§ MR. SHEEHY (Meath, S.)
said that any hon. Member who followed the story of the way in which Ireland had been treated in regard to the equivalent grant with respect to Irish technical education would see that all through the piece a system of chicanery had been pursued by the authorities with the collusion of the Treasury. As everybody knew, although the Technical Education Act was passed in 1830, no money passed under that Act to Irish education. By Clause 3 of that Act. however, the local authorities of England and Wales wee permitted to levy a rate on the locality, which was limited to one penny in the pound and the equivalent of the amount collected in the locality was granted by the Treasury. In the following year, 1890 by some extraordinary means, a sum of £1.304,000 derived under the Customs and Excise Act was placed at the disposal of Parliament and appropriated in the proportions of 80. 11.and 9. England received £1,043,200. Scotland£143,440, and Ireland £117,620. Whilst a certain proportion of the English and Scotch grants were devoted to technical education, the corresponding proportion allotted to Ireland did not go in that direction. A part of it was devoted to increasing the salaries of the teachers in the national schools, and some was used by the Treasury to pay off an old debt of the Treasury to the national school teachers in regard to their claims for superannuation. Owing to the special regulations made in respect to Ireland with regard to this grant, the operation of the Act of 1889 in Ireland became impossible, and the local bodies had to resort to all kinds of expedients to secure the grant at all. It was not till ten years after the Local Government Act was passed for England and Wales that a similar Act was passed for Ireland and under that Act the country for the first time was able to secure large grants and give a really 911 good start to technical education. In the previous year the functions of the Science and Art Department had been transferred to the Board of Agriculture and Technical Education, and within a year it was discovered that, although the functions of the Science and Art Department with regard to technical education were so transferred, no funds had been transferred to carry them out. For ten years after the passing of the Technical Education Act, England and Scotland had full advantage of the fund for technical education, with the result that England had received some £10,000,000 and Scotland £800,000, but Ireland during that period only received some £80,000. It might be said that Ireland had received all she was entitled to under the Act, but what they complained of was that ever since the passing of the Act of 1889 the Treasury, with the collusion of the Science and Art Department, had through a policy of chicanery kept the grants to which Ireland was entitled from benefiting her. Year after year the sums which under the Act should have been devoted to technical education had been devoted to other purposes entirely. From 1890 to 1897 the Treasury obtained from this House £58,629 for technical education in Ireland, not a penny of which was spent for that purpose. He desired to know what had become of that money and why had Ireland by this special regulation been deprived of it.
So far as England and Scotland were concerned that money was given annually, but when it came to Ireland a new system was adopted and they were told that the grant was to terminate in 1904. Credit had to be given for the fact that the Chief Secretary shared the views of the Irish representativeson this matter, but unfortunately he was powerless to alter it. It had been said that the local councils did not use the power they had to strike a penny rate and demand the equivalent grant from the Treasury. That was true, because at the time, before the Irish Local Government Act, the local bodies of Ireland were the old grand juries who were only representative of property and they were not likely to strike a rate which would affect their property. It did not lie with hon. Members opposite to claim that the loss to Ireland during all these years 912 was due to the action of the local boards; it was due rather to the manner in which the Minute was drawn and the way in which the boards had been constituted. The Treasury, he asserted, had used some part of the Irish fund to pay off old debts due to the teachers of Ireland, and Treasury jealousy and jugglery had contributed to the impoverishment of Ireland in the matter of technical education. Every step taken by the local bodies to assist this education had been thwarted by the Treasury. Deputations had waited on the Chief Secretary, and although the right hon. Gentleman had consented to make an annual grant there was nothing to secure the payment of the money which they claimed. The Treasury had in fact disobeyed Parliament in this matter by retaining the money which should have been applied to technical education, or by spending it illegally. England and Scotland had had their share of this money—and an immense share it was—but it had been witheld from Ireland. There was no class of his countrymen at the present time which did not feel that Ireland had been most unjustly treated in this question, and only that day he had received a telegram from a Conservative gentleman—a member of a county board, congratulating the Irish Party on the action it was taking. His case was that the Treasury had persistently and by every device within its power secured that as little of this money as was possible should go to Ireland, and he now claimed that they should receive, not an empty promise or guarantee, but a distinct pledge that the wrong done should be repaired, and that the money which belonged to Ireland—£58,629—should be at once placed at the disposal of the Irish Board to be dealt with for technical education purposes without interference from the English Department. They wanted some form of finality in this matter; they desired to put an end to this diabolical treatment of Ireland, and they would continue the struggle until they got their rights. He begged to move the Resolution standing in his name.
§ MR. JOYCE (Limerick)
seconded the Motion. Time and time again the question of Irish education had been brought 913 forward in that House, and he often asked himself the reason why. This was only one phase of the educational problem in Ireland, and whenever they tried to solve these problems they were always met with the plea that there was no money available for Irish education. Whether it was a question of technical, primary, or higher education in Ireland it was all the same, there was no money to spare. In England money could be found for any purpose that was desired, even for the purchase of battleships which were not required, but when it came to providing technical schools in Ireland, red tape and Government officialdom blocked the way. Now the Irish Members had set themselves to try and find a remedy. They had public opinion in Ireland solidly at their back and technical education committees all over the land had passed resolutions denouncing the action of the Treasury and of the Government in trying to withhold a certain portion of the grant to which they were entitled. The technical education committee of his own city—of which he had been a member for years—had, on the motion of the Catholic priest, seconded by the Protestant minister, passed one of those resolutions. That showed conclusively that this was not a Party or sectional question, but that it was one in which all were deeply interested. Naturally, they in Ireland looked abroad to see how other places were situated in this matter. What was done in the matter of technical education in England, for instance? How much money was spent on it in London alone? Had he not been an Irishman he might have been tempted to wish himself a Londoner, in order to enjoy the educational benefits there to be obtained. In England the technical schools were catered for generously, and even lavishly, but in Ireland they were cribbed, cabined, and confined. What had they done in Ireland with the limited means at their disposal? Some years ago technical education was almost unknown in Ireland. There were a few small schools struggling along in a haphazard fashion, but when the people got local self-government they soon took advantage of the Act, and put in force their rate-levying powers, in order to secure technical instruction for the people. Quickly the schools which were established became successful and the attendance of the pupils rapidly increased. 914 He was present when Mr. Plunkett presented the prizes to the pupils in the Limerick Technical Schools, and when he paid a very high tribute to the pupils for their proficiency in the various classes they had attended. That fact alone should make the Treasury recognise that their claim was a just one, and accede to their wishes.
Now he had a few words to say as to the equivalent grant. Before 1898 Ireland was undoubtedly entitled equally with the rest of the United Kingdom to the share in this grant, but as a matter of fact it had been withheld from them, with the result that the Irish committees had been crippled and had had to work under unfair conditions. He thought they had a very strong case. It might be said that the £55,000 a year was given in lieu of those rights, but that was not understood by anyone, and the Department formally announced to the committees that it was still open to them to earn the other grants in addition to the £55,000. He instanced the Limerick committee as one which, acting on the suggestion and with the approval of the Department, formulated and put into operation a portion of the scheme, on which they were spending £2,000 a year with admittedly excellent results. Of that sum £288 came from a penny rate, and £288 from the equivalent grant, the balance being from the Department, fees from certain science and art payments, and the income from a public hall, which they owned themselves, and which they gave free for technical education purposes. The income of the committee and the expenditure on the scheme were now equal, and the withdrawal of the equivalent grant would necessitate the dropping of nearly £300 a year. Besides, the city would be saddled with the penny rate, which was agreed to on the express understanding that an equivalent sum would be forthcoming from South Kensington. Now the Treasury stepped in to filch away £300 of the miserable income at the disposal of the city. It was no answer to say that the money could be got out of the development grant. That money was due to Ireland independently altogether of the equivalent grant. He asked the Secretary of the Treasury to say whether Ireland's right to the equivalent grant 915 had been revoked by the Local Government Act or the Technical Instruction Act, and, if so, what was the clause or section in either of those Acts revoking it. Hon. Members from Ireland claimed that this money was justly due to Ireland, and he hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would not indulge in sympathetic speeches as the Chief Secretary did so often, but that he would give them some practical sympathy, and show that the claim now put forward would be fairly met.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in the opinion of this House, the action of the Treasury in withholding the Irish Equivalent Grant for Technical Education is a violation of the intention or Parliament and a gross injustice to Ireland."—(Mr. Sheehy.)
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he desired in the first instance to express his intense surprise at the absence of the Chief Secretary, The Attorney-General for Ireland was there, but he was not concerned in the discussion of this matter, and could scarcely be said to adequately represent the Irish Government in this matter, which was one of vital importance to Ireland. It had been brought before the Chief Secretary by deputations representing every class, creed, and shade of politics in Ireland, and the right hon. Gentleman had repeatedly expressed the greatest possible sympathy. He would gather from the expressions of the Chief Secretary that he had been engaged in some sort of controversy with the Treasury on the matter, and that might be the reason for his absence, but it was not a reason which justified his absence. It was nothing short of a scandal that a discussion should take place on this subject in the absence of the principal representative of the Irish Government. They were dealing in this matter primarily with the Treasury, and he was sure those representing that Department would bring to the subject an unprejudiced mind and an anxiety to do what was fair. He had no doubt that the Secretary to the Treasury had tried to make himself acquainted with the merits, but he had not been concerned in this matter; it was quite new to him, and the responsible officer 916 of the Government who had been discussing the matter for two or three years with the representatives of Irish public opinion, was absent from the House. He therefore, on behalf of the representatives of Ireland, entered a protest against the way in which this debate had been treated by the Chief Secretary. He was embarrassed in saying the few words he had to say in the absence of the Chief Secretary. What he desired to do was to quote the right hon. Gentleman's own words. The strongest case that could be made out in favour of the Irish claim was to be found in the speeches of the Chief Secretary. On 1st April last year in this House the right hon. Gentleman spoke on the Irish development grant, and in showing the necessity of the treatment he proposed for that grant, he, as a proof of the way Ireland had been, so to speak, swindled by the Treasury in past times, instanced this very question of the equivalent grant for technical education. He said—What is the result" In the nine years in the case of England between 1892 to 1900, sums amounting to £6,270,404 were devoted to technical education in England and Wales. Ireland lost two years altogether in that period; but in the remaining seven years she was only able to spend £71,900 on technical education, and out of that comparatively insignificant sum no less than £55,000 was expended in the last yearThen he went on to say that Ireland, because she was not in a position to spend the money that rightly came to her, was immediately robbed of the sum altogether. When last autumn a deputation waited on the Chief Secretary in Dublin Castle—a deputation representing all the county councils in Ireland and men of all Parties and classes in the country—the right hon. Gentleman made a most sympathetic reply and said that he would for the moment put forward what he presumed would be the argument of the Treasury, on which, by inference, at all events, he poured contempt. The right hon. Gentleman went on to point out the history of this thing.
Although his hon. friends who moved and seconded the Motion had put the case clearly and emphatically he thought if would be well to summarise 917 it. The grant with which they were dealing was made under Section 3 of the Technical Instruction Act, 1889. That Act provided that this grant was to be administered from the Science and Art Department in London, and in accordance with regulation' made by them. The regulations that were laid down were to the effect that for every penny raised by the local authority from a local rate, a penny would be contributed out of this grant. After an interval of many years, during which, owing to Ireland's un preparedness, the money did not come to Ireland at all, the Act of 1899 was passed. That Act transferred from the Science and Art Department in London to the new Agriculture and Technical Instruction Department in Dublin all the powers and rights which the Science and Art Department had previously exercised in this matter. That was to say, the new Department in Ireland was to carry out the regulations which had previously been made by the Science and Art Department in London. It was true that with the establishment of she new Department in Ireland a sum of £55,000 was placed at their disposal for the promotion of technical education, and the Treasury might contend that that was in substitution for the grant that previously existed, but he would quote the action of the new Department to refute that. What did the new Department do? The moment these powers of the Science and Art Department were transferred to them they issued a circular to the local bodies in Ireland saying that they had now taken over these powers and explaining to them that for every penny in the £ put on the local rates the new Department were prepared to supply a penny more. He WHS happy to say that during years past the interest in technical education had increased enormously in Ireland and people were more prepared to undertake the work. Consequently the circulars issued by the new Department had the effect of putting into action all those local bodies up and down the country, and they proceeded at once to tax the localities and put this penny per £ rate on, and so it remained until suddenly the Treasury informed the new Department that they had made a great 918 mistake and that they had no authority to issue the circular, and that the penny in the £ could not be given. The new Department then issued another circular stating that they had made a mistake, and that according to orders received from the Treasury this grant had been withdrawn and that they could not provide the money. Th3 people up and down the country had taxed themselves and had incurred expense and liability in inaugurating a system of technical education on the strength of the undertaking given by the new Department that the arrangements which had previously existed would continue. It was a monstrous thing for any Minister who had any interest whatever in the promotion of technical education in Ireland to attempt for a moment to justify what had happened. As a matter of fact, if the people in the various localities took full advantage of this provision of a penny in the £ it would give a sum of over £60,000 a year. But the proceedings had been gradual, and at the time the grant was withdrawn, the penny in the £ contributed by the Government only amounted to, he thought, £3.500. He was not sure whether it was £3.500 or £7,000 a year. The claim now put. forward was a dual claim, first that the original arrangement should stand, and that the penny in the £ should be available all over Ireland wherever the people taxed themselves to that amount. The claim had been whittled down, but at any rate £7,000 should be permanently available. He, for his part, would not be satisfied with this arrangement. The Irish people were in this matter the victims of bad faith; they had been induced to tax themselves for technical education under false pretences; and in the circumstances it was the plain duty of the Treasury to stand by the original arrangement with regard to the equivalent grant. Otherwise the spread of technical education in Ireland would be interrupted and the industrial development of the country arrested. This was not a matter of politics, and he leaped the Unionist Members from Ireland would assist in endeavouring to obtain some justice from the Treasury on this occasion. In the matter of technical education Ireland was behind every 919 civilised nation in Europe, and now that the interest of the people had at last been really awakened, and when they were anxious to tax themselves in order to promote this kind of instruction, surely it was not too much to ask that the engagement solemnly given by the Treasury should be kept and that the Irish people should not be filched of this miserably small sum which was necessary to go on with the work.
§ * THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. VICTOR CAVENDISH,) Derbyshire, W.
said this question was full of intricacy, but he could say that he approached it with a mind entirely free from prejudice and anxious only to arrive at a conclusion that was fair and just. In the Estimates for 1891–92 grants were for the first time inserted for the purposes of the Technical Education Act of 1889 in the United Kingdom. In 1890 the Local Taxation Act was passed, by which what was known as "the whiskey money" was placed at the disposal of the local authorities who were authorised to utilise it in Great Britain for technical education. The special grant under the Technical Education Act was then withdrawn from Great Britain but continued to hold good with regard to Ireland. Under the Local Taxation Act Ireland received her full share of the "whisky money," out of which a sum of £78,000 a year was allocated to the Commissioners of National Education and the balance to the Intermediate Education Board. Under the Agricultural and Technical Instruction Act of 1899 that £78,000 a year was transferred from the Commissioners of National Education to the new Department of Agriculture, and £55,000 a year of that sum was specially earmarked for technical education. He found that in the year 1892 there was on the Estimates a special grant for Ireland of £500; but with the increase of money raised by rates for technical education the grant, corresponding to the rates increased to £3,500, at which amount the grant was continued up to the present moment. This specific sum of £55,000, earmarked for technical instruction, was naturally regarded by the Treasury as superseding 920 the necessity for the smaller separate grant previously provided, apart from which Ireland was on terms of absolute equality with England and Scotland. The special grant in aid which had been given to Ireland for a considerable period, the Treasury decided should come to an end.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
asked if that meant that the £3,500 known as the equivalent grant was merged thereafter in the £55,000?
§ * MR. VICTOR CAVENDISH
said he had pointed out that the sum of £3,500 had been paid up to that time out of the grant voted annually by the House. They now came to the point when in 1901 the Chancellor of the Exchequer concluded that to put the two countries in a position of entire equality, the special aid grant should cease. Representations were made by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Bristol, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in consequence of these representations the Treasury undertook that the old grant of £3,500 should be continued for three years more, on the ground that there had been some misunderstanding; that the new Department should not be placed in any disadvantageous position, and that in the interval of three years they should have time to make arrangements to provide out of their endowment for the future of technical instruction in Ireland. He must say that he could not see that the Treasury were liable to the accusation of having acted unjustly to Ireland. They had granted everything to Ireland which had been granted to England. Ho did not wish to labour the point, but having considered the matter deliberately and dispassionately, he did not think that Ireland had fared badly; in fact, it had done rather well. The special grant would be continued to the 31st March, 1905, on the distinct understanding that, after that date, it would be withdrawn from Ireland as it had already been withdrawn from England and Scotland. Speaking on behalf of the Government, they fully recognised the importance of technical education to Ireland, and he thought that their past history 921 showed that they had treated Ireland exceptionally well, and that they had got nothing to look back upon as discreditable in these transactions. He was strongly of opinion that they had acted in the right, and had in no degree whatever merited the Resolution that had been proposed.
§ MR. SHEEHY
said he wished the Financial Secretary would explain what the Treasury proposed to do with the £58,629 which was voted by this House for Irish technical education, and never spent in Ireland.
§ * MR. VICTOR CAVENDISH
said he believed that that sum was at the disposal of the Department of Education in Ireland, which was responsible for it. If it could be shown that the regulations under which those sums of money were administered, prevented the money from going to the objects for which it was required, the matter would receive the careful consideration of the Treasury.
§ * SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford, N.)
said that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury could hardly think that the Irish Members would be satisfied with the answer he had given. The hon. Gentleman had discharged his duty with great ability, and his speech showed that he had devoted considerable attention to the question. He gathered from that speech, however, and the materials supplied to the hon. Gentleman by the Treasury officials, that the Treasury imagined nobody understood this question in Ireland. Those of them who had made a study of this question for years past must have been surprised at the figures which the hon. Member had put before the House. The Financial Secretary had told them that all that Ireland was allowed by the Act of 1899 was a sum of £3,500. That was a most astounding statement. Ever since the year 1889 a large sum had been put down on the Estimates and voted by the House for the purposes of technical education in Ireland. It was a most extraordinary thing that in 1890 the amount voted for technical education was nearly £14,000, but only £8,000 had been spent; and yet 922 they were told that all the money ever asked for, or spent in Ireland on technical education was £3,500! He thought the speech of the Financial Secretary showed what the policy of the Treasury was as to the Acts of 1889 and 1899. That policy, he contended, was an endeavour to get out of the obligations placed upon the Treasury, by Parliament, in return for payments made by Ireland to the Imperial Exchequer. The history of technical education in Ireland was rather complicated. It began with the Act of 1889, under which a certain amount was allotted to Ireland for technical education, which sum was to correspond with a rate of one penny in the £, which would be levied by the Irish local authorities. That was in return for the whiskey duty which was paid by Ireland. If that rate had been struck the amount available for technical education in Ireland would have been £63,000 a year. As a matter of fact that amount had not been spent, for the simple reason that the regulations would not work except to a very limited extent. Each year a certain sum was put on to the Estimates to be devoted to technical education in Ireland under the Science and Art Department, but in no year was the sum voted, which varied in amount, spent in Ireland. What happened then? This Irish money which had been voted by the House for technical education purposes in Ireland was not spent in Ireland, but on technical education in England, the total amount so appropriated from 1889 to 1899 being probably not far short of £100,000. When attention was drawn to this matter, separate accounts were no longer kept and they were not able to discover how much money was voted for technical education in Ireland. Then came the Act of 1899, under which £55,00) was granted to Ireland for technical education. That was not English money, but Irish money from Irish sources; it was part of the revenue of the Irish Departments derived from the Irish Surplus Fund, from Ireland's share of the probate duties, from the extinction of Irish judgeships, and from economies in Irish administration. There was nothing in the Act of 1899 which implied that the original equivalent grant was to be waived or done away with. Unless the 923 Treasury could prove that an Act of Parliament had taken away that grant, they had a right to insist upon the payment of the £100,000 of the Irish money spent in England, of £63,000 a year which was the equivalent of the penny rate, and this further sum of £55,000 provided under the Act of 1899. When the English Education Act of 1892 was in Committee objection was taken that that Act would prevent Ireland from getting an equivalent grant for technical education, but this was specially met in that Act.
When the Act of 1899 was passed the Irish people set to work in earnest to start technical education. They struck a rate and did everything in their power to earn the money voted by Parliament. They were encouraged by the Irish Agricultural Department, and told that they would get a penny in the £ from them and a penny under the Act of 1889—that the two together would be equivalent to something like £118,000 a year. Now, the Treasury wished to put Ireland off with £3,500 a year! They were told that they would get £7,000 instead of this £355,000. He wanted to know whether that sum had been paid, for he had a suspicion that it had not been paid, and he hoped the representative of the Government would give them some information on this point. They insisted that this £55,000 should be given to them in addition to the £63,000 which was Irish money. They would not under any circumstances consent to charge the Irish development grant with any future acts of generosity which the Treasury might contemplate with regard to Ireland. That money had been granted for a specific purpose and they insisted upon that purpose being fulfilled.
He wished to say a word on the question of technical instruction buildings in Ireland, and this was a question to which he invited the special attention of the Treasury Bench. The local technical instruction committees had done their best to provide accommodation for the technical schools. It was all very well when they understood they were to get twopence for every penny they raised under this Act, but now they were only to get £3,500, and a very great difficulty had arisen upon this question of providing accommodation. It was the same all over the country, for 924 the technical committees had not money enough to provide proper school accommodation, and they were at their wits end to know how to carry on their work. If they built the necessary schools all their money would go and they would have no funds left to teach their pupils. This question was a very serious one and, he hoped it would be carefully considered. At the present time they were not. allowed to use any part of their technical rate to pay interest on any money borrowed for technical school buildings. He wished to remind the Government that all over Ireland there were model schools, and generally they were not of much public utility, and he thought the Treasury could very easily utilise those schools for the purposes of technical education. He thought that would put those schools to a much more useful purpose without any hardship to anybody, and there would be an easing of the situation. The equivalent of the Irish money spent in England for technical education ought to form a nucleus for providing a building fund for Irish technical schools. Technical education was what the masses of The people in Ireland needed in order to fit them for obtaining their livelihood, and in view of the importance of this question he hoped the Treasury would reconsider their position, and give them a more satisfactory answer to the points which had been raised.
§ SIR JAMES HASLETT (Belfast, N.)
thought the Government was wise in endeavouring to foster the technical instruction which was necessary to equip the youth of Ireland for the keen competition which was now going on. There was at present a difficulty as to means. They were allowed to strike a rate of a penny in the pound, or £4,500 a year, but this would be more than absorbed in interest on the buildings. This caused a very serious difficulty. The only fund they had at their disposal was their share of the £55,000, and that amounted to £9,000 or £10,000 a year. This money, however, was absorbed in equipping the schools with first-class teachers and appliances, without which they could never hope to grapple with the question, and become up-to-date in regard to their 925 education. The hon. Member who had just sat down spoke of a sum of £63,000, but he did not think that amount came into the question at all until every constituency in Ireland had adopted the Act.
§ SIR JAMES HASLETT
said that not a tithe of them had adopted it, and not a tithe of them had provided a penny in the pound. There was only a small proportion of the governing bodies in Ireland that had made this rate in order to grapple with education. Therefore they had no right to speak of this £63,000. The penny in the pound ought to have its equivalent. Education was not of so much value when it was given for nothing, and the community that taxed itself for education was more likely to be careful in the distribution of the money, and in seeing that they got proper value for it. His hon. friend had said that he proposed putting down next year the sum of £3,500, but he had limited it to one year, and by so doing he had taken the grace out of the act. He urged the hon. Member to realise that if Ireland was to be brought up-to-date in educational matters there was a little debt owing to her. He did not blame the Treasury entirely, for the people of Ireland were only just waking up to the importance of this question and realising its value. If in the past they had taxed themselves they would have received a larger amount. In Belfast they received small doles from South Kensington, but, now they had come to face the question, he did not think £55,000 a year would be sufficient to bring them up-to-date. He implored the Treasury to deal generously with a people who were quick in learning, and who, if they received this instruction, were thoroughly capable of competing with any people in the world. He implored the representatives of the Treasury to consider this question, and not return an unsympathetic answer. He hoped the sympathy of the Government would take a concrete form, and come down to them decently in pounds, shillings, and pence.
§ MR. CREAN (Cork, S.E.)
said the Government had tried to prove by 926 fictitious figures that these grants had been more of a gain to Ireland than a loss. The instant the people of Ireland woke up and put their House in order in Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Dublin, and other centres, which were striking a full grant, they were not granted the equivalent from South Kensington, and the Treasury set themselves to work to cut down the grant. In one year in Scotland they received £78,000, whereas Ireland only got £4,000, although the people of Ireland had contributed sufficient money to entitle them to five times that amount. At the present time the administration of the education funds made it impossible for them to earn the money. Some time ago they sent to Ireland some Scotchmen as instructors, and they pointed out to the educational authorities in Ireland how in Scotland they were earning so much money. Ireland adopted the same methods, but the Government stopped their grants. He believed that if Ireland had gone on in the old groove the equivalent grant would never have been taken from them. Ireland had been robbed altogether of nearly £1,000,000 in this way, and he believed that this money, which had been deliberately taken from them, had been devoted to English purposes, and they would not tell them where the money had gone to. The hon. Member opposite had stated that they were not allowed to use this money for building purposes, but that was erroneous, for they were allowed to use it for buildings, but if they did use it in that way they would lose what they would otherwise receive from the equivalent grant. They were obliged to use this money for the equipment of their schools, and after this had been done they had no means to supply the wants of the students properly in regard to housing them. In Cork City they had equipped the schools as efficiently as the needs of the community required, and they had contributed all the money they could under the Act. But if this equivalent grant was taken away the masters and teachers employed there would have to be dismissed, and one of the most important schools there—the School of Music—would have to be closed. He believed that the amount of money they 927 would lose by this Treasury trick would be about £700 a year. They had been deprived of many advantages whilst the English community had been receiving this money. Just when the benefits of this education were coming to them, that was the moment chosen by the Treasury to refuse these grants. He believed many of the schools in Ireland would have to be closed if the Treasury persisted in taking this course. He wished to inform the Government that they had not heard the last of this question. Money had been squandered lavishly on English technical instruction, and the Treasury were now attempting to embarrass their advance in this direction in Ireland. In Germany they spent four times the amount of money that England spent upon technical education. If the Government were going to spend all this money equipping England alone, and if they left Ireland without an equivalent, he assured them that they had not heard the last of this question. If they embarrassed Ireland in regard to technical instruction, Irish representatives would embarrass the Government in other ways.
§ MR. WOLFF (Belfast, E.)
said that before they were prepared to adopt technical education a certain amount of money was voted by Parliament, and he should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell them what had become of that money. Was it still available I Independently of whether they were entitled to that money or not, he did not think it was a wise policy for the Government to stint technical education in Ireland. Recently there had been an awakening in Ireland upon this question. Meetings had been held in Dublin on the subject, and if encouragement was given to the Irish people to enter more into industrial pursuits, they would do so, and the first encouragement was to give them that technical education which would enable them to undertake occupations of any sort. The manufacturing portion of Ireland seemed to be centred in the eastern portion of Ulster, but he wished to remind them that they could purchase coal as cheaply in Cork as in Ulster. If the people there had never 928 been accustomed to mechanical work there was no better way of supplying this deficiency than by giving them technical instruction. Whatever the grants were they were entitled to have them. He could not say whether they were getting their fair share or not, but in any case it would be a wise thing for the Government to stretch a point and give them sufficient to enable Ireland to keep on those schools which had been started, and which otherwise they would be obliged to shut down.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
I do not think I can add very much to what has been said as to the history of this subject by my hon. friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I should like to say that I share with my hon. friends from Ireland who have spoken on this subject, the desire to see technical instruction promoted and successfully carried on in Ireland. I quite agree with what my hon. friend has said, that there is no greater need at the present moment than that for technical instruction, and that it will be something in the nature of a disaster if that technical instruction cannot be given, or if its progress is checked and thwarted by any action of ours. But the Motion which has been put upon the Paper is a Motion of censure on the Treasury in connection with what the mover calls—The action of the Treasury in withholding the Irish equivalent grant for technical education is a violation of the intention of Parliament and a gross injustice to Ireland.We have heard to-night some very interesting, and, I admit, very temperately put, speeches from both sides of the House, but I think that, at the root of those speeches, there has been the idea that the Treasury are dealing unfairly with Ireland, and withholding from Ireland the equivalent of something which is available in England, Scotland, and in Wales. But that is not the case, and I propose to show the House that it is not so. In so doing I shall be obliged to recapitulate what has already been said to the House by my hon. friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, 929 and I may say I do not think his arguments have received sufficient attention.
These technical instruction grants had their origin in the Technical Instruction Act of 1889, and for the first time, in the year 1891–1892, a sum was put upon the Votes for the promotion of technical instruction under those Acts. In Ireland the full equivalent was given, but the amount was divided, part of it going to the Board of National Education in order to place the teachers' fund in a sound financial position, and the remainder was given to the Board of Intermediate Education. From that time when this money, commonly known as the "whiskey money," was made available, the English, Welsh, and other grants made in the United Kingdom outside Ireland, stopped, but the grant to Ireland continued. It started at £500 a year and gradually rose until in 1897–98 it reached £3,500 a year, and it has continued at that figure, with a slight decrease of about £100, ever since. This grant had no equivalent either in England, Scotland, or Wales. It was continued, because, in the first instance, the Irish equivalent to the English grant was appropriated to these other purposes. In the year 1899, the new Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction was established in Ireland, and to that Department was given, besides an endowment from other Irish funds, the sum of £78,000 out of the whiskey money. The teachers' pension fund having been put into a solvent condition, the money was no longer required for that purpose, and it was made available in Ireland, as it was in this country, for the purposes of technical instruction, the sum being £55,000. My object is to show to the House that Ireland has had its equivalent for every grant made to technical education in this country; that it not only has had its equivalent, but that ever since 1891–92 it has had a sum allotted to it which will continue, under a decision of my hon. friend the Member for Croydon when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, up to the close of the next financial year. Therefore, in addition to the full equivalent for anything given for England or Wales, 930 it has had this additional sum which was peculiar to Ireland.
Then we come to the English Education Act. Naturally a very considerably increased grant was made from the Exchequer to the local authorities in aid of the new additional expenses of education in this country. But Ireland had its full equivalent. Ireland had £185,000 as an equivalent grant, and it is that grant which forms the development fund to which allusion had been made. In appropriating this Irish grant by Act of Parliament for Irish purposes, the first purpose provided for was education, and it was intended that out of this fund made available for Ireland as the equivalent of what was allotted to England, Irish educational needs should be met in the form in which those needs arose. In the speech made by my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary to which the hon. and learned Member for Waterford alluded, my right hon. friend was arguing against the spending of this money at that moment because he contended that Ireland was not ready for it, and ought not to be forced to spend the money on exactly the same purposes as it was devoted to in England, when the needs of Ireland were not the same. The principle that Ireland should have its equivalent was accepted by the Treasury and by my predecessor, and its equivalent was given in the form of the development grant, which is at the disposal of the Irish Government for Irish purposes, subject to appropriation in this House in the annual Estimates. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford quoted a sentence from the speech of my right hon. friend in which he spoke of the much larger sum which had been obtained in England and which had been expended in this country on technical education from 1892 to 1900 than had been spent in Ireland. I have shown the House that Ireland had its equivalent, and if it was not spent on technical education that was because, in the needs of Ireland at that time, the House chose otherwise to direct. It was not fair to quote what my right hon. friend said and to suggest that he had intimated to the House that Ireland had had no equivalent, 931 because the Chief Secretary pointed out in the very next sentence that they had had their equivalent, though he did not think it had all been spent to the best advantage. I am not entitled to dispute the judgment of my right hon. friend, but I know the Chief Secretary is anxious to communicate with Irish Members on both sides of the House in order to secure that the funds available for Irish purposes shall be spent to the best advantage for Ireland, and he desires to obtain, if he can, some consensus of opinion amongst Irishmen of all shades of political opinion as to how the educational development of Ireland can best be carried out.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I think that is a needless interruption. This is a question which directly affects the Treasury, and those who represent the Treasury are here to answer. When hon. Members desire it they can move a vote of censure on the Chief Secretary, an expedient which is not altogether unknown, and then my right hon. friend will be here to answer it. It is not the practice of the House to demand the presence of all Ministers referred to in the course of a debate, and it is impossible for a Minister to always be present when questions arise touching his Department.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The Minister responsible for the Government of Ireland ought to be here on every important Irish debate.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That is not the practice of the House, nor is it possible for Ministers to be present in the House so frequently as hon. Members opposite appear to think. I was speaking of the equivalent grant which Ireland had obtained for the grant given to England under the recently passed Education Act. My right hon. friend, in the same speech to which allusion has already been made, said a little further on—This money would be wasted if Ireland were bound to spend forthwith what she could on education, and leave the balance; accordingly he put it into the development grant. So that whilst this grant of £185,000 is to be an 932 indemnity to the Treasury against future demands on the score of education, and a promise to Ireland that such demands should be met, the whole of it now cannot be profitably spent, and in my opinion some part of it should be devoted to the development of evening continuation schools and to the promotion of technical instruction, and Ireland ought not to have to choose between the alternative of wasting or losing the money.Ireland was not invited to choose between those alternatives, but the money was secured to her and is available now for the Board of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, who can promote technical instruction in Ireland if they wish: if that is the purpose for which Irish opinion generally desires those funds to be devoted. Two suggestions were made by the hon. Member for Wexford, as to which, I am afraid, I am not able to speak positively at this moment. He said that funds are available from the rates for technical instruction, but they are not available for paying interest on loans to provide suitable buildings for technical instruction, and that it would be a relief to the situation and facilitate the progress of technical instruction if those funds could be made available for that purpose.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I will communicate with my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary on that point and see what can be done. The hon. Member opposite has made a further suggestion about model schools, and he has asked whether they can be made available for the carrying on of technical instruction. That point also I will look into, without further information I cannot make any definite promise, but I hope that it may be possible.
§ SIR JAMES HASLETT
said that the interpretation placed upon the Act limited the spending of the money entirely to educational purposes. They had in Ireland made an effort to use a portion of the grant for the purpose of paying interest in the way suggested, but it had been declared to be a contravention of the Act.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That is the point into which I said I would 933 look. If the Act prevents it, mere consent on my part would not make that legal which is now illegal, and it would be a question of coming to Parliament for further powers, assuming that the Irish Government agree that the suggestion is a good one in itself. From the point of view of the Irish Government I shall have an opportunity of examining those proposals, and I do not think that my hon. friend and the hon. Baronet opposite will desire to press me further on these matters at this moment. With regard to the statement that England has received something for which Ireland has not received an equivalent I can only meet that assertion with a direct negative. Ireland has received its equivalent for every grant given to England, and it has not only done so, but in the course of the thirteen or fourteen years which have elapsed since the special grant was withdrawn from England, Scotland, and Wales, and during which it has been continued in Ireland, that country will have received a sum of between £25,000 and £30,000 for which Great Britain has received no equivalent. Hon. Members opposite have tried to lay down that it is a system of sound finance that whenever a grant is made to England for any purpose, an equivalent should be made to Ireland. They desire that this principle should be applied to every new grant made for an English purpose, whether that purpose exists in Ireland or not, or whether, there is any equivalent in Ireland to which it can be applied. If that principle be accepted then we must carry it out consistently, and when there is no equivalent in England they must not expect anything in Ireland.
§ For my part I think that the principle adopted by the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the House in the allocation of money to Ireland—namely, that it should be applied to the purposes chiefly required there, and not necessarily to the same purposes as in England, is a sound principle. I should be glad to see the funds at the disposal of the Irish Government for these purposes increased by the savings which my right hon. friend hopes to effect in the cost of Irish administration. It is not proposed, for example, to fill up the vacant judgeship, and the money thus saved will go to the funds available for general purposes, including technical education. If my right hon. friend is able to effect any further savings in the judiciary I have already agreed with him that as far as the Treasury is concerned, we will raise no objection to throwing such savings into the development grant, and making them available for the same purpose. I hope I have said enough to show to my hon. friends that I am not insensible to the claims they raise for technical instruction in Ireland, for I recognise its great importance, and I think it would be a great misfortune if its development were checked. I think by what I have said, that I have indicated not only that Ireland has had her full equivalent for everything given to England and Scotland but that there are funds available for this purpose which have been employed in Ireland only.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 80; Noes, 142. (Division List No. 17.)935
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Cromer, William Randal||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Delany, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Joyce, Michael|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Blake, Edward||Doogan, P. C.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Boland, John||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.|
|Brigg, John||Ellice, Capt E. C. (SAndrw's Bghs||Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Fenwick, Charles||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Levy, Maurice|
|Caldwell, James||Flynn, James Christopher||Lundon, W.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.||Furness, Sir Christopher||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gilhooly, James||MacNeill, John Cordon Swift|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hayden, John Patrick||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Crean, Eugene||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|M' Kean, John||O'Malley, William||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Mansfield, Horace Kendall||O'Mara, James||Thomas, D. Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Tomkinson, James|
|Mooney, John J.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Murphy, John||Power, Patrick Joseph||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roddy, M.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Roche, John||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Schwann, Charles E.||Young, Samuel|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Shackleton, David James|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Thomas Esmonde and Captain Donelan.|
|O'Dowd, John||Sheehy, David|
|O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Pym, C. Guy|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Heath, A. Howard (Hanley)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy||Heath, James (Staffords., N. W.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Renwick, George|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hogg, Lindsay||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds||Hope, J. F. (Shemeld, Brightside||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hoult, Joseph||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Mich. Hicks||Hunt, Rowland||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Jebb, Sir Richard (Claverhouse||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Bignold, Arthur||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Bigwood, James||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Kerr, John||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Brassey, Albert||Keswick, William||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Butcher, John George||Lawson, Jn. G. (Yorks., N. R.)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Smith, H. C (North'mb Tyneside|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Cavendish, V. C.W. (Derbyshire)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A (Worc||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S.)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Stock, James Henry|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Macdona, John Cumming||Stroyan, John|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxfd Univ|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Malcolm, Ian||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Denny, Colonel||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Duinfriessh.)||Tuff, Charles|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Morrell, George Herbert||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Morrison, James Archibald||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.|
|Forster, Henry William||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Mount, William Arthur||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Nicholson, William Graham||Wylie, Alexander|
|Gordon, Maj. E. (T'r Hamlets)||Pemberton, John S. G.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Percy, Earl|
|Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland - Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Adjourned at fourteen minutes before Twelve o'clock.|