HL Deb 24 April 1883 vol 278 cc1008-10

said, he rose to move for Copy of Rule 1. of the Rules and Regulations of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland; to call attention to Papers (National Education, Ireland) ordered by the House of Lords to be printed, 1st March 1883; and to inquire when an answer may be expected to the Letter from the Earl of Longford to the Lord President of the Council, dated 9th November 1882? His Question had reference to the employment of nuns in religious dress in other than convent schools which were under the National Education Commissioners. He contended that, as the Rules of the Education Commissioners were at present constituted, members of religious communities wearing the dress described were not eligible as teachers, especially now that it was proposed to make school attendance compulsory; so that a Methodist or Presbyterian might find himself compelled, under a penalty, to send his children to a school conducted by a Sister of Mercy. He complained that neither the Lord Lieutenant nor the Lord President of the Council had officially answered the letters on the subject which he had addressed to them. Under these circumstances, he thought the best course of attracting public attention to the matter was by the course he had now taken; and he hoped that when an answer did reach him from the Government it would be more favourable to the views which he had on a former occasion expressed, and would be satisfactory, not only to himself, but to others, who, though by no means hostile to the system of National Education, desired to retain the existing Rules in their integrity.

Moved for, "Copy of Rule 1. of the Rules and Regulations of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland."—(The Earl of Longford.)


said, there was nothing new in the Question of the noble Earl, and he could only repeat the answer which he gave to him some weeks ago. On that occasion he answered the Question fully, and he had nothing to add to the substance of that answer. The National Commissioners, and also the Lord Lieutenant, were convinced that no Rule of the Board had been broken by the action or inaction of the National Commissioners, and that Rule 72, of which they had heard so much, had no relation to the dress of the teachers in the school. The noble Earl had rightly said that in the case of a workhouse school the connection of the National Commissioners with it was very slight indeed. They had nothing to do with the appointment of teachers; they could not revoke or even censure the teachers; and their only connection was that of supplying inspection. The only question with the National Commissioners, therefore, had been whether they were bound to strike the workhouse school referred to out of connection with the Board, simply because a nun taught in the school in religious dress. No Rule had been broken, however, in their judgment and in that of the Lord Lieutenant, by this fact; and they had not thought it their duty to strike the school off the list of schools in connection with the Board. He was very willing to say this, however—that this refusal did not in any way imply the adoption of any new policy with respect to the employment of nuns in the ordinary schools, and no such policy was contemplated by them. He admitted the complaint of the noble Earl that he had not officially answered his letter; but he did so in an informal way. He should be happy to give the noble Earl an official reply if he desired it. The answer of the Lord Lieutenant was contained in the last letter of the Correspondence which had taken place with the Lord Lieutenant and the National Commissioners, in which the Lord Lieutenant said—"He saw no reason to dissent from the view taken by the National Education Commissioners." That was the view of the Lord Lieutenant, and nothing had reached him since to induce him to alter that opinion.

Motion agreed to.

Copy ordered to be laid before the House.

House adjourned at half past Five o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter past Ten o'clock.