HL Deb 08 August 1904 vol 139 cc1325-7

I beg to ask His Majesty's Government the following the Questions:—(1) Whether, having regard to the fact that the staff in many Irish national schools of between forty to fifty-nine children is inadequate, when compared with similarly circumstanced schools in England, His Majesty's Government have advised, and, if not, whether they are prepared to advise, the Commissioners of National Education to amend Rule No. 103 of their "Rules and Regulations," which shows the maximum "Staff of Assistants" at present recognised in national schools; (2) How soon the reduction of the average attendance from sixty to fifty children qualifying an assistant teacher in Irish national schools will come into operation; (3) Whether provision will be made for effecting the reduction of the present average attendance of children required for a second assistant teacher. The first two Questions do not, I think, call for any special remarks. As regards the third Question, however, I should like to call your Lordships' attention to page 141 of the Appendix to the 69th Report of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland for the year 1902. In the General Report on Limerick Circuit, by Mr. Dalton, the senior inspector, we read— It is to be remembered, of course, that the erection of a school-house by means of a Government grant is frequently a big undertaking. It sometimes happens that several years have to be spent in wearisome negotiations about sites and titles with landlords, tenants, agents, Courts, trustees, mortgages, et hoc genus omne. When, eventually, the case is put into official form, legal obstacles of one kind or another are prone to spring up quite unexpectedly, and to prolong indefinitely the inevitable period of correspondence and inquiry that precedes the final and practical stage of the business. A few months ago I heard a manager congratulate himself on having brought to a successful issue a building application that had been reported on some two or three years before. At different times he was about abandoning the case in despair, so many and intricate were the legal difficulties with which it became entangled; but, by persevering tact and patience, he at last succeeded. Meantime the school children of the remote glens and mountains, for which the school is intended, have had to pass winter after winter in a draughty, dilapidated building that is almost uninhabitable. I beg to ask the Questions.


The Answer which I am informed is the proper one to the Questions is this. Rule 103 of the Commissioners' Code provides for the employment of an assistant teacher in schools with an average attendance of sixty pupils. The questions of reducing the average so as to enable an assistant to be employed in schools where the average has fallen to fifty has engaged the attention of the Government for some time past. It has been stated by my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary in another place that the question was one for consideration in connection with the Development Grant Estimate. A revised Estimate making provision for effecting this reduction will be issued without delay, but obviously the provision cannot operate until the Estimate has been voted by Parliament and the necessary funds placed at the disposal of the Commissioners. With reference to the third Question, it is not proposed to make provision for more than one assistant teacher in schools where the average attendance has fallen from sixty to fifty.


Do I understand the noble Lord to say it is not intended to make that provision?


It is not proposed to make such provision.