§ 78. Sir WALTER NUGENT
asked the Chief Secretary if he will state, as was done on the occasion of the introduction of Rule 127 (b), the date of the meeting at which it was resolved by the Commissioners of National Education to formulate and introduce the rule known as Rule 92 (j) which compels a married woman teacher to be absent herself from school for three months after child-birth, and to employ a substitute at her own expense during that period; can he state the reasons which led the Commissioners to introduce Rule 92 (j); whether before doing so they consulted the various managers' associations and the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, or did they before introducing it obtain medical opinion as to its necessity; and, if so, what medical authority was so consulted?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Rule referred to by the hen. Member was adopted by the Commissioners of National Education at their meeting on 4th April, 1911. The Commissioners considered the Rule a salutary one both in the interests of the health of the teacher and the efficiency of the public service. Before making the Rule the Commissioners did not consult any of the various bodies referred to. The Central Council of the Catholic Clerical Managers' Association passed a resolution approving 2657 of the Regulation, but recommended that the substitutes should be paid by the Commissioners. So far as I know, no medical authority was consulted.
§ 79. Sir W. NUGENT
asked the Chief Secretary from how many teachers has salary and other emoluments been withheld for non-compliance with Rule 92 (j) of the Commissioners of National Education since its introduction in July, 1911, up to the present time; in how many of these cases has it been represented that it was found impossible to comply with the rule, and what steps have the Commissioners taken to investigate cases in which such representations have been made; what is the total amount withheld from teachers for non-compliance with that rule, and what has been, or will be, done with the money so withheld; and whether, in view of the fact that the rule has not worked well and has imposed hardship and suffering on teachers, he will advise the Commissioners to withdraw it and revert to the arrangement which existed prior to June, 1911?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that the information is not available, and its preparation would take a considerable time. The Commissioners have at present under consideration representations made to them by me in reference to the operation of this rule.
§ 80. Sir W. NUGENT
asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that the sum of £18 17s. 8d. has been withheld from Mrs. O'Connell, principal teacher of Streamstown Girls' School, county Westmeath, owing to her inability to comply with Rule 92 (j) of the Commissioners of National Education, notwithstanding the fact that the manager of the school furnished the Commissioners with certified copies of the advertisements which Mrs. O'Connell had inserted in her efforts to procure a substitute, together with a statement from the newspaper manager that no replies were received to these advertisements, and his own further statement that he was satisfied that everything possible had been done under the circumstances to comply with the rule; whether he is further aware that, disregarding all these circumstances, the Commissioners refused to alter their decision and continue to withhold Mrs. O'Connell's salary, Mrs. O'Connell having worked in her school from 18th March to 16th May, 1912, and, with the exception of a fortnight's 2658 vacation at Easter, which has been allowed for, she has received no salary or other payment for that time; whether on one of the days for which payment has been refused, namely, 24th April, 1912, the senior inspector visited the school, remained there from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and, as a result of his inspection, reported that the proficiency of the pupils in Mrs. O'Connell's school was very good; and whether, in the circumstances, he will consider the desirability of further inquiry; and if he will so advise the Education Board?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that a deduction has been made from the salary of Mrs. O'Connell, as stated in the question. From the advertisements submitted by the teacher, it appears that she prescribed qualifications and attainments for her substitute entirely in excess of those required by the Commissioners, and it would seem to be owing to this circumstance that she had no response to her advertisements. As I have already informed the hon. Member, the Commissioners are considering the representations made to them by me on this subject.