Motion made, and Question proposed:
3. "That a sum, not exceeding £630,291, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1898, for the expenses of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland.
MR. T. M. HEALY
remarked that there had been considerable complaint as to the action of the Government respecting the arrears due to the Teachers' Pension Fund.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
understood that there had been an arrangement that this discussion as to the claim for arrears should be taken on the Vote for the sum in aid of the Teachers' Pension Fund.
§ MR. DILLON
thought it would he impossible to allow the Vote to pass without some discussion of the matter, especially as a large part of the Report of the Education Commissioners was devoted to the whole controversy on this question of arrears.
MR. T. M. HEALY
considered that if the Chief Secretary assured them the matter could be discussed on the Friday 996 following in accordance with some arrangement, the next week would suffice for the discussion as well as this.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
would not say there was a definite arrangement, but there was some conversation between the Secretary to the Treasury and the hon. Member for East Mayo, as a result of which he understood that it was generally recognised that the most convenient occasion for discussing all questions in connection with the Pension Fund would be when the Vote came on for the money in aid of that fund.
§ *MR. HANBURY
explained that the hon. Member for East Mayo came to consult him about the order of the Votes, and he told the hon. Gentleman that he did not think they should be able to bring on the matter in connection with the Education Vote, but that the Government would agree that the Education Vote should be taken, leaving the question of the arrears until the Vote for the sum in aid of the Pension Fund was brought on, which might be on the following Friday. The hon. Member promised to see him later on, but the opportunity did not arise. The impression left on his mind was that the hon. Gentleman had undertaken, so far as he was concerned, that he would not raise the question of the Teachers' Pension Fund on this Vote, but that he was only anxious to raise those questions which could ordinarily be raised in connection with the present Vote.
§ MR. DILLON
said the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat misapprehended the matter. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke to him he told him that the Government had some difficulty about taking the Education Vote, as the Supplementary Papers relating to the teachers' pension had not been circulated. He then asked the right hon. Gentleman would it not be possible on the Education Vote to state the policy of the Government, although the Estimates had not been circulated. The reply was yes, but the Irish Members might complain of the Education Vote being brought on before the additional Estimates for the teachers' pensions were printed and circulated. He then told the right hon. Gentleman that he would submit that for the consideration of the teachers themselves, and he himself would be largely guided by their convenience. The right 997 hon. Gentleman distinctly stated it would be possible for the Government to expound their policy on the teachers' pension question in the course of the Debate, and on those conditions he told the Secretary to the Treasury that the Irish Members for whom he spoke would waive the question of the Supplementary Estimates not having been circulated. He gave no hint that they should not raise the question of the condition of the Teachers' Pension Fund its this Debate, which he considered of importance.
MR. T. M. HEALY
thought it was immaterial whether they took the discussion of the Pension Fund now or next week. He desired to call attention to the position of the Model Schools in Ireland, as to which the Government ought certainly to be expected to make some statement. It was rather unfortunate that although the attention of the Chief Secretary had been directed to the matter by no fewer than six Questions, the Departmental Committee had not been pressed to make their Report, and hon. Members were still without information as to the policy of the Government upon the subject. The Vote had previously been prefaced by a. laudatory paragraph stating that the extra expenditure under the Vote was due to the exceptional character of the education given in the model schools. That paragraph had been altogether omitted from the present Vote. What was the reason for the omission—that the convent schools of Ireland, which did not receive a third of the Vote for the model schools, turned out pupils who took higher prizes and passed better examinations than those in the model schools. A Departmental Commission had the matter under consideration, and he expressed his sorrow at the death of the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, who took a sensible view of this question, and the loss the country had sustained on the National Board by his death and by the resignation of Lord Justice Fitzgibbon. That Lord Justice Fitzgibbon should have been allowed to resign without an expression of regret for the services he had rendered to education from his particular point of view was more than he could understand. The remaining Protestants had assented to the appointment of a Departmental Committee, and he was told that the revelations from 998 an educationist point of view would involve the sweeping away or entire rearrangement of the system. Whichever way England ruled Ireland he should have thought John Bull would have insisted on getting value for his money. But he did not get it. In three of the provinces in Ireland practically no Catholic would attend the model schools, and in Limerick an absolute inhibition was laid on the attendance of Catholics. Protestants had valuable foundations in the South of Ireland, and these model schools were kept up in the interests of a minority of the minority; the general body of the people had neither part nor lot in them, and the Government did not get from them fair and reasonable educational results. The Government had notice that the schools would be discussed on the Vote, and the report of the Committee, or the evidence as far as it had been taken, should have been presented. They had neither, and were groping in the dark as to what was the view of the Committee. The Government should have pressed the Committee for an ad interim report or supplied the evidence already taken, so that they might pass on the subject before the Vote was taken. He hoped the Chief Secretary would postpone the Vote until the House had the report. Why should the House of Commons be asked to vote money for an effete system which was turning out results in no way commensurate with the enormous sums expended upon it. He moved the reduction of the Vote by £4,000, which, he said, practically represented the items for the model schools.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
replied that the attention of the Committee had been called to the undoubted fact of the great expense of the model schools. It was only lately that the Committee had begun their investigation, and the laudatory paragraph to which the hon. and learned Member had alluded was omitted because it would be obviously absurd, when an investigation was going on into the position of the schools and the system under which they were carried on, to preface the Vote with a laudatory paragraph concerning them. The matter being sub judice, it naturally followed that the laudatory paragraph should be omitted. The hon. Member said the Government should have insisted on an 999 interim report. But when a Government appointed a Commission or Committee of Inquiry on any subject, it could not insist on its reporting by a given date. The result might be that the investigation would be inadequate and incomplete. The Commissioners had undertaken to report, and, no doubt, would present their report as soon as it was ready. The Government, and previous Governments, had been painfully aware of the great cost of model schools, and had urged that some steps should be taken to reduce it. When the Government had the Report of the Commissioners, they would be able to decide what steps they would take. Before they had that Report it would be premature to act. The hon. Member thought the Vote might be omitted this year. That could not be done in any case, because if the Commissioners reported that the systems under which the model schools were carried on required alteration, anything done would have to be done in a future financial year, and not in the present. He regretted as much as the hon. and learned Member that the Committee were not in a position to discuss the matter with that full information before them which the Commissioners would eventually supply. It would be idle for the Government to come to a conclusion on the matter now, and all he could say was that it would have careful attention.
MR. T. M. HEALY
asked did the right hon. Gentleman throw the blame upon the National Board? His questions were three months old, and in those questions he pressed for the Report as a necessity. Did the Chief Secretary throw the blame for the delay on the Commissioners?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said he threw blame on nobody, all he said was that it was not the fault of the Government. The Government were not in a position to bring pressure to bear, and he did not know that the Commissioners were in a position to report.
MR. T. M. HEALY
said that he, as a protest against these non-Christian schools, which cost twice as much as Christian schools, giving but half the results, would take a Division against the Vote, trusting, however, if he interpreted the statement of the right hon. Gentleman rightly, that by next year, 1000 after he had received the Report from the Commissioners, should it disclose, as it must disclose, for the facts were undeniable, the state of things he had indicated, the Government would be prepared for a root-and-branch reform, and would not say there was no time to deal with the subject. There was no time apparently for dealing with any Irish reform, though for English reforms time and money were always available.
§ MR. DALY
said his hon. and learned Friend had rightly said there was too much favouritism shown towards these schools. Taking an instance of two teachers, the one in a model school, the other in a national school; the first-mentioned assistant received £10 in annual salary more than the national school assistant teacher, though they performed the same work. The model school teachers were made the pets of the Department, but simply because the national school teachers came from the class of the majority of the people of Ireland, they, for performing the same work, were paid lower salaries. He commended this to the attention of the Chief Secretary, assuring him that the subject would not be allowed to rest, but by questions and all other means attention would be drawn to it until national school assistant teachers were raised to the same level of pay as the model school assistant teachers. The right hon. Gentleman misinterpreted the question put to him earlier in the day, suggesting that it was proposed to bring down the salaries of the model school teachers to the level of those paid to national school teachers. That was not his meaning. He desired to have the national school salaries raised. It was to be hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to make up the difference in salary, for it was most unfair that the class of teachers drawn from the Catholic majority of the people of Ireland should be paid at a lower rate than the teachers representing the Protestant minority in the model schools.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said this was one of the many questions the Commissioners would have to investigate. He did not misunderstand the purport of the hon. Member's question, though it would seem the hon. Gentleman had misunderstood the answer given. Of course, he understood the hon. Member desired that the level of the pay should be 1001 raised. The discussion now raised depended on the greater cost of the model schools as compared with other schools. The course suggested by the hon. Member would not tend to economy, but the reverse.
§ Question put, "That Item D (Model Schools) be reduced by £4,000."
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes, 42; Noes, 160.—(Division List, No. 265.)
§ MR. DILLON
called attention to the arrears of the fee grant. The Report of the Board of National Education in Ireland showed that a very large sum of money, estimated at £72,477, was in arrear. Of that sum a small amount had, since the discussion had arisen, been paid, but there was still a sum of about £70,000 unpaid. These sums, if they had been paid, would have gone, not to the Teachers' Pension Fund, but direct into the pocket of the teachers, and the result, therefore, had been to take from these poor people a portion of the salary to which they were entitled. The question had passed through several stages. For a long time the Government resisted the claim to the payment of these arrears. Then they admitted the claim, but maintained that it was a matter of past history, and that they were only bound to see that in the future no similar injustice was done. But in July last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech in which he admitted that there was an injustice—that these arrears had been unjustly withheld from the teachers, and that the Government was under an obligation. But the right hon. Gentleman said that by making an additional grant to the Teachers' Pension Fund, which was alleged to be in an insolvent position, the Government had adopted the only practical means of remedying the injustice. He denied that proposition. This question ought to be treated on its merits, and apart from the question of the Pension Fund whether that fund was absolutely solvent or not. The right hon. Gentleman said it was impossible to distribute the arrears amongst the teachers on account of the changes which had taken place, but he ventured to say that if this sum was distributed amongst the teachers as closely as possible as if it had been paid when it 1002 originally fell due, it would be satisfactory. The teachers of Ireland were not prepared to accept an additional grant to the Pension Fund as a compensation for their losses from the withholding of the arrears of the fee grant. This question should be dealt with as a separate question, and he protested against its being mixed up with the question of the Pension Fund. The trouble about the Pension Fund had arisen, not from any fault of the teachers of Ireland, but owing to the expert accounts of the Government. So long as the teachers did what they were required to do by the rules, the Act of 1879 gave them the promise of a pension, and the teachers had in no way failed to comply with the rules. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the arrears of the fee grant ought to have been paid to the teachers.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
I never admitted that.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I admitted that there was a debt to Irish education on that account, but not to individual teachers.
§ MR. DILLON
said if the money had been paid when it was due it would have gone into the pockets of the teachers, and he thought the Government were bound to deal with the question on its merits. On the other hand they found out that under the Act of 1879 the Government had contracted certain obligations towards the Irish teachers which, he maintained, they would be bound to discharge even if this deficiency had never arisen, and in order to save the British Treasury £70,000, they made a desperate effort to mix up the two questions. He protested against that. The two questions ought to be treated separately. The teachers held that the Government were bound to make good the deficiency of the Pension Fund, which had arisen entirely from the mistakes of their accountants, and not from any fault of the teachers, and the question of the arrears of fee grant had to be dealt with quite apart and as a separate matter. There was one other matter to which he wished to allude. That was the question of the position of the Irish language in the national system of education. There was no doubt whatever that the national 1003 system of education was in its original conception and for a long period of years an anti-national system. He was glad to believe that a considerable change had come over the system of late years. They had not so much ground of complaint in some respects, but as regarded fairplay being given to the Irish language they still had great ground of complaint. The Irish language was not treated in Ireland as the Welsh language was treated in Wales, and, judging from the speeches of the Chief Secretary when this subject was raised last year, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be still possessed of the idea that the best thing that could happen to the Irish people was to forget their own native language altogether. He should like to see every Irishman and Irish woman able to speak English; but he should also like to see them able to speak their own language as well. To his mind it was proved beyond all controversy that the intellectual development and the teaching of the children in the western districts of Ireland were cramped and injured by the fact that the teachers were not properly instructed in the native tongue. A valuable and interesting Report on this subject from the head inspector of the Western District would be found in the Appendix to the last Report of the Commissioners of Irish Education, and this showed that in the County of Galway alone 58 per cent. of the population spoke the Irish tongue. The Report of this inspector ought to attract the attention of the Government, and it ought to be the object of the Education Department in Ireland to secure that in every district where a considerable portion of the children spoke the Irish tongue, the teacher ought to be an Irish-speaking man, and able to address the children in the native tongue. That, of course, would remove the ban which had been placed on the Irish language by successive administrations. This was a subject which was increasing in interest year by year, and a movement had arisen, and was rapidly growing, which would require of the Government that the native tongue of the country should be taught to the children in the schools.
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
said he had supported the contention of the hon. Member for East Mayo with regard to the Teachers' Pension 1004 Fund last year, and he proposed to support it again this year. The two matters which it was proposed to mix up were absolutely different, and it was only the accident of time and not the unity of substance which allowed the Government to bring them together. Two blunders had been made in this case—not by the Irish teacher but by the Government officials. The first was the miscalculation of the Pension Fund, and the second was the misapprehension of what might be the ultimate decision of that House as to the proportion of money which was due to the Irish teachers. He really could hardly understand the Chancellor or the Exchequer when he wished them to believe that this money would not have been appropriated in the form of fee grant to the teachers had the same principle which was now admitted to rule the case been admitted when the money first became due to the Irish people. He thought that really was almost admitted. They were told last Session that it was impossible to correctly allocate this money to the individual teachers, who would have received it in the form of fee grant, because some of them were not now living, or had left the schools in which they were engaged. It was suggested that there was some equity in this matter. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that it was a debt due not to the teachers, but to the cause of Irish education at large. He did not see where this equity came in. If that was a debt due to Irish education at large, he thought they would want a great deal clearer proof than they had received that it ought to be applied in the particular form now proposed. It was said that they could not apply this fee grant to individual teachers because some teachers had dropped out of the allocation. The answer to that was that the thing had been done on a considerable scale in the case of the convent schools, to which this money had been granted in the form of a lump sum. No difficult had arisen in this case, for the reason that the convent schools were not within the benefits of the Pension Fund. The thing was therefore practicable, and could be done, because it had been done. They were told that it was an equivalent, giving it to the Pension Fund, which would go to the general body of teachers, and that they ought to 1005 be satisfied with that. He did not think they ought to be satisfied. It was perfectly true, as said by the hon. Member for East Mayo, that these two matters were separate, and that if this Pension Fund had never been miscalculated there would have been no suggestion of applying this fund in the way which was now proposed. He contended this was not a proper compensation under any circumstances, even if it were a legitimate form of compensation to the general body of teachers. There were a considerable number of teachers who were not subscribers to the Pension Fund. What benefit would those teachers get from the proposed allocation of the £72,000. Even supposing that the Pension Fund, when distributed, reached the teachers, the application of the money would be leased on an entirely wrong principle—that was to say, teachers who should receive a larger benefit would receive a smaller benefit, mid teachers who should receive a smaller benefit would receive a larger benefit. There were many third-class teachers controlling large schools; there were cases of first-class teachers directing small schools. The third-class teachers in the large schools having been made recipients of the fee grant would obtain results in fees corresponding to the number of their pupils; but as third-class teachers they were entitled to merely a third-class share of the pension. On the other hand, the first-class teacher in the small school would obtain a minute share of the fee grant, but they would receive a large share of the pension. He could not be persuaded that the proposed arrangement was anything more than a makeshift, by which the Government were endeavouring to get out of a blunder. The teachers had undoubtedly earned the money, and by every right they were entitled to receive it. Therefore he would support the hon. Member for East Mayo, as he had supported the hon. Member for Londonderry on a former occasion.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
said there was no answer to the case put forward by the hon. Member for East Mayo and the hon. Member for Belfast. By some mistake at the Treasury, for which the National teachers were in no way responsible, a sum of something like £72,150, which ought to reach their 1006 pockets, did not do so. If it was an ordinary case between an employer and the employed, and if it turned out that the employed were underpaid, what any honest firm would do would be to refund the money. He thought they should altogether disregard the argument of impracticability upon what was a matter of simple common justice. What was the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? He said: We will apply this money to make up further deficiency occasioned by some other blunder.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in the figures. £95,000 has already been voted in respect to those so-called arrears, and is to be applied at the rate of £10,000 a year to the Pension Fund.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
No, Sir.£95,000 has already been voted, and the Government, in addition to that, propose to give £10,000.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
said, of course it was not necessary for him to go into that subject, and he would not do so, but he asked the Government to do justice to a poor but most worthy class—the National teachers of Ireland.
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
did not think the Chief Secretary was justified in referring to the arrears as alleged arrears.
§ MR. FLYNN
said the arrears were not "so-called" or "alleged" arrears, but were actual arrears. The conduct of the Treasury in the matter would, in a commercial transaction between private individuals, be condemned as shabby, as dishonest, and as downright fraudulent. The Chief Secretary did not represent the Treasury, which had its own separate champions in the House. The Chief Secretary was the official representative of Ireland in the House, and it was his duty to defend the rights of all classes in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had not done that in the present instance. It was utterly wrong to mix up the questions of arrears and of pension. He had 1007 no doubt that their English and Scotch friends in search of the truth would imagine that the Pension Fund was originally founded in the generosity of the Treasury. As a matter of fact, it was founded upon a capital sum of £1,300,000, which was a portion of the Irish Church surplus. Could there be anything more intolerable than the cant the Treasury indulged in in respect to this matter? A certain number of teachers did not accept the pension scheme, but in 1885, six years after it was started, a valuation of the fund was published as a Parliamentary Paper, which showed that there was a surplus of £196,000. Presumably the fund was based upon an actuarial calculation, and yet now it was declared that the fund was insolvent. Where was the proof of the insolvency? There was not a little of proof. It was quite possible that the fund was insolvent through some mistake or fault in the calculation, but if there had been a mistake or fault it rested with the Treasury. He protested against a hard worked and underpaid class of men, a class who, next to the ministers of religion, performed the most valuable functions to the community, being mulcted in order to recoup a loss incurred by the Treasury of this great and wealthy Empire.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)
associated himself with his colleagues in supporting the just claims of the national teachers of Ireland. The treatment which was being meted out to those men was, however, only a part and parcel of the general treatment Ireland received from the British Treasury. The Treasury were always ready, by fair or by foul means, to seize all the Irish money they could. If there was any doubt about the fund, the teachers might be given the benefit of it. Certainly if there was any doubt about any fund in which the Royal Irish Constabulary were concerned, that body would be given the benefit of it, but then it was quite evident the Government relied more upon the Constabulary than upon the teachers. He trusted the Irish people would take note of this plundering policy on the part of the Treasury.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
admitted that the phrase he used was not a very 1008 happily chosen one. He meant that it ought not to be taken for granted that this money should go to the teachers as such.
§ MR. DALY
said it would be difficult to get over the fact that the national teachers of Ireland had been plundered or robbed of close upon £100,000. It made no difference to him by what Government the mistake had been made; if it had been made he should protest to the utmost against the teachers being made the sufferers. It was impossible to conceive a more dishonest act on the part of a Government than this attempt to deprive the teachers of pensions. The Chief Secretary seemed to think that the teachers did not know their own business, but he had been furnished with copies of resolutions passed by the Carrickmacross teachers in which formal protest was made against the action of the Government on the ground that it would not only prejudicially affect the monetary interest of teachers, but tend to the employment of an inferior class of men. The refusal of the Government to pay the teachers this £100,000 was simply an attempt to shirk their just debts. It was a most extraordinary demand that was made by the Government—that the teachers, who for 20 or 30 years had been contributing to the fund, should now increase their contributions for the benefit of those who came after them—who had not yet joined the service. Supposing the Chief Secretary's salary were in arrears when he came to leave office; would he think justice was done if those arrears were paid to his successor? [Laughter.] There could be no defence for this attitude on the part of the Government, and the only thing for them to do was to "fork out." [Laughter.] it was no good being select in his language, because the Government had not been over select in their conduct. [Laughter.]
§ [After the usual interval, Mr. GRANT LAWSON took the Chair.]
§ *SIR JAMES HASLETT (Belfast, N.)
whose opening remarks were interrupted by an unsuccessful attempt to count out the House, said there was strong dissatisfaction among the national school teachers about the amount of arrears due to them. It was most desirable that the 1009 Government should make a. clear statement to their officials so that the dissatisfaction might be removed. There was the statement that the amount of arrears was £100,000, and it had been hinted that this sum was voted for education purposes and need not go to individual teachers. They were entitled to know from the heads of the Government whether it was to be applied to the teachers directly or indirectly. The indirect application appeared to be in the augmentation of the Pension Fund. The Pension Fund partook to a large extent of an insurance. The Government asked for that insurance under an Act of Parliament in 1879, and they stipulated for the amount of the premium to be paid by each teacher. If that amount had been found to be insufficient and the insurance principle under the Act could be proved to be a mutual principle, then it would be fair and reasonable for the teachers to look to the fact that in the past they had paid a smaller premium, and that premium might be augmented, or the ultimate sum to be obtained from the insurance might be diminished. If such an error had been made it behoved the House to ascertain clearly where it rested, and the nation should bear the responsibility for its officials' mistake. Or if it were proved that there was a mutuality, then each party should bear its share, and the entire amount should not be made up out of the emoluments that should have gone to the teachers. The Government should place clearly before the intelligent body of teachers the exact position in which the case stood. If anything was coming to the teachers out of the arrear fund, let them know it at once. His own impression was that the statement that the sum in question was being applied to the Pension Fund amounted practically to giving the case away, because if it was applicable to the teachers it should go to them direct; and if not, why give it to the teachers' fund? He earnestly asked the Government to place the case before the country so that the teachers would be able to grasp the question. It was purely one of finance, and could be dealt with mathematically. It was not a political or a party question. He believed there was no class of men who would accept the position more readily if it was clearly 1010 put before them than the teachers of Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said it appeared to him that one of the questions that had been raised on this Vote—namely, the arrangement with regard to the payment of the arrears of the fee grant to the Irish Teachers' Pensions' Fund, would be far more appropriately raised on the Pension Vote. He had not anticipated that this question would be raised on the Vote for Education, with which it had nothing in the world to do. Not one single penny of these arrears had been or could be included in that Vote, and therefore if he detained the House for a few minutes on the matter it was solely from a desire to show courtesy to hon. Members opposite. What happened in regard to this fee grant last year would be fresh in the minds of hon. Members. For some time there was a dispute between the Treasury on the one hand and the National Board of Education on the other hand. It had been found absolutely impracticable to work the system of equivalent grants in connection with the fee grant for Irish and Scotch education. It was found that it could not be calculated how much was due on the basis of an equivalent grant to Ireland and Scotland on account of the fee grant, because no one could tell until after the expiration of the financial year what amount would be paid to England within the financial year for that purpose; and therefore any calculation founded on the basis of the total sum paid to England could not be arrived at in time to give effect to it by Parliament. Therefore, about 18 months ago, having taken the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, he felt it his duty to propose another basis instead of the equivalent grant—namely, that all three countries should have 10s. per child in average attendance in their schools as a fee grant. That system was adopted, and adopted, he might say, with general assent; but what was said was this, that t here had been a. failure in previous years to pay what Ireland and Scotland were entitled to under this head, and that that should be made up. He went into the matter and it was debated at considerable length last year. He said 1011 that he considered it a debt to Ireland and Scotland, and with regard to both countries he undertook to make the arrears good. The Treasury had some discussion with the National Board of Education as to the manner in which it should be done. It was urged, and not unfairly, that it was not fair to Ireland and Scotland to adopt one system at the commencement of the Act and to change it for another system which might be less favourable to those countries in the future. Therefore, the Treasury agreed to pay to Ireland and Scotland the amount they would have received if 10s. per child had been given in all three countries from the commencement of the Act. Towards the commencement of this Session an arrangement was arrived at which received the full assent of the National Board of Education, who had stood up for the rights of Ireland as stoutly as any body of men could possibly do. It was that a sum, amounting to £108,000 in all should be devoted to the purpose, a small portion of which, he thought about £12,000, was to be applied to convent schools, and the remainder, £95,400, to the Irish Teachers' Pension Fund. The Irish National Board, he believed, unanimously resolved that, having regard to the position of the Irish Pension Fund, which was practically bankrupt, this was a satisfactory settlement both on the question of the fee grant and on the question of the Pension Fund. Acting on that, last February his right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury obtained a Vote from the House of the amount he had named, to be devoted to the two purposes he had stated. He would say in passing that it was proposed to give the smaller sum to the Irish convent schools, because with them there was no question of a grant to the teachers. It was a question of a grant to the institutions. Therefore there was no difficulty in allocating the amount to convent schools, the teachers in which would receive no benefit whatever from the Irish Teachers' Pensions' Fund. A sum of nearly £96,000 was voted by the House in aid of the Teachers' Pensions' Fund after very little, if any, discussion. Hon. Members now said that the national teachers had thereby been deprived of what they ought to receive. 1012 But when the Vote was before the House no objection whatever was taken to it upon that ground. The matter was then considered to have been settled. It was impossible to allocate these arrears to the teachers who might have received them if the money had been voted previously, for years had passed and teachers had changed their schools and their positions. It could not be denied that the purpose for which this money was given was a purpose which was advantageous to the Irish teacher. It was notorious that the National Teachers' Pension Fund was bankrupt, and that unless it was largely supplemented it could not possibly defray the claims made upon it. By hon. Members opposite it was contended that this was purely a matter of Treasury concern, that if the fund was bankrupt it was the fault of the Treasury, and that any deficit ought to be made good by that Department. He would ask hon. Members to consider the history of this matter. The Irish National Teachers' Pension Act of 1879 granted to the National Teachers of Ireland a boon which had never been granted to the teachers of England or Scotland. The Act instituted a pension fund constituted in the first place by a fixed sum of £1,300,000 out of the surplus of the Irish Church Revenues. That was to form a nucleus of the fund, and the teachers were then to subscribe by certain annual payments what was calculated to amount to one-fourth of the benefit they would derive. There were arrangements in the Act for temporary advances to be made by the National Debt Commissioners until the payment of this £1,300,000 by the Irish Church Commissioners, and the seventh Clause of the Measure dealt exclusively with those arrangements. The clause only protected the National Debt Commissioners in respect of any such advances which they might make pending the allocation by the Irish Church Commissioners of this sum of £1,300,000. There was absolutely no obligation thrown by this Act upon the Treasury to make the pension fund good after the £1,300,000 had been paid. But it was contended by hon. Members opposite that there was a moral obligation upon the Treasury in consequence of the fault of an actuary, or rather in consequence of the failure of the calculations of an actuary to prove correct. It was provided that there 1013 should be a quinquennial valuation of the assets of this fund in order to ascertain its solvency, and it was clear from the wording of the Act, which laid down certain rules in the schedule under which teachers would be entitled to pensions and under which their contributions were to be regulated, and provided that such rules might be revoked or varied from time to time by the Lord Lieutenant and the Treasury, that the intention of the Act was that this fixed sum of £1,300,000 should be the nucleus of the pension fund, but that if it should prove insufficient the amount required would have to be made up by increased contributions on the part of the teachers. [Serjeant HEMPHILL: "Has the £1,300,000 been advanced?"] Cerainly. A valuation was made in 1885, and appeared to show a surplus of £100,000, and, in consequence, the rules in the Schedule of the Act were revised for the benefit of the teachers. The teachers, therefore, as far as their contributions were concerned, had been in a better position since the end of the five years, when the first valuation was made—and, up to the present moment—than they were in during the first five years after the passing of the Act. But after the second period of five years had expired the second valuation had to be made, and it was then discovered that the calculations had been erroneous and that there was a deficit. The amount of the deficit was a doubtful point; it was fixed by one actuary at one amount and by another at another. But the contributions of the teachers were not raised, because it was felt in 1891 by those who were in power that the matter was so serious that it required further investigation. [Mr. T. M. HEALY: "What was done in 1885?"] That was the first valuation, when the rules were modified to the advantage of the teachers under the mistaken notion that the fund showed a surplus. Was the actuary who had miscalculated to be blamed? At one time he believed he was to be blamed, but he was not satisfied of that now. The Committee would understand that calculations of this kind must be based on certain assumptions as to the number of teachers in each class who would benefit by pensions, the number of years during which they would remain in the service, the number of premiums they would pay, and other 1014 matters. When the fund was established the age of entrance into the service was 17 for males and 16 for females, but it was subsequently raised to 18 for both sexes. The Committee would see that that change would by itself make a very material difference, because it lessened the number of years during which contributions would be paid to the fund, in some cases by two years and in others by one year. Then the tendency on the part of teachers to retire from the service without pensions proved to be much less than had been anticipated, and as time went on there were far more teachers in the first and second class and fewer in the third class than there were in 1879. The result of the errors in. the calculation was that when the second valuation came to be made it was found that the first had been entirely wrong. He did not like to blame any of his predecessors in office, but he felt bound to say that the time during which this matter remained untouched was not very creditable to the Government of the day.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The mistake was discovered in 1891 and they never put it right. The present Government had had the matter considered by three eminent specialists— Mr. Finlayson, Mr. Sutton, and Mr. Robinson—and the result of their investigations was discussed by a Committee, of which the Resident Commissioner of National Education was a member, who had made the recommendations upon which it was now proposed to act. He had shown how it was that the Pension Fund became deficient, and he hoped that he had also shown that neither in the Act nor in anything that had passed since was a liability imposed by Parliament on the Treasury to make that deficiency good. Further, he hoped that he had shown that certainly the Government could not be held responsible for the deficiency which occurred, and also that by what happened the teachers had materially benefited, because for all these years their contributions had been materially less to the Pension Fund than if the mistaken valuation in 1885 had never been made and their contribution then lowered. Now it was contended that the £96,000 ought to be paid into their pockets, and should not be devoted 1015 towards assisting to render the Pension Fund solvent. He did not think that they ought to ask Parliament to take such a course as that. It had not been suggested in Scotland, where there was a similar sum, though not so large, waiting to be devoted to educational purposes, that those arrears should be given to individuals after the years had elapsed during which they considered them to be due. The teachers would benefit by this allocation of the fund. Their increased contributions would be subject to a less increase than they would otherwise have been. It must also be remembered with regard to the fee grant that the Irish teachers, as compared with English and Scottish teachers, were in a very fortunate position. What was the origin of the fee grant? It was desired to give free education in England, and the amount which Parliament was asked to provide for free education in England and in Scotland was estimated to be precisely what the teachers would lose by the remission of fees hitherto paid by the children. That sum was calculated on the average of 10s. in England and Scotland; and he believed that the fees actually paid in Scotland had amounted to 12s. per child. There was no profit made by the teachers either in England or Scotland by the substitution of the fee grant for the fees paid by the pupils; but in Ireland, whichever basis was taken, whether the, original basis of a mere equivalent grant or the basis of 10s. per child, the Irish national teachers had profited enormously by the change. The average fees in. Ireland paid by the pupils were only 4s. 6d. per child in average attendance, compared with 10s. per child in England and 12s. in Scotland. Thus the Irish national teachers, instead of only receiving what they had received before, got more than double what they received before. For every reason, therefore, it seemed to him only just and fair that this £96,000 should go to the benefit of the teachers in relief of the Pension Fund. This was no case in which the Treasury had overruled anyone. He believed that this had been a very liberal settlement on the part of the Treasury, because it was proposed that an annual sum, amounting to £18,000 in the present year, should be voted by Parliament to make the Pensions' Fund solvent, besides the contributions to be made by the 1016 teachers and by this payment for arrears. It was accepted by the Irish Government, and unanimously accepted by the Irish Board of Education; and he hoped the Committee would approve of what had been done. [Cheers.]
MR. T. M. HEALY
said that everyone on his own side of the House who had heard the able speech of the right hon. Gentleman must at least have desired that some of the extraordinary ability shown in denying the elements of justice to Ireland could have been employed to a slight extent on the side of Ireland, and in endeavouring to make out a good case for her. Unfortunately the Irish Members had equipped against them the whole hierarchy of the British Government, with all the resources of the Government behind it. Though Ireland had only a number of untrained men, without a figure at their disposal, to put forward the Irish case, he thought that these men would be able, in spite of the marked ability of the defence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to show that right, truth, and justice were on the side of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Irish teachers were in the first instance put into a position in 1879 far in advance of the position occupied by the teachers in England and Scotland. Taking the salaries of the Irish teachers and comparing them with those of the teachers in England and Scotland, he said that for every 14s. or 15s. received by the Irish teacher, the English or Scottish teacher received £1, while the last named were at least 2s. 6d. in the pound better off both as to pension and pay. The right hon. Gentleman next asserted that a fair bargain was made in 1879. It would be true to say that the right hon. Gentleman was one of the authors of the Act of 1879; but from 1874 to 1879 it would be found that the unfortunate Irish teachers, paid a miserable pittance, were clamouring to the Government, not for pensions, but for an increase of salary. The Treasury, in reply. said,—No, we will give you an increase of salary if you can persuade the Irish Boards of Guardians to vote something out of the poor rates.[Cheers.] Then the pension was provided out of the Church Surplus Fund; so that in either case the dog was being fed by a bit of his own tail. [Laughter.] 1017 In a matter of this kind Ireland could not, like a State in the American Union, appeal to a Federal Judge to give a decision; Ireland could only, through the feeble voices of her representatives, appeal to and argue with what he would respectfully call the guilty parties. [Laughter.] It was a case of the traveller on the roadside appealing, like Ali Baba, to the Forty Thieves. [Laughter.] The Seventh Section of the Act said that if at any time the Pension Fund was insufficient for the payment of the £1,300,000 the Treasury, on being duly informed thereof by the Commissioners of the National Debt, should issue the amount of deficiency out of the Consolidated Fund, and the Treasury should certify such deficiency to Parliament. The Irish teachers, argued the right hon. Gentleman, supposed that if there was a deficiency in reference to the fund, the Treasury had undertaken to make it good. The right hon. Gentleman said that this was not the position at all; the Commissioners might make an advance to the extent of £1,300,000, and the limit of liability on the part of the Treasury was to make good the amount to that extent, and no more. His argument was that the teachers were all wrong—that they were only to get the £1,300,000, and that all the rest was to be made good out of their salaries and contributions. They asked, "Where is the evidence?" and the right hon. Gentleman replied,If you look back to the spirit of the time you will find that everybody knew it and agreed to it.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I was speaking of what I know. [" Hear, hear ! "] I said that I was Irish Secretary the year before this Act was passed. I had a good deal to do with the preparation of the Act, and I am perfectly certain it was never intended by that Act to impose any liability on the Treasury except to the limited extent I have stated. [" Hear, hear ! "]
MR. T. M. HEALY
said he was quite sure that was the understanding of the right hon. Gentleman; and he had said, while he was out, that he believed he intended to do the Irish teachers service. That was the right hon. Gentleman's 1018 understanding; but was that the understanding of the Irish teachers? Observe this—who was now complaining of this deficiency? Was it the teachers? Did they come howling to that House, saying, "Our Pension Fund is bankrupt; give us something"? They had made no such complaint. The people who were howling and grumbling that the Irish Teachers' Fund was bankrupt were not the recipients of the fund themselves, but a benevolent British Treasury. [" Hear, hear !"] It was not the poor man of Connemara, and Donegal who would get perhaps 15s. a week pension were the fund in good standing; it was not he who was coming to represent to the British Treasury that he stood in danger of being cut off without a shilling in his old age. No; the man who was feeling it in every pulse and fibre of his nature was the tender-hearted Treasury clerk. [Laughter and cheers.] What was the case of the Irish teachers? Talk of actuarial calculations! He remembered a remarkable instance. He could recollect being startled some years ago on reading in the Standard that at a Foresters' convention held in Edinburgh it was alleged that the Foresters' fund was bankrupt to the amount of a million. Yet the Foresters' Order was going gaily on; and, in spite of an actuarial deficiency, existing only on paper, was meeting every liability with as much regularity as the Bank of England. [" Hear, hear ! "] These were your actuaries, upon the faith of whose advice the Government were acting. One actuary, a gentleman of high reputation, said the Teachers' Pension Fund was only bankrupt to the extent of £100,000; another, of equally good standing, put it at £900,000. Really, when actuaries differed, it was worse than doctors. [Laughter.] The position was this—that the Treasury put into a pool £1,300,000 of Irish money, and then called on the teachers to put in so much out of their salaries, in return for which they were to have a certain pension at such and such an age. Suppose they were dealing with an insurance society, what would be said; would such a thing be listened to for a moment? There was to be a great Commission on the financial relations of England and Ireland, and Mr. Lidderdale, of the Bank of England, had been mentioned as an authority of high standing. 1019 How would Mr. Lidderdale be listened to if he issued a prospectus to policyholders, saying, "Oh, my friends, we were all in the wrong; it was a little matter of actuarial miscalculation! You are now paying a bagatelle of £50, would you mind increasing it to £100, and you will then have as your reward a good conscience—[laughter]—and, when you get bald and grey, you will be in receipt of 13s. a week." [Laughter.] That, as he understood it, was the position of the British Treasury. But, passing the sponge over these small matters, he would like to address Her Majesty's Government as human beings. ["Hear, hear!" and Ministerial laughter.] What were they arguing about? They spent millions on ships, soldiers, and railways. Here, in the case of a body of men—some 20,000 or 30,000—who had charge of the education of the whole Irish people, they were dealing, not with millions, but with a paltry sum of £70,000 or £100,000, and yet, with an income of 100 millions a year, they deemed it respectable and decent to carry on this contest over an addition of £3 or £4 a year to the salaries of men who were responsible for the teaching of millions of their fellow-subjects. ["Hear, hear !" and laughter.] How was it these actuarial calculations were not discovered until the Irish people found out the Government were diddling them? There was to be a quinquennial revision, and the first quinquennial revision found out that the Irish people were £100,000 to the good, and accordingly every national teacher went out and had a drink. [Laughter.] That was the first essay in quinquennial revision. Five years passed away, and then in 1890—a Liberal Government having in 1885 brought Paddy in as having £100,000 profit—a Tory Government, on the close investigation that was always applied by the present First Lord of the Admiralty with his theory of foreign exchanges, brought them in £500,000 to the bad, and then said, "Oh ! this is terrible." Having kept this secret locked in the Treasury bosom since 1890, the Government unlocked their bosom for the first time when the Irish people discovered that John Bull had been doing them on this "nine-eightieth" principle, and when they proved it. Then it was that John Bull had his ever fertile and ready answer: "It is true that we did you in 1020 that year, but we have a remedy for that. Your Pension Fund has gone wrong, but we did not tell you before." These poor people had invested their money on the faith of British honour. They allowed dockages from their salaries on the faith that they were dealing with a great, a generous, and a powerful nation. He remembered how Gordon, in Khartoum, said of the issue of leather shillings and leather halfpence that they would be redeemed because an Englishman had passed his word that they were good. The English Government had passed their word that their money, or rather the Irish people's money, was good, but what did they find out? They got this answer,—You have worked for it, for you were teachers from 1880 to 1897, but we will give the money to your children or your children's children. Take heart, my friends, for when you are mouldering in your graves, when another king is celebrating his jubilee in some dim and distant future, then the Pension Fund will be made good at the slow and sure rate of £10,000 a year by the bounty of the Britisher, and in 1996 the teachers yet unborn will be retiring gaily with the bright assurance of 13s. 6d. a week.He had addressed himself to this question as he hoped he did to all these international questions, no doubt with the sentiment of a partisan, but with a desire, if he could, to do justice to the arguments that might be opposed to him. He admitted that they in Ireland might be poorer hands at rule of three than the British Government. But the Government controlled the purse, and they had the Irish money in it. No honest or fair-minded man, with regard to a mere bagatelle of this kind, would deal with it in the spirit of the rule of three when dealing as a great nation towards a small one, but as dealing with a body of men whose duty it was to instruct them, they should rather err upon the side of generosity than upon the side of parsimony.
§ MR. GEORGE MURNAGHAN (Tyrone, Mid)
urged that the Government should listen to the united voice of the Members from Ireland, and yield in this matter. The teachers of Ireland had a right to expect that the Government would treat them justly. Certain pensions were promised in 1880, and if the fund did not 1021 allow of them why should the teachers, who were not responsible, suffer? If a miscalculation had been made, the State was better able to pay for it than the teachers.
§ MR. EDWARD CARSON (Dublin University)
said he would not have intervened in the Debate if he had not wished to state that there was absolutely no difference of opinion among the Members from Ireland on this question. [Nationalist cheers.] In matters of this kind, which dealt with the financial treatment of Ireland, the Government should be careful to act with scrupulous justice towards that country. The present moment was not the time when the Government could choose to carry out injustice to any section of the Irish people. [Nationalist cheers.] The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his able and powerful speech, stated that the National Teachers' Act of 1879 conferred great benefits on that body. That was about as wide of the question the Committee were discussing as any subject that could be introduced. The question was not whether their position was bettered by that Act or not. The question was, had the British Treasury kept faith with the teachers under an Act of Parliament passed by the House? [Nationalist cheers.] He was glad that this year they started in a somewhat better position than last year. He well remembered the struggle they had last year to get an admission from the Treasury that the national teachers in Ireland had been defrauded in the past to the tune of something like £100,000, and he remembered the discussion (in which Irish Unionists and Nationalists took part) when they wrung from the Treasury the admission that by a miscalculation, not of Members of the Government but of officials of the Treasury, who always set themselves up as authorities on this question —[Nationalist cheers]—the national teachers of Ireland had been defrauded—he used the word literally—as it was admitted now, of a sum of at least £100,000. What the Committee were discussing was what was to be done with respect to the sum admitted to be due to the school teachers, and what he said was, "Pay it back to the men who had earned it, the men who in the past had been deprived of it." It was no answer to say as had been said from the Government Bench, 1022 that there would be difficulty in finding these men, there would be no great difficulty in finding them. Fortunately a large number were still teachers in Ireland, and if there were any others that could not now be found, at all events, let those who could be found receive the money they ought to receive, money due to them under the Act passed by Parliament. But assuming that the money was not applied in the way he proposed, and as it ought to be applied, what reason was there why the Government should propose to supply the deficiency in the Pension Fund by money having no connection with the Pension Fund? Teachers had not asked for it and teachers were entirely interested in the fund. What connection could be found as between the arrears due to the teachers in the past and the Pension Fund that may be due to them in the future? There was only one connection, and that was the Treasury thought they had found a sum of money by which they could fill up the hiatus, and if the gap were not filled in that way it would have to be filled from Imperial sources. What he did say was this, and this was the whole crux of the question. While the Chancellor of the Exchequer was addressing his argument to the Committee he asked the right hon. Gentleman what construction he put upon the 7th Section of the Act of 1879, and with a wave of the hand and one or two words the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought he had got rid of the question. But take it in the most technical way, the whole crux of the situation depended on the 7th Section, the question could not to be decided by saying "we are right and you are wrong in the construction of the Section." How did the case stand? In 1879 a pension was created in this way—£1,300,000 was allotted as a fund from the proceeds of the robbery of the Irish Church, and that was of course a purely Irish fund. It was enacted in the Act of 1879 that to supplement that fund certain deductions specified in the schedule should be made annually from the salaries of teachers who came under the scheme. In consideration of those deductions they were guaranteed in an Imperial Act the payment of certain pensions set out in the Act. What was the Government case now? They said "although that is so, although we have deducted these sums, 1023 we are unable to pay the sums guaranteed by the Act." Assuming this Treasury construction of the Act, and that it could be so argued before a Court, was this the kind of justice the House was going to give to the teachers of Ireland? [" Hear, hear ! "] Would the House support the Government in saying, "we have deducted your money, taking the full quota we laid down for you to pay under the Act, you have done your part, we are unable to do ours, and you must be the sufferers." [" Hear, hear ! "] A most unworthy argument for the British House of Commons. [" Hear, hear ! "] He denied the construction. The 7th Section enacted that so long as this money, which was to be advanced by the National Debt Commissioners until the money was paid over from the Church Fund, so long as this money was unpaid, the National Debt Commissioners were to go on paying to the Pension Fund, and if there was any deficiency it was to be met out of the Imperial Treasury. If the money was still due to the National Debt Commissioners they would go on paying to the Pension Fund, and the Imperial Treasury would pay the deficiency. But now the House was asked to say that because the National Debt Commissioners had been repaid out of the Church funds, then when funds fell short the Imperial Treasury was not to afford relief. It was an argument that could not for a moment hold water, for its whole construction would depend not upon whether persons were rightly paid or not, but whether the Church Fund had made payment to the National Debt Commissioners or not. It was an absurd argument, and even if that were the technical construction of the Act of Parliament he should have thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been ashamed to put it forward in the House as against the claims of these school teachers, whose salaries had had deductions made from them according to a scale laid down in an Act of Parliament. [" Hear, hear ! "] But the Chancellor of the Exchequer saw himself that the Act must have meant that the pensions mentioned in the schedule were to be paid under all circumstances to the teachers so long as they made contributions, but he said deficiencies must be made up by increased contributions from the teachers. From beginning to end of the Act he defied anyone to point to a 1024 single word showing that such was in contemplation. So far was that from being the case, it declared there should be no divergence from the sums stipulated as deductions from the salaries of National teachers, and the schedule enacted to a penny what these deductions were to be. Therefore, it was perfectly plain, whether the common-sense view of the case were taken, or whether the Act itself were taken, as it would be understood by a teacher or any person who read it, or even on the narrowest construction of the section itself, there was no reason in the world why the pensions promised to the teachers should not faithfully be paid. What did the proposal of the Government amount to? It was a proposal to pay a debt of the British Treasury from the hard-earned wages of these men—["hear, hear!"]—and that was a matter on which Members on the Ministerial side of the House, who represented Irish constituencies, wished to protest as much as Members of the Party opposite. ["Hear, hear !"] He would say to his hon. and right hon. Friends on the Front Bench that it was this higgling and peddling on the part of the Treasury, more than in any other manner, that distrust was raised in the minds of hard-working men in Ireland, such as these teachers were. They said, "If we are unable to get common justice from the Imperial House of Commons in such matters, how can we expect in the broader political questions that come under discussion, and in which the happiness of our people is concerned, that our claims will be listened to? ["Hear, hear !"] He would be ashamed to get up on any platform in Ireland and for a moment attempt to defend this proposal to take £90,000 from these National School teachers. He hoped that on this question what he might call the unanimous voice of the representatives of Ireland would be listened to. They were unanimous a short time ago on another question, and they were outvoted, but the Government afterwards found that the question was not disposed of. He thought they ought to take warning by that. Upon this question they none of them had any political objects in view—[Irish cheers]—and on that side of the House at all events they wished for justice, not merely to Ireland, but to England and Ireland as a whole. He 1025 hoped the Government would see their way to meet them, and if they did he should not look upon it as a concession, but as an equitable and just carrying out of the provisions of the Act of Parliament itself. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said they had listened that evening to one of the most good-humoured and clever speeches from the hon. and learned Member for Louth which he had ever had the pleasure of hearing. It would perhaps be a pity to criticise in a serious spirit a speech delivered obviously with the intention of amusing and diverting the House. The speech which had just been delivered by his right hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University, on the other hand, seemed to have been delivered in most serious, he might even say a desperately serious, spirit. His right hon. Frieind asked what these two questions had in common. The question of the deficiency of the Pension Fund and the question of the way in which these arrears were to be applied, were from the nature of the case intimately connected with each other, and that that was so had been shown by the fact that in the discussion hon. Members had found it almost impossible to dissever them. The deficiency in the Pension Fund might be diverted into two parts. Owing to the fact that the teachers had not up to the present time contributed the amount which they ought to have contributed to the fund, there was a deficiency of £200,000. The actual total deficiency in the fund was £1,200,000. What did the Government propose to do? They might have said that it would be fair in future to apply to the teachers' contributions, inasmuch as they had hitherto paid less than they should have done had the calculations been made on an adequate basis. But instead of that they proposed that a certain sum which the Government last year consented to pay under the name of arrears for school grant, should be applied to this purpose, and that, so far as increased contributions from the teachers were concerned, they would only ask them in future to pay on the scale on which they ought to have paid from the beginning. The remainder of the deficiency in the fund had eaten up the whole or a very large portion of the £1,300,000 with which the fund was 1026 originally endowed. That sum was derived not from Imperial but from Irish sources. They proposed to supply, not from Irish but from Imperial resources, the sum of £1,000,000, which was the amount of the deficiency irrespective of the deficiency which was due to the teachers not having contributed so much as they ought to have done. Therefore, although it was true that in the first instance this fund was endowed out of Irish sources, it would in future be practically endowed out of Imperial sources, and from that point of view, so far from not treating Ireland generously, they were treating Ireland with every generosity that could be fairly expected. [Ironical Nationalist cheers.] If they were now voting these school grant arrears to the purpose of supplying one portion of the deficiency in the fund, he would remind the Committee that that portion of the deficiency arose from the fact that the teachers had not contributed as much as they ought to have done. His hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast had said that the deficiency was the result of a miscalculation, but he would point out that during all these years the teachers had had the benefit of that mistake. His right hon. Friend said they had paid what the Act said they ought to have paid, and that there was nothing in the Act to countenance an alteration. Notwithstanding his right hon. Friend's great reputation as it lawyer, he seemed on this occasion to have offered a legal opinion without even reading the Act, and the Act did not bear out his statement. With regard to the schedule he pointed out that in 1885 the rules in the schedule actually were altered. Did his right hon. Friend seriously put forward the proposition that the rules in the schedule might be altered in favour of teachers, but could not be altered in order to redress the balance so as to do justice to the State?
§ MR. CARSON
said that what he had said was that the scale laid down could not be altered by any act of the Lord Lieutenant.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said he should be very sorry if his right hon. 1027 Friend's reputation as a lawyer were to depend on the case he had put forward. He would like to say one word more as to the legal opinion which had just been given by his right hon. Friend. He referred to Section 7. Would any other lawyer of reputation in the House get up and say that Section 7 was intended for any other purpose than to guarantee the National Debt Commissioners? The National Debt Commissioners, under many of their Acts of Parliament, had to make temporary advances, and when they made those advances there was always a provision in the Act to guarantee the Commissioners against any loss which they might incur. That, and that only, was the object of that section, and when his right hon. Friend said that the whole question turned on the interpretation of Section 7 he was quite willing to take him at his word. If it did, then he had not a doubt in his own mind that his right hon. Friend had really no standing ground in this matter at all.
§ MR. CARSON
said his right hon. Friend unintentionally misrepresented him. He said that, the debt having to be repaid to the National Commissioners, if the Government were prepared to take this money upon a strict technicality they could do so.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said it did not appear to him to be a question of strict technicality at all. This clause was inserted just as a similar clause was inserted in other Acts wherever a temporary advance was to be made by the National Debt Commissioners. He was very sorry that hon. Members from Ireland on both sides of the House should have taken in connection with this matter the line they had taken. He should be sorry indeed to see any injustice done to Ireland, and if he thought that this was an injustice he should certainly say so. But from the beginning—he said so in the most distinct and emphatic manner—he had held the view that the Treasury were acting not only fairly, but even generously in the action they had taken. 1028 [Nationalist cries of "Oh!"] The result would be a benefit to the National school teachers — [renewed cries of "Oh!"]—because unless this deficiency were met in the Pension Fund it would be impossible to maintain the scale of payments. If a sum of something short of £100,000 was to be paid from the arrears of school grant towards making this fund solvent, let the House remember that the Government were making a contribution to the fund this year, and it would probably turn out to be an annual contribution of £18,000. The hon. Member for Louth said that this was of little matter, and that the Government should give that which all the Irish Members and the Irish teachers were agreed ought to be given. The conclusion he was driven to was, that all the Irish Members would invariably come down to that House and press for money when they thought it could be squeezed out of the Treasury.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
said it was a question as to the application of these funds. They were asked to make good the deficiency in the Pension Fund entirely out of Imperial money. They were supposed, on the other hand, to give the teachers the benefit of the arrears of school grant, and to give them that benefit by adding to the Pension Fund so as to make it solvent. He maintained that, if they looked at the action of the Treasury in contributing £18,000 a year to the deficiency, and that if they considered, further, that this deficiency in the Pension Fund arose entirely from the fact that the teachers in the past had not paid the full contributions they ought to have paid, the Committee would come to the conclusion that fairness and justice had been done to the teachers in this matter. Reference had been made by the hon. Member for West Belfast to the convent schools, and he had said that the giving of a contribution to those schools was a proof that this money was due to 1029 the teachers in National schools. The case in regard to these schools was simply this. The teachers in those schools did not receive salaries, mid they did not contribute to the Pension Fund. If the convent and monastery schools were to receive their share of this grant it could not be otherwise than by way of a contribution to them as a corporate body. It would be impossible to pay these funds over to the individual teachers in those schools. Therefore, as regarded them, that method was adopted, but, as regarded the teachers, they had adopted the other method on the most careful consideration, and he believed the Committee would agree, on principles that were fair and just.
§ MR. CARSON
said there was one matter referred to by his right hon. Friend which he certainly could not allow to go unchallenged. He thought it was rather unworthy of him to suggest that the Irish Unionist Members were always prepared to come down to that House and make demands on the Imperial Exchequer, whether they thought they were entitle to them or not. He entirely repudiated that suggestion—["hear, hear !"]—and he thought it came with rather an ill grace from the Irish Chief Secretary of a Unionist Government, supported as he was by Irish Unionists. He could only say, for his own part, that it was absolutely without foundation. ["Hear, hear!"] He should like to say that on the present occasion it was not a demand on the Imperial Treasury at all. It was simply a demand that Irish funds earned by Irish teachers should be given to the men who earned them. [Nationalist cheers.] And he, no matter what might be the view or the criticism or the sneer of an Irish Chief Secretary, would certainly, as an Irish Member, have no hesitation in these circumstances in standing up in defence of these men. [Nationalist cheers.] He regretted the tone of his right hon. Friend, and he did not think that he either improved the position of Unionism in Ireland or made their task 1030 in that House easier by suggesting towards them motives which would at once brand them among their constituents as acting dishonourably for the purpose of obtaining money from the Imperial Exchequer for purposes for which they were net entitled to it.
§ MR. DILLON
said the Chief Secretary had gone so far as to challenge any other lawyer to maintain that under Section 7 any permanent charge could be thrown on the Treasury. He found that that was not the opinion of a great many speakers during the Debate when that section was introduced. On the 28th July 1879 the house went into Committee on Section 7. In Committee on the Bill, Mr. Childers, who knew something about financial matters, argued that the Resolution was necessary, in order that if there was a deficiency the charges should be defrayed from time to time from the public funds. That clearly showed that Mr. Childers interpreted the section as creating a permanent charge on the public funds. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bodmin took the same view. The Government then thought it right to show that no deficiency in the fund would arise. They accordingly limited the pension to a certain number of teachers in the various classes, male and female, which are set forth in the schedule of the Act. In fact, no one who read the Debates on the Bill could doubt that in the opinion of a great many Members of the House, including some of its most experienced Members, Clause 7 did contemplate the placing of any deficiency that might arise in the Pension Fund as a charge on the Imperial Exchequer: and it was argued that the proper way to deal with such charge was to bring it up on the annual Votes of the House. Again, the Chief Secretary had said it had been clearly proved that the deficiency in the fund hail arisen from the fact that the teachers had paid less than they ought to have paid. That was not the fault of the teachers, who had always paid what 1031 they had been called upon to pay. But the Chief Secretary in making that statement must have forgotten, or must have misinterpreted the Report of the Departmental Committee on the subject, which showed that the accounts were so mixed up that it was impossible now to tell whether the deficiency arose in the original fund or in the contributions of the teachers. The important part of the Report consisted in a recital of the various Acts. What had been the history of the operation of those Acts? In 1885 a first-rate actuary reported that the fund was £100,000 to the good. An alteration was then made in the rules in favour of the teachers, and in 1890 another first-rate actuary reported that the fund was £195,000 to the bad. Then the same actuary mid another actuary were set to work, and they reported that the fund was £837,000 to the bad. Subsequently it had been reported that the fund was £924,000 and £1,200,000 to the bad. There was no end to the reports, and no one had any firm ground to stand upon. What assurance had they that in another five years another actuary might not report that the fund was another £100,000 to the good? To seize upon a sum of money which went but a very small way towards filling up the alleged deficiency was a very harsh and new proceeding. The National Commissioners, in their Report for 1895, give a balance-sheet of the Pension Fund. According to that balance-sheet, the fund had been growing rapidly, and there was a balance to the good invested in Stock, of about £44,000. It was perfectly plain that if there be a deficiency—about which he was extremely doubtful—that deficiency could not or would not come into operation during the life of any living teacher. The Government now proposed to take away from a few poor Irish teachers a sum of £90,000 which they had earned. The question which had been raised to-night was an immediate one—one which ought not to be put off and made to hang upon the 1032 solvency of the Pension Fund; it was, whether a rich Government was, in the opinion of the whole Irish people, going to do an extremely shabby thing.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
said that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were going to make a comparison between the Irish teachers and those of England and Scotland as to pension, he ought to remember that the Irish teachers received much smaller salaries. The average salary for teachers in Scotland (taking principals and assistants together) was £183 10s.; in England it was £122 6s. 7d., and in Ireland, where there were only principal teachers, it was £98 16s. 11¾d. How had this deficiency arisen? Ireland was to receive 9–80ths of what England received; and she did get that proportion of what appeared on the Estimates of the year. But owing to the increase in average attendance in England, a supplementary Estimate had to be brought in, and Ireland was entitled to 9–80ths of the amount of that supplementary Estimate. How would that sum have been distributed if it had been given? Beyond all doubt, it would have gone to the teachers. In 1892 the sum for Ireland had increased by £149,918, and £140,523 of that amount went to the teachers. Last year the sum for Ireland had increased by £73,000, and the expenditure on the teachers increased by £80,000. The increased sum from the fee grant went entirely to the teachers in Ireland; and if it had been larger it would still have gone to the teachers. Was it fair, therefore, because of a miscalculation, to deprive the teachers of the money due to them? As to the amount, according to the principle of 1889 (the proportion of 9–80ths), the amount due to Ireland would be £257,000. But on the principle of 10s. per child, now adopted in the Estimates, the amount was only £255,000. So that by this change of principle Ireland was defrauded of £2,000. The 10s. per child principle was urged on the Government for Ireland and Scotland in past years, but they 1033 would never adopt it while it was favourable to those countries.
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. GRANT LAWSON)
The hon. Member entered into that question very fully on the Scotch Estimates.
§ MR. FLYNN
said that the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary would be received with bitter disappointment in Ireland to-morrow, not only by the National teachers, but by the general public, and they would be regarded as further evidence of the impossibility of Ireland getting justice from this House or from the Treasury. He called attention to the question of the average attendance necessary to qualify for the employment of assistant teachers, the present average being much too high. The Commissioners of National Education had brought this matter under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman and also of the Lord Lieutenant more than 12 months ago, and a promise was made that the matter would be carefully considered, and he wanted to know what had been done about it. He further complained that no settlement had yet been arrived at in regard to the claims of the schools of the Christian Brothers.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
thought it would be undesirable to enter upon the debateable question of the Christian Brothers' Schools. He had already brought forward a proposal which was unacceptable to hon. Members opposite, and unless the Government was prepared to drive the proposal through the House at an immense expenditure of time, or an agreement was come to with the Members who represented the Christian Brothers, he did not see that anything could be done. The offer he had made he was still prepared to make if he heard that it would meet with their acceptance.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 5. £1,697, to complete the sum for National Gallery of Ireland.—Agreed to.