HC Deb 02 March 1903 vol 118 cc1205-15
MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)

asked for an explanation of the increased charge. Was it due to an improvement in the average attendance at the school, or to an increase in the percentage of regular attendance, or to the fact that children remained at school for a longer period than formerly? Either way it indicated an improvement in educational matters, and he did not think the Committee would be indisposed to grant the additional money asked for seeing that it represented the ha'porth of tar that made the ship good. Personally he was very glad the Board of Education was making an additional demand that night.


said the Supplementary Estimate was large, but the Committee would not be displeased at the cause, because it arose from increased and more regular attendances. That increase had been beyond all anticipation. In 1898 the increase over the previous year was 65,000 odd: in 1899 it was 82,700; in 1900, the year of the war, it dropped to 29,000, but the following year it rose again to 69,453. For the year ending August, 1902, the calculation had been made for an increase of between 70,000 and 80,000 children over the previous year, whereas the attendances had increased by over 160,000. He put the increase down to two causes: firstly, the effect of Robson's Act, which raised the age at which children were permitted to go to work for half-time, and secondly—a more important cause—to the effect of the Act of 1900, under which School Boards and School Attendance Committees were empowered to substitute the age of fourteen for thirteen, as the age for compulsory attendance under bye-laws. The Act of 1870 gave to School Boards the power to make bye-laws requiring children to attend to an age not exceeding thirteen. The Act of 1876 extended that power to School Attendance Committees; but although it stated that the age of children lasted until fourteen, it did not extend that power beyond thirteen. The Act of 1900, however-, gave power to extend the age up to fourteen. To that he thought they might largely attribute the increased attendance. There was another cause to which he attributed not merely increased attendance, but increased regularity of attendance, which he thought was as satisfactory, if not more satisfactory than the other, and that was the Clause in the Act of 1900 which enabled the fine for non-attendance to be raised from 5s. to £1. In some districts that had almost doubled the regularity of attendance. He would only mention the further very satisfactory result that the increased attendance and the increased regularity of attendance were fairly uniform all over the country. The average increase during the year ended the 1st of August, 1902, might be put at 3 per cent. The increase in the Welsh ounties was 3. 8 per cent. and in the Welsh boroughs 3. 1 per cent. He hoped he had explained in a satisfactory way the reason why the Board of Education had to ask for such a large Supplementary Estimate, and that the house would grant it.

MR. WHITLEY said he wished to ask the Secretary to the Board of Education whether if it were not for a certain alteration made by his Department there would have been any necessity to ask for a Supplementary Vote now. He was not opposing the increase asked for or the change made by the Department last year in connection with a grant for evening schools, which wore regulated by the Minute of July 3rd, 1901. But during the year, the Board of Education in addition to the grant under the Minute made a Supplementary Grant; and if that Supplementary Grant had not been paid the increase now asked for would not be required. He desired to ask the Secretary to the Board of Education if be could tell the Committee on what principle that Supplementary Grant was made to evening schools. At any rate, it ought to be shown in some form on the Estimates.

Question put and agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £28,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1903, for the Expenses of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland."

*MR. BOLAND (Kerry, S.)

said he desired to call attention to what had recently happened in the West of Ireland. Continuation schools were started in Mayo; and, with the authority of the Board of Education, it was decided that the two subjects to be taught in them should be the Irish language and Irish history. The schools were continued for some months, but for some reason, which he hoped the Chief Secretary would explain, the National Education Board refused to pay the teachers engaged in those schools on the ground that the subjects chosen did not fall within the scope of continuation schools. He believed he was right in saying that the two subjects he mentioned were not only on the curriculum of the Board, but were sufficient in themselves. They in Ireland felt strongly with regard to the matter, because they believed that for the education of their country and for its future industrial development, it was extremely important that a national foundation should be given to education; and they held that no better means could be taken to develop the educational interests of their people and educate them on national lines than to give them an opportunity throughout Ireland of studying their own language and their own history. The experience of foreign countries proved that the studies of those two subjects did more to lay a proper foundation, not only for sound education, but also for sound industrial development, than any other subjects. It could not be alleged that the schools in Mayo to which he referred were meant to be carried on with those two subjects alone for any prolonged period. It was quite within the right of the manager to select any further subjects; and they hoped that where it was within the right of a manager that a start should be made with subjects approved by the National Education Board, managers should have a right to continue any subjects they thought fit. or substitute any others. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £27,900, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Boland.)


said he desired to support the Motion. The question of evening schools was one of very considerable importance in Ireland. Evening schools in their country were yet in their infancy, and needed support from local managers and others interested in education in order to make them successful. He held in his hand a letter from a gentleman in Co. Mayo who had taken a great interest in the subject. As soon as he saw the advantage that evening schools would confer on his district he at once set about establishing them. He wrote to the Board of Education to ascertain the rules, and having ascertained the rules he immediately established an evening school, choosing as its subjects, the Irish language and Irish history as being the best suited to the district, and being, in his opinion, the subjects which, at the beginning, would tend to make the school successful. In a few months he had some 500 pupils. He wrote to the Board and asked whether they would sanction the school and the subjects, and he was informed by an official that they were perfectly within the rules. Dr. Starkie, the Resident Commissioner, also assured him that his programme was in order' but in a very short time the Board reconsidered the matter, and after the school had been in operation for over two months, they revised their rules and made it. essential that two other subjects should also be included. He thought it was a very strange state of affairs if the National Board make rules at the beginning of a session for the guidance and control of schools, and such rules should not remain in operation during that session. The gentleman he referred to engaged teachers from Dublin and Cork, who, of course, expected to be paid, but he now found that the teachers would not be paid, because the school was not sanctioned. The gentleman writing said that it was not easy to induce a mass of the people to study, and that the labouring classes would only be drawn to education by subjects in which they were interested; yet, when he tried to stimulate education in his parish the National Board declined to support him. Much had been said about the unsympathetic and apathetic way in which the managers of national schools treated the educational interests entrusted to their charge, yet Dr. Starkie himself did not hesitate to prevent a local gentleman from giving education to 500 or 600 boys, while at the same time he accused managers of schools of not taking any interest in their schools. It was evident from the letter to which he had referred, that if managers displayed an interest in their schools they found their efforts blocked at every turn by the Board. He hoped the Chief Secretary would give some explanation and some assurance that such action would not be repeated in the future.

With reference to the salaries of principal and assistant teachers, he wished to ask the Chief Secretary whether it was not a fact that as a result of the recent changes in the system of payment, a considerable number of teachers, although they were promised that there would be no diminution in their salaries, had suffered pecuniarily. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman had received a petition from ninety-five teachers saying that owing to the changes in the system of payment they had been injured financially, and asking for an inquiry. He thought the least that might be done in response to the petition was to grant an inquiry, and find out whether the complaint in the petition was just. There was also another point, namely, the average attendance necessary for the appointment of a second teacher in a small school. They were all aware that one of the great essentials for the development of any country, especially a poor country like Ireland, was that young boys and girls should be thoroughly and properly educated during the few years they could spend at school. At present the average attendance for the appointment of one assistant in Ireland was sixty, whereas in a rich country like England it was only fifty. Every educationist in Ireland, even the National Board, was of opinion that it would be very much to the advantage of education if the average were reduced' and he hoped the Chief Secretary would be able to inform the Committee that it was about to be reduced, and that the right hon. Gentleman would impress on the Treasury the great advantage of such a reduction.

MR. WYNDHAM said that at first blush the Supplementary Estimate was a matter for congratulation rather than regret, inasmuch as the bulk of it was due to the fulfilment of promises, while £6,700 of the increase had been caused by the rapid expansion of the evening continuation schools. But how was it that the increase had come upon the Committee so suddenly? Because the education of Ireland was managed by a Board which was, more or less, and perhaps necessarily so, independent of the Government of Ireland. That Board, appointed in the year 1837, marked a distinct advance on the educational system then in existence, and it had continued on the principle that when one member died another was appointed in his place. While he believed the Board worked hard and earnestly for the good of education in Ireland, he did not disguise his opinion, speculative though it was, that it might be possible, not in this year, but in some future year, to suggest improvements on a plan framed in 1837. He, however, was not directly responsible for the Board of Education, and could not undertake to remedy this or that defect or error of judgment as it was brought before the Committee. The proper plan, when they were admittedly engaged upon another matter likely to hypothecate all their time and energies, was to reconnoitre other questions that might arise. To this end he had suggested, and he thought the suggestion would be accepted, that they should have in Ireland, to help the Treasury and himself in looking at the financial position of the matter, an expert in British education. Finance was at the bottom of the matter, and he was bound to say that he had not the time and leisure at present to go into all these considerations. As to the subjects taught at the evening continuation schools, it was not for him to defend, interpret, or even understand, the conclusions arrived at by the National Board. No doubt they had their reasons, but to ascertain those reasons he would require to be represented at the debates of the Board, and he declined to pass judgment on a decision for which he had no responsibility whatever.

MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman in being expected to defend the action, taken by a body so irresponsible, and over which he had no control whatever. These discussions were valuable, however, because they revealed to the Committee the ridiculous position in which education was placed in Ireland. It was very little consolation to be told fifty years after the creation of the Board, as their fathers were told when they made the same complaint, that there was no time to deal with its defects. The right hon. Gentleman had not touched the subjects brought forward by his hon. friends, but the debate had been useful inasmuch us in addition to showing that the National Board was an anachronism and ought to be abolished, it proved the practical grievance under which Ireland suffered in being governed by a House which for fifty years had had no time to deal with a grievance of this magnitude.

Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Joyce, Michael Redmond, John E. (Watcrford)
Bayley. Thomas (Derbyshire) Law, H. Alex. (Donegal, W.) Redmond, William (Clare)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Layland-Barratt, Francis Rigg, Richard
Boland, John Levy, Maurice Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Lundon, W. Runciman, Walter
Burke, E. Haviland MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Samuel, Herbert, L. (Cleveland)
Caldwell, James MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Shipman, Dr. John G.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) MacVeagh, Jeremiah Soares, Ernest J.
Causton, Richard Knight M'Govern, T. Strachey, Sir Edward
Condon, Thomas Joseph M'Kean, John Sullivan, Donal
Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark) Murnaghan, George Tennant, Harold John
Clean, Eugene Murphy, John Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Cullinan, J Nolan, Joseph (Louth South) Tomkinson, James
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Norman. Henry Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Delany, William O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Doogan, P. C. O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) O'Dowd. John Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Duffy, William J. O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Mara, James TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.
Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Harmsworth, R. Leicester Power, Patrick Joseph
Hayne, Rt, Hon. Chas Seale Reddy, M.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Doughty, George Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Douglas. Rt. Hon. A Akers Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred
Anson, Sir William Reynell Duruing-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Macdona, John Gumming
Arkwright, John Stanhope Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed. M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst M'Calmont, Colonel James
Atkinson, Right Hon. John Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Bain, Colonel James Robert Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)
Baird, John George Alexander Fisher, William Hayes Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)
Balcarres, Lord Forster, Henry William Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Balfour. Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r) Galloway, William Johnson Morgan, David J (Walthamstow)
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds) Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Morrell, George Herbert
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nrn) Morrison, James Archibald
Bignold, Arthur Gore, Hn G. R. O. Ormsby (Salop) Mount, William Arthur
Blundell, Colonel Henry Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby (Linc) Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.
Bond, Edward Gosehen, Hon. Geo. Joachim Murray, Rt H n A Graham (Bute)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith Gretton, John Peel, Hn. W. Robert Wellesley
Brassey, Albert Groves, James Grimble Percy, Earl
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw, H Hamilton, Rt Hn Ld. G. (Midx) Plummet, Walter R.
Cavendish, V C W (Derbysh.) Hamilton. Marq. of (Londondy) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hanbury, Rt, Hn. Robt. Wm. Pretyman, Ernest George
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashfd) Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J A (Worc) Harris, Frederick Leverton Purvis, Robert
Channing, Francis Allston Haslett, Sir James Horner Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Churchill, Winston Spencer Hay, Hon. Claude George Ratcliff, R. F.
Clive, Captain Percy A. Hope, J. F. (Sheff., Btside) Reid, James (Greenock)
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Kemp, Lieut-Colonel George Ridley. Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Knowles, Lees Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson
Compton, Lord Alwyne Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Roberts. Samuel (Sheffield)
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasq. Lawson. John Grant Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Corbett, T L. (Down, North) Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Royds, Clement Molyneux
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S) Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford
Cranborne, Viscount Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton) Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Crossley, Sir Savile Lonsdale, John Brownlee Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Lowther, C. (Cumb, Eskdale) Seely, Mj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight)

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 63 Noes, 128. (Division List No. 13).

Sharpe, William Edward, T. Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth) Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Smith, H. C. (Northmb. Tyneside Thornton, Percy M. Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.
Smith, James Parker (Lanarks) Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M. Wylie, Alexander
Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand Valentia, Viscount Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Stanley, Lord (Lancs.) Walker, Col. William Hall Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. Walrond, Rt Hn Sir William H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland Hood and Mr. Anstruther.
Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf. Univ. Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again to-morrow.