§ SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ (5.0.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I think it a matter of great regret that the Government, in disregard of the suggestions which were made to them at an early stage of the Session—suggestions approved by the Irish teachers and in general by the public opinion of Ireland—have insisted upon treating in this Bill two subjects which in principle are not connected. One of these subjects is the allocation and distribution of a money grant, and the other is the application of the leading principles of compulsory attendance. In the judgment of many Irish Members these proposals are very dissimilar in their merits. The proposal to allocate a money grant gives rise to no dissent, but it is exceedingly inconvenient, upon the Second Reading of the Bill, to be obliged to determine between dissimilar proposals. I think the Government would have acted well if they had adopted the suggestion of dividing this Bill into two—of dealing in one Bill with the money grant, under which all education in Ireland should have an option, and in the other dealing with the question of compulsory attendance. But they have preferred, in the true coercion spirit, to try and induce or compel us to govern our action upon the Second Reading of the Bill by reason of the fact that the Bill contains a money grant. We all desire to improve the position of the national teachers, and if the Bill only concerned their position and the improvement of their incomes it might pass after a brief debate. 226 But the Bill is freighted with a question of principle of even greater importance, and I have to say for myself that I cannot yield to such a contrivance as that of dealing with two subjects which are not connected in principle. I shall, therefore, have to express my opinion, and to act upon my opinion, in regard to the scheme and provision for compulsion as if it were the only matter in the Bill. We are told that a great financial boon is about to be conferred on Ireland, and that the giving of this boon affords an opportunity for doing something else. As to the great financial boon, I cannot forget that Ireland's share of the grant last year was seized and taken from us to make good a deficiency caused by an error of the Imperial Treasury, for which Ireland is not responsible. I lay emphasis on the fact that the Government, by refusing to distribute the whole sum available for education in these countries in proportion to average attendance, have reduced and out down the share allotted to Ireland by nearly £100,000 a year. As to the great financial boon, if your scheme is carried into law, I venture to think that by the time the salaries of clerks and officers are paid—the salaries of committees nominated by the Board of Education, the costs of prosecutions, and the expenses of administration—Ireland will be no gainer by the great financial boon, but will rather be a heavy loser. As to the financial scheme of the Bill, I cannot refrain from observing that, having £210,000 a year to distribute, which is double the amount of school fees collected in Ireland, it might have been expected that you would so arrange your scheme as to abolish the school fees and at the same time to improve the position of all the teachers. But you have done nothing of the kind. The school fees are not to be abolished; a considerable amount of them is still to be collected, and, upon the other hand, the inquiries which I have made leave me in not the slightest doubt that the position of many of the teachers in Ireland will be injured and not improved, and that the Catholic Bishops, who speak for their clergy—and their clergy are the managers of two-thirds of the national schools in Ireland—are so apprehensive of the effect of the 227 great financial boon upon the position of many of the teachers that they ask you to allow them, in this Bill, the same option allowed to England by Section 1 of the Act of 1891—the option of a manager to determine for himself whether he will accept your financial boon at all, or whether he will continue to apply the existing system. That claim put forward on the part of the Bishops does not indicate that your financial scheme can be regarded as a success. The only other financial observation I will make is this: that the convent schools, undeniably proved by the official records to be the most efficient schools in Ireland, are still to be by far the most poorly paid. A grievous and offensive disparity will continue to exist as to the mode of payment of these schools in comparison with others much less efficient, and I have to inform the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that a provision for the payment of these excellent schools will have to be considered in Committee. The financial boon, concerning which I have said these few words of criticism, is offered as a reason why the Government should ignore our advice and seize the opportunity which, they say, is afforded of doing something else. What else do they propose to do? They propose to get rid of the notorious defects of the system of national education in Ireland. The existing system could easily be improved, but their proposal leaves it quite untouched. The fatal error of the Party opposite in dealing with the affairs of Ireland consists in this—when they find, or think they find, anything unsatisfactory in the state of that country they conclude that the fault is not in themselves, or in their system, or their Boards, but with the Irish people. I say that in this case the fault is not the fault of the Irish people. It is the fault of your system and of your Board. The Party opposite and the Government now in power do not believe in attracting the people of Ireland, and do not believe in leading the people of Ireland, of their own wills, to do what is considered right. They prefer to drive them by coercion. Coercion is their one sauce for every dish. Even in the Land Purchase Bill 228 we had compulsory treatment; in the Local Government Bill, which is now a thing of the past—a pathetic or comical memory—there was to be a compulsory ejection of public bodies from office; and in the Bill before us there is to be a compulsory attendance at school. You propose a costly scheme which, in my judgment, is likely to be ineffectual for its purpose; but if an Irish Minister, responsible to an Irish House of Commons or Legislature, were called upon to deal with this question, he would propose a scheme which would not cost one penny, and which in the course of one twelvemonth would give you a better average attendance at the national schools of Ireland than the most rigorous compulsion ever secured for you in Great Britain. You may ask me what this Irish Minister would do. In the first place, he would put some life into the Board of Education. That Board (although the right hon. Gentleman, in an official exigency which I respect, spoke of it in the language of eulogy) is a coterie of ex-politicians, including many rejected candidates—a kind of museum of relics; and when the right hon. Gentleman tells us that that Board has the confidence of the Irish people he may as well talk about having confidence in a collection of waxworks. An Irish Minister would put life into that Board; he would put on it some men of public force, of energy, with the faculty of initiative; and that step alone—the creation of an energetic Board, acceptable to the people, or even the introduction of an acceptable element—would work a magical effect upon the question of attendance. An Irish Minister would propose to get rid of the dry, dull, pedantic, and antiquated text-books of the present Board, which must be a torment to the unfortunate children who are compelled to read them; and he would substitute others suited to the taste and genius of the country, and up to the level of the time; and this he would accomplish by the very easy and simple method of putting an end to the absurd monopoly which the Board now holds in the production and sale of these books, and of making in Ireland, as in England, the supply of text-books for schools a matter of public competition. An Irish 229 Minister would end the "model" schools, which are not primary, or even mixed, schools, and which, though you call them "models," exhibit nothing whatever but this—the maximum of cost with the minimum of useful result; and the money which would be saved by extinguishing those schools might be applied to really useful and salutary purposes. It would be sufficient to provide a real training in domestic economy for the girls in the national schools of Ireland, to give the boys in the towns some practical instruction in mechanics, and the boys in the rural districts some practical instruction in agriculture; and—it may seem strange to the House—it would be left to an Irish Minister to propose that a few thousand pounds a year should be applied in providing a good fire in winter in these poor schools in the West of Ireland, where hundreds of ill-fed and ill-clad children come miles in the rainy weather and sit shivering in the cold all day. By that modest, un-ambitious programme which can be carried out on the savings of the "model" schools of Ireland, at the end of only one twelvemonth the great natural love of the Irish people for education, attracted by fair conditions, would procure a vastly better average attendance in the national schools of Ireland than you ever have in this wealthy country by the most vigorous system of compulsion. But this Government prefers to rush on with coercion in this sphere as in every other. There is, however, a previous question which they have ignored. It is: Have you made your system what it ought to be, have you made your schools as useful to the people, as attractive to the children as you ought to make them before you resort to the rash experiment, in a country holding such relations with you as Ireland does at the present time, of turning the school into a lock-up and giving to the sphere of primary education a compulsory system which would certainly have to the Irish people the poisonous savour of coercion? There is that previous question, and a duty lies upon you to discharge it before you resort to coercion in the sphere of primary education in Ireland. The Catholic Bishops perceive that there is 230 a previous question. I presume the right hon. Gentleman has read a resolution of the Episcopal Standing Committee which was passed a month ago. The Catholic Bishops I hold to be competent witnesses in the case. Whatever success your primary system has achieved in Ireland, in spite of its various and notorious shortcomings and defects, is due in the main to the action of these Bishops and their clergy. They have done more for education in Ireland than the promoters of this Bill, and it is no offence to the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Catholic Bishops of Ireland feel a deeper interest than any British administrator can feel in the welfare and progress of their own people, in which, of course, educational advancement is included. The Catholic Bishops, the value of whose testimony the right hon. Gentleman will not deny, say that the most urgent need is better facility for education—that you ought to have more schools, and that your schools should be better than they are. They point out that in Ireland there is no compulsory power for the acquisition of sites for schools; and when the right hon. Gentleman says, as he did in reply to a question to-day, that there are 700,000 "places" in schools in Ireland, he did not tell us how near these places are to the children. The mere statement of the existence of these places does not prove that there is sufficient and suitable accommodation, because it leaves out the vital element of the distance of the schools from the homes. Why have you denied these compulsory powers to Ireland, and why do you propose to proceed to coercion before you give to Ireland these facilities for a better school supply that you afforded a long time ago to England and to Scotland? You gave these powers to England in the principal Act—the Act of 1870; you gave them to Scotland under the Act of 1878. England has had these powers for twenty-two years; Scotland has had them for sixteen years; they have been found sufficient in both countries, but up to the present moment you have never given to any authority in Ireland power to acquire compulsorily the site for a school. Now let me bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman a 231 case that lately came to my own in the village of Ballygarrann. In the parish of Woodford, in the County of Galway, there were a number of children who had to travel four miles in order to reach school. The infants and children of tender age could not make the journey. Application was made to your Board of Education. The Board of Education agreed to recognise a school in case they obtained a lease of the site for a term of ninety-nine years. The inhabitants applied to Lord Clanricarde for the site—a site upon a piece of barren mountain land of no earthly use to Lord Clanricarde or anyone else in this world. Lord Clanricarde refused to give a lease. Between your Education Board and your Irish landlord the people went to the wall, and the school could not be established. The parish priest assembled a number of peasants, and in this year of grace, towards the end of the nineteenth century, sixty years after the establishment of your system of national education in Ireland, these men dug sods, and built a hedge school. A teacher was brought from Tipperary, and sixty children of the village are now in attendance at that school. It is not recognised by the National Board, and the people are trying to get their education as they got it in the penal days when you made all education a crime. These sixty children attending every day at that school are amongst the 110,000 Irish children who, according to the right hon. Gentleman, are not at school at all. How many cases of that kind may be found existing in Ireland? And every such case is excluded from the enumeration and these children, taking the best advantage they can of all the facilities afforded them, are counted as amongst the absentees whose absence from school entitles the right hon. Gentleman to make this proposal of compulsion. Will you give compulsory powers for the acquisition of sites in Ireland, as you have given it long ago to England and to Scotland? The Bishops make a claim to which there can be no answer but concession; and the Bishops also represent—and I think with conclusive force—that in a great many districts in Ireland, where there are no schools sufficiently 232 convenient to the homes, you ought to establish infant and preparatory schools which would enable infants and children of tender age to attend. Will that provision be made? The Bishops also represent that not only do you need more schools conveniently situated, but that your schools should be improved, and they make two practical suggestions in this regard. One has regard to the fact that the bulk of the Irish teachers are still untrained, and cannot make their schools attractive and useful as teachers who are trained can make them, and the suggestion is that you should establish special courses of training for untrained teachers of long service, and further that the organisation of classes at present in many cases lamentably defective ought to be attended to by a staff of competent experts. I think you will do better work in attending to these suggestions of the Bishops made with the fulness of their knowledge than by embarking rashly on a system of compulsion which, if enacted by this Parliament, might have a very different effect in Ireland from what it would have in this part of the United Kingdom. The Bishops are not wholly opposed to compulsion. They favour a system of indirect compulsion, and their language in this regard is well worthy of close attention. They say that a system of indirect compulsion would be free from the evils and hardships which, in their judgment, would be inseparable from the execution of your scheme. And the proposals which they make are these: that employment should be restricted; and the Bishops, and I presume the clergy for whom they speak, are willing to favour a more stringent proposal upon the restriction of employment than you have inserted in the Bill. They also suggest that monitorships and all other prizes and rewards in the schools may be made dependent upon regular attendance. And I have no doubt whatever that at a much less cost than the necessary cost of your scheme it would be possible to institute a system of prizes and rewards which would be more effectual in securing regular attendance than any scheme of compulsion. In one respect what I may call direct compulsion is favoured by 233 the Bishops, and they hit a very obvious and grave defect in your scheme. Long since you allowed local school authorities in England and in Scotland to develop a system of industrial schools. There is no such proposal in this Bill. The Bishops urge the establishment of a system of union industrial schools, to be used for certain classes of children when they are found habitually absent from school. These classes are destitute orphans, deserted children, and the children of vagrant mothers. And allow me to point out to you that even if your scheme of compulsory attendance were made the law to-morrow it would not touch these classes of children, because the parents of these children are dead, or they are out of reach, and no person could be made responsible. So, therefore, it is clear, whether compulsion is enacted or let alone, at any rate the suggestion put before you by the Bishops is one that deserves atttention. If the right hon. Gentleman has not read the Resolutions, I would direct his particular attention to the language of the Bishops with regard to the compulsory clauses of this Bill. They say—The compulsory clauses of the Bill are declared to be unwarranted by the school attendances in Ireland, and we therefore protest against them as a gross interference with the rights of parents. They are particularly opposed to the natural feelings of our people and in their results, if passed into law, they could not fail, to a large extent, to render the schools unpopular, to restrict the period and the extent of school education to the minimum required by the Act, and to render the administration of the law odious in Ireland. We therefore respectfully and urgently call upon the Government to remove them from the Bill.Now, that is the unanimous verdict of a very responsible body of men who have done great service in Ireland, and I ask for it the most careful attention of the Government. But what strikes me most in connection with this scheme is that the time is most inopportune for it. We are now upon the eve of a General Election. The question in that election—substantially the only question—will be that of the future government of Ireland. When the electors have decided in favour of Home Rule it must be evident that the question of Irish education could be more effec 234 tually considered by the Irish Representatives than by any other. I therefore submit that the question of compulsion—the vital question of compulsion—in the sphere of primary education is a question which should properly be reserved until the appeal to the people has been made. I must add that the scheme is unfortunate in its sponsors. The Government have applied coercion to their entire sphere of political action; and if it is proposed to apply coercion to the sphere of education, the effect will be to kill the great natural love of the Irish people for education rather than to improve school attendance. Although you may secure some augmentation of attendances in the schools, let me tell you that you will inflict a vital blow at the cause of education. I should be inclined to lay it down as a principle, that before you can successfully apply coercion to the question of education in Ireland you must, as a preliminary, withdraw coercion from the political life of the country. If an excellent scheme were put before us, it might go far to dispose of these objections, but this is not an excellent scheme. It is blemished by serious excesses; it is marred by the most lamentable defects. The whole scheme rests, and is made to rest, upon an unfounded imputation—an imputation injurious and offensive to the people of Ireland—that the parents in that country are neglectful of the education of their children. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw that imputation. The whole pivot of the case of the right hon. Gentleman for any scheme of compulsion rested upon his statement that there are in Ireland 110,000 or 120,000 children who ought to be at school, but who are not there. I say that is a delusion. I invite the right hon. Gentleman to look at home, in England, where, on the testimony of the Commissioners, there are at least a million of children whose names are not on the school registers. There are no such children in Ireland from which I am entitled to infer that Irish parents like to educate their children. Therefore, I say you should make education in Ireland attractive, instead of compulsory. The Reports show that there were 20,000 attendances more in Ire 235 land last year than in the previous year. Then, by the strangest of all possible errors, the right hon. Gentleman omitted from his compilations all the children of schools other than national schools. He omitted altogether the children of the Church Education Society schools, of the schools of the Christian Brothers, and of other religious bodies in Ireland. Now, that was a gross—and if the right hon. Gentleman were not so amiable a man I should have said it was an unpardonable—error. These schools represent attendances of not less than 60,000, which, added to the 20,000 increased attendances when comparing the years 1889 and 1890, and others, make up a total of 80,000. Therefore, instead of there being 110,000 children in Ireland who ought to be at school, the total is less than one per cent. Now, will anyone contend that the difference of one per cent. of the population in the average attendance in Ireland and England affords a rational or tolerable plea for compulsion? Consider that England is the wealthiest country in the world, and that Ireland is one of the poorest; consider that the population of England is three-fourths larger than that of Ireland, and that the schools of England are at the doors of the children; consider, also, that the West of Ireland children suffer from the utmost squalor, that they are without suitable food to eat, that they are without decent clothes to wear, and that they are subject to the stormy weather to which that part of Ireland is particularly liable; and I think it must be admitted that even if compulsion were the law in Ireland, instead of the voluntary system, the difference of one per cent. of the population in attendance in England and Ireland would not be a matter of disgrace to Ireland. I say, therefore, that the present scheme rests upon an assumption that is unfounded, and which is injurious and offensive to the people of Ireland. I also object to it, because it inflicts a great injustice on certain voluntary schools. They had grievances before; but since education has been made free their grievances have become intolerable. Why should the Christian Brothers have been excluded from the benefits of the Bill? They are recog 236 nised and aided by all classes, by the Science and Art Department, and by the Education Board. They are put under ban in no country but Ireland. If their schools were in England they would be recognised. Why, then, are they to be excluded in Ireland? Because of an absurd and ludicrous rule which was made fifty or sixty years ago under a state of things very different to that which exists in Ireland at the present day. I refer to the rule of combined secular and separate religions. The national system of education in Ireland was intended to be a system of separate religious instruction, but the intention was one thing and the result quite another. By the combined efforts of Protestant and Catholics there has been established in Ireland practically a system of denominational education, so far as they can make it so, by providing schools for separate creeds. The schools of the Christian Brothers are to be shut out from participating in the grant, although they meet the requirements of the law as regards attendance, examinations, inspections, and other tests. They do not ask that their religious instruction should be paid for — they provide for that themselves — but they claim to be admitted to the benefit of the system of free education which is now to become law. They are to be shut out because they will not suppress the crucifix—a strange demand to be made in a Christian country. The Christian Brothers were the pioneers of primary education in Ireland, but they are now called upon not only to remove the crucifix from their schools, but to burn their class-book, give up their religious instruction, and, in short, to violate their consciences in order to submit to what I say is a most unreasonable requirement. I cannot countenance this or any other scheme that proposes to do a gross injustice to these voluntary schools, which have rendered, and are rendering, great services to Ireland. This scheme proposes to inflict a fine upon the Irish parent—be he Protestant or Catholic—because he acts according to the dictates of his conscience in the choice of schools for his children. I warn you that unless you admit the Christian Brothers you will bring your system to a deadlock in the principal 237 cities and towns of Ireland. You cannot deny that the schools of the Christian Brothers are efficient schools. The only choice in many of the cities and towns is between the Protestant schools and those of the Christian Brothers. Suppose that a Catholic parent in either of the cities or towns refuses to send his children to the Protestant schools, and says, "I have as good a right to free education as anyone in Ireland, and I claim the right to send them to a school of the Christian Brothers, and that you shall pay the fee?" It must come to this: you must either provide the equivalent of the fee in the schools of the Christian Brothers or the law will become a dead letter. The system of free and compulsory education cannot go on in the cities and towns of Ireland unless the schools of the Christian Brothers are included in the scheme. May I now point out to the House what seems to me to be a conclusive reason why this scheme should be rejected? When you established compulsion in England and Scotland there was the popular franchise. Parents had a right to vote in the election of the Local Authorities which were to administer the law. But in Ireland both parents are excluded from the vote. We introduced a Bill in the very first week of this Session to confer the popular franchise in the cities and towns of Ireland, and its principle was unanimously confirmed by the House. Its Second Reading was consented to; but from that day to this the Government have refused to make any further progress with it. Is it seriously contended, for instance, that we can approve of a scheme under which a population of forty thousand in the City of Limerick would have to submit to the will of four hundred persons who would have the power of appointing a School Committee and of administering authority under the Bill? I lay it down—and it cannot be contradicted—that the condition precedent to the enactment of any such scheme as that provided in the Bill is the provision of popular franchise for the cities and towns of Ireland, and I will give no countenance to any scheme to submit the Irish parent to compulsion in the matter of education or anything else 238 until you give him the same franchise as has been given to parents in England and Scotland. If our Bill had been accepted, or if it were accepted now, that would alter the case, but it has not been accepted. I also object to this scheme because it makes compulsion absolute. There is nothing in the difference between the school attendance in England and Ireland to justify such a course. When you passed the Compulsion Act for England the attendance in the schools there was only eight per cent. of the population and the number of children examined only five per cent., whilst in Ireland at the present time the average attendance is twelve per cent. of the population. I further submit that this is a Bill for cities and towns and not for the rural populations of Ireland, and that is another reason why I object to it. I cannot consent to the powers proposed by this Bill being given to the National Board. The Board of Education in Ireland stands in a different relation to the people than the Education Department in England and Scotland. It is nothing more than a mere sub-agency of the Castle; and if you give to the Board, as you propose, the power of dictating what shall be the standard of annual school attendance, I warn you that you will produce a conflict in policy, in opinion, and possibly in action, between the Local Authorities and that Board. The scheme, of course, would not be complete without some special coercive power in the hands of the Government, and in this Bill you provide such a power. Indeed, you have found a new word. The Local Government Board remove or dissolve a Board of Guardians; the two Judges are to remove the County Council; but in this Bill you provide that the Board of Education shall "supersede," shall have power to supersede. Supersede is, I suppose, a more delicate word than dissolve. The word may be different, but the act is the same. It is only our venerable friend coercion making a new entrance in a costume slightly altered for the part. I cannot admit that this coercion would be properly exercised. You propose, not only that this nominated Board, this irresponsible body, shall have power to turn out of doors at any moment, at its 239 mere pleasure, without cause assigned, any School Attendance Committee, but also to substitute any gentlemen whom the nominees of the Lord Lieutenant may be pleased to nominate, to give them such salaries as they may be pleased to fix—and we know that public Boards are as liable as other people to be generous with money that is not their own—and to charge those salaries for an unlimited period upon the local rates. You propose to apply in the sphere of education the worst and most intolerable propositions of the Local Government Bill. I certainly feel it my duty to use such facilities as this House affords to prevent the passing into law of any proposal which will give to this coterie the power of overriding the will of the Local Authority in regard to the School Attendance Committee. Whilst I complain, on the one hand, of the proposal to vest this arbitrary power in an irresponsible Department, I say, on the other hand, there is no provision in the Bill for the due protection of creeds, of the rights of conscience of different denominations. You make no provision whatever as to the rights of creeds upon the School Attendance Committee, or amongst the attendance officers. I know very well—and I think you know—that wherever the Catholics are in a majority they will act in a spirit scrupulously fair and even generous towards other creeds. But what would happen in some parts of Ulster? I take a most conspicuous example—the City of Belfast, where, if the Bill were passed, the Corporation would appoint a School Attendance Committee and also the attendance officers. In the City of Belfast the Catholics constitute one-fourth of the population; they number seventy thousand; but by a system of juggling and trickery these seventy thousand Catholics are shut out from representation on the City Council, on which, although it consists of forty members, there is not one Catholic. In civil affairs they are without a voice. What, then, would happen if this Bill were passed? The Protestant City Council—which for a quarter of a century has never appointed or recommended any Catholic to any official post, in regard to which it might offer recommendation—will 240 proceed to appoint a School Attendance Committee and the officers to administer the Act, and both will be of a purely Protestant character.
§ MR. SEXTON
The hon. Member is more sanguine than I am; but on what experience does he found his opinion? Why do the Corporation appoint no Catholic to any official post in their service? Why is it that I am in a position to tell the House that for twenty-five years that has been the record of the Belfast Corporation? Why does he think they will appoint any Catholic either to the Committee or as an attendance officer? I say they will do nothing of the kind, and that the administration of the law in the City of Belfast, if you pass this Bill, will be the Protestant administration of the compulsory law on the Catholic community. The enforcement of the law will become a matter of creed and of the prejudices of creed. Excuses of any kind will be good enough in one case for non-attendance, and in the other no excuse will be valid. And let me tell you that if you had applied to fanatics to draw up a Bill which would excite the Irish people to resistance of the law, you could not have gone about it better. This Bill is full of errors and defects; but if it contained no other than this—that it offers no provision whatever for securing fair play and equity to the Catholic community in Belfast, it would be my duty to offer to it any opposition in my power. I have not argued against compulsion in the abstract. I have said that under certain conditions compulsion may be useful; but I say in regard to this scheme that it is a bad scheme, that it is a crude scheme, and that it is not accompanied by popular franchise; and I have to add that unless assurances are forthcoming in the present Debate that the errors and defects which I have pointed out will be remedied, I shall consider it my duty to oppose the Second Reading.
§ MR. SINCLAIR (, &c.) Falkirk
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Sexton) has, I believe, claimed not only to speak on behalf of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland 241 but also on behalf of the national teachers of Ireland.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
I am glad to find that I misunderstood the observations of the hon. Gentleman, because I hold in my hand a letter I received this morning from a national school teacher in the North of Ireland, who is the Secretary to the Coleraine branch of the Teachers' Association, conveying in strong terms the desire of the Association for the passing of this Bill. He says—For various reasons we are extra anxious to get the Bill passed this Session. It contains the most important principle that we have been agitating for for a long time—namely, compulsory education. Although, unfortunately, this principle is not carried far enough, yet the Bill recognises its usefulness. It would bring us more into line with England and Scotland on the subject of assisted compulsory education. For these and other reasons we are most anxious that the Bill should be passed into law as soon as possible.Here we have evidence of a desire on the part of the teachers that this Bill should become law as soon as possible. The hon. Member wished that some life should be infused into the National Board of Education, and in that I agree, because I think it would be well if that were done. The hon. Member also indicated his desire to see that Education Board abolished. I myself would prefer to see the education of the United Kingdom placed in the hands of a Minister for Education, with a Department for each of the three countries, and a Department for Wales if it were necessary. One reason the hon. Member advanced in favour of a change of method of the Education Board is that it would put an end to the model schools. These schools, I contend, are amongst the most useful schools in Ireland—they are liked, and they are well conducted. I wish there were more of them in Ireland. As to the important question of compulsion, I think that principle is desirable from the point of view of getting a regular attendance at school. If there are many such cases as that described by the hon. Member where sites have been refused for national schools by Lord Clanricarde, I see no reason why the principle of compulsory acquisition 242 of sites should not be acceded to by the Government. For my part, however, I have not heard of many such instances. Then I also think the suggestion that there should be local infant schools is reasonable in character. Such a provision is, I think, advisable, and it would not, I believe, prove expensive. The hon. Member also spoke with considerable force of the number of schools in Ireland which are purely and solely Protestant. We desire to see less of these in Ireland and more of the mixed schools. Such schools would, to my mind, tend to foster the feeling of toleration towards those holding different religious beliefs I sincerely hope that the Belfast Committee will include Catholics among its members; indeed, if Catholicism had not some share of representation, the Corporation of Belfast would be disgracing itself. I do not altogether agree with the hon. Member for Belfast as to the number of Catholics in that city.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
But even if the number were smaller than has been stated, it is perfectly clear that there ought to be Roman Catholic representation on the School Attendance Committee, and also that some of the attendance officers should be of that belief. I firmly believe that a feeling of justice will pervade the minds of those who have the making of these appointments. I hope that this Bill will pass into law, as it is greatly desired by those who are largely interested in educational work.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I should have preferred the hon. Member (Mr. Sinclair) to have defined his position—whether he spoke on this subject as a Scotch or as an ex-Irish Member.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
When the hon. Member represented a Northern Irish constituency some weight, of course, attached to his expressions of the views of his constituents; but now, as regards Irish topics, that qualification, apart from his personal talent, has disappeared. The hon. Member has told us that everyone interested in this Bill is very much in favour of it, and I have 243 no doubt whatever that any body of men, where such a sum of money is concerned, would display a lively desire to get the greatest possible advantage and to secure possession of the money as soon as possible. In the case of the Irish teachers there is some reason for this interest. They have been cheated out of £100,000, which the English teachers have got, and they are very much afraid that they may lose a further £210,000. Thus I am not surprised that they should swallow a bad Bill if it will aid them in securing possession of the funds. I complain of the way in which these Irish questions are treated. When last year the Government introduced the Bill making a large grant to English education, I pointed out that England would first receive her money, and then that the Irish people would be left either in the lurch or that the grant would be postponed indefinitely, and that when the grant was made there would be coupled with it some hard and unfair conditions wholly unsuited to Ireland. I am sorry to see that my prediction has been fulfilled. I entirely deny the suggestion that this grant is a gift. It is only our fair share. We have always maintained that Ireland has paid far more than her fair share to the Imperial Exchequer. Therefore, when you give England something like £2,000,000, why, when you give Ireland £210,000, should you describe the grant as a gift and accompany it with certain unpalatable conditions? We are anxious that there should be a good system of education in Ireland, that the position of teachers should be improved, and that all sects should in regard to this grant stand on an equal footing; but here you give nothing to the most efficient schools. When in the English Bill the Government insisted on treating all schools fairly I voted with them. Now, however, the principle is not to be extended to Ireland, and the most efficient of denominational schools in Ireland—the Christian Brothers' Schools—are entirely left out of the scope of the Bill. I come now to some of the provisions of the Bill. In the first place, I consider that the present condition of education in Ireland renders compulsion unnecessary. Even where school fees have had to be paid, the children have flocked to 244 school; and so, with free education, I believe that almost every child in Ireland will attend school. Compulsion will be unnecessary and odious. But there are two classes of compulsion in this Bill, while in England, I understand, you have only one. You can punish the parent for not sending the child to school, or, in districts where there are no Board schools, you can punish the employer for employing a child who has not passed the regulation standard. You are going to apply both these methods to Ireland. You are both going to punish the employer and the parent. The point I consider most unsuited to Ireland is the punishment of the employer, because everyone is aware that there is a great want in Ireland of sufficient employment for children. The Census shows that in Ireland we have a very large proportion of children and old people, and this is accounted for by the melancholy fact that when young men and women reach the ages of seventeen and eighteen they emigrate to the United States. These children would be of great assistance to their parents if they could obtain employment, but the effect of this Bill will be to prevent them from doing so. Take the case of hay-making. Employers will not think it worth their while, for the sake of employing children a few weeks in the year, to inquire for certificates. The consequence will be that they will cease to employ children, and do the work by means of machinery. Now, I acknowledge that the principle of compulsion in this Bill will not have a very widespread effect. In my own constituency, for instance, it will not affect more than about half-a-dozen families, and there are several other constituencies in the same position. This principle of compulsion is one which bristles with difficulties in Ireland. Let me ask, to what schools are the boys in the towns to go to? The girls may be compelled to go to the convent schools, and there will be no unfairness in that, because these schools for Roman Catholic girls are to all intents and purposes national schools; but there are no national schools for Catholic boys. If you compel the boys to go to the Christian Brotherhood 245 schools, you will be acting unfairly, inasmuch as no grant is to be made to these institutions. And in case these schools should refuse to take the extra number of children, are their parents to be punished by the police? I should like the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Jackson) to say what he proposes to do under these circumstances, because it seems to me that the alternatives under the Bill are unfair. I now come to another matter, and that is the very unjust way in which it is proposed to deal with the Christian Brothers. These schools have always been very unfairly dealt with except in one instance. I allude to the Bill which authorises grants to be made by the Science and Art Department—without any conditions as to religion, and under which the Christian Brothers receive an appreciable sum of money. But apart from this grant they receive nothing whatever from the State. And here I may as well explain what the Christian Brothers are. They are simply a teaching community, the children in some cases being educated gratuitously, and the money for carrying on the work is derived exclusively from voluntary subscriptions in the different towns. It may be said that it is a matter of opinion whether the Christian Brothers impart a good education or not, and that I have exaggerated the excellence of their teaching. I will, therefore, fortify my position by calling the attention of the House to the Reports of the Royal Commission of 1854 respecting these schools. The Marquess of Kildare, the Chairman of that Commission, stated that they had received no complaints about the schools, and that the Assistant Commissioners had expressed most favourable opinions with respect to them. It was also added that the education given was of a very excellent character. The Assistant Commissioners, besides speaking most highly of the education given by the Christian Brothers, reported that the school premises were in every way satisfactory, being both commodious and well furnished. Now, with one or two exceptions, these Assistant Commissioners are Protestants. They are official witnesses, and I believe their character is unimpeachable, and consequently the House may 246 have every confidence in the high standard of education given at these schools. I might add that a certain amount of technical education, exceedingly valuable in Ireland, is also given by the Christian Brothers. Notwithstanding that the instruction given by them is satisfactory in every way, they are refused any grant—except that from the Science and Art Department—because they also give a certain amount of religious teaching. In England, schools that impart some religious instruction are not deprived of the yearly grant, and I think it is unfair that these popular educational establishments in Ireland should be treated in a different manner. Some of the Assistant Commissioners point out that in the cases where Protestant children attend these schools there is no attempt at proselytising. Under those circumstances—and I am quite willing that the Government should put a Conscience Clause in the Bill—I think it most unfair not to include the Christian Brothers in the grants it is proposed to make under this Bill. No one can say that the children turned out of these schools are specially noted for bigotry, and as far as I can discover the teaching of the Christian Brothers is not in the least directed towards proselytising or attacking the members of religious bodies different from their own. Now, let me say a word with regard to Protestant children in particular. I am sure every Irish Member wishes to see them fairly dealt with, and there are two things to which I think they are entitled. In the first place, when there are a large number of them they should have a school of their own; and, secondly, when there are only a few in any particular district and they attend Catholic schools they should be strictly protected by a Conscience Clause, and they should not be taught out of any books of which their parents disapprove. I believe that in the Board schools in this country a chapter of the Bible is read every day. It is said that that is not religious education, and that it is a proceeding which should be tolerated by all communities. Now, the Catholics object to any such system, while the Presbyterians in Ireland are in favour of it. They say 247 they do not want religious teaching. All they wish for is to have a particular chapter of the Bible read—I will not say haphazard—but with the discretion of a teacher. The Presbyterians have a right to their own opinion, but I deny that they have any right to control the system of religious teaching by any other religious body. It is most unfair to say that there is in Ireland no religious persecution, because a man can send his child to any school. But by refusing to allow a grant to Catholic schools you are handicapping a particular religion, and the Catholic taxpayer, if he desires to send his child to a school belonging to the Christian Brotherhood, does not get any return in grants, and he is paying simply to educate other people's children. I will now pass from the consideration of the merits of the Bill to a practical question—namely, what are we to do with it? Here we have £210,000 proposed to be divided amongst the national schools. Now, in the first place, this Bill introduces compulsion where it is not wanted; and, secondly, we have to decide whether we will accept this £210,000 on the conditions prescribed or go without it altogether. That is a position from which the Government should relieve us. I should like to ask if the Government will strike out the first fourteen clauses of the Bill dealing with compulsion? I think they ought to consider the Irish Vote particularly in this matter, and not allow the English and Scotch Vote to decide it, because if they do that the Irish will naturally be outvoted. Another practical question I should like to ask is this:—If an Amendment is introduced, as no doubt there will be, proposing that the Christian Brothers shall receive a minimum sum of threepence per week for each scholar, what course will the Government take? I hope these points will not be passed over in silence, but that we shall be plainly told what course the Government intend to take with regard to them.
§ *(6.28.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
There is a great difference between the tone of the Debate on the Second Reading of this Bill and that on the First Reading. When the Bill was introduced it was received 248 by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway with acclamation, and, apart from the question of the Christian Brothers, they appeared to be almost unanimously in favour of it. Now, Sir, there are details in connection with this Bill which will require attention when we go into Committee, but which I do not propose to deal with on this occasion. The small schools, which under the Schedule of the Bill are to receive increased grants, have been largely called into existence not by educational, but by denominational necessities. But these are points of detail which do not require attention in a Debate on the Second Reading of a Bill, and I will deal with what I consider are the two main principles of the measure which is now before us. The first is the modified form of compulsion, which is embodied in the Bill, and the second is the enlarged grant that is very much wanted to the national school teachers of Ireland. I say frankly that hon. Members below the Gangway may take the responsibility if they like of rejecting this Bill, and starving the national school teachers, but I do not think that they will vote with the unanimity that seems to be expected. With respect to compulsion, the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) over and over again referred to the compulsion in this Bill as coercion. We have had worse kinds of coercion than this applied to Ireland, and I think we can put up with it; and the use of this word coercion now will show English Members how lightly the term is used in Ireland. Of course, compulsory education is coercion. The whole moral law is coercion. But this is coercion that has been applied to England, to Scotland, and to Wales with very great advantage; and in the face of the illiteracy in Ireland—forty-five per cent. of illiteracy in Galway and thirty per cent. in Donegal—I do not see that any Irish Member ought to endeavour to prevent the passing of a Bill which will compel parents to send their children to school and put an end to this great scandal. Why do hon. Members who sit below the Gangway oppose compulsion? Not a word was said against it on the First Reading, and the Member for West 249 Belfast said over and over again that the Bishops were opposed to direct but were in favour of indirect compulsion. I think I shall be able to prove that the Bishops were in favour of direct compulsion up to a certain point. I believe that the real author of the system of modified compulsion which exists in this Bill is Archbishop Walsh. He attended in 1890 at the Congress of the National School Teachers, and referring to a resolution which was to be submitted to the meeting he said—The fourth resolution raises the vitally important question of compulsory attendance. Personally I am strongly in favour of a reasonable measure of compulsion. I note that the resolution to be proposed on the subject is most carefully worded. It speaks of a system of compulsory attendance adapted to the peculiar circumstances of the country. The meeting is of course aware that the question is a delicate one surrounded by many difficulties. In expressing my personal concurrence in the proposal I must say I limit that concurrence to the case of such a city as Dublin, or of large towns and cities if there are any similarly situated.But compulsion is not to be applied to the whole country. It is limited to the cities and the large towns, as the Archbishop said it should be when he spoke in 1890, and I think the hon. Member for West Belfast must have forgotten that this principle of modified compulsion was first of all proposed by Archbishop Walsh. If hon. Members from the North of Ireland—from Ulster—find any fault with this Bill it is that it does not go far enough. There is a strong feeling that if the Government have erred at all it is because the principle of compulsion is modified and limited in the area over which it is to extend. But the people of Ulster are not foolish enough to reject the Bill because it only goes part of the way they desire. They recognise the principle they desire to have, and they hope to extend it if possible. But as soon as this Bill was printed and its contents became known in Ireland, Archbishop Walsh on the 6th March denounced the compulsory clauses as an insult to Ireland. I think that is going a good deal too far, and if they never receive from this House a worse insult than this which gives compulsory and practically free education they will be able to stand a good deal in the way of insult. The Bill, as it stands, and 250 this cannot be too widely known, has the enthusiastic support of the whole body of national teachers. It is all very well to say that they are the people who are going to receive the money, and, therefore, they are anxious to get the Bill; but I know other people who are glad to receive money and will make great sacrifices to get it, and I do not think the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Nolan) had any reason for the taunt he uttered.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The whole body of the national school teachers are in favour of the principle of compulsion. All the Protestants are strongly in its favour; and though I have no right to speak for the Roman Catholics I know that many of them have publicly asserted that they will vote for this Bill. The real truth is that the only opposition is from the Clerical Party, who are represented in this House by the Member for West Belfast, and I hope the Government will stand firm by the teachers, and, as I think, by the majority of the people of Ireland of all classes. I now come to the Christian Brothers. I have never said a word either against them or against their education. They are a most devoted body of men, and they give, I believe, a good, sound education. But as to the principles on which that education is given, I should like to ask the attention of the House to a higher authority than that of the Member for Galway. The Director of the Christian Brothers, Brother John Augustine Grace, gave evidence before the Powis Commission, which sat from 1868 to 1870, and I should like the House to remember that these schools were not excluded from the advantages of the National Board by any action of the Government or by any action of the Board of Education. These schools were actually under the Board for six years, and enjoyed all its advantages, and then withdrew. I will read the evidence given by the Director of the Christian Brothers before this Commission. He was asked—Did you ever take part in the management of any of the schools that were under the Board? I did.—Did you find the requirements of the Board tend to restrict your operations? Very much, as regards the 251 religious element of our system.—In what respect? By the rules of the Board we were not permitted to teach in a Catholic spirit. We did not feel at liberty to avail ourselves of the reading lesson to communicate religious knowledge when a suitable opportunity presented itself; and moreover, all reference to religious subjects was to be excluded for a certain number of hours each day. Now after having given the system the fullest trial and taking into account the pecuniary advantages of our connection with the Board with the religious restrictions which the connection imposed, we came to the conclusion that to continue the connection would be inconsistent with the original aim of the Society, viz., to give a sound Catholic education to our people, for that is the main end of our institution. The Society would never have been formed if it had not been for the purpose of communicating religious knowledge, and that being the case many of our members became dissatisfied with the restrictions imposed on the discharge of their sacred and self-imposed duties.Then with regard to the emblems he was asked—Are the emblems in your schools such as would be generally objected to by Protestants? I think so, my Lord.—Would it be advantageous to your objects to receive a subsidy on the same plan as the nuns receive it, at so much per hundred children, subject to examination and inspection? The nuns receive the grant, as I understand it, subject to the rules of the Board, by which all religious teaching is prohibited during what is properly known as school hours. We could not submit to that.—You would require it as a condition that you should be allowed to retain this exception? Decidedly.Here then we have a Society founded not for the purpose of giving secular education, but for the express purpose of giving religious education, and now we are asked to admit that society to the benefits of this Bill without the Society abating one jot of the principles which it has a perfect right to hold, but which it has no right to ask the Government to pay to maintain. I am told that if this Society existed in England it would receive a grant. I am speaking in the presence of English educationists, and I venture to tell Members below the Gangway that if the Christian Brothers were in England with the present rules and laws they would not receive one farthing of public money. ("Oh, oh!") The right hon. Member for Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair) knows more about education than any other Member in this House, and I do not hear him cry "Oh, oh!" I say that to introduce these schools into the National system of education would be 252 to break up the foundation principle of that system. That may be a proper thing to do, but it should be done with fair notice—fairly and squarely. There is no reason why every denominational school should not be admitted if the Christian Brothers are admitted, and there is no reason why the State should not proceed straightway to endow religious teaching of all kinds. But we in Ireland have disestablished a Protestant Church, and we are not willing to endow another Church by this indirect but thoroughly effective means. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) referred to the large number of schools which were denominational so far as attendance was concerned, and which were bound by the rules of the National Board, and he has claimed that where the attendance at these schools was denominational the system should be denominationalised. That would require the overturning of the foundation principle of the National system of education. These schools are denominational in their attendance now, but at any moment that state of affairs might be altered. A stationmaster might be removed from another place, an exciseman might be removed, a policeman, or even a Resident Magistrate, might be removed, and if the children of any of these people went to a school which is now denominational a change would at once have to be made. And I say that the House has no right to subject the children of such people to any danger in the matter of their faith through the teaching given at the expense of the State. The hon. Member for West Belfast also mentioned the question of the model schools, which have been long a subject of attack. I admit that if you take many of these schools in the South and West of Ireland their cost cannot be defended. They were started as high class intermediate schools, and they have succeeded in the North of Ireland and in several districts in the South. In the North I do not know a single case where these schools have failed. In Ulster they have been entirely successful. Nobody challenges their success in the City of Dublin; but I will admit that if you take these schools over the whole of the South of 253 Ireland their cost is not defensible. This is accounted for by the fact that the Bishops and clergy have ordered that Roman Catholic children shall not attend these schools, and those who do attend do so in spite of this prohibition. The hon. Member for West Belfast declared that these schools were carried on at a maximum of cost and a minimum of good. I deny that altogether, so far as Ulster is concerned, and I will give some facts on that point—The entire cost of the Ulster model schools for the year 1889–90 was £16,706. This sum includes the school fees paid by the pupils. One-third of these fees are claimed by Her Majesty's Treasury as an 'extra receipt.' This third in the Ulster schools amounts to £922. If this sum is deducted, the balance will be £15,783.It must be remembered that these schools are not only teaching schools but they are also training schools for teachers, and in this way they do good and effective work.The cost to the State of a student in one of the denominational training colleges in Dublin is £50 per annum for males and £35 for females. It has already been stated that there are ninety-two male pupil teachers and twenty-eight female pupil teachers in the Ulster model schools. The male pupil teachers are boarded, lodged, and educated at the public expense; the females receive an allowance in lieu of board. Setting aside the same sum for training each of these as in the training colleges, the amount would be £5,680. Deduct this sum from the balance mentioned above, and the net cost of the Ulster schools would be reduced to £10,103, and if this sum is divided by 4,193—the aggregate average attendance of pupils at these schools in 1889—it will be found that the average cost per pupil was £2 8s. 2d. The following table shows the average cost per pupil in average attendance in a number of ordinary national schools for the same year: Carmichael National School, £4 0s. 2d.; Hardwick Street National School, Dublin, £3 1s. 10d.; Sullivan Male National School, Holywood, £3 9s. 1d; Fisherwick Place National School, £3 1s. 7d.So far as the model schools are concerned, they have been an unmixed blessing and boon to the entire population, and the Government that would seek to lay violent hands on the model schools in Ulster would raise a storm about their heads that they would not be likely to forget. Whatever may be said about these schools in the South they have been an entire and triumphant success in the North, and I am glad the Government are standing 254 firm, so far as the main principle of national education is concerned. That principle has worked wonders in Ireland. At first it was boycotted by the then Established Church. It was not very popular with the Roman Catholic Church. The only religious community in Ireland which accepted the national education system in its entirety was the Presbyterian Church. We have lived to see the Roman Catholic Church use that system without danger to the faith or morals of a single child. The Episcopal Church, once established now disestablished, has adopted the system, and it is now used practically all over Ireland. It has had to contend with the administration of a non-representative Board, but that is an inheritance of evil days which might be remedied. There is no pleasanter reading than the Census Returns which show the tremendous inroads which have been made in the illiteracy of the country. If you look at each decade you will find that a steady inroad has been made, and at the present time in Antrim you will find that only nine per cent. of the children over five years of age are illiterate. In Belfast it is only eight per cent. and in Down eleven per cent. These Returns show the necessity for compulsion, and you will find also that the great mass of illiteracy belongs to the Roman Catholic Church.
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I do not say it does not, but that is no argument against compulsion, because the education would be free. I am glad the Government have stood firm by their foundation principle, and so long as they do so I am perfectly certain that this Bill will be accepted by the majority of all sections in Ireland, and it will turn out to be a great benefit and a great blessing.
§ MR. FLYNN
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down used to speak for South Tyrone. Latterly he has developed a tendency to speak for Ulster, and to-night he has spoken for all Ireland, and for all classes and all conditions of men. I repudiate his right to speak for anyone but the electors of South Tyrone, so long as they return him to this House. With 255 his usual exaggeration and undue emphasis he has told the House that certain middle class schools were more or less successful in all the provinces of Ireland. I venture to assert that with a few exceptions in Ulster these schools have been a failure. They are schools where well-to-do parents send their children to be educated at the expense of the ratepayers, and the schools have absolutely failed in the purpose for which they were established. I challenge contradiction when I say that the character of the primary education given by the Christian Brothers in Cork and the large cities is superior to the model school education. The hon. Member for South Tyrone argues against facts and figures; but though he desires to see the number of unmixed schools decrease, he must take Ireland as he finds it; and if he finds, as is the fact, that the number of unmixed schools is growing, that is proof positive that the bent of the Irish mind is to have schools founded on religion. The denominational schools in Ulster increased from 2,562 in 1867 to 4,393 in 1890, and the number of children from 380,000 to 574,000. That shows, whether the Government like it or not, that the tendency of education in Ireland is towards denominational education; and so long as the results are satisfactory, as shown by the attendance and examinations, you are bound to support the schools, whether mixed or unmixed. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) referred to the evidence of Mr. Gryce, with regard to the Christian Brothers, before the Commission years ago, as to why they withdrew their schools from the National Board. The schools were withdrawn because it was found impossible, within the regulations of the Board, to carry on the Christian Brothers' system of combining secular and religious education. It could have been no light cause which would have induced the Christian Brothers to withdraw their schools from the advantages secured by being under the National Board. It was on conscientious grounds they withdrew, and they are deserving of all admiration for it. If these schools are not to come under the Bill, I do not see how 256 the Bill will work. The compulsory clauses, for the present, are to apply to towns and cities, and it is there that the Christian Brothers work, and that their schools are most numerous, and are attended by the children of the bulk of the population. What are you going to do under the compulsory clauses where there is no other accommodation for Roman Catholic children than the schools of the Christian Brothers? There are thirty-two towns in Ireland where there are no national schools for Roman Catholic boys except those of the Christian Brothers. Will any School Attendance Board punish Roman Catholic parents because they do not send their children to the Protestant schools? If there is no other Roman Catholic school to send them to except the Christian Brothers' schools, what will be the result if they refuse to educate all the children without the help given to other schools? You would have to set up new buildings in all these cities at considerable expense, and surely it would be wiser, and would show some thought for Irish feeling, to recognise the claim of the Christian Brothers, and bring them under the operation of the Bill. The hon. Member for South Tyrone said that if the Christian Brothers' schools were in England at this time, and were carried on as they are now, they would not receive State aid. We traverse that statement, and say that with the system carried on as at present, and with the Christian Brothers willing to submit to inspection, they would in England receive State aid.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
I understood the hon. Member for South Tyrone to say that they would not receive State aid unless they adopted the Conscience Clause.
§ MR. FLYNN
The contradiction of the hon. Member for South Tyrone was the first I have heard of the statement made on the highest authority—that in England the schools would receive State aid. There is a strong feeling in Ireland with regard to the Christian Brothers, and resolutions have been passed by many Public Bodies asking the Government to bring them under the Bill; and I believe that 257 if the Government had desired to do so they would have found the way without much difficulty. I fear very much, if the right hon. Gentleman does not consent to some such proposal, the passage of the Bill will not be easy, for we shall have much to say on the point in Committee, and have to point out many ways in which the Christian Brothers could be brought under the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) proved that the compulsory clauses are not required in the towns and cities, and we cannot consent to their introduction into a Bill of this kind until you have widened the franchise under which the School Attendance Committees are elected. In many of the cities the franchise is high and restricted, and, if the Board is to deal with the working classes, the working classes should have some voice in their election. There are one or two suggestions I should like to make to the right hon. Gentleman. Assistant teachers must have third-class certificates, and they are eligible to compete for second and first-class certificates; but we think the seven years' limit too long, and I wish the right hon. Gentleman would consider the point with a view to reducing that limit. There may be many men with third-class certificates, who may not have served seven years, and yet may be more able than men of longer service. I would suggest that the limit should be reduced to something like three years. The present limit is a premium on indolence, and does not encourage improvement, as the assistant teachers do not care to make any efforts when they have to wait so long. As regards the whole Bill, we do not see that any case has been made out for compulsion. The right hon. Gentleman is very amiable, but I have begun to observe that he is also very obstinate, especially with regard to suggestions from these Benches. But I would beg him to understand that when a question like that of Irish education is before us, the opinions of the Irish Representatives are entitled to some weight; and I hope, when he comes to tell us what the intentions of the Government are, we shall have some earnest of more liberal intentions, and that the feelings of the Irish people 258 and their Representatives will not be overlooked.
§ (7.48.) MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
The chief points of objection taken to the Bill by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) were the question of compulsion and the grants to Christian Brothers' schools. With regard to compulsion, he spoke of it as a species of coercion, and suggested that the policy of the Government was founded altogether on coercion, and that in putting compulsion in this Bill they were carrying out their usual principle. I have often thought if a prize were offered to hon. Members of the Irish Home Rule Party for a speech in which coercion was not mentioned, it would be a long time before it was claimed. Compulsory education is in force in England; and as hon. Members exclusively apply the term coercion to Irish matters, I fail to see how they can apply it to compulsory education. I read an account of the action of the Irish Bishops in regard to this matter, and one part of it I cannot understand. I can understand objecting to compulsory education, but I fail to understand what they mean by indirect compulsion. The term "optional compulsion," used by the hon. Member for West Belfast, is still more difficult to understand.
§ MR. RENTOUL
That makes it clear. With regard to compulsory education, the hon. Member knows very well the state of affairs in Ireland. The number of illiterate voters is not satisfactory to any Irish Representative, and the charge is made—not by me — that the Roman Catholic Church is the enemy of education. The charge was made distinctly in some of the publications of the right hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). I take it that a man's religion is in almost every case an accident; it depends on the religion in which he is born. Feeling that, I approach the question impartially, and try to put myself in the place of the Roman Catholics. Doing so, I feel that if I were accused of being the enemy of education, I should try on all possible occasions to free myself from 259 every appearance of evil, and try to have the appearance of being anxious for education. Is it reasonable to think that the heads of the Roman Catholic Church are opposed to education? For they must know that people will say, "There are the Roman Catholics again; when there is a chance of education they take the lead in preventing people being compelled to educate their children." The hon. Member for West Belfast spoke of the natural love of the Irish parent for the education of his children. I am sorry I must differ from him on that point. In these matters we should speak of the places we know best, and the locality I know best is the Eastern Division of Donegal, which is one of the most prosperous in the whole of Ulster. I was for many years a pupil at several schools there, and I know that a very small portion of the Roman Catholics sent their children to school.
§ MR. RENTOUL
I am speaking of the time when I was at school myself. I think, on the whole, therefore, compulsion should be adopted; I think it would be for the good of the people, and I am sorry to see any hon. Member opposite, or any members of the Roman Catholic Church, opposing it. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) said you were going to apply this system in the teeth of four-fifths of the Irish Members. I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that there are six distinct Parties from Ireland at present in the House, and that he can only speak for one—the Parnellite Party. On the First Reading of the Bill one of the ablest Members of the Parnellite Party, the hon. Member for South Armagh (Mr. Blane), made a speech in favour of compulsory education, and he has repeated what he said on the First Reading of the Bill—namely, that he would support this Bill; and therefore he has not changed his opinion with regard to the matter. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) said that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in bringing in this Bill, had omitted from his calculations of the children attending school the children in the Christian Brothers' schools, the Church Education Schools, 260 and several denominational schools. That is quite true; but, at the same time, I consider that this money, as I understand, is to be applied to the national system; and I think it was perfectly natural that the Chief Secretary should confine himself to the educational system which was within the purview of the Bill, and therefore I think his calculation was perfectly fair. But the hon. Member for West Belfast argued from England to Ireland, and said it was not fair, because England was the richest country in the world and Ireland was one of the poorest. That statement, of course, was to my mind unfair coming from a Representative of the City of Belfast. Belfast is, I think, from all points of view, the most prosperous city not only in the United Kingdom, but in the whole of Europe. The progress of its wealth and population has been greater than that of any other city in Europe during the last fifty years, and yet a Representative of that city talks about Ireland being the poorest country on the face of the earth. What applies to Belfast applies to a great many of the towns in the North of Ireland; it applies to four of the Irish counties. The hon. Member forgot that in all the Unionist portions of Ireland the prosperity is greater than in England or Scotland; and if there is anything that makes Ireland the poorest country on the face of the earth it is in the parts represented by the hon. Gentleman's own friends and own Party; and, therefore, I think I am justified in applying the same tests to England and Ireland. I have shown that there is the same prosperity in the Unionist portion of Ireland as in England; and there is no doubt when Home Rule is put aside for ever, and when gentlemen like the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) turn their attention to real constructive statesmanship, that the same prosperity will attend the rest of Ireland. The hon. Member for West Belfast said he objects to this Bill because it is grossly unjust to the Christian Brothers. For certain reasons I am in abject terror in referring to the Christian Brothers, because the last time I referred to the Christian Brothers I got myself into trouble, which obliged me to go to my constituency and hold six meetings in 261 order to elaborately prove that I was not a member of the Roman Catholic Church. By producing documentary and other evidence I succeeded in proving that I was not a member of that Church. Having learned from experience I shall not venture to say anything on that subject at all. But I think I may be permitted to say that hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to fail to catch our point; but I am sure in point of fact they see the point very well. We have no objection whatever to the Christian Brothers' schools in themselves. What we object to is the system of denominational education, and we cannot permit—and we are not authorised by our constituencies to permit—that to be done indirectly which we are not prepared to do directly. The reason we are opposed to the system of denominational education is that we think that the bringing together of Catholics and Protestants in the same school and in the same college tends to do away with the religious bigotry which all Gentlemen, I think, on both sides of the House, deplore. Having been a pupil in a national school, and again in an intermediate mixed school, where there were Roman Catholics, and having been a student in the Queen's College, Cork, and the Queen's College, Galway, where half my fellow-students were Roman Catholics, I think it has been very beneficial to me and to all my companions. It is not from any bigotry that we object to the Christian Brothers' schools. If the objection to them arose from bigotry, I, for one, would never go into the Lobby to prevent them having a share of this grant. I would not object to them on that ground at any risk. But I think there is no bigotry in saying that we object to denominational education, because we consider that endowing denominational education is endowing the Church; and I think I can prove that very clearly. When there was an attempt made in Ireland to get rid of the Established Church, and when there was a compromise made with the Presbyterian Church and an offer made to endow the Roman Catholic Church, we knew very well that the Presbyterians took their endowment in the form of £75 a year to 262 each congregation; but the Roman Catholics took their grant as an endowment to the College of Maynooth, clearly proving, in my mind, that they regarded the endowment of education as the endowment of their religion. The hon. Member for West Belfast brings up again the matter of the seventy thousand Catholics in Belfast, who have got no representation on the Town Council. That statement has been made so often in this House that I confess to a feeling of weariness. It seems that the Town Council of Belfast consists of some forty Members. I can assert with confidence and without fear of contradiction, from an intimate knowledge of Belfast extending over twenty years, that there are three hundred Protestants in Belfast who would come in in the position of Town Councillors before any Roman Catholic would come in at all. I bring forward this in order to show that Belfast is not open to the charge of bigotry which that statement would seem to indicate. I wish to refer to the statement made by the hon. Member for North Cork (Mr. Flynn), that denominational schools in Ireland had increased marvellously between 1867 and 1890. The Established Church in Ireland was against the National Board at first, and it had a large number of schools under its own wing; but when it was disestablished, or was about to be disestablished, its leaders knew there was no fund for keeping up the schools, and they recommended that all the Church denominational schools should come in under the National Board. Consequently, an enormous number of Church schools came in at once after the Disestablishment, and that accounts, in my mind, for the enormous increase in the number of denominational schools since 1867, which the hon. Member for North Cork referred to. As to the question as to the want of a general desire to have this Bill passed, I wish to say that my own experience is this: that there is a strong desire for the passing of this Bill in all parts of Ireland. I have received letters and resolutions of the strongest kind from all quarters in favour of this Bill; and hon. Members opposite, so far as I know, have not produced any testimony with regard to the Bill from the 263 national teachers or from any section of the Irish people outside the clergy. I may read one resolution which I have received from the national teachers irrespective of creed, I understand. It states—That perceiving from Mr. Balfour's statement in the House of Commons that he hopes to pass the Irish Education Bill before the General Election, provided no very prolonged discussion takes place upon its clauses, we respectfully call upon our Representatives to aid Her Majesty's Government in passing this measure which is so much calculated to benefit national education in Ireland.I therefore desire most heartily and most strongly to support the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ (8.55.) MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)
I differ from some of the Members who sit on these Benches, inasmuch as I support the present Bill for what it is worth. There are many points in the Bill that I wish to see amended. I think that the compulsion is far too restricted. We require more compulsion. You should have the same power to compel a man to do his duty to his children as you have in this country. This compulsion is to be restricted to a few places, and not to those which want it most. Against compulsory education and against free education we have had the prophets of evil, just as we had them twenty-two years ago when the Education Bill was introduced by Mr. Forster. We were told that his Bill would uproot the Constitution, that crime would increase, that you would have to build more gaols, penitentiaries, and convict establishments, and that life and property would not be secure. Every one of these prophecies has been reversed, and there is nothing more consolatory than to take up the educational statistics in England side by side with the criminal statistics. We find that in the five years ending 31st December, 1869, 1,978 people were sentenced on indictment in England to penal servitude. That was when the population was twenty-one millions. But in twenty years after the passing of Mr. Forster's Act, when the population had increased by nine millions, the convicts had decreased to 729. Many people complained of the amount of money expended on education, but for it you have an excellent return in the diminu 264 tion of the money expended on prisons. No less than eight convict prisons in England, containing accommodation for upwards of six thousand prisoners, have been since 1882 assigned to other purposes. These prisons have been swept away by reason of the Education Act of 1870. We expect the same result in Ireland, we expect to increase our industry, we expect to turn our gaols to other purposes. The decrease of crime in England since education was made compulsory has saved £150,000 a year in spite of the increase of population, and we know that that amount represents a very large capitalised sum. The money, therefore, that was begrudged to education has produced large returns in every respect. This is a matter in which we may also take a lesson from other countries. At one time 95 per cent. of the French in Canada could not sign their names. That was a disastrous state of affairs, somewhat similar to that which exists in many parts of Ireland at the present time. The patriotic Canadians who advocated education were denounced as men animated by the worst ideas of the French Revolution. But the introduction of a splendid system of education produced excellent results, which were so well illustrated at the Colonial Exhibition in London. An analysis of the Returns for the counties of Ireland shows that illiteracy and pauperism go together. It is no use putting our heads in the sand, and, ostrich-like, believing that the rest of the world cannot see these things. It does see them. I may lose my seat in this House for what I am saying, but I do not weigh it against my duty under the circumstances. When we go into the history of other countries we find that it is illiteracy which conduces to the destruction of nations. The educated nations are the safe nations, and they are always victorious in war. In 1870, twenty per cent. of the soldiers of France were illiterate, and even men from the ecclesiastical colleges could not use the maps with which they were supplied by the French Government. Hence French soldiers lost their way, and were taken prisoners by the Germans; but there were no instances of Germans being similarly 265 made prisoners by the French. In Spain the Inquisition strangled education until, as the French Ambassador said, "Science was a crime and ignorance a virtue." The result is that Spain is now backward and non-progressive, in spite of her great mineral wealth. Holland, a little country with no such advantages as Spain, had an excellent system of education, and is now thriving and prosperous, whilst Spain is miserable and degraded. Those are the results of education, or the want of it, in nations. I will now say a word or two as to the political results of the want of education. I am in favour of manhood suffrage, but manhood suffrage has for its complement and supplement the right of universal education. Some illiterates are acute and able men, but unfortunately there are too many who cannot grasp the ideas of the age in which they live. Nothing that we have in the way of scientific skill or appliances has come from the rich. We have got it from the poor men. One of the benefits that education would give to the people would be self-reliance—it would enable them to mistrust the statements given on authority without examination. As this Parliament has educated the workmen of England, they have become self-reliant—they respect themselves more than they used to do; crime is less, and there are fewer inmates in the convict establishments, which are being turned to better purposes. Let compulsory education be given to Ireland, and to the same extent as in England. We cannot have too much of it. There is not the slightest danger of anybody being coerced more than they deserve to be. I am not afraid of there not being school accommodation for the children. There was not enough school accommodation in England when the Education Act came into force, but millions have been spent since then on schools and appliances. One special duty which is cast upon the Government in connection with this Bill is the protection of teachers, in order to prevent them being turned adrift after, perhaps, ten or fifteen years' service. I am in favour of giving teachers the right of appeal against the managers which they have not hitherto had. 266 Altogether, I think that the teachers have a claim upon this House and upon the Government such as no other class of men in Ireland have, and it is only right to say that the amount of money given under this Bill is entirely too small. It is only one-fifth of the sum which is annually spent on the Constabulary. The amount that is spent on education will be saved ultimately in prisons and in the reduction of crime. I intend to vote with the Chief Secretary in support of this Bill, but to amend it as far as I can in Committee. I hope that the Chief Secretary will consider the points which have been raised in a spirit of justice and equity towards the national teachers of Ireland.
§ *(9.26.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)
I agree with those who have argued that compulsion in the matter of education will not be well received by the people of Ireland at the hands of the power which dealt out coercion to them in other measures. When also one considers the relations of the clergy to the people of Ireland, it is impossible to leave out of account the opinions of the Bishops on the subject of a compulsory system. Some hon. Gentlemen have spoken very slightingly of the Catholic Bishops; but when we find that they represent three-fourths of the people of Ireland, it is impossible not to feel that the question must be very carefully considered. What we want to see in regard to education is that it shall be a system which is in full accord with the wishes of the people. A desire has been manifested by some sections of Protestants to hinder the full development of the Catholic population of Ireland. Now, that appears to me to be a great mistake. It is desirable to produce fully-equipped citizens instead of cramped and partially-developed members of the community. It is unfair to throw illiteracy in the face of the Catholic population, because Catholic education has been hindered by Protestants. If Catholics are behind Protestants in the matter of education, the fact is not to be wondered at; it is the inevitable result of past legislation. Anyone who examines the statistics contained in the Census Returns will now see that there has been a rise of educa 267 tion all over Ireland at quite as quick a rate among Catholics as among the Protestants. Gentlemen from Ulster have opposed undenominational education. I find that the religious denominations in Ulster, in comparison with the same denominations in other parts of Ireland, have more illiterates. As regards the Catholics, in seven out of the nine counties in Ulster about twenty per cent. are returned as illiterate, whereas it is only that in five of the eighteen counties of Munster and Leinster. In Armagh, Donegal, Londonderry, and Tyrone the Presbyterians are worse in the matter of education than the Presbyterians in other parts of Ireland. So that I do not think the systems of education in Ulster can be viewed as models. At present education in all its branches is narrowed. The national schools of Ireland have only twenty-five literary books to choose from, including geographies, whereas the London School Board has a list of 750 books of the same character. Then history is prohibited on the plea that Irish education must embrace nothing of a political character, but in the library of the London School Board on the Embankment I have seen books for use in the Board Schools as unfair as any Irish histories can be said to be, and religious prints and pictures are allowed that would not be allowed in an Irish Catholic School. So much regarding the general system. If there is one thing in which the Irish people are largely interested, it is this subject of education; and as regards the Christian Brothers, I have received more resolutions from Boards of Guardians and Town Councils respecting the exclusion of their schools from the grant than I have received on any other subject since I have been connected with this House. When I see how these Brothers have been entrusted with the care of boys, and when I remember that in Gibraltar and other possessions they are receiving grants, I do not discern how that course can be much longer neglected in Ireland. These men are devoting their lives to education; their schools are admirable, and the present attitude towards them is a violation of the very principle upon which Mr. Forster's Act was based. The very 268 essence of English legislation is that we avail ourselves of present institutions and powers, and as we have in the Christian Brothers a system working admirably, to fail to utilise it seems to me a very narrow policy. I do not think that the effort to force people to educate together is productive of so much real enlightenment and toleration as the wider system of education. I have seen the books used in the schools of the Christian Brothers, and those of the National Schools are not to be compared with them. Attending one of the celebrations at Cork last Christmas I examined the books given to the boys. The presents embraced the best English works, and indeed I do not believe it is possible in more than one case out of twenty to judge from the works the religious character of the institutions of the Christian Brothers. It is a great mistake to suppose that they are giving a narrow education, their whole endeavour being to bring out the faculties of the boys. It will be a great mistake if the Government does not lend them support. It will be impossible much longer to refuse to acknowledge the religious feeling of parents in Ireland. All parents desire that their children should be influenced by the religion they hold. I believe that our future depends largely upon education. If we are to be cramped in this connection, results in the domain of social advancement may be as disastrous as during last century, when efforts were made to put down our material prosperity.
§ MR. CONWAY (Leitrim, N.)
To my mind this Debate has been very insincere. The speech of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) did not convey the impression to my mind that he was insisting upon a Division. Neither did he move the rejection of the Bill. I come to the conclusion that the propositions he advanced were aired for the purpose of hoodwinking the Bishops of Ireland. There is no intention whatever to oppose this Bill, and it would have saved the time of the House if hon. Members on this side had refrained from opposing the Second Reading. The hon. Member for West Belfast said 269 there was no connection between the compulsory clauses of the Bill and the money grant. Why, we have been for the last twenty years taught by the hon. Member's friends that compulsory education could not be enforced unless it were accompanied by free education. We have compulsory education in the clauses of the Bill, followed by a money grant which pays for the extra work which the teachers in Ireland will have to discharge, so that I think there is a very near connection between compulsion and the money grant. I think that to-night the teachers of Ireland will find that they have good friends in the House of Commons. I venture to say that hon. Members who sat here when the First Reading was asked for applauded the compulsory clauses of the Bill, and shouted out jubilantly that it was time compulsion should be enforced in Ireland; and I think those Members will to-night give a silent vote in favour of the Bill. I myself was in doubt as to whether compulsion should be applied to Ireland until I heard the leader of the hon. Member for West Belfast declare that compulsion was necessary in some form or other. The words of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Justin McCarthy) on that occasion were—The right hon. Gentleman spoke at some length of compulsion. I never understood that there was in Ireland any absolute objection to the principle of compulsion, provided there was a certain amount of care in the time, the development, and the application of it. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken as to the necessity of elasticity in the application of the principle. What we want to know is whether the elasticity is to be elastic enough, and whether the elasticity always means that it will be elastic at the right time and in the right place.I venture to say there is enough elasticity in the Bill provided by the right hon. Gentleman. I know something of the compulsory clauses of the English Education Act, and I am satisfied that the clauses in this Bill are much easier than the clauses applicable to the people in this country. Three miles is the limit in England, two miles in Ireland, and where there is difficulty in the way of a child going to school, the limit may be decreased. Then, again, with regard to the exemption from attendance, there are provisions, and the 270 reasons are also taken into consideration. Thus there is plenty of elasticity with regard to the working of the compulsory part of the Bill. But while I approve of these conditions, I fear that the right hon. Gentleman will have some difficulty in carrying them out. If the Bill sins at all it sins in omission. Neither the Government nor the School Attendance Committee can carry out the provisions of this Bill unless ample accommodation is provided for the scholars in future. I remember that when Mr. Forster put forward his Act of 1870 he said he would scatter good schools throughout the country. When he made his average attendance 1,800,000, school places to the number of 1,500,000 were lacking, but the working of the Education Act since that time has provided places for 5,500,000 children. In the application of the compulsory clauses the late Mr. Forster saw that it was necessary to provide additional accommodation. The right hon. Gentleman has failed to make that provision. In reply to a question by me the right hon. Gentleman adduced statistics to show that in Ireland there was plenty of accommodation. If he will look at the last Report of the Commissioners of National Education he will find on page 1 a foot-note stating that the number of pupils on the rolls who made any attendances at our schools between 1st January and 31st December, 1890, was 1,037,000. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the average attendance of boys and girls was a little over 440,000, and that the accommodation was equal to 770,000 school places; but that leaves a deficiency of a quarter of a million of school places. Suppose you were to put these compulsory clauses into operation to-morrow, how would you provide places? It would be like trying to get a quart of liquid into a pint bottle. I trust before we go into Committee on this Bill that the right hon. Gentleman will do something in the direction of increased accommodation. To-day I asked a question with regard to certain insanitary schools in the County Tyrone. Of that answer I have nothing to complain; but those schools are not alone. There are many insanitary schools in Ireland, and for that reason 271 the attendance is in many cases low. If we add children who on account of insanitary conditions do not attend school, the necessity for increased accommodation is further shown. I am prepared to give my hearty support to the compulsory clauses believing that the Government will provide the necessary school places, and by making the schools satisfactory in a sanitary sense remove cause for hesitation as to sending children to school. As compulsion will cast additional work upon the teachers, I think the £210,000 is rightly allocated to them. I go quite as far as any Member on this side of the House in my regard for the Christian Brothers. My earliest recollections are in connection with them. And although they are doing a good work in Ireland we must remember that these schools are really secondary schools. Although I deprecate this discussion, and believe it to be half-hearted and misleading in its character, yet I am of opinion that great good will result to Ireland by the Bill, and I shall give it my cordial support.
§ (10.2.) MR. TIMOTHY HEALY (Longford, N.)
I have observed that during the Debate the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Jackson) has been lying supine on the Treasury Bench.
§ MR. JACKSON
The hon. Member has not observed correctly. I have carefully followed the discussion, and am waiting to reply.
§ MR. HEALY
Now, as I understand, the Government wants to get through all the Supply and a certain number of small Bills soon after the Whitsuntide holidays. It, therefore, comes to this: You may love your Bill very much, and you may dislike your opponents very much, but what prevails in this prosaic place, after all, is what is called practical politics. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson), flushed by the enthusiasm of the speech just 272 delivered from this side of the House, may get up and make a very demonstrative speech in favour of this Bill, and he may say that he will die on the floor before he will surrender a clause; but, Sir, we are going to the country in June, and I beg the right hon. Gentleman to cut his coat according to his cloth, and to be good enough to moderate any excess of ambition he may possess at this period of the Session with regard to this Bill. We have been challenged, Mr. Speaker, to go into the Lobby against this Bill. Well, I have no intention to do otherwise. My hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) has put one or two points with great cogency. First and foremost, it is the Local Authorities who will have to enforce attendance under this Act. And here let me say that in the abstract I am in favour of compulsory education; and if you will allow us to draw up a Bill and pass it, I venture to say we will succeed in getting more children on to the school register than you will do by means of this Bill. I deny that there is any genuineness or sincerity in the mind of the Government with regard to benefitting Ireland. Why do they force upon us Bills we do not want, and refuse us Bills which we are clamouring for? It is absurd to suppose that the Chief Secretary can know what will be to the advantage of my country better than I do. The right hon. Gentleman comes from somewhere in Leeds; he is leased to us in Ireland for a short time; he draws a handsome salary for governing our country, and, under those circumstances, he thinks he is justified in dogmatising as to the manner in which my children are to be educated. How would the right hon. Gentleman like me to go to Leeds, and if I succeeded in getting on to the School Board there, boss the education of his children? Now, Sir, I will make an offer. Give us the same municipal franchise as you have in England, and we will allow this Bill to be passed without loss of time. Is that a fair offer? I think a proper Motion to make on this occasion would be one to the effect that this House is not prepared to proceed with a Bill of this kind without the existence of Local Authorities, constituted in the 273 same manner as in this country. I think a Motion of that kind would put Gentlemen in somewhat of a difficulty, because they are refusing to extend to Ireland the same facilities in connection with this Bill as exists in England and Scotland. If there is anything that makes me tired in this House it is listening to comparisons between Irish, and English, and Scotch Bills. Whenever it suits, the English and Scotch systems are thrust down our throats; but the moment we ask for a Bill on the same model, we are refused—the medicine is not good for Ireland. A foreign doctor prescribes for us out of a foreign pharmacopæia and in a foreign language. I am glad the First Lord has come into the House; and I will repeat the offer I have already made—namely, that if the Government will give us the same franchise for Ireland as in England and Scotland, they can pass their Bill practically without discussion. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) does not feel inclined, any more than the Chief Secretary, to accept that offer, and yet I have not the smallest doubt that his Primrose League tight-rope performances during the next mouth will consist of denunciations of the Irish Members for obeying the dictates of Catholic Bishops and refusing to allow this Bill to become law. I contend that the refusal of the Government to pass the Bill upon the conditions I have suggested shows the unreality of their desire to benefit Ireland in the matter of education, and I warn the Government that unless they allow the English conditions to obtain, we will make it impossible for them to pass this Bill. In addition to requiring the English franchise, we insist upon compulsory sites for schools, just the same as is the case in this country. Unless we possess that power, it will be absolutely impossible for us in many cases to obtain a site on which to erect a school. As evidence of this, I might refer to the Isle of Annan, where the Lord Lieutenant had to protest against the local landlords, who would not give him a square rood of land on which to build a school for the unhappy islanders. That is a most essential point. Another thing the Irish Members will not tolerate is the 274 power to remove or dissolve the School Attendance Committee. Again, we insist upon the application of the English model. These are three cardinal matters upon which we are entitled to satisfaction. Now, Sir, we hear a good deal about the benefits of education; but what is education? I might as well ask, with Pilate, "What is truth?" The teaching that goes on from the text books provided by the Education Department is absurd, and I think the children should be protected from learning such stuff. The whole system is a gross absurdity. You bring a lot of young men to Dublin and cram them with what is little better than nonsense. Here is one thing they have to pass in. The examiners take some of the brutally spelt words of the language we are now talking, and they say, "State the number of exceptions to the second rule of spelling." Would anybody be less uneducated if he were unable to state the exceptions to the rules of spelling? Could the brilliant statesmen on the Treasury Bench tell the House what those exceptions are? I denounce as an atrocity these absurd rules, which a number of pundits in the Education Department have got together. A breath of sweet air should be sent blowing through all these educational cobwebs. Then there is your splendid system of grammar. Would anybody be a bit the worse if they did not know it? Why should children be taught grammar? And yet, forsooth, fathers are to be fined five shillings for every day their children are not sent to school to learn it. I went into a school in Donegal a couple of years ago, and I found that not a child there could speak English, although they could all read it; and that was going on under the presidency of Sir Patrick Keenan, who, twenty years before, when a School Inspector, denounced, in connection with this very county, the system of teaching a child to read a language which they did not understand. I ask the Government if that is a sensible system to adopt. I say, if these children are to be compulsorily educated, let it be in their own language; and here I must remind the House of what goes on in Wales and the Highlands of Scotland. As I 275 understand, the Welsh children are allowed to pass in the Welsh language, and the Gaelic children in the Gaelic language; and I can assure the Chief Secretary for Ireland that, when we come to discuss what education is in Committee, we will put down Amendments with a view to his enlightenment on this subject, and we will thresh out the question whether the children in Donegal and similar parts of Ireland are to be compelled to learn a language as foreign to them as the Chinese, when they might get a decent education in their own language. We often hear the stupidity of the illiterate Irish peasant denounced; but if I had to spend my life on a desert island with either an Irish peasant or an Irish Chief Secretary, I should prefer to be with the peasant. Although these peasants are not educated in any sense of the word, yet they have just as much intelligence and shrewdness as those who despise them. The habit of denouncing them indulged in by the English prigs and Philistines is galling and detestable to me. And now I will say a few words about the teaching of the Christian Brothers—a worthy body of men, earning no salary, but proud to live on the charity of the people. These men devote their lives to celibacy and good works and to the education of the children of Ireland; but their offence is that they put up their crucifix in the schools. It reminds me of an old parish priest, who once remarked to me that, apparently, the lion and the unicorn meant Christianity, whilst the crucifix was the symbol of idolatry. These are the sentiments that prevail amongst our enlightened masters. Because the Christian Brothers, who devote their days and nights to good works, put up a crucifix in their schools, the British nostril goes up to an angle of seventy-five degrees. These Christian Brothers provide an education suitable to the wants of the people; but as long as it does not square with the rules laid down by the English Government they are refused all State aid. Then we object to a system which would compel children to be educated under a Board, composed of men who are, with very few exceptions, altogether opposed to the principles 276 and aspirations of the Irish people. And who are the gentlemen under whom this system is to be enforced? There are a number of gentlemen who have been expelled from Parliament because they did not represent the wishes of the people; there is the leading Primroser of Ireland—in fact, the Board seems to consist of one or two Judges, a County Court Judge, a Protestant minister, and a lot of expelled Members of Parliament, and you ask us to bow down and worship a Board of that kind. First reform the Board and put on it men whom the people trust, and do not attempt to administer, by means of a Board which is repugnant and hateful to the Irish people, an exclusive system which would leave 70,000 Catholics at the mercy of an alien religion. It has been held that if a man spends an hour in gaol for non-payment of a fine he loses the franchise, and the House will see how the Catholics of West Belfast and Derry are likely to fare in this respect. The Orange Corporation of Belfast cannot be trusted in a matter of this kind. The Catholics are the poorest portion of the country and the Protestants the richest. I know you represent that that is due to your superior education, but I attribute it simply to robbery in past times. If the Government desire to introduce some alleviation into the minds of the Irish people on this matter, I beg of them to recognise the Christian Brothers' Schools. There may be some principle of British logic which affords a reason why you should not do as we want, but we do not want your logic or your reasons; we want you to act on the wishes of the people. If you do not wish to give the people what they want, you can always find logic and reason on your side; but if you want to act in accordance with the wishes of the people, those wishes are that the Christian Brothers should be recognised, and should receive the assistance to which their work entitles them. Pay the men for the work they do, and if you find that they turn out children as well as the other schools pay them accordingly. What has the crucifix to do with it? I take the strongest exception to the bona fides of the Government in relation to a Reso 277 lution which was passed in this House the other day. We asked that a rule as to the use of schools for meetings should be applied to Ireland, but we were told that it was not suited to our country, and you refused it. Then how do you make out that this system is suited to Ireland? Who is to be the judge of suitability? Is it always to be the Tory Government? You say that one thing is not suited to the genius of the Irish people. But surely the Irish people know better than you, and now we make a demand that the Irish people should have their own way, and we are refused on the opposite ground. But this question is so entangled with contentious questions that I am afraid, unless the Government is prepared to concede something as to what is suited to the genius of the Irish people, there is very little chance of getting this Bill through this Session. I look upon this Bill as a Greek gift, not honestly or fairly intended. Of compulsory education in the abstract I am in favour, but it is given in this Bill under a guise which from its nature is entitled to, and will receive, the strongest opposition.
§ (10.40.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
I am sure everybody will appreciate the new character in which the hon. and learned Gentleman appears as the champion of chivalry and courtesy, and also his new character as the deliverer of Ireland from all its wrongs by a policy of preventing the poor peasant in Donegal from learning the English language. I think, if we contemplate the children of those poor peasants growing up under his system and only able to speak the Irish language, he will see that they may live to curse rather than to bless him.
§ MR. TIMOTHY HEALY
What I spoke of was the system of Sir Patrick Keenan in teaching the children English through the medium of the Irish language. The children at present are not being taught English, but only to read a few words in English.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am glad to find that I misunderstood the hon. Gentleman. He gave the impression that he 278 complained that they were being taught to spell words in English, and I understood that he preferred that they should not learn English at all.
§ MR. JACKSON
I hope, if they are not being taught to read English, they will be. There can be no question that it is our bounden duty, in the interests of the children themselves, to see that education is conferred on them in the way that will be most advantageous to them. I will now refer to some of the points that have been raised in the Debate, and I do not think it is necessary for me to argue the question of compulsion, because, as I understand, the principle is admitted by everybody. It is desirable to have some method of compulsion, not for the sake of having compulsion, but with the object of insuring a better average of continuous attendance at school. I have heard, in the course of this Debate, no proposal which would take the place of compulsion and secure the object better. No one can deny that, from whatever point we look at it, there is room in the average attendance of children at school in Ireland for great improvement. There is room not only to make the attendance more regular and continuous, but also to make a much better average attendance than is made now. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), in a speech of great ability and clearness, in which he put his points with great force, referred to the question of the relative attendance of children at school in England and in Ireland. I have gone very carefully into the figures, and I cannot in the slightest degree depart from the statement I made in introducing this Bill. I have compared the average attendance with the number on the rolls for England and for Ireland, and I have found this result. Whilst in England the percentage of average attendance to the numbers on the rolls 279 is about seventy-nine, the percentage in Ireland is only about fifty-nine. That, I say, is a great discrepancy, especially when compared with the facts in 1871, when the average attendance in Ireland was practically better than the average attendance in England.
§ MR. SEXTON
The right hon. Gentleman has been told before that there are a million children in England who are not on the rolls. Why does he not take the percentage on the population, and then he would find that there is only a difference of about three-quarters per cent. between the two countries?
§ MR. JACKSON
The hon. Member seems to think that the number on the rolls in Ireland is relatively larger than it is in England; but if the figures are tested in that way it will be found that the percentage in England works out to 16.3, and in Ireland to 17.8.
§ MR. JACKSON
How he makes that percentage from the official Returns I am at a loss to understand. I am taking the figures of the Education Department, but if the hon. Gentleman prefers to take into account the million that he has stated it makes his case very much worse.
§ MR. SEXTON
Why should not the right hon. Gentleman take the percentage attendance on the population, and then it would be seen that there is very little difference between England and Ireland.
§ MR. JACKSON
That again will not serve him, because, although we may take credit for a great deal, we cannot take credit for the English families being larger than the Irish families. I do not admit that the number of children is larger in proportion to the population than in Ireland.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am afraid it is impossible to carry on a consecutive argument under these circumstances.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think it will be found, if the figures are carefully examined, that the position which I desired to state is accurate, and that is that 280 the average attendance in Ireland is much worse than the average attendance in England. That is the point I want to bring before the House. If that were the only truth I believe that would be a sufficient justification. But on the principle of compulsion I would make this remark. If it is true that there are on the rolls in Ireland eight hundred thousand or a million children, the only object we have is to try and induce or compel these children to make a better average attendance at school. There is no change in the schools to which these children are asked to go. There is no wish on the part of the Government to bring about any change. We only wish to bring to bear some pressure that will enable the teachers to get a better average attendance of scholars. I am willing to admit frankly what the hon. Member for West Belfast has said about the desire of Irish parents to have their children educated, but I must make the admission as applying to some and not to all. Something has been said to-night about the difference between the towns and the counties, between the cities and the rural districts. It is a curious fact that although you might have expected in the rural districts, where the schools are wide apart and the population is scattered, that education would be less advanced than in the cities, where the schools are near and the facilities for attendance are greater, as a matter of fact the very opposite is the case. The percentage of illiterates of children of school age is considerably greater in the cities than it is in the country districts. There is another curious fact—that both apparently in the cities and in the country districts the education of the women is better than the education of the men. I will give a few figures, and they are figures from the last Census Returns, showing the illiteracy computed upon the numbers of the population between the ages of nine and twelve, and I will take the column for males. The House will take it from me that the proportion of illiteracy is smaller amongst females than amongst males. In Donegal County there are sixteen per cent. of illiterates between the ages of nine and twelve; in Waterford, 11.4; in Wex 281 ford, twelve; in Galway, 13.7. The others range from about three up to nine per cent. In Dublin City the percentage is 14.9; in Limerick, 11.6; in Waterford City, 14.7; in Galway City, 14.5. The percentage of illiterates in the cities as a whole is 9.3, whereas the percentage in the counties is only 8.1. Therefore the percentage of illiterates in the cities is, as I have said, greater than in the country districts. Between the ages of nine and twenty there are in Ireland, according to the last Census, no fewer than 78,900 persons who can neither read nor write. I think that is a condition of things which it is our duty to alter, it is our duty to find a remedy for. That is not a fault of the existing system. It is the fault of those persons who neglect to see that their children go to school. There are some other figures that I might have referred to; but I will state this fact generally: that of the children who fill the industrial and reformatory schools in Ireland only six per cent. can read and write.
§ MR. JACKSON
I agree that many of them are deserted, but it is exactly these children we want to get into the schools.
§ MR. JACKSON
There will be no difficulty in dealing with deserted children, and children who fill the industrial and reformatory schools, as well as with other children under this Bill. But what I wanted to point out was that a very large proportion of the children who are sent into these industrial and reformatory schools are sent there from the cities, and we think this is a very serious condition of things. We have more illiterates, and worse attendance; we have more crime, and more children who are being brought up in crime, in the cities than in the country. It has been said by the hon. Member for West Belfast that compulsion is not suited to Ireland, and apparently it has been put forward that it is not suited to the Roman Catholic portion of Ireland. All I would say on that 282 point is this. There are a large number of Roman Catholic schools in this country, and I see no difference between the Roman Catholic schools in this country and the Roman Catholic schools in Ireland as regards the ability to give average attendance. In England the average attendance at the Roman Catholic schools is just as good as it is in the Board schools or in the Chinch of England schools; and, therefore, it is not a question of religion. The cost of education in Ireland is far higher than it is in England, and therefore I think it is quite clear, as regards the application of compulsion, that that is not a question which can be more objectionable to the Roman Catholics in Ireland than it is in England. I believe the Roman Catholics in England would be the first to acknowledge that the application of compulsion in this country has contributed largely to benefit their schools and to improve the average attendance. With regard to the other points that were raised I need only say a few words. The hon. Member for West Belfast referred to the resolution passed by the Bishops, and said that any resolution passed by such a body was deserving of every respect and of the most careful consideration. One of the objections raised was with regard to the supply of schools; it was pointed out that more schools were wanted and that a better supply of schools ought to be provided. I entirely agree with the view that if it be found that, by reason of increased attendance, the schools are either overcrowded or there are not schools enough, more progress ought to be made in the building of schools. It must not be supposed, however, that nothing is being done in that direction. We are making grants to the extent of £40,000 a year in aid of the building of schools in Ireland, and the process of building additional schools and replacing the old ones is going on at a fairly satisfactory rate. Another question was the want of facilities for training teachers. I favour as strongly as anyone the providing of additional, facilities for training teachers and improving the qualifications of those who have not been trained. To my mind it is one of the blots on the education 283 system in Ireland that we have practically only one-third of the teachers in the national schools who are trained teachers—only one-third hold certificates as trained teachers. In this respect the Roman Catholics are worse off than the Protestants, for of the Roman Catholic teachers only one-fourth are trained teachers, while about fifty-two per cent. of the Protestant teachers are trained. Anything which can be done to improve the training and the supply of trained teachers will have my active support. Reference was made to the establishment of local infant schools. I say that it would be impossible to provide infant schools apart from the other schools, because the children who attend them could hardly come and go without someone to take care of them, and it is a great convenience if the small children can go to school with the elder ones. I think the objection could be met by the provision of better school accommodation. Now, Sir, a point to which great importance has been attached, and which I admit is important, was raised by the hon. Members for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) and West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), who both attached great weight to it. It is that no provision is made in the Bill of compulsory powers for the acquisition of sites. I think the House will agree that if the case can be made out—one or two instances were given—that there are cases where land is refused for sites for schools, the difficulty must be got over by giving compulsory powers, and I think it will be possible to bring up a clause to meet the case. Reference was made to indirect compulsion and the limiting of employment. As regards indirect compulsion I am bound to say, so far as I am able to understand the proposals that have been made, we might arrive at this result: You would prohibit employment, and unless you took some steps to secure education the children would be neither employed nor educated, which I think would be a rather worse position than the present one, for there would be no advantage in keeping the children idle unless you are going to get them into the schools, and they would be better in employment than idling about the streets. I do not think, therefore, the proposals are 284 very practicable. Reference was made to the convent schools, that they were badly paid. The Bill deals with money now at our disposal, and I will venture to say that, as regards the allocation to convent schools under this Bill of their portion of £210,000, they have no injustice done to them. It will be generally admitted that they have been treated fairly, but it must be borne in mind that convent schools have it in their power to be paid on exactly the same terms as any other schools. They can come forward and adopt classification, and be paid class salaries; twenty-five of these schools are so paid. The other two hundred and forty-seven are paid by capitation grant, but very much better than they used to be; and it is admitted that, as regards the allocation of the money under this Bill, we have done full justice to them. The hon. Member for West Belfast raised several other objections, one of which was—and his words made considerable impression on me, as I desire the protection of every creed—that there is no provision for the representation of the various denominations on the Attendance Committees or among the officers. I have all the way through desired that there should be no friction, no injustice done either to Protestant or Catholic; and anything I can do to prevent friction and to give due representation, so that there shall be no feeling of injustice on one side or the other, I will do.
§ MR. JACKSON
Well, that would neither meet the difficulty nor remedy it. I think some Amendment might be made in Committee which would secure that not less than one of each denomination should be on the Attendance Committee, and that there should be a proportional representation of the various denominations on the Boards of Management. My own impression is that you could not have a more practical body to work what is called compulsion, but what I desire to call ensuring better attendance at schools, than a committee consisting largely of school managers themselves; and if some plan of that sort would meet the view of the hon. Gentleman, I should be glad, as far as I can, to carry it out, as it is not opposed to the principle 285 of the Bill, and is desired in more than one quarter. I will endeavour to find some words to meet the case. The hon. Member referred to the Education Department's power to fix the number of attendances. On the introduction of the Bill I stated that our object was to give as much elasticity as possible in this respect, and not to have a hard and fast rule applied to both town and country. There might be some districts in which it was possible, without inconvenience, to have a better average of attendance than in others, and I thought it desirable that that should be taken into account. My view was that it was better to leave it to the Education Department, but if it is thought better to leave it to the School Attendance Committees of large districts to fix the minimum number of attendances, subject to the approval of the Education Department, I do not see any objection to that. Then, with regard to the power of the Education Department to supersede the Attendance Committees. Well, Sir, I am no lover of the power of superseding bodies of this description; but I say it is no use, it is futile, to form a committee and entrust it with important duties of this description unless you provide some means of enforcing their fulfilment in case of failure or refusal. I think the proposal in the Bill is the best. If we were to insert a new election instead of that proposal, the Department might call upon the Local Authority to elect a new committee, but there would be no power to enforce it.
§ MR. SEXTON
There would be the same power to enforce a new election as to enforce any other election.
§ MR. JACKSON
I have thought, in the absence of any better plan, that that suggestion in the Bill is the simplest and most effective. If any hon. Member has a better plan I shall be glad to consider it. Now, Sir, with regard to the question of the Christian Brothers. I felt this, listening, as I did, to the hon. Member for Waterford: I wondered why the Christian Brothers did not come within the rules of the Education Department. There was nothing in the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Webb) to show that the Christian Brothers do anything 286 that would shut them outside the reasonable limits laid down by the Education Department; and my surprise is, listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford, that the Christian Brothers do not take advantage of this grant from the Education Commissioners. It entirely rests with themselves. And if we are to believe, as I do believe—I do not dispute it—the descriptions which have been given of the Christian Brothers' Schools in this House, it is to me a matter of the greatest surprise—
§ MR. JACKSON
The Education Department are perfectly willing to admit them, and the fact is that the Christian Brothers themselves were at one time under the Education Department, and did receive a grant, and they themselves took their departure.
§ MR. JACKSON
Listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Waterford and the description he gave of the Christian Brothers' Schools, I really am at a loss to understand why the Christian Brothers refuse to accept the grant of the Education Department. It cannot be a question of religion, because we have the fact that there are about 70,000 children in convent and monastery schools in Ireland, some of these schools being controlled by the friends of the Christian Brothers; and we have nearly 70,000 children who do receive a grant from the Education Department, and I cannot for the life of me conceive—and, as I heard him, the hon. Member said nothing to show—why the Christian Brothers should keep themselves outside the rules of the Education Department. I think I have touched upon most of the points which I have heard raised, and I hope I may now make an appeal—
§ MR. JACKSON
With regard to the franchise, I do not think the franchise is a question which has any relevancy to, or any connection with, the Bill which is now before the House. I do not suppose for one moment that the hon. Member for North Longford or any other hon. Member can give any reason why we should mix up the question of the 287 franchise in Ireland with the question of education. But I hope I have said sufficient to show hon. Members opposite that there is no desire on the part of the Government to do otherwise than to try to meet, as far as they can consistently with the principle of the Bill, any hon. Member on any of the details. I believe the Bill will confer great benefits on the children of Ireland, and I do hope, and I make this earnest appeal to hon. Members on behalf of the children of Ireland, that they will not refuse to give to these children the great boon which this Bill will undoubtedly confer upon them.
§ (11.20.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
I do not intend to detain the House for more than one minute. As to the question of the Christian Brothers, I regret the right hon. Gentleman has not made any concession. I think that any one who had listened to this Debate would be convinced that on no point has a stronger case been made out than in the case of the Christian Brothers. It is intimately connected with the question of the main object of the Bill, the effect of which will be to destroy in many cases the separate schools of the Christian Brothers. The right hon. Gentleman asked how it was that this religious order, who at one time allowed their schools, or some of them, to come under the National Board, now refused to accept a grant from the Education Department. In the first place, the reason is because the rules of the Board have been changed, and that prevents them from coming under it.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think the hon. Member cannot for a moment be prepared to assert that the Christian Brothers left in consequence of the alteration of the rules.
§ MR. KNOX
I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that the course taken by the Christian Brothers was partly in consequence of the alteration of the rules, and that it was partly in consequence of the way in which the rules were worked. We know now that these rules were worked by some members of the Board for the purpose of proselytism. That, combined with the rule which prevented emblems being used in the schools, drove them out; and all 288 they ask is that that rule should be removed, and that the same liberty should be given in the choice of books that is given to every voluntary school in England. I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman could go down to his constituency in England and tell them that they were to have no books in their voluntary schools in England, if they were to get a Government grant, except those that were prescribed by the Education Minister of the day? I wonder how they would have liked it if, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield was Education Minister, he had prescribed all the books which were to be used in the schools. They would not have stood it for a moment, and the Christian Brothers only ask for the same liberty in this matter as is enjoyed by the English voluntary schools. But, perhaps, the most important point upon which the right hon. Gentleman has not met us is as to the question of the franchise. On the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill the same question was raised. Now the Local Government Bill is no longer practically before the House. If the right hon. Gentleman had met us by saying that in the event of the Local Government Bill not being proceeded with he would give facilities for passing this Session the Bill to confer a wider municipal franchise on Ireland, I think we should have been able to allow this Bill to pass the Second Reading without a Division. He has unfortunately not given us any such undertaking. The inclusion of the Christian Brothers' Schools in the system of national education is a matter on which no legislation is necessary. I think it only needs a slight alteration in the rules, which can be made by the Executive Authority of the Irish National Education Board. If without any such alteration, or without any change in the present narrow and restricted suffrage in the majority of the Irish towns, the Bill, as proposed, is to pass into law almost in its present shape, it will be found to be ineffective. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Paper.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "until the Local Authority charged with the
administration of compulsory powers is elected on a franchise similar to that which prevails in England and Scotland, and the scheme of free education is fairly applied to all efficient elementary schools, this House is not prepared to proceed with this Bill."—(Mr. Knox.)
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ (11.25.) The House divided:—Ayes 152; Noes 53.—(Div. List, No. 153.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.