§ (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, all existing Irish officers in the Civil Service of the Crown who are not provided for under the last preceding Section and 80 are on the appointed day serving as Irish officers shall, after that day, continue to. hold their offices by the same tenure and upon the same terms and conditions (including conditions as to remuneration and superannuation) as theretofore and shall be liable to perform the same duties as theretofore, or such duties as the Civil Service Committee established under this Act may declare to be analogous, and while performing the same or analogous duties shall receive not less remuneration than they would have received if this Act had not passed:
§ Provided that notwithstanding the provision hereinbefore contained as to the tenure of existing Irish officers any existing Irish officer who at the time of the passing of this Act is removable from his office by His Majesty, or by the Chief Secretary, or by any person other than the Lord Lieutenant, or in any special manner, may be removed from his office after the passing of this Act by the Lord Lieutenant.
§ (2) The Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1909, shall continue after the appointed day to apply to any such existing Irish officer to whom they then apply, and the service of any such officer under the Irish Government shall, for the purpose of those Acts, be deemed to be service in the permanent Civil Service of the Crown and in a public office within the meaning of the Superannuation Act, 1892:
§ Provided that so far as relates to the grant and ascertainment of the amount of any allowance or gratuity under those Acts as respects any such officer who at the time of his ultimate retirement is serving under the Irish Government, the Civil Service Committee shall be substituted for the Treasury.
§ (3) The provisions as to compensation contained in the Third Schedule to this Act shall apply with respect to any such existing Irish officer.
§ (4) The superannuation and other allowances and gratuities which may become payable after the passing of this Act to existing Irish officers in the Civil Service of the Crown under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1909, and any compensation payable to any such officers under the provisions of this Act, shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, but any sums so paid shall be made good by means of deductions from the Transferred Sum under this Act in accordance with regulations made by the Treasury.81
§ (5) The Pensions Commutation Acts, 1871 to 1882 shall apply to any person to whom an annual allowance is granted in pursuance of the provisions of this Act relating to existing officers as they apply to a person who has retired in consequence of the abolition of his office.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment on the Paper raises the question of the relation of this Clause to the Third Schedule of the Bill. I think I shall be meeting the convenience of the Committee on that Amendment if I allow a somewhat general debate on the subject of this Clause as read with the Schedule—that is to say the conditions of service and compensation to existing Irish officers. Probably that discussion will dispose of some of the detailed Amendments which appear following on the Paper, and therefore I shall have to reserve my decision on this until I see how far they are disposed of in the earlier discussion. I think the same thing applies to all the next succeeding Amendments. They may or may not be determined by the result of the first discussion, so I had better not for the present announce what I shall take further.
§ Mr. HOARE
I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "Subject' to the provisions of this Act."
I do so for the purpose of raising a general discussion and giving the Government an opportunity of stating how they are going to deal with several of the interests which are directly involved by these Compensation Clauses. For some time past I have been sitting for two or three days a week upon a Royal Commission which is concerned with the organisation of appointments of the Civil Service in the United Kingdom, and that has taught me that in dealing with questions which concern Civil servants you will have to act with the greatest care and precaution. I am sure that all Members of this Committee are anxious that whatever may be the result of this particular measure no personal injury should be done to those Civil servants who have entered the public service under the impression that their career is a fixed and established one. I hope, therefore, that the Government will be able to remove the fears, or at any rate go some way towards removing the fears, which are at present in the mind of several sections of public servants in Ireland. Take one case, the case of the model school teachers. There you have a class of men who are teaching in schools 82 entirely supported out of public funds, who are appointed in open competition and who, in every sense of the word except the technical sense, are Civil servants.
§ Mr. HOARE
There, again, you have the case of men who are really public servants. There are a number of solicitors in Government offices in Ireland who, although technically servants merely of officials, are equivalent to public servants generally. I move the Amendment, in the first place, for the purpose of having several points cleared up with reference to the conditions of compensation of the established staff, and, secondly, of giving hon. Gentlemen an opportunity of bringing to the knowledge of the Committee certain unestablished classes, some of which the right hon. Gentleman says are included, and about some of which we are not quite so-certain.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
As a general discussion on this question is to be allowed, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions with regard to persons who will be included. In the first place, I wish him to tell the Committee exactly what treatment will be given to inspectors of National schools, because I think he will agree that the position of these inspectors is somewhat exceptional. Their position is exceptional in three ways. In the first place, since the year 1890 they have been selected without competitive examination by the Commissioners of National Education itself. In the case of all other Civil servants in Ireland, so far as I know, they are selected through open competitive examination, and the Civil servants are then drafted into the various Departments by the Civil Service Commissioners. But these inspectors of National schools are selected personally by the Education Commissioners, and therefore they are far more closely identified than other Civil servants with the people under whom they have to 83 work. The second exceptional point about them is that they are not really in the service of the Government Department, but under a body which is practically independent. The Commissioners as everyone knows, are appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, and they are under no particular Minister of the Crown, and therefore there is no responsible respondent for them in this House. Consequently the Commissioners have very large powers of administration, and they are not bound, so far as I know, by any particular Departmental restrictions. In the third place, the duties of these inspectors seem to me to be much more responsible than the duties of other Civil servants in Ireland for this reason: their duties are professional instead of clerical.
As hon. Members know, there are practically no councils with any local authority over education. There is only individual management, and it is the Commissioners, and not the individual managers, who have to fix the salaries of the teachers. It is upon the reports of the Commissioners of national schools that increments to the teachers practically entirely depend. Therefore there is no buffer at all, as in this country, between the Board and the teachers. For these reasons I do submit that there are strong grounds for safeguarding the inspectors of national schools in Ireland. Not being under a Department, it is more than probable when this Bill passes into law that national education will be transferred to some quite different body from the body under which it is at the present moment, unlike other Irish Departments, which will be merely transferred from the British to the Irish Executive. There are very good reasons for anticipating this step. During the last few weeks a number of urban district councils in Ireland and corporations, too, including the Corporation of Dublin, and Boards of Guardians, have passed resolutions calling for the resignation of the existing Commissioners in Ireland. Only as recently as last August the hon. Member for the St. Patrick's Division of Dublin (Mr. Field), at a public meeting of the Royal College of Science in Dublin, said that one of the first acts of the new Irish House of Commons would be to pass a measure to that effect. If this happened there is not the slightest doubt that the inspectors who have to work under the Commissioners of Education would also go.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I think it is a very probable thing. At any rate, we want this point cleared up by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool seems to doubt it, but even if this extreme course was not taken, I think their position might be very precarious unless special terms were offered, because the very nature of their duties in Ireland has lead to a good deal of unpopularity. The teachers' increments are directly dependent upon the reports of these inspectors and naturally were they to carry out their duties conscientiously and faithfully, complaints are pretty certain to arise. Conscientious discharge of duty is frequently interpretated as harshness, and a lazy teacher very often gets a certain amount of sympathy which he does not at all deserve. Hon. Members below the Gangway know that a section of the Press during the last few weeks has been doing its utmost to exascerbate the relations between the inspectors and the teachers, and, so far as one can see, has been gradually preparing the ground for retribution when the present Bill passes into law and education is transferred to some other Department in Ireland. The Gaelic League is continually condemning the way in which these inspectors are working at the present time. Most or many of the inspectors, through no fault of their own, were appointed more than fifteen years ago, and a good many of them are ignorant of the Irish language. The Gaelic League is continually complaining that inspectors should be appointed who are not familiar with the Irish language. The League has considerable power in Ireland, because they forced the compulsory teaching of Irish on the Chief Secretary in regard to his new Irish University. Under Home rule it is more than probable that the influence of the Gaelic League will be even more powerful than it is now and they will do their utmost to force the then Irish Government to insist that all those inspectors of national schools should, at any rate, have a knowledge of the Irish language. Therefore, I do fee that the right hon. Gentleman ought to do his very utmost to facilitate the voluntary retirement of inspectors of national schools on fairly easy terms.
I may mention that all those, inspectors at the present moment are equally divided between the two principal denominations in Ireland, but under Home Rule it is quite possible—I do not say it will occur—that 85 this arrangement may not find favour in certain quarters, and not only may this impartiality be abandoned, but the interests of the pupils, whose destinies, are in the hands of the teachers, may be endangered if any alteration is made in that respect. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway may say all this is very unlikely to happen. There are several ways inspectors might be maltreated unless provisions to protect them are put in the Bill. They can be maltreated without any revolutionary or extreme procedure being adopted if the Irish Government wishes to get rid of them or make them retire. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the small centres of population are now used for the junior inspectors, but in future it is quite possible that an inspector with longer service and with a family growing up and to be educated might be sent from a centre like Dublin or Cork to Bally-shannon or Ballina, or to towns with less than 5,000 inhabitants, where there are far fewer opportunities of social life, and fewer opportunities of obtaining proper education. Again, an inspector with twenty years' service who, under present conditions, is entitled to expect promotion to the rank of senior inspector might be passed over in favour of some other inspector who might happen to have sent in more lenient reports with regard to the teachers in his district.
I do say these inspectors have sufficient ground for fearing that their interests may be prejudiced by the Bill as drafted. They are not hostile to the Bill, so far as I know, as a class, and they hope and believe that they are going to work under the new Irish Government as disinterestedly as in the past, but they do feel that their position is an exceptional one, and they ask that special safeguards should be put into the Bill. I should like to point out that this concession would not cost very much. The number of inspectors who would voluntarily retire on expensive terms would be very small indeed. Ten of them will be eligible for full pensions before the end of the transitional period; eighteen have less than seven years' service and many of them would probably never be molested at all. Out of a staff, which totals 76, you may say that forty or fifty could be safely eliminated as most unlikely to ask the concession I am asking the right hon. Gentleman to make. There is one other point. These inspectors ask that their years of service as teachers before they were elected inspectors should be counted with their years of service as 86 inspectors for the purpose of pensions. These years were given in the same department for the benefit of the State, but they do not happen to count now towards pensions. This concession, as a matter of fact, would only affect fifteen junior inspectors, and therefore the expense would be very small. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will make the concession. I am sure if he does, he will do something towards eliminating the existing anxiety and showing the good faith not only of the Government, but of hon. Members below the Gangway when the Bill passes into law.
I wish to ask one or two questions in regard to the position of the general Civil Service in Ireland. I do hope that the right hon. Gentleman will sympathise with the remaining claims of the Irish Civil servants, because after all the Bill must vitally affect their livelihood in the future, and as they are not allowed to take part in political agitation, the only possible way of getting these concessions is by bringing them forward before the right hon. Gentleman in this House. The right hon. Gentleman has made certain concessions, but he has not met some very reasonable apprehensions on their part. They are three in number. I refer to those Civil servants who retire voluntarily, that is to say, under the statutory conditions of retirement. The Government is drawing a very ingenious distinction in the Bill between those Civil servants who retire voluntarily and those Civil servants who do not retire voluntarily. The abolition terms are granted in the second case, but they are not granted in the first. This distinction is quite illusory. When the Bill passes into law there will be practically no such thing as the voluntary retirement of any Civil servant, for his retirement will always take place owing to some change that comes along owing to the dissolution of the original contract between the Imperial Government and the Irish Civil servants, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman in this respect to look to the proposals of the last Home Rule Bill of 1893. Lord Morley at that time said:—I feel and think that it is not likely that it will arise, but there is an apprehension in the minds of some of these Civil servants that the Irish Government will be tempted either from what is railed revengeful feeling or the desire to make room for friends of their own, to make the place of the permanent Civil servant now serving in Ireland so disagreeable and so intolerable that it would be equivalent or amount to compulsory retirement. When we find these apprehensions entertained we are willing to introduce this provision which withdraws from the Irish Government any possibility of the kind that exists.87 lie was referring to the distinction between voluntary and the compulsory retirement. Why has the Government taken up a totally different attitude in the year 1912. Under the Bill abolition terms are going to be granted practically only to those whom the Irish Government remove from office. All the others are going to be given a choice either of voluntary retirement or of working under the new Government, and if they retire voluntarily they are only to be given pensions equivalent to what they would get in the event of a permanent breakdown or if obliged to retire under a medical certificate. In other words, as the Bill is drafted, including the Amendments put down by the right hon. Gentleman, supposing a man wishes to go voluntarily and on the assumption that he will be allowed to go when he likes he can only reckon as addition to his actual service the transitional period of five years or such part of it as may remain when he actually retires. It is perfectly true that the Bill sets up a Civil Service Committee before whom after the transitional period a Civil servant can go "and take his complaints, and if he satisfies the Committee that his position has been materially worsened he will then be given permission to retire on abolition terms. But, after all, who is going to constitute this Committee? It is to consist of three members, a member of the Irish Government, a representative of the British Treasury and a member appointed by the Lord Chief Justice of England. That is to say, the complainant would have absolutely no representation on the Committee, while the defendant would. What chance has the poor hard-worked Civil servant coming before this Committee when he has no representation and the defendant is represented by one out of three? Moreover, the Civil Service Committee under the Bill is given power to postpone the date of retirement if they consider it expedient. To my mind, this is manifestly unfair.
At the beginning of the transitional period every Civil servant is entitled under the Bill to serve notice that he will not continue in office, but as his right to go is limited by the discretion of the Civil Service Committee to postpone his retirement to the end of the transitional period, one man may go at the beginning of the transitional period and get the whole five years added to his years of service, whereas another man may not be allowed 88 to go by this Committee. He may be kept to within a year of the end of the transitional period, and he will only have one year added to his years of service. This is considered a great hardship by the Irish Civil servants. It seems to me it can easily be put right by means of a provision that when the retirement of a man who wants to go has been postponed by the Civil Service Committee he should receive the addition of the five years, not from the beginning of the transitional period but from the date of his actual retirement. As against that the Government may argue that the Irish Civil servants have asked to be kept on under the same terms and conditions as exist at the time of the passing of the Act, and that that has been granted, and therefore there is no particular reason for giving this concession. But I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is right in assuming that every single Civil servant in Ireland is going to be willing to work under the new regime. It is quite likely that some of them, for different reasons, may not want to continue under the new regime, and the interests of these persons should not be left out of account. The Government may also say, that if they give concessions of this, sort these persons may be tempted to go, whereas if they did not give these concessions they may be willing to hang on. It. is quite conceivable, but- I think it extremely unlikely, unless the Irish Government go out of their way, as I am quite sure they will not, to be disagreeable to existing officials in Ireland. In any event, I do not think that that argument 11s one for the Government to use, because when a revolutionary scheme is being passed they ought to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and also do their best to allay anxiety whenever possible.
There are two other matters which I would like to mention. The Irish Civil servants ask that in cases of voluntary retirement the following further addition should be made to the years of service, reckoning from the end of the transitional period; where the years of service amount to twenty years and upwards, five years; and where they amount to fifteen and are less than twenty years, three years. Moreover, they say that if their retirement is postponed by the Civil Service Committee, the years of service should be allowed and the salary calculated as if the Civil servant had served up to the end of five years from the date of actual retirement. That Amendment is one by which the Civil servants set very special store. Under the 89 Bill, and after the right hon. Gentleman's Amendments, a man of twenty years' service, supposing he is allowed to go out at the end of the transitional period, would have twenty-five years service reckoned for his pension, five of these being added years, during which he would not have been serving, and if he were postponed for three years he would still have his five years' pensionable service, but only two years would be added years. But if the request of the Civil servants is granted, the same man would have thirty years' pensionable service, ten of which would be added years; and if the Civil Service Committee happened to postpone his retirement for three years, he would have thirty-three years' pensionable service, ten of which again would beaded years. When the Postmaster - General received a deputation from the Trish Civil servants the other day they asked him whether he would not support the proposals of the last Home Rule Bill in regard to voluntary retirements. He said it would not be just to the new Irish Government to throw upon them what might possibly be a heavy burden of expenditure. I do not believe for a moment that it would entail at all a heavy burden of expenditure. The same sort of argument was used at the time of the last Home Rule Bill in 1893 against the Government's proposals, and Lord Morley, who was then replying for the Government, said the Government had taken precautions that they should not embarrass the future Government or add any excessive or unreasonable load of financial responsibility, and he went on to add that an hon. Member—I think Mr. Storey—was very ill-informed when he said that by giving abolition terms to those who voluntarily retired the Irish Government would pay half salary by way of pension to a man who did nothing and full salary to another man who did the work. It seems to me that any one who uses the same argument to day is equally uninformed as the Gentleman to whom Lord Morley referred in 1893.
The final point on which the Civil servants set great store in Ireland, and which so far has not been met by the Government is this. Under the Act of 1859 the Civil servants are entitled to a pension equal to one-sixtieth of their actual salary up to a maximum of forty years' service. At the instance of the Civil servants, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. Parliament afterwards passed an Act in 1909 reducing that to one- 90 eightieth of the actual salary up to a maximum of forty years' service—that is to say they lessened the pension, but they gave additional benefits. In addition to this the Civil servants were given a gratuity on retiring equal to one-thirtieth of the actual salary for each year's service up to a maximum of one and a half years and in the ease of the death of the Civil servant before retirement a year's pay was granted to his representatives. As a matter of fact, the great bulk of Civil servants in Ireland accepted the new terms, but a considerable number of them did not. I am told that some of them did not on account of the fear of what might happen if this Bill passed into law. Under this Bill those who did accept the new terms in 1909 are given the right to revert to the Act of 1859, if they want to do so, and the Civil servants maintain that those few who did not accept the terms of 1909 should also be given the right of coming under the Act of 1859, if they wish to do so in future, although the time has expired for their acceptance under the Treasury Rules. It is quite possible the Government might say, very likely, "A few men did not accept the Act of 1909 for fear of Home Rule, while they now wish to accept it after Home Rule is passed into law. "But I do not think that is any real answer to the Irish Civil servants. If the Government is to carry out this great change, and if it is right to allow one set to come under the Act of 1859, I do think that right ought to be extended to any new Civil servants in Ireland, when such a very great change is being introduced. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look favourably upon these suggestions, and I am sure, if he does so, it will go a very long way to allay a certain amount of anxiety among public servants in Ireland.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I quite agree, if I may say so, with the preliminary observations made by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare), that it is very desirable that we should proceed with this matter in regard to Civil servants in Ireland with the greatest care and precaution, and that, whatever happens as a result of passing the Home Rule Bill, we should not leave any Civil servant in Ireland under a sense of injustice or under the sense that his case has not been fully heard and considered. I have felt that from the very first, and I have been for weeks past in constant communication with a Committee of Civil servants representing several Departments in Ireland, which was 91 at once formed as soon as the Bill was introduced, and which represents, in all, upwards of 5,000 of these admirable and, perhaps, naturally agitated persons. I have been in constant communication with them both myself and through my agents. I have had many interviews with them and a great deal of correspondence, and the Committee will discover, if they look at the Notice Paper, that I have introduced a number of Amendments with the object of meeting the various points that they have put before me. I confess I was very much under the impression, until I heard the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson)—and I am not quite sure that I do not remain under that impression still —that 1 had met their case, I do not say to the full, but that I had sent them away, if not full, certainly not empty, and satisfied with the various Amendments I proposed. I must say that these Amendments will cost money, a very considerable amount of money, and that money is to be borne by the new Irish Government, which everybody agrees is not well endowed under the provisions of this Bill; and I certainly think it speaks well for the general feeling in Ireland that there is a desire that the new Government should be established happily, and that no difficulty is being felt in any quarter in meeting the fair demands of Irish Civil servants.
There are some things that could not be done—that is to say, we could not out the new Irish Civil servants in a better position as to pension and abolition pay, or anything else, than the Civil servants of the United Kingdom. Nor could we take the opportunity of this Home Rule Bill to remedy certain inequalities which, in the eyes of many Civil servants, affect them unjustly. All we can do is to see by every means in our power, in dealing with the existing Irish Civil servants, that the persons who are discharging their duties at the appointed day are protected in every way, not only from likelihoods, but from extreme improbabilities, so that they may not feel that they have given the best years of their lives under false hopes which this House has hastily destroyed. I would like the Committee to bear in mind what is the position of the Irish Civil servants. With a few exceptions, already dealt with by Clause 32, they are dealt with under this Clause. They hold their offices for the most part at pleasure. "We cannot and ought not 92 to be asked to alter that tenure. They are roughly divided into two classes. There are those who are established Civil servants—that is, who are on the establishment, and are therefore pensionable. They cannot, as they stand at present, retire on pension, except ill-health occur, until sixty years of age, and then their pension is calculated at the rate of one-sixtieth of their salary for each year of employment. But we have in Ireland a large number of non-established officers, I think, considering the population of Ireland, a number out of proportion to the rest of the United Kingdom. We have a number of non-established or temporary officers, varying in every degree of claim upon the Government. Sometimes they are really odd-job men—men taken on for an odd job, with which they were perfectly satisfied, while they were also satisfied with the remuneration they received.
But many of these non-establishment men have, as a matter of fact, given their lives to the work of the Departments to which they are attached, although they are not pensionable. We certainly consider that although they are not entitled to any pension, they are entitled to a gratuity, having regard to their large numbers and to the very great service which they have undoubtedly done in the past in connection with the new Departments which have been sometimes hastily created by this House in its desire to grapple—not always with the fullest degree of information— with the circumstances of Ireland. We certainly consider those officers are entitled to the fullest possible consideration. Civil servants then are divided into two classes, established and non-established, and are treated separately. Every established officer is entitled to a pension on a fixed scale, but the temporary or non-established officer is not entitled to pension, but receives a gratuity under the Superannuation Acts. I now come to the scheme under the Bill for dealing with Irish Civil servants. We agree that a scheme is necessary, because there is a change of master. Existing Civil servants, if they remain, will be handed over to a new master—" Got a new master, be a new man "—and they are entitled, fully-entitled, to have a scheme elaborated and made statutory to secure them from what they may conceive to be injustice, caused by hasty legislation, if you like, or what at all events they will consider alterations of their duties. In the first place, under our 93 scheme, we allow the official who objects to having a new master, to retire with compensation. That involves, under this Bill, from the Civil Service point of view, a novelty in Civil Service law. That a man can retire from the Civil Service before the fulfilment of his obligations, with compensation, is unknown in our Civil Service law. If a man wants voluntarily to leave before he is entitled to pension or previous to the statutory age, he can do so, but without compensation, and his salary is calculated up to date of retirement. But under this Bill we do more than that—we secure compensation to the officer who objects to the change of master.
With regard to those who remain on we secure that their duties shall not be altered. We secure to them continuance of the character of their work, and that they should not have new duties put upon them, and we secure that by a grant of compensation in the event of departure from the present conditions. The mere substitution of an analogous duty for another would not interfere with the peace of mind of Civil servants. Civil servants are not to be changed from the duties of one office to the duties of another, nor are more laborious new duties to be put upon them. As the law stands, when a Civil servant in Ireland attains the age of sixty, his chief might—dismiss is not the right word to use—he might intimate that as the Civil servant had, by the grace of God, attained the age of sixty, he could go. That is a useful power to put into the hands of heads of Departments, but as a matter of fact in Ireland, at all events, such is the salubrity of the climate and the general willingness of everybody to discharge his duty, it has been found that nobody goes until sixty-five years of age, which is accepted as the age when a Civil servant thinks he ought to go. We recognise, and the country recognise, the Irish temperament, and we change the law so that persons shall not be liable to go by effluxion of time until they are sixty-five years of age. That is a kindly and sensible, and at the same time a generous provision.
Where the alteration of conditions is to the officer's detriment, and the question of compensation arises, we set up this independent tribunal which has been described by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, to fully determine points of the kind. I do not think that anybody can complain, because this is precisely the kind of 94 tribunal that has always been contemplated before to deal with these questions. It is composed of three persons, one to be nominated by the Lord Chief Justice to-act as chairman. I do not think we need take the view of the hon. Member for Sal-ford about the poor, despondent, bullied Civil servant who will appear quaking and trembling before this terrible body, and will not be able to state his case or be likely to receive justice. I am sure from my experience of what goes on in Ireland-that will not be the case at all, but that Irish Civil servants will receive kindly consideration, and probably get the benefit of any doubt. Anyhow, you have got to have something of that kind. The hon. Member will be the first to perceive that it is impossible, in the case of officers of this kind, to dispense with the tribunal. You could not go to a Court of Law, because-there are no legal rights whatsoever. It could not be for a Court of Law to determine of what character the new duties put upon them were, and how far they were entitled to resent or accept those-duties. A tribunal of that sort is absolutely necessary in order to determine those questions, and to determine the measure of compensation.
Here, then, you have got a scheme-which enables officers to retire voluntarily, with compensation, and a scheme which enables them to appeal to this independent tribunal if their duties have been altered. I really do not know how much further you could carry that. The pension of the established officer is, of course, fixed by the Superannuation Acts, and there is an arithmetical method of calculation. In the case of non-established officers the position is wholly different. Their duties are very varied, and are sometimes of a comparatively slight character and sometimes of a heavy character. They may sometimes have been in their positions only for a very short time, while in other cases they may have accepted the appointment, temporary in name, as the real business of their lives. Therefore you have in questions of that sort to leave them to some tribunal or another. I am quite willing to discuss this when we come to it, although I really do not think anybody could devise, try as hard as they might, a better kind of tribunal than the one we have set up. A tribunal of some sort has got to judge the infinite variety of questions which will arise when dealing with unestablished and temporary offices. I think these proposals in themselves are fair. There are 95 other proposals which I am bound to say Civil servants have not pressed on me with any degree of willingness, and I do not think they expect any further or better terms than the very kind terms—I do not like to use the word favourable—which are to be found contained in this Bill. All sorts of people group together and make proposals, and Amendments are down on the Paper seeking this opportunity to grant altered conditions of service. I say at once I am not in a position to accept any Amendments of that kind. What was good enough for the United Kingdom is good enough for the new Government of Ireland. That is a proposition which ought to commend itself to hon. Members opposite.
I therefore cannot agree to any Amendment which makes an office pensionable which is not already pensionable. I proceed on the fact that an office is pensionable or it is not. I am not going by this Bill, if I can help it, to assent to any Amendment which will put a person in a pensionable office when he is not in one; nor am I prepared to accept an Amendment which gives absolute pension rights whereas those rights at present are only qualified and conditional. Nor can I assent, although I confess I do this with less positiveness than in the other two cases, though still I am positive, to proposals to add years to officers' service on Account of professional qualifications where those years are not, as the law at present stands, added. I do not think that would be a reasonable thing at all. I do not see why we should offer inducements to officers to retire voluntarily. I do not think that would be right. If they wish to retire, we fully appreciate that they are entitled to do so if they want to. Although we may or we may not sympathise with the motives which prompt them to do so, we recognise there is such a change, such an invasion of their con tracts as entitles them to do so, and for the first time we allow them to go voluntarily before they have attained the full age, and on terms of compensation. I do not think we could do better. Nor can I agree to include in the class of Civil servants people who are not Civil servants, because here is an opportunity which people avail themselves of. People say, "Hullo, here is a Home Rule Bill which provisions for Civil servants. We are just as good as Civil servants. Our offices are very similar to those of Civil servants. "Thus national 96 school teachers have come and said that they ought to come in. It is perfectly true that the salaries of national school teachers are paid out of moneys voted by Parliament, but who are their masters? Do they owe allegiance to the Government? Are they Government servants in the sense of belonging to a particular Government office? Who appoints them? They are appointed by the manager's of the schools, the local managers, sometimes Catholic, sometimes Presbyterian, some times Church of Ireland, according to the character of the children or the professions of religion of the children's parents. That determines who they are, and to include National school teachers in Ireland——
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
On a point of Order. I wish to know, for the guidance of the Committee, whether, if the Chief Secretary develops this argument with regard to the position of teachers, that will preclude the moving of any Amendments later?
§ The CHAIRMAN
No, not quite that. My view was that, as evidently the Government have a plan based on a principle, questions could be put now and answered, and those questions that are not met in the? Debate can be moved separately.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I quite see the force of j the observations of the hon. Member. I |do not, I am sure, in any way want to rule out anything, or even to seem to prejudge I arguments, but at the tame time I want to show what our scheme is. I will not I pursue that subject except to say that our scheme is to benefit Civil servants, and that we are not prepared to allow other persons who are not Civil servants to claim to come within the benefits we propose. There is the case of Petty Sessions clerks. That was the thin edge of the wedge. They are treated as Civil servants. That was so in former proposals, and we do not go back on it at all Petty Sessions clerks correspond to magistrates' clerks in England, and, although they are appointed no doubt by the local magistrates, they are under the direct control, to a very considerable extent, of a Government office, which national school teachers are not, and therefore we are not in any way interfering with the status which has hitherto been recognised of Petty Sessions clerks, although it is a little bit across the line, I quite agree. The hon. Member for Chelsea asked about model school teachers. Model school teachers, as distinguished from national school teachers, 97 are within the provisions of this Bill. The hon. Member for Salisbury made a speech on behalf of the inspectors of schools. School inspectors are established Civil servants, and under the existing law are dealt with as regards salaries and pensions in the same manner as other Civil servants. My hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury, not satisfied with their being recognised as Civil servants, put on the Paper an Amendment, which I do not wish to argue now, which goes to strengthen and better their position from what it is at the present moment. That comes within the rule which I have ventured provisionally to lay down, and does not fall within the scheme of the Government. He has an Amendment that if a school teacher who is not a Civil servant is appointed an inspector, he shall be entitled to include his ten or fifteen years' service in the school in the years of service which entitle him to a pension. The hon. Member may have the opportunity of moving that Amendment, but it seems to me to require a good deal of argument, which the hon. Member perhaps may produce, to show that a national teacher— not being a Civil servant—who becomes an Inspector ought to be entitled to clap on the benefits of the years when he was not a Civil servant to the years when he is one.
That is the sort of attempt which is outside the scope of this Bill, and I think I am bound to press the proposition, and I really think that we have got within this Clause almost every kind of person who can possibly be expected to be included. I have a long list here of people who are existing officers, of people who are and who are not Civil servants. We are only dealing with existing officers, and only those who are Civil servants come within the scope of this Bill and the Schedule to it. I will not read the list now, but if anybody asks me questions I shall be happy to say who are and who are not. Resident magistrates, for example, are Civil servants, and Crown solicitors also, under Clause 33. Then there is the question of solicitors. That is a subject which excites a great deal of interest in my mind, and we shall have the opportunity of talking about it later. There are solicitors of different kinds. If a solicitor is the servant and the sole servant of a Department, and if he does nothing else except the work of that Department, and if he has to do all the work, all the legal work, as it tomes, why then he is a Civil servant within the meaning of this Bill, but a great 98 many heads of Departments employ solicitors as and when they require them. It is not strictly speaking right to say that a man has a solicitor. Very often you hear the question, "Who is your solicitor?" as though a solicitor was a person like your wife, to whom you are bound. Nobody has a solicitor in that sense. Everybody is free to choose his own solicitor as and when occasion arises. He may vary his solicitor according to the nature of the work he has got to do. In one kind of trouble he goes to one solicitor, and in another kind of trouble he goes to another. There are plenty of solicitors in Dublin and in Ireland who are employed not permanently, although it may amount to permanent employment, but on the job. They do the work as and when required, and they are paid fees. To include those persons as Civil servants and to say that they were entitled to compensation and to pensions would be extravagance run mad. I am quite sure nobody would suggest anything of the kind. For all that there are some solicitors who are within the scope of this Bill owing to the terms of their employment. I do not wish to preclude arguments which may arise on the Amendments. I wish to say that the Amendments which appear in my name have all been most carefully arrived at, after the fullest consideration with a very-representative Committee, and in that connection I can assure hon. Members, and in fact, many of them know, because what has passed between me and that Committee has not been secret, that those Amendments are of a kind which ought, I think, to go a long way to meet their wishes.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I confess I would sooner not say but a very large sum, tens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties of thousands of pounds. It is a very considerable sum, but it is very difficult to say because, of course, the actual amount depends on whether they continue on. That is one reason why I was most anxious to give generous terms in order to show that those men were not dealing with persons who would seek in any way to take advantage of them, and that if they wanted to go they should go on the fairest possible terms, but that we were anxious they should remain. Between this Bill and the Bill of 1893 there is this very great difference. The Bill of 1893 contemplated that everybody would 99 go in the five years. They were all to make fresh bargains, and fresh relations were t J be established. The 1893 scheme differs from the present scheme in that, while the present scheme provides for the continuance of the Civil servants under the Irish Government Bill in general terms, the Bill of 1893 provided for their continuance for five years only after its passing. At the end of that period the existing engagement of all Civil servants throughout Ireland would have come to an abrupt termination. It would have been open to the Irish Government to re-employ them, but it would have been on new terms of service. The termination of the existing terms of service would have led to great inconvenience. I rather hope to glide over the change, and by the terms we offer to existing Civil servants to induce those who want to go, it may be by reason of age or for family reasons or for other reasons, to go on fair and reasonable terms, and to hold out to others the hope of serving out their time under the new Government. Therefore, I do not think it is quite fair to press too hard the comparison between the two Bills. The object of this Bill is that people should continue. We assume that they are willing to continue. I have received many assurances of that kind; but a great deal depends on how things go and how people behave. We secure that if they want to go they can do so; and if they go before they are sixty-five, a calculation is made on the assumption that they would have remained the full period of their time, received increments, and the like. In that way they get, I will not say-extravagantly good terms, because I should not wish to give extravagantly good terms, but honest and straightforward terms; and we hope that the offer of such terms will induce a great many people to remain, or at all events to remain during the five years and see how things go. I hope that my Amendments will be discussed, but even if they are not, lion. Members will have the satisfaction of knowing that they have already been discussed with the persons most actively and zealously interested. I admit that that is not a complete answer to hon. Members opposite, but it is at all events some satisfaction to me that I have been able to discuss this matter with a great body of men, with many of whom I have the honour of personal acquaintance, and for almost all of whom—there are a few exceptions—I have the greatest possible respect.
§ Mr. JOHN REDMOND
I venture to hope that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman will be received with feelings of gratification in all parts of the House. If there is any Clause in this Bill about which we may hope that there will not be acrimonious party discussion it ought to be this Clause dealing with the treatment of the Civil servants. The importance of this matter it is impossible to exaggerate. A question was asked regarding what these concessions announced by the Government would mean in point of cash. It is not really a question of cash at all; it is a question of something far more important than that. The success of the working of the new Irish Government and the new Irish Parliament will depend almost entirely on those who are responsible for the government of the country having at their back an efficient, contented, loyal Civil Service. Therefore, I think it ought to be the desire of everyone who looks forward to the practical working of this Bill to go a long distance to satisfy perhaps even the fears which they may regard as groundless of certain sections of Civil servant*, and certainly to be very generous in their treatment of every class of the Civil Service. I have never for one moment been animated by the fear that immediately this Bill is passed a large number of Civil servants in Ireland will desire to quit their offices because there is a change of masters. I take exactly" the opposite view. I believe that an overwhelming majority of the Irish Civil Service will be not only willing, but glad and proud to serve under their new masters, namely, a native Government in Ireland. But at the same time, if there are men in the Civil Service who are afraid that they may be forced to retire from that Service for one reason or another, as far as I am concerned, I am willing to meet those fears and to make generous provision for them.
I have had the great advantage during recent months of meeting representatives of, I think, every class of the Civil Service in Ireland. I have discussed their views most fully, and, as they themselves would be the first to admit, in the most sympathetic spirit. I have discussed the Amendments which they thought ought to be put into the Bill, and I have discussed the Amendments proposed by the Government after they had consulted with the Government. In communicating with the Government on the question of these Amendments I raised no objection what- 101 ever to any length the Government might go to meet the views of these men. I admit that the more generous you are in dealing with these Civil servants the further distant may be the day when there will be anything like really large economies in the cost of governing Ireland. We all admit that the cost of governing Ireland at present is excessive, and that eventually there will be retrenchment; but the more generous you are in the treatment of the existing Civil Service the further distant will be the day when that retrenchment can be really large. But I put all these considerations on one side as of little importance compared with the vast importance of having a loyal, contented, and efficient Civil Service to undertake the working of this Bill when it passes into law. Therefore I have risen for the purpose of saying, that I congratulate the Government on the concessions they have made to these men and on the fact that they have met three-fourths or more of the claims put forward by all sections of the Irish Civil Service. I rose also for the purpose of saying that in making these concessions the right hon. Gentleman has had the complete sympathy of my colleagues and myself, who have been anxious to safeguard, even in the moat generous way, the interests of every class of Civil servant in Ireland.
§ Mr. HUGH BARRIE
The Chief Secretary has gone a long way to meet the objections that have been urged in reference to this matter. At the same time, we are bound to call attention to the fact that the unanimity with which all branches of the Civil Service have found it necessary to make such representations to the Government is the best answer to the suggestion that they had nothing to fear under a Home Rule Parliament. I have no desire to make this a party question; on the contrary, I am grateful to the Chief Secretary for having, with the assent of the hon. Member for Waterford, made these concessions. There are, however, other branches of the Civil Service to which reference has not been made. I refer particularly to the Post Office officials. I am not aware whether the Chief Secretary has received a deputation from that important branch of the Civil Service; if he has, I shall be glad if later in the discussion he or the Postmaster-General will give the Committee some assurances in regard to the feelings animating the greater proportion of the Post Office officials in Ireland. We who represent the North of Ireland have had representations 102 made to us on behalf of these important and useful public servants, and we shall be glad if they can be included in the con-cessions which have been made. With regard to the national school inspectors, there is considerable discontent in Ireland with recent methods of school inspection, and it is especially necessary that these officials, occupying the unique position that they do, should receive some special concession under the Bill. Possibly there might be an addition of so many years' service, as is not uncommon in Ireland, in order that these men, who occupy a most important and delicate position throughout the land at present, may be permitted to retire on reasonable terms. The only other branch of the service to which I wish to refer is that of the model school teachers. The Chief Secretary is advised that their case is entirely covered by the Government scheme. I am happy to have that assurance. On a strictly non-political basis all sections of the service have made most important representations to the Government. The number of teachers concerned is somewhat limited, but they are doing a most excellent and valuable work in their particular form of education, and I shall be glad if the Chief Secretary later on will tell us what particular Amendment safeguards their position in the future.
§ Mr. MITCHELL-THOMSON
I should like to press a little further the question as to the probable cost entailed by these concessions. I am not objecting in the least to the increased provision. I am very glad indeed that the right hon. Gentleman has gone so far, and I hope that in the course of the Debate we shall be able to induce him to go even further. I do not want to deal with the point acrimoniously. While it is impossible to avoid controversy entirely, I agree that the question of the Civil Service ought to be divorced, as far as possible, from all party discussion. At the same time I must point out that a measure of Home Rule has always been recommended to the consideration of this House on the ground that it would result in economies in the Civil Service in Ireland. It now turns out that before you can get the Home Rule machine into operation you have to spend a considerable amount of money—twenties, thirties, forties, or fifties of thousands of pounds, as the Chief Secretary puts it—in greasing the wheels of the machine to make it work. I say that by way of comment. It is really material that before we finally part with 103 this Clause we should get some estimate of the total extra charge likely to be involved in the cost of the Irish services. It has received a new importance since the Bill entered Committee. Since the Bill entered Committee a change has been made in Clause 26, at the instance of the Postmaster-General, by which has been introduced the theory of what I may call the "happy day."
The happy day depends now—it did not before the Clause came into Committee— on what the cost of the Trish services is. Until the whole revenue in Ireland from Imperial taxes, from Irish taxes, from Irish miscellaneous revenue, and from certain other revenues which they shall draw, is equal to the cost of the Irish services, the happy day does not arrive, and the readjustment is postponed. We now hear from the Chief Secretary that an indefinite sum—it may be £30,000, £40,000, or £50,000—is going to be added by this Amendment to the cost of the Irish services. Since we discussed Clause 26 the happy day is postponed. Therefore I do think it is rather important, before we pass the Clause finally—I do not press for an answer at the moment, because it is a matter which the Chief Secretary may not be in a position to give—he may not have an acquaintance with the financial details of the scheme—to have cleared up. I really think the Postmaster-General might give us the information I ask before we leave the Clause. I hope he will be able to tell us, within some reasonable amount, what the estimated extra cost under this head is likely to be, in order that we may arrive at some conclusion as to the effect upon Clause 26, and the arrival of the redistribution period. There are a number of other matters which will come on on subsequent Amendments, and I do not want to delay the Committee, but I do think this financial question is important.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The right hon. Gentleman told us that certain people are included and others are not included in this. No doubt he has given the statement to the House as the best advice that he has been able to obtain. The point I should like to ask is, who, as a matter for fact, will have to decide this matter if and when this Act becomes law? Will it be the Civil Service Committee—it appears to me it will not be —or the Courts of Law? The point upon which I should like to have simple information from the right hon. Gentleman is, who is going officially to decide this question?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The hon. Gentleman has asked me several questions. Here is the Act of Parliament and the Schedules connected with it. It gives the Civil servants certain rights, and the question—which has been put to me—arises as to whether aye or no, a clerk in the intermediate education department is or is not a Civil servant. I quite agree that it is not a question for the Civil Service tribunal which is set up, as to what a man's rights may be in regard to superannuation. What are his rights in regard to a pension must be a matter of law—to be decided by a Court of Law. I am asked, how do I know that the list that I have here is a right list? For example, is the Registrar of Lunacy within the Act or not? If I were asked that question I would answer "yes" "Very well," it might be said, "no doubt he is in your reading of the Act, but perhaps in his own reading of the Act he will be found not to be." I know no other mode of determining that question except a Court of Law.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Forgive me. My own point was this: there appeared to me a risk in a doubtful ease, and that is why I specifically mentioned it.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
You have a great long list here and the assumption is that those in it have a right to be there.
§ Mr. J. H. CAMPBELL
By what words are the officials, like the staff of a training college, protected?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Clause 33 I suppose it can only be a condition of their tenure, and the fact that they are entitled to pensions and the like, that entitles them to become Civil servants. The Clause says, "all existing Irish officers."
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I am afraid that is hardly satisfactory, because if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the Clause it is "all existing Irish officers in the Civil Service of the Crown."
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
Has the right hon. Gentleman been advised—and that is what we want information upon—for these gentlemen are rather uneasy about their position—has he been advised that these words will cover the case of the officials; for example, that 1 have mentioned—the staff of the Training College, Marlborough Street, Dublin?
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
The right hon. Gentleman was not present when I put a question to the Prime Minister this afternoon on this very question. He said distinctly that the staff, officers, and teachers of the Marlborough Street Training College are included in this.
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL(Mr. Herbert Samuel)
Two specific questions have been asked, one by the hon and learned Gentleman the Member for North Down (Mr.Mitchell-Thomson), and the other by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Londonderry (Mr. Hugh Barrie). Perhaps I may be allowed to briefly answer the first as to the additional cost thrown upon the Transferred Sum by the changes made in the Bill on the Motion of the Government. The additional cost must necessarily depend upon the extent to which the Irish Civil servant, on the one hand, and the Irish Government on the other, avail themselves of the powers given under this Bill. It is quite impossible to say in advance how many officers are likely to be dissatisfied owing to the fact that they are transferred to the new Government, and are, therefore, likely to retire. It is impossible to form any real estimate of the number. On the other hand, we cannot say how many persons the Irish Government may wish to dispense with on the ground that the number employed is excessive, and that the Civil service should be reduced in cost by abolishing certain offices. No definite estimate can conceivably be made. The Treasury did some time ago give me an outside figure as to what this might conceivably work out at. That figure is £100,000; we had it given in Debate. The right hon. Gentleman expresses surprise, but, as a matter of fact, that figure has been given to the House in the Debates on the Financial Clauses. On the question of the prior charges I mentioned the figure of £280,000,which I said might possibly be increasedbyanother£100,000beyond owing to changes in the Bill giving further optional powers of retirement. It must be clearly understood that I do not for a moment say that the figure of £100,000 is likely in any way to be reached. But suppose all these people were to take advantage of the powers in their hands; it is conceivable that so large a charge might fall to be made. We have no reason to anticipate it will be so great. The hon. Member for North Londonderry asked me what will be the position of the Post Office servants under this Clause. My staff 106 are very largely affected by these clauses. They number no fewer than 20,000personsinIreland.Ithas been my duty to go very carefully into these matters, and I had the pleasure of receiving a deputation representing a number of associations of Post Office servants. The whole question was gone into at great length and in much detail. My hon. Friend the Assistant Postmaster-General also received a deputation from the Irish Post Office clerks— a separate association. They came to my hon. Friend and myself under some misapprehension as to what the Bill really proposed to effect. After the minds were relieved on certain points on which they were aggrieved in their misunderstanding of Clauses and Schedules of the Bill, they went away satisfied, or not dissatisfied, I suppose, because I have received from them no further representations on this subject. I do not think the hon. Gentleman who spoke said he was speaking on their behalf or that they had urged him to make further representations. Under these circumstances, my experience—and doubtless that of other hon. Members leads us to the conclusion that the associations of Post Office servants, who are never slow to express themselves if they consider they have any real grievance, leads me to think that we may take it that their minds have been relieved on all point son which they made representations.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
Yes it is a very important matter, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give it his attention. As I understand—I am not finding any fault with the right hon. Gentleman——
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The hon. and learned Gentleman behind me suggested to the Chief Secretary that in the scope and intent of this Bill the Civil Service Committee determines for all time and classifies for all time the position and status of the men referred to. That is why I put it as to what words brought the Civil servants within their meaning in these Clauses. The right hon. Gentleman, 107 I suppose, spoke on the spur of the moment his impression of the Bill, and said that no such power was conferred upon this Committee. As a matter of fact, power is conferred in express terms, if I understand and rightly interpret the language. In Clause 36, Sub-section (2), it says:—(2) If any question arises whether an officer is an Irish officer as so defined, or otherwise as to any claim or right of an officer under the provisions of this Act relating to existing officers, that question shall be determined by the Civil Service Committee.Therefore it appears that this Committee is set up and is given complete power to determine, so far as I can see without appeal, finally the question as to the status of any particular gentleman. I do not complain because I think it is desirable that there should be a tribunal to deal with this matter, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman should consider the propriety of giving an appeal where the decision is adverse to the status of any-particular gentleman who believes he is in the. Civil Service (Crown) and conies under Clause 33. Where such an individual is claiming to hold such a position and the point is decided unfavourably to him by the Civil Service Committee, I think he ought to have—and so the right hon. Gentleman thought he had under the Bill—power to appeal or power to apply to the Courts of Law. It will be an extraordinary thing if the Committee have power to decide on points which really involves nice questions of law. I do not object that in all other matters of fact, the amount of the pension and so on, should be dealt with by that Committee, but I think in regard to questions of status there should be a further consideration.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. My conscience pricked me almost immediately I had spoken. What I had in my mind was Clause 34, Sub-section (4):—(4) The determination of the Civil Service Committee on any claim or question which is to be determined by them under the provisions of this Act relating to existing officers shall be final and conclusive.What I had in my mind was that the duties of this Committee would be confined to 108 determining questions which would arise as to the amount of the pension and so on. For the moment I overlooked—although I had it on my notes at one time—Subsection (2) referred to: —If any question arises whether an officer is an Irish officer as so defined—and so on. That is the sort of thing that the Treasury in England are doing every day, determining as to whether or not any person has the position of a Civil servant which entitles him to claim compensation or the like. What we are now considering is a written Constitution, and, supposing a Committee determined that a man was outside altogether and had no rights, although dismissed, I agree that in justice he should be able to go to a tribunal better cognisant of the facts, where the matter could be argued out at greater length.
§ Mr. FETHERSTONHAUGH
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he considers that the phrase, "existing Irish officers," covers the case of clerks to grand juries appointed before 1877, who are not entitled to superannuation now?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I confess I am a little frightened by the date, but if the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to look into the matter I will do so, but I cannot give a specific answer at the moment.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause, "put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. FETHERSTONHAUGH
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Crown" ["all existing Irish officers in the Civil Service of the Crown "], to insert the words "including solicitors to Government. Departments."
There is an exact precedent, I think, for this Amendment in the Local Government Act of 1898. Before the passing of that Act the solicitors, who afterwards did the business of the county councils, were solicitors to the grand juries, who were appointed by a resolution of the grand jury, and whose employment could, of course, be discontinued by the grand jury at any time. As a matter of practice, they were usually continued by the grand juries for life or for very long periods of time. When the Local Government Act of 109 1898 was passed, which transferred the business of the counties from the grand juries to the county councils, the 115th Section of that Act provided for compensation in case of dismissal. It was recognised that it was practically a permanent office, and that the holder should be transferred to his new masters, and that was done in order to protect the officials of the grand jury from being dismissed for any unjust cause. The position of solicitor to any Government Departments, such as the Solicitor to the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests, the solicitor to the Congested Districts Board, to the Local Government Board, and various other Government Departments, are in positions exactly analogous to the position of solicitors to grand juries before the Local Government Act was passed. The rights of solicitors to grand juries were protected by that Act, and it was a very necessary protection, as was shown in the case of the solicitor of the Crown and Peace for the county of Sligo. He was dismissed from his office by that county council for no other reason alleged at the time than that he instructed counsel for the Crown in a prosecution under the Crimes Act of 1887, and it was held that he was entitled under the Local Government Act to compensation, and I think the result was that every county solicitor felt very much more secure after that that they would not be dismissed for such causes. The principle that a man is entitled to get compensation in such cases leads to the fact that they are not displaced from their office. The case I have mentioned, and I daresay there may be others, establish the fact that there was no prospect of their being displaced by the powers under which they are at present employed.
Although it may be said in connection with the Amendment I have moved that they are no more solicitors to Government Departments than a solicitor to private individuals, still, such appointments have been looked upon as positions held during good behaviour, and unless some good cause for being removed can be shown they would not be interfered with. I do not know how many there may be, but some solicitors have so acted for a great deal more time than since I went to the Bar. They are not a large class, but I think it is perfectly plain if solicitors were entitled to compensation in such cases there would be much less desire on the part of the new authority to displace them in favour of 110 appointees of their own. I cannot see that there is much difference in the case of those gentlemen from that of the position of Crown Solicitors, whom the Chief Secretary has said are protected by the Section. A Crown Solicitor, after all, is only appointed at the will of the Attorney-General and may be dismissed by the Attorney-General any time he likes, but it is recognised always that apart from misconduct or some such ground the appointment lasts as long as a man discharges his duties. The case of the solicitor in Sligo is not the only case of harsh dismissal that followed upon the Local Government Act. The solicitors to district councils were given no protection, and people were dismissed for collateral reasons, such, for instance, as taking the unpopular side in politics. In Gal way, Mr. Blake, a solicitor well known, was dismissed because he acted as Crown Solicitor, and his successor, a gentleman named Clougherty, was dismissed because he acted as conducting agent for Mr. Martin Morris when he was elected for Galway. I do not think people ought to be dismissed from positions of that kind, which perhaps their fathers before them held, or that they should be liable to dismissal if this Bill passes. This is a small Amendment which cannot affect the rights of more than five or six people, and I think it might very-well be agreed to, so that these solicitors might be protected as well as Crown Solicitors.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I listened with interest and with some degree of alarm to the picture presented by the hon. and learned Member, which I am afraid would make a kind of hereditary office passing from generation to generation, handing down from father to son in a sort of strict tail-male the right of appearing in particular offices. That illustrates the difficulty there is in assenting to Amendments of this sort including solicitors to Departments, generally without any regard whatsoever to the terms of their employment. It may very well be, and is the case, in Ireland, for instance, in the Inland Revenue and Land Commission, that the solicitor employed is a Civil servant, and has rights as such having regard to the nature and terms of the bargain made with him, and does the work of a Civil servant. But the Amendment proposed by the lion, and learned Gentleman would include solicitors who do the work of a Department without any regard to the terms of their employment. I know a number of solicitors in Ireland who 111 are employed by Departments. The head of the Department knows who the solicitors are and he chooses them, and they are responsible to him and he pays their bill of costs. I suppose their bills are taxed in the right way, and he is free if he chooses to change the solicitors just as anybody in this House is free to change his solicitor or to have as many solicitors as he chooses. I think, therefore, we must refuse to accept the Amendment of the lion, and learned Gentleman upon that ground, not that there may not be solicitors who are Civil servants, but there is nothing in the fact that a man did the business of the Crown or that his father or grandfather before him did the business, to entitle him to a pension or to compensation if for any reason or other the Vice-President of the Local Government Board, for example, wants to go to another solicitor. Really this would be to give security of tenure, which I think would excite, I will not say ridicule, but alarm, and I think we must confine ourselves to the language of the terms or bargain between Government Departments and their solicitors. It may be that there are kept solicitors, not using the word in any offensive sense, who belong to the Department, and do the Department's work, and who perhaps do no other work, and who may on dismissal from such employment perhaps be injured or made less likely to pursue their practice. But there are plenty of other solicitors amongst the best firms in Ireland who regard the Departments as their clients and not their masters, and therefore I think to put in Amendments such as the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests, that all solicitors to Government Departments should be pensioned and not dismissed, except for grave causes, would be most improper.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I think the reasons that the right hon. Gentleman has given for not accepting the Amendment are on the face of them good. The right hon. Gentleman says that the Amendment is not definite enough, and that it does not say upon its face clearly what is intended. But that is what the whole Bill does. It is almost impossible to tell from the context of the Bill what it really means or what it is really going to do, and I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman "would only be too pleased to accept an indefinite Amend- 112 ment of this sort, which would enable him to say he was going to look after the lot of certain people, but which did not commit him to any particular line of action. I think the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend is a little vague, because I think it would include, as the right hon. Gentleman said, any solicitor. I sympathise with my hon. and learned Friend in endeavouring to obtain better compensation for those solicitors. I will not say, as the right hon. Gentleman did, "kept" solicitors, but those solicitors who are devoting the whole of their time or part of their time to a Government Department. Those people ought to be compensated, but I rather agree with the right hon. Gentleman, that any solicitor who is employed by a Government Department and who is not employed by hon. Gentlemen from Ireland below the Gangway, when they come into power, should not be entitled to come forward and claim compensation. I do not think that is the meaning of my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment, and I suggest to him that he should alter his Amendment so as to achieve what his real object is, in which case I should be glad to support him.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am rather glad that the hon. Gentleman feels it is a grievance not to hear what I was saying. I was suggesting to my hon. and learned Friend that he should alter his Amendment to include solicitors who are really servants of Government Departments.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman made that clear. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did.''] No, I do not think so. I followed with great attention the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, because for the first time for many years I agreed with his view. I am quite certain he did not say that. If the right hon. Gentleman is quite certain that they are covered by the Bill, I am afraid that I cannot support this Amendment.
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Crown" ["all existing Irish officers in the service of the Crown"], to insert the words "(including all principal teachers in national schools in Ireland)."
113 I must own I am not very strongly encouraged in moving this Amendment by the remarks which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. At the same time, I hope I may be able to adduce some arguments in favour of the Amendment which I have been asked to move which will induce the right hon. Gentleman to take a different view. I was very much encouraged to move this Amendment by the answer of the Prime Minister, in which he stated that the staff of the Marlborough Street Training College would be deemed to be an Irish service. I do not see that any very strong line of demarcation can be drawn between the teachers in such institutions and those of the national schools in Ireland. If I am to secure the support of the Government to this Amendment, I know it is necessary that I should adduce some specific arguments in favour of including the teachers in the national schools of Ireland amongst those who ought to enjoy the privilege of having pensions in the Civil Service. These arguments are generally included under two headings: One is that the conditions of their service may be fundamentally altered, and the other that the duties imposed upon them may be very much greater than or very different from those they are at present called upon to perform. I believe there is some ground for fearing that, under the altered conditions which must be set up by this Bill, and by the transfer of these duties to the Irish Parliament, the teachers will not enjoy the same security of tenure of office which they enjoy at the present time, and, if that be so, T think it will be agreed that there is some reason at any rate for the Amendment. I am moving.
This fear on the part of the national teachers is not altogether groundless, but at the same time it does not arise from any belief that there will be a desire on the part of the Irish Parliament, or on the part of the Irish Executive to lessen the expenditure at present incurred upon elementary education. On the contrary, I believe there is a general feeling that the expenditure on education in the future under an Irish Parliament must be increased rather than decreased. I cannot help thinking that real ground for the fear that is felt is the belief that the entire system under which these teachers are at present appointed will be fundamentally changed. The Chief Secretary began by stating what the conditions are. Those conditions, I assume, are not generally known 114 to the Members of this House. So far as L have been able to ascertain, there are no local authorities in Ireland whose funds are employed in defraying the cost of teachers in elementary schools, nor are the teachers appointed by any education committee attached to any local authority. These teachers are really appointed out of funds provided by this Parliament, and to that extent certainly their position is somewhat analogous to that of ordinary Civil servants. They are appointed by managers in charge of the schools, and these managers are appointed by the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, who are themselves responsible to the Chief Secretary for the discharge of their duties to this Parliament. It is on account of the difference between the conditions applying to the teachers in Ireland and in this country that I urge that they may be considered as being included in the category of Civil servants. The manager of an Irish school is generally a Roman Catholic priest, a Protestant clergyman, or a Nonconformist minister. [HON. Mr. MEMBER: "No."]
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
As a rule this gentleman is responsible for controlling the schools and for the appointment of the teachers, and he invariably appoints teachers of the same denomination as himself. The Committee will therefore see that the whole system of elementary education in Ireland is at present entirely-denominational. I agree that these teachers may be dismissed by three months' notice, but, at the same time, so long as they discharge their duties satisfactorily their position is fairly secure. It must not be supposed for a moment that under an Irish Parliament this state of things is likely to be continued. I believe that one of the first Acts of an Irish Parliament would be to introduce fundamental changes in the conditions under which the teachers in the national schools are appointed and under which they hold office. Following the example of what is the case in England and in Scotland, and latterly in Wales, we may assume that a Department or Board of Education will be constituted under the Irish Parliament with a Cabinet Minister in charge, and a whole staff of officials responsible to the Irish Parliament, and they will introduce a state of things entirely different from that 115 which prevails at the present time. Some ten or eleven years ago we were very desirous that there should be a Board of Education in this country responsible for all departments of instruction, but experience has shown us that all the results we expected have not been entirely realised. At any rate, it will be admitted that this is an entirely new departure, and from what we know of newly appointed Boards, we may assume that the energy and zeal of the officials who may be appointed to a newly constituted Board of Education will induce them to make some fundamental changes in the conditions under which the teachers are at present appointed, and that they will endeavour, AS education boards generally do, to enforce their own particular views upon the teachers in the various schools.
Whatever economies may result from Home Rule—and we are assured that economies will be effected—I do not anticipate for one moment that any such economies can be effected in the region of national education. In many places in Ireland the school buildings are wholly unsuitable for their purpose. The heating, ventilation, and sanitation are most defective, and the school equipment, including furniture and the necessary appliances for teaching, is wholly insufficient. Considerable expenditure, therefore, must be incurred if elementary education in Ireland is to be put upon a proper basis. Moreover, the salaries of the teachers are very much lower than they ought to be. I think I am right in saying that the salary of a male teacher commences at £63 per annum, and at scarcely ever reaches the maximum. The reports of the inspectors go to show that the teachers in the national schools of Ireland are hard-wrorking, zealous, and fairly competent, although very few of them are properly trained, and generally they are endeavouring under adverse conditions to discharge their duties. I think the teachers are a body who ought to be free altogether from anxiety as to their future, and they ought to receive the sympathetic consideration of this House. I do not think any teacher can discharge his duties satisfactorily who works under any anxiety as regards his future. There is another consideration which must be borne in mind, and it is that although the majority of the teachers in the national schools are Roman Catholics, there is a very considerable minority of teachers of other creeds, and it is possible that an Irish Parliament, which, the Chief Secretary has already 116 stated, will consist almost exclusively of Roman Catholics, might differentiate between Roman Catholics and other teachers. [HON, MEMBEKS: "No."] At any rate, that is conceivably possible, although personally I do not believe for one moment that it would be the case. I feel sure that an Irish Parliament would not by any Act show or allow to be shown any want of tolerance for those professing other religious creeds. I am however by no means so certain that some of the teachers might not be seriously prejudiced as regards their position by a want of sympathy with Irish Nationalist sentiment, and that a National Parliament might legitimately so far as their own ideas are concerned use the powers they possess to enforce through the teachers Nationalist views on school children. I do not wish to be understood to say that they will be wrong in doing that because once set up an Irish Nationalist Parliament——
§ The DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN (Mr. Maclean)
The hon. Member is now going into a general discussion and he must confine his remarks to the question of superannuation.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I am endeavouring to show what would happen if these teachers are displaced, but I will not pursue that argument any further. I think it will be readily admitted that one of the surest means of encouraging Nationalist sympathy would be by making Irish the national language of the country, and by requiring all teaching in Irish schools to be conducted through the medium of the Irish language. If that were done, many teachers at present engaged would be displaced by teachers capable of carrying on the instruction in the Irish language. Very strong efforts are now being made, possibly in anticipation of the passing of this Bill, in the direction of enforcing Irish as subject of instruction in all Irish national schools. I came across this statement in a very interesting report on Irish national schools, written by Mr. Mangan, in accordance, I should say, with instructions received from the National Education Commission:—To those who consider what the position of Irish Was, until quite recently, in national schools, the position it now occupies in them must appear respectable in comparison. And so it is.That evidently shows there has been a great advance made recently in the teaching of Irish in the national schools. The report shows very clearly the efforts that 117 are now being made to encourage this instruction, but I should point out that Irish is at the present moment an extra subject not necessarily taught by the ordinary school teacher; it may be taught by other teachers who are brought into the schools for the purpose, and it is not an obligatory subject throughout all the standards. The report on a summary of the evidence of several inspectors says:—On the whole, therefore, the teaching of Irish as an optional subject seems to be of no benefit to the education of the children, and of no material help to the language or its cause.I cannot help thinking the very next step that would be taken under an Irish Parliament with regard to national education would be to make Irish the compulsory medium through which all other subjects would be taught, and, if Irish were made obligatory in all the schools as there is a strong tendency, many of the existing teachers unable to teach Irish might find it very difficult to maintain their positions, in those schools. I should point out there are many parents at the present time besides teachers who strongly object to the teaching of Irish.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It would be quite out of order to go into the merits of that question now. The only question that arises here is whether "principal teachers in national schools" can be properly included under "Irish officers" in this Clause.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I am endeavouring to point out that one of the reasons for including teachers under "Irish officers" is that they hold their positions under this Parliament, and that their whole position is likely to be changed by the setting up of an Irish Parliament in Dublin. If such a Parliament is set up, then the conditions tinder which they at present hold their position as teachers might be considerably changed by their being required to make Irish the medium of their instruction to the children. If that were so, it certainly seems to me those teachers who might desire to resign their position should receive compensation. I was endeavouring to show that the tendency at the present time was in that direction, and that it would very likely be increased under an Irish Parliament. Anyone who reads this report and the remarks of the inspectors addressed to the Commissioners will see the very strong encouragement that is now being given to the Irish language. One inspector, in fact, says:—There appears to be very little local interest in the language revival.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must really respect my ruling in this matter. He is entitled, of course, to refer to the fact, but to go into the merits of the question would obviously be quite another matter, and he must not go into arguments of that kind.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
I think I have said sufficient to indicate that under an Irish Home Rule Parliament the teachers in national schools might find it difficult to carry out the requirements of any Irish Education Board that might be set up in Dublin. The qualifications which such a Board might require of teachers might, be altogether different from those required at present, and I think a case has distinctly been made out for including the teachers in these national schools among those competent and qualified to receive pensions.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The hon. Member proposes that all principal teachers in Ireland, many thousands in number, should become Civil servants. I do not know quite what the effect of that would be. They would continue to hold their offices upon the same tenure, upon the same terms and conditions, as heretofore. Of course; they are appointed by the local managers, and they would still remain liable to dismissal by them.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
No. Look at Subsection (1) in your own Bill. These gentlemen in future would be dismissed by the Lord Lieutenant.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Is the proposal, then, that all the teachers in Ireland should be removable by the Lord Lieutenant, as representing the Irish Government?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Then I should object to it strongly on those grounds. This is a Debate which really seems to me to stagger humanity. The proposal is that all the teachers in Ireland should become Civil servants and should be dismissible by the Lord Lieutenant acting in that respect at the bidding of the Irish Prime Minister. I confess I find it rather difficult to believe that 13,000 teachers who now, under a purely denominational system, carry on the work of education in Ireland, who are appointed by their local managers, and who are dismissed by them whenever they do 119 not give satisfaction, should by the operation of this Amendment become Civil servants and be dismissible by the Irish Lord Lieutenant, as representing the Irish Cabinet.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the possibility of a Board of Education being established under the Irish Parliament and these managers having no longer the powers they now possess? That is my supposition.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman. He has pursued the subject a little bit further than most hon. Members, and he contemplates the course of action the Irish Government will take with regard to the very vexed question of education. Having had some experience of trying to handle that question here in the House of Commons and in this country, I do not feel at all in any position to prognosticate as to the course any Irish Government would take with regard to the long-established system of education which works in Ireland. All I am concerned with is this actual Amendment, and I say it is perfectly impossible. These persons are not Civil servants, and they cannot be. They are appointed by local managers. It is quite true the money which pays them their salaries is voted by this House, but their masters are the local managers, and it is quite out of the question that this Parliament, without waiting for an Irish Parliament, should, while seeking to establish a Constitution for Ireland, upset and destroy the present tenure of teachers, the present arrangement in every village and town in Ireland, and the whole system of education in Ireland. My right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Department of Agriculture in Ireland (Mr. T. W. Russell), in the Bill in 1893, moved the Amendment which has now been moved by the hon. Member for the University of London. He proposed that all principal teachers should be included in the provision regarding Civil servants, and my right hon. Friend (Lord Morley), who was then in my place, in refusing the Amendment, said:—The answer is a simple one, and I think a good one. The teachers are appointed by the local managers, and they are dismissible by them at three months' notice. They are in no sense in the public service. The position of model teachers is different. They are appointed by the National Commissioner, and are dismissible by the Lord Lieutenant.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I do not know. It seems to me therefore impossible to give 13,000 teachers the rank and status of Civil servants simply because the hon. Member anticipates that some time hereafter there may be established in Ireland, as I daresay there may be, a Board of Education which will take upon itself, as I hope it may have the courage to do, the difficult and thorny task of determining who are to appoint teachers to schools. I was asked to give some sort of an estimate of what the concessions we have already made upon this Bill would amount to. I rather shied at giving such an estimate, and I think I was right. All I can say is it will be a large and substantial sum, and it would be quite impossible for me or the Treasury or anybody else to estimate it with accuracy. But what would it be if these 13,000 teachers were also added to the pension list? I think it would be most staggering. We are trying to establish a pension fund for teachers, and we hope there will be such a fund in Ireland as well as in this country, but to place them upon the Irish Government now would really be an act of futility. It would be quite impossible for the reasons I have already staled. They are not Civil servants, they are not changing masters, they still remain responsible to the persons who appoint them, and to add them under this Clause would be absolutely out of the question.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
The way in which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with this Amendment shows how loosely he has studied the subject. He first said he could not accept the Amendment at all, because he was under the impression that if these teachers were included in this Clause they would still remain liable to be dismissed by the managers. That was his impression of his own Bill, which, however, says the very reverse, for it provides that when they are included this class will become dismissible by the Lord Lieutenant. Having that fact pointed out to him, the right hon. Gentleman again says: "I cannot entertain the suggestion," and he puts forward as a reason the fact that the power of dismissal will have passed from the managers to the Lord Lieutenant. I want to say a word or two on behalf of these teachers. The majority of them are men who are not at all in sympathy with my way of thinking on most Irish questions. I think those of us who come from Ireland, on all sides, will recognise that they are men who discharge their duties very faithfully and very well under very 121 difficult and arduous conditions, and perhaps the most arduous feature in connection with their class has been this fact, that they have been at the mercy of their managers. We all know—and I am not now speaking of one particular creed or class in Ireland—that this power of dismissal, vested in the hands of managers, has been in some eases exercised in a very arbitrary way indeed. I would have thought myself that one of the advantages gained by including these gentlemen in this Clause, would be that for the future, so far as regards existing principal teachers, the power of dismissal will be transferred to the hands of the Lord Lieutenant who would act, I presume, on the advice of the Irish Executive or of the Irish Parliament.
It was a very remarkable extract indeed that the right hon. Gentleman gave us from the Debates of 1893. The present Lord Morley took that very point. He said, "We have included the model teachers, because the power of dismissing them is vested in the Lord Lieutenant, and therefore there is no objection to classifying them as Civil servants." Surely that is a tremendous argument in favour of this Amendment. If the Amendment is accepted these teachers will fall into line with the model teachers, and, like the model teachers, will be dismissible by the Lord Lieutenant. The very condition that Lord Morley said was wanting in their case would then be supplied. In so far as the Debate of 1893 assists at all, it shows even that such a convinced Home Ruler as the Vice-President of the Board of Agriculture for Ireland (Mr. T. W. Russell) was of opinion that they required some protection. Indeed, I understand from the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the Vice-President moved this Amendment in 1893. I would call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the very reason given for refusing this Amendment on that occasion has no force or effect now owing to the proviso in this Clause that all persons included in this Section are in the future to be removable by the Lord Lieutenant. It seems to me that that covers the point. The right hon. Gentleman put a very proper point in reference to the great number of these men. He said they were a very large class, and that is no doubt the case, but it is also true that those who will get the benefit of this Section will not be very numerous. They will be only those who are removed. I believe there 122 are something like 13,000 of these people, but this Amendment would only afford protection in the isolated cases in which the arbitrary power of dismissal is exercised. While I have no desire to controvert the ruling of the Chairman and I think my hon. Friend when dealing with this particular point went rather too much into detail—I would suggest it is important, as bearing on this question, that, for reasons that may seem to them to be wise and prudent, the Irish House of Commons will very likely be very anxious to insist upon the teaching of Irish being made compulsory in the schools, and some of these teachers may either object to it or be incompetent to so teach, and it would be extremely hard if, under such circumstances, they should lose their positions. Remember that these teachers would have no other resources. They are not men who can turn to anything else. There is no other opening for them in Ireland. Man trained as national school teachers in Ireland are not likely, after years of such training, to be able to turn to anything else. They are not likely to be able to apply their hands or their brains to any other pursuit or industry. Therefore, I think it is important, in the interests of these men, who are very nervous about their position, that this security should be given them. After all, I do not think it will mean much.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
It would be handed over in just the same way as it was done in the case of the model school teachers, who can be dismissed by the Lord Lieutenant. What harm can there be in transferring from the manager, who in the past in many cases have exercised it arbitrarily and unjustly, this power of dismissal to the Lord Lieutenant?
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
Of course, the right hon. Gentleman is uneasy about it, because he is conscious that he was going to put forward an argument in exactly the opposite direction. He was going to put it to the Committee that, because these men remain removable by the managers, therefore they ought not to be made Civil servants, but with his usual agility and quickness of perception, when he realised the exact position, he at once turned his argument round the other way, and he says, 123 "We cannot do this, because it will take the power of dismissal out of the hands of the managers." It was hardly quite fair for the right hon. Gentleman to take that line of argument. I particularly put it to him: You are confronted by the view taken by Lord Morley in 1893, where he pointed out that the distinction between these men and the model teachers was that in the one case the power of dismissal was in the managers and in the other in the Lord Lieutenant. It was pointed out to the right hon. Gentleman that that distinction was covered by his own Bill, because it provides that all classes brought within this Clause are to be deemed to be Irish officers for the purpose of the Clause, and once they are included in this Section they are only to be removable after the passing of this Act by the Lord Lieutenant. I think, in the interest of the teachers themselves, in the interest of primary education in Ireland, it would be no harm if the power of dismissal, as distinct from the power of appointment and control while in the service, where transferred from the managers to the Lord Lieutenant. But, apart from that question, I think that, in the interests of these men, who have deserved well of their country, and who are an underpaid and very hard-working body, I think, in common fairness to them, they are just as much entitled, if not more so, to the protection of this Clause than any of the other classes who may be, in a more technical sense, Civil servants by reason of the fact that they are dismissible by the Crown.
I think the Chief Secretary, in his reading of the Amendment and the effect it will have, did not give the Committee all the information he could have done on such an important subject. I personally know no class in Ireland that deserves more consideration from the right hon. Gentleman, the Committee, and indeed, from this House than the principal teachers in our National schools in Ireland, and no class more deserves special attention at this particular time. These men, through long and arduous years, have worked themselves up to the position of principal teachers in our National schools. The right hon. Gentle-roan went too far when he said that the whole matter turned really on the question of the power of dismissal by the managers. After all, if you read the Clause through you will see that the Clause, if amended 124 according to the suggestion of my hon. Friend, will secure to the principal teachers in Ireland that they should continue—
"to hold their offices by the same tenure and upon the same terms and conditions (including conditions as to remuneration and superannuation) as theretofore, and shall be liable to perform the same duties as theretofore, or such duties as the Civil Service Committee established under this Act may declare to be analogous, and while performing the same or analogous duties shall receive not less remuneration than they would have received if this Act had not passed."
The result of the Amendment is that the principal teachers in our National schools shall not be any better off than now, and that, under no circumstances, should they be worse off under the Act than if the Act had never become law at all. That, I submit, is a fair and reasonable request to make on behalf of these deserving servants. The Amendment only refers to those who are principal teachers at the present moment. It does not go into the future. It does not say that all principal teachers in the future shall be appointed on a certain basis, but it says that the present principal teachers, who have worked themselves up into that position, shall continue under no less onerous terms than those under which they are at present serving. If this Amendment is not accepted—and I presume it is impossible, judging from what the right hon. Gentleman has said, for the Government to consider it—undoubtedly the inference will be on the part of those who hold the position of principal teachers in the Irish National schools that there is some expectation on the part of the Government that, under Home Rule, these servants of Ireland will suffer in some way. The Chief Secretary shakes his head, but we ask why, unless there is something at the back of the right hon. Gentleman's mind, he cannot accept it? He tells us he cannot accept the Amendment for certain reasons. But when we point out that those reasons are already met, then he complains that it raises the whole question of the power of dismissal by managers, which he says, is essential, to carry on the work of the Commissioners of National Education. Nothing could be further from the fact. If the managers of Irish National schools desire to get rid of the teacher, all this Amendment says is that if, in future, they want to 125 get rid of a teacher that teacher shall not have any worse treatment than if he had been dismissed before the Bill became law. That is all there is in that. It is not for a moment supposed that the Lord Lieutenant or any other high Government official in this House could possibly keep track of the doings of all the principal national school teachers of Ireland. He could only do what the right hon. Gentleman does at the present moment, namely, consult the Commissioners, and the Commissioners would consult the managers, and affairs would be carried on as if no change had been made at all. Surely it it exaggerating tenfold for the right hon. Gentleman to suddenly suggest, as his only excuse for not accepting the Amendment, that in future whoever occupies the right hon. Gentleman's high position would have to keep in touch with the whole of the managerial details of the national schools. If that is the only argument against the Amendment, the Committee will consider that the Amendment ought to be accepted. Let us look at it from another point of view. The Commissioners of National Education tried hard to see him, and I believe the Prime Minister also, before the Bill was introduced.
At any rate he did not receive a deputation which the Commissioners intended to send to London in order to put before him some of these very problems. What was the result of the non-appearance of the deputation at the Irish Office in London? That the Commissioners themselves took their courage in. both hands and made public what the state of the funds in regard to national education would probably be after five years of Home Rule. The Commissioners are the only persons, excepting, perhaps, the Treasury, who are able to judge of this enormous problem, and they showed that inside five years there would be no hope of any further extension in Ireland of those principles which are now going ahead so fast in England and Scotland in regard to better primary education because the funds would not be available. They showed that a sum of about £350,000 would be required at the end of five years. If that be the case, how can these principal teachers look forward to 126 fair treatment under this Bill, unless an Amendment of this sort is embodied in the Clause. It is a hopeless outlook for those men and women who have worked their way to the front in educational matters in Ireland when, on the one hand, they have no promise of protection from the Chief Secretary at the present moment, and the only financial authority in Ireland able to judge in the matter say that the financial outlook is deplorable. Whether the words of the-Amendment carry out the intention of my hon. Friend is a mere quibble. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot see that justice requires some protection to be provided for the principal teachers in Ireland, of course we must give up all hope.
If, on the other hand, it is merely a matter of verbal expression, surely the right hon. Gentleman could hold out some hope that at a future stage of the Bill he would be able to give these principal teachers better terms and safeguard them. Does anyone deny that in many ways these men are more entitled to be treated as Civil servants than many of the Civil servants who have only recently joined the services in Ireland? We know of men who have given their whole lifetime to training the youth of our country. On the other hand, we have a young Civil service clerk who has come across front England or from Scotland—I am not objecting to that at all—and who immediately gets the protection of Clause 33 for his whole future, and is absolutely assured that whatever happens he, as a Civil servant, will receive protection during his term of service, and afterwards the pension which is due to him. Surely, as against that young clerk, it is only fair that the Committee should take into consideration the long and arduous career which the principal teachers have gone through in order to arrive at that present stage. We ought also to remember that they labour under grave disabilities at the present moment. They are not able to come forward and voice their own requests. They are forbidden many of the rights and privileges which attach to English and Scottish elementary teachers. They have no right to interfere in any way with elections or to take part in public meetings. Therefore their grievances are not so well known in this county as those of their English and Scottish brethren. They are practically voiceless in this matter. If the 127 Government refuse to recognise their case, the Committee ought at once to throw over the right hon. Gentleman and pass the Amendment.
I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary must feel that he has done himself—I say nothing about the Amendment—rather less than justice in the argument which he addressed to the Committee a few minutes ago. That argument had a substantial part and a technical part. The substantial part was that the Amendment, or any Amendment carrying out the same object, would be extremely expensive. I do not know, and I am quite unable to estimate how expensive it would be, but I recollect that earlier this afternoon the Leader of the Irish party below the Gangway made an eloquent speech in favour of what in earlier days he used to call "The Castle," explaining, in an admirable spirit, that he regarded a contented Civil Service as absolutely necessary to the initial stages of the new Home Rule experiment, and that, although it must throw some additional cost upon the new Irish Parliament, he thought that money so expended would be well expended in the interests both of justice and of the Home Rule cause which he has at heart. I think, therefore, if I may say so, that the Leader of the Irish party has answered the substantial part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, which was the part based upon the cost. I put that, therefore, on one side, and I come to the technical part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument. He said, "You cannot treat these people and you ought not to treat these people as Civil servants, because in fact they are not Civil servants. They are not the servants of the State; they are the servants of the managers. The managers appoint them, and the managers can, at two months' notice, send them about their business. How on earth is it either reasonable or logical to suggest that they ought to have anything in the nature of Civil Service treatment?" I think that argument, to an audience unacquainted with the peculiarities of the Irish educational system, is utterly and hopelessly misleading. The truth is that the Irish educational system is open to criticism from many points of view, but it has undoubtedly solved, in a country where religious differences are deeper than anywhere else, where divisions based upon religion between the different sections of 128 the community are sharper than anywhere else, that Irish system, illogical and, in some respects, defective as it is, has undoubtedly been able, through all these years in which Ireland has been the very centre of controversy in this Parliament, to avoid some of the most dangerous pitfalls
I was quite aware that I should so far carry the right hon. Gentleman, and everybody who knows anything about Ireland, entirely with me. It has done that by being essentially illogical. I believe it is described as an undenominational system of education. Everybody who knows how it works is perfectly aware that it is the most strictly denominational system of education the world has ever seen. The reason it has worked well is that the Commissioners so arrange with the managers in a district as to represent the feelings of the district, and the man agers in the district appoint, no doubt on this three months' tenure——
The teacher who suits the religious complexion of the district, as well as ministering so far as he can to their educational needs. The right hon. Gentleman says these men are the servants of the managers and not the servants of the State, or even of the Commissioners. Not only is this Irish system illogical, because, while calling itself undenominational, it is purely denominational from top to bottom, but it is also illogical because it calls these people the servants of the managers, although we know that all their salaries are paid by Vote in this House. It is the Chief Secretary in this House who has to answer year by year for the actions of the Commissioners, who, in their turn, have a control over the managers, who, in their turn, have a control over the teachers. It is absolutely technically accurate to say that these men are not servants of the State, but substantially nothing can be further from the truth. They carry out a great national work, not at the local expense, as is the case of England, nor at the expense of the denomination, as is often the case in England, but wholly and solely at the expense of the Imperial taxpayers. And the man who is to answer for the whole of this system is not the locality, not the county council, not the school board, as it 129 is in Scotland, but it is the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant.
This system, which has worked, in spite of all religious difficulties, in Ireland with extraordinary smoothness so far as religious controversy is concerned, although perhaps not always with satisfactory results so far as secular education is concerned—this system, with all its defects and all its want of logic, is going to be handed over entirely to the new Irish Government. I really do not see, if you are, going to have a new Irish Government, what else you could do. If you are not going to allow them to control their own education you make the Bill even more absurd than I think it is at present. They have got to survey this illogical, impractical system, from top to bottom. I am not one of those who wish to suppose that any part of Ireland is animated by religious bigotry. I do not see why we should suppose that. But it is the fact that it is owing to this House having established this singular and misnamed system that we have avoided the importation of religious difficulties into the education question of Ireland. And is it not almost certain that an Irish Government, if it were to take in hand, from the secular point of view, the reconstruction of this whole system from top to bottom, would come face to face, whether it liked it or not, with great denominational difficulties which, as no one knows better than the right hon. Gentleman, yon easily escape in England and you could never escape in Ireland? If you have an assembly like the new assembly you are going to call into existence in Dublin dealing from top to bottom with educational questions on an entirely new-basis, however honestly and sincerely it may desire not to affect any private interest or injuriously affect any denominational interest, do not tell us it is possible for them not, to interfere with the system on which the continued employment of a great many of these men depends!
As if the inherent difficulties of the situation were not enough owing to religious differences, as if the tenure of these men was not made insecure by the kind of policy—I think it cannot be avoided— which you have in Ireland, you have the additional difficulty of the language question. The last thing I mean to touch upon is the merits of the language question. It would not only be out of order, according to your, as I thought, absolutely correct ruling, but it would be quite irrelevant to the merits 130 of the Amendment. But the fact of the language controversy in Ireland has, and must have, the profoundest effect upon the future of these people—and they must be, I should think, a large majority of the people, at any rate a very large proportion of them—who are not by their own training and their own education capable of dealing with the Irish language. At present no teacher in Ireland is required to teach Irish. Supposing the new Irish Parliament says, "We think Irish ought to be taught in every school as far as possible; we hold that the only effective teaching given in the school is the teaching given by the teacher of the school"—an argument with which the right hon. Gentleman is very familiar, and we are all very familiar, in connection with religious teaching in our controversies in this country. A large number of persons more qualified than I am to speak from personal experience of the work in schools will tell you that any teaching not done by the teacher, or under the immediate superintendence of the teacher, largely suffers thereby. Is it not reasonable to suppose that that view will be pressed forward in the Irish Parliament? If it is, and if the new Board, of Education desire to press on the use of the Irish language by requiring the parochial teacher, the teacher in the primary school, to teach it, what is to be the position of these gentlemen with three months' notice who are required to teach a language of which they do not know the rudiments, and which can only be acquired successfully, I believe, relatively early in life I Can anyone say their situation will not be a precarious one in the highest degree? The right hon. Gentleman says they are the servants of the managers. Is there any security that the new Irish Parliament will keep managers at all] Will there be managers at all a year or two after the Irish Parliament is adopted—I mean managers in the present sense of the word?
I do not know—certainly I do not think—we have any right to condemn the Irish Parliament if they say the existing system of managers is rather arbitrary in its character, that there are separate Boards, a priest here, a minister there, and a clergyman there, who say: "You are to elect a teacher and keep him as long as you like, dismiss him at three months' notice"—if they say that is not a system in which we choose to acquiesce. It is not for us, at all events, to criticise that view. But what about the teachers? What is to happen to them? I cannot help thinking 131 that when the right lion. Gentleman told us just now that these men were not Civil servants, and implied, as I understand, that there was no ground for having any anxiety about the future, I think he was substantially wrong, really, in both contentions. I do not say his tenure is as good, or that he requires as great a measure of compensation as other Civil servants, but a man is a Civil servant of some kind or another when he is appointed by managers who are themselves appointed by a Board that you have called into existence and whose salary is paid by yourselves. There is no election. It is a purely centralised system, and the whole of the money is found by the central authority, and the people who perform the duties for which they are thus selected, and who are thus paid, perform duties which are fundamentally important, as we all admit, in the carrying on of the civil work of any community. I think I have shown that from no iniquity in the new Irish Parliament which is to come into existence, from no avoidable bigotry, attributing no low motive to anyone, the very circumstances of Ireland make it absolutely certain that the tenure of these men may be more uncertain than the tenure of any other Civil servants whose interests we have been so careful to protect. In these circumstances I beg the right hon. Gentleman, with all respect, to give the problem of the teachers in Ireland his most earnest consideration. It may be too much that they ought to be treated like Civil servants engaged under a different nominal tenure, but something should be done in case of a dismissal which to them must seem arbitrary, and which will certainly deprive them of all chance of continuing to earn a living in any reasonable way, and will leave them wholly unprotected when you are deliberately setting up a system which may very well destroy from top to bottom the whole scheme under which they have entered into this profession. It seems to me a quite unnecessary and unjustifiable cruelty, and I earnestly trust that the Government will give their case a more sympathetic hearing than at present, so far, they have obtained.
§ Mr. DILLON
This is a most remarkable Amendment. Under the guise of protecting the interests of the national teachers of Ireland hon. Members propose, on the eve of Home Rule, to wholly revolutionise the whole system on which the primary education of Ireland has been granted—the 132 most contentious matter that it is possible to conceive. As the right hon. Gentleman, who does know Ireland, has stated truly to the House, the system of national education in Ireland is the most illogical system I suppose in the whole world. It has worked, as he said, smoothly to some extent so far as the religious controversy is concerned, and has worked smoothly largely because it has worked exactly and diametrically opposite to the principle laid down in the rules. Thai is, if the right hon. Gentleman has correctly told us, the position. The first of the rules is that this is a system of separate secular instruction and separate religious instruction, and anyone who is acquainted with Ireland knows that that is a radical misstatement of the working of the whole system. But in other respects, as regards all other aspects of the working of the system, I need hardly say, in fact Members of this House know, that the system is open to criticism all along the line, and it is perfectly true, as was stated by one or two hon. Members, that the first work, or at all events an early-work of the Irish Government would be, I hope, to recast the system of education in Ireland from top to bottom. It is one of the great causes which has made us so anxious to see the hands of the Irish people set free by a system of self-government. It is an extraordinary proposition on the very eve of that system of self-government, under the guise of an innocent Amendment of this character to revolutionise the whole system of Irish education. What really made me rise, under some difficulty, to take part in this Debate is to ask hon. Members who have championed the cause of the national teachers whether they have any mandate. Have the rational teachers of Ireland who, recollect, are a highly organised body, with an executive which certainly, whatever its faults may be, never neglected the interests of their constituents, approached hon. Members or authorised them to put before the House any claim on behalf of the national teachers of Ireland to be protected against the Irish Parliament?
§ Mr. DILLON
I do not quite understand the bearing of that observation, but if the hon. and gallant Gentleman means to-imply that the national teachers of Ireland and their organisation are afraid of us or are afraid to place their claims, 133 whatever they may be, before the public in this House, I repudiate the statement. The national teachers of Ireland have never been afraid to place their claims before the public and they certainly are not afraid of placing their claims before the Nationalist Members. [An HON. MEMBER: "Or Unionist Members."] I quite agree. It is one of the subjects on which we have always co-operated, and the amazing spectacle has been presented of the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself co-operating with the Nationalist party when it is a question of the rights and grievances of the national teachers. But I repeat the question: Have the National teachers or their authorised executive approached any Member of the party above the Gangway with a request to protect their interests. Every body of Civil servants in the country whose case has been met by the Clause in the Bill and the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman have approached the Government, and they have approached the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond)—I have no doubt they have approached the hon. and gallant Gentleman also and they have stated their grievances and debated them. But the national teachers, so far as I know, have not approached any section of tins House or claimed any protection, and is it not a rather extraordinary proceeding that hon. Members above the Gangway should force upon the national teachers, or seem to force upon them, a protection which they have not demanded?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. DILLON
This is no money at all. If the hon. Baronet is so very anxious to grant money to the national teachers I wish be had helped us any time during the last five years when we were demanding money for them. This is not money. It is a case of protection against the Irish national Government and the teachers of Ireland do not want protection against the Irish national Government. They are quite willing to entrust their fate and fortunes to a national Government in Ireland and, as far as I know the Irish teachers, they expect better treatment from a national Government that is to come than from the Board under which they are now living. Hon. Members spoke of the present tenure of the teachers. I know that the appointment and tenure of the teachers is a matter of some debate, but 134 I would like to remind hon. Members that the most glaring case of grievance which the teachers have in Ireland is not the question of dismissal by the managers, but the question of dismissal by the Government Board. There is a far more bitter feeling among the teachers in regard to that than in regard to dismissal by the managers during the last thirty years. What does this Amendment propose to do? It proposes to transfer by way of protecting the teachers their control to the Irish Government. I do not quite see at the moment, taking the same point of view as hon. Members above the Gangway, how that would protect them. There is one other subject on which I desire to say a word, and that is the question of the Irish language, which was touched upon by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London. He intimated that at least a section of the teachers might reasonably claim this protection because of their alarm that, forsooth, the Irish Government might pass a law or make a rule that every teacher in Ireland should teach Irish, and should be dismissed if ho did not teach that language. I am not quite sure that this Amendment would protect him against such a rule as that. All I can say is that, while the subject might be debated in an Irish Parliament, I do not in the least anticipate any such oppressive regulation will ever be passed. What I have got to say is that, so far as I am concerned myself—and I know that I speak for a very large proportion of Nationalists in Ireland—if a proposal of that character were made it would unquestionably split up the Nationalist forces, and some of the hon. and gallant Member's friends from the North would find themselves in a majority.
§ Mr. DILLON
I am quite certain of it. I do not suppose the hon. and gallant Member will be in the Irish Parliament, but those who share his views would find themselves in the majority. This is part and parcel of the assumption running through the whole of these Debates that the Irish Parliament will do everything that is wicked, oppressive, and unreasonable. If that be so, the whole policy of Home Rule is wrong. But we do not assume that, and the party opposite have not gone on that assumption, or else they never would have brought in the Home Rule Bill. I say that the whole history of our people is against the assumption that 135 any rule so unreasonable and oppressive would be adopted, and even if it were possible—and I entirely disagree that it is possible—I do not see that this Amendment would be any substantial protection whatever. Therefore I return to what I started with. What is the real answer to all the arguments which have been made? The teachers have not asked for this protection, and an overwhelming majority of the Irish National teachers are quite prepared to submit themselves to, and to take their chance under the National Government. Let me refer to something that was said by the hon. and gallant Member who spoke earlier in this Debate. He referred lo an extraordinary manifesto published by the National Board in Dublin as to the necessities of national education. There was not one word in that manifesto in support of this Amendment. That manifesto never said that the teachers would be in danger of persecution, and it made no claim for the protection of the teachers. It said that national education required £350,000 of additional Grant. What has that got to do with this Amendment? If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had induced the Government to give £300,000 more for Irish education I should have been exceedingly glad, but I do not see what bearing that has on this Amendment. The national teachers repudiated the manifesto, and so far as their public utterances are on record they entirely refused to support it, although considerable pressure was brought to bear on them to speak out for it. Therefore that manifesto stands, not as an expression in support of the Amendment, or of any wish or opinion of the national teachers, but as an expression of the opinion of the Government Board in Ireland, four-fifths of whom are Unionists.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am quite willing to admit, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London suggested, that I did not fully grasp the general effect of the Amendment which was moved by the hon. Member for the University of London. I thought he was moving an Amendment similar to one moved in 1893, proposing to include principal teachers among the rank of Civil servants. I did not carry it much further than that, and I was content to give the reply that they are not Civil servants, and that to impose obligations and to make 13,000 teachers Civil servants was to put a far greater burden on the generosity exhibited by the 136 hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) than ought to be put upon it. It is one thing for the hon. and learned Member to say that he is quite prepared to pay out of Irish money the existing Civil servants, because he is anxious to keep in good heart and trim that large body of men who have existed in Ireland and done their work fairly well, but it is another thing to say that he would be willing to apply the somewhat meagre resources of Ireland to persons who are not Civil servants at the present moment. I think it is only fair to the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that while he assumes the burden he is prepared to assume, because it is an existing burden, it seems to me to be reading too much into his statement to say he is willing to enlarge that, and to put upon the resources of Ireland I do not know how many thousand pounds to pay for those who are not Civil servants at present. I was astounded at the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the. Member for the City of London. If there was one man in the world, except perhaps myself, who was fully impressed and obsessed with the necessity of preserving to the managers under the denominational system the appointment and dismissal of teachers it was the right hon. Gentleman. It is because in Ireland they have had the appointment and dismissal of the teachers that the whole of the religious difficulty has been removed. They have got: an undenominational system, if you like, and they have built up on that a denominational system. The essence of the denominational system is that in order to obtain the happiness of the teachers and of the children attending the schools, the managers should repose in the hands of teachers in whom they have confidence the work of education, and that the managers should have the power of dismissing them.
I was overwhelmed when I found that the effect of this Amendment would be to grapple with that thorny subject of education. I hope the Irish Government will grapple with it, but, if they are wise, they will look about a good long time before they place on the Table of the Irish House of Commons an Education Bill. I think they will require to exercise great caution, and being, as they all are, denominationalists at heart, I do not imagine that any measure they do bring forward will strike a blow at the denominational system, although I hope they will be able to give the teachers some better security than they have got at the present moment. 137 I do not speak as such a determined denominationalist an all that, although I may say I am a little infected with that heresy. I am not an out-and-outer, and I do not anticipate that when the Irish party come into their own and deal with this vexed question of Irish education they will put on the Table of the House of Commons a Dr. Clifford kind of Bill. It is because I wish them to manage their own affairs without the introduction of English Nonconformity or English Churchism that I rejoice to think they will be able—at all events, I hope they will be able—to deal with this important question. I am not concerned with that. I am concerned with the effect of this Amendment. The effect of it would be to interfere with the present system all of a sudden. I have lived in the atmosphere of the national school teachers all the time I have been in Ireland, and I hope I have been able to do something for them. The effect of the Amendment came upon me as a surprise. I did not for the moment conceive it possible that at once upon this Bill becoming law the denominational system in Ireland should receive the blow it would receive if the power for the dismissal of teachers was taken from the managers and handed over to the Lord Lieutenant—any Lord Lieutenant who has been held up to ridicule by the party opposite. While the Irish Parliament was deliberating for years as to the sort of Bill they were going to produce to deal with this vexed question, all that time the power of dismissing the principal teachers in every school in Ireland—Catholic or Protestant, it matters not—was to be with the Lord Lieutenant. It would upset the denominational system and introduce without consideration a very controversial portion of the Education Bill without the other portions, and it would place the Irish Government in a very difficult position. Therefore, I really do not think that the hon. Gentleman opposite can have fully realised the effect of the Amendment. He showed some little nervousness, and thought that perhaps the Amendment was not quite the right one. He asked me to consider it. Well, I have considered it, and the conclusion I have arrived at is that I would not touch it. I am not going to touch an Amendment which takes away from the managers of every school in Ireland the power of dismissing their teachers.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
With great respect, I think you will find that that is not so. The Section which we are discussing puts every person who is an Irish officer for the purposes of this Section under the class of persons who are removable by the Lord Lieutenant, and it cannot be out of order to move that certain individuals are to be deemed Irish officers or Civil servants for the purpose of this Section, and the fact that other consequences flow from it is due to the faulty drafting of the Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Member for the City has argued it wholly on the other ground, but when presented this way it is quite outside the scope of this Bill. There is a formal alteration in Irish education. The right hon. Gentleman then raised the questions whether they should be included as Civil servants or not.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The effect of this Amendment if carried is that the Lord Lieutenant would have this power of dismissing the principal teachers from the schools of Ireland. That is at once to introduce an Education Bill into a Home Rule Bill, because it would deprive the managers of the right inherent in the denominational system, to which enormous importance is attached by those who support that system.
The light hon. Gentleman appears to think that I want to alter the Irish system. All I want is to secure that nothing should be done in case of any alteration of the Irish system by the Irish Parliament, which would inflict a wide spread injury on a great body of deserving men.
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I do not quarrel with that for a moment, but I am compelled to consider the Amendment, and this Amendment would have the effect at once, without waiting to see what the Trish Parliament were going to do, of handing over to the Lord Lieutenant, in his capacity as representative of the Irish Executive, the power of dismissal of all these men. That, would upset—pendente lite if you like, until something else is done which might be worse or better—the education system of Ireland. To that I can be no party, because I value more than I ought to value, more than I ought to say, the way in which that educational system at present works. Of all the trouble which a Chief Secretary might be expected to be exposed to corning from England, the greatest would be that he would have to look into all sorts of petty disputes about conscience 139 Clauses and interference with religious liberty. No such thing exists so far as Ireland is concerned. It is a perfect Heaven in that respect, and this Amendment would upset that state of affairs. The consequences of the Amendment must therefore rule it out altogether. I fall back now upon the ground that the object of this Bill is not in any way to reinforce the ranks of Civil servants; it is to do justice to all who are already in the Civil Service. To say that because two hundred model teachers in thirty model schools in Ireland, for reasons which were given by Lord Morley a long time ago, were differentiated from national school teachers and are Civil servants under a standard by themselves in schools outside the general national scheme of education, there fore at one sudden swoop you are to make Civil servants the 13,000 people who are outside the whole scope of the Bill is a suggestion that I could not accept. Though there may be reasons for making the national teachers Civil servants when the whole expense is paid out of Government funds, I am afraid of what would happen if you suggested a school rate in Ireland. But supposing you were to get a school rate in Ireland——
§ Mr. BONAR LAW: The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Birrell) is fond of giving lectures of a kind, and it is a new form of that entertainment which he has just offered us. I listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend in presenting his case, which I thought was unanswerable from his point of view that certain men for whom we were responsible ran a risk of being unfairly treated. When the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. Dillon) got up, as I thought to answer the speech of my right hon. Friend, every word he said, with the exception of a statement to which I shall refer, confirmed the view that these men are in fact Civil servants because they are paid by this House and under the control of the Government set up by this House. The hon. Member for Mayo says that he looks forward to the time when one of the first acts of the new Parliament would be to upset the Irish education system from top to bottom. Is not it quite obvious—without there being any question or suggestion of unfairness—that if you do upset the system from top to bottom, the effect of that might be to deprive a great many of these people from their employment, of which they would not be deprived if the 140 conditions are to remain the same as they are now? If that is so, it seems to me that we have a responsibility towards these persons. The right hon. Gentleman fell back on purely technical grounds. First of all, he did not realise what the effect of the Bill on the Amendment was. When the technical nature of his objection was pointed out he said he would look at nothing else in connection with the matter. That objection is purely technical and due to the way in which the Bill was drafted. We do not pin ourselves to having the Amendment in this precise form; but it is the fact that a subsequent Amendment of two or three words would do away with all the technical evils of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. The real object of the Amendment is this: We are engaged in dealing with a body of men working under conditions imposed by this House. We are going to upset those conditions. If we make it probable that many of them would lose their employment, are we not bound to protect them from such consequences? I confess that the second statement made by the hon. Member (Mr. Dillon) did seem to me to be very important. He said that national teachers are quite satisfied. If that is so, I have nothing further to say. That answers the whole thing. But how do we know that they are quite satisfied?