§ MR. LONSDALE (Armagh, Mid)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will state the date upon which the Commissioners of National Education adopted the new rule relating to the appointment of assistant teachers of the same faith as a substantial minority of the children in schools under Protestant management, and give the names of the Commissioners present at the meeting and assenting to this rule.
I beg also to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland upon what principle have the Commissioners of National Education decided 10 differentiate between schools under Protestant management and schools under Roman Catholic management, in requiring that where a substantial minority of the children belong to one religious denomination an assistant teacher of the denomination of that minority should be appointed.
I beg further to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he will state the total number of Protestant children attending primary schools in Ireland under Roman Catholic teachers at the 31st December, 1906, and explain why these children are not permitted to have assistant teachers of their own faith, seeing that Protestant school managers are required to provide assistant teachers of the faith of a substantial minority of the children attending their schools.
May I likewise ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that in the province of Ulster there are 4,486 Protestant pupils in primary schools under Roman Catholic teachers, and 4,900 Roman Catholic children in primary, schools under Protestant teachers; and whether he can explain why Protestant managers are to be required to provide a Roman Catholic teacher for a substantial minority of 996 Roman Catholic children in a Protestant school, whilst Roman Catholic managers are not required to provide a Protestant teacher for the Protestant children attending school under their control.
§ MR. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that they do not consider it desirable to give the information asked for in the first of these four Questions. The rule was promoted by the Protestant Commissioners, and was passed unanimously after being on the Agenda Paper for nearly two months. The object of the Commissioners was to remove obstacles to the combined education of Protestants of different denominations. The rule is not to be applied in schools under Protestant management in which there is a minority of Roman Catholic pupils. The total number of Protestant children in national schools under Roman Catholic teachers on 31st December, 1905, was 8,559 or 5.3 per cent. The figures for 1906 are not yet available. The figures quoted in the last Question are for the year ending 31st December, 1905.
§ MR. SLOAN (Belfast, S.)
May I ask whether the rule referred to in this Question does not apply to the minority of Protestant children in Irish schools, and whether it is entirely made by Protestant Commissioners?
§ MR. LONSDALE
Can the right hon. Gentleman favour us with the name of the Protestant Commissioners?
§ MR. BIRRELL
I have to be very delicate in handling questions connected with this matter, the Commissioners having informed me that they do not consider it desirable to supply this information.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
Is it not a matter of principle that, whatever the number, the minority of Protestants are quite as much entitled to protection of Protestant teachers as the Catholics are to Catholic teachers.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I am not a Member of the National Board and I cannot control the decisions at which they arrive. I understand that what they have done in 997 this matter is in obedience to the general desire of the Protestants in Ireland that there should be a combination of forces in educational matters.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
Will the right hon. Gentleman inquire further, and if he does so I think he will be able to see that no such Protestant decision was come to?
§ MR. LONSDALE
Is any desire being expressed by the Protestant community in Ireland to have this distinction made?
§ MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)
Would not all this be ended if we conceded the right to Irishmen to govern themselves?