HC Deb 14 December 1916 vol 88 cc853-5

asked how many Irish teachers have been appointed to the commission of the peace; when was the first appointment made; on what grounds did the Commissioners of National Education come to the conclusion that to act as magistrates outside school hours was in contravention of Rule 88 (a); and whether the National Board are empowered to override the acts of the Lord Chancellor?


I am informed that eleven national school teachers have, so far as the Commissioners of National Education are aware, been appointed to the commission of the peace and that the first appointments were made in or about January, 1913. The Commissioners consider that the performance of the functions of a magistrate by a national school teacher, even outside school hours, is a contravention of Rule 88 (a) of the Code inasmuch as, in their judgment, it tends to impair the usefulness of a teacher by placing him in a position which may bring him into conflict with local parties and cause friction likely to injure the interests of his school. The Board cannot decide whether any citizen shall be made a magistrate, but they have large statutory powers and duties as to the teachers under their control.


asked what is the number of assistant teachers in Irish national schools from whom salary has been withdrawn since January, 1915, owing to a fall in the average attendance, and the number at present under notice by the National Board; whether, considering the exceptional conditions of the present, the need for labour, etc., all such teachers dispensed with since January, 1915, owing to a fall in the average attendance will be allowed to re-enter for the period of the War; and whether the condition of average attendance regulating the reduction of a principal teacher's salary will be annulled for the same period?

13. Mr. DEVLIN

asked whether, in view of the circumstances created by the War, he will support the recommendation of the Board of National Education in Ireland to the Treasury that the condition of average attendance of pupils should be suspended and ignored in all cases where it involves the dismissal of an assistant teacher or the reduction of the grade salary of a principal teacher?


I am informed that the number of cases in which grants have been withdrawn from assistant teachers in national schools in Ireland since 1st January, 1915, consequent upon the failure of the schools in which they were recognised to maintain the required average attendance of pupils is about eighty, and that the number of cases of withdrawal of grants from junior assistant mistresses within the same period for a like cause is about fifty-five. These figures include all the cases in which it became necessary to withdraw the grants on the return of attendance at the schools received up to the present date. It is not possible at present to state the number of cases in which it may be necessary to withdraw grants should the average attendance of pupils at the schools for the quarter ending 31st instant be inadequate. The application of the Commissioners of National Education for power to suspend during the War period the operation of rules requiring withdrawal or reduction of salary of teachers consequent upon a decline in the attendance of pupils, which they are satisfied is due to circumstances connected with the War, has been submitted to the Departments concerned. I am not able to publish the communications which take place in consultations between the Departments.


When may we expect the Treasury to give an answer to this request?


My hon. Friend asks me something I do not know.

14. Mr. DEVLIN

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whether he will consider the claims of the monitors and monitresses in the Irish national schools for the grant of the war bonus in view of the claims of this class of teachers for consideration in this connection?


Before the right hon. Gentleman replies to this question, may I call attention to the fact that the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Devlin) has fourteen questions on the Paper to-day, and that the members of his party have sixty-one questions, or nearly half the total number, and may I ask you whether you can take any steps, in consultation with the new Government, to prevent this terrible waste of time of permanent officials in answering a string of questions all of a purely trivial nature, -and which have little or nothing to do with the War?


The hon. Member is probably aware that by custom any hon. Member is entitled to put down as many as eight questions, and when we reach the ninth question of the hon. Member for West Belfast I am afraid that I shall have to pass it over.


Why was he left out of the Government?


As the hon. Member has made special reference to the number of questions that I have upon the Paper, I should like to point out that it is very rarely that I have more than one or two questions upon the Paper in a week, and I think it is somewhat strange that this objection should be raised by an hon. Member who occupies nearly half the time of the House. I have this further thing to say. Any questions I put down I put down in the public interest, and not for private gain.


And not for office.


Monitors and monitresses are not recognised by the Commissioners of National Education as members of the teaching staff, but as persons who are themselves under instruction and training for the office of teacher. In these circumstances there is no sufficient reason for a grant of a war bonus to them.

16. Mr. DEVLIN

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he will take steps to insure that the war bonus will be paid to the Irish national school teachers before Christmas, and that the system of monthly payment of salaries will be put in operation before then?


The payment of national school teachers on a monthly system has been brought into actual operation, and salaries for October and November as well as war bonus for the five months from July to November, 1916, will be paid before Christmas.