HC Deb 21 June 1901 vol 95 cc1151-72

I wish to draw the attention of the House to the rules recently issued by the Board of Education in Ireland. I trust I will be able to show to the satisfaction of the House that these rules are entirely unfair to the welfare of the people of Ireland, and entirely contradictory to the recommendations issued by the recent Commission which held an inquiry into the working of the Education Act in Ireland. Before I go into these rules and explain to the House the particulars I wish to remedy, perhaps it would be useful to point out the way in which the Board, which has given us these rules, is appointed, and to show the qualifications which they have for the work entrusted to them, and the consequences also which result to our country from the inadequate and insufficient way the work is done. In Ireland most of our Departments are managed by a body of men nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. We have two education boards—an Elementary Board and an Intermediate Board. The Elementary Board consists of twenty men, and it is a strange fact that only one of these represents the great majority of the people of Ireland. Surely it is not too much to claim for our country that the education system—primary and intermediate—should be placed on a proper footing, so that the people of Ireland whose children are interested in the welfare of the whole country, should have something to say in regard to the framing of the education laws. Unfortunately that is not the case. The Catholics, who form three-fourths of the population of the country, have only one representative on the National Education Board. But worse than that, in every selection that has been made men professing Nationalist principles, no matter how eminent they may be as educationists, are passed over? Is that the way to make the people of Ireland confident in the education system. No, it is not. It is strange that we in Ireland are treated in all matters affecting our welfare—material, educational, and national—in a manner directly opposed to the veriest elements of constitutional government. The treatment given to the Irish language in the rules now before the House is no exception to this autocratic, hostile, and insulting system of misgovernment. Surely the time has come when the education of our country—from the primary school to the university—should no longer be prostituted to party bigotry or race hatreds, but should be conducted in such a manner as will ensure its commanding the approval and support of our people by men who are in thorough sympathy with the people's pressing wants, and have given practical proof of their desire to remedy them.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Ireland, with her people by nature intelligent and desirous of education, is, as a consequence of Castle Boards, in a condition of poverty which is a disgrace to any Government, is absolutely without the means of giving her children that technical training which would make their lot in the world afterwards better and more secure, is, in fact, a quarter of a century behind in the present struggle for existence. All this is directly and solely attributable to the disgraceful way in which the various education systems in Ireland are used, not for the improvement of the people according to their own ideas, or along lines initiated by themselves, but to crush the individuality of the race, to quell the sentiment of patriotism, to blot out all knowledge of and love for the past of their country, to bring about an ignorant, submissive, and spiritless uniformity so congenial to incompetent and unscrupulous rulers. Such has been the policy of the National Education Board. How far it has been successful in its main object can be judged by the presence on those benches of men openly and avowedly disloyal. How far it has been successful in crushing out education, in making Ireland unfit for Irishmen, the Chief Secretary himself has admitted. This Board and the Intermediate Board are nominated by the Lord Lieutenant. Most of the members of both Boards are men having no knowledge whatever of the working of elementary education; they have neither time nor inclination to devote to the subject; all, with one or two exceptions, are bitterly anti-Irish. The feelings and wishes of the people of Ireland are openly flouted in those appointments in a manner which would not be tolerated in any other country. Fancy any system of government in a civilised and free country appointing boards to manage questions of such vital importance to the nation's future welfare, and refusing to appoint more than one man in a body of twenty of the same political views as the great majority of the Irish people! It is intolerable and disgraceful that the future of our children should be in the hands for ever of incompetent, irresponsible, negligent, hostile Castle Boards. It is intolerable and inconsistent with good government that the future of Irish education should be in the hands of a bigoted minority, for it is an undoubted fact, which must be seriously grappled with, that the great majority of the Irish people have no voice whatever—except through the single exception of the most Rev. Dr. Walsh—in framing, administering, or improving the present educational systems of their country. I challenge any man to find in the most enslaved or worst-governed country in the world a parallel to the wholesale flouting of the people's wishes which is shown in Ireland; and I challenge the Government to defend it on any grounds except as a hopeless pandering to the narrow bigotry of an insignificant minority.

Let me illustrate what I have said by the rules recently issued by the Intermediate Education Board. A few years ago a Commission was held to inquire into the working of intermediate education in Ireland. During the course of the inquiry evidence was taken as to the advisability of giving the Irish language a better position than it previously occupied. The leading scholars of the Continental and even English universities spoke in the highest terms of the value and antiquity of the literary treasures stored in the Irish language; they all affirmed that for the mental training resulting from the study of two languages Irish was at least equal to French and German, while to the Irish child, whose national language it is, to whose mind it naturally appeals with far greater force than either French or German, to whom it is the embodiment of pride of race, of distinct nationality—they asserted it was from the educational standpoint of far greater importance than any other language. Alone amongst the universities of the world Trinity College stood in hostile opposition to the language of the country, whose educational destinies are for the moment in its hands. Since its professors were ignorant of the language, which European scholars had studied for years, they must needs insult both the language and the people who spoke it. To them, who were ignorant of it, it was "silly, indecent, etc.," to European scholars who had studied it in their universities and by the shores of Arran, it was "beyond any modern language as an educational medium." Yet, in face of the convincing and conclusive case made out in favour of the Irish language at the Commission, we find that again the bigotry and intolerance of the ignorant professors of Trinity prevails, and the unanimous demands of the Irish people, backed as it is by the unprejudiced expert opinion of the greatest living European scholars, is insultingly spurned by the Trinity professors who rule the Intermediate Board. In the old programme, Irish was handicapped by being allotted a smaller number of marks than any other subject. In the new programme the system of favouring special subjects by means of marks is abandoned, and an apparent equality established between all subjects. By an insidious move the Board, while pretending to favour Irish by doing away with marks, and by making it an honour subject, have really attempted to crush Irish out altogether from the programme. Take, for instance, the programme for the preparatory grade. The essential subjects are English composition; one of either French, Latin, or German; arithmetic, drawing, or English, and any other subject. The only chance for Irish is as a nondescript subject.

In the preparatory grade we find that the compulsory subjects are English composition; either French, Latin, or German; arithmetic, drawing or English, and any other subject. In examining this matter it is well to remember that a Student on entering upon this programme sees before him a course of four years; he also sees the possibility of gaining a scholarship of £20, £30, or £50 a year; and he learns from this programme that in order to obtain an exhibition in the ordinary literary course he must take up French or German. If he takes up the literary course he will be compelled not to take up Irish at the commencement. If he takes the classical course he must take up at the beginning Latin and Greek, and will therefore be prevented from taking up Irish, because there are four compulsory subjects and one optional, and the one optional includes in both the classical and the literary course either modern French or German. In the science course for exhibitions he has in the same way to take up subjects which will preclude the possibility of his taking up the Irish language. Therefore, at the very outset of his course as an intermediate student, if he ambitions to be a prize winner or an exhibitioner—and surely every young Irish child will so ambition—he is compelled to lay aside the language which the Commission of a few years ago unanimously recommended should be placed on better terms in the new programme. This better treatment has been unanimously demanded by the Irish people, by their representatives in Parliament, by the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland assembled at its synods, by the county and district councils, by a band of young Irishmen all over the country, and by the Gaelic League, numbering over 200 branches. Still, in the face of this Unanimous demand, in the face of the conclusive case made out for it, we find in the programme just issued, from which we expected better treatment, that the language is in an even worse and inferior position than before. It is to remedy this state of things that I have taken the liberty of addressing the House to-night. On a previous occasion I quoted extracts from various Continental scholars showing the beauty of the language, the literary treasures embodied in it, and its value to Irishmen if we wish to train and develop their natural abilities. Yet the Board which this House, through its representative the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, has nominated to attend to the educational requirements of our people, disregards the public opinion of Ireland and the unanimous demand made on behalf of this language to the Commission, and places Irish in a worse position than it even occupied before.

I come now to the second part of my Amendment. At page 24 the programme says— To be eligible for prizes and examinations in Group I., students must reach the Honour standard in Greek and Latin. Therefore, according to that, Greek and Latin in the Irish school programme are made practically compulsory for those who wish to take up the classical course. But while French and German are practically made compulsory the language, which is a modern language, demanded by the Irish child, and which is demanded by the Irish people, is relegated to a position of obscurity, and shut out altogether. This is a disgrace. It is intolerable, and it is a thing which Irishmen are not prepared to submit to.

I trust that this appeal of the representatives of the Irish people will receive the favourable consideration of hon. Gentlemen opposite. But supposing it does not receive favourable consideration, and supposing the reactionary attitude taken up by the Intermediate Education Board is backed up by this House, we are determined, after having taken so much trouble to revive the language we love, which is the I language of our ancestors, not to fall back in the struggle. We mean to make Irish a living language and an educational medium, and surely hon. Members opposite do not wish that opportunities for improving the people and raising them socially and intellectually should be kept away from them. The Board has taken a reactionary step, and I trust they will not be supported. Men are appointed to administer education in Ireland, not because they are experts, not because they are prepared to pay attention to the drawing up of schemes suitable for the people, and not because they are in sympathy with the people, but because it is known and an admitted fact that they are the humble servants of the permanent officials. They are appointed to those positions because it is known that instead of devoting their time and attention and their energy and enthusiasm to this vital question they will sit down and do nothing, and leave matters entirely in the hands of the permanent official. England would not tolerate such a system for a moment, for she would not permit her educational system to be administered by a body of old, discarded, fossilised, and useless judges and lawyers. Irish is put in competition with a host of subjects, many of them far easier for the pupil, many absolutely essential in after grades if he wishes to try for prizes. While Greek and Latin are made practically compulsory in the classical group, and French and German in the modern group, Irish—the language of our people, which can be thoroughly learned and used in after life by all the students, to the majority of whom French and German will afterwards become dead or useless languages—is not thought worthy of being mentioned by name. It is relegated to a position of obscurity; it cannot be touched until the pupil has taken up three other languages, and under such circumstances it is impossible to expect either masters or pupils to take it up. This inferior position given to our national language by a Board wholly irresponsible, hopelessly anti-Irish, is a thing which Irishmen will not now tolerate. The time has passed when Irishmen silently submit to such wanton outrages on their national sentiments and desires; and if the Government intend to back up the Board in their utterly indefensible position, and refuse to accede to the very moderate demand made in the Amendment, then the time will have arrived for all Irishmen who respect their country and their race, who are not prepared to submit to be shuffled about, kicked, and insulted by every enemy of their race, to take a resolute stand and direct their energies not to getting concessions or alms from those who will never listen to justice or reason, but will submit to organised national opposition—the time will come, in fact has already come, when Irishmen should hurl these Boards from the power they have so long abused, and take into their own hands the educational destinies of their people. I beg to move the resolution standing in my name.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I rise to second the motion which has just been moved. Most Members of this House are aware of the radical and revolutionary change which has been inaugurated in the whole intermediate educational system of Ireland, and I desire to say at the very outset that those of us on these benches, who repres nt the majority of the people, recognise in that change, so far as its general provisions are concerned, a great reform, which we welcome as one of the greatest steps that has been taken in recent days—I might say for generations—towards establishing a tolerable system of education for the Irish people. We feel deeply grateful to those men who were instrumental in starting this change. The controversy, as the Chief Secretary and those who had examined the Amendment of his hon. friend were already aware, turned that night solely on the question of the position given to the Irish language in the new programme, although there were other points open to criticism. I wish to say that in my judgment it would be impossible to exaggerate the importance of this question. The feeling in Ireland among those for whom the Members on these benches spoke is intensely strong, and the disappointment at the provisions in the new rules issued by the Education Board is bitter in proportion to the expectations which have been aroused in the minds of the people. Now, I wish it to be clearly understood that our demand is not that the study of the Irish language should be made compulsory in any school or on any scholar, but that it should, in the programme of intermediate educational system in Ireland, be placed on a level of equality with any other language. That prima facie should appeal to the common sense of the House of Commons. It is a very serious matter, because the people of Ireland will not be content with any rules or programme which place the Irish language in a position inferior to that of any other language.

We wish no superior inducements or superior authority for the Irish language. That is a very moderate claim, and the feeling of the mass of the people of Ireland is so intensely strong upon it that if that demand is refused there will be a very fierce agitation. In the new Code, so far from an improvement being made on the old system, which has been made the subject of complaint in the House of Commons, followed by still more violent complaints in Ireland, the Irish language has been placed in a much worse position. I see the Chief Secretary shake his head, but that is the universal opinion in Ireland. The process has been done in a very cute and cunning way. It is true that according to the old Code the same number of marks is given to the Irish language as to French and German, and that under the new Code the same number of marks is given to all subjects. The programme is so constructed as to shoulder out Irish from the preparatory course, and to pursue it throughout with a mark of inferiority. An extraordinary preference is throughout given to German and Greek over Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and Irish. Why should that be so? I yield to nobody in my admiration of the German and Greek languages, but it is a monstrous thing that a Board appointed to educate the Irish people should give such a substantial preference to those languages. In the preparatory and most of the other grades, you can pass with a minimum of forty marks in most subjects, but for German and Greek you require only thirty. Our first claim is that Irish should be accorded the most favoured language treatment. I should prefer that all languages should be placed on the same level, and the school authorities thus given a fair choice of the subjects they would take up. But if a preference is to be given to any language or languages, such as is here given to German and Greek, there will be an irresistible claim from Ireland that the Irish language should have equally favourable treatment.

As to our second claim, I turn to the programme of the preparatory grade which is vitally important, because it stands to reason that any subject or subjects taken up by the student in the preparatory grade will be carried by him through the whole of the course. In the preparatory grade a student must pass in five subjects—English composition; Latin, French, or German; arithmetic, experimental science, drawing or English, and one other subject. The only way in which Irish can be brought in is under that last head, and there it stands in competition with Greek, German, Italian, Spanish, algebra, and drawing. Is that just to the Irish language? In the first place, it is not mentioned at all, and four other subjects have been made obligatory before it can be selected. Therefore, I say, that inasmuch as Greek is a preferred subject with a bonus of ten marks in its favour throughout the course, and inasmuch as Greek is in the classical side of all the higher classes an essential subject for exhibitions, that programme is framed with the deliberate object, and certainly the undoubted effect, of squeezing Irish out altogether in the preparatory grade, and if it is squeezed out there there is no chance whatever for it in the other grades. We see in this the result of a crusade which has been undertaken deliberately by a large section—by a majority, as I am informed—of the members of the Intermediate Board, who represent the openly avowed spirit of Trinity College, Dublin. This is an extremely serious matter. The hon. Member opposite spoke contemptuously at the idea of giving the same number of marks for Irish as for German and French. If our Amendment is accepted in these rules it will still be open to any student in Ireland to ignore the Irish language without incurring the smallest disability. We do not propose to impose the smallest disability by our Amendment upon any student in Ireland; all we ask is that the student may not be put under a disability by taking it up. I was talking to a great educational expert in Ireland the other day, and he said that in his judgment and from his own experience he would almost say that any subject which children took up with an interest had an educational value, in proportion to the interest it excited in the minds of the children. If you notice that, for whatever reason, a body of children take up something that will arouse their interest and stimulate their minds I think it ought to be put forward as a permanent item in any educational course. I could quote educational authorities from a great many foreign countries who have expressed themselves strongly in favour of the teaching of Irish. Considering the fact that the young children are studying this language with enthusiasm and mastering it, this ought to be sufficient to convince the Government that the Irish language is one of great educational value to the people of Ireland. What is the meaning of all this animosity? Why, if the children desire to learn the ancient language of their country, should they be prevented from doing so? These rules are part of an avowed policy in Ireland to wipe out the Irish language from the school, and I attribute this policy largely to Trinity College. I have here the evidence of Professor Atkinson, who said before the Commission that he objected to Irish because it was not of sufficient value to justify them in retaining it. Professor Atkinson also held a further objection that Irish literature was so dirty and indecent that it was dangerous to allow an Irish child to understand its own language. I contend, on the same line of argument, that the study of Greek is also dangerous for the same reason. The object of the new rules is to exclude Irish, and these provisions are the skilfully drawn arrangements and plans of Trinity College for wiping out Irish altogether. This is the policy propounded by Professor Atkinson.

We have now a perfectly clear issue before us. On the one side you have this wretched system of irresponsible nominated boards. We have been told that Archbishop Walsh is on the Board, but he may be in a minority. The situation is that you have on one side a board nominated by the Lord Lieutenant and in no sense representative, and on the other side you have the unanimous demand of four-fifths of the Irish people, who represent the vast majority of the children for whose benefit this system of education is intended. What will be the consequences? What will be the result if this demand is refused? Do not let hon. Members opposite lay the flattering unction to their souls that this debate will be the last. If this demand is refused the Chief Secretary will be face to face with a fierce agitation which will increase in vehemence until the demand is granted. I remember raising this question five years ago, and the President of the Board of Trade, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland, made a not altogether unsympathetic speech on that occasion, but he treated the matter as one in which nobody took very great interest. I think that since then he has seen cause to change his mind. I warn the Chief Secretary that if this moderate demand we are now making is refused there will be immediately an agitation against the existence of the Board—an agitation of a formidable character—and for the handing over of the intermediate education of Ireland to a board representing the people. I certainly should not be sorry to be the mouthpiece of the demand which we will be compelled to put forward to sweep away the Board altogether as an obstruction to education in Ireland and a difficulty in the path of the Irish people. If the Chief Secretary desires to give this new reform a fair chance—and I confess I desire to give it a chance—I would urge upon him to use his influence, which we know in this matter can be used with effect, to induce those gentlemen to moderate their ardour against the Irish language, to give the Irish people local option in this matter, to grant the moderate demand now made, and to place the Irish language in; such a position that pupils in Ireland will not be damnified or endangered or pulled back in the educational race by the fact that they have chosen Irish in the preparatory grade of the intermediate examinations.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House disapproves of the Rules of Examination of the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland, 1902, unless they be amended in the following particulars:—

  1. 1. In preparatory grade, substitute 'Irish, Latin, French, German,' for present group 'Latin, French, German.'
  2. 2. In all grades in Modern Course, substitute 'Irish, French, or German,' for 'French or German.'
  3. 1163
  4. 3. In all grades in Grammar School Course, substitute 'Irish, Greek, French, or German,' for 'Greek, French, or German.'
  5. 4. In Rule 34, line 9 of Rule, insert after 'Standard,' 'in two of the three following: Irish, French, or German.'
  6. 5. That the percentage required for pass in Irish he 30 per cent. as is the case in Greek and German; 25 per cent. for a pass in the honour course, the standard now required for Greek and German."—( Mr. Thomas O'Donnell.)


The hon. Member for East Mayo concluded his speech with two propositions. The first was that unless the House assented now and forthwith to impose these five Amendments upon the Intermediate Education Board there will be an agitation throughout Ireland for the abolition of the Board, and that he will be prepared to head the agitation. The other proposition with which he concluded his speech was that at the same time he desires to give a fair trial to the new reform which this Board has initiated.


The right hon. Gentle man has misunderstood me. What I said was that I believed the Members on these benches (the Irish Members) would be compelled, whether they liked it or not, to head the agitation.


I shall not debate that point now, but I would ask whether that is a reasonable way in which to treat a scheme prepared by a board of experts, and from which many people, including the hon. Member, expect a great deal of good. I think the hon. Member and some of those who agree with him are under a slight misapprehension. The hon. Member read the evidence given by Dr. Atkinson, and if I followed his argument accurately, he held that the majority of the Board saw eye to eye with that gentleman and showed no consideration whatever for the minority of the Board. I do not think it would be proper or fitting to go behind the united action of the Board, and I do not think that the picture which the hon. Member has drawn of what had been going on was a true picture. So long as there are on that Board high-minded gentlemen who are experts in educational matters, and so long as they act together, the House is bound to defer to their opinions. The hon. Member dwelt on the educational value of the Irish language. I had the opportunity not so long ago of also dwelling on the educational value of the Irish language, and I adhere to every word I then said, but the hon. Gentleman will recall that I did on that occasion draw a distinction between the teaching of an Irish speaking child through the medium of the Irish language, and the question before us—namely, the degree and place that should be given to Irish as a subject of secondary education. The hon. Member said that the rules had been contrived in order to squeeze out the Irish language, although he admitted it was given as many marks as any other subject. The general principle on which the Board had acted, it seems to me, is that every child is to take up two large subjects with a choice of another; and in that choice Irish is included. If the child goes in for a literary career or a grammar school course, it will take up Latin and Greek or Latin and French, or Latin or Greek and German, which have a cosmopolitan educational value. But when that is done it is at liberty, nay, it is encouraged to take up the study of the Irish language. The hon. Member said that he had arrived at the conclusion that under these circumstances the child would not take up Irish, but I believe that it would, and the whole of my argument showed that it is not advisable to come to so rapid a conclusion on the merits of this question, especially when we have just received a report from such eminent authorities, and to tell these gentlemen face to face that they are wrong and that we are right. We cannot treat in this way the body of men to whom this matter has been delegated, and who act entirely from public spirit, without remuneration. The hon. Member who introduced the discussion pointed out that there is one Board which deals with elementary education, and another which deals with secondary education. As I pointed out a little while ago, neither the Government nor the House has any direct control over even the Board which deals with elementary education, and I understood one hon. Member to express a preference for that Board over the Intermediate. Speaking of elementary education we are, perhaps, more entitled to express our views there, particularly on the question of children who speak Irish and do not speak English. Administration comes in. We can say that we cannot educate these children unless the teacher understands Irish. On that point the hon. Member for Waterford asked me whether there would be a teacher of Irish appointed at the training college, and I am glad to be able to inform him that the National Board has decided to make such an appointment. But I do distinguish that question somewhat sharply from the question we are now discussing. On the question of secondary education the delegation must be fuller if any good is to be secured. You cannot put up such men as compose this Board—many of them enjoying the confidence of hon. Members who have spoken to-night—such men as Archbishop Walsh, Dr. Molloy, Professor Starkie, and Father Findlay—I say you cannot delegate such a subject as this to such men as these, and then claim the right to criticise their every action at every turn.


We did not delegate the subject to them.


If that is the position of the hon. Member, of course his motion goes a good deal further than appears on the face of it, because it then becomes a motion for the constitution of some other authority. I cannot embark on that subject to-night, but I do not believe that even the hon. Member has ready any alternative for these twelve gentlemen, who really discharge their duties, as is admitted by the hon. Member for East Mayo, upon every point other than this in a way which receives the approbation of hon. Gentlemen opposite. That. I say, is admitted even by those who have criticised the action of the Board most severely, and the following statement was recently published by the Gaelic League—a statement by Dr. Douglas Hyde, who, I think, has sup- plied a good deal of the ammunition for this debate— We believe it to be a serious, well conceived, and courageous effort in the right direction. If you can get that from any body of men in this imperfect world, I think you have a great deal to be thankful for. I do submit that it is a mistake, while this scheme is almost damp from the press, to put down five Amendments, and to state that if those Amendments are not accepted you want neither the Board nor their scheme. It must be remembered that the Viceregal Commission was appointed in 1898, and sat until August, 1899: upon that Commission were educationists whose authority hon. Members opposite will acknowledge; their Report was submitted to the Intermediate Board, who, after working for another year and a half, came forward in June of this year with these new rules and this examination programme.

I could argue this question on its merits if it were not so intricate, and I could take up some points made by the hon. Member who moved this Instruction, and by the hon. Member for East Mayo. I prefer, however, to read to the House what the Intermediate Education Board said upon this Instruction. When it was put upon the Order Paper I thought it only right to communicate with the Board, and to ask for any observations which they might desire to make upon it. These are the observations of the Board— The Board have been most desirous, in the preparation of the programme for 1902, to encourage the study of the Irish language, as far as can be done consistently with the general interests of education in the country. They have accordingly placed this subject in a more favourable position than it has previously occupied, especially in these two respects:—(1) The study of the Irish language counts as much towards exhibitions and prizes as the study of any other language; and (2) the teaching of the Irish language counts as much towards school grants as the teaching of any other language. The Board will be prepared, after some experience of the practical working of the changes now introduced, to consider what further steps may be taken to encourage the study of the Irish language. But having given full consideration to all the evidence laid before the recent Commission, and having taken into account the imperfect resources at present available for the teaching of Irish, they do not think it desirable, in the general interests of education, to do more in this direction, at present than they have done in the programme now before the House of Commons. With reference to the fifth point in the Instruction, and the alleged undue preference given to German and Greek, I find that the hon. Member referred to the fact that whereas a certain percentage is required for all other subjects, for German and Greek a lower percentage is allowed in order to secure a pass. The Intermediate Education Board upon that point go on to say— The lower percentage required for passing in Greek and German was fixed on account of the small number of students presenting themselves for examination in these subjects, suggesting to the Board that these important languages were neglected. The arrangement made is only provisional, and should it have the desired effect of stimulating the study of these languages it need not continue in operation. In the case of Irish It was not considered necessary to give this special encouragement owing to the enthusiasm with which the subject has been taken up of late. These observations are subscribed to by all the Members of the Board. I have no doubt that there are some members of the Board who do not agree with these new rules, but what I submit is that they should be left to the persons of the Board to determine, and we should not attempt to snatch the task out of their hands. I do not desire to argue the merits of this question at all. My point is that it would be a mistake for Parliament to interfere at the outset with the details, however important, of such a scheme. The scheme is, on the face of it, in some respects transitional, and, as the Board themselves recognise, to a certain extent capable of improvement. All I urge is that unless we are prepared to abolish this Board, and I am not prepared to do that, and I gather that the hon. Member for East Mayo is not prepared to do it—


I said I was sincerely anxious to give the new system a fair trial.


I suggest that an opportunity should be given by awaiting Amendments at the hands of the experts, and in the light of experience, and not by seeking to induce them, at the hands of Parliament, to alter the conclusion arrived at after long labour and infinite pains.


said the Chief Secretary had told I them that it was not fair to criticise the new scheme at present, but he would point out that if no objection was taken to the rules within forty days after they were laid on the Table of the House they would become law as a matter of course. His hon. friend the Member for West Kerry, in dealing with the rules now, I was only acting in accordance with the I Act of Parliament, following the injunction of this House, and adopting a perfectly regular and constitutional course. The Chief Secretary asked them to give reasonable treatment to the Board. He was sure they were prepared to do so, but, on the other hand, they had a perfect right to ask that the Board of Education should give reasonable attention to the people of Ireland in this matter. While the Irish Members were satisfied, speaking generally, with the new rules, there remained the question of the teaching of Irish, on which they considered they had cause to complain. In view of the strong feeling for the revival of the Irish language and the progress of the movement in the last four or five years, they certainly thought that the Board of Education had behaved very badly in not giving some-interpretation to that feeling in the new code. He had read the rules carefully, and he and many others took the view that under them the Irish language was placed in competition with other subjects. What they claimed was that the study of Irish should be placed in competition with another language, and not with such a subject as geometry or drawing. Notwithstanding what the Chief Secretary had said, it seemed to him that the position given to the Irish language in the rules did not induce to its study. He understood that the rules were subject to revision, and he hoped that revision would come at no distant date. His interest in this question arose from the fact that people who were not Irish were as anxious as the Irish people themselves to have the opportunity of learning the Irish language. He and his friends believed that the preservation of the Irish language was intimately bound up with the preservation of the Irish nation, and for that reason he asked for a revision of the rules. Some hon. Members opposite had interjected, in the course of the debate, their objections to the preservation of the Irish language. He did not want to be hard on them, but the reason for that unseemly behaviour was that they knew nothing whatever of Ireland or Irish literature. If they had had an Irish Administration responsible to the wishes of the people of Ireland they would have, long ago, proved to the world that the literature of ancient Ireland was perhaps the finest in existence.

MR. LEAMY (Kildare, N.)

I confess I am much astonished that the Chief Secretary deprecates criticism of the Board of Education in Ireland and charges Irish Members with acting unfairly towards the Board, and with being desirous to prevent new reforms in education being carried out. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that if this Amendment is carried we shall get rid of the Board. We do not want to get rid of the Board, but we do want them to fall in with public feeling in Ireland on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of five Amendments, but there is only one question before the House, and that is whether an Irish boy should be entitled, if he chooses, to take up the study of Irish instead of French, German, or Greek. The right hon. Gentleman speaks of the cosmopolitan value of Greek or German. Does he believe that any boy who takes honours in Greek or German ever knows much about either language five years after he has left school? We thoroughly approve of the reform which has been effected; we are desirous of giving it all the assistance we can; we simply ask that an Irish lad should be able to take up the study of the Irish language if he likes. I cannot understand why it is that the Board will not consent to this, knowing, as it must, the extraordinary movement which has grown up for the restoration of the Irish language. What is the revolution which it is feared this Amendment, if carried, would effect? You already have French, German, and Latin in the rules; we ask for the addition of the word "Irish." We do not ask that every boy should be compelled to learn Irish; we simply desire that it should be made optional. As to the literature of the language, we have as fine and as chivalrous characters in the heroes of Irish story as are to be found anywhere. The chief inspirations of all the great epic-makers and bards have been found in warriors and lovers, and, whatever may be said about Irishmen, they can never be accused of being laggards or cowards; whether on the battlefield or in the boudoir Irishmen have always been able to render a good account of themselves. But after all is said and done, what we are asking for is simply the right to teach our own language in our own schools. The majority of the Irish people are in favour of the demand we are making to-day. Remember, you cannot kill the Irish language now. I have heard it stated that there are at present 500 students in Maynooth College studying Irish; Irish priests are returning to the preaching of sermons in Irish; newspapers have taken up the subject; children are engaged with it. We are simply amazed at the movement, which is the most astonishing that has taken place in Ireland for centuries. Why can you not assent to this request? Is there any single demand which the Irish people can make which will be assented to by the English Government without the country being brought to the verge of civil war? Would the Empire be endangered by the granting of this appeal? Why, in the name of God, is it not agreed to, so that we may have peace and quietude upon at any rate one single matter I We are told that if this Amendment is pressed the Board might throw up the whole business. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that we could not get on in Ireland without this high-spirited Board? The right hon. Gentleman also told us that the Board are unanimous, or, at all events, that they are working in agreement. Will he tell us that there is not a single member of that Board in favour of our demand? Will he say that either of the four gentlemen whose names he mentioned is against our demand? I admit that there is some hope in the reply received from the Board, and I think the right hon. Gentleman acted very wisely in asking for their opinion upon this point. At the same time, I can assure him that we will never be content until our demand is conceded, and, therefore, the sooner it is granted the better.

MR. LUNDON (Limerick, E.)

said that by the new rules this beautiful Irish language, which compared favourably with Greek, was being thrown into the background. He wished to point out to the Chief Secretary that he had been a teacher of the Irish language for forty years, and he had done his best to propagate the language of his forefathers. The Irish literature was one of the finest in the world. They did not possess a more perfect record in Latin than they did

in the Irish language, and they possessed first-class Irish dictionaries and Irish grammars of the finest stamp. He concluded by reciting "Who fears to speak of '98?" in the Irish language.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 56 Noes, 107. (Division List No. 269.)

Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Hayden, John Patrick O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Ambrose, Robert Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- O'Dowd, John
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Helme, Norval Watson O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Boland, John Jordan, Jeremiah O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.)
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Kennedy, Patrick James O'Malley, William
Caldwell, James Leamy, Edmund O'Mara, James
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Levy, Maurice O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Cogan, Denis J. Lundon, W. Power, Patrick Joseph
Condon, Thomas Joseph MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Reddy, M.
Crean, Eugene M'Dermott, Patrick Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Cullinan, J. M'Govern, T. Redmond, William (Clare)
Delany, William Mooney, John J. Rigg, Richard
Dillon, John Nannetti, Joseph P. Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Doogan, P. C. Nolan, Col John P. (Galway, N.) Sullivan, Donal
Duffy, William J. Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Weir, James Galloway
Elibank, Master of O'Brien, Kendal (Tip'er'ry, Mid White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Ffrench, Peter O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Gilhooly, James O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W) Sir Thomas Esmonde and Captain Donelan.
Hammond, John O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Acland-Hood. Capt. Sir Alex. F Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Morgan, Hon. Fred. (Monmths.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Finch, George H. Morrell, George Herbert
Anson, Sir William Reynell Fisher, William Hayes Mount, William Arthur
Arkwright, John Stanhope Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn) Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Nicol, Donald Ninian
Bain, Colonel James Robert Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury) Pretyman, Ernest George
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r) Gretton, John Purvis, Robert
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Greville, Hon. Ronald Randles, John S.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds) Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Mid'x Reid, James (Greenock)
Balfour, Maj K R (Christchurch Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Rbt. Wm. Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge
Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T.
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Harris, Frederick Leverton Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.
Bignold, Arthur Hay, Hon. Claude George Royds, Clement Molyneux
Bigwood, James Higginbottom, S. W. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Blundell, Col. Henry Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightsd. Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Bond, Edward Hoult, Joseph Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln)
Brassey, Albert Johnston, William (Belfast) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Spear, John Ward
Bull, William James Keswick, William Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Bullard, Sir Harry Knowles, Lees Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Cautley, Henry Strother Lawson, John Grant Thornton, Percy M.
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Tollemache, Henry James
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh. Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S. Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow) Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S. Valentia, Viscount
Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Loyd, Archie Kirkman Warde, Col. C. E.
Cranborne, Viscount Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney
Crossley, Sir Savile Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Dalkeith, Earl of Macartney, Rt. Hn. W G E Ellison Willox, Sir John Archibald
Davenport, William Bromley- M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Wills, Sir Frederick
Dickson, Charles Scott Malcolm, Ian Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield Manners, Lord Cecil Wylie, A.
Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Dorington, Sir John Edward Maxwell, W. J. H (Dumfriessh.)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Molesworth, Sir Lewis TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Sir William Walrond and
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow) Mr. Anstruther.

Adjourned at Two of the clock till Monday next.