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Ireland—Primary Education

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 30 June 1870

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said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, considering that the Report and Evidence by the Royal Commissioners of Irish Primary Education has been yet only partially issued, viz., volumes 1 to 5, consisting of 3,487 pages (volumes 6, 7, and 8, and the addenda to vol. 1 not having been yet completed), and the importance and difficulty of the subject, the Government will state that they have no intention of altering the present system in the next Session of Parliament; and, in the event of such being the case, whether they will take into immediate consideration the present inadequate remuneration of the national schoolteachers in Ireland?

The hon. Gentleman, Sir, has not stated the whole strength of his case in putting this Question, for he has omitted that portion of it in which he points out that the portion of the Evidence taken before the Royal Commissioners on Primary Education in Ireland, published, amounted to 3,487 pages, and that a considerable portion still remained unpublished. The last portion of their Evidence delivered I nave not seen, and I have not even read those 3,487 pages. At the present, therefore, I am little wiser for the labour of this Commission. At the same time, although, the Commission was not appointed by the present Government, nor in consonance with the views which we entertained, yet it is the duty of the Government to pay respectful attention to the recommendations of those Commissioners so soon as we shall have an opportunity of doing so. Under these circumstances, I am not able to give the hon. Baronet any assurance on the subject except this—that I have no present intention of making a proposal to the House on the subject of Irish National Education. The practical question of the hon. Baronet I presume is whether there cannot be any immediate review or consideration of the recommendations of that Commission, and if we shall consent to proceed to consider separately the present inadequate remuneration of the Irish school teachers. With regard to that subject, we think it would not be expedient to make any proposal to Parliament at the present time. The question is so mixed up with the whole machinery of the system of education—there are so many rules and regulations and so many expedients that may be brought to bear upon the subject of education with regard to the mode of providing the funds by which it is to be carried on—that we do not think it would be prudent to make a proposal with regard to the salaries of the national schoolmasters until we shall have an opportunity of considering the whole subject. I am not prepared to state the course we may then adopt; but it will be such as we think will be consonant with justice.