perhaps it would save time if I explained to the House that, with the exception of amendments Nos. 1 and 2, which I do not propose to accept, the other amendments are consequential; they are drafting amendments. I propose to accept them all, with the exception of amendments Nos. 1 and 2.
In Committee. - Children Bill, 1940—From the Seanad.
I presume that each amendment will be taken separately, and that the Minister will take the opportunity of explaining what they mean, which is not clear to the ordinary Deputy.
Amendment No. 2 is consequential on amendment No. 1.
What is the procedure?
They must be taken separately.
Does the Minister move that they be agreed with?
Yes, or disagreed to.
I move that the amendment be rejected. Is that the suggestion?
That the Committee do not agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 1.
I move that amendment No. 1 be not agreed to:—
1. Section 3. Before sub-section (2) a new sub-section inserted as follows:—
(2) The Minister shall, in particular, make regulations prescribing that no person shall be appointed to teach in a certified school save under the same conditions of service and remuneration and with the same qualifications as are required in the case of teachers in primary schools.
I have already explained to the House that owing to the exigencies of the emergency situation which has confronted the country since the outbreak of the war it has not been possible for us to implement the recommendation which the Government had accepted, to place the teachers of literary subjects in industrial and reformatory schools on the same basis as national teachers in ordinary primary schools. The position is that at the beginning of the war the Government set up an inter-departmental committee to examine the whole question of Government expenditure. This committee had before it representatives of the different Departments. Certain recommendations were made and accepted by the Government. One obvious recommendation that was made was that, unless in very exceptional circumstances, new expenditure should not be incurred. In accordance with this recommendation, the Government decided that, unless in very exceptional circumstances—and wherever that has occurred I think it has generally been in connection with the emergency situation itself—the Government would not embark on new lines of expenditure. As soon as the circumstances improve we hope to be able to honour this promise that we have given to the House very fully, but I do not think that at present we would be in a position to carry out the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Reformatory and Industrial Schools in this regard. The amendment on the Paper seeks to go further than the recommendations of the commission because it says:—
The Minister shall, in particular, make regulations prescribing that no person shall be appointed to teach in a certified school save under the same conditions of service and remuneration and with the same qualifications as are required in the case of teachers in primary schools.
It was not recommended by the commission nor contemplated at any time that all teachers, including teachers of trades, for example, should be placed on the same level. The recommendation merely referred to teachers of literary subjects. As I say, I do not think that the situation has improved. If anything, it has disimproved and, as the House is fully aware of our financial circumstances and the need for adopting every possible measure of economy, I think they will agree with me that it would be pressing the Government unduly to ask them to undertake the fulfilment of the commission's recommendation in this matter.
Only last week, I think, we had criticism of the Government's extravagance from the Leader of the Opposition. The Vote for the Office of the Minister for Education was criticised by him on the grounds of the increased expenditure, although I think the increase is not very great and can be explained on another occasion. But it was quoted as an example of extravagance. I think in that case the expenditure was largely unavoidable, arising from the usual increases under the heading of increments and bonus payments. But here is a new item of expenditure which we are now being asked to charge upon the Exchequer.
If this amendment had been proposed in the first instance in the Dáil, I take it, it would have been ruled out of order because motions embodying charges upon the public revenue or upon the public can only be moved in this House by a member of the Government. I think that is a useful and necessary provision in the Standing Orders and it is an additional reason why I cannot recommend the House to agree with the Seanad in this matter. But, quite apart from this rather important question of principle which arises, although I have the greatest sympathy with the case that has been made and I myself have given a promise that the recommendation would be implemented fully, I regret I am not in a position at present to say that that promise will be fulfilled, at any rate, completely fulfilled and, until circumstances improve, I do not think it is possible to say that it will be wholly fulfilled.
I did not know I would ever have to congratulate the Minister on possessing a sense of humour in this House in dealing with a serious matter like the case of these particularly badly-paid teachers but when a Minister comes before the House and tells us, quite solemnly, that some years ago a Departmental committee was set up, the purpose of which was to avoid increases in expenditure and cut down increases in expenditure, and gives that as a reason for evading a promise given by the Minister, given by his successor, and given by himself as a further successor, there is a complete lack of reality. This Departmental committee was set up to reduce expenditure. And what is the result? We saw it last week. Does anybody pretend that there has been a reduction of expenditure or that expenditure has been kept down? Apparently the only place where expenditure must not be incurred is in connection with a case that is admitted by a committee set up by the Minister himself as one requiring to be dealt with in barest justice. There is a refusal on the part of the Minister to fulfil a promise publicly given by himself, a week after we listened to the Budget statement, on the grounds that it will involve an increase of £30,000. I think that is the figure the Minister gave me. Perhaps the Minister would enlighten me in regard to that figure. I asked him on one occasion what roughly would be the cost. He said £29,000 or £30,000. Does that include all teachers or only teachers of literary subjects?
Only teachers of literary subjects.
£30,000 would be the sum involved in that. Is that correct?
I mean, roughly, £30,000. I will give him the benefit of the extra £1,000. After last week's Budget we need not fight over a small sum of that kind. Is the Minister serious in putting forward that as an excuse for not fulfilling his promise? In regard to the plea that, when things get better, he will think of fulfilling the promise, did he listen to his colleague, the Minister for Finance, last week, suggesting that things will get much worse? If he is not going to fulfil this promise why does he not face up to it and say: "I made that promise; we are not going to fulfil it"? Let us not at this time of the day make the excuse that it is because it involves the sum of £30,000, seeing the increase in practically every other service. Here is the case of men whom the Minister himself on more than one occasion, and whom the members of the commission set up by the Minister judged to be worthy of a proper status and a proper salary. That is an admission they are not getting a proper salary. They are a body of teachers doing a difficult, useful, exceptional type of work, but merely on the plea that money is not available, whilst money can be spent on officials of various kinds who may or may not be doing useful work—many of them, the new ones, possibly are not—he refuses to pay what he himself must admit is a proper salary to these people.
You may remember, Sir, that when we were on the Committee Stage of the Bill we got a very eloquent tribute in a few words from the Minister to the effect that the education given in these schools was quite as good as that in most secondary schools. Am I correct in that?
I said they were highly efficient.
The comparison was with the boarding schools of the secondary type, and the Minister said that the education was quite as good in these schools. I do not say that he meant that it was the same grade of education, but he said that it was quite as good. Yet he refuses to meet this claim on two grounds, one being the rate of expenditure to which the country is already committed. By how many million pounds has expenditure gone up since he made the promise—£30,000, £300,000 £3,000,000, £6,000,000? By how many million pounds has it increased? Apparently the Government can find money for most other things, but not for meeting this plain demand of justice.
The other ground he gave us was even still more amusing—the point of order. A member of the present Government being upset because Parliamentary institutions are being interfered with! You know, there is an element of humour in that. It was the business of the Minister, I gathered, to propose amendments involving increased expenditure. I am very glad the Seanad has given us an opportunity of doing what the Minister would not give us an opportunity of doing, namely, an opportunity of discussing this amendment. The Minister obviously does realise that the only way in which the amendment can be implemented is by the Government taking on the expense. That, Sir, is the whole burthen of the argument.
He refuses to take the powers that the Bill gives him because he knows perfectly well that, without Government help, the schools will not be in a position to pay proper salaries to these teachers and he has drawn, quite rightly, the obvious conclusion that, therefore, the Government will have to foot the bill. That I take it is the burthen of his speech and it is to that I am replying.
I fail to see that he has made the slightest case for his failure to impress on the Government the necessity for this expenditure. I put it to you, Sir, that he cannot shoulder off responsibility on this inter-departmental committee that has been so effective in keeping down the expenditure of the various Departments. Here is a case, as I say, in which the justice of the claim is admitted. Is it because of the type of children that are being dealt with? Is it thought by the Minister— surely not, I give him the credit of saying that he does not hold such a viewpoint, but is it not the logical conclusion from the line he has taken whatever may be his views?—that these children are really not as entitled to get as good an education as ordinary children or that, if they get it, their teachers will not be paid the same as other teachers are paid? Surely the Minister will admit that these teachers are dealing with a particularly difficult type of child—children some of whom have rather vicious habits and are difficult to deal with and others of whom, through no fault of themselves or of their parents, have suffered a certain amount of neglect? They are children in whose case the greatest care should be exercised, and I believe is being exercised, by the schools. Is it a proper return to the men who are doing this exceptionally difficult type of work, more difficult in more respects than the work of teachers in other schools who are better paid, that they should now have hopes that were held out to them by the report of the commission and by the express promise of the Minister unfulfilled? Is that fair treatment for men who are giving that kind of service?
As I say, the Minister quite obviously in the case he has put up, does realise that the schools in their present position cannot possibly meet the just demands for a proper salary for these teachers. Yet he comes forward, a member of the Government that has imposed millions of expenditure since the promise was made, to resist the amendment on the ground that it would involve an expenditure of £30,000. Surely, there is no validity whatever in that argument?
I presume the Minister is quite well aware of a number of things—the high praise that has been given to the work which these men perform in these schools, the rather, undoubtedly, distressing financial position in which they find themselves, the amount of time that they have to give not merely to ordinary teaching in these schools but to the supervision of the boys outside schools hours. He is not, I presume, for a moment suggesting that the lives of these teachers are easier than those of national teachers in the primary schools. So far as I know, the duties imposed upon them are heavier, because in addition to the ordinary teaching work they have to do supervision work as well.
In some ways, though I do not wish at all to diminish the importance of the work done by the heads and the authorities of these schools, to a greater extent than in some other schools the formation of the character of the children is in the hands of these teachers. They are more continually under the eyes of the teachers. Not merely are they obliged to teach them literary subjects and ordinary national school subjects, but to a greater extent than in other schools, because the opportunity is there and the necessity is there, they are entrusted with the still more important task of being responsible for the part-formation of the character of these difficult young people. Is it fair, either to the teachers or to the pupils who are sent to the schools, that those who are responsible for the education of these children and, in part, for the formation of the character of these children, should be treated in the way in which the Minister is now treating them?
What evidence have we that he has, knowing that no ordinary Deputy could propose an amendment of this kind, fought the Department of Finance in this matter? Apparently, other Departments can successfully fight the Department of Finance and send our expenditure sky-rocketing. Why has not the Department of Finance been fought in this case? The Minister himself, on more than one occasion, acknowledged the justice of the claim. He paid tribute to the high character of the work performed. The Taoiseach, when Minister for Education, did not deny the justice of the claim. He simply fobbed the business off until better times. Then, we are told by the Minister's colleagues that we may whistle for better times so for as finance is concerned. Is it any comfort to those people to know that a promise was made and that, if the financial stringency passes, though the promise may not be completely kept, some portion of it will be kept? How many of them will be alive to enjoy the fulfilment of that promise, whatever Minister for Education be in office, if that line is to be followed? Surely, the Minister might have utilised the passing of this amendment by the Seanad to secure justice for these teachers. That was, apparently, the wish of a number of Parties in the Seanad, because some members of that body voted against the amendment because the Minister opposed it. In that House, there was a majority which recognised the justice of this claim. Could not the Minister in the meantime have utilised that expression of opinion on that part of the Seanad to secure the necessary adjustment from the Government which has no hesitation in spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on other branches of effort? It is not all spent on defence, either.
From virtually early morning until late at night, with only a few breaks and with not many days' holidays, these men are on duty. Yet, what is their pay? Indoor, possibly couple of pounds a week. Outdoor, possibly twice as much. Does the Minister really stand for ignoring the claim of these people to a just salary? They are doing work acknowledged by the Minister to be highly efficient. It is put by him on a level with the work accomplished in some of our best secondary schools and better than the work in some of our secondary schools. Yet, he will not bring sufficient pressure to bear on the Government to secure that these teachers are properly paid.
Instead of regretting the indiscretion of the Seanad in giving us an opportunity to discuss this amendment, which we could not put down ourselves, I feel greateful to the Seanad for giving us an opportunity of getting some justification from the Minister for the attitude he has taken up. I repeat that a hundred times the amount of money involved has been added to our expenses since the Minister made the promise to which I have referred. Yet no effort was made by him or his various and varied successors to carry out that promise.
This amendment was passed by the Seanad before Easter and the Minister has had the terms of it before him since then. I was very disappointed to hear from the Minister to-night simply a blank refusal to implement the terms of the amendment. I had hoped that, since the passing of the amendment, the Minister would have thought out some way of meeting the case of the lay teachers of literary subjects in those schools. I think I am right in saying that the Minister is as well aware of the conditions obtaining in those schools as is any other member of the House. The conditions of service in some of these schools were referred to by Deputy O'Sullivan.
I should like to avail of the opportunity again to ask the Minister to take some cognisance of the conditions of service of teachers in a particular school—Artane. Even if the Minister is not able to remunerate those teachers fully and properly, I cannot see why he has not power to secure that their conditions approximate to the working conditions of even an agricultural labourer, who is supposed to be the lowliest-paid member of this community. I referred to those conditions before. Deputy O'Sullivan has referred to them to-night. These lay teachers work from 6.20 in the morning until 9.30 at night, with a few miserable breaks during the day. In other words, they have no day to themselves out of the seven days of the week. That goes on without a break for the whole year, with the exception of a few weeks' holidays. Surely that should be the concern of the Minister for Education. I also ask him to inquire into the conditions of lay teachers of primary subjects in the Greenmount Industrial School, run by the Presentation Brothers. He will find that these teachers get the minimum salary of the ordinary primary teacher. He will also learn that these teachers work from 9 O'clock in the morning until 12, when there is a break. They resume work from 3 to 6, and then are completely finished. Why cannot this wonderful institution in Artane do something in the way of relating those conditions to their teachers? Members of the Fianna Fáil Party know the conditions of service of these teachers. They are not constituents of mine but I have sympathy with them owing to the conditions under which they work. They are constituents of some Fianna Fáil Deputies, who could tell the Minister the conditions as well as I can. Surely, we should not sit dumb in this House while such things obtain in this great Christian institution?
The Minister told us that no new expenditure should be incurred, on the dictum of the inter-departmental committee. I wonder if that dictum was fully observed in every Department of State? Why are these unfortunate teachers singled out for economy, despite the fact that we have the Minister's own promise in this House—a promise not wrung from him but freely given—that their conditions would be improved? I am disappointed that the Minister has not, in some way, shown sympathy with these teachers in the conditions under which they work by making some gesture towards the implementation of the principle enshrined in this amendment.
I would commend to him—and it may be a way out—that these lay teachers be paid in those schools as the lay teachers are in capitation schools. I do not think there is any insuperable difficulty about the matter, if the Minister is anxious to redeem his promise within a reasonable time; but if he still tells us that the time for the redemption of this promise is when better financial times come in this country, I am afraid it will be Tibb's eve before we reach a solution. I make the suggestion to the Minister that if he is not in a position to go the whole way—and I think the whole way means £29,000, and means all teachers of literary subjects, lay and religious— he should go half-way and meet the case by recognising these teachers as the lay teachers are recognised in capitation schools—and there are hundreds of them in this country. I do not see any great difficulty in going that far, if the Minister is really anxious about the fulfilment of his promise.
In addition to the conditions which I have mentioned, the lay teachers in these schools have no security of tenure. As a matter of fact, since I spoke of those schools previously in this House, their conditions have been much worsened by the authorities. Where are Christian principles and Christian charity and all the other things we talk about during this fiftieth anniversary ofRerum Novarum? I say to the Minister very definitely that his job does not end by sending the children to these schools and by sending inspectors there. His inspectors tell him that the teachers in these schools are doing good work. The Minister-himself, speaking of the residential secondary schools, said that good work was being done there. I agree with him in that. He should go a little further and see under what conditions they are endeavouring to do that work. As I say, they have no security of tenure and have no pension rights. No matter how long an unfortunate man works in these schools, at the end of his time— and he does not get a very princely salary to make any provision for his old age—he has no pension rights. He has no right to say to the State, as the ordinary primary teacher can, as the Minister himself can: “I have given service to the State and I am entitled to some remuneration now in my declining years, as a reward for that service.” These men have no such rights.
Deputy O'Sullivan raised another point which I would like to emphasise —that is, that the children in those schools are as entitled to have teachers teaching them without the worries of bad conditions, bad remuneration, and bad terms of service, as the children in any other category in the State, as, for example, the students in the universities. They are part and parcel of this community, and I do not see why they should be segregated into a class and, in other words, told that any kind of teacher of any kind of education would suffice.
That does not apply to the universities. With all due respect to some members of the House, the university professors are pretty well paid; they do not work long hours. The students feel they are entitled to that kind. I submit that these children in industrial schools are Irish children—part and parcel of the Irish nation—and certainly the teachers should have the very same conditions, remuneration, and terms of service as the teachers in the primary schools. That is not a very big thing to ask. Therefore, I may say that I am specially greateful to the Seanad for giving us an opportunity to discuss this very important question. I tried to get something in about the conditions in Artane Industrial School in the Children Bill—in a kind of underhand fashion, I think—but I wish now to say, definately, that I am supporting this amendment. Unless we can get from the Minister some intimation that he will consider, and in some fashion implement, the principle therein, I intend to call for a division upon the amendment.
Ba mhaith liom cabhair ins an mBille seo do thabhairt do sna Teachtaí O Suilleabháin agus O hIarlatha. Tá na múinteoirí ins na scoileanna so ag obair fé gheasa cruadha. Tamall ó shoin bhíos ag obair i scoil den tsaghas so agus do chaith mé ann an tréimhse ba dheacra dom shaol, mar sin tá eolas maith ag cuid againn ar shaol na múinteoirí ann. Is dóigh liom féin gur náireach an mhaise é do lucht cheannais no scoileanna so an tsaghas saoil atá ag na múinteorí ann.
Aontuím leis an Teachta O hIarlatha gur ceart dúinn do thabhairt do sna buachaillí agus na cailíní ins na scoileanna seo an saol céanna agus atá ag lucht na meán-scoil agus na n-ollscoil. Bhíos, mar adubhairt cheana, ar feadh tamaill i scoil den tsaghas san. Bhíos ann timpeal a sé a chlog agus thosnuíos ag múineadh timpeal le leath-huair tar éis an sé. Lean mé gan ach sos uaire a chluig, b'fhéidir, anois agus arís. Mar adubhairt an Teachta O hIarlatha, bhí orainn leanúint go dtí an oíche. Ní raibh lá saoire ar bith againn ach ag obair ó mhaidin go meán oíche.
Tá ins na scoileanna so múinteoirí atá oilte ar mhúinteoireacht agus a chuaidh fé theagasc i gColáiste Ullmhúcháin agus i gColáiste Tréanála. Sin sé bliana fé chúram an Stáit. Admhuím go bhfuil múinteoirí áirithe ann ná fuair an teagasc san ach, ar aon chuma, ní féidir liomsa dhéanamh amach conus a dheineann an Roinn agus an tAire an difríocht seo idir an dá shaghas múinteoireachta. Gheibheann múinteoir post i meán-scoil, agus buachaill eile—a fuair an t-oideachas céanna i scoil ullmhúcháin—gheibheann sé post i scoil mar seo agus tá a mhalairt de thuarastal a fháil aige. Tá cúram níos mó aige agus tuarastal i bhad níos lugha aige.
Deinim-se achuinge ar an Aire árdú éigín do thabhairt do sna múinteoirí oilte atá ins na scoileanna so. Mar adubhairt an Teachta O hIarlatha, tá na dílleachtaí ag braith ar an Stát agus ar an Riaghaltas. Tá cuid aca gan athair nó máthair, agus ba cheart don Aire bheith ina athair agus máthair dóibh, agus cúram a thabhairt dóibh.
Tá súil agam ná beidh vótáil ar an gceist seo, ach má bhíonn tá a fhios agam céard a dhéanfad. Deinim achuinge ar an Aire feabhas éigin do chur ar an sgéal agus an feabhas san do chur anocht.
The case that the Minister endeavoured to make against the acceptance of this amendment from the Seanad cannot possibly carry conviction to anyone and, least of all, I think, to the Minister himself. Listening to the Minister's halting explanation of the Government's case against the amendment would lead to only one conclusion that he was entirely against the case he was endeavouring to make. The case that he appeared to make was to recognise to the full that the teachers, who are the subject of this amendment, had an unanswerable case; that they were working under such conditions as called for amelioration, and that such conditions required immediate State aid, but that by reason of the exceptional financial circumstances in which we are at present it was impossible for the State to give that aid. As I understood the Minister that was his case. He admitted the right of the teachers and what they asked for. He also admitted the justice of the amendment inserted by the Seanad, and his only justification for refusing to give effect to the amendment was the financial condition of the country. He called as an aid to his case the fact that the Leader of the Opposition had within the past few days criticised the Government for their extravagance. No criticism ever came from this side of the House against any effort made by the Government to give effect to the principle that the labourer is worthy of his hire. It appears to be quite clear that these men are not getting the value of their hire. They are doing arduous work under very difficult conditions. They are employed by institutions carried on by religious bodies and are doing work that would have to be done by the State if these religious bodies did not come in and do that work on behalf of the State.
If the Christian Brothers were not carrying on the industrial school at Artane, and if no other religious institutions took upon themselves the voluntary burden of carrying on such institutions, it must be admitted that the State would have to provide the entire personnel to carry on somewhat similar institutions. In justice to the Brothers who are carrying on that work at Artane, it must be said that it is not entirely their fault that the lay teachers employed by them are living under very enerous conditions, and carrying on their profession in such difficult circumstances. The Brothers are doing voluntary work there and they are almost, if not entirely, dependent on the grants they obtain from the State. If the supply does not exceed the demand their revenue falls, and they are not in a position to carry on the work without going into debt. The institution at Artane is a big one, requiring very heavy overhead expenses, and has to be sustained irrespective of the number of pupils in it. The evil of this particular grievance of the teachers can really be traced to the system. These industrial schools are dependent, in the first place, on the number of pupils that are in them. If the number of pupils falls their revenue from the State falls. Consequently, they are dependent entirely on the supply of unfortunate children sent to these schools.
If these children were not, through circumstances over which they have no control, sent to these institutions, in the normal course they would be at public primary schools. I understand that by far the greater percentage of pupils in these institutions are children who have no sort of moral blame or delinquency attached to them in any way. The number of children sent to industrial schools by district justices for so-called moral offences is very small, compared to the number of pupils in the institutions, and the residue of the children are there by reason of misfortune, destitution, loss of parents or causes of that kind. If such misfortunes had not overcome these children, they would be pupils of ordinary primary schools and the State would have to bear the expense of providing them with free elementary education. To that extent the religious orders carrying on industrial schools do so in ease of the taxpayer. When we find that the annual amount of money involved is only £29,000 it must be admitted that that is a relatively small sum to find even in present circumstances. I cannot see weight or force in the Minister's argument, even if taxation is so high, that the Government is not in a position to raise any more money or to find this relatively small sum of £30,000 to remedy this grievance.
Some four or five years ago the Commission on Industrial Schools reported and recommended that the grievances of teachers in industrial schools should be remedied. I understand that recommendation was accepted by the Government. It must have been accepted at least two or three years before the war, or the present emergency arose. What was the justification for the delay during that period? It would seem to any person looking at the question objectively, that in order to justify the Government's refusal to honour the pledge to the teachers and the recommendation of the committee they are merely seizing on the present emergency as an excuse for not fulfilling that promise. That fact is reinforced when we consider that it was only last year an Act was passed dealing with the Institute of Higher Education. I do not wish to say anything derogatory to the Institute of Higher Education, or Advanced Studies as it is called, or to impugn the motives of those who promoted that particular institution.
Primary education comes first; it is of much more importance than advanced studies, and it would have been far preferable if the Government carried out last year, during the emergency, the promise made to these teachers and granted them security of tenure, fair wages and proper conditions rather than initiate this proposal for an Institute of Advanced Studies. The Estimate for the Institute of Advanced Studies this year amounted to £16,800, nearly £17,000. If it is possible to get that money from the taxpayers, surely we could easily, for a year or two, until after the war, have done without an Institute of Advanced Studies in order to do what is admitted by all Parties to be ordinary justice to these people?
We heard recently some little talk about the Constitution. The opinion is rapidly growing, and it is being reinforced, that this Constitution is nothing but a collection of verbiage. Whenever its principles, as set down here with such detail and with so much solemnity, come to be given practical effect to, we find in every instance that the spirit, if not the very letter, is ignored. Article 42 of the Constitution comprises five paragraphs dealing with the right of children to primary education. In Clause 4 of this Article we find that the Constitution imposes upon the State the obligation to provide free primary education. According to Article 5, in exceptional cases provision is made that where parents, for physical or moral reasons, fail in their duty towards their children, the State, as guardian of the common good, shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents.
Article 42 of the Constitution, if it means anything, means this: that every child Irish citizen has the right to free primary education, and every child Irish citizen who has the misfortune, if I may use that expression, of having to go to an industrial school, has not merely the right to that free primary education, but he has the super-added right under this Constitution, if it means anything, that the State shall act as his parent and take the place of the parent who is either dead or useless, by reason of moral delinquency. By being sent, through circumstances over which he has no control, to an industrial school, no child loses his Constitutional right to free primary education, and he ought not to lose, if this Constitution means anything, the super-added right that, where circumstances have deprived him of the guardianship and the guidance and direction of the parents, the State should, by reason of the Constitutional obligation that is imposed upon it, actin loco parentis.
Apply these somewhat high-sounding phrases to be found in Article 42 to the conditions in industrial schools, and there is no answer to this amendment of the Seanad. It is no answer to say that we cannot find the £30,000. We are providing for primary education in this country £3,761,012. Of that very impressive figure the sum of £3,287,100 is provided for teachers of primary schools. What is a sum of £30,000 compared with £3,287,100? It is a mere drop in the ocean. This is the only thing left, so far as I know, to complete the organisation of primary education in this country. These children in industrial schools are supposed to get primary education—that is their Constitutional right. If they are not getting it, the State is failing in its duty. If they are getting primary education, it is the duty of the State, under the Constitution, to provide the means by which they will get that efficiently.
It is recognised that the only efficient means of giving primary education is through the system of national education. What case can there be made against the completion of that system by giving these teachers their proper conditions of salary, and the pupils whom they teach, proper teachers, satisfied teachers, labourers who are getting the worth of their hire?
I think it might be taken into account that the Seanad passed this amendment in spite of Government opposition. A case was made in the Seanad so strong that it overcame even Party prejudices in that House, and this amendment was passed in the teeth of Government appeals by members of practically all Parties in the Seanad. If the justice of the case could so convince the various Parties in the Seanad, I think it is not even yet too late for the justice of the case to convince the Government.
I have listened carefully to what has been said in this debate. I have the greatest sympathy for these teachers, and I hope that the Minister will go as far as it is possible to go when considering the position of these teachers. So far as I know, this grievance is as old as the State. The Artane school existed and functioned during the last Government's period of office, yet no step was taken in those days to adjust this grievance. I hope that the Minister will now be able to do something tangible or something equitable, not so much on behalf of those teachers as on behalf of the children they teach so well. Members of this House are, to some extent, guardians of those children, and are responsible for training them sufficiently to give them an ordinary chance in life. There are very few of us here, or amongst the community generally, who have not been from time to time gratified by the work these children have produced, by the music we have listened to. Looking at the matter from a general point of view, I take it that these children have been excellently trained. I am not so sure that all the teachers in this excellent concern are fully qualified teachers, but I certainly should like to include all the qualified teachers of that school and to ask the Minister to do whatever he thinks is possible, and certainly to do something that is just and fair, and that will give these children an opportunity of having, constantly teaching them, contented teachers. If teachers are not contented and happy they cannot give of their best, and it is my opinion that teachers in that particular concern must be able to give of their best because they are teaching children who may have been bereft of their parents for some considerable time. None of these children, so far as I know, are in the classification of anything like criminals. They are children who, unfortunately, have been bereft of their parents. The State has become to some extent their parent, and I am quite sure that the State and this present Government will do justice, even at this late date, to the teachers and to the children.
Can anybody conceive of this Government going down to a parish in Clare, in the middle of the Taoiseach's constituency, and saying: "The children in this parish are not entitled to the same standard of education as is supplied to the children in every other parish in Ireland. Unqualified teachers, underpaid and working longer hours than teachers in the schools in other parishes, are good enough for them, and if they do not like it they can lump it"?. What is the difference between the children in a parish in the Taoiseach's constituency and the orphan children in industrial schools in this country? This is the difference: that the children in a parish in the Taoiseach's constituency have parents and the parents of these children have votes, whereas the children in an industrial school have no parents and therefore can bring no pressure to bear on a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. That is the pith and marrow of this situation. The sum of £30,000 would not stand between the constituents of any member of the Fianna Fáil Party and equal education for every other child in this country for one hour. They would kick the ceiling before they would let it out, and there is not a Deputy in this House who does not know that. The next meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party would be kept sitting out there in the Fianna Fáil Room in Leinster House until 4 O'clock to listen to the clamorous remonstrances of the particular Deputy whose constituency was threatened, explaining to the Party Whip and the Party Leaders that if this thing were done they would lose the constituency where the outrage was perpetuated on the children and that they would lose it because the children would have parents to look after them. They are not afraid to do it to orphan children because the orphan children have no votes. These are the plain unvarnished facts of this situation. Is it not true? Does anyone deny it?
All quite wrong! It is not true.
Wait a minute. I am going to show you the funds from which this reform can be financed without adding a penny to the burden which the Minister declines to make more heavy. I am going to show that every penny for this reform can be found without adding a farthing to the taxation of this country. I am going to show you that the children are as much entitled under the Constitution to this form of primary education as any other children in the country. You will not give it to them.
Why did not the late Government give it to them?
I am not talking about the late Government. I am talking about now. The question is, what is the Deputy going to do to-night? He is going to vote against this amendment because the orphans have no votes in Leitrim, and if they had he would vote the other way.
I have much more sympathy for them than the Deputy has.
I am going to suggest to the House that there is a way of raising the money to do this business. Make the Parliamentary allowances to Deputies and Senators liable to income-tax, and we shall get from that fund alone sufficient money to give effect to this reform. Now, are you ready to do that?
Would your Party approve of that?
I shall vote for it. Will the Deputy vote for it?
Put down a motion to that effect.
If the Deputies are in any difficulty about carrying this reform into effect because there is no money wherewith to do it, there are 77 votes in the Fianna Fáil Party that can provide the money now——
Put down a motion.
——by making the Parliamentary allowances of this House and of the Seanad liable to income-tax—not at a higher rate than is paid by any other citizen of the State, not based upon any penal or exorbitant rate, but just the self-same rate that the humblest man in this country has been required, by our votes, to pay by way of income-tax. Now will you come in and finance this? The Minister says that we ought to do it, and here are the means wherewith to do it. There are 77 of you over there and you can carry it now if you want to carry it, but I will bet my old hat on it that you will not carry it. You will take darn good care that you will not carry it. The only argument the Minister has advanced, however, against this reform is that there is no money wherewith to pay for it. There is the money. The matter is in your hands to-night. You have got the money, and will you leave it in your own pockets or will you give it to the Minister if he cannot get it anywhere else? I know where it will be when this amendment is decided: still in your pockets.
And in yours too.
I am prepared to vote for the amendment.
Put down your motion.
I am prepared to vote for it.
That is only humbug.
I am suggesting means of raising the money because the Fianna Fáil Minister says that there are no other means. He finds, in a total appropriation of £35,322,791, no hole or corner where he can get £30,000 in order to provide efficient teachers for the industrial school children of this country. That is not surprising from the people over there. They are an inefficient lot. They always were but, as I often said here in this House, the Irish people have the sovereign right to elect any group of people to this House, no matter how incompetent, inefficient, futile, and flabby they may be, and, by Heaven, they asserted their sovereign authority in no uncertain way the day they made the present Minister, Minister for Education. However, they had a right to do it, and let us not complain when he gets up here and says: "I know it is my duty to accept this amendment; I know that these teachers ought to have these conditions, but in the Supply Estimates of £35,322,791 I cannot find £30,000 wherewith to finance that reform." I never expected that he could, but here is a nice, simple, expenditious way in which it can be financed without any difficult searching, without any mathematical calculations about the existing Supply Estimates—just a simple and short amendment of the existing law in which, over and above the moneys to be provided by the taxes outlined in the statement of the Minister for Finance, a further sum can be found sufficient to meet the whole cost of this reform. The Government have a clear majority in the House wherewith to secure that from the Minister for Finance. Now, either case on this amendment is valid or it is fraudulent. I believe that their case is fraudulent. They do not want to do anything about it because it is worth no votes.
Let any Deputy, sitting on these benches, if he is honest with himself, ask himself this question: "Suppose it were suggested that no qualified teacher would be appointed in a large parish in my constituency, would I stand for it? Would I not vote against it?" Is there a Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party who denies that he would vote against that proposal? Is there a Deputy there who denies that he would protest with all the vehemence at his command, in this House, against any proposal to differentiate against the children of his constituents and to represent that the children of his constituents did not require the standard of education that other children did? If he would object to that, why does he sit silent while it is denied to children who have no parents who can bring pressure to bear upon Fianna Fáil Deputies? They will all trot into the Lobby like lambs to-night to vote this amendment down because they are told to vote it down, but there is not a Deputy on the Fianna Fail Benches who does not know that, in voting against this amendment, he is doing what is wrong, and there is not a Deputy on the Fianna Fáil Benches who has an excuse for imagining he is doing wrong because it is financially impossible to do right. It is now not only clear what is the right thing to do, but it is also clear that, without imposing an extra penny of taxation on any citizen of this State, except ourselves, the means are available to do what is right. I should be interested to hear from some of the Fianna Fáil Deputies who are going to walk into the "No" Lobby to-night why they are going to walk into it. Is it because they are afraid they would lose their seats at the next election if they do not show themselves loyally obedient to the Party Whip, or have they some reason we have not heard, so far, in this debate which compels them to vote against a reform which the Minister says is desirable, and which up to now he protested he could not finance but which now Fianna Fáil Deputies know can be financed without adding one penny piece to the burden which the taxpayers at present have to carry?
Taobh amuigh ar fad den gleo agus den gligeareacht go léir a chualamar ar an scéal annseo, tá sé admhuithe ag an Riaghaltas agus an Aire Oideachais go bhfuil cás láidir ag na múinteoirí seo atá ag múineadh sna scoileanna ceartucháin agus saothair, agus, maran dóigh leis an Aire gur feidir géilleadh láithreach d'iomlán mholta an Choimisiúin a scrúduigh an cheist seo cupla bliain ó shoin, b'fheidir go ndéanfadh sé an scéal d'aith-bhreithnú agus é do chur os cóir an Riaghaltais arís chun fheicsint an féidir leo cuid de na héilithe thabhairt do na muinteoirí láithreach agus é sin do dhéanamh mar thús, mar thosach.
Bhíomar ag éisteacht an tseachtain seo caithte le na Teachtaí ar na binsí thall ag cáineadh an Riaghaltais mar gheall ar an méid airgid a bhí á chaitheamh aca, agus táimíd ag éisteacht leo ag cáineadh an Riaghaltais anois toisc nach bhfuil siad ag caitheamh go leor airgid; ach, taobh amuigh ar fad de sin, tá cothrom na Féinne o na múinteoirí atá ag obair sna scoileanna seo. Tá aithne agam ar chuid aca—buachaillí óga, léigheanta, atá oilte ar mhúintéoreacht, agus tá cuid mhaith aca ag obair sna scoileanna seo. Tá an ceart céanna aca, agus go mór-bhór ag na múinteoirí atá oilte agus atá ag tabhairt na seirbhíse céanna, agus atá le fáil ag aon mhúinteor in aon scoil sa tír, agus is dóigh liom gur ceart don Aire an cheist d'aith-bhreithniú. Tá fhios agam gur deacair airgead do sholáthar do gach rud. Do mhol an Teachta Ó Diolúin anocht slí ar a bhféadfaé a dhéanamh. Maidir leis na Teachtaí ar na binsí seo, bhíodar ag obair agus ag troid ar son na tíre seo nuair ní raibh morán á dhéanamh ag an Teachta atá tar éis labhairt.
We were heard of in this country before you were ever heard of.
Má iarrtar ar Theachtai Fianna Fáil anois rud den tsórt atá molta ag an Teachta Ó Diolúin a dhéanamh, ní bheidh doicheall orra, táim cinnte.
We were not born in New York of Spanish parents, in any case.
Is that in order?
It is in order.
I am not asking you.
You are getting an answer from him.
You have it now, and you can put it in your pipe and smoke it.
I do not think we ought to submit to it. They may laugh, but I do not think we ought to submit to it, or that the Chair ought to allow such a statement to be made.
Is this in order?
The Chair does not speak.
What is the point, Deputy?
The point is the reference to a man being born in New York of Spanish parents. We know whom the Deputy alludes to.
There was not personal reference made. The Chair does not think that the remark was in good taste, or that it should have been made.
If the Chair understood what Deputy O Briain was saying, it would not make that observation.
I do not know what he was saying, but we will not tolerate this kind of thing, surely?
The Chair did understand perfectly every word Deputy O Briain said.
Níl a thuille le rá agam ar an scéal seo.
Then I do not agree with the Chair on what is good taste and what is bad taste.
Bhfuil cead agam labhairt?
Deputy Dillon will accept the decision of the Chair, or leave the House.
I do not accept the decision of the Chair on matters of taste. On matters of order, I accept the decision of the Chair without question, but, on matters of taste, I most emphatically do not.
Donnchadh O Briain.
Ba mhaith liom chur os cóir an Aire gur ceart dó an cheist seo d'aith-bhreithniú chun a fheicsint an féidir leis rud foghanta do dhéanamh a chuirfidh fheabhas ar scéal na múinteoirí seo. Muna bhfuil sé i ndon molta an Choimisiúin mar gheall ar na múinteoirí seo chur i bhfeidhm in iomlán, bfhéidir go mbeadh sé i ndon rud éigin foghanta do dhéanamh dóibh.
Much good has not been done to the case of these teachers by the attempt of Deputy Dillon to extract some quota of political expediency from their position, and, as a teacher representing a constituency in which are the teachers in question, some of them very good supporters of mine and my Party, I should like to tell Deputy Dillon and the Party opposite that their support in this debate is not going to change one good Irishman's outlook one whit.
We are not trying to get any votes.
Deputy Dillon has put to us the question: Will Deputies opposite deny by their votes to children in Artane what they would not deny to a child in a country school in their districts? That is misrepresentation. The question of denying that by vote here to-night does not arise, for the reason that these industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers were an institution in this country even before Cumann na nGaedheal took over office. The Christian Brothers came under the National Board in 1925, at a time when Cumann na nGaedheal were in office. For five years after that, the Cumann na nGaedheal Government was in office and why was it that those teachers did not receive this increased pay. Why was a commission not set up to examine the conditions under which they work, and to do all the things they are so anxious to do here to-night, while, at the same time, they deny the efforts that have been made by the Government since they came into power, first, to deal with the difficult situation that existed in regard to a religious order and the education of those boys, and, secondly, to deal with the difficult situation that existed in regard to the different types of teachers working in those industrial schools?
The first public work that I did after being elected to this House in 1938 was to transmit to An Taoiseach, who was then Minister for Education, a case given to me by representatives of those teachers. In the subsequent debate on the Estimate for the Education Department the reply given was that at that time money could not be found, but that the matter was under consideration. An Taoiseach then held out the hope that when the money would be available their case would be dealt with and any undertaking that had been given would be honoured. It is not true to suggest that we on this side of the House at any time forgot or hesitated to press forward the claims of those teachers. After that reply was made the matter was taken up, I concede, by Deputy Hurley, who, as a representative of the teachers, consistently advocated the case of those teachers. It was only after that that questions began to emanate from the benches opposite, and possibly now, when they sense that something has been done by the Government and by Deputies of the Government Party, they feel that they can come in at the last moment and perhaps gain a little political capital out of it. If that is their feeling, they are welcome to all the capital they can get out of it.
I know that the question is a difficult one, but I appeal to the Minister to make renewed efforts to deal with the thorny problems that are presenting themselves in connection with this matter. What happens at present is that a teacher goes to one of these schools and, because the conditions are not as favourable as elsewhere, he leaves the job as quickly as he can. Nobody can blame him. That is not good for the education of those boys who should receive education equal to and in fact better than other boys, because, for one reason or another, whether through their own fault or not, they are the weaker elements amongst the school-going community. For that reason they are deserving of a better education than the boy who is living at home under better conditions. I therefore add my appeal to the other appeals made to the Minister to hold out some hope to these teachers and to the children in the schools. However, if the matter is put to a vote, I will certainly vote with my Party. I believe that there are bigger issues at stake which involve loyalty to one's Party in a time of national emergency and not an effort to create disunity in a Party over what, after all, in comparison with the national emergency, is a minor issue.
The amazing thing about this debate up to the present is that nobody who has spoken has attempted to make a case against the amendment. All the Deputies, including the Deputy who is now leaving the House, wound up with an appeal to the Minister to do what he can for these unfortunate teachers. The only excuse those who are making the appeals can make, knowing full well that they are going to vote against the amendment, is that we are in a desperate crisis and we cannot spare the money. We have got a long way away from the amendment during the discussion, and I am tempted to go even further from the amendment than some people. We were asked why this particular change was not made in our time. We hit on difficult times during our period of office. We had to spend a lot of money trying to save the country. A lot of people opposite were not trying to help in that particular campaign. They were content with having the State go bankrupt. One of their boasts was that so far as burning, threats, and intimidation were concerned, they did their best. It was very hard to do justice to those teachers when attending to the rogues outside; the rogues had first claim on our activities. It was only after that that attention could be given to the constructive type of things. We were not "sloshing" out money the way it is being "sloshed" out now.
The case against this amendment is made solely on the grounds of stringency with regard to finance at a time when the Book of Estimates, with £35,000,000 appearing on the cover, only represents part of what the State has to find this year. Deputy Dillon appeared to engender heat when he made the comparison which will be made outside against Deputies in connection with their salaries. There may be varying opinions about that matter. The excuse put up by the Minister for Finance for not dealing with that, which has become a matter of some public importance, was that a mean campaign was being carried on outside the House about it. Certainly there is no doubt that that word can be applied to some of those engineering that campaign; but there are other people who believe sincerely in it. It was mean, according to the Minister for Finance, because, if it were done, it would only save something which was infinitesimal in comparison with what we are spending. Deputy Dillon made the proper comparison in that matter. If it is an infinitesimal matter to try to save £30,000 in regard to the members of the Oireachtas, would it not be an infinitesimal burden to add on this £30,000, more particularly when money is being poured out like water?
Deputy O Briain made the case that people complained one day when expenditure went up and complained another day about not spending more. What we resent is the fact that money is being spent in a wasteful way. One can go through the Estimates and ask people to subject themselves to the test that the Estimates will supply. We pay £20,000 for the President's establishment. Is that worth while spending? I suppose Deputies will say "yes" and vote for it. We are paying £9,500 for the upkeep of racing. Is it worth it? Most people will say "yes". We are going this year to pour another £70,000 into three bogs in the country—Clonsast, Lullymore, and one in Kerry—providing more fuel for the fires of the Turf Development Board. Is that worth spending? If it is worth spending, and if we are to tax people for that, would it not be at least equally sound to spend £30,000 in bringing these teachers up to the level to which everybody admits they should be brought? According to the Minister for Finance, the Army Estimate this year, without including pensions, runs to £9? million, or £25,000 a day. Is there anybody who does not believe that economies could be made in that Estimate that would give the £29,000 required for those teachers?
This matter has to be got into proportion and the background examined. The background here is unique in the history of the House—that no Deputy has dared to speak against the merits of the amendment. Yet, people have pleaded, almost with tears in their eyes, and asked the Minister to do what they know very well he is not going to do. The plea of financial stringency is made, but they dare not say one word against the merits of the proposal. Deputy Costello was careful to draw attention to the other grand thing that people on the other side have thought it worth while to spend money on, if they do not spend anything else on it, and that is the Constitution. We have bound ourselves by this Constitution in such a way that we have invoked the names of the Holy Trinity and used a whole lot of pious expressions. We have tied ourselves to this, that
"where the parents for physical or moral reasons fail in their duty towards their children, the State as guardian of the common good.... shall endeavour to supply the place of the parents".
We are supplying the place of the parents by these sweated teachers, and nobody dare say that a case has not been made to substitute the conditions under which they live by decent conditions. The only way the case can be met is by putting up the hypocritical plea, despite all the scandalous waste that is going on, that the Government are not able to provide the money for this.
Some remarks that were made by the Deputy who was speaking when I came into the House have prompted me to intervene in this debate. His remarks echoed attacks that were made many years ago on the Christian Brothers in Artane. It must now be 35 or 36 years ago since a British Government inspector—of the old Local Government Board—made charges in connection with the administration of the Artane Industrial Schools in a report to the corporation which was then the medium employed to hand out the finances necessary for the upkeep of the school. We, in the corporation then, were a very businesslike people, and we did not allow those statements to be made without having them thoroughly investigated. I was one of a small committee that was appointed to investigate the statements, and I well remember that we gave a full, free verdict in favour of the Brothers in charge. I assume, from what has happened here to-night, that the main charge is that the teachers are not well paid. There have been references to Papal Encyclicals and other matters in connection with this.
Well, since the time I speak of, I have never heard of a complaint about the Artane administration until to-night. I am certainly in the way of hearing complaints from all sorts of conditions and from various quarters in the city. Neither the teachers nor their friends have ever approached me. They may not have thought it worth their while to do so. I am not going to say that I am such a big man that I could help them, but I could say something for them. They never approached me. and I am sorry to hear that they still believe that they have grievances in that respect. I hope that the Minister will remedy them.
We have the Deputy's "Hear, hear". You are an apostle of the first class. You are constantly referring to the Party over here, the Fianna Fáil Party, in terms of absolute impudence. We do not resent it, because we do not think it worth our while. No matter what resentment we might show, or what we might say, it would not at all put the tin hat on you. You would still remain without it. I must recall your memory to a certain incident which occurred here not very long ago. Unfortunately, my memory is not as good as it used to be, but in a debate here I made the statement that "charity begins at home". I did not catch immediately the remarks that you made concerning that statement. I looked in the morning newspaper. I did not find anything in it. In fact, I looked through the three newspapers, but, strange to say, a Cork paper was sent to me. It reported the remarks made by Deputy Dillon immediately following mine concerning charity, and these were: "You did not consider charity when you were voting yourself £480 a year." Now, you are sitting there looking at me, and I want to remind you that I did not vote for it. I spoke against it, and only there was a question of Party discipline I would have voted against it. But you have never made any apology for that. It was a most unchristianlike statement to make concerning me, and a most injurious statement. You have never apologised for it. I wrote a letter about it to the Cork newspaper. The paper did not print it for two or three days: but worse still happened. I am told that one of the papers here in Dublin cut the remark out of its Dublin issue and put it into its country issue. That was a despicable thing to do. So the next time you are referring, in your beautiful language, to the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, at least remember that there are many just men amongst them.
That is a modest claim, I must admit.
The language that you used here to-night on a matter that should have been debated with calmness and coolness was such that, honestly, I could not apply a proper term to it. The reference you made to the Taoiseach was in bad taste. The worst corner-boy in Dublin would not have used it. You may laugh at that, but that is true. I think it is time for us now to give up the kind and gentle manner that we adopted here in connection with you, and keep you on the striet lines. My education was got in Westland Row Christian Brothers' Schools. It never cost me more than a penny or twopence a week. I never got any education elsewhere, so that every time the Christian Brothers' names are mentioned to me either privately or publicly, I now my head in respect to them.
I am afraid the Deputy is departing somewhat from the amendment before the House.
Artane was mentioned here. It is ruled and governed by the Christian Brothers. I have the right to refer to them because Deputies on the Labour Benches have referred to them, and, as I have already mentioned, references were made to the Pope's letter concerning labour. I am sorry that I have got a bit agitated over this to-night, but is it any wonder, especially when you see a man passing as a great Christian advocate and all the rest of it, absolutely allowing my name to be dirtied in this country, in this city? You need not jeer at it. It is a fact. I did not vote for that increase. I spoke against it.
Do you think it was dirty to do it?
It is dirty for you, for a man supposed to be well educated, a man of means and of money and of social standing, to be allowing himself to get down as low as he does in this House.
Do you think your colleagues got dirtied in voting for it?
I do not think Deputy Hurley's remarks with reference to Artane School should be allowed to pass without some reply from me. I have no desire to go into the complete details, most of which I have before me, regarding the conditions and service of the teachers who work there. I would, however, like to point out to the Deputy that, so far as the teachers of non-literary subjects are concerned— the trade teachers—they are, generally, members of a trade union, and their emoluments are covered by trade union regulations.
I pointed out in the beginning that it was never intended—it was not recommended by the commission in the first instance, and was never intended even before the war when I promised that this recommendation would be honoured—that the non-literary teachers should be included.
I did not make any reference to the non-literary teachers. Each time I spoke about the teachers I qualified it by saying "teachers of literary subjects".
With regard to the teachers of literary subjects, I am informed that they teach for about 15 hours per week. They have, in addition, an amount of supervision to carry out. The amount of teaching is no greater, but less on the average than the amount done by the members of the Order, who I think in the nature of things would have far more supervision than the lay teachers, so that at any rate whatever the case may be in favour of the lay teachers, one cannot argue that the Brothers are not entitled to at least the same consideration. Judging by the amount of duties they perform, and the number of hours taken up in the performance of those duties, I would say that the Brothers deserve more consideration. There are six whole-time lay teachers in this school. There are 17 whole-time teachers who are members of the Order, and who are all qualified for the teaching profession, and the bulk of the teaching of literary subjects is carried out by those Brothers. I do not wish to go further into the matter, except to say that the House might like to know the total number of teachers at present responsible for literary subjects in those schools. The total number of lay teachers is 33, and the total number in the Order is 59. If the Government were in a position to implement this recommendation in full, it would mean that we would have to staff those schools by providing a further number of teachers, roughly, I think, about 17 teachers. There would also be a number of teachers who, either through not being trained, or not being considered by the inspectors who have examined this matter to have the requisite qualifications from their point of view, could not be recognised as teachers of literary subjects on the same basis as our primary teachers.
If they are good enough for the children they ought to be good enough for the inspectors.
In regard to the school in question, at any rate, there is no doubt whatever but that it is a highly efficient school, and so are a good many of the other schools. In fact, the teaching generally in those schools is satisfactory. I have no doubt that, from the educational point of view, if all the teachers are in the future trained teachers and fully qualified to do the work as our primary teachers in the ordinary primary schools are, the position will be even better. This is largely a financial question; in fact it is entirely a financial question, and I do not see that the solution suggested by Deputy Hurley, which had been already brought under my notice—that the lay teachers should be taken out and given special treatment—would commend itself to me, in view of the fact that the members of the Orders—male or female—appear to be carrying out at least equal duties, and probably devoting more time and attention to them.
Is it not done in the capitation schools?
In that case we would have to pay them the capitation grants, of course. The capitation grants constitute a large proportion of the amount, £29,000, which I gave as the total cost of the full implementation of this promise.
Is the £29,000 the cost of the amendment?
The amendment presumably means that the recommendation should be implemented in full. I pointed out that the recommendation really means more than that. One could say that the amendment from An Seanad merely asks the Minister to make regulations with regard to the matter, but it was definitely explained in An Seanad what was in mind—that we should give those teachers the full treatment to which the carrying out of the recommendation would entitle them. I explained that the amendment as it stands includes all teachers, and that it was never intended that teachers of manual subjects should be included. Nevertheless, the amendment appears before us now in that form, and for that reason, even if we were in a position to carry out the recommendation in full, I would not be prepared to recommend agreement with the amendment to the House, first, because it includes non-literary teachers, and secondly, because it seems to me that there is a principle involved, in that this amendment, which if it originated here could not come before the Dáil otherwise than through a member of the Government, can be brought before us by the other House. I do not think it was ever the intention that the other House should interfere in financial matters, certainly not to a greater extent than ordinary Deputies of the Dáil.
Deputy Costello asked what was the reason for the delay in this matter. The reason for the delay was that a considerable amount of time, unfortunately, was required to settle such matters as the contributions to be made in future to these schools by local authorities. However, that matter has now been settled, and we now have power to fix, in consultation with the Department of Local Government, the appropriate contributions which must be made, and which I hope will be more uniform and somewhat higher than they have been in the past, by the local authorities of the country in respect of the children who are committed in their areas. We expected that by the time the legislation would have been reached we would have been in a position to implement the promise with regard to placing the teachers on the Primary Education Vote, but in the meantime the emergency occurred. The Taoiseach explained the situation, and promised that as soon as the circumstances permitted the Government would honour the promise. In view of Deputy Dillon's and Deputy McGilligan's statements, I wish again to point out that only last week the Leader of the Opposition criticised as an extravagance the increase in the amount of the Vote for my office, an increase which could not be avoided by any Government unless they set aside the whole system of bonuses and increments for civil servants. If it is an extravagance, I fail to see where is the consistency in two of his colleagues pressing this particular matter upon us.
It does not come under the Vote for your Office.
Whatever may be the merits of pressing this particular issue it certainly is not consistent with the argument that the educational services are extravagant. We have to bear in mind, no matter what Deputies may say, that there is an emergency and that very serious reductions have to be made in the staffing and in the activities of Departments and in the amount of money expended by them, even on works giving employment. Where money was available very often it could not be expended for certain reasons. Because staff was taken away for more urgent and more necessary work it was impossible even to continue the work in hands. I do not want the House to be under the impression with regard to this matter that economies have not been made. They have been made in various directions. There is an emergency and members of the Government must have regard to it.
With regard to the statement of Deputy McGilligan about the "sloshing out" of money, when we were told that from the point of view of preparation for an emergency, which, for all we know, may be upon us in a day or in a week, it is necessary to have our defences improved and to have other precautionary measures taken, and that these things take considerable sums of money, our general feeling was that while we would rather that it should not be found necessary to expend these moneys, we shall be very well pleased indeed, if, through the expenditure of these moneys and even larger sums, we will be able to put ourselves into such a position as to defend ourselves if the occasion should arise and, furthermore, to show all whom it may concern that we are in a position and are determined to see that our rights are not going to be filched from us. That is quite a different matter from ordinary normal expenditure. Members of the House who are also members of the Defence Conference will realise that these matters are discussed in a different attitude and there has been general agreement among the Parties. So far as we know, so far as I know, at any rate—and I think the same is true of the Minister for Finance—no objections have been raised to expenditure on the Army. I have an idea that pressure has even been brought to see that more was done if necessary in order to make our preparations more efficient and in order to put ourselves in a better position to meet a war situation.
More efficient, but not necessarily more expensive.
The position is that these matters are on a different footing from ordinary expenditure, in respect of which it might be said: "Well, that situation has existed for a certain time; it is not a matter of life and death that it should be carried into operation now." There is any number of matters in respect of which I, like Deputy Dillon, would like to introduce estimates in this House, such as boots for children, clothing for children, more meals for children, milk for children, and so on, not to speak of doing something about the school leaving age, establishing centres for juveniles, or various other schemes, family, allowances—another of the Deputy's pets. All these things would cost very considerable sums of money. They are things we all think something should be done about, but the present does not seem to be an opportune time.
The position then is that the Government has to examine very carefully any proposal for new expenditure. The only strong case in favour of this particular matter is that I, as Minister for Education, gave a promise that we would implement the recommendation. I explained the circumstances under which the carrying out of that promise was postponed. The matter has now come on again. I would be very happy to reconsider the matter, but, as I said in the beginning, I see no hope of getting complete fulfilment of the promise at the present time. The very most that we can hope for is that we might be able to go some way to meet the demand which has been expressed so strongly by members of all Parties in both Houses, to do something at any rate towards improving the position of these teachers. I hope that as a result of the debate here it will be possible to do something, but I must say to the House that it will not be possible, I feel, to implement the promise in full. The very most we can do would be to introduce a partial scheme, upon which I hope we might get agreement, to do a certain amount during the coming year, if it is possible to make the necessary arrangements and, possibly, at the end of the year to reconsider whether we can go further so as to implement the scheme. For example, if the war emergency ceased, if we had peace this year— which I do not foresee—it might be possible to implement the promise completely, say, this time next year, but failing that, the most I can say in answer to the repeated requests that have been made to me to reconsider the matter and to put pressure upon my colleagues, in particular, the Minister for Finance, is that we may be able to get a scheme which will enable us to do something to improve the situation. I do not think it is likely that we will get the full amount of money to spend during the coming year. If we get a proportion of it I think we will be doing well, and in the succeeding years we might be able to carry the thing further so that eventually the whole scheme would be carried into operation. I think that is the very most I can ask the House to accept.
Does the Minister think this year's scheme will give the teachers pension rights?
That is a matter I would have to consider. Of course, it is implicit in the scheme, and it is merely a question of the date when it comes into operation. I feel there is no hope of carrying the entire scheme into operation during this financial year. The most we can do is to go part of the way. In framing the scheme, we will have regard to the question of the pension rights of the teachers, naturally. If they are brought on the Vote for Primary Education, I assume that their pension rights would be dealt with automatically. I would like to look into the matter further and make a statement at a later stage. I am not in a position at present to say more than that I will try to see whether a scheme which will go part of the way can be introduced.
Would the Minister consider this aspect of the situation? Suppose his ultimate scheme provided pension rights for teachers, it is eminently desirable to incorporate that in the interim scheme, for two reasons, No. (1), that it involves the Exchequer in no immediate charge to be met during the period of the emergency, and (2) it protects any teacher who reaches the end of his period of service in the interim period from being excluded from the benefit of the pension scheme.
I did not quite catch the Deputy's opening remarks.
What I am suggesting is that if the Minister is drafting an interim scheme he should incorporate in that interim scheme the pension part of what he has in mind as a permanent arrangement.
Of course, that is a matter that we shall have to consider very carefully.
The Minister understands my points: (1) that there will be no immediate charge, and (2) that nobody who goes out during the period when the interim scheme is in operation will be left without a pension.
That is another matter.
If you brought in a pension scheme, say in 1943, it would be very unfair if a man who went out of the service in 1942, although there was an interim scheme in operation, were left without a pension, while a man who went out in 1943 would get his pension.
Do I take it that this partial scheme has special reference to the lay teachers in these schools?
To all teachers who are either trained or qualified in the sense that the inspectors are prepared to recommend their recognition as national teachers.
Am I to take it that the hours of duty will be similar to the hours worked by ordinary teachers?
It seems that Deputies expect me to give details of a scheme that has not yet taken shape.
I am only suggesting some points to the Minister. I have an idea of what the scheme would be like. I am prepared to accept the Minister's promise in this matter. I am not calling a division.
I move that the amendments be agreed to. They are consequential and really arise from the amendments which were made in the Dáil raising the age, in respect to the definition of children, from 14 to 15. It will be remembered that there was a desire here which I met by inserting an amendment, to raise the age both for children and young persons. All these amendments are therefore of a drafting nature and are consequential on amendments already inserted in the Dáil.
Surely amendment No. 6 is not consequential on the raising of the age to 15?
We reduced the periods of committal from five years to three years. It was hoped that in future the period will be three years, but it was not intended that offenders who are at present in reformatories should benefit by having their sentences reduced. The reduced period would apply only to offenders who are committed after this Bill becomes law.