National Education Board, but does not he know very well that the reason the Christian Brothers departed from the National Board was that after six years of trial they found that they could not carry on their work in accordance with their own principles and those of the National Board? The right hon. Gentleman said that some hon. Gentlemen on this side were bigoted on the question of education. With what consistency does that come from the right hon. Gentleman and from that Government? Last year in their Bill they made the compromise not to take notice of the religious character of a school, so long as it fulfilled the requirements of the Department, in respect to the grant. If you take any school in a country district in England under the management of a rector of High Church tendencies, I undertake to say that you would find on the walls the very same emblems as those on the walls of the schools of the Christian Brothers. Yet this Anglian school is entitled to the grant, and the Irish school is not entitled to it. I would like to know how you defend that. The right hon. Gentleman says there is a difference between the two countries; I will tell you the difference between them. In England there is a powerful and growing party in favour of an entirely unsectarian education. In Ireland there is no such party, and no representative of such a party. Therefore, you refuse the grant to Ireland where there is no unsectarian party, and you give it in England where there is such a party. In Ireland there are many schools outside the National Board; I would give the grant to everyone of them without exception if their secular education was up to the standard of the National Board. I put it to the hon. Member for South Tyrone, what is the difference between an entirely Protestant school under the National Board and a similar school under the Church Education Board? The right hon. Gentleman says the Government shrink from creating a system of sectarian education in Ireland. We do not ask you to do so; we ask you to simply recognise what exists. In the Bill of last year you did not create a system of sectarian education in England. So far as mixed schools are demanded by a locality we do not wish to diminish them by one, and in fact we are precluded from doing so by the interests of the children. The whole point of difference between us and the Government is that they refuse to apply to Ireland the principle which they have applied to England. You cannot apply to a nation a system which that nation rejects, and anyone who attempts to do that either in Ireland or in any part of the world is a pedant and not a Statesman. Let the Government apply to England the principles they apply to Ireland in this matter, and I think that small as will be the Tory Party in this House after the next General Election, it would under those circumstances be infinitely smaller. I think we have convicted the Government of a great injustice, and have established our claim to an alteration in the principles which are applied to Ireland.

(6.19.) MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)

Certain points have been raised with respect to various provisions, but I think on both sides of the House the Bill as a Bill is approved. The hon. Member for Derry raised the question of assistant teachers, but it must be remembered that a large proportion of these only remain assistant teachers for a very short time and then go off into other avocations. If, however, the money at the disposal of the Government were unlimited I would support the hon. Member; but when I remember that any sum that was paid to the assistant teachers would be taken from those who had been longer in the service, I do not see my way to support any change. I should, however, gladly support the hon. Member for Tipperary on the question of technical education, and I think if the Chief Secretary could see his way to accept that suggestion that would be the very best way in which this fund could be used. I see that the right hon. Gentleman proposes in his Bill that the attendance committees for the country districts shall be selected by the County Councils. I am very anxious that the County Councils should not in any way be connected with educational questions, either directly or indirectly. Many hon. Members have expressed the opinion that it would be better if clergymen of any denomination do not sit upon the County Councils. But hon. Members may take it for granted that if the question of education comes before the Councils both Catholic and Protestant clergymen will consider it their duty to obtain seats on the Board. On that ground, therefore, I should like the County Councils to be entirely disconnected in this matter. Then with respect to the claim which has been made on behalf of the Christian Brothers, I do not wish to appear in the light of a bigot, but we must remember that in touching this question we are raising the question of denominational education. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division said that there was no demand for undenominational education in Ireland.


What I said was that there is no general demand for it as there is in England.


Well, I will take it that the bulk of the Irish people are in favour of denominational education, and that there is no considerable animosity against it. When the question is deliberately and openly raised I shall he prepared to discuss it with an open mind. We shall then have an opportunity of taking our constituents into our confidence, but hon. Gentlemen opposite will see that it is letting in the thin end of the wedge if any grant is made to the Christian Brothers. That is a principle that we are required by our constituents not to permit. If the subject is raised on a Bill or a Motion we can discuss it fairly on its merits. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division also referred to the question of emblems, and it has always been difficult to understand how the crucifix can be considered a purely Catholic emblem, or why St. Peter is any more Catholic than Protestant, because we make just as strong a claim to St. Peter as the Catholics do. But the hon. Member knows perfectly well that there is a feeling in Ireland that these things are essentially Catholic emblems, and that constitutes the difference. We could not agree to a grant being given to the schools of the Christian Brothers, because they are denominational, and we have not been authorised to agree to it. At the same time, Irish Members opposite should understand that we would not oppose it on sectarian grounds.

(6.33.) MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)

In the chief town of my constituency there are only two schools. One is an exclusively Protestant school, under the National Board, maintained by Protestants, and attended by Protestant children. The other school belongs to the Christian Brothers, and it is attended by about 500 boys. Supposing that a parent is summoned for not sending his child to school, and he is unable to pay the school fees?—how would a case like that be settled? I think we should have an explanation on that point. For my own part, I protest against the exclusion of the Christian Brothers from having a grant. Of course, some people are unable to pay the school fees for their children, and are, therefore, obliged to send them to schools in the district which are exclusively Protestant. Those schools are under the management of the National Board. As to the nuns in the convent schools in Ireland being untrained, those who are acquainted with such establishments must know that the ladies undergo a severe training in their noviciate. Therefore, I must protest against their being called untrained. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland will, during the progress of this Bill in Committee, consider the point I have raised as to the difficulty of working the Act in towns in Ireland, where only two schools exist, as in the chief town of my constituency.

MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

I rise to repudiate the sentiments of the hon. Member for East Down, who does not in the least degree in this respect represent the constituency for which he has the honour of sitting, and which he will cease to represent at the General Election.

(6.38.) MR. T. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)

I would like to point out, in reply to the hon. Member, who said that this concession that we seek for the Christian Brothers is only the thin end of the wedge, that it was introduced long ago. I should like to know why the line should be drawn at the Christian Brothers, who are charged to so large an extent with the education of the people of Ireland, and yet receive nothing from the Government in regard to it? I must say that my enthusiasm for compulsory education would be greatly diminished if the enforcement of the system is to devolve upon the police.

(6.40.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

There are two points which present themselves to the minds of all who have listened to this Debate: One is, that the pupil teachers of Ireland deserve to be placed in a position equal to that of the teachers of England and Scotland. Both Protestants and Catholics are agreed that a denominational system of education is the only system which is likely to succeed in Ireland. We all know that the question of Irish education is a debatable one, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary should bear in mind that there is a division of opinion with regard to it on his own side of the House. There is no division practically, however, on this side. As an Irish Protestant and a Cork man, I cannot listen to what has been said tonight without standing up for the rights and privileges of the Christian Brothers, and I hope their claims will receive all the consideration which they so deservedly merit.

(5.45.) MR. P. O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)

I have had some experience with regard to the work done by the Christian Brothers, and I therefore feel it necessary to say a few words in this Debate. Three or four very large elementary schools in England are conducted by the Christian Brothers the Brothers living together according to their rules; and I have seen the Brothers teaching in the habit of their Order, which in Ireland they do not do, and the usual emblems of the Catholic Church are exposed to view, and with all this the Protestant Inspector attends. In like manner in Ireland training institutions are conducted by nuns, and these ladies have been complimented by the Board upon the perfection of their system. I hope that there will be no attempt to injure the system by stupid opposition. Speaking for myself, I am entirely in favour of a system of compulsion, but my admiration for the system would probably be very much qualified if in the carrying it out the agency of the police were proposed to be employed. Certainly I do not want to see our people shadowed by the police from the cradle to the grave. With this reservation I am in favour of seeing compulsion wisely used to secure that our young people shall go out to the labour of the world fitted by education, which now, in a great measure, they are not.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.

Bill presented, and read first time. [Bill 234.]