HC Deb 02 May 1898 vol 57 cc64-8

I beg to move— Clause 7, page 3, line 33, leave out 'but,' and insert 'and may charge any expenses incurred by them as such on any part of their county for the requirements of which such expenses have been incurred. In the case of a county council the local rate for the purposes of the said Acts shall be the county fund as hereinafter defined. A county council may borrow for the purposes of the said Acts in like manner as it is hereinafter empowered to borrow for any other purpose.' It will be remembered that the stumbling block of the English Compulsory Education Bill was because the local rate to be paid was not clearly defined.


That is dealt with by Section 48.


Yes; but Section 48 simply relates to general county affairs.


If the honourable Member will look up Section 48 he will find that it reads— And the expenses of a county council under those Acts shall be county-at-large or district charges, according as that council direct.


Will the right honourable Gentleman accept the second sentence, taken from the English Act—because I think it is necessary. As the Bill stands, the expense will go for the whole county, but it is very desirable that if the county council were to assist any particular locality which induced them to exercise these powers they should be able to charge that to the council.


The honourable Member has evidently not looked at the sub-section which I have just read, which does apply to the rate, and also allows the county council to charge either the district or the county at large.


Then I do not move.

Amendment withdrawn.

On Clause 7 (Powers of County Council as to Technical Education),


moved, as an Amendment— Page 3, line 36, leave out 'authority,' and insert 'borough council.' He pointed out that the clause provided that a county council should be a local authority within the meaning of the Technical Instruction Acts, 1889 and 1891, but that the section should not prevent any other local authority under the Acts from acting concurrently with the county council for the promotion of technical education. He thought it was very desirable that there should be large areas in respect to technical education, and, speaking generally, it was, in his opinion, most undesirable that there should be any smaller area than a county.


There is some difficulty in connection with this clause, owing to the fact that in Ireland district councils already have powers. The Government have only proposed in the Bill an intermediate course. No doubt the whole question of technical education in Ireland will have to come before the House, and be treated in a fuller manner than it is possible to treat it in the present Bill. Meanwhile, I suggest to the Committee that the course we propose is the best.


I would urge that the view of the Chief Secretary should be accepted. In the English Act there is a little subsection which may have escaped attention, under which a local rural authority can, under certain circumstances, rate itself for the purpose of technical education. I am acquainted with one case in which this was done.


The powers of local bodies, instead of being in any way curtailed, should be extended and enlarged. In the English counties the local bodies are in a much better position with regard to technical education than we are in Ireland, because a portion of the Customs and Excise duties have been handed over to the English local bodies, to be applied to the purposes of technical education. We have nothing of that kind in Ireland. The grant in Ireland is applied to a totally different purpose. I have in my hand the Report of the Cork Agricultural School, and in that Report attention is called to the fact that in the years 1896 and 1897 there was spent by the English counties a sum of £78,000 for the purpose of furthering technical education. I believe that, compared with what is spent in other countries, £78,000 is not a very large sum for England; but when compared with Ireland, the expenditure of anything like £78,000 is very munificent indeed. One of the great wants in Ireland is am improved system of technical education, and I am glad, Sir, to learn from the right honourable Gentleman that he proposes to deal with the whole matter at a later date, and in a Bill which will be more cognate to the subject. Now that the right honourable Gentleman has made that announcement, I do not think it fair to press on the Committee the proposal which I had put on the Paper in the form of a subsequent Amendment. I take the view that there may be many cases in which local authorities, dealing with a smaller area than that of a county, might, with good results, contribute to some local school which the county would not desire to contribute to, or could not be fairly expected to. The penny in the pound which could be raised in a small area is quite small enough, and to cut it down by dividing the penny between the county council and the local authority is really to diminish the amount to an extent which would make the power to contribute not worth talking about. In Cork, and in other localities in Ireland, we are continually having complaints as to the totally, and almost disgracefully, inadequate manner in which technical instruction is dealt with in our schools. Why, Sir, the local school in Cork—the Cork Agricultural School—which has done such good work, has been struggling for years, as the right honourable Gentleman knows. Its governors have approached Chief Secretary after Chief Secretary in a vain attempt to get from the Government anything like an adequate sum to enable it to keep up with the wants of the district. So far, however, we have failed to make any impression on the Government, and we are left to our local resources. My desire is that the powers of making these contributions by local authorities should be increased rather than diminished.


In view of the statement made by the Chief Secretary that the whole question of technical education in Ireland will be treated in a more comprehensive manner in a future Bill, I shall withdraw my Amendment. At the same time, I do think it is almost absurd to have a penny rate divided in its expenditure.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.

MR. H. C. PLUNKETT (Dublin Co., S.)

moved the following Amendment— Page 3, line 40, at end, to add—'Provided further that nothing in this section contained shall affect any scheme or provision for technical or manual instruction instituted or made by any local authority before the passing of this Act, or the continued payment, after the passing of this Act, of any aid in pursuance of such scheme, or provision by such authority. I understand the right honourable Gentleman is willing to accept this Amendment with some qualification. I will not delay the time of the House, but will ask him to state what qualification he requires.


I suggest that the words "or provisions" should be left out in the second line of the Amendment, and in the last line of the Amendment. The word "scheme" occurs already in the section.


I accept that, and move my Amendment with those words deleted.

Amendment adopted.

Clause 7 then agreed to.

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