HC Deb 23 May 1911 vol 26 cc154-226

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,053,324, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in. course of payment, during the year ending on 31st day of March, 1912, for the Expenses of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, including a Grant in Aid of the Teachers' Pension Fund, Ireland."—[Note.—£600,000 has been voted on account.]


I beg to move to reduce Sub-head A (Salaries and Wages) by £100.

The difficulties with which an Irish Member approaches the question of Irish education on a Vote of Supply are very great. I have always held, and I think it is the accepted principle in all civilised countries, that education ought to be treated as a whole. In this country and when we are dealing with Scotch education that is the fact, but in Ireland education is carried out in watertight compartments under boards or departments, which are not only independent of each other and of public opinion in Ireland, but which, except to a very limited degree, are entirely independent of this House also. That is not all, because not only are these boards and departments independent of each other and of public opinion in Ireland, but not infrequently they work with a great deal of friction, and, at all events, are by no means always in harmony with each other. Ireland is peculiarly and unfortunately situated in this matter of education. I have observed the systems of education prevailing in many countries, and, if you consider this matter and try to classify the different systems of education in civilized countries, you will find they will fall under three heads. You have the system of education with purely local control, such as prevails in the United States of America; you have the system, such as prevails in France, of a purely centralised control; and you have the mixed system of a local control modified by a central control, such as you have in this country, but in Ireland we have a system which has no analogy in any civilised country. I think I may say it enjoys all the disadvantages of all the three systems to which I have alluded, and hardly any of the advantages of any of them. When the Minister responsible for education in England or Scotland rises to address this House, as he generally does to open the Debate on this question, he can take a broad survey of the whole subject and generally take a very hopeful and optimistic view of the progress of education. In this connection, I really must ask the House to let me read a very remarkable paragraph from the last report of the National Education Commissioners of Ireland on this subject:— The English Minister, speaking in Parliament on behalf of the English Board of Education and reviewing the educational progress of the year, is able to point to a large increase of grants consequent on the ever-widening range of the activities of his Department, to discourse at length on the ruralising of elementary education in the country districts of England and the spread of agricultural instruction through evening schools and school gardens connected with primary schools, and to discuss the beneficial effects of State instituted medical inspection of school children and increased facilities for physical exercises and training in domestic economy. In Ireland we are, we trust, fully alive to the importance and advantages of such modern developments of educational effort; but our demands for the necessary financial assistance for proposals of a simpler and more obvious kind have hitherto been met with curt refusal. For seven years we have urged on the Treasury the necessity of making grants for the instituting of higher grade national schools. In England and Scotland, such schools form a most important feature of primary education; in France and Germany, similiar institutions have been in existence for many years. The necessity for these schools is not less, but greater, in Ireland, and the foundation of the national university and the opportunities of higher education thus presented to classes of the people hitherto without these advantages will tend irresistibly to increase the need. Similarly we have sought permission to encourage the clever pupils of our schools by throwing open to their competition a number of county scholarships. Both these appeals have been refused. And so they go on to say they have asked for means to carry on gardening instruction and other matters. I think that is un- impeachable authority, and is a statement which really ought to affect the Irish Government and this House with great force, and ought to impress upon them that the time has at last come when some reparation ought to be made to Ireland for the shocking discrimination under which her people have suffered in this matter of education. We, in contrast with the English Minister of Education and Members of this House who take an interest in that subject, are confined by rules of Order to discuss this matter in watertight compartments. The branch of the subject to which I particularly wish to draw attention is that of primary education. We can only deal with any other branch of education in Ireland so far as it arises by direct connection with the subject of this day's Debate. I may say, before I depart from the general statement of our difficulties, that Ireland is peculiarly and unfortunately situated in this respect. We have no less than three independent hoards, as well as the Department, all dealing with primary and secondary education. They overlap, they cross each other, they lead to a waste of money and to friction. We have now, for years, up to the present year, been prohibited from ever having a full and free discussion on the important questions of secondary education in Ireland, by the rules of this House. The system of secondary education which has been in operation in Ireland for thirty years has done enormous mischief as well as some good. It is fundamentally a bad system; we have never been able to discuss its difficulties in the House of Commons; had that been possible I believe that long ago we should have applied some remedy.

First of all, coming to the particular question to which we are confined tonight, I wish to say a few words by way of general survey of a question which I may describe as the financial grievance under which primary education is conducted in Ireland, as contrasted with the provision made for it in Great Britain. I do not propose to go into the details of this question, as that would take too long a time. I will only state the case we are prepared to maintain before any Committee of Inquiry. I have a very wide field to cover. It is a case, however, which has been frequently brought before the House. In the financial year 1909–10 Ireland received from Imperial funds, for primary education, £1,621,000. Scotland received—and I am making the comparison with Scotland because it is in somewhat the same position as Ireland, £2,147,000. Had Ireland received a grant on the Scottish scale in proportion to population the Irish Vote would have been more than £300,000 in excess of the amount actually received. This question of the basis on which the grant for education should be given to the various component parts of the United Kingdom has been long a subject of Debate; it constitutes a most curious history, so far as it has proceeded, since the system was first set up by Mr. Goschen. After a great deal of time it was settled by the Conservative Government that the Grant should be distributed on the basis of population. I confess I think that is a wise plan. The equivalent grant of 1903, introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dover (Mr. Wyndham) was in proportion to population, and that principle has never been departed from in theory since. But in practice, if the Irish Grant had been based on the proportion of population of the two countries, as compared with Scotland we should have received £300,000 more than we did.

Let me say a word with regard to rates. This is a point which has been frequently raised in these Debates. The Treasury say, "We decline to consider your claim for any more money for education in Ireland, because you make no contribution to the rates." I have more than once explained how it comes about that Ireland makes no contribution to the rates. It must be accepted as an element of the financial position in Ireland—and here I am only emphasising what I said the other day—that no Irish Government and no Irish Secretary has ever undertaken, as a result of examining this question, to propose that Ireland should be made to contribute from the rates towards the cost of primary or secondary education. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury the other day, to my amazement repeated a statement which I have exploded over and over again—that we are asking for some equivalent from the Imperial Treasury to take the place of the rates, and to make up to Irish education the loss we suffer from not getting any contribution from the Irish rates. That is not true. We have never made any such demand; it would be an unfair and unreasonable demand. But the demand we have made, and I think every Member of the House will admit that it is a reasonable demand, it that we should not be penalised because Irish education gets no support from the rates, and that we should get our fair proportion of the Imperial Grant.

4.0 P.M.

Let me give one or two figures to show the extent of the loss which Irish education suffers, even supposing we get the whole of our full proportion of what we are entitled to from the Imperial Grant. Let me compare figures which I think have never before been put before the House. With regard to both the Scottish Education Department and the Irish Education Department I think this House owes some reparation. There is no doubt that Irish education has been exterminated, or, rather, penalised generally by the English Government. They have been treated worse than the rest of the people of the United Kingdom, and through no fault of their own. At one time it was made penal to educate the children at all so long as they were Catholics, but when we had got a system of national education it was bound up with a system which was intended to denationalise Ireland, and to convert the children from the Catholic to the Protestant faith. It was anti-popular; the idea was to denationalise, to banish the language of the country, and to get rid of the national spirit from the schools. Bearing those facts in mind, let me compare the Scotch Educational Budget with the Irish Education Vote. I take the last Report of the Scotch Education Committee. The total income of the Scotch Education Department from all sources was £3,852,000 per annum. In this I have credited the loans amounting to £327,000, and I think for purposes of a comparison it conceivably might be argued that that item ought to go out. That would result in roughly £3,500,000 of income to the Scotch Board. In regard to the expenditure I shall only give one item, namely, the salaries of teachers, including retiring allowances, and that amounts to £2,167,000. Let me compare that with the Irish Budget. The total receipts from all sources there are £1,660,000 as against £3,500,000. I am not quite sure whether for the purpose of a fair comparison the total income of the Irish Primary Education Commissioners ought not to be supplemented by the total income of the Intermediate Board, because I think that in Scotland the intermediate and primary education are consolidated. The total income of the Intermediate Board is, £76,000, and adding that to the other figure we have a total of £1,736,000, and that is the sum on which we have to run our whole educational system, as against £3,500,000 for Scotland, and that refers to some time ago—the year before last. The items representing payments to the teaching staff of the primary schools in Ireland amount to £1,432,000 as compared with the figure of Scotland of £2,167,000. I leave these figures to speak for themselves. They really do not need any comment, and I think every one will admit that Ireland is still greatly penalised and distinguished against with regard to education.

Let me turn to the estimates of the present year, and certainly one would imagine that if there was any idea of justice in this matter the Irish Estimates would show a very large increase, especially as we have for the last three years put before the Government burning and urgent grievances which can be remedied by a very moderate payment. At any rate the proportion of Irish increase should be greater than that of England and Scotland. Taking the estimates for the year 1911–12, however, the estimates for England for education show a net increase of £310,840. For Scotland there is a net increase of £82,869, and for Ireland a net decrease of £3,533. That appears to me on the very face of it to make out an overwhelming case for consideration in regard to Irish Education in all Departments, even if there did not exist this really great burden of responsibility and duty upon the people of this country to make some reparation for the long and lasting injury which has in past years been inflicted upon Ireland—an injury which is not only historical, but the facts of which are easily manifest to anybody who travels around the country and studies the social conditions of Ireland which are the result of the long war which the Government of this country carried on against Irish education. I turn to the specific grievances which I desire to impress upon the notice of the Chief Secretary, and in respect to which I really think we are entitled to make a most urgent demand for an immediate reparation. Before, however, going to those grievances, as to which I confidently hope for an immediate remedy, there are two larger subjects in regard to which I should like to say a few words.

The first of these is the general system of education administration in Ireland, the treatment of the Irish language and the history of Ireland and the general spirit in which the schools are run. I desire to renew the protest which has been made frequently from these benches, and to say that in my deliberate judgment until there is a complete revolution in the control and management of the Irish national system of teaching it is impossible to secure the confidence of the people. Under the present system you have a nominated board, responsible to no one. The principle upon which nominations are made to that board are very well known to the Chief Secretary, and I am sure he will not defend them, although he is the unwilling instrument of this extraordinary system. You have a nominated board, three-quarters of the members of which have no knowledge of education and who have other occupations in life which make it impossible for them even to study these matters and pay sufficient attention to them. It is a board responsible to no one. It sets the Government and popular feeling alike at defiance, and, in point of fact, it is the most anomalous institution than I have ever seen or heard of. But I do not press that particular matter as urgent at the present moment, because it may, and I hope it will be, one of the first tasks of the Irish Government to reorganise the whole system, and I am sure I will not blame the Chief Secretary if he should desire to put that task upon such a body. It would be by no means an easy task for the English Government. The second large subject, which I do not press as a subject for immediate action, is the working of the new system of grading of National teachers which was introduced in the year 1900. It was a complete revolution of the whole teaching staff in the National schools. Up to 1900 the Irish teachers were of three classes, and that was the system which we knew in the days of our youth. Although it was open to criticism, I think it was a very good one, and under that system an ambitious teacher could get rapid promotion. Above all, it meant he was teaching in the small country school with forty or fifty students in average attendance—a class which includes four-fifths of the Irish school—and he could get to the top of his profession.

It was of the utmost importance to Ireland that these country schools should have first-class masters and attract first-class men, and I was always opposed to the grading system. We have had ten years of it, and what has been the result? I will not go into it at length, because do not press the Chief Secretary to deal with it at once. The effect has been that under the grading system no small school can have a first-class master. In Ireland, which is mainly a country of rural schools, and where the rural school outnumbers the urban school by four to one, and where the education of the people is necessarily carried on in classes with under fifty in average attendance, for all futurity under the grading system you must in those schools have inferior masters because no one can get on unless he teaches in a school with 120 scholars, and he is kept in one of the lower grades if he is kept in a small school. I maintain, however, that a man who conducts a small school without assistance requires to be a tip-top teacher, and the man who attends such schools should not be a second-rate teacher. Every good man tries to escape from them under the present system, and if he fails to escape he has no ambition and no career, and, in my opinion, this system is exercising a deadening and dulling effect upon the whole body of the teachers in Ireland, and ought to be swept away. It is a system utterly unsuited to the social conditions of Ireland under which the small rural schools are sacrificed to the great city schools, and the bulk of the population of Ireland are deprived of really efficient teachers. I do not pretend for a moment that that subject can be dealt with by the Chief Secretary at present. I think it must form the subject of inquiry and a real and complete reorganisation. But in connection with it there are two minor points which I would strongly urge upon the Chief Secretary he ought to take into account immediately.

The first is the case of these ungraded teachers, which is a very sad one. They were the teachers who were in the service in 1900, when the new system came into force. There was a great deal of discussion on the matter at the time, and a promise was given to these men, and even put into print by the Minister of the day and the Board, that no teacher would be be damnified who was subjected to change under the system. The teachers understood that they would not be damnified in their prospects. They did not take it that they would not have their salaries there and then reduced, but they took it to mean that they would have as good a career and as good prospects under the new system as under the old. A great deal of difference of opinion has arisen as to the interpretation of this promise, with the result that a large body of men, numbering over 3,000, have come to be known in Ireland as ungraded teachers. They think that they have been degraded, and have lost entirely the anticipation of an increase of position and of salary in accordance with the importance of their task. And not only have they lost the anticipation of an increase of salary, but men who are of the very first class and at the top of their profession have been placed in the second, and others of the second and first class have been placed in the third grade because they were unable to obtain schools with a large average attendance. I think that is an extremely cruel and unjust condition of things. Here are 3,600 National teachers who were affected in this manner in the year 1900. The rank in the previous years was determined, not by the number of scholars or money earned, but by merit. In that year the rank was no longer determined by merit or previous record, but by the money-producing capacity of the school, and hence third and second class teachers, who had been in charge of large schools, were put into first of first and second of first grade; while those of first of first and second of first class standing, who had unfortunately been in charge of small schools, were degraded and placed in the second and even in the third grade.

I think it is monstrous, but I will content myself with giving one or two instances which show the effect of this system upon the teachers. In the first case the teacher was classed second of first class and he is now in the third grade; his consolidated salary in 1900 was £84, exclusive of capitation, and now it is £56 a year, including capitation and Birrell Grant, whereas if the old system had prevailed it would have been at least £120. In case two, the teacher was first in the first class in 1898 and for three years he had been at the head of his profession. His present grade is third, and his present salary £77, but had the old system continued he would have had at least £139 a year. Case three, second and first since 1900, second grade, salary now £85, would have been under the old system at least £105. These are only a few of the cases which have been sent to me, and I am informed that this grievance applies to about 3,000 teachers. In regard to this particular grievance, and also to the grievance of what are known as intermediate teachers, which is somewhat similar, there ought to be an independent inquiry. There is a dispute as to the reality and the extent of this grievance, which has been going on for some years between the teachers and the Board of Education, and. I think, in common justice, in view of the strength of the case made out by the teachers, an independent inquiry ought to be instituted as to the promises made and as to the real grievance suffered by these teachers, and justice ought to be done. As regards these under-graded teachers and what are known as the transition teachers, a similar class, who have suffered the same grievance, I would ask for an independent inquiry to be instituted.

There is one other matter which is of great importance and which involves no demand upon the Treasury, and one would suppose that that would facilitate a settlement. It is the question of the civil rights of the teachers in Ireland. This is a very singular question. A rule is enforced by this irresponsible Board in Ireland depriving Irish teachers of certain rights as citizens which are enjoyed to the full by the teachers of Scotland and England. As I understand, the Chief Secretary and the Irish Government are strongly of opinion that the teachers ought to obtain these rights. The Chief Secretary is with us in this matter and has stated so publicly; the Irish Government is with us and the clerical managers, a very important body in connection with Irish education, are of the same opinion all over the country. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that the teachers are continually attending meetings and making speeches, which under this rule involves dismissal, but so strong is public opinion in Ireland that the Board are rather afraid to enforce the rule. I do not think anything can be more objectionable than to have a rule which is so indefensible that you are afraid to enforce it for fear of arousing public opinion. I do not myself quite understand where the obstruction comes from that interferes with this matter of civil rights. The Chief Secretary, two years ago, declared himself in entire sympathy with the demand, and I therefore hope we shall be able to hear presently that this absurd discrimination against the Irish teachers will be removed. I do not myself think, I never have thought, it is a desirable thing for school teachers to take an active part in politics or to be acting on public Boards. But the proper remedy to apply to that is public opinion. I believe if you leave the teachers free the general sentiment of the country will operate and their own interests will prevent them taking an active part in politics because it will not suit them, and therefore I do not think there is any necessity for this rule at all. But, be that as it may, what we are entitled to insist upon is that the same rule should be applied in Great Britain and in Ireland, and that Ireland shall not be treated as if it were a savage country in this respect.

I could give a list of the grievances which I wish to press upon the Chief Secretary as ripe for immediate settlement—I mean in the current year. These matters have mostly been debated over and over again, and are painfully familiar to the mind of the Chief Secretary. I shall first give a list of them and then explain the ground on which we press for redress. First pensions, secondly the tenure of assistant teachers, thirdly the heating and lighting of the Irish schools, fourthly the provision of scholarships, otherwise called co-ordination of education, and fifthly, the monthly payment of teachers' salaries. The Chief Secretary has had abundant opportunity of familiarising himself with all the arguments on these matters. I take pensions first, as being on the whole the most important. This subject has been frequently before the House for the last fifteen years. The Irish teachers have undoubtedly suffered very great injustice in this connection. One circumstance which makes the grievance of the Irish teacher in connection with pensions peculiarly hard is that, when the pension system was started in 1879, a system was set up far more favourable to the teachers than that which now prevails, and after the Fund had gone for nearly ten years the actuaries, on whose original report this system had been set up, carried out an investigation into the solvency of the Fund and declared it to he entirely insolvent, whereupon the Treasury came down and enormously reduced their benefits and enormouly raised their contribution. Of course that created a very great state of iritation, and from that day to this this matter has been felt as a keen grievance by the Irish teachers. Here is the finance of the Fund in a few sentences. It was started by the interest on £1,300,000 of the Irish Church Fund, a purely Irish fund—£39,000 a year, interest on the invested balance of savings which now amount to over £1,000,000—£28,040, third the premiums paid by the teachers themselves, amounting to £24,500 a year; and fourth, the Vote-in-Aid of this House— all that the Imperial Parliament contributes££18,000 a year. The total income of the Teachers' Pension Fund is £109,500 a year, and the total expenditure at present is £75,700, leaving a surplus of income over expenditure of £34,000. The pension fund has been in operation for thirty-two years, and there is a surplus on the total income of £34,000 a year.

It is quite natural that, inasmuch as actuaries have already made an enormous mistake and admitted their mistake, the teachers in Ireland in addition to all the other grievances should be under the impression and the suspicion that the Fund is more than solvent now, when it has £34,000 annual surplus after thirty years' working, and that they are not getting fair play or even so much as the Fund will allow. That is a question for the actuaries, and I am informed that the legal provision requiring investigation of the solvency of the Fund every five years, has not been carried out, and that it is a very long period since any actuarial investigation was carried out. Be that as it may, that statement of finance proves that whereas in Great Britain about two-fifths of the teachers' pensions come from Imperial sources, in Ireland only one-sixth of the total revenue comes from Imperial sources. I need not give all the details of the disadvantages of the Irish pension system. I will only point out two peculiarities which I mention for the purpose of emphasising the extent of the grievance. A first-class teacher, with over forty years' service, would get £60 a year pension even under the present insufficient system. He must under the Irish system, if compelled by any cause, such as sickness, to retire after thirty years, be content with £24. It is a very curious system, because it is only within the last four or five years of your forty years' service that you get the full emoluments of your office, and if you are compelled to retire at an earlier period your pension is cut down beyond all proportion. It is not calculated on the same system as in the Civil Service. Here is a case of a lady who has had forty-four years in the service. She was appointed assistant teacher in 1867 and head in 1886, and her salary was £101 a year. She was at the head of her profession, and she had favourable reports throughout the whole of her career. She was forced to retire from the service on 31st December, 1910, and her pension was £25 a year. That is a monstrous thing. I am informed that she pressed to be allowed to hold on and go on teaching, which she was quite competent to do, for a year or two, hoping to come in under a better system. She was, however, compelled to retire with £25 pension.

That is an example of the working of the salary system, but the disablement pension is simply disgraceful. In 1908 nine men, who had given an average service of twenty-five years, retired through ill-health, and got an average pension of less than £11 apiece. In the same year ten women, whose average service was over twenty years, retired through ill-health on pensions averaging less than £6 a year apiece. A constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary, with fifteen years' service, retires on a pension of £20 per annum, and if he serves twenty-five years he gets £42, or four times the amount a teacher would get. I have, a great deal more detail furnished by the teachers themselves on this subject, but I do not choose to consume the time of the Committee by going into it, because on this matter we have a distinct promise from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which was renewed the other day, in which we place the most absolute faith, that he is now going to review the whole question of the pensions, not only of the Irish, but of the Scotch and English teachers, and that he will place the Irish teachers' pensions on exactly the same footing as those of the Scotch and English teachers. That is a promise on which we rest, and we are quite prepared to put our whole case before him. I will only mention one point by way of making sure that I have stated my case, and that is, that in dealing with this question of pensions the Government must always keep in mind that they are dealing with a body of men who are very unfairly discriminated against in point of salary. The Scotch teacher has at least 50 per cent. higher salary than the Irish teacher of the same standard, and where the Irish teacher has £100 a year the Scotch teachers will have £150 in precisely the same position, and therefore, if the Scotch teacher were to get 50 per cent. of his salary as a retiring pension, he would get £75 a year, whereas the Irish teacher would only get £50. We must, in settling this matter, endeavour to get some provision in order to carry into the region of pensions the same discrimination as now prevails in the region of salaries.

I will now pass to a question which is exceedingly important as regards its effect on the schools of the country and on the fate of a very large body of teachers, though its financial effect on the Treasury is comparatively a small one—that is the question of the tenure of the assistant teachers in the National schools. One of the ironies of this situation is that, I believe, the salaries of these assistants are voted every year by Parliament and are surrendered at the end of the Session, and these teachers have not been dismissed by the National Board because one of the peculiarities of that Board is that they always, although they have a wretchedly poor Grant, manage to have a balance at the end of the year, which they hand back to the Treasury, having saved, as far as I can make out, a great part, though not the whole of this balance by the operation of this horridly cruel rule, to which I will now allude. It is the rule of average attendance. The rule in Ireland is that where a school has not an average attendance of fifty it is disqualified from having an assistant teacher, and if the average attendance goes up to ninety, it is entitled to two assistant teachers. That is a concession we won after many years of hard fighting. Then the Board rounded upon us, and said that whereas an assistant teacher can be appointed as soon as the average attendance of a school reaches fifty, but if the average falls, even by a decimal, below fifty, the teacher will be dismissed, and inasmuch as the Irish schools are always hovering round that point of qualification the result of this rule is that about 700 assistant teachers in Ireland live in the position we read of in ancient story with the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, not knowing when they will be dismissed. I say it is humanly impossible for a man to do his duty under these circumstances. What we ask is that, whereas an assistant teacher may be appointed on an average attendance of fifty, there must be a swing in the average, and we say that the average should fall below forty—that is a fall of ten in the average—before the assistant can be dismissed. I cannot conceive that the Treasury will refuse this moderate demand, the cost of which, I understand, will be inconsiderable. To show the cruel operation of this rule let me read to the House the reply given to a question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for West Kerry, who has taken up this subject:— Mr. O'Donnell asked the Chief Secretary what is the number of assistant teachers in Ireland discontinued in the last two years owing to reduction in the average attendance; what is the cost of the training of those teachers to the State; whether these men nearly all emigrate or seek other employment, thus causing the State to lose the whole cost of their training; whether he will impress on the Treasury the wisdom as well as the justice of allowing a swing of, say, ten in the average attendance before assistants already in the service are discontinued? Mr. Birrell: Salary was withdrawn from 134 assistant teachers, of whom seventy-two were trained, in the two years ended 31st December, 1910, owing to fall in the average attendance at their schools. Of this number fifty-five have been re-appointed. The cost of the training of the teachers not re-appointed was £2,825. The Commissioners of National Education have no official information as to what becomes of the teachers not re-appointed. The question of a modi- fication of the rule as to the tenure of assistant teachers is the subject of a correspondence between the Irish Government and the Treasury."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th March, 1911, col. 2193.] I hope that this really offensive rule will be modified in the sense I suggest, and that the corresponding rule in respect of schools with two assistants will also be altered so that the average must fall to eighty before an assistant can be dismissed. I got a letter this morning from one of those unhappy men showing how this thing worked. As regards this rule, and the swing of the average in its relation to the tenure of an assistant teacher, there should be a certain period of retrospection in the rule, so as to undo some of the cruel hardships to which these unfortunate men are subjected. The assistant teacher writes:— I had been assistant in the above school under the management of your friend—, but notice of withdrawal of salary from 31st March last has been issued to me, and, if I am not restored to the position, I fear I shall be a long time waiting for another, though I am a young, active, trained teacher. I have continued up to the present to give service, in the hope that the resolution of the Commissioners would be given effect to, and that those who lost their positions during the time the negotiations were pending would be restored to them. That man is practically without any salary, and he hopes that this House will come to the rescue. I think I need not say any more on that point, I cannot see that the Treasury will longer resist the modification we ask for. As regards heating and cleansing, that is a subject on which I do not intend to enlarge at all. I am sure some of my hon. Friends who take an interest in the subject will speak upon it. I look upon it as practically settled. The Chief Secretary has given his opinion on the subject, and the local managers have long ago indicated that they are willing to guarantee half of what the Treasury require. They have given a guarantee in the matter, and the Treasury, I am certain, cannot any longer refuse to make that grant.

That brings me to the question of the provision of scholarships. This raises the question of co-ordination of education, and leads me to say a few words on the necessity of developing intermediate education, if full value is to be obtained for the money spent on the primary system of the country. Education, if it is to be worth the money spent upon it, must be art organic whole. Primary education without some subsequent development is hardly worth the money spent upon it. There is an urgent appeal from the Primary Commissioners themselves on this very point. They have made a claim for many years as to the absolute necessity of the full development of the system of primary education in Ireland, and for higher primary schools. That is a system on which different opinions may exist, but it is not within the region of practical politics at the moment. It shows that they are convinced of the absolute necessity of some system of co-ordination, and I am going to make an urgent appeal to the Chief Secretary that we should have some system of scholarships instituted which would enable choice and picked youths in the primary school to be drafted into the secondary schools. I do not ask for an elaborate or costly system. All I ask for is a beginning. We have no such thing in Ireland. In this country hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent, with the result that there are to-day in Oxford and in all the universities numbers of men highly distinguished, and with great careers before them, who could never have reached the universities but for the elaborate ladder by which they reached the higher schools. That system has long been working in Scotland, and it has led to far-reaching and most desirable results. But it is far more wanted in Ireland, because of the ruin and break-up of education which has gone on there. I would urgently appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to make a statement to-day of what the Government propose to do in regard to intermediate education in Ireland in regard to scholarships. In this connection I may remind the Committee that when the Irish University Act was being passed the right hon. Gentleman introduced a provision which was warmly supported by all sections of the House, giving power to the county councils of Ireland to impose, I think, a penny rate for the purpose of scholarships to carry on these scholars to the universities. But when they came to levy it they were faced with an agitation against it, without provision being also made to enable the scholars to go to the other schools. If you do not make some provision for opening the doors of the primary schools to poor children who cannot go to the secondary schools all these scholarships will be seized upon by children whose parents can afford to send them to the secondary schools, and the purpose of the scholarships provided by the penny rate—a most beneficent purpose—would be lost. The county councils have struck a halfpenny rate only in some oases in spite of the agitation, while a great many of the councils have refused to strike the rate. I would make an urgent appeal to the right hon. Gentleman in connection with this.

I must say a sentence on the strength of our case for some assistance, and for the reconstruction of the money available for secondary schools. In this connection the Commissioners of National Education have over and over again appealed for years to the Government that they should obtain money for these scholarships. Therefore I make the appeal now in connection with the secondary system, and the linking of the intermediate system by scholarships with the primary schools. Why is this the state of affairs in regard to the secondary system? We have in Ireland no money for secondary education except £30,000, which is the interest of £1,000,000 of the Church surplus, which is a purely Irish fund, and the Whisky Money, which has now become greatly reduced. In England and Scotland large Grants have been made for secondary schools. Take the case of England. Something like £900,000 has been granted for secondary education, and that in a country where you have enormous endowments which have come down from pious founders in past ages, whereas in Ireland we are practically without endowments. With a few exceptions our endowments were confiscated in the civil wars. Therefore, in a poorer country, we have no equivalent of the Grant of £900,000 given for secondary education in England. That is a very unjust state of things, and we ask the Government to give us an equivalent Grant, calculated on some fair bases, and amounting to £60,000 or £70,000, as an equivalent for the Grant which the Exchequer gives for secondary education in this country. I think we have an unanswerable case in making that demand, and personally I make a strong appeal. In dealing with the permanent Grant, which has now taken the place of the Whisky Money—I think it was a hateful thing to make the Grant for education dependent on the consumption of whisky, and I am glad that we have now a permanent Grant—I would, say that really from what the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury have said I am encouraged to think that they do not quite realise what the permanent Grant is. The Secretary to the Treasury said, "We have done the best we could, and stereotyped the amount of the Whisky Money." They do nothing of the kind. It amounted to £71,000 in 1900, but in the year which they take as the standard—1908–09—the Whisky Money had fallen to £48,000; therefore we lost by that transaction £23,000 a year. In view of the fact that Ireland has been hit by taxes, and the fact that we have been frequently taunted for not defeating the Budget, I think we are entitled to some consideration in connection with this particular subject. I would really make a strong appeal to the Government to revise their decision in that matter in respect of the three countries. There is no civilised country that spends less on education. Let, them take the whisky at the top, and give a fair deal with education. Let them take as the standard year not 1908–09, but 1900, and fix the Whisky Money as at that date.

If they will only do that they will provide them with funds in Ireland, which will produce two good results. First of all they will link up the system of primary education with the secondary schools by means of scholarships, so that the poor man's son when he is exceptionally gifted, as often happens, can get into the secondary school and be carried through the secondary school to the university. He should get three years of scholarships. That would bring him to the gates of the university. He would be then taken in hand by the county council scholarships, a certain proportion of which could be earmarked for children who had come from primary schools, and in this way such children could go to a university and be given a chance to have a career in life. In addition, the extra funds would provide money enough to institute a reform which is very badly wanted in secondary schools in Ireland. These schools are staffed by what I believe to be the most sweated members of any profession I know of. They have no security of tenure, and no professional recognition. They do not know from month to month whether they will not be turned into the street, with no prospects before them; and their salaries are simply deplorable. If I could make a contrast in this matter, the salaries of the women especially are really horrible. It is awful to think of highly educated women, as they have to be to get these positions, frequently having salaries of not more than £40 or £50 or £60 a year. Such a state of affairs is disgraceful. This money could be largely ear-marked for the purpose of enabling these schools to do what they cannot do at present. I have an opportunity of knowing intimately about the finance and the management of these schools. It is not from any spirit of meanness or injustice that these schools are not paying decent salaries to their teachers, but it is because they cannot do it. The fees in these schools are fixed at a ridiculously low figure. On an average they are 30, or 40, or 50 per cent. under the fees of English schools, and they have no endowment, except a few grammar schools.

The income from the Intermediate Education Board has fallen steadily, while the number of pupils has gradually increased. Since 1900 the pupils have increased by 30 per cent., while the income has fallen by £25,000 a year. Therefore it is their poverty and not any want of generosity that makes them treat their teachers so badly. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take this opportunity of pressing his new claim upon the Treasury. It is a claim which I think the Treasury must admit is just. It is merely a claim for equal justice with England and equal opportunity of doing good work with the intermediate system in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has already done very noble work in rearing the new University system, and work which, as I said the other day was not only successful in so far as it put an end to great bitterness of feeling by creating the new University, which promises to be a great success, but work which has exercised a most wholesome influence on the old universities of Ireland in the way of reform and in stimulating a healthy competition, which has already done good to Trinity College, instead of ruining it as some people said it would, and which has done immeasurable good to the University of Belfast, though some of the Gentlemen from Belfast did their best to oppose it. If the right hon. Gentleman can see his way to do this work and reform this branch of Irish education which requires reform the most, that is the secondary branch, he will certainly leave behind him the reputation of having done more for the education of the Irish people than any English Minister that ever came to that country.

Coming to the national teachers, the question of monthly payment of their salaries is one that is exercising their minds very much. Though personally I do not consider it to be as pressing as the question of pensions or the assistant teachers, still it is a matter on which the teachers have undoubtedly a strong case, and which the Chief Secretary himself has recognised. I know what his difficulties are that have been raised by the Treasury, but I trust that he may find himself able to overcome them. In conclusion, I have only got a word to say about a subject on which we have already got a very satisfactory statement from the right hon. Gentleman. That is the question of building grants. These grants during a period from 1900 to 1905 were almost entirely stopped. That was due to the fact that the Treasury—I do not know for what purpose—carried on endless correspondence with a Committee which had sat upon the question of new plans for the Irish schools. That correspondence had the effect of giving an excuse for withholding grants until these new plans were settled. It took from three to four years to agree on the new plans, which was at length done with great pressure. But then the Treasury absolutely refused for a long time to make any provision such as the Commissioners require for the enormous arrears that has been piled up in the interval, with the result that the National Board have been obliged absolutely to stop altogether making any further grants, and week in and week out we get the most earnest requests for our attention to schools which are in a most deplorable condition of ruin and for which no building grants can be obtained. The answer of the Chief Secretary shows clearly that there has not been a retrogression, but rather an improvement, in this respect. In the present year, I understand, £60,000 has been already granted, and £40,000 has been granted towards the old grants between 1900 and 1905. But the National Commissioners declared after the new plans had been agreed upon it would take £100,000 a year for five years to clear off the arrears. Instead of obtaining the £100,000 a year they obtained £40,000, and a promise of £70,000 from the Development Grant.

As I understand that £70,000 was not paid, and the Development Grant was swallowed up by the working of the Irish Land Act., so they only got £40,000 a year, and £60,000 is being given this year. I was very glad to hear from the Chief Secretary that he would be able to make a very encouraging statement in this connection as to what the Treasury were prepared to do in regard to building grants in the present year. I hope that the result of the present Debate will produce some real tangible benefit in the present year. Before sitting down I may thank the few Members of English and Scotch constituencies who have listened to this Irish Debate. I think that there are seven or eight Englishmen and Scotchmen who have taken sufficient interest in it to remain in the House. I do not quarrel with the absence of the others, but I hope that before long they will translate their in- difference to Irish affairs into its logical sequel, and will allow us to deal with these matters ourselves. It is little short of a farce to have to deal here with such questions as Irish education, which do not interest and cannot be expected to interest Englishmen and Scotchmen, while we are obliged to come to this House year after year and address empty benches in the vain hope of being allowed to manage the education of our own people.


It is so seldom that I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) who has moved this reduction that I venture to offer a few observations to the House on the question with which he has dealt. I may say, on the whole, that, apart from the political aspect, to which he referred in conclusion, I agree entirely with the résumé which he has given to some of these outstanding grievances in regard to Irish education. I certainly should be very sorry that anyone should think, because we differ upon what is to be the ultimate settlement of the question of Irish Government and how these things ought to be managed in the future, that therefore we who represent Unionist constituencies in Ireland are not willing to join with Nationalist Members in trying to get these grievances redressed at the earliest possible moment. I am inclined to think as regards what the hon. Gentleman has said, about the impossibility of settling the whole of this question in the Parliament of the United Kingdom that the whole of this matter rests purely upon financial considerations, and that when the hon. Member says that he could very much more easily settle it, and, indeed, could only settle it in an Irish Parliament, I think he is raising hopes as regards the future financial position in Ireland under what he would call Home Rule, which are entirely fallacious. I am inclined to think myself, if this question was boldly taken in hand by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Birrell) who is now Chief Secretary, having regard to the way in which the sectarian question has come to be regarded in Ireland in relation to primary education, that we should be all found joining together in putting the whole system on the most satisfactory basis, and for my part I think if you had an Irish Home Rule Government tomorrow you would find far more difficulty in settling this question when you had to put before the Irish people that the only way in which you could settle it was by an increase of their rates or an increase of their own particular taxes. This would necessarily be the case if this was being settled in an Irish Parliament, and I do think that when the right hon. Gentleman was able to settle the outstanding question of Irish University education in an Imperial Parliament it is not too much to hope that, if he applied his mind to this matter, he would be able also to settle the question of primary education. I myself remember many speeches having been made from benches below the Gangway in which we were told that this House never could settle the question of Irish University education. I always took a different view myself.


I never said it.

5.0 P.M.


I do not say that the hon. Member said it, but I do remember that many important men in Ireland said it. I always took a different view, and I can only say, as I am generally found in conflict with my right hon. Friend opposite, that looking back to the work which he has done, whether in the Education Office or here, or as Chief Secretary for Ireland, the one matter which stands out and of which he may be exceedingly proud and on which we should congratulate him, is the settlement of the Irish University question. In all the grievances that have been put forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mayo I quite concur with him that something should be done. I think every one of them is a real grievance, and that many of them are matters which the right hon. Gentleman might very reasonably, and without any undue pressure upon him, endeavour to deal with. I myself have most of the documents to which the hon. Member for Mayo referred, and which have relation to these various grievances. Take one which the hon. Member went into at the outset of his speech—I mean the question of ungraded teachers. I do not suppose for a moment that anybody who has looked into this question will say that these teachers, who are the remnant of the band of teachers who were there when the class teacher was taken away and the graded teacher was substituted, have not got a real grievance. They are a limited section, and I think we may reasonably ask, why is not the grievance put an end to? All the hon. Member has asked for is an inquiry. For myself, I should have thought the facts were sufficiently known, and that we do not need an inquiry. But, if that is not so, I will join with the hon. Member for Mayo in pressing for an inquiry, but subject to this—I do not want an inquiry to shelve the matter; I want an inquiry to solve the matter. If we are to have an inquiry let it be one with some limit. Let us be told that we can have an inquiry for a month or two months, but let us have some limit, and let us try to brush away this grievance. I have a letter from one of my constituents, and I should like to ask the Chief Secretary whether the facts which it states are really true. The letter gives what seems to be a concrete instance of a great injustice which is being done, at all events, to some of these men. This is what he says:— I send you herewith particulars of a double grievance which I stiffer under, namely, undergrading and paper promotion. Prior to 1900 I was in the first grade of the first class, but because my income was not large enough, through being in a school with an average attendance of under fifty, I was depressed to second grade. Why on earth should the prospects of the teacher or the efficiency of the school depend upon the number in attendance? It seems to me that this is one of the most ridiculous and one of the most unbusinesslike rules that could be laid down in regard to the grading of the teacher or for the efficiency of the school. More especially, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Mayo, where there are these large and scattered districts from which the children have to be gathered to the school. In such circumstances it is extremely difficult to keep up the average attendance. I am told that the administration of the law as regards compelling these children to go to school is extremely lax.


It does not apply.


I mean there is an attempt made—I may be wrong—to get the children together. In some districts the attempt made is more successful than in other districts. But look at the way in which you are mulcting the teacher. He has no control whatever in regard to bringing the children to school, yet he is punished for the very laxity which he has no means of preventing. I think this is a most monstrous grievance. Then the writer of the letter goes on to say:— I have striven to regain the rank taken from me, and, as my school reports were 'very good' for the last eight years, and the attendance over fifty for the year 1909, I was promoted from 1st April, 1910, to the second grade of the first class, a status one degree still below that taken away. Owing to Treasury parsimony, I have not yet been paid one penny of increment, and the resulting loss to me last year was £13. How long I may have to wait for increment I cannot tell, and arrears are never paid. In any other service they would be legally recoverable, but not with teachers. Is not that a monstrous state of affairs. I see there was a question asked on the subject some days ago by an hon. Member below the Gangway of the Chief Secretary, as to details of persons who have not received their increments on being promoted to a higher grade, and the answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave was this:— The following table shows the number of teachers promoted to first and second section, respectively, of the first grade during the years ended 31st March, 1909, 1910 and 1911:—

Year ended 31st March, 1909. Year ended 31st March, 1910. Year ended 31st March, 1911.
1(1)Grade. 1(2)Grade. 1(1)Grade. 1(2)Grade. 1(1)Grade. 1(2)Grade.
26 44 51 99 22 51

All the teachers promoted in the year ended 31st March, 1909, received increments of salary. Of the teachers promoted in the year ended 31st March, 1910, five male teachers in 1(1) grade have not yet received increments, and of the teachers promoted in the year ended 31st March, 1911, twelve male teachers in 1(1) grade, and thirty-one male teachers in 1(2) grade have not received increments. The payment of increments of salary to the teachers in question from the dates of their promotion would have involved additional charges on the Vote for the year ended 31st March, 1910, of £271, and for the year ended 31st March, 1911, of £492. The unexpended balances of the Votes for public education (Ireland) during the years ended list March, 1909 and 1910, were £15,307 18s. 11d., and £2,854 3s. 10d., respectively. It is not possible at present to state the amount of the balance from the Vote for the year ended 31st March, 1911, but it will probably be about £25,000."

What becomes of that money? That money goes back into the English Treasury, although the English Treasury is not really fulfilling its obligations to these men who have been promoted into these various grades, and who instead of getting the money which should be paid to them on promotion, were left without it for some time, with consequent hardship to them. In a great many cases, as has been pointed out by the hon. Member for Mayo, if the school attendance falls below a certain line, although it would be right, to keep the teachers, they are sent about their business, and the Government have no official knowledge of what becomes of them in the future, though it may be that they become part of the great body of unemployed. I think the whole of that is very deplorable, and that these are matters which might be settled and settled easily without waiting for Home Rule. If we get Home Rule, which I hope with all my heart will never come, there will be plenty of other things to do, and these are immediate grievances which those who suffer from them cannot afford to wait to have remedied. They are immediate and pressing matters. Here in this House we are going to vote ourselves £400 a year each, while we leave these small matters, small compared with the large sums that we vote in other directions, unattended to, and it seems to me a little short of a positive scandal. Another question in regard to which have had many letters is that of the monthly payment of salary. Of course I know that to pay salaries monthly would involve some addition to the work of the clerical staff; but these people, it should be remembered, live in country districts, and it will be a great convenience to them to receive their payment monthly. The right hon. Gentleman with a stroke of his pen could insist upon their being paid. The cost to the Treasury would be very small, and if it would be any encouragement to the right hon. Gentleman, I would make him a present of my £400 a year to assist him in remedying this grievance. These people have often families to keep, and to receive their payment monthly to them is a matter of the very greatest importance. There are two other questions upon which I merely wish to say a word, and one is the question of pensions. I remember making a speech when sitting on the other side of the House, my party being then in power, in which I pointed out that I believed that the teachers had been entirely deceived with regard to the matter of pensions. They were led to believe that, under the Act of Parliament, if they made certain contributions, they would have certain pensions. They did not succeed in that intention, and the Government said they must have a revaluation. On a revaluation it was found that the fund was insolvent. Therefore the Government went back on their original bargain, or, at all events, what they thought was a bargain, and said, "You must give up some more of your annual emoluments, so as to make the pension fund solvent."


And they cut down the pensions.


Yes; and what happened then? Now there is a considerable sum each year over and above what is sufficient. Have the teachers in this position not the right to say, "you should look into the whole matter, when we think you have got a larger amount annually from us than is necessary, and we claim to have a revaluation so as to see whether or not we should have either higher pensions out of such a surplus as may be found, or else a reduction in the amount of payments." Having regard to the treatment they experienced when the fund was said to be insolvent, they now have an absolute claim on the Government to have this matter reinvestigated. As regards the question of the linking up of primary education and secondary education, that is a matter also of an extremely pressing nature. There is an entirely new phase of the question opened since the right hon. Gentleman set up his new University system in Ireland. If you are going to have your whole system of education co-ordinated, you must begin with primary education, so as to make effective for the best students the new University education which you have set up. It is only by co-ordinating primary, secondary, and University education that you can get the best results from the money that you are giving. Of course, all this means money, and I daresay that the night hon. Gentleman could very truthfully reply to me and to the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken that he has never yet heard of any great agitation in Ireland for putting any of this money upon the rates, nor have I.

But then, on the other hand, there was the point made by the hon. Member for Mayo—namely, are we being treated fairly, even taking the system that the Government themselves have set up? Take the question of the whisky money. Why, as the hon. Member has said, should not, the best year for us be taken. Surely where it is a matter of education, which goes to the whole foundation of your system in Ireland, it is far better to err in that direction than it is in taking a bad year. Where it would have been an advantage to Scotland and Ireland and to England to have this money supplied for the purpose of secondary education, I cannot see why the Government should not take the best year to get the best amount for bringing about this matter of coordination. For my own part, I can only say this, that I look upon this question of primary education as by far the greatest outstanding grievance, apart altogether from politics, which I put aside for the moment, now remaining in Ireland. As I said before, I do not believe, from the way in which we have come now to regard education in Ireland, however we may view the origin of the National Board and the national system, that it presents any difficulty. Education has settled down, at all events in the matter of what I may call the elementary essentials, and as regards sectarian questions, which have become acquiesced in by both parties and by all religions in Ireland, so that I think you have got rid of the main difficulties, and I am sure if the right hon. Gentleman would only add to his achievement in the settlement of University education something satisfactory with regard to primary education, not only would those who follow him have gratitude to him for that, but we ourselves would add our gratitude.


I think it would be perfectly clear from the discussion, so far as it has gone, that the question of Irish primary education needs only to be stated to make it apparent to the Committee that the claim made here today on behalf of Irish schools and on behalf of Irish school-teachers is a just claim. The arguments that have been advanced in favour of the claims that have been made are unanswerable. I think that is perfectly clear to the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, since he went to Ireland, must have investigated many of the Departments over which he presides, and have investigated also the educational affairs of Ireland, although he does not preside over them. I think that, I am right in stating that in no Department under the jurisdiction of the right hon. Gentleman will he have found a greater degree of neglect than in the one that now forms the subject of discussion. I make that statement with regard to all the Departments of Irish Government, but in respect of the Education Department it is not one branch of it alone that is being neglected, but every branch of it. My hon. Friend the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has already informed the Committee as to what the state of the Estimates for this year discloses. I shall not repeat the figures which he has already quoted, but I must make this observation with regard to them—namely, that it is not alone in respect of this year's Estimates that these great discrepancies are disclosed, but in like manner for any period that you wish to take, the same story will be told. Let me take, for example, the period of time extending from the year of the Estimates for the year 1900–01 to the Estimates of this year. Since 1900–01 the increase for primary education in England has been 50 per cent., in Scotland 76 per cent., and in Ireland 27 per cent. What justification can there be for that?

I can only account for this wonderful discrepancy in. the Estimates on the ground that the Treasury is full of malice against Irish spending Departments. This is plunder, there is no other name worthy of the occasion, and it is plunder of the very worst kind because it is cheating the poor country in order to pamper the rich country. I have mentioned the word "Treasury." I do wish that a representative of that impalpable and impersonal body were present, because it is the Treasury we complain of here to-day. They not only deal out these funds for Irish purposes with a niggardly hand, but they misrepresent their action in this House in order to deceive the Committee and the House and the people, whenever they are asked questions about their unjustifiable conduct. Last year a question was put by my hon. Friend the Member for West Cavan (Mr. Kennedy) with regard to the sums respectively granted to the several countries for primary education. The question was, will the Chief Secretary state what was the Grant per head of population to England, Scotland, and Ireland for primary education, and what were the inspection Grants in 1909–10. He was told in answer to that that the Grant for that year for primary education in England was £11,250,000, or 6s. 4d. per head; for Scotland, £1,412,431, or 5s. 9½d. per head. In Ireland £1,544,714, or 7s. 1½d. per head, thus showing that Ireland had almost 2s. per head more than the Scottish Department. That was not only a misleading statement but it was a false statement, and made here for the purpose of deceiving the House and deceiving the public, because from those figures were omitted in the case of England £204,693 for administration, £244,180 for inspection, £555,000 for training teachers, which is altogether £1,003,873 omitted from the statement made on behalf of the Treasury. In respect of Scotland there were similar omissions of £21,400 for administration, of £41,482 for inspection, and of £142,392 for the training of teachers, and for the examination of accounts £919, making in all an omission of £206,193. Every one of those items was included in the amount put down for Irish primary education.

I took the trouble of going into the Estimates and of finding this out for myself. When I saw those figures I was amazed to find that for the purpose of primary education Ireland was receiving more money per head of population than any of the other three divisions of the United Kingdom. When I discovered what was the case from the Estimates, I followed up my hon. Friend's question with several others in order to elucidate the point. The Treasury evaded me; they referred me to the Education Departments of England and Scotland, and they refused to answer several questions that I put on the Paper. They said that they had nothing to add to the answer that they had given to my hon. Friend. I say that this is shameful conduct on the part of the Treasury, not only to deprive the Irish people of their just rights, but to seek to deceive the public with regard to the grants that have been made in respect of education in Ireland. The various heads as to the complaints that we make to-day have been touched upon by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, and I shall not elaborate them. I am also aware that hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway from Ireland are anxious to say a few words on this subject, and it is the desire of all of us that there shall be on this matter a united voice coming from Ireland. I know that there are many of my colleagues who are better qualified to speak on the subject than I am, and who desire to make some observations on their own part, and I shall endeavour not to go into elaborate details.

The first point, and, I think, the point of greatest importance, is the subject of the schools themselves. It has been already stated by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo(Mr. Dillon) that the failure has been to supply a sufficient amount of money to build new schools and repair old ones. It has been stated that there is a lapse in the grant for building purposes, but there have been several lapses, and what has been the effect of these lapses? The fact is that while £240,000 has been allotted for a period of six years, and £70,000 from the Irish Development Grant that did not come to hand, and yet the Board of Education has sanctioned buildings to the extent of £235,000, and they have approved of an additional £135,000, making in all over £370,000 of engagements which they are not able to fulfil. The £40,000 was for three years, and I had the honour of making a Motion in this House which resulted in the grant of that £40,000. That has to be continued for the next three years, but it is not enough. The £70,000 from the Irish Development Grant has never come to hand, and I think it never will come to hand. It was used for other purposes, and yet the Commissioners have sanctioned and approved buildings for £307,000, and they will not be able to fulfil their obligations. In addition to that there are many other cases where the buildings are unsuitable, probably to the extent of 2,000 or 3,000 buildings. This is a most urgent matter. In the year 1907, when it fell to my lot to make a case on behalf of the schools, I read out the names and particulars ad nauseam from the inspectors whose duty it was to report upon these schools. I do not know whether it is necessary or not to repeat these, but for the present let it suffice to say that many of these schools were described as mere hovels. The fuel with which they sometimes tried to heat them was generally supplied by the teachers and pupils jointly. The cess-pits were neglected because the cost of cleaning them fell upon the teachers, and the schoolhouses therefore were the centres of disease. In one case it was reported that fourteen monitors retired owing to ill-health, and all of them died. Will the Committee picture to itself the children of the poor of Ireland in these remote parts of the country, travelling many miles to school, sometimes very poorly clad, very often without boots, going into these unhealthy, unclean, cold schools. I ask whether it is a condition under which the children can be expected to imbibe education or the school teachers impart education to them. I submit it is an insanitary and uncomfortable state of affairs, which is not at all conducive to the best, or, indeed, to any, system of education.

Enough has been said about heating, and I am sure the hon. and gallant Member above the Gangway (Captain Craig) will not forget that point, because he has already shown great interest in it. I shall proceed to the question of the salaries of the teachers. A great discrepancy has been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo between the salaries of the teachers in England and Scotland and the teachers in Ireland. I would submit this proposition to the Committeee, that when a teacher is called into existence and trained for this employment he is entitled to fair treatment and security of tenure. In the case of the Irish teacher he has neither fair treatment nor security of tenure. How can it be said that a teacher has fair treatment when he finds that there is a great discrepancy between his salary and the salaries of like persons in England and Scotland. Let me state that discrepancy as shortly as I can. In England the average salary for men, is £160 and some odd money, and for women £109 and some odd money. In Scotland you have men paid £179 and some odd money, and women £90 and some odd money. In Ireland the average salary is £102 19s. 6d. for men and £82 11s. 9d. for women. These are the salaries of the principal teachers in the respective countries. Coming to assistant teachers in England the average is £114 17s. 10d.; in Scotland £122 3s. 2d., and in Ireland £73 2s. 4d. In fact you have in England and Scotland the assistant teachers paid absolutely more than the principal teachers in Ireland. Is not that an enormous discrepancy and a grave injustice to the teachers of Ireland? How can this House or anyone else expect any enthusiasm on the part of the Irish school teacher when he finds to this extent that his labour is not regarded as of the same value with similar labour in England and in Scotland? It would be expecting more from human nature than I have ever been able to attribute to it, if he could possibly display any great enthusiasm for this work or zeal in the performance of his duties. I will give you a case in point; I know the teacher myself. He was for five years a monitor and had the highest marks as such. He was two years in a training college and he took first place in all his examinations. He was for two years assistant teacher and is now for nine years principal teacher, and his reports were never below "good." The Inspectors praised him for his discipline and the teaching of his school. He teaches science, Irish, singing, and physical drill. His pupils win scholarships in technical schools and colleges. The attendance has been increased during his term of office by 30 per cent. over that of his predecessor. This predecessor had £130 a year. He (the present man) had £76 for three years, —77 for three and a half years, and has now £87 after six and a half years. This man, who has such a record, if he were in England, say, under the County Council of London, would have a salary not far short of £200 or £300 or more, but because he is an Irish school teacher, who never had a bad mark against him, who has had a brilliant career in college, and brilliant results in his teaching, can only get the miserable pay of £87 a year, for which he has to wait three months before he obtains it. I submit that case to this Committee, which is composed largely of business men, and I ask if a young man with a career such as I have described had devoted himself to commercial pursuits, will they not agree that, it would not be £87 a year he would be in receipt of, but he would have a salary of from £130 up to £200, and a man of his talents and ability would richly deserve such a reward.

It is true that these figures have been augmented by what is known in Ireland as "the Birrell Grant." I do not want to be ungracious. We are all very grateful for the Grant of £114,000 which was added to the salaries of the teachers through the wisdom and forethought of the right hon. Gentleman who is now Chief Secretary. But how much did this £114,000 actually add to the average salary of the teachers. It comes to 5½d. per day. I do not want to look a gift-horse in the mouth, but, after all, that is a very small increase when you look at it in that way. In the same year that this £114,000 was granted there was an increase without any noise made about it of £96,000 to Scotland, and in Ireland £18,000 was returned to the Treasury from unexpended balances. There was £57,000 of the Irish Development Grant undistributed, to which they were entitled, and £65.000 was added to the Irish charge for junior assistant mistresses. I do not want to take away from the generosity of the right hon. Gentleman, but I think it is clear that, while the grant was given to the teachers with one hand it was taken back with another, and there was an actual loss in this respect because, owing to the system which was adopted, these assistant teachers were dismissed, and had their places taken by a new order of teachers, who were called junior assistant mistresses. These were uncertificated and untrained. This point has been mentioned by the hon. Member for East Mayo, and it is enough to say that the men who were trained lost their places which were taken by these uncertificated young girls, who do not know anything about teaching at all. What do the managers say about it? The managers made a report last year from a meeting representing the managers of all Ireland, and included priests and parsons. They said, "Where there should be upwards of 200 trained assistant teachers, a corresponding number of untrained junior assistant mistresses are now employed in the national schools of Ireland to the detriment of the teaching profession of Ireland and of its training colleges and national education generally." So that this new institution, which was agreed to by the right hon. Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long), who was then Chief Secretary, and was conceived by him and his advisers to be a great stroke of business, is not working to the satisfaction of the managers. I submit to the Committee that when you introduce an institution of this kind and substitute uncertificated untrained young girls to take the place of well-trained men, it must be a self-condemned institution, and that will he found out the moment it is put into practice. A good deal has been said about the question of pensions, and I do not think it is necessary to add anything to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, and my Friend the Member for East Mayo. What was said by the latter was backed up by the very weighty speech from the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir E. Carson).

I would, however, like to add that I really could not have believed that a school teacher, man or woman, could possibly be in the service of the Board of Commissioners in Ireland for twenty-five years or so, and, breaking down in health, or for some reason having to leave the service, would be obliged to go out with a small pension of something like £5, £6, or £11 a year. But the other day I went to the Act of Parliament of 1879. There is a schedule to that Act which is a piece of the most legislative wickedness. I never saw such a schedule. Just imagine ! You will find in that schedule that teachers of twenty-five to thirty years' service can be put off with a pension of £5 or £6 a year. This system has been stigmatised by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a disgrace and a scandal to the British Empire. We are all interested, I am sure every Member of the Committee will be interested, to know whether this disgrace and scandal is going to be put an end to to-day once and for all. Is it not a monstrous state of things?

I have been dealing with two points—salary and pensions. Here you have a class of men employed in the most delicate operation of conveying information to the youth of the country; training up the manhood of the country. During their period of active service they are paid worse than a navy, and on their retirement they get a pension less than that given by the Old Age Pensions Act. It is little wonder that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have called that system a disgrace and a scandal to the British Empire. I hope, not only in regard to pensions, but also with regard to salaries, that that disgrace and scandal will be put an end to. We have heard a good deal about non-contribution from the local rates. But it has always to be borne in mind that the local rates in Ireland are already ear-marked for the operation of Land Purchase in Ireland. The local rates in Ireland are not free for this purpose. They have already been seized upon, and have been made to contribute for the purpose of Land Purchase. They cannot possibly, therefore, bear any greater burden. The tenure of assistant-teachers is one of the most serious grievances that Irish teachers have to complain of at the present time. A good deal has been said about it. I need not say much more, except to point out to the Committee that the conditions under which education is carried out in Ireland are entirely different from the conditions that exist here.

You have in Ireland great poverty. You have schools very much scattered and widely apart. You have very often late harvests. You have cold, insanitary schools. It is very difficult indeed to keep up the attendance at these schools. A wet day or a continuous number of wet days may keep the children away for a whole week. It may seem very strange that the existence of an assistant teacher in a school depends upon the attendance of four children for one week at school. Four children mean twenty attendances, and this affects the average attendance for a whole quarter, and is sufficient to deprive the assistant of his position. That is to say, if in two successive quarters the attendance goes down one-tenth of a unit the assistant is discharged. It may be—and this is one of the effects of the system—that you have the assistant discharged because the attendance is below a certain average, which is affected by one-tenth of a unit. The attendance may go up for the other half of the year, and the assistant is reinstated. Is not that an extraordinary state of things to exist? As a result of it you have classes dislocated. You have the whole organisation of the school disturbed. You have the interest of the children destroyed, and the interest of the teacher is certainly lacking, because you cannot expect a teacher will have zeal if this sword of Damocles, which has already been referred to, is hanging over his head. It has a bad effect therefore upon the children, and it has a bad effect upon the teacher.

There were—will the Committee believe it?–872 schools affected by this average in 1910; 700 teachers were affected. I ask the Committee to consider what must be the condition of the mind of these 700 teachers. Here are 700 men, some married, men who have devoted their lives to the profession, men who have taken every opportunity of training their minds to exercise their profession, in a state of trepidation fearing lest the non-attendance of a few pupils for two successive quarters will cost them their position. I submit to this Committee that this is a condition of mind that ought to be put a stop to as soon as possible. As the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University has asked, and very well asked: Why should the children be badly taught because they happen to he not quite up to the average number? We add to that: Why should the teachers lose their position? Why should the teachers be badly paid because there is not a full average attendance? That is one of the questions that I think the Committee ought to help us to solve.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mayo has already alluded to the question, and the hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Kerry has followed in the matter as to what the cost of training those teachers is, and I shall, therefore, not deal with it. The subject of monthly salaries has already been fully dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Mayo, and his remarks have been reinforced very ably by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. I shall, therefore, not weary the Committee further by referring to these matters, but I trust that the discussion, so far as it has gone, and whether or not it goes further, will result in a settlement of these outstanding matters. We have from year to year been obliged to worry this subject, or, at least, every two or three years, to bring it up in this form, and to worry it constantly by questions given from above and below the Gangway. It is hoped by everybody who is a sincere well-wisher of the Irish people, so far as their education is concerned, that the grievances will be remedied once and for all, and that it will not be necessary to trouble the Committee with these subjects so extensively in the future as we had been obliged to do in the past, and as we are doing to-day, I hope for the last time.

Captain CRAIG

I have listened, Mr. Whitley, very attentively and with great pleasure to the speeches which have been made to this Committee this afternoon. I associate myself entirely with the view of the hon. Gentlemen the Members of Mayo and for Clare, as I have clone on previous occasions outside this House. I have always taken the view that national education in Ireland is a question which requires to be treated entirely from a nonpolitical point of view. I do not think that justice can be done to this subject if one allows oneself to be diverted in the slightest degree from the ultimate welfare and education of the children. There have been many claims put forward this afternoon on behalf of the National school teachers, and on behalf of education generally, and I would be the last to prejudice what the Chief Secretary for Ireland may be able to do in ameliorating some of these grievances, by placing undue emphasis on any one of the particular cases that have been brought under our notice. But as has been referred to, and as the Committee are aware, I have taken for the last four years particular interest in the subject of placing our National Schools in Ireland in a thoroughly sanitary condition before asking children to go there. Hon. Members below the Gangway—some, at least—will bear me out that in connection with their Bill for making more stringent the compulsory attendance of children in the National Schools of Ireland I always held—and still hold—that until due provision is made for the children in the schools, it is unfair to deal harshly with parents who do not send them there. In many instances the smaller schools in certain areas are totally unfitted for giving young people proper instruction; the heating is miserable.

In dealing with the subject it has always to be borne in mind that although it directly affects the youth of the country, it indirectly affects the question of the teachers in these smaller schools. If there is no Grant whatever and difficulty is experienced in raising funds locally for heating and cleansing these National schools, there is not a teacher in Ireland who would not put his hands into his pockets and carry out what is necessary at his own cost. Many teachers have suffered year after year in having to supply fuel and lighting. How can they see little children coming across the mountain-side, walking into a cold, damp school-room, and sitting down there without taking pity on them, and even at their own expense putting the fires on, and at their own cost finding the necessaries for making the children com- fortable? Therefore, it would, in my opinion, be, in the first instance, a very great benefit and enable these children to receive more benefit from the education, to relieve the teachers of this expense. I was informed on one occasion, I think it was by the present Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Ireland, on behalf of the Government, when he sat in this House, that he thought that this was a question that ought to be met entirely by the parents of the children, or that answer might have been given to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary.

6.0 P.M.

I take a different point of view. Where you have local effort alone in this matter you have no consistent system throughout the whole of the National schools, and what perhaps may be considered satisfactory in one particular area might be regarded as most unsatisfactory in another. And it is only by a Grant from the Treasury, coupled with the great system such as is in existence in the Board Schools in England that you can create a system which I hope will gradually grow and extend to all schools, so that all the schools may be treated in a proper sanitary manner, having the floors washed and desks and walls treated and all the necessary details which can only be carried out by a complete system instead of a haphazard effort by the children within school hours.

This year the Chancellor of the Exchequer is making a Grant of £1,500,000 towards sanatoria throughout the country. Why is it necessary that that enormous sum of money should be granted in order to stamp out the ravages of tuberculosis, which has been the subject of much anxiety for years past? Would it not be far better, at all events so far as Ireland is concerned, to begin at the source and to deal with the children in the schools and take every precaution that the disease may not spread amongst the children when they are young. It would be far better, in my opinion, to spend a few thousands a year and increase the local efforts of people to improving the schools making them clean, sanitary, and bright and cheerful, in the effort to check further the growth of tuberculosis in Ireland. If the Chief Secretary for Ireland could by a Bill or by administrative action do something in that direction, this day's Debate would not be in vain, and in impressing that view upon the right hon. Gentleman I do not wish to prejudice in the slightest degree any other reform suggested, by which the Chief Secretary might get some funds from the Treasury in order to meet the many grievances under which National school teachers in Ireland labour.

Passing from that, I would like to go a little further into subjects touched upon by the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) and the hon. Member (Mr. John O'Connor), and especially the subject of the monthly payment of teachers. I do not know that that subject has been thoroughly thrashed out either in this House or in the country. In the first place, I think I am right in stating—and the Chief Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—that a staff has already been appointed for dealing with this subject in Dublin, and for the purpose of drawing up a scheme. In an answer given in the House and in a memorandum in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Armagh (Mr. Lonsdale), I noticed that the Chief Secretary for Ireland deals with the whole of the salaries, and adds to them the question of the Augmentation Grant.

I have not had an opportunity of consulting at the last moment with the National teachers upon the subject, but I suggest that perhaps the Augmentation Grant might be left out of the question and paid annually, but that he should make an effort to meet the just demands of the teachers that they should be paid monthly as far as their salaries are concerned. In his memorandum he puts down the Augmentation Grant secured by the teachers in 1908 as £118,000, and he says eleven-twelfths of the year's grant should be provided in the first year, which would bring the amount up to £285,275 in all. Of course, looking at it from a comprehensive point of view and including the Augmentation Grant, that seems a large sum; but, on the other hand, if we dealt, as I suggest, simply and solely with the question of their salaries, it seems to me to be a ridiculous contention that it would cost the large sum of money which the right hon. Gentleman says is to be provided in the first year. In the first instance, I think it would be quite possible to fix the rate of every teacher for the month, and at the end of the year, when the Augmentation Grant was being paid in the ordinary way, let the balance of a particular teacher's salary be made up and computed, and the balance one way or the other settled. As against that, it might be said that the total numbers attending schools were this, that, or the other, and the Treasury might find itself in particular cases having paid the teacher at the end of the year more than that to which he was entitled. But against that I say, first of all, you have the opportunity of not paying quite the full amount. If a teacher receives £62 a year it would be far better to pay £1 a month less and have a solid balance in hand at the end of the year, and I think a promise of that kind would be more satisfactory to the teachers as a whole than to allow the system which is at present in vogue to continue. There is a very strong feeling throughout all parts of Ireland that this matter should be dealt with this year, and that you should start fresh upon a system which has been worked out very carefully, and which would prove satisfactory because it would be only a mere matter of the Treasury getting over the difficulties for the first year. There could be no loss to the Treasury. They have their staff already in Dublin, and by merely arranging for two months extra in the current year they would be able to start a plan that would give universal satisfaction in all parts of Ireland.

There is another subject which has not been so much touched upon, and that is that the Chief Secretary when clearing up as it were these various outstanding matters should strive to make more cordial the relationship between the managers and the teachers, and should try to institute some system whereby the teachers would have a just and fair appeal from any harshness on the part of the managers. I have spoken to many managers upon the subject, and in nearly all instances they have agreed that it would be quite possible, by arrangement, if you like to have some system other than that which exists at present, and to have some fair tribunal before which the case of the teacher would be heard on appeal, and where both parties would be willing to abide by the decision. Surely it is not past the wit of man to contrive some better method of dealing with this very delicate subject than exists at present. Those of us who have taken an interest in this matter for years past have heard of cases where managers have dismissed teachers, and where no remedy lies. Once a man is dismissed, no matter how unjustly, he has no remedy except by writing to the Press, or perhaps getting a friend to intervene. A slur is cast upon the teacher, and it is almost impossible for him to outlive it, and in many instances he has to leave the neighbourhood without being afforded any opportunity for clearing himself. I think that is a matter which should most carefully engage the attention of the right hon. Gentleman and those responsible for education in Ireland.

I desire to emphasize the complete unanimity of all classes of school teachers in Ireland for the removal of this grievance. It is undoubtedly the case that it is only on rare occasions we are able to have an open discussion of these important matters in the House. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) said there were very few English Members present, and I am confident that any English Member who has sat here and listened to this Debate will feel astonishment at the difference between the payment of English and Scotch teachers and Irish teachers. I am sure the hon. Member will excuse many Members from not turning up and listening to this Debate to-day, because perhaps very often when there is a question like the Scotch crofters question on, the hon. Member himself might take the opportunity of remaining away from the Chamber.


Oh, no.

Captain CRAIG

But apart from that point, the deep-seated interest of Ireland upon this matter must be patent to the Chief Secretary himself, and after all, it is to him and the Treasury we are appealing to assist us. Hon. Members below the Gangway in my opinion put too much blame upon the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland. In my opinion the blame is to a large extent to be attributed to the Treasury officials. There is no elasticity about their methods, and the grants made by the Treasury are made under restrictions made by the Treasury itself, and under these restrictions a great deal of injustice is done so far as education is concerned. They say in order to qualify for such and such a grant the regulations are so and so, and must be complied with. I am quite sure that if the money as a whole was in the hands of a sympathetic body in Ireland controlling national education, they could smooth over those rough portions which are constantly having attention drawn to them, and they could administer the grant by much more beneficial methods than those which are adopted at the present time. I think we have been able to prove that the cause of the teachers is one that deserves immediate attention, and the whole of the teachers in Ireland are most anxiously awaiting the result of to-day's Debate. Every word which the Chief Secretary states to-day will be read with intense interest in every village and hamlet throughout Ireland. The teachers have waited a long time. As everyone knows they have held meetings in all parts of Ireland without as far as I can see any question arising of a political nature. From the South and West of Ireland I have had many communications wishing well to the Bill dealing with the heating and cleansing of National schools. I have had as many communications from the South and West of Ireland as I have had from my own particular part of Ulster on this question. That shows that this movement is one which has gone on increasing to such an extent that the words of the right hon. Gentleman on this matter of National education will be read with more interest than any statement he has made in this House since he became Chief Secretary for Ireland.


The Debate has shown that on all sides, above and below the Gangway, we are deeply interested in Irish education, and there seems to be a willing desire to do something to improve the position of education generally in Ireland. This is all the more satisfactory because during the ten years I have been in this House this is the first time we have been able to consider education as a whole. Last year we had university education established and till then we could only consider primary education. Hitherto in Ireland we have carried our schoolboys and girls a certain distance in education, and there they stopped. They may have the ability, or they may not, but in any case it was useless because there was no university. The Debate is also interesting because for the first time an attempt has been made to link up and coordinate primary, secondary and university education and to throw open the education thus afforded to the boys and the girls in our primary schools who possessed the necessary ability. We do not want every child to become a university undergraduate, and that is not our object or our desire. Our great object is that in the case of boys and girls at primary schools, if they have the necessary ability and industry, poverty shall not be a bar to their progress.

This is the first opportunity we have had of dealing with this question as a whole. Prior to this occasion primary education was the only branch we could deal with. In every other country, and more especially in Ireland, primary education must continue to be the most important branch of education. Let me deal shortly with what I consider the necessary reforms in our primary system. First and foremost we want more money. Do not let, the Treasury reply, "That is always what you want." That may be so, but I think we have proved conclusively and satisfactorily that in the matter of education Ireland is treated far worse than either England or Scotland by the Exchequer. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has shown by his figures that Ireland gets £300,000 less than she should get on the basis of population. That is a most unjust treatment of Ireland. Is it because we do not levy rates for education that we are to be penalised by the Imperial Exchequer? We are not asking for money to make up for the loss in the rates, but we claim, and we are entitled to demand, at least as much from the Exchequer as England or Scotland get for education. That is the only demand we make. It is very difficult for an hon. Member who has not access to the Treasury accounts to separate the Grants for primary and secondary education. In England and Scotland the money is voted to a central board, and they distribute it between the various county and other authorities, who afterwards distribute it between primary and secondary education. It is difficult to institute a comparison between the cost of primary education in England, Scotland and Ireland, but it is very easy to institute a comparison as to the amount of money which is granted by the Treasury for education as a whole in the three countries.

I propose in a very short space of time to show how Ireland is treated in this respect. Take this year's Estimates. The Votes for education from the Treasury are:—England, £14,375,442; Scotland, £2,336,592; Ireland, £1,653,324. These are grants direct from the Treasury. Scotland, it will be seen, gets nearly one and a half times as much as Ireland. On any basis, whether of population or school attendance, there should not be this disparity. On the basis of population, which has long been accepted, we are entitled, as compared with Scotland, to at least £300,000 per annum more than we are getting. The figures I have already given are the figures for education generally. Let me now take the Exchequer Grants for secondary education. They are:—England and Wales, £993,000 per annum; Scotland, £250,000 per annum; Ireland, nil. This is an injustice calling for immediate settlement. The growth of the Exchequer Grants during the past ten years shows how alert is the Scotchman when there is question of finding money for his country. In the ten years ended March, 1911, the increases in Treasury Grants for the three countries are:—England, £4,162,632, or 44 per cent.; Scotland, £931,236, or 66 per cent.; Ireland, £320,000, or 21 per cent. Let me now compare the gross total education budget of the three countries. These include rates, fees, endowments, etc. Unfortunately in Ireland there are no rates and very few endowments:—England, £26,000,000; Scotland, £4,336,000; Ireland, £1,700,000. When one considers that in Ireland we have very nearly as many pupils attending our primary schools as you have in Scotland, and that in our secondary schools we have very nearly as many pupils as there are attending similar schools in Scotland, is it not perfectly evident that it is absolutely impossible for us in Ireland to produce anything like satisfactory results either in primary or secondary education? When we only spend £1,700,000, and Scotland spends £4,250,000, how can we provide for education, pay our teachers, and find bursaries to enable our boys and girls to go from primary to a higher grade at a secondary school and on to the university with such small funds? The thing is impossible, and it can only be remedied by providing the money which is required and must be given. No wonder that Scotchmen succeed even in Ireland, where they become prosperous through their superior education. We do not object to fair competition. I think the people of Scotland are to be congratulated upon the excellent system of education which they have carried on for so many years, and also upon the success with which they persuade the British Treasury to vote them money far larger than the amount which we can compel the British Treasury to vote to Ireland. In addition to raising more money themselves, Scotland has succeeded in getting the Treasury to give a great deal more attention to Scotland than to Ireland. That is the case which I wish to bring to the attention of the Chief Secretary. As I said before, it is a question of money. We cannot pay teachers and keep our schools efficient without we have a decent supply of money. Nowhere is money better spent than upon education, because it benefits the country by improving the brains and the character of our sons and daughters. I am satisfied that in the Chief Secretary we have a man who realises the advantages that education generally is to a country, and who has shown his interest in Ireland by the work he has already done in establishing a national university for which Ireland is very grateful. In educational matters Ireland has been condemned for her system of control, and for various other reasons, and I have no doubt a great deal of that condemnation is deserved. Nobody can say that either the National Board or the Intermediate Board of Education would be tolerated in any other country. Nobody would say that they are constituted in a way beneficial to education. The marvel to me is that those Boards have done so much poorly financed and strangely constituted as they are. Doctor Starkie, the President of both Boards in Ireland, is an educationalist of a very high order, and he has devoted his great energies and ability to improving the character of education both primary and secondary in Ireland. He has striven during the last seven or eight years as hard as he could to impress upon the Treasury the necessity of improving both those systems, and he pointed this out in his last report. The Member for East Mayo quoted an extract or two from the last report of the National Board, and that certainly was very interesting and instructive. In that report Dr. Starkie pleads most eloquently, but in vain, for the establishment of higher grade schools in Ireland. He shows that in Scotland, in England, and practically in every country in Europe those schools are an important element in the educational system. The hon. Member for East Mayo does not think that at the present time this is a subject out of the sphere of practical politics. That may be. I shall regret it if that is so.

I personally feel very keenly in the matter of the establishment of higher grade schools. I have given a considerable amount of attention to the subject. In Scotland the higher grade school is more important than the secondary school. It is the school to which the boy of brains or of industry can go from the primary school, and, having spent his three years there, he can afterwards go, without cost to himself or his parents, to the secondary school and right on to the university. It is the essential link binding the primary school to the university. These schools should he opened and established free all over the country. A system of scholarships may be suggested as sufficient, but I believe the higher grade school has a far more useful work to do than merely to lead a boy from the primary school to the university. There are thousands of boys who, if they get the opportunity, will pass through the higher grade school and the secondary school, but who will never go to the university, and will never want to go to the university. Their minds, however, will be enlarged, and their views will be bettered, and in after-life they will be better citizens and better workers in the various walks of national life. We cannot all go to the universities. Many of us, however can go to the secondary and higher grade school, and our position will be better. We shall make better members of local boards and better members of an Irish Parliament when it comes. I therefore plead as hard as I can for the necessity of establishing as soon as possible the higher grade school as an adjunct of the primary school.

The other point mentioned in this report is the question of agriculture. Anyone who knows Ireland is aware that we are an agricultural nation. It is our main industry; from it the wealth of our nation is derived, and practically nine-tenths of our people live from the land. Is it conceivable that in a proper scheme of education in a country so situated there should be not one word of agriculture taught either in the primary school or the secondary school or the university? The thing is really inconceivable. It is farcical and absurd, and it is outrageous that our boys and girls should be taught to go away from the land by which they should live in after life, and to become clerks and goodness knows what. It is educationally unsound and absurd, and everything should be done to change that system. My hon. Friend (Mr. Dillon), in speaking about the distinction between the rural school and the city school, referred to the unfairness with which the teacher in the rural school is treated in the matter of classification. The rural school ought to have a different scheme of education from the town school. The boys and girls who frequent the rural schools come from the farms and from the labourers' cottages. Many of them will go back to the farms, but a great many more would go back to the farms and make more out of them were it not for the scheme of education which is really helping emigration from our country, and which, I am sorry to say, is unfitting them to live by the land, which is the great source of the wealth of our country. In this report the National Board plead eloquently, and plead in vain, for the establishment of a scheme of agricultural plots to enable boys to learn the elements of the science of agriculture. In any country in the world but Ireland that would have been done long ago. It is being done in England. The present Minister of Education (Mr. Runciman) is proud, and rightly proud, that he has established such a system in this country. In the Memorandum only just issued there is a paragraph which is certainly instructive, and which would be useful if followed by us in Ireland:— It is beyond doubt that the much needed revivifying of agriculture and other rural industries in this country must be brought about by a natural and not by an artificial stimulus. And the experience of urban industries during recent years has abundantly shown that the most effective stimulus of all—because it is the only one which goes to the root of the matter—is the constant application of expert knowledge, after investigation on ever fresh lines of experiment and observation, to the solution one by one of each of the many and diverse problems which beset the daily operations of industrial practice. Agriculture has at least as much to gain from the expert as shipbuilding or dyeing or weaving; yet these are occupations the whole conditions of which have been transformed by the development of scientific methods and by that systematic training of the practical intelligence which such methods involve. In promoting, therefore, the growth of rural education on industrial lines, county councils and all who are interested in the future of agriculture have a truly national work to accomplish. That is in England. It refers to a country where conditions are the very opposite of what they are in Ireland. Seventy per cent. of our population lives on the land, but only 30 per cent. of the population of England lives on the land. In spite of that disparity, agriculture is attended to in England, while in Ireland it is neglected. I do not know whether the Chief Secretary would be able to say anything on the subject to-day, but I trust in the many spare moments which an Irish Chief Secretary has he will be able to devote his attention to it. The question of the teachers is certainly a very important one, and I would refer to it for a few moments. The salaries are scandalously small. It cannot be expected that a man of some considerable education will devote his life to that great work if he is not fairly remunerated for it. Unfortunately, we cannot expect to have the same salaries paid to our teachers as are paid in England and Scotland. The rates are available there, but at present they are not available in Ireland. We are, however, at, least entitled to insist that the salaries shall be increased and that that increase shall come from the Treasury. Certainly when the salaries are so small the Treasury ought to be only too willing to give us at any rate our own share. The treatment of assistant teachers in Ireland is cruel. Young men recently trained and expecting to spend their lives at what ought to be an honourable profession after a few years, owing to the decrease of population or bad seasons, constantly find their positions gone and their salaries withdrawn, and they are thrown on the world with practically nothing possibly after having just married. It is a cruel and brutal system, and ought not to be tolerated. We are thankful to the Chief Secretary because we believe he is going to end this system and give us, as he promised, a swing of ten, which will, I hope, apply to all assistants. I trust the Chief Secretary, in arranging this matter, will bear in mind the assistant who is always on the border-line, and arrange it so that the teacher will be protected whether he belongs to a schools with three or with two or with one assistant.

The question of heating is certainly very important. Anybody who knows the condition of many of the Irish schools is aware that they are not places in which boys can be expected to learn on a winter's day practically without a fire. You must give a boy some element of comfort before he can apply himself to the work of education. Both teacher and pupil find it hard and irksome work to do anything under such conditions. I wish to impress upon the Chief Secretary the great importance of doing something for higher education in Ireland. In Scotland the higher grade school and the secondary school both work together. Why do we not have the same system in Ireland? In England no money is paid to any school by the secondary education board if it does not give at least 25 per cent. of their places to the children of the primary schools. If it gives 25 per cent. free places, then the Board pays an average of £5 per pupil. That in Ireland would be about £100,000, and, if that £100,000 a year were spent with those conditions, I am satisfied that in a very short time a great many schools would open their doors and give facilities to boys who are fit to avail themselves of them and many more boys would be trained in secondary education who are now denied its advantages.

It is not my desire, nor the desire of anybody who has studied the question of education in Ireland, to turn the attention of the whole of our boys to the university. It would be a calamity if the poor of Ireland got a notion they were all going to the university. On the contrary, my ambition would be to turn their attention to the technical and commercial schools and to branches of knowledge by which afterwards they would make their living, and not to cast them upon the world with literary degrees which would be useless to them. I feel very interested in this matter, beginning as we are now with a university which has aroused a great deal of attention and interest in Ireland, and which for the first time in our history has given us an opportunity of dealing with this question of education on broad, national, and useful lines. I feel there are many varied and conflicting views on the question of education as to what would and would not be useful, and many wrong views which would have been righted by the publication of expert knowledge. Something should be done in order to put our education on proper lines for the time that is to come. I have asked the Chief Secretary on a few occasions whether he would not consider the advisability of appointing a small committee of experts who would go into this question, take the opinion of men in the country, find out what is being done in other countries, and direct their attention to choosing a scheme of education which instead of being literary, would be commercial, industrial, and agricultural, and which would go far to relieve the present drain on our population. I trust, having said so much, the right hon. Gentleman will consider the matter.


I have listened with attention to the speeches, necessarily long on account of the many subjects which have had to be dealt with, and I think the time has now come for me to say something on the various points raised. When I was Minister of Education of England I had an advantage which I do not at present enjoy. When I went to the Treasury in those days the officials knew that I came seeking for money for education, and for education only. But now when I go to the Treasury and ask for money they are not certain under what head I am demanding it. I would urge hon. Members opposite to remember that I have a great many other demands to make on the Treasury on behalf of Ireland, and, although to-day is devoted to the education question and hon. Members on both sides are prepared to concentrate themselves on seeking more money for this undoubtedly good purpose, there are other days when they have other purposes in view, and when the Chief Secretary has to be the medium for making demands for those purposes on the Treasury. I am not simply associated with one sort of expenditure. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is, we know, very sympathetic, but then he has to consider, not merely the gravity and justice of one case, he has to bear in mind the justice and gravity of a great many cases, and he has to ask himself how he can make the money go round.

I think the best way to avoid repetition will be for me to follow in their order, as far as I can, the various demands that have been made by different speakers. First comes the subject of the pensions of the teachers. In my view, grave as are most of the demands made to-day, this is one of the gravest, and I am not sure that, in a sense, it does not cut deeper into the teaching profession in Ireland than almost anything else. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is not only generally sympathetic to the cause of education in Ireland, but in the case of the teachers he has a soft heart. He promised on the occasion when he received a deputation from them to deal with their many grievances at the earliest possible moment, and to that promise he scrupulously adheres. The great grievance about the matter is that the scale is so drawn as to give rise to cases of extraordinary hardship. A man, say, fifty-four years of age who has all that time paid his contribution, finds he cannot go on. Indeed, it would not be just and fair to the children under him that he should go on, and that he should remain the year longer which would entitle him to a pension five or six times the amount to which he is entitled if he is obliged to go at the age of fifty-four. It is a shocking state of things, but it is only human nature that the poor man should strive to his very utmost to remain to get a pension which in itself is a miserably small sum, and that he should continue to serve in the school. It is only by hanging on for a time that the teacher can hope to get an adequate return for the contribution he has made to the pension fund. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is fully aware of this state of things, and he adheres to the statement that he will deal with it as soon as possible; he hopes to do so in the coming year. I now come to the question of the ten years—to what has been called "the swing." Of course, it is a most heartrending grievance for a teacher, particularly in a country like Ireland, and in small schools in. mountainous and difficult districts to feel that the whole tenure of his office is dependent on the average attendance being maintained up to a level of fifty. You cannot have an assistant teacher unless the attendance of scholars is sufficient to justify his retention, and there must always be a certain amount of agitation connected with the office of assistant teacher in a school where of necessity the average attendance varies. I think humanity demands that there should be sufficient latitude in this matter in the interests of the teacher himself, and that he should not be faced with the fact that the falling off in the number of children in attendance may bring him face to face with poverty, if not starvation. The question is, what is a sufficient latitude in the interests of the Treasury. I understand that the Treasury is of opinion that ten is a reasonable margin, so that the attendance might dwindle from fifty to forty without the assistant teacher having to resign his or her post.

It is important to bear in mind that in Ireland the number of schools with an average attendance under fifty is the largest number of schools. There are 430 National schools with an average attendance under twenty; there are 1,977 schools where the average attendance is between twenty and thirty-four; there are 1,940 schools where the average attendance is between thirty-five and forty-nine; and 1,678 with an average attendance of from fifty to sixty-nine. The number of schools with an attendance over and above seventy is very small indeed. Therefore, when you are thinking of a school in Ireland you must think of one with an average attendance of fifty, and then you will realise the facts I am putting before you.

I had a letter only this morning from a lady—no friend of mine politically—Mrs. Blake. She is an educationalist, and writes about the Eagle's Nest National School. She says:— I have received from the Board of Education notice that the average not being up to the required amount (by a child and the tenth of a child) the salary of Mrs. Rose O'Sullivan would he discontinued after end of quarter, if not up then. Can this be true? That young ladies are educated and prepared by the State for a profession which leaves them unfit for any other work and to which they have given the best years of their life, to he turned adrift on the world because the school in which they have been teaching happens to be a child and the tenth of a child short in the average at end of quarter. Mrs. O'Sullivan is a very careful, good teacher, highly respected by all who know her. She lives a good many miles from the school as she married the schoolmaster of Lettergish school. If, therefore, she is dismissed from Eagle's Nest school, she must either leave her husband and go and look for work— impossible to get—or bear the loss of her whole income, although she has been teaching in that school for over ten or fifteen years. She will lose her pension to which she has been contributing all these years. This is a severe punishment for no fault of hers—and no fault of ours. The school is in the heart of the mountains, and over from the other side of the mountains little children cannot come on a very severe day—indeed, I fear they often come when they should not You have seen the Renvyle Mountain. Looking from Renvyle House you can see it high up above the Eagle's Nest, and at the other side down to the sea, where all the houses of Letter and Lettermore, etc., are. Fancy the little children on a cold wet day coming over that hill to school ! No wonder there would be in any quarter a child or the tenth of a child short. The children are in it right enough; but the old can leave at fourteen, and they will leave; before this was known they might stay a year at least longer, then the young may want a few weeks or months of being old enough. The children are in it; one family alone numbers sixteen—two of these in America. Mr. Coyne could not possibly teach the children that are there on a good day without help, and it is not a school where working mistress would be any good. I tried this in Mr. Burns' time before; nor are there children who can give their time to teaching. Instead of dismissing, why not reduce the salary of both master and mistress by a child and the tenth of a child; it would be more honest and better for the country. 7.0 P.M.

You have to remember that in these schools you are dealing with schools in mountainous and difficult districts, where it is impossible to maintain that precise and accurate average attendance which you can get in your board schools and your provided schools in great towns like London, Liverpool, and Manchester. I think the Treasury are perfectly right in yielding to the pressure put upon them to allow these National schools a margin of ten. If the attendance falls below the margin of ten the teacher would be dismissed. There would still be a little bit of anxiety on the subject. It was thought by the Treasury it might be possible to get over the difficulty by increasing the number required for the appointment of an assistant teacher at the beginning. But, such a course would be retrogression. If I carried away from my experience in the Education Office in England one deep-rooted educational conviction—and I had a good many shattered—it was that you cannot hope to get the best return for the money you are spending educationally either in England or Ireland unless you have your schools properly manned by teachers, and it is a hopeless task to expect one teacher, however competent, to deal successfully with too many children. I shall have no difficulty in satisfying the Treasury on this point, and the Committee may take it from me that this latitude will be allowed to assistant teachers in the future. I cannot say how far back the concession will extend, but it will go back, I am sure, some little time. The next point is the heating and cleansing, and I should be very churlish in this matter if I did not recognise the eagerness of the hon. and gallant Member opposite on this subject and the laborious efforts he has made to secure improvement in that respect. He did everything a man can do. He brought forward his own Bill and he blocked every other Bill on the subject, and he performed all the duties of a private Member with regard to this question. I have taken it up with immense interest, and now that I have succeeded in getting what I wanted from the Treasury in the matter I can only say I hope that the benefits will prove in proportion to the efforts that I made to secure them. I do not want to exaggerate the badness of the small national schools in Ireland, because a great many of them which I have seen, all things considered, are quite comfortable, and are going on very well. In most of these cases the good results were obtained by casting upon the teachers themselves out of the most exiguous salaries which they receive the duty of whitewashing and otherwise cleansing the theatre of their action, namely, the place where children come to be instructed. The duty which was cast upon them was indeed not merely a duty but an obligation. The children themselves were encouraged to bring peat in their arms or in their pinafores across the hills in order to contribute to the lighting of the school fires.

No doubt hon. Members will ask how this state of things arose. It arose as many things do arise quite decently. I think the idea was when the national schools were established—they were not an Irish idea, and they were imposed upon them at the very outset—but I think the idea was that as there was no local contribution made it should be left to local committees to tax themselves for the purpose of heating and cleansing the schools. As far as I can make out from all the correspondence I have seen that was the idea at the bottom of the minds of the founders of this system of education which now prevails in Ireland. It was felt, however, that there was no obligation to do it and it has not been done except by the teachers and by the parents by means of their contributions of peat. The question was how are we to get rid of the present system. The National Board of Education, who, to do them justice, have always pushed forward these claims for very many years now press upon the Government that they have calculated them as amounting to £40,000 a year, and they have asked, in a sort of omnibus demand, for many years past, from the Treasury, that something should be done. Nothing, however, has been done until the hon. and gallant Gentleman and others who were working with him, irrespective, I need scarcely say, of any religious or party feeling, have brought the matter forward very carefully and we have now made a calculation and come to an arrangement. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a great advocate of what he calls a £1 for a £1 system. If you go to him and say: "There is £1, will you give me another?" you have a greater chance of meeting with a favourable response from him than if you go to him for £2.

We have come to this point. All the managers of the schools and religious bodies have agreed, and the Treasury will bind itself to pay pound per pound up to a maximum amount of £21,000 a year. But this they only do under a scheme in which each school will be dealt with independently of any other school, and the question will be, in the case of each school: "Has it been properly heated and cleansed? What sums have been expended." And the authorities will have to satisfy the inspector that the money has been spent to keep the school in proper condition, produce their vouchers for the expenditure, and then the Treasury will contribute a half of the sum which has been spent within a fixed limit. There will have to be a report from one of the Board's inspectors that the heating and cleansing were effectively carried out during the period for which the Grant was made and the amount paid by the managers during the period over which the expenditure extended, and the Government Grant will be made. Unless the inspector's report shows that the heating and cleansing have been effectively attended to, the Government Grant will not be made. Moreover, it will not be a payment in advance but a re-payment of a moiety of the expenditure incurred. That involves an addition to the expenditure on education of this sum of £21,000 a year, but it will not be dispensed without self-help, as it imposes a corresponding obligation upon the managers of the schools. I think that now they will be able to accomplish this great purpose of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and he and all who have laboured in the cause will feel, I think, that a genuine effort has been made to rid the country of what was somewhat of a disgrace—namely, the unhealthy, uncomfortable condition to which many of these schools were reduced. Then there is the question of the monthly payment of the salaries of the teachers, and that is a curious and rather troublesome one. I may say at once that the Treasury and everybody else agrees that it is a great hardship that the salaries of teachers, small as those salaries are, and therefore the greater hardship, are not paid monthly. Men and women who receive so small a salary as these teachers have do require that it should be paid to them monthly.

A difficulty arises from the fact that that has not been the usual course and the salaries have been paid quarterly. Moreover, it is one of those curious effects of arithmetic that when you try to provide a sum in a year necessary to set this matter right, you have to do what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, you have to provide in the first year two extra months' pay in order to make up these payments. When there is an enormous number of these teachers, inadequate as their salaries may be, the cost of finding two months' salaries, in addition to the twelve months, amounts to a considerable sum, altogether £177,825. Then there is the Augmentation Fund, to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred, and which he suggested might have to be paid on another footing, and that he thought might continue to be paid in a lump sum. But if it were not, and if it were added, it would make a total of £285,375, which would have to be provided for in the Estimate for one year. It would only be for one year, I agree, and as soon as the sum was paid the thing would be set right. The only additional cost on a permanent footing would be the extra additional cost of administration, and that is estimated at no less than £5,240. I must say that seems to me to be a very large sum, and I think that should be looked into to see whether these figures could not be very materially reduced. The Treasury agree that this is a wrong that should be remedied. They make no promise, how- ever, in regard to this present year, but they hope to be able to do so at some very early opportunity, and I hope they may next year be able to provide whatever money is necessary to secure that the teachers' salaries shall be paid monthly. If the augmentation is not included in this category that reduces the difficulties of the Treasury and increases the chance of providing a speedy remedy for this evil.

Then there is the building fund. The building grants have also been referred to, and I think in that matter the willingness of the Treasury to increase the Grant has already become public property. The hon. Member for Mayo cited so accurately what had happened that I need not further go into it except by simply saying this, that the Treasury in 1910 promised to provide a sum of £40,000 a year for each of the three years ending the 31st March, 1913, making a total of £240,000 for the six years ending on that date. It now appears that £218,676 out of this £240,000 has already been expended or will be expended by the 31st March next year, leaving only £21,324 available for the urgent cases that are waiting to be dealt with most impatiently. Consequently the Treasury have expressed their willingness to allow the Commissioners of National Education to receive and sanction further applications for Grants up to a maximum of £348,676 from the 1st April, 1907, including £240,000 already conferred. That is an addition of £108,676. The question of building is one of enormous importance. Indeed, next to the teachers I would rank building in importance. I would rather have a good teacher, teaching in a dry ditch, than a bad teacher, teaching in a palace with all the advantages that buildings and other appliances can afford. Good buildings and suitable playgrounds for the children are, however, of enormous importance, and there is a very great number of urgent cases waiting for consideration by the Commissioners of National Education. It is the hope of the Government that this additional grant of £108,676 will be at once used by the Commissioners of National Education for dealing with the urgent cases, not so much in priority of time as in degree of urgency, because what we want the money to be used for is that it should be spent in building, rebuilding, and rearranging some of the schools in Ireland which are in a very shocking and lamentable state, owing to overcrowding and other circum- stances. I therefore hope this increase in the building grant will be at once got rid of and properly applied to the purpose for which it is intended in proportion to the urgency of each case. Then I have to deal with the question of co-ordination, scholarships, and secondary education, and I am only allowed to deal with it shortly, as secondary education in Ireland is not on the Votes of this House at all. I am therefore only allowed to deal with it because it is impossible for any intelligent man to deal with the question of education without linking them up together and considering the relations between primary and secondary education. In regard to secondary education Ireland, undoubtedly, has a very strong claim on the Treasury, because secondary education as such gets no vote whatever from Imperial sources corresponding to the capitation fees which are given in England, Scotland, and Wales to secondary schools, and which amount in those countries to about £750,000 per annum. The provision for intermediate education in Ireland is made out of the income arising from £1,000,000 of the Irish Church surplus, which, of course, is Irish money with which the Imperial Exchequer has no particular concern. As it was derived chiefly from tithe rent-charge, it may be taken in this matter as corresponding to rates. In addition to that, they had a sum of Whisky Money, but England and Scotland also had that sum, which was handed over to the county council to be applied by them as they chose. It might either go for secondary education or technical education, or it might be taken in reduction of rates. It in no way was supplemental to or an alternative for the capitation fees. Ireland, therefore, has got its income from its Irish Church surplus, and it has its share of the Whisky Money, but it has nothing else and it has, therefore, nothing whatever corresponding to the capitation grant of £2 per head, £3 10s. per head, £1 per head, to the secondary schools of this country, assuming that they are properly equipped and entitled to rank as educational establishments, justifying the receipt of public money. Therefore, Ireland, in secondary education, has, undoubtedly, one of the strongest cases that it is possible for anyone to make, because it simply has not anything—nothing at all. I must say that Irishmen often, in my judgment, make unreasonable demands upon the British Exchequer. I have known cases, but I must say in this particular case they really have been left out altogether, and the necessity of secondary education in Ireland is, of course, quite as great as it is anywhere else.

I was glad to hear the hon. Member (Mr. Thomas O'Donnell) very properly say, he refused to regard secondary education as if it were merely a portico to the university. It is nothing of the kind. A great many people in Ireland will only receive education at the National schools, and a great many will only receive it at the secondary schools. There will only be a limited number who will proceed from the secondary school to the University. I for one have no desire whatever to seem to be tempting, urging and pressing young men to regard themselves as unfit for manly life and society unless they have been to a University. There is no greater delusion in the world than to suppose that that is either desirable or necessary in any rank of life or for any vocation in life, and least of all for the vocations in life which, after all, the great majority of mankind may well be proud to be associated with—farming, agriculture, and other pursuits. I do not want at all to tempt people into universities, but still no country is entitled to consider itself in any respect a civilised country until it has a good primary system of education and also a good secondary system of education, and, thirdly, a university and some means, not extravagant, whereby youngsters with literary and scientific tastes may be able, if their abilities warrant it, to proceed from the primary school at the bottom to the university at the top. There are, of course, secondary schools in Ireland at present, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, but they are not in the position they ought to be, or would be in, in a happier arranged country, and they cannot ever be really good secondary schools until they are able to pay, or do pay, reasonable and decent salaries to their assistant teachers.

The life of an ordinary assistant master in Ireland is detestable, the remuneration is miserably inadequate, and he has no tenure of office at all. He is very often engaged in September for six months, and that is the whole tenure and term of his employment. At the end of that time he may, or he may not, be continued on. It is no use bolstering up any system of secondary education which has so shaky a foundation as that, and the first task and object, I think, of all persons either engaged in the profession themselves or desirous to see it occupying the position of repute that it ought to do, would be to try to raise the standard of the secondary teacher in Ireland. I know no better way of attaining that result than by, if possible, securing the registration of persons seeking or considering themselves justified in earning their living in that manner. The qualifications should be pretty high and pretty stiff, though not too high or too stiff—a university degree, some measure of experience of teaching and the like—and when that is done, and when you have your secondary schools supplied with teachers of that kind they would deserve, and, I hope, obtain a very great measure of public support. The hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) said that in his experience—I presume as a father—the secondary schools in Ireland were very cheap. They are too cheap; but it is very difficult when you have started a secondary school on a cheap basis to raise the fees. At the same time, I think secondary education, if it is to be worth anything at all, can only be obtained at a certain cost, and the main cost must be in the salaries of its teachers. I therefore hope that that part of the case may not be lost sight of.

Then there are scholarships, which I was glad to notice the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson) spoke warmly in support of. The University Act, which passed a little while ago, enabled county councils to establish, by a ld. rate, scholarships at the universities, and when I was in Ireland a great many people came in a deputation to me and asked me to alter the provisions of the University Act in order to meet the case of scholarships at the secondary schools. They seem to think that in some way that was connected with the University Act. It has nothing whatever to do with it, but County Councils are able to raise a rate for the purpose of establishing scholarships at the university, and in order to qualify yourself in order to hold those scholarships you have to get to the university, and it would be ridiculous to hang on to a University Act scholarships at secondary schools. A university has its own scholarships, which it gives to persons who go to its doors and succeed in satisfying its standards; but I can quite understand County Councils, when they ask for a ld. rate in order to establish scholarships at the university, saying they would like to see in existence some means whereby they could say to their poor ratepayers, "If you give us the money to establish scholarships at the university your children will be able to compete for these scholarships by reason of the provision that has been made for scholarships to enable them to proceed from the primary school to a secondary school, where they will be taught what is necessary to enable them to present themselves for examination at the doors of the university." There is, no doubt, at the present moment a missing link in the chain, and it would, I am sure, be a very good thing if means were forthcoming to establish scholarships under a wise and limited scheme which would enable boys to go from the primary schools to the secondary schools. But here I should like to point out an educational difficulty which ought to be borne in mind by those who may be concerned in framing any scheme, and that is that teachers in primary schools are naturally desirous always of keeping their clever boys to the end of their time, and if they have a clever boy it is a great difficulty to get him to go away, as he much better should do, if he is to proceed to a secondary school, at the age of eleven or twelve. The ideal thing would be, I think, if you could get the means of taking clever boys away from the primary schools, say, at twelve, keeping them at the secondary schools till sixteen or seventeen, and then to have scholarships at the University. There are difficulties, but they can be overcome.

To cut all that short the Chancellor of the Exchequer is quite willing this year to set apart a sum of money for intermediate education to be dealt with as the Board of Intermediate Education and as those interested and connected with secondary schools in Ireland, namely, the Headmasters Association and the Teachers Association, in association with the Chief Secretary, whoever he may chance to be, may determine. This I hope may be the means of settling a scheme for scholarships at the secondary schools enabling boys to proceed from the primary schools to the secondary schools, so that they may compete for scholarships at the University. If the sum set apart is more than necessary for that purpose, it may be used to raise the status of secondary schools, which can only be done in my opinion by raising the present status of the teachers in these schools. I hope that may be the beginning of a period which, when it has had full time for fruition, will create for the first time in Ireland an adequate system of secondary education, because, of course, it must always be borne in mind that in England no school gets a penny unless it has fully satisfied the requirements of a somewhat rigorous inspection. You must really be able to satisfy people who are experts in these matters that it is really a seat of learning and not a mere cram shop. I therefore hope that hon. Members from Ireland, and those generally interested in education in the United Kingdom, will think we have done something to get over the difficulty and raise the standard of secondary education in Ireland.

There are only two other points which were referred to. One upon which the right hon. Gentleman laid a good deal of emphasis was about grading. That is a difficult question. It arose in 1900, and I can assure the Committee that the question is full of considerable difficulty, and the real question that arises and has to be determined is how far any teacher was justified in assuming that in 1900, when the change was made, it could not affect his prospects. Future prospects naturally are difficult precisely to estimate, and I do not think it can be made out that anyone has actually suffered. No one's salary was taken away from him. All that these 3,600 teachers say is that their prospects were interfered with, and that, if the alteration had not been made, they would at the present moment be in receipt of larger salaries than they are now. I do not profess to have gone very deeply into it, though I have heard of it from time to time, but I am informed that the Board of National Education at present have obtained from the persons affected six typical cases which they are now in course of considering. These six cases are not the only cases which may have to be considered, but they have been selected as typical and test cases, and when they are decided one way or another the decisions will affect a large number of other cases. All I can say on that point is that we should wait until the Board of National Education have dealt with these cases. When they have done so their decisions will come before me, and I shall be able to consider how far any further inquiry is necessary to elucidate the wrongs of these persons. With regard to civil rights, I had hoped that the efforts I had already made in that direction had successfully got rid of the grievances. The only civil right from which, so far as I am aware, teachers are at the present moment debarred is that of taking part in political debate. On that point I am bound to say my views are rather strong. I think teachers had better keep out of political debate. I do not think it is any deprivation of civil right that any person, because he has adopted a particular profession, is debarred from becoming a furious partisan. It is the same with the clerical profession, though, in my judgment, the members of that profession do not always keep out of political controversy. I think a minister of religion or a priest wholly sacrifices his influence if he becomes connected, obviously and prominently, with partisan strife in his diocese, or parish, or any of his schools. Therefore, although, as the hon. Gentleman said, I took a friendly view towards those teachers, and have effected alterations for bettering their positions, and have amended the rules in such a way as to throw open many posts in the social service, from which they were before debarred, I do not think I shall throw myself with much activity or with much heart and soul into any effort to enable the National teachers of Ireland to take an active part in political strife. The time may come when political strife will cease in Ireland, and in that event the present restriction will be unnecessary.


I feel that it is due to the Chief Secretary to intervene at once after his speech and give expression to the impression which the speech has made on my colleagues and myself. Let me say that the general impression on my mind, after listening to his speech, is that everybody connected with education in Ireland, in a high position or a low position, as manager or as teacher, must feel a certain amount of gratification and satisfaction at the result of this Debate. There were a number of points which we have for a considerable time been pressing upon the right hon. Gentleman, and I would like to say—and this much I am justified in saying without any breach of confidence—we found that he was from the very start most sympathetic upon each one of the claims we made upon him. The difficulties which we had in bringing about a satisfactory settlement of some of these matters did not rest with him. It rested largely with the Treasury, and although I say that I do not cast any reflection upon the Treasury at all, for I believe that our claims were carefully examined. As regards most of those claims the Treasury has come to see eye to eye with the right hon. Gentleman and the Irish Gentlemen who have been pressing the claims upon him.

I wish to speak only for a few moments, and I will follow the right hon. Gentleman on the details seriatim. First with reference to pensions, that undoubtedly, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, is the most serious of all those claims. When the teachers came in a deputation to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer, last year I think it was, they received a clear and definite promise from him that he would put them on as good a footing in this respect as the teachers of England or Scotland. The teachers went away greatly delighted and relieved by the declaration, but I know myself from my own personal experience and from the communications I have received from all parts of Ireland on the subject that while they trusted implicitly in the good faith of the Chancellor of the Exchequer they were getting a little impatient, and are to-day a little impatient, at the fulfilment of the promise being put off for such a long time. Therefore I heard with the greatest satisfaction the statement which the Chancellor of Exchequer made in introducing the Insurance Bill the other day when he again pledged himself to deal with this question, and to deal with it this year. The Chief Secretary has repeated that promise of the Chancellor of the Exchequer again this afternoon. Therefore we may take it, and the teachers may take it, that they have now received a definite promise from the Government, that the undertaking which the Chancellor of the Exchequer made to their deputation last year will be carried out this year, and that the matter will be at once considered from the point of view of putting them upon a sound footing before the end of this year. I think that is a very gratifying result from this Debate, and indeed if it stood alone, it would completely justify the action of those who have been pressing these matters on the Government.

The next point which the Chief Secretary alluded to was one, in my judgment, of enormous importance to the teachers of Ireland, and that is, the alteration in the hard and fast limit of fifty in average attendance necessary for the retaining of an assistant teacher in a school in Ireland. I do not know anything connected with the profession of teaching in Ireland more annoying than the existence of this rule. It is an absolutely cruel rule. I will not dwell upon it now except to recognise that the right hon. Gentleman has not only met us on this matter, but has accepted the full demand we made upon him, namely, that there should be a swing of ten. I do not know what sum will be required for that. It may be an uncertain sum, and it may come to be a large sum, but the Treasury are aware of the fact that it will entail a considerable sum to be provided by them. Therefore we have the gratification of knowing on that point that they have completely met the demand made upon them. The same thing is true of the heating and cleaning of the schools. It has been met by the Treasury agreeing to what has been pressed upon them by the right hon. Gentleman and the Irish Members for a considerable time, and I feel certain that there will be most intense gratification in Ireland that the scandal of cold and dirty houses being used as schools for the children of the country will be brought to an end.

With regard to monthly payments, the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to do what we ask, but I take note of the fact that he has declared that the Treasury admit the grievance. He has declared that the Treasury agree with him and with us that these quarterly payments entail a hardship upon the teachers. It is no answer to the claim to say that the thing all results, as the right hon. Gentleman says, from having begun wrong. When a grievance is admitted it ought to be remedied at once. The right hon. Gentleman has pointed out that it would entail an estimate for £280,000 for the first year in addition to the regular Estimate for that period. But that would not be payment of £280,000 additional because that money has to be paid. That is simply the debt due by the Treasury to these teachers, and it is only paying a portion of it sooner than would otherwise be the case. I regret sincerely he has not been able to remedy this. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that this will be done. He has promised us that the Treasury, having admitted the grievance, will deal with it, but not this year. I do not wish to put words in the right hon. Gentleman's mouth, but I think he gave an undertaking that it will be done next year.


It is not an undertaking, it is a hope.


Well, I cannot put it further than that. The right hon. Gentleman hopes it will be done next year, and he will do his level best to have it done. With regard to building grants, think the statement of the right hon. Gentlemen, on the whole, cannot be regarded as unsatisfactory. He has provided a sum of £108,000 additional for buildings. Of course, the need for this is urgent, and the whole of it is required for urgent cases which one of my colleagues has been bombarded with letters on from different parts of Ireland, where buildings have been sanctioned for three, four, or five years, where the plans have been prepared, and everything ready, and where the existing school is in a disgracefully inadequate and unsatisfactory condition, and yet the building has not been commenced. We are told that these most urgent cases have been prepared, and that this money will be expended immediately for these most urgent cases. It is a gratification that at last it has been provided, but I take leave to say that very great injustice and hardship has been done to Ireland by the withholding of the Grants by the Treasury so long.

I come to the question of secondary or intermediate education. I think on the whole everybody will admit that what the right hon. Gentleman has said is fairly satisfactory. I would say it is wholly satisfactory from this point of view, that in the most emphatic language the right hon. Gentleman has said that the Treasury has admitted the complete justice of our claim. Let me again say what our claim is. We have the interest on £1,000,000, which is our own money—the money from the Church surplus fund, which is a purely Irish fund—and we have a proportion of what is called the whisky money. That is all we have for intermediate education in Ireland. England gets a portion of the whisky money too, so that, so far as England and Ireland are concerned, they both get a portion of the whisky money. England has nearly £1,000,000 of capitation fees given for secondary schools, and against that Ireland has not a single sixpence. We have made an enormous advance upon this question to-night. For the first time the Government and the Treasury have admitted that we have an absolutely unanswerable case. The right hon. Gentleman admits the whole case. If we receive capitation fees on the same scale as England receives them, there will be a sum of between £70,000 and £80,000 a year coming to Ireland. The Government having admitted the justice of that claim say that they are not at this moment prepared to fully meet it. I regret that, but I note with satisfaction the advance that has been made in our case by the admission of the Treasury.

The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has undertaken that this year—again I emphasise this year—to provide for all these purposes that a Supplementary Estimate will be introduced before the end of the Session and passed. He tells us that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has undertaken this year that a sum of money will be provided for secondary education. He has not told us how much, but I presume from his silence on that point that it is not a full satisfaction of the case which he has admitted. I presume that, and regret it. But at any rate a sum of money, a substantial sum of money, will be provided this year, and he says that it will be dealt with and allocated as the Board of Education, the head masters, the teachers, and the Chief Secretary for the time being shall agree. He has indicated further that a portion of it, at any rate, will be ear-marked for the scholarship scheme of which we have been talking this afternoon. Then he went on to say that the remainder of the sum would be used to raise the status of the secondary schools of the country. Of course, we cannot really usefully discuss this matter without knowing the amount. We do not know whether it will be enough even for this scheme of scholarships or whether there will be any balance over after that, but this matter I would press on the right hon. Gentleman, as I presume the exact sum is not yet finally settled between himself and the Treasury, that he should urge the Treasury to give a substantial sum, at any rate, this year.

I do not say that it would be reasonable to ask them to give the whole £80,000, which they admit is legally due. It may not be reasonable to ask them to give the whole of it this year, because it might be well to take time fully to consider the whole system of intermediate education, and to have a full consultation as to how best that money could be used, before being voted. But money is wanted immediately, and a substantial sum, and I hope therefore that the right hon. Gentleman will obtain as large a sum as he can for the immediate purposes of this year. I will not deal with the other questions of grading and of civil rights any more than to say this, I find that the right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Board of Education are snaking investigation into six test cases on the question of grading, and he is waiting until he sees the result of that investigation to decide what further step he will take as to inquiry or otherwise into this matter. I think we must leave that for the moment where it stands. On the question of civil rights I entirely agree with the expression of opinion of the Chief Secretary that it would be a lamentable thing if teachers threw themselves into the vortex of political controversy all over Ireland, and I take it for granted that the teachers themselves have too much sense to desire to do anything of the kind, and I am quite sure that the public opinion of the country would not tolerate it. But our claim is this: Why should there be a stigma put upon the teachers of Ireland that is not upon the teachers of this country? In this country teachers do not run into the vortex of political life, and yet there is no rule to prevent them. They are prevented from doing so by their common sense and the public opinion of the country. But in Ireland you insist on an insulting rule, which forbids them to do these things, and I think that these teachers would be less than men if they did not feel that a slight had been put upon them. I do think that the right hon. Gentleman ought to insist on that slight being entirely removed. In concluding, I wish to express to the right hon. Gentleman our gratification at the success of his strenuous efforts to meet us on all these points. I feel certain that his speech will give great satisfaction in Ireland both to managers and to teachers and all who are interested in education, and I sincerely congratulate them on what may be regarded as a most welcome and friendly message to Ireland.


I am glad of the rather unusual opportunity of asking to be permitted to join in the congratulations offered by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) on the statement which we have heard from the Chief Secretary this afternoon. We Irish Members, sitting above the Gangway, are only too pleased to have this opportunity of stating that in the present Chief Secretary we have had a very warm friend of Irish education and one who has done as much as any one man could in trying to storm the Treasury on behalf of educational interests in Ireland since he came to occupy his present position. We have listened to his statement with the greatest interest this afternoon, and we entirely concur in what has been said in appreciation of it by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. I confess I should have liked, speaking for the moment of the pensions of the teachers, if he had been able to-night to interpret somewhat more deliberately the exact meaning of the promise now confirmed of the Chancellor as to the immediate future. I entirely agree with the Chief Secretary when he says that perhaps of all the shortcomings of the Treasury generally towards Irish Education there is no shortcoming which cuts so deeply as the present inadequacy of the pension given to Irish teachers. While we have the Chancellor's promise confirmed this afternoon, and the further assurance of improvement in the early future, teachers who have had the pleasure of hearing the Debate this afternoon must feel so far that it is only a confirmation of old promises. The improvement of the pensions is not to form part of the Supplementary Vote, which is to go to cover the other concessions mentioned by the Chief Secretary. We have also listened with the greatest gratification to the concession that has been given with regard to the minimum of a small school which will be a source of great happiness to many assistant teachers, who have been thrown out of employment during recent months by the harsh and cruel operation of that rule, and I hope that whatever changes the future may bring we shall see no attempt made to revert to such a harsh and an arbitrary state of matters as prevailed during the last twelve months.

In that connection I hope I have the sympathy of the Chief Secretary in saying that we hope his action will be retrospective at least to the extent of the last twelve months. The rule has operated exceedingly harshly during recent months, and we hope there will be no difficulty in having its relaxation made retrospective, at least to that extent. I may add a word as regards a question which has not been solved this evening. That is the question of monthly payments. As has already been pointed out by more than one Member, the Treasury are exaggerating the cost to them of making this concession to the people. The hon. and gallant Member for East Down (Captain Craig) suggested one principle by which greatly to lessen the burden that would be laid on the Treasury at the starting period. May I add that so far as the present financial year is concerned it does not seem to have been observed that it will not cost the Treasury a single extra penny to pay the salary once a month during these last twelve months. I hope that the last word has not been said upon this Budget by the Chief Secretary's reply. Passing to the question of building grants, I think that the substantial concession made to-night will meet the urgent cases, cases which we always come in contact with where plans have been ready for improved schools which are urgently needed and these plans have been put aside during the last two or three years. I may now say one word on the question of co-ordination which was eloquently touched on by the Chief Secretary. He pointed out that the system of education would not be complete until we have the secondary schools in a better state, and I think, rather inadvertently, he seemed to suggest that secondary education in Ireland had been too cheap to be properly appreciated. I venture to inform him that so far as I know secondary education, of a good quality, is not any cheaper to-day in Ireland than it is in England or Scotland, and, further, I believe that the standard of teaching in our leading secondary schools is quite equal to the standard of teachers of this side of the Channel. So I think that whatever the sources of his information may be he would find that the university quality of the average teachers in our secondary schools is quite equal to the average quality on this side of the Channel.

We are glad to hear that a certain amount of money has been allocated for the purpose of improving the salaries of the teachers in secondary schools. No branch of Education has suffered so much under the recent Finance Act as our secondary school, and the only complaint with regard to the Chief Secretary's statement is that he did not tell us exactly how much was to be granted in this connection. I hope there will be no delay. Surely he is aware that the need is exceedingly urgent, and I trust that there will be no delay in having the meeting to which he has referred and in framing his scheme to let the authorities connected with the secondary schools know exactly where they stand. On the question of civil rights, I am one of those who believe that Irish Members should have the fullest liberty as regards civil rights enjoyed by their brethren on this side of the Channel; and may I recall, as I do with interest, that the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, at their last Assembly meeting, passed a resolution on these lines. So far I have seen no desire on the part of the Government to give effect to it, but I hope that this Debate, which I think will be recalled in future as recording a substantial advance in the prospects of Irish education, will be immediately followed by the Government giving legislative effect to the growing desire—and I think I speak for the moment on behalf of Irish Members of all shades of opinion—that civil rights in the fullest sense of the term shall no longer be refused to a most worthy and deserving body of citizens.

8.0 P.M.


I desire to add a few words before the Debate closes, although the course of the Debate shows that it is almost superfluous. It is rarely that I have heard a Debate in this House in which there has been such a general concurrence of opinion. One might hail it as a happy augury for Home Rule to see Irish Members on both sides of the Gangway rowing in the same boat and pulling the same stroke. The exhaustive speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo, who opened the Debate, covered almost the entire ground, and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary gave entire satisfaction, and I have no doubt that it will enhance his already great and deserved popularity in Ireland. But there are one or two points which cropped up in the Debate which I may emphasise. One is with regard to pensions. The contracts spoken of by the right hon. Gentleman who represents Dublin University really are based on what should be legally regarded as a binding contract, for I know of one case where a teacher had desired to enter into a contract with the Board and was required to back his agreement with a 2s. 6d. stamp and pay all their arrears of compound interest for five years to 1884, which was the last year on which the agreements could be entered into; and yet in spite of the argreement drawn up on those terms the Government failed to keep its obligations. It is one of those events which could only have happened in the bad old days in Ireland, and on the principle of St. Augustine I believe it only because it is impossible. In regard to civil rights I entirely agree with what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond), that it is very little to be feared that the teachers of Ireland when they have civil rights accorded to them will rush into the vortex of politics as partisans, doing irremediable harm to their own interests and to the cause of education in Ireland. At the same time, simply because they are deprived of their civil rights, simply because of this invidious bar put upon them, they feel the matter very keenly, and rightly so. The last time I was in my constituency a deputation waited upon me, and they asked me to see "the slaves." May I say that these slaves constituting the deputation consisted of respected members of the teaching profession in West Clare. This question of civil rights, not excluding even the questions of pensions and salaries, lies nearer to their hearts than any other because of the undeserved stigma cast upon the whole teaching profession in Ireland.

I have been asked in numerous letters from my constituents to say a few words in reference to the system of inspection. It may seem a trivial matter, but to the teachers it is one of very considerable importance. I find, for instance, that in the case of one school which was regularly receiving the highest mention from year to year, this mention, owing to a certain change, fell some points. And that was repeated in many instances throughout. Ireland. These schools have fallen down two points, not because of any loss in character, but owing to the idiosyncrasy of some inspector. There is no greater difficulty in keeping a school on the right lines, and in giving high and efficient education, than is experienced where an inspector pays too great attention to points which may be little personal idiosyncrasies of his own, and which may discourage a teacher and lower the general level of the education.

Another source of some difficulty is that the inspector of a school should, if possible, pay regard to the most essential points of education, which are, after all, the most intangible, not so much the curriculum, not so much what can be packed into a child's brain, as education in the true and original sense—the education of the child's character, and bringing out its natural abilities. That which should be the foundation of education is the most, difficult of all education to touch by a system of inspection. With regard to the general course of education, the hon. Member for West Kerry remarked on the importance of teaching agriculture. That, of course, is of special interest to Ireland, and the whole scope of technical education should be revised so as to make it more thorough. I mean to say that technical education should not be merely a kind of top-dressing on the education received in the school, but that it should be some- thing real and tangible, having direct relation to the pupil's work in after-life. For instance, technical education in Ireland should be directed to agriculture, not merely in the sense of giving certain instruction in the realm of science with regard to agriculture, but in teaching him how to be a better farmer—in teaching him in the most practical and thorough way how he can set about his own business and make a farm of ten acres produce more than formerly a farm of twenty acres produced.

That is not a mere dream. For instance, in France, by the law of heredity, landed property is cut up amongst the sons of the original possessor. It often arises that a man has to make his living on a farm of very small proportions, perhaps two or three acres. Often people in France make their living with one acre, certainly in the vineyard country. Anyone who goes to certain parts of France will find that technical education has been brought to a high degree of finish, and his impression of farming in France will be that it is almost comparable to gardening. All that redounds to the enormous prosperity of France in agriculture. Such a thing is possible in Ireland, where the land could be made to produce far more than at present. To put it in a striking way, the land of Ireland, which now supports little more than four millions of people, could be made to support eight millions of people in comfort.

Another question to which I wish to refer has reference to the passage from the primary school to the university. There were few things in the speech of the Chief Secretary which pleased me more than that in which he showed that it would be possible eventually for the poorest child, by dint of his own ability, to win his way to the highest places in the university, and therefore to the highest places which a nation can offer. Hitherto although Irish genius has shone in many realms and even in science, yet I think on the whole it has not given the full measure clue to it. It is not lack of ability, but lack of opportunity. But what the right hon. Gentleman has said to-day will pave the way, so that, primary schoolboys of remarkable intelligence and ability will be selected and will be able to pass to the secondary schools and thence to the university; and having no other advantage in the world than their own ability, courage and enterprise, they may aspire to the highest offices in the gift of the State. I wish to join in the general chorus of approbation and goodwill which has been expressed to the right hon. Gentleman, and to say how delighted I have been with his exposition to-night.


After the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I think the grievances both of teachers and of children are in a fair way to being removed, in view of the promises which have been given by the Chief Secretary. As to the question of pensions in connection with the National teachers, I might point out that of £114,000 which goes to Ireland not a penny of that money reaches the workhouse teachers, a class which is not dealt with by the concessions made to-night. The workhouse teachers in Ireland are paid on a different basis from other teachers, and I think it is only just that this class should be put on the same basis as other teachers. The National teachers in 1892 received an increase of 20 per cent., but the workhouse teachers got nothing at all, and remain practically at the same rate as they did forty-eight years ago. It should be remembered that these teachers must possess the same qualification as the National teachers. I appeal most strongly to the Chief Secertary to bear this fact in mind when he is considering the whole question. The other point I want to mention has reference to the conditions of transfer of a teacher from Ireland to Great Britain. When a transfer takes place of a teacher from Ireland to Great Britain the number of years' service in Ireland is not counted for pension in this country. The Irish teacher who has given ten years' service in Ireland, when he comes to this country, and is compelled to retire at sixty-five years of age, must fall short by ten years for pension, and thereby gets a curtailed allowance.

It may be replied that in some instances the teacher receives the amount of his contributions plus 2½ per cent. But the young teacher does not want to receive his contributions with this addition, because he is anxious to provide for a benefit which he will receive in his old age. In connection with the transfer of a teacher from Ireland to England another point arises, namely, that a certificate given in Ireland is not recognised by the English Board of Education as of the same value as a certificate given in England. I do not think that is fair. The Board of Education in England, I understand, has transferred its responsibility to the local education authorities. This affects the welfare of Irish teachers in a very considerable degree. They regard it as a very serious matter that the teacher who has served in Ireland ten or fifteen years, on being transferred to this country, is to lose the whole of that service in regard to pension. Further, a first-class teacher in Ireland is only regarded as a third-class teacher in England. I trust the Chief Secretary, in considering the whole of this matter, will bear in mind the two points as to workhouse teachers and the transfer of teachers from Ireland to this country.

Question, "That Item A (Salaries and Wages) be reduced by £100," put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

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