HC Deb 18 December 1908 vol 198 cc2245-6

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he will ascertain from the Commissioners of National Education whether the extra expenditure charged to imperial funds, which in the past year amounted to £17,500, for the teaching of Irish in primary schools will, in the course of two or three years, amount to £50,000 or more, and thereafter still further increase by leaps and bounds unless steps are taken to curtail the expenditure under the scale of fees at present payable; and whether he will consider the advisability of arranging that Irish shall be taught as an optional subject during school hours and as part of the ordinary school curriculum, but without payment of a special fee.

(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Commissioners of National Education inform me that the payment for the teaching of Irish as an extra subject and in the bilingual schools for the forthcoming year 1909–10 is estimated at £19,300, exclusive of administrative charges. They cannot say what the future expenditure may be. They are not prepared to recommend the withdrawal of the special fees for the teaching of Irish, and, as I have already informed the hon. Member, I am not at present; aware of any reason why the existing arrangements with respect to these fees should be reconsidered.