Local Authorities (Education Scholarships) (Amendment) Bill, 1961 —Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

Very shortly after becoming Minister for Education it became apparent to me that a serious defect in our system was the relatively meagre provision for scholarships. Not only is the total provision of scholarships meagre in proportion by comparison with that in many other countries, but in very many cases the value of the individual scholarship is very low. This position must have been fairly obvious to most people who have given thought to the matter, and it is a constant wonder to me that there has not been more criticism of so evident a weakness.

On coming to the conclusion that an increase in the provision for scholarships was an urgent educational and social necessity, and on having obtained the Government's agreement that steps should be taken to remedy this position, it remained to consider how best to effect a remedy.

A solution that readily presented itself would be to establish a system of direct State scholarships side by side with those already provided by the local authorities. Such a system of direct state scholarships might have certain administrative advantages, but on further consideration it soon appeared that, whatever these advantages might be, they would be greatly outweighed by the disadvantages and inconsistencies that would be inevitable if two systems were to develop, as might easily happen.

On the other hand, to replace the local authorities scholarship system set up by the 1944 Act by a direct State system would seem to me to savour of a diminishing of a democratic principle, a principle which needs to be strengthened rather than perhaps weakened, and which, in such matters as this, if properly put into effect, can cater better for conditions in one locality relative to another than could an absolutely centralised administrative machine.

It is also a good general principle that where there is an already existing structure, it is better, if at all possible, to build upon that than to substitute for it something which, however new and shiny, might not quite respond in every way to the original idea.

This Bill is therefore intended not to replace but to supplement and increase moneys which local authorities are already providing under the 1944 Local Authorities and the 1908 Universities Acts.

As far as this country is concerned, the Bill is a new approach inasmuch as it is now for the first time proposed that the State step in to provide money for scholarships on a general scale. The explanatory memorandum circulated with the Bill makes clear, I hope, how exactly this would be done. In recent years, the local authorities have been spending in all about £150,000 per annum on scholarships. The broad intention of this Bill is to begin by supplementing substantially that provision and to proceed to the point where, in return for an addition of £90,000 by the local authorities to their present £150,000, the State, which at the moment contributes nothing to the scheme, would in four years' time be contributing about £300,000.

In other words, the Bill envisages that four years after it should have come into effect the total provision for scholarships would be approaching four times the figure at which it now stands. I think that this may fairly be regarded as a substantial step in the laying down of a pattern for future educational development in this particular field.

On the whole, our people are very conscious of the benefits of education. The ever-growing numbers in voluntary full-time attendance at our secondary and vocational schools and our universities put this beyond doubt. There are, however, I regret to say, a small number of counties which lag very much behind the others in scholarship provision. In that way we have great disparity between a county which provides for scholarships only the equivalent of the amount raised by a rate of 1d. in the pound and others which raise the equivalent of 5d. for that purpose. The substantial State contribution and the method of financing now proposed will, I believe, open the way for the ironing out of such anomalies and of the relative disadvantages that result for some of the abler children. They should certainly act as a sharp stimulus to those areas which have not been in the forefront, while it will be for the other authorities to see to it that there be no falling off in their present plans and to ensure that the money available from the State is called upon and used to the utmost advantage.

Apart from the details of the scheme which are given in the Explanatory Memorandum, there are a few matters to which I should like to make specific reference.

The first of these is that up to one-fourth of the moneys will be allocated to scholarships to be awarded on merit alone, that is, without a means test. There may at first glance be divided opinions on this, but in considering it I think we should view in a large way the object of the scholarships. Although of course the social aspect of things is involved in relation to what is proposed, the scheme is not just a piece of social welfare. Its primary object is educational. It is directed towards bringing forward, for the benefit of the country as a whole, the very best talent that the country is producing, and that from whatever economic level in which such talent is to be found.

Now, any means test, even at the most reasonable possible level, will exclude some of the best talent, for the parents' decision to send a particular child forward for postprimary or university education, with no assistance, may in any given case have to be balanced on the knife edge. This would be especially the case where, as in Ireland, families are usually fairly large and so were what would otherwise seem to be a reasonably good income has to be devoted to the education not of one but of a number of children. In addition, I think it desirable that all parents who contribute by way of taxes or rates should have some chance of having their child of good ability benefit from their contribution.

Let me repeat that the principal object of this section of this Bill is to bring forward, for the benefit of the nation as a whole, the country's best talent, wherever it is to be found.

Another matter to which I wish to make special reference is the proposal that the amount to be allocated for university scholarships should not be more than half that provided for post-primary scholarships in one third of the total moneys. The chief factors taken into account in arriving at this ratio were the proportion of post-primary pupils who normally go on to a university and the relative costs, to the parents of post-primary and of university education. It seems to me that in matters such as this the pattern throughout the country should be reasonably uniform. At any rate, in view of the numbers proceeding to a university as compared with those availing themselves of post-primary education, we should not have, as is the case at present in some countries, the disproportionate position of the major portion of the scholarship money being devoted to university scholarships.

May I express the hope that the discussion on this Bill will help greatly towards the forming of a public opinion that will not only welcome these scholarships but will come to see clearly that what is here involved is not only an educational and social problem related to particular localities, but an important national problem as well. That national problem is the provision of special encouragement towards the development of our best national resources, which, as I have said on another occasion here, are the brains with which God has been pleased amply to endow our people.

There is undoubtedly a severe testing time ahead for this and indeed for all countries. It is for us therefore to strengthen in every way possible our own country's moral fibre. I think that it should be a strengthening of this country's morale for a citizen, be he poor or rich, to see that it is recognised by those in authority that his child, if of good ability, should be given the opportunity of developing that ability all the way up the educational ladder.

In conclusion, let me recall that, as someone has recently remarked, there is in all countries a kind of public schizophrenia in relation to education. The demand for more and more education has grown very rapidly and will continue to grow. There is accordingly a constant call upon State and other authorities for more and better educational facilities. But, side by side with that, there exists also an irrational attitude that such additional facilities should somehow or other be provided without additional cost. The fact is that educational provision costs money, and that more educational provision costs more money. For educationalists and all others really interested in education, I think it may nowadays be said to be an article of creed that the additional money needed is well worth the spending.

I would accordingly appeal to Deputies on all sides, as enlightened men, to give every help they can, as members of local authorities or wherever else they may find themselves in a representative or indeed even in a private capacity by putting their weight and influence into seeing that the local authorities take the fullest advantage of the provisions of this Bill so that the money made available by the House for scholarship purposes be called upon to the full.

Is deacair liom a chreidiúnt go mbeadh éinne i gcoinne an Bhille seo. Is dóigh liom nach bhfuil an tAire ach ag briseadh an lic oidhre maidir le cúrsaí oideachais agus scoláireachtaí a thúirt dos na daoine is fearr éifeacht sa tír.

The Minister need not fear there will not be the fullest possible support for this measure, but it will be said "Sé a locht a laighead"—the little that is in it is the biggest fault in it. The Minister is just breaking the coating of ice over that part of our education where the talent in the country is looking for an outlet which in our economic circumstances and ordinary family finances, we are not able to give. I see in this no pattern for future educational development in that field, but I see a point. I agree with the scheme by which the State steps in to assist the local authorities to finance the pursuit of greater excellence in the development of our educational talent for both the economic and the general moral good of the country.

There are certain things in this Bill that will require to be explained in a little more detail on Committee Stage, but there are certain things in it, however, we ought to clear up at this stage. The Minister, assisted by the Minister for Local Government, replied to certain questions raised here by Deputy P. Byrne in July. In relation to the figures sought, there are certain things I should like to get clear. In part of the Bill, the Minister indicates that one-fourth of the moneys will be allocated to scholarships to be awarded on merit alone. He then goes on to deal with another aspect of the matter, that is, that only one-fourth of the total moneys are to be available for university scholarships of any kind.

One-third.

That will want to be cleared up in relation to the figures. The Minister says now that up to one-third can be available for university scholarships. Having made the division between university scholarships and scholarships to secondary and technical schools, we come up against the question of how, under these various sections, the scholarships on merit are to be distinguished from, shall we say, the scholarships with assistance. At column 526 of theOfficial Report of the 11th July, 1961, the Minister indicated, in reply to Deputy Byrne, that the total amount of money being spent by local authorities for the school year 1959/60 was £91,536, that is, £91,000 was being spent under the Local Authorities (Education Scholarships) Act, 1944. He indicated at the same time that in the same year approximately £60,000 was being spent on university scholarships provided by local authorities, that is, under the Irish Universities Act, 1908.

The Minister indicated broadly that he is going to provide for scholarships one pound for every pound provided by the local authorities. He is working rather close to that. But for the purpose of making it clear, I am putting this question to the Minister: do I understand in relation to local authorities that the moneys provided for the schemes under the 1944 Act and under the 1908 Act are to be regarded separately? I take it the Minister is answering that they are not, because it would possibly mean that his figure of spending one-third on university education would be radically altered to the detriment of the amount being made available to the universities. A sum of £91,000 is being spent under the 1944 Act and £60,000 under the 1908 Act. Therefore, the Minister's suggestion that only one-third has to go to the university authorities must fall from the start.

The Minister talked about the amount allocated in each financial year by the corporation of a county borough or a county council. When the Minister talks of the amount allocated by local authorities to a particular scheme, do I understand that the amount allocated includes the total amount of the money raised from rates and the total amount of money received for scholarship purposes from the Government? Section 2 of the Bill states that, notwithstanding anything contained in Section 4 of the Principal Act, a scheme under this Act:

shall provide, in relation to the amount allocated in each local financial year by the corporation of a county borough or council of a county by which the scheme was prepared for payment in respect of scholarships under the scheme, that the amount shall be allocated by the corporation or council, as the case may be, without regard to whether the parents or guardians of the persons to whom the scholarships are awarded comply with the provisions prescribed under paragraph (c) of the said section 4

—that is, it will be granted without means—

subject to the proviso that, if one-fourth of the amount aforesaid becomes allocated to persons whose parents or guardians do not comply with the provisions prescribed under the said paragraph (c),

—that is, if they are well off—

the remainder of the amount aforesaid shall be allocated to persons whose parents or guardians comply with the provisions prescribed under the said paragraph (c).

That is, if they are not well off.

The gist of the section, as I read it, is that a scheme shall provide that only one-fourth of the amount allocated by the local authorities for that scheme will be provided on the basis of merit alone. A question that arises there is the meaning of "the amount allocated". Does that mean the amount allocated out of the scholarship fund accumulated by the adding of the produce of the local rate to the grant received from the Minister?

A scheme is set up there. According to the Minister's scheme, the local authority is responsible for the scheme. The local authority, under the Acts passed so far, takes the initiative in the matter, subject to the approval of the Minister and gratefully receiving from the Minister a certain amount of money related in terms of equality to the amount of money they themselves raise. They spend that money that becomes theirs when the scheme is operated. When we come to discuss the spending of money under this Bill, we are talking of the joint fund. That is clear. When we come to Section 3 we are dealing with moneys provided by the local authority under another Act. They may strike a rate for that under the 1944 Act and here again we come up against the question of doubt.

Section 3 says:

(a) the amount allocated under that subsection by a corporation of a county borough or council of a county in any local financial year beginning after the commencement of this Act for payment in the provision of assistance for students shall be allocated in accordance with the merit shown by the answering at the tests of ability referred to in that subsection and without regard to the need (if any) of the students for assistance: ....

In relation to that I want to ask: is that a composite fund also—the moneys provided by the local authority under its powers under the 1908 Act, plus the moneys that the Minister provides as a result of a scheme in this Act and, when there is mention of one-fourth, does the one-fourth refer to the composite fund?

When we come to subsection (b), it says:

the amount allocated by a corporation of a county borough or council of a county in any local financial year beginning after the commencement of this Act for payment in the provision of assistance for students under that subsection shall not exceed one-half of the amount allocated by the corporation or council, as the case may be, in that year for payment in respect of scholarships under a scheme or schemes approved of under Section 2 of the Principal Act...

Here we bring in the question of the provision of assistance for students. I take it the money given for students under the 1908 Act is called "assistance for students." The Minister should make that point clear. He has said that when a corporation deals with the fund—at any rate under the 1944 Act—they are dealing with the consolidated fund: when dealing with the moneys made available under this Bill and in relation to the universities, is that another separate consolidated fund? I take it, it is not and that the two funds are all one. That being clear, the operation of it by the Minister will, I think, require to be made a little clearer.

When it comes to the financing of the scheme, I have no comments to make except that it seems that if it is the Minister's idea to work up to equality of finances on the part of local authorities and on the part of the Government, the scheme will work to that end, but he speaks of the relative disadvantages and anomalies that arise in certain cases in respect of abler children. I want to recall to the Minister's mind certain provisions made in connection with the financing of vocational education bodies in various parts of the country to make up for the relative disadvantages that the young people of these counties would be under if the cost of the scheme were left on the £ for £ basis. Something like seven counties had to be specially dealt with because of that difficulty. They were Counties Donegal, Kerry, Leitrim and Sligo in which it was regarded as unfair to insist for the £ for £ basis under certain circumstances. In addition, there were probably, at times, Galway, Longford and Mayo. I suggest to the Minister, who proposes the levelling out of anomalies and discrepancies where one authority strikes a rate of five pence and another a rate of only one penny, that there may be certain counties where there will be very serious disabilities, counties that are not notable for the dullness of their children—Donegal, Kerry, Leitrim and Sligo, and again Galway, Longford and Mayo. All, or at any rate the first four I mentioned, may suffer considerable disadvantage in respect of the provision made for scholarships if the Minister sticks to his arrangement here of a £ for £ basis. I urge the Minister very strongly to consider that aspect of the matter.

When the Minister says this is a pattern that will encourage development of the best national resources—our brains—in a new and more effective way, I would ask him to think of what we mean when we talk of educational scholarships intended to provide greater and developing educational facilities for talent. What exactly do we mean when we set out to make financial provisions for that? Would the Minister look at some of the figures that have been assembled and see what happens in certain places.

At column 523 of the Official Report of July 11th, 1961, the Minister, in reply to Deputy Desmond gives information in respect of the total number of university scholarships held in the various counties. We see that they range from £100 plus university fees in Carlow, to £100 in Clare, to £147 in Donegal, to £200 in Limerick, to £175 in Offaly, to £185 in South Tipperary, to £95 with fees in North Tipperary. There seems to be no general idea as to what the scholarship is intended to be.

I should like to ask the Minister whether any consideration has been given by those qualified to do so to the question of what a young boy or girl entering on a four or five year course at a university ought to be given by way of financial assistance to see that boy or girl through that course. The Minister has indicated that we have here large families. There should be plenty of experience available to him as to the waste of valuable talent, a waste that very often takes place by reason of the fact that the older children have to be pushed out to earn whatever they can to enable the parents to manage on whatever income they can command. Even on the small scale along which the Minister is seeking for excellence in a particular line, namely, providing an open door for the best talent we may have, one matter that should be very carefully considered by him is the size of the scholarship that ought to be given to a young boy or girl entering a university, whether from Leitrim or from Cork, whether from Kerry or from Louth. At a stage at which the State is stepping in, recognising its responsibilities and recognising the necessity for getting the best possible results, the Minister will fail in a very vital matter if he fails to face up to that question.

The same applies to scholarships to secondary and vocational schools. In that connection, if he will look at the figures given in answer to a question put by Deputy Desmond to him at column 519, he will see that in North Tipperary the range of scholarships per annum given to children from secondary to vocational schools runs from £12 10s. to £50. A certain element in that may be the means test that is applied, but there is more than a means test in some of the schemes in operation, schemes which call for the Minister's approval. I have a scheme here, for instance, where the value of the scholarship shall be £30. In the case of pupils who do not reside within a convenient distance—that is five miles—of an approved secondary school, or where, owing to the absence of travelling facilities, they cannot attend as day pupils at such a school, or for other special reason, the county council may, if of the opinion that the circumstances of the parents or guardians demand it, increase the scholarship to a sum not exceeding £50 per annum. I admit that is a comparatively old scheme—it is nearly seven years old—but it is at any rate a sample.

I should like to ask the Minister whether in relation to what he has in mind it is reasonable to differentiate between a person who gets a scholarship to a secondary school within four or five miles, or on their doorstep, on the one hand, and those who, because of their family conditions, would like to see their children in a more institutionalised boarding school. There is too great an emphasis on and too great a move towards cheeseparing in providing for a sounder and better education for children of scholarship calibre. It seems absurd to cheesepare on what one will give to a boy or girl of a large family because there are secondary school educational facilities immediately at his or her door.

These are the general points I wish to make but I do want to stress to the Minister that there is no pattern of any very clear kind being operated at the moment. That is abundantly clear when one looks at the provisions made by local bodies as a whole. There is a statutory pattern there but the ideal that is being driven home in introducing this new moulding is not sufficiently presented from the Ministerial end and from the executive level. It is not sufficiently presented to people who are panting for a better opportunity to give the quality talent we have an opportunity.

There is another point to be considered. The Minister might very well turn his mind to the general discussion that took place in the United States under the auspices of the National Catholic Educational Association of America. That body has been meeting for the past 50 years. A very elaborate discussion forum exists in which some one aspect of educational importance is discussed. The discussion takes place between the members of the Association and others induced to come in and take part. Last year, as far as I remember, they discussed "The Pursuit of Excellence". That was the theme.

Towards the end of a very elaborate volume, containing papers, discussion and comment, the Minister will find a reference by one of the speakers to what happened in the United States schools when, following the impact of two World Wars, all kinds of people with a general idea that they had a right to a living and to an education from somebody crowded in, with financial assistance of one kind or another, into the universities there. We have a very meagrely set up university organisation here. It is already somewhat overpowered. If the Minister now makes systematic and idealised provision for ensuring that university and secondary education is provided for our talent, he ought to ensure at the same time that real excellence and real brains are catered for instead of just throwing open the doors to higher education and inviting a great many young people into inevitable resultant blind-alley employment, on the one hand, and further overpowering the teaching faculties of both our universities and secondary schools on the other.

That is not now a warning that he is going too far here. He will find he is not going too far for what people want, but I do not think he is going far enough in clearly defining what is wanted from our talent and what is wanted by way of educational facilities for our talent. As the Minister progresses from this point— not from this pattern because the pattern is a statutory pattern only—he will find that he must pay attention to what is meant by developing our talent and providing for that development both the necessary facilities and the necessary machinery.

This Bill is a complete failure if it is intended as a step towards providing a much needed system of free secondary education for every school-going child in this country, but insofar as it is a stop gap measure which will induce local authorities to provide further and greater amounts of money towards secondary and university education, it is welcomed by me and by my Party. I believe it will bring about some improvement in our educational system. However, I am not too happy that, as an inducement towards greater educational benefits, this measure will overcome the type of objection to the expenditure of money on education often found among representatives of the ratepayers on local councils. It is deplorable sometimes to listen to supposedly enlightened people who object to the expenditure of any money on improving our educational facilities beyond the very limited few secondary and university scholarships now being provided by local authorities.

It is deplorable that irrespective of the standard of ability of children, the money provided for free education is still so small. It limits the number of scholarships that county councils are empowered to provide each year to twenty secondary and six university. I welcome the decision of the Minister in this Bill to apportion quarter of the amount spent on scholarships to a scheme which does not include a means test, because in general I believe that means tests are undesirable. Whether it be in the matter of secondary or university education, I feel the only test should be the children's ability and not the amount of money in the parents' pockets. Let us go forward in the knowledge that any boy or girl in this State who has the ability will not be stopped by the amount of money his parents possess or the lack of money from which they may suffer. Since this is a step in that direction I welcome the measure. As Deputy Mulcahy has said, there is very little in this Bill but the little in it is a welcome improvement.

From my reading of the Bill, without the advantage of having available to me a copy of the Principal Act, it seems to me there is provision in this Bill for a change in the residence qualification. I understand that in future where parents leave a certain county before the period of the operation of this Bill they will not be cut out from the benefits of a scheme in that county. I have known of at least two cases of hardship where the residence qualification caused hardship by preventing a county council from awarding scholarships to children of parents who had only recently left the county. I do not say that the provision of £250,000, as is suggested in this Bill, will bring about any extravagant improvements in our educational system but it is an improvement and I accordingly welcome it.

When at last we come to discuss the extension of university and post primary scholarships, I do not think we should approach it with such apparent financial caution as is evident from this Bill, from the explanatory statement and from the Minister's introductory speech. The very opening words of the Minister conveyed that the necessity for such a course as this became obvious to him shortly after he became Minister. That was in sharp contrast with his customary humility. If that is so, it has taken a very considerable time for him to introduce this measure. I do not think those opening words of his can get over the fact that an extension of the provision of scholarship benefits generally was envisaged by people both in the House and outside it before the Minister adverted to it. The Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon, in a policy statement at Malahide, last November, made such a statement. Hard on its heels came a statement by the Minister at a later date before a gathering of his Party in this city.

I would prefer and I think all sides of the House and the country would prefer if this measure had been brought in here at a much earlier stage in the life of this Parliament. It now carries with it, in addition to the very many inherent and obvious defects in its provisions, the suspicion, by reason of its timing, that it is a measure which is being introduced when a Government, having almost fulfilled its statutory period is going out of office, and that it will not be implemented in any serious way until after the general election. That is unfortunate. It is unfair to the people who might well at an earlier stage have been gearing themselves to take advantage of it and to local authorities taking steps in a certain direction. It is unfair to all these people to have attached to it the suspicion that it is merely a piece of election propaganda and an election promise.

After so much cogitation, after the full realisation of the necessity for it and after what must be long and careful consideration, this is a very mean Bill in the amounts it asks the Oireachtas to provide for scholarships. Nowhere in this Bill is it clear, having regard to rising costs, having regard to the necessity for consequent increases in the value of scholarships themselves, that the number of extra scholarships will reach any appreciable figure or will do any good towards the promotion of education which, I am sure, it is intended this Bill should promote.

There is a suggestion of a need for uniformity throughout the country. Deputy Mulcahy has given certain figures in relation to the different counties. There is an appalling lack of uniformity. There is a lack of uniformity in relation to direct State scholarships and the scholarships given by local authorities. Even from the very beginning there was a very wide gap between the scholarships given by the State for the Gaeltacht and those given by local authorities. Two persons benefiting from each class might well come from the same village and receive widely differing amounts. I remember a time when one student would go to University College, Galway, on a local authority scholarship of £60 per annum out of which he would have to pay his fees whereas another student on a Gaeltacht scholarship coming from the same village and the same kind of household could go to University College, Galway, on a scholarship of £150 per annum. I am not saying that the £150 was too much but I do think £60 was too low. There is that kind of anomaly existing in relation to western counties with regard to the value of scholarships.

My county of Mayo had a total number of 12 scholarships held in 1958-59. The value of each scholarship is £120 and that is not an unreasonable figure having regard to the yield from the rateable valuation of the county. However, when I look at the figure for an adjoining county which is much richer I see a figure of only £85 a year for scholarships, and Leitrim, which is even poorer than Mavo maintains the Mayo level of £120. That lack of uniformity should be cured in some new scheme to be prepared as a result of this fresh assessment of the situation.

I do not agree at all with the view that a pupil who gets say, first place in a post-primary scholarship, and who lives some miles from a secondary school, should be forced to take a scholarship of a lesser value than that of scholarships generally given. There should be no impediment or restriction in a scholarship system in regard to what people want. If a pupil gets a scholarship from a local authority to a secondary school, he should be free to choose the secondary school to which he wishes to go.

In most cases there is a means test applied. The means test application forms are a peculiar anomaly in a case of that kind. Within this mileage limit, you would have a person whose household would benefit considerably from his going away to a boarding school apart altogether from the advantages of institutionalised education. Another child in the house, by reason of the saving from the cost of food and everything else in the secondary school, should be able to take advantage of a nearby day school. If a boy or girl gets first place in a county in a local authority scholarships scheme, that should carry with it not alone the advantage of receiving a secondary education but the comforts that are available as well, such as being saved the discomfort of cycling or walking to school in inclement weather, having possibly to stay in the school portion of the day uncomfortably wet. All these circumstances should be taken into consideration. Anyhow if there is something going for merit, it should carry with it no restrictions.

There should be uniformity in the value of university scholarships. There should be uniformity if possible in the case of post-primary scholarships to primary and secondary and vocational schools but certainly the value of university scholarships from the different counties should not be based on the ability to collect so much in the £ from the rates. It should be based upon the fees that are to be paid and on the cost of maintaining the scholarship recipient in Dublin, Cork, Galway or anywhere else to which he might elect to go.

In establishments where students board, whether hostels, guesthouses, digs—whatever you like to call them —there is a startling uniformity in the amount demanded from each student. A Dublin, Cork or Galway landlady will not take into consideration the fact that a student comes from a county that is paying only £85 as against a county that is paying £120. Therefore, people who get scholarships should have equality of advantage from the economic point of view so that one will not be put in a worse position than another.

There is one aspect which, I take it, when we are discussing scholarships, might well be relevant, that is, that there should be very clear-cut directions by way of advice and guidance generally in the secondary schools or from the Department of Education to pupils who get scholarships. For instance, a pupil might show aptitude for certain subjects in the Leaving Certificate examination, upon the results of which, I take it, these scholarships will be given. There might be pupils who showed a leaning towards science as against the humanities generally. There might be others with an aptitude for modern languages who might be discouraged from taking a modern languages course by being told they would have to go abroad for, perhaps, a year, to perfect a language. They might decide to take a course which would not be so costly. Pupils should be directed. The fields for which they are most suitable should be made known to them so that they might do the best for themselves and by the country. On the other hand, pupils might show aptitude for subjects which might not have any market value for them. There are several cases that could be cited in a country like ours but it might be invidious to go into them in too much detail.

In conclusion, I would say that this is a matter on which a great deal more can be done, say, on Committee Stage of this Bill by way of detail. The Minister might well reconsider his whole attitude towards the amount of money being given. After four years from now the result of this Bill insofar as it can be ascertained will be that the moneys to be provided by the Oireachtas on the basis of this Bill will be in the region of £300,000. If we are serious about the provision of scholarships, the extension of scholarship schemes, the extension of the whole idea of people benefiting from education in this world where people are crying out for education, the amount envisaged at the end of four years, pursuant to the provisions of this Bill, is but a fleabite. That would tend to strengthen the suspicion that there is an element of pre-election propaganda in this document.

Vanity would make me believe that this Bill is produced as a result of a motion put down some time ago by Deputy McQuillan and myself asking for better educational services. I suppose I have a right to assume that the arguments made by me were so compelling to the Minister that this is the end product. However, commonsense leaves me no alternative but to accept that the motion has had very little influence in the production of this Bill and that, in fact, it is designed to provide a rather modest niche in the coming election manifesto of the Minister's Party.

I believe this is a fair charge because most of the wordy platitudes which the Minister used in the course of his opening speech about the need to develop the finest brains and talents to the maximum, and so on, were true last year, the year before last, five years ago, ten years ago, or 20 or 30 years ago. It seems to me to be asking too much to ask the House to believe that this Bill is produced merely because the Department of Education has decided that the defects in our educational services, particularly in relation to the provision of scholarships, should be made up at this time.

This could be accepted as part of the political campaign if it were not such a serious matter. The care of old people, better health services and education are the three most important functions of any Government and their proper expansion and development is one of the great privileges of any Government in its time of office.

I object to the suggestion in the Minister's speech that this Bill will achieve what he called the principal object of the Bill, namely, to bring forward for the benefit of the nation as a whole the country's best talent wherever it may be found. I have no doubt that that will get a little paragraph to itself in theIrish Press tomorrow and later on in the election literature of the Party but it just does not happen to be true. If it were true, then the Bill could be welcomed.

Clearly, this Bill is defective in many ways and its major defect is in respect of its limitations on expenditure. Quite clearly, there is no sense of urgency, immediacy or necessity to deal with an urgent problem in the Minister's mind when he introduces this Bill. Remember, what the House debated, what the House agreed to and what the Taoiseach agreed to substantially was the proposition put forward by us that the child should have a choice at the age of 14 or 15 of staying on for an additional year in the primary school or going forward to a vocational school or, alternatively, to a university, depending solely on the question of merit in a particular line in relation to education. This Bill does not provide for that at all. It is a make-shift, last minute device intended to continue to fool the people into believing the Government have any serious interest in this whole question of education.

I suppose it would be true to say that some children may benefit after a time from the provisions of this Bill but it would be quite wrong to say the country's best talent, wherever it is to be found, will benefit from this Bill. It is quite clear, as the Minister said in another part of his speech, that even at present, a number of counties are lagging behind in the provision of schemes under the 1944 Scholarships Act. "There are a small number of counties which lag very much behind the others in scholarship provision," he said in his speech. That is true. It has always been true when legislation of this kind was being put on the statute book. There are counties which, either because of the fact that they have not particularly enlightened councils, or because of the very much more mundane and real fact that they have not got the money—poor counties, like the counties on the western seaboard—lag behind in the provision of these services. They have no alternative to denying their children the opportunities of higher education.

It is absurd to put a county like Leitrim on the same footing as Limerick, Cork or Dublin. The result is that the child in the backward county, the less wealthy county, is victimised for no reason whatsoever—through no fault of his or her own—other than that he or she happened to be born in a particular part of the country. That has always been true and even under the provisions of this Bill it will continue to be true, because the poor counties will stay poor in relation to this Bill, and the slight addition they will get, will still leave them in the position that they cannot compete on the same footing in regard to the provision of scholarships with the wealthier parts of the country.

To that extent it is misleading and wrong for the Minister to say: "It is directed towards bringing forward, for the benefit of the country as a whole, the very best talent...." That is not true. It will not do that. As I say, under the 1944 Act it did not, and under this Bill there will be the same discrepancy in relation to the relative poverty of these counties.

I believe that a valid principle is applicable in this regard. I believe that everyone with a natural talent should be given the opportunity of developing it to the optimum. That principle if it is valid and good—and it is—should have general application. That principle has not been observed in this Bill. There is no general application of the principle that every child with talent should be given the opportunity to develop that talent—whether manual skill or skill of the mind and brain—to the optimum.

The Minister has put a limitation and a restriction on these scholarships. One quarter of the children will get scholarships which are not subject to a means test. Clearly if there is any limitation at all, that means that a certain number of children will be excluded. In regard to the question of education, as indeed in regard to the question of health, it is difficult to know which section of the people is worse hit. There is the position of the worker who has a large family. Most of our people have large families. They are told to have large families and, having got them, they are told: "They are all yours now; get on with it". They are given little or no help or education, and are not looked after properly.

There is the working class family which has one or more clever and talented children in a family of five, six or seven. That family is faced with the serious dilemma, when the child is 14 or 15 years, of whether or not to let the child go on and develop its talent. If it accepts on the one hand the sacrifices involved, does that mean that the sacrifices will be met by the other children, either in relation to the food they eat, the clothing they wear, the entertainment they enjoy, or even the health facilities they can avail of?

As a result of making sacrifice and sending one child forward to avail of a scholarship—the parents of the working class household must face the fact that the child could make money, even a few shillings, pedalling around on a messenger boy's bicycle or selling newspapers and so on—the parents lose income. The feeding and clothing of the other children must also be taken into consideration because everyone will agree that, generally speaking the scholarships are inadequate, and many of them grossly inadequate, for working class parents who are trying to provide for the proper care and education of the other children.

It is difficult for the working class family. For the white collar worker with again a large family, the problem is nearly as great. They must try to live up to a particular level or standard and also try to educate their children. They have to pay for the fact that we have not got a proper health service; they have to try to make allowance for their old age. They must feed and clothe their children and try to provide money for a vacation. All these added charges on the family exchequer leave the family with the alternative of educating possibly one child—or at best two—and the rest are sent off to do the best they can in unskilled work of one kind or another.

I think it is very wrong that any family—working class, white collar or whatever it may be—should be faced with that dilemma. Any father seeing that a child is clever, and knowing he cannot afford to educate that child, is faced with a dilemma which, in no properly ordered society, he should have to face. This Bill still leaves many families in that position. They are left in that position because there is this means test in relation to a certain number of them—three quarters of them—and for that reason young boys and girls will be denied access to higher education. So, again, it is wrong and misleading for the Minister to say there will be a benefit to the nation as a whole by bringing forward the country's best talents wherever they are to be found. That simply is not true.

Again, on a third count, I say the Minister will pass by certain young boys and girls with talent and ability, who could develop that talent and ability if given the opportunity. That is implicit in the limit which he places on the amount of money which will be spent by him and may be spent by local authorities to provide scholarships. It is quite clear that if he is going to limit the amount of money he is providing for these scholarships, he is going to limit the number of children who can come forward.

Clearly, if the Minister were genuine in his anxiety to see that the country's best talent, wherever it is to be found, is given the opportunity of higher education, he would say: "Here are the scholarships and send me the bill; educate these children and send me the bill". It is quite impossible for the Minister to make out his bill in advance. If he does, he certainly is putting a limit on the number of children who can avail of scholarships and consequently is not honouring the pledge which he has given in his speech, to look for talent and to educate it. Where there is a limit on the amount of money to be spent on these scholarships, somebody is going to be neglected, whether it is in the lower income group or in the middle income group.

The Minister makes no pretence in the important section in his Bill of honouring this pledge of looking for the talent and educating it, wherever it is to be found. What he is saying is that if there are 12 children, 13 children, 100 children, or 500 children, you will educate just as many as will be covered by this sum, as made up by the subvention from the rates and by the Exchequer, and no more. If there are 100 children, or if there are ten children, or 500 or 1,000 more, they must be denied this education, this access to higher education which he tells us, in a series of platitudinous remarks is so necessary from the point of view of our children and our society.

I believe that this tiered education system which we have has been greatly responsible for the retention of the privileges in our society which are such an objectionable feature. It seems to be very wrong that a child of wealthy parents, no matter what his ability, whether he has talent or not, is pushed forward to be a doctor, a lawyer, or an architect or whatever it may be, while children of talent but of less wealthy or poor parents are denied the opportunity. It seems to be a negation of the Constitution's phrase to cherish all equally.

I do not know whether at this stage it is possible for the Minister to deal seriously with this question of education. This obviously is a particularly timid effort. The Minister talks about the danger of substituting a system which, however new and shiny, might not correspond with the original idea in every way. From reading that, everyone would think of the Minister on his white charger, as a knight in armour who is charging against unknown armies and pioneering something completely new and novel, blazing a new path. But we are at the tag end of this whole question of social development and in the provision of education, one has only to look at the other countries in the world, at New Zealand or the Scandinavian countries, at Great Britain or across the Border, to know that this is no experimental question, the question of equal opportunities in education. It is an accepted fact of life in the average democracy, with the exception of a few, and they are beginning to understand the whole question of the community paying for the members of its society who have not got the money themselves to pay for their health services and so on.

This whole question of the socialist approach to the organisation of society is becoming more and more accepted and paying greater and greater dividends in the provision of a very highly educated mass of the population. Even the most backward countries are beginning to understand that there is a tremendous loss to every society which denies to every child capable of developing his character, the opportunity to develop his talents. It is quite clear, looking around the world, that the socialist societies which have accepted that general principle are leading most of the other more backward, so-called democracies in the world of science, technology, education, literature, the arts and every aspect of education.

So that the Minister when he says he might be frightened of turning down something, not knowing quite what to put in its place, should look around the world and he will find plenty of examples from societies which have found that the simple answer is for the community at large to provide from the common purse the wherewithal to give talented children, the talented young boy or girl, access to higher education or vocational education merely on the simple test of capability.

I await with fascination and great interest future development in these matters in this country. I do not suppose I am misrepresenting him when I say that Pope John in his EncyclicalMater et Magistra has himself come out—to say “as a socialist” would probably be going a little far—as a man who recommends socialisation or socialist ideas in both health and education. Is this to be one of the occasions on which we will take our politics from Timbuctoo rather than from Rome or will we treat it as it has already been treated by some of the international Press, misrepresented in some of the national Press and suppressed or misrepresented? A famous headline from one of our national newspapers on the Encyclical read: “The Pope Condemns Socialism.”

This does not seem to be relevant.

I am leaving it. I have said enough.

I want merely to recommend the Minister to consider that educational services for our people cannot effectively be dealt with in piecemeal fashion, that is, if he is really serious in his aim. I suggest that if he is not prepared to find the money to give us, there should be a scheme whereby the Exchequer would be fully responsible for all scholarships.

One of the surprising aspects of Government here is that we are repeatedly told of the state of prosperity of the country, for which we are asked to thank the Government. We are told it is possible to spend anything up to £6,000,000 on jet aircraft but yet it appears that we are too hard up to educate our children, to give our sick better health services or to care properly for our aged. If, in fact, we are too hard up to educate our children properly—I am sure that will not get a headline in theIrish Press tomorrow—would it be possible for the Minister to amend his scheme and give it a certain impetus in its early stages by introducing a clause on the lines of the financial provisions of the 1947 Health Act which, he may recall, the Government accepted, with a certain baseline, and paid to bring up the total amount spent by local authorities to a certain level? I should prefer that he would put no ceiling on expenditure by the State, that he would put no ceiling on the expenditure by health authorities, that he would encourage local authorities to spend to the maximum if he is not prepared to take what I think is the proper step, namely to say to the relevant parties: “Devise scholarship schemes which will provide for access to higher educational opportunities whether in the universities, the vocational schools or otherwise for every child who can avail of them and send the bill to the Department of Education and we shall be glad to pay up.”

The Minister alleged in his concluding remarks that there is a type of public schizophrenia in regard to educational expenditure, an irrational attitude on the part of many people who demand an increase in educational services but who are not prepared to face up to the need for increased expenditure on the services. I think that is an unworthy allegation to make in respect of the people of Ireland who are fully conscious of the need to spend more and more on educational services, who are growing to appreciate more and more that expenditure on educational services is one of the most productive forms of public investment.

We are a country poor in natural resources. We have no lack of brain power. It is to our shame that we fail to develop that brain power to the fullest extent. One has only to cross the Irish Sea to England to see tens of thousands of semi-literate Irish persons who are capable of engaging in no other form of livelihood than labouring by reason of their lack of education. This Bill, as Deputy Lindsay has said, is only a flea-bite. It does not set a pattern or a model for the development of improved scholarship services.

If the Minister has been preoccupied for the past four or five years with the need for bringing in a scheme such as this, it is suspect that he should do so at this late stage. However, at least it is a start and we can welcome it for that. At least it is setting about the process of ridding this country of a class-riddled system of education which we have tolerated for too long. We must face the need to provide educational services in this country comparable with other advanced European countries.

As far as public expenditure on education is concerned, we are not facing up to that need. We are providing for an expenditure of approximately £60,000 this year on a scholarship scheme: in four years' time the sum will be £300,000. It is far from adequate. As the last speaker said, it contrasts very strangely with expenditure such as £6 million on jet planes and £4,500,000 on the eradication of bovine tuberculosis, necessary and all as a T.B. attestation scheme is.

The Minister believes that it would cut across a fundamental democratic principle if the system whereby local authorities are in control of scholarships in this country were departed from. I am very disappointed that the Minister has retained the system of control of scholarships by local authorities. I do not think local authorities are best equipped to administer these scholarship schemes. Indeed, I do not think it is going too far to say that in some counties one could search high up and low down and one could not find anywhere a body of persons less equipped to administer educational services than the average Irish local authority. I say that with reluctance but it is a fact that, since the inception of the managerial system and county managers, local government has been at a rather low ebb in this country.

As far as raising finance for educational development is concerned, I do not believe that that can properly be done through the medium of the local rates, either in whole or in part. The Minister must be aware—if he is not, he should be—that it is only in the past few weeks that the Government have referred to the newly set-up Economic Research Institute the question of surveying the rating structure of this country. We are all conscious of the fact that the rating system has many defects. There are many anomalies in it. There are services provided for financially through the rates which should be on the Central Fund andvice versa. I submit that the education service is an obvious example of the type of public service which should be provided for out of the Central Fund rather than out of the local rates.

As far as the local authorities are concerned, education is the Cinderella. Dublin Corporation provides no more than £22,000 per year for scholarships. In the City of Dublin, which is a case in point, during the past fifteen years there has not been one public library built. The city has been developed very considerably. New suburbs have been set up but our local authority is so little concerned about the provision of such amenities that not one of these new suburbs has been equipped with a public library. That is a measure of the lack of concern on the part of such bodies to provide for educational services.

Rates are a form of taxation. In Dublin, particularly, the rates are very high and I sympathise with those members of Dublin Corporation who say that the provision of scholarships is something which should properly be done by the State. If the Minister is merely going to match pound for pound local authority expenditure, with Departmental methods, I cannot see any great extension of scholarships in this country in the forseeable future.

The amounts provided by several local authorities are very small. As a previous speaker said, it is noteworthy that the poorest counties, in particular, have provided very meagre sums for scholarships in the past, particularly those on the Western seaboard. County Clare, the Minister's own county, in 1959-60 provided only £600 for university scholarships. Laois provided £550 and Leitrim £880. All these areas, as Deputy Mulcahy pointed out, are not by any means noted for the dullness of their children. Quite the contrary. They are areas lacking in natural resources. They are areas where educational development would result in very considerable rewards both nationally and socially.

The Minister, in his opening speech, spoke about the laggard counties. What is he going to do about that? Has he provided himself with any mechanism in this Bill whereby he would be able to call them to task and ensure that an adequate number of scholarships are provided? I do not see that he has done so at all. I believe that, ideally, there should be no means test at all in respect of secondary school and university scholarships. As there must be a means test, I think it should be uniform as between one county and another. I do not think that is the case at present.

The amounts of scholarships in the different counties vary very much. That is a system which is not being changed in the Bill. Presumably, they will continue to vary. Deputy Mulcahy asked us to consider what, if any, investigation has been made as to what are the reasonable costs of education which should be covered by scholarships and what are the items of maintenance that should be provided for. That is not being done at all.

In that connection I should point out to the Minister that many educationalists, both school and university authorities have expressed concern at the growing practice of young students in both secondary schools and universities to engage in vocational employment outside the country. That has been going on for some time in regard to the universities. It has only recently developed in secondary schools. The President of the Secondary Schools' Organisation recently expressed grave concern about the matter.

I must admire the young boy who, in order to help his parents meet his constantly rising school fees and the cost of maintenance, goes abroad in summertime to earn £12 or £15 a week on the buses in the Isle of Man or Blackpool or in a canning factory or even at sea. That is an indication of the great need for adequate provision for such costs as maintenance. How many scholarships are necessary and how far does this Bill go towards meeting the needs of the nation?

I hope that I do not sound pessimistic about this. I admit it is a start. I give the Minister credit for doing something which none of his predecessors did, even if he is doing it on the eve of an election. But let us not fool ourselves. Let us not accept this as a pattern or a model for the future. It is very meagre.

The Minister is retaining in this Bill the provisions of the 1944 Act whereby he must approve of the regulations made by local authorities in regard to scholarship schemes. The Minister is retaining power to modify and alter such schemes in such manner as he thinks proper. He is retaining power to refuse to approve of any scheme of scholarships or ancilliary regulations.

I said a few moments ago that local authorities were, by and large, ill equipped to cater for this service. We have had one very striking illustration of that in recent years. We are not extending the number of university scholarships available. I do not know exactly how many there are in Dublin city because I have not got the data before me, but in a year's time the number will be at least double. The situation, it would appear, will continue to prevail whereby some of my Protestant constituents will be unable to avail of Dublin Corporation university scholarships in the University of their choice. I deplore that fact. I believe that the State or a local authority has not the right to set itself up as the keeper of the conscience of any individual. The Minister is well aware that the vast number of young Protestants leaving secondary schools here would wish to proceed to Trinity College, Dublin, to avail of a university education. They are quite entitled to go there. If they qualify for a university scholarship, it is a gross injustice to deprive them of taking up their scholarship in the university of their choice.

It is as simple as that. At present the regulations made by several local authorities, under these Acts we are now reviewing, including, I am ashamed to say, Dublin Corporation, will permit no one, not even a Protestant, to take up a scholarship in the university of his choice. Insofar as the Minister has approved of these regulations and insofar as he has the right to insist on amendment of these regulations made by local authorities, he is condoning a breach of simple justice in relation to these people and I take him to task for that.

The best that can be said of this Bill is that it recognises the direction which our educational policy should take but that it timidly and haltingly looks at the road and says: "We will travel just a portion of this road because it is too expensive to exploit it more than a very short distance." That is the pity about this Bill, which is framed in a good outlook, against the background of a desire to make more progress in the educational field and which is obviously born of a recognition that the present scholarship standards throughout the country are so hopelessly inadequate that we ought to do something substantial in 1961 if our people are not to be left hopelessly behind in the race to equip young people adequately for the battle of life, which is becoming harder, tougher and sterner with every day and every month that passes.

I do not think it will be seriously challenged that education provides the access and the key to greater skills, nor do I think it will be seriously challenged that education provides for intellectual development. Without education you cannot have the key to higher skills and higher intellectual development. If we accept these two contentions, it clearly follows that our failure to develop educational facilities for our people means we deliberately deny them by State policy access to higher skills and higher intellectual development.

In this age, where the competitive spirit is greater than it ever has been, where we are now citizens of a common world, where space has been virtually annihilated and when we are on the eve of entering a gigantic Common Market in Europe, one would imagine we would recognise much more fundamentally than we are doing in this Bill the necessity for equipping our people so that in the Common Market, in this wider and more cohesive world in this highly competitive age, our people will not stand as second class citizens but will have access to the educational facilities other enlightened countries are providing for their people. Because we are poor in material resources, because we are numerically small, without the ability to make an impact or impression on the world by our physical or numerical strength, is all the more reason why we ought to recognise we are too backward educationally and too poor materially to economise on education.

We can do as the Swiss have done and make up for that in the educational field. Better than anybody else in the world, the Swiss have been able to make up for their smallness numerically and physically and for the absence of raw materials. They have been able to give skills to their people, not one of which is indigenous, in the production by the country of the raw materials necessary for the development of industry. If you go to Switzerland and study the system of education there, you will find the whole impact of State policy is designed to make the Swiss one of the best educated people in the world. Of course, it has succeeded. You do not find the Swiss emigrating to other countries to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water. You do not find them doing menial jobs in other countries. You do not find them down other people's mines. You do not see them doing the kind of hod-hauling job our people very frequently have to take when they go away—the kind of job they have to take because of the absence of higher education which could for them be the passport to a better job and a better way of life.

I have nothing but the best intentions towards the Minister. I think he has the opportunity of making history for himself in this educational field, which, relatively, has not been scraped and certainly has not been exploited to anything like the extent of the educational facilities provided in other countries in Europe. By every educational standard, we are behind the democratic countries of Europe from the point of view of the money spent and the facilities provided. More and more they have come to recognise the value of education. Now, since we are an outpost of Western Europe, facing the task of earning the means of our livelihood in the middle of the competitive heart of Europe itself we must do the same.

This Bill does something. It increases expenditure from £150,000 to about £300,000 four years hence. That indicates that we are travelling in the right direction but not travelling far enough, and this Bill does not provide the Minister with the equipment necessary to expand the educational facilities available to us here. We ought to accept the principle—if we are to make any progress at all—that every child with ability in the country should be entitled to secondary education. There can be no answer to the morality of that claim. Greater education is the key to greater skill and greater intellectual development. I see no reason why we should not accept the principle that every child has a moral right to secondary education, that it is the function of the State to provide that education. If we accept that, then more and more of our children will get the key to culture and skills and intellectual development and that cultural heritage inseparable from intellectual development.

Here, we have never accepted secondary education as the right of every child and the result is that we have a hotch-potch scholarship scheme which, in 1961, has reached the puny figure of an expenditure of £150,000 per year. So far, with all our talk about nobility of ideals and virtues, secondary and university education are obtained only if you have a cheque book, a good bank balance. I deny that a child's right to intellectual development should be governed by a cheque book; I deny that the right to a decent education should be governed by the fact that our children have access to the means of wealth and I definitely reject the idea that the child of, perhaps, poor parents must go through life with his mind blighted or half-developed, without access to skills or intellectual development, merely because of the poverty of the family and their inability to provide that access to education.

Is it not time, in 1961, that we accept without equivocation the obligation to provide secondary education for all children and that it should not be the privilege of those who have access to the cheque book as a means of providing it? Is it right that we should continue an educational system which because of our inability to provide money—while providing money for less virtuous activities—still denies access to universities to persons whose minds would be immensely enhanced, whose skill would be immensely developed for the benefit of the nation if they had the advantage of university education?

One of the things that can be said to their credit—and it is time the western world learned of this—is that in all the countries where Communist influence reigns, whatever other mistakes they have made, they certainly have not made any mistake from the point of view of educational development. Every one of these countries, judged by international statistics, is building more and more universities; more and more of their citizens are being trained in the universities and more and more emphasis is put on going to universities and taking degrees in technical subjects, with the result that more and more of their people are coming out of universities and colleges better equipped, I am afraid; than the citizens of many western countries for the battle of life, better equipped for the technical progress associated with some of these countries. If that can be done by the Communist countries, democratic Europe and this small island should not be behind in the race to give the people at least the facilities that are provided elsewhere.

I had hoped that the Minister would have made some sort of major breakthrough on this whole question of educational services and that even though it might take us some time to reach the pinnacle of a first-class educational service, nevertheless we should see the framework of what the future holds. I know of no better purpose on which we could all campaign together as a united House than on the provision of money for the education of our people. The value of providing them with a good education to work at home is incalculable and even if they emigrate, even if we cannot stop emigration, is it not better for them to arrive in another country having obtained a good secondary education here than to emigrate with the fragmentary knowledge they get if all their time is spent only at national schools and especially if they attend fairly irregularly during their period at such schools?

Whether they stay at home or emigrate, Irish citizens ought to recognise that they cannot carry with them any lighter equipment than knowledge and education and light though it may be, it is still the best—in fact, the main—passport to regular employment at proper rates of pay. It is because it means so much to us in that field at home and so much to our potential emigrants that we ought to spend more money on education, even if we have to prune services which might perhaps be more spectacular in one direction but which do not give us the enduring results that can be got if we fortify our people properly by access to standards of education which, I am afraid, will be insisted upon in the new world into which we are being precipitated and which will be sadly missed by our citizens if we try to live in that world ill-equipped compared with other occupants of it because we are not now taking the bold and vigorous steps that we ought to take in respect of educational facilities.

I am sure that everybody, including the Minister, will subscribe to the principle that no boy or girl of ability should be prevented, by lack of means, from reaching the highest rung of the educational ladder attainable by his or her talents. Most of us, I think, would go so far as to say that our children should be encouraged in every way towards a higher standard of education for their own benefit and the benefit of the country. Viewed in that light, I am sure the Minister will not disagree, if I describe his Bill as a modest effort in the right direction. I do not subscribe to the view put forward here today that we are in a position to tell every boy and girl in the country to get the best education they can and send the bill to the Minister. That would be an ideal state of affairs, if it could be achieved. In our present circumstances we must have some regard to the realities of the situation. An expenditure of £300,000, augmented by an expenditure of £250,000 from local authorities in four years' time, is not very substantial and the Minister would have been justified in going at least a little further in the scheme he has put before the House.

I welcome this scheme and I hope that the Minister, or his successor, possibly, will find it possible in the not too distant future to build further on the foundation the Minister is laying. The time is not inopportune to have a look at the present set-up in education. The Minister in introducing his Estimate this year gave certain statistics. In round figures we have some 500,000 children attending primary schools, about 70,000 children who undergo post-primary education in either secondary or vocational schools, and at the top of the ladder we have the lucky ones—some might say the wealthy ones—who attend our universities. They number about 7,000 native-born Irish. Of the 500,000 children who complete their primary education between 13 and 15, roughly one in seven gets an opportunity of post-primary education. The bulk of those go on to secondary school. About one in 70 has the advantage of a university education. That would not encourage us to believe we are either educationally or technically equipped to face the difficulties which will confront us when the new European Community comes into being, and that might well be only a few years hence.

I should like to think that the Minister's scheme of extended scholarships for secondary or other forms of post-primary education would be availed of by the boys or girls concerned in order to attend technical schools or technological colleges. I have a feeling—I have expressed this view before—that there is a certain snobbishness attached to attending a secondary school and I expressed the hope a year or two ago that some means would be found to bring technical education into the general scheme of secondary education and that we would not have this distinction between a secondary school as such and what is generally described as "the Tech".

It is not correct to say that all our young people should go to university. I do not believe that would be practicable. I do not believe the vast bulk would benefit by university education. I should like to see a far greater number taking technical education. I believe the progress, the economic well-being, the wealth and the happiness of a country depends fundamentally on those who are equipped technically and scientifically to expand the resources of the country. It is a grand thing to have people with a classical education. Such an education is essential. I do not subscribe to the view that the only progress nowadays is technical progress and that there is too much classical education. Education in the humanities always pays a dividend. The best of all education for our young people ought to be a sound general secondary education. In Irish industry to-day, a far higher standard is required as compared with some years ago. I have some experience of Irish industry and I know that management now wants boys and girls with a technical school or secondary school education. The chances for boys and girls with a primary education only are growing fewer and fewer.

I should like to refer to the mechanics of the Minister's scheme. I am not quite clear how it will work out in practice. Perhaps the Minister will elucidate some points when he comes to reply. As I understand it, in the first year the Minister will give £ for £ up to a maximum of 1d. in the rates. Does that apply to existing schemes operated by local authorities or is this additional to those schemes? Limerick City Council operates a university and secondary school scholarship scheme. They give three university scholarships at £200 each. I think that is the highest in the country. They give ten post primary scholarships of £25 each, two of which are confined to girls. In other words, they give £850 for the first year of the university or post primary course. The figure multiplies as the course progresses.

If the Minister's contribution is intended as a contribution towards current cost, it will mean that in Limerick we shall be reducing our contribution towards the university end of the scheme if we comply with the requirement that only one-third of the moneys available must be devoted to university scholarships and two-thirds to post primary scholarships. The Minister may say that because he would give only £ for £ up to a maximum of 1d. in the rates, the local authority is not precluded from giving more. This appears to be a joint State-Local Authority effort and they should, therefore, be put on a basis of equality. I should like the Minister to expand that aspect when he comes to reply. He also says that not more than one-third of the moneys available may be devoted to university scholarships. What happens to the fraction? You have three scholarships. What happens? It is a small point, perhaps, but the Minister and his officials might give their attention to it.

I have tried to estimate what this will mean with regard to the number of extra scholarships. Taking the Limerick City Council scheme, we give £200 a year for a four or five year university course, or roughly £1,000 in all. It would appear to me that something like 100 extra students should be able to avail of university education. It is not a great increase, if my estimate is even roughly correct, in the present number of between 7,000 and 8,000 who are attending universities in this country. On the basis of our scheme in Limerick, were we to give £25 Scholarships, it appears to me we would add another 2,000 children to the numbers already enjoying the benefits of secondary and technical education. In numbers rather than in terms of money, the additional number of young people who will be able to avail of scholarships will be very small indeed. Nevertheless, the scheme is indeed a move in the right direction.

I wonder if the Minister has considered, instead of reserving one quarter of the available money for scholarships without means tests, as an alternative raising the means test and not reserving one quarter of the funds as the scheme sets out. The means test ceiling varies in every centre. We in Limerick City Council raised it from £800 to £1,000. I think it would be much better if there were a level ceiling of, say, £1,200 in the case of all local authorities and no exclusion on the question of means below that figure. The money available would then give better value to the children applying for scholarships.

In Limerick in particular, this scheme will be welcome as the Minister will appreciate from the number of contacts he has had in recent years with the sponsors of the proposal to have a constituent college of the National University in Limerick. In view of that project, Limerick's share of the money available under this scheme will be but a small drop in the ocean in comparison with the proposal to have a college of the National University in Limerick. In a centre of between 11,000 and 12,000 secondary school children, the provision of another half dozen university scholarships will make very little difference and I trust the Minister will not look upon this scheme as in any way a substitute for the need in Limerick and the whole country for a fourth university college. I am aware that this is under active consideration by a Commission set up by the Minister, but in case he might think that the Limerick people or the people in the areas contiguous to it could be fobbed off with any scholarship scheme, I want to reiterate the case that the only answer for the growing primary and secondary school populations is the establishment of another country of the National University.

Under this Bill the State is for the first time undertaking the responsibility of providing scholarships for our highly intelligent boys and girls. The Bill is well thought out and carefully designed but it is no major development because of the very negligible sum provided. The sum provided by the State is conditional on the local authorities providing a sum of almost similar proportion in their respective areas. In recent years, the tendency of the Government is to throw more and more responsibility on the local authorities. Does the Minister realise how difficult these local bodies are finding it to make ends meet? Does he realise that in certain borough and county council areas rates are already as high as 24/- in the £ and does he appreciate how determined the people are to resist any further impositions?

This scholarship scheme should be entirely a charge on the State in a country where we can give half a million pounds for television in special guarantees and loans and where we can provide millions for aeroplanes. Surely a fundamental matter like the education of our children should get priority. For those reasons, I feel the Bill will not evoke any spectacular applause throughout the country because the people who pay the rates are those who will also provide the cash for the scholarships. The double commitment for them will not be very enticing. We must remember that thousands of our children will never have an opportunity of a secondary education, and while the scheme of scholarships already in existence may be effective in areas where the local authorities are conversant with the needs of the children in their respective areas, it is poor consolation to them that a very attractive scheme of scholarships operated by the Government will never be attainable for many of those children.

This Bill would be ideal if we had a general system of secondary education for everybody in the State. That situation is very far away. We know of the secondary top, as it was called in earlier years, where the primary course was carried on and the intermediate examination was done in the national school. That is disappearing rapidly because of the competition between the secondary schools throughout the country. The parents feel a certain humiliation in keeping on their children in a school classified as secondary top, if there is already a full-blooded secondary school in the neighbourhood.

We have a great deal of snobbery in the country in relation to education because of the lack of integration and the failure to knit one system in with another. We will have that so long as we have this lack of uniformity. If the Department have £300,000 to throw away, I think it would be more fruitfully utilised by making some provision for the areas long lacking secondary education by way of supplying books for the secondary course which are now so costly for parents in limited circumstances.

I agree entirely with the Minister that there is a great and growing demand for higher education — for secondary, vocational, and university education. That is all to the good but when we reflect on the fact that it is beyond many of our children ever to attain to that status we have to be very careful. The provision of a fundamentally sound system of education is vary desirable in the present age. We see that greater and greater sums are provided annually for the education of the children of all other countries because the people there recognise that, in the competitive age in which we live, if they want their children to hold their own, the Government or whatever authority provides the money for education, must not be niggardly in making provision for the facilities these children need if they are to have a full education in the country of their adoption.

One thing I do not like is the extraordinary competition between secondary schools and the vast sums spent on advertising results. If these secondary schools would only devise a scheme of scholarships instead of advertising, much more would be accomplished. This advertising takes from the intrinsic worth of education and emphasises its commercial side. It is a pity there is that development which does not do us any good and which causes disquiet in the minds of unfortunate parents who have neither the opportunity nor the facilities of having vocational or secondary education provided for their children.

Although the Bill is well thought out and ingeniously designed, in our circumstances at the moment it is meagre in the provision it makes for scholarships. It is meagre particularly in the first few years and even in the eventual sum of £200,000. However, we hope that small beginnings will lead to great achievements and now that the ice is broken, the Minister will go into deeper waters and sail our educational ship to brighter horizons than we see at the moment.

Undoubtedly at local authority level there has been a recognition of the necessity for an increase in both the number and value of scholarships made available. In this Bill I notice the Minister is anxious to maintain the democratic principle in regard to local control so as to avoid inequality and injustice in relation to the best pupils in the State.

I wonder does this measure give us that? Is this the type of measure which will ensure that the best pupils will be able by scholarships to reach the university? Does even the scholarship system as it is now operated as between one local authority area and another give equality and bring to the top the best scholars in those areas? The system as it is worked allows for a local arrangement in regard to a means test applied to the parents of pupils, and the examinations are then conducted on behalf of the local authorities. Up to now, scholarship schemes were operated by the local authorities within their boundaries. Now the State steps in with the avowed object of increasing the number of scholarships and giving opportunities to the best in the State. There is inequality in regard to the standard reached in the scholarship examinations. In one area, the marks given reach a certain percentage and in another area reach a different percentage, which indicates there is inequality of opportunity in those areas.

There is a means test for the award of scholarships but there is, to my mind, another means test which applies within the scheme as it exists at the present time, that is, a means test as to the school from which the pupil comes. Take the rural school at the present time. Pupils in a one-teacher school or in a two-teacher school where the teacher is handling several classes are at a disadvantage when, at the end of the sixth standard course, they have to compete for scholarships on equal terms with the pupils of a school where there is a single teacher for a single class, where there is provision for a scholarship class and where, as I have mentioned previously in this House, there is a system of cramming which is aimed completely at the achievement of results in scholarship examinations. In many small country schools there are students who would prove brilliant and more suitable for university education if they had the opportunity of reaching the university than those produced under the present system. That is something to which the Minister should give some thought.

There is an attempt now being made to make secondary education available to a larger number of children by the provision of secondary schools in the smaller towns and even in the villages. In the constituency I represent, there are quite a number of them and we are satisfied with the facilities for secondary education available to the children in those areas. There again, however, the children are at a disadvantage in competing for university scholarships with the larger schools where more attention can be given to the preparation of pupils for university scholarships. That raises doubts as to the equality of opportunity afforded, so as to make such scholarships available to the best pupils.

That will present difficulties but it should not be beyond the bounds of possibility to make due provision in scholarship schemes for the type of school from which the pupil comes. There is grading of horses and dogs to allow them to compete in races. Grading should apply in the case of scholarships. I am thinking especially of rural schools and I suggest that they should get an opportunity of obtaining their fair share of scholarships.

I presume that the mechanics of the scholarship scheme will be worked out between the Department and the local authorities. In my county there has been a discussion at county council level and it was agreed that the present level of financial provision is too low. In the case of scholarships to the university regard must be had to the university fees, the cost of accommodation, of examination fees and of books. It should also be recognised that a university student requires a certain minimum provision to allow him to avail of the social activities which are an important feature of university life.

The aim which we all desire to achieve is the provision of secondary education for everybody who wants to avail of it. That is not feasible at the present time, because children living in rural areas have no opportunity of secondary education unless schools are provided for them. When speaking on the Estimate for Education, I asked the Minister if he could devise a scheme which would assist people who are prepared to bring secondary education to the smaller centres of population. Everybody knows that we cannot provide secondary education for the entire schoolgoing population but university graduates could be encouraged to establish schools in rural areas by giving them financial consideration and the necessary sympathy of the Department. That is the only way by which the benefits of secondary education can be extended within a reasonable length of time.

There is also the question of scholarships to technical schools and schools which give technological education. There has been a good deal of discussion as to the problems which the Common Market creates for this country. In Denmark folk schools were established based on the agricultural farms. The Danes readily accepted the opportunity they provided to bring technical skill to industries based on the raw material of their land. In the extension of scholarship facilities, we should make provision for a similar type of education here. It would be well worth while to make a determined effort to extend the benefits of such technical education.

The vast majority of the graduates of our universities leave the country. Many students at the universities know that when they graduate they will be faced with the problem of finding a job elsewhere. We might with great benefit to the country as a whole attract students who have attained the Leaving Certificate into higher technical schools.

The Bill, which recognises the need for increased scholarships, is very welcome. The financial provision has been criticised. However, it is an attempt to move forward in the right direction. I should like the Minister to inform us, when he is replying to the debate, whether he will have any powers to influence local authorities to increase their provisionvis-á-vis the provision the State is prepared to make. From the point of view of the provision of increased facilities for scholarships, I welcome the Bill but there is the defect in the scholarship system at the present time that there is no recognition of the type of school from which the pupil comes and there is a means test which often operates against the pupil with ability. I should be glad to hear from the Minister if he can give any indication along those lines.

Mr. Ryan

If ever there was a disappointing Bill, this surely is one. The Minister expressed surprise in his opening speech that there was not more criticism of the meagre scholarship structure which has been in existence over the years. Of course we know only too well that this Bill is introduced now because of the vehement criticism of the Fine Gael Party, over the past four years in particular. This Bill is purely a sop to the electorate to indicate that Fianna Fáil are not unaware of the disgraceful neglect of education in this country.

The fact of the matter is that while this Bill is inadequate, it is better than nothing. For that reason, it is deserving of some support. Let me say that this Bill is merely the overture to the educational opera which the Fine Gael Government will produce before the end of the year. While we are glad that a Minister, who is personally a pleasant person, is leading the overture, someone else will lead the educational orchestra in a very short time. Perhaps that is just as well. The Minister must be embarrassed at introducing such a miserable pittance. It is an indication that he has not been able to get the better of the Minister for Finance.

That is a rather lame excuse for not scrapping altogether the old system under which the local authorities were asked to make a contribution, but that is not sufficient justification for the Bill in its present form. The Minister suggests that his reason for retaining some responsibility to the local authorities is to preserve "... a democratic principle, a principle which needs to be strengthened rather than perhaps weakened, and which, in such matters as this, if properly put into effect, can cater better for conditions in one locality relative to another than could an absolutely centralised adminstrative machine."

That is very nice and well written, but it is rather remote from what should be done. We know that many of the personnel of the local authorities have, through no fault of their own, a very low educational standard. It is a sorry reflection on our local government that that should be so, but nevertheless it is so. Educationally, our local authorities are in the main of poor calibre, whether we like it or not. I am not concerned about whether I am criticised personally for saying that. It is a matter of fact with which any person of even average intelligence will agree.

That being so, we are handing the educational rights of our children to a group, many of whom will be jealous of better educational opportunities being given to other people. We are throwing what should be the birthright of all young people into competition with bins, garbage collections, street lights, and the hundred and one other services which local authorities are called on to perform. We either believe in equality of opportunity for all children or we do not. It seems to me that the Minister does not, if he throws what ought to be recognised as the right of a child to a decent education into competition with these material and very mundane things.

This year we are told that the finances of the country are so happy that we can give relief to surtax payers, and various other financial reliefs to certain sections of the community which were not under any tremendous pressure. We are asked to accept this miserable Bill as an earnest of the State's interest in education, although it is proposed in this Bill to provide only £50,000 extra to provide scholarships for those who need them most. It is a very sorry reflection on this House that, at the end of a rather busy session, we are asked to give quick approval to this Bill. If the Minister were really sincere, he would not attempt to confuse the educational issues by bringing in such a miserable Bill which will be used as an excuse to postpone any further improvements. It would have been better to leave things, bad and all as they are, for another 12 months and allow someone else the opportunity to bring in a Bill which would be of some value.

I have one worry in connection with the scholarship scheme in general and so far as I have been able to ascertain, it is not proposed to make any improvement in that regard in the Bill. There is in operation a system whereby greater grants and scholarships are given to parents whose children are attending boarding schools. There are cases in which as much as £80 or £50 may be given to parents whose children are attending boarding schools. If the parent takes the child away and sends him to the Local Christian Brothers, or the local day school, the scholarship is reduced by £5 or £10. That is wrong and I believe it is unfair. The maintenance of a child is not very much diminished when he is fed at home rather than at a boarding school. Most boarding schools are not run to make phenomenal profits. There is little ultimate profit in their charges.

If the parent wants to keep the child at the local day school, the child has to be fed at home, and the parent is without the income which the child might bring in if he were working. The parent must provide him with the means of getting to and from school by train, bus or bicycle. He must also be provided with the extra clothing needed to protect him against the weather as he goes to and from school. I believe the authorities have not taken this simple matter into proper account. I hope that in the future there will be less discrimination in respect of scholarships as between children attending boarding schools and children attending day schools.

I have no desire to draw any odious comparisons between boarding schools and day schools, but again we must face the facts. Many boarding schools are institutions which, of their nature, cultivate snobbery. Most of our secondary day schools are run by Christian Brothers and if there is any social democracy in any institution in this country, it is in those institutions. I think it is unfair that those who choose to send their children to boarding schools should get extra assistance far beyond the extra burden of sending them to boarding schools.

One effect this has had is to discourage parents from sending their children to perfectly efficient and suitable day schools. While parents may have different opinions as to whether boarding schools or day schools are preferable, they should be allowed to exercise their judgment independently of any consideration relating to scholarships. I should like, therefore, to see a smaller difference between the scholarships made available to boarding schools and day schools.

There are many other matters relating to scholarships but I do not think it would be proper at this stage and on this miserable Bill to waste the time of the House. This Bill increases to some extent the amount being made available for scholarships. I suppose that is better than nothing.

The whole educational system needs to be thoroughly revised. We need to dovetail kindergarten, primary, secondary, vocational and university education into one comprehensive educational system which will be available to all children, irrespective of whether they were born with a silver, an iron, or a gold spoon in their mouths. This Bill will put very few silver spoons into any mouths and it is going to ease the lot of very few parents. I have not had the time to check on these figures but, as far as I can ascertain, the new Bill proportionally gives less assistance to young people today than did the 1929 Act. That is to say that the numbers attending all schools today, at all levels, have increased to such an extent that this Bill helps a smaller proportion than did the Scholarship Act. Therefore there is no reason why we should rejoice or compliment the Minister about it. It is better than nothing and let us hope it will not be long before necessary legislation will be introduced to do away with all this scholarship system, which to my mind, while it is worthy and desirable at some levels, is to some extent the cause of children cramming for examinations.

The whole educational system does not fall for discussion on this Bill.

Mr. Ryan

I am discussing one of the effects of the scholarship system and, while I appreciate that the whole educational system might not fall for discussion, I am also of the opinion it might be better to reserve more critical comments for another time when we might have before us a Bill which would deal comprehensively with our whole educational system and give equality of opportunity to all our children.

Last week we discussed the importance of agriculture at great length and in that respect education is a very important matter. I wonder if the Minister overlooked the question of scholarships for agriculture when he was framing this Bill? At least some of the money now being provided for scholarships should be ear-marked for agricultural scholarships. Agriculture being our main industry and our agricultural exports being our greatest exports, we should concentrate more on education for the young farmers. I would be very sorry indeed if the Minister did overlook that aspect because it is high time it got a leading place in education. At present there are numerous university graduates with various degrees who cannot make a living in their own country, doctors, dentists——

I do not want to interrupt the Deputy but there is no use in widening the discussion to embrace the entire educational system. This Bill is very restricted. It deals with the extension of the powers given to local authorities to give scholarships to children, to secondary schools and universities. We cannot travel over the whole educational system and the Deputy should confine himself to the Bill.

I feel that some of the money should be reserved for agricultural scholarships. I am basing that argument on the fact that agriculture is our main industry and should get more consideration in the educational sphere because it has been neglected. We have no faculty for agriculture in Cork University. We have to send our students to Dublin.

The Deputy is doing what I asked him not to do.

I do not want to disobey your ruling, Sir. I am not a university graduate myself and I suppose it is a pity that I am not. I am only a plain, practical farmer and because of that——

Then you would be an academic farmer.

I lack university education——

It is not necessary to have a university education to understand a Bill.

I do not want to widen the scope of the Bill, but I want the Minister to consider providing scholarships for the young farmer to attend a university and to get a degree in agriculture if he has the ability and intelligence to do so. That the means of obtaining an agricultural scholarship should not be denied him as it will not be denied him for all the other degrees.

Deputies who have spoken from these benches, almost continually since the Minister introduced this measure, have pretty exhaustively dealt with our attitude to it. It is a very important Bill and one that should not be launched upon this House under the circumstances under which it is now being examined, at a time when the House is concerned with the passing of the Estimates and at a time when, let us be candid about it, the minds of so many members are distracted with impending events.

Impending disaster.

Yes, for some, or for many possibly. I shudder at the thought. It is in these circumstances that the House is examining this measure which is long overdue and the need for which this Party has consistently drawn attention over the last three or four years. We feel the content of the Bill is not up to what we require but we welcome any improvement in regard to easing the difficulties for those who have children who could, if given the opportunity, make their mark in life, if given assistance at the time in their career which would permit them to go on to better things. We all know that due to the drop in the value of money, and the fact that so many people, particularly those in the agricultural industry, have to educate their families, people whose incomes have diminished in recent years, and because of the increased cost of books, of transport, of education and the cost of living generally, it is becoming increasingly burdensome on parents to provide their children with the degree of education which they would desire.

This measure will assist in a very small way but it is a pittance in relation to what would be required to deal effectively with the problem. With regard to the method of levying the cost of these scholarships, as a member of a local authority and as one who would support, on any occasion, the voting of monies for the improvement of education, be it agricultural or the usual type of education, I have no doubt that the Minister will receive the utmost co-operation in the implementation of this Bill from all members of local authorities.

What I fear is that in the circumstances of a figure of rates now being levied at some £2,000,000 in excess of what it was five years ago, in the circumstances of similar levies being imposed on ratepayers by other Ministers in relation to other Acts of this House, this measure will not be examined in the fair and dispassionate manner it merits. It will unfortunately be associated with such impositions on the ratepayers throughout the country as the operations of the Health Act, methods of levying for road maintenance, and so on and so forth. I fear this will be compared with them. If it stood on its own merits and was presented to the local authorities in the circumstances of a rate level of some five or six years' ago then it would be easier to secure the co-operation necessary to implement the consequences of the enactment of this Bill. Even with those difficulties, the situation is so grievous that we shall succeed in getting at local authority level the measure of co-operation essential to implement the provisions of this measure.

There is one defect, again, in the apportionment of the levy on the local authorities. In the areas where it would be of benefit to the pupils and their parents, the product of a levy on rates would be much lower than in the parts of the country where the parents need not have recourse to scholarships. In that way, there is inequity. The product of a rate levy in parts of the country where the provisions of this Bill would be more beneficial will be very much less than that yielded by the levy of a similar amount on the wealtheir and higher-rated parts of the country.

If there were no alternative to this system, we would gladly accept it. I should merely be repeating what those before me have said if I were to express all my views on this measure. I think they have been adequately voiced by my colleagues. The measure is overdue. It is inadequate. It has been launced upon the House at a time when possibly it will not get the consideration it merits. The absence of any supporting voice from the Government benches is a conclusive proof of my point that this is not the time at which such an important measure should be presented.

There were months during which this House sat when we were not distracted by the examination of Estimates. Now, when the House has gone beyond its normal adjournment time, it is an unfortunate time to present the Bill. Notwithstanding the high regard in which the Minister is held by all members of the House, it will be very hard to avoid the charge that the timing of the Bill can be associated only with the preparation of election addresses for the forthcoming general election. The only other explanation is that the Minister has very strongly been influenced by the fact that the provision of adequate scholarships was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition some time ago and has been supported quite strongly by people prominent in the sphere of education. If those considerations guided the Minister and the Government then we in Fine Gael have done a good day's work to bring the necessity for improved scholarships so forcefully before the public that the Government have been forced to react to it. It is unfortunate that the Bill cannot be examined at a time of the year when many more Deputies, even on the Government benches, might have something concrete to add to what the Minister said in his opening statement.

Pádraig Ó hIrighile

Mar a dúirt an Teachta Ua Maolchatha, níl aon rud ins an scéim seo acht briseadh leac-oighre. Admhaím é sin. Ag an am gcéanna, is ábhar bróid domhsa go bhfuil an leac-oighre 'ghá bhriseadh agus gurb é an Rialtas seo atá ciontach leis an obair sin.

I think I said myself that this Bill is only a step. I agree with Deputy Mulcahy that it is just a breaking of the ice. At the same time I am very glad the ice has finally been broken and that it has been broken by a Fianna Fáil Government. I hope the breaking of the ice will be the major part of the big effort required to shape public opinion and the opinion of people in public life towards adequate expenditure on education in this country.

I do not think much in the Bill can be wrong. It must have some political significance when so many people from the opposite side try to snatch little pieces of glory from it for themselves and dampen down the merits of it at the same time. The first attempt was on the part of Deputy Lindsay who started on a "We said it first" theme. He said that Deputy Dillon said first that more scholarships are required. Then some other Deputy said that he and another Deputy put down a motion in this House about it and that they said it first.

I am not concerned about saying things. We did it. We produced a scholarship extension scheme. We provided for the money for that scheme. If anybody wants credit for saying it they can claim it. However, the Taoiseach announced in this House two years ago that he foresaw, within the lifetime of this Dáil, an extension of the scholarship schemes. I think that was before any person made pronouncement upon it.

If certain people want to claim credit for saying things, they can claim credit for saying things. However, Fianna Fáil have provided a scholarship scheme and provided the money for it. Life is simple enough for Deputy Ryan. He has only to come here and say he is against what is being done, that it is bad because it is being done by this Government and that if his Party come to power they will do much better. He lightened the atmosphere by giving some imagery of this being an overture with Fine Gael opera coming later. It was rather entertaining to think of the casting of the characters in the comic opera which he foresaw.

Deputy Ryan was not around in the lifetime of the last Government, as far as I remember. I would remind him that, before the taking over in 1957 by the Fianna Fáil Government, it was not a question of providing a scholarship scheme or a better scholarship scheme. The problem was whether they would be able to pay the teachers. The problem was to provide money for building schools. There was real difficulty in providing money at all. One group of teachers agreed not to force their claim for increased salaries until the finances of the country could be put right again.

The Minister should get off that. Another Government had to put out Fianna Fáil in order to pay teachers and induce them to come back to work.

I am clearing up Deputy Ryan's idea.

The Minister is scattering the dust. He is pulling it out from under the bed instead of sweeping it under the bed.

I could imagine the final scenes of the opera with the Deputy singing Mimi in Caitlín Ní h-Uallacháin if the Coalition Government had lasted much longer.

I could write a good deal on who wrote it first.

I will induce the Minister to write a verse of it.

Some other time.

Deputy Ryan said that more money was provided by the 1929 Act. The 1929 Act gave no State money at all. This is the first time that the State is stepping in to give money to extend the scholarship scheme. Let me deal with the points raised about the Bill.

That would be more constructive.

Deputy Mulcahy was interested to know whether the funds would be in two separate groups, one referring to the Universities Act and the other to the main Act. I visualise one main fund in each local authority area. With regard to the money produced by the local authorities at the moment, I do not visualise any local authority cutting back on that. The problem was to permit a local authority to extend the number of scholarships in the first year and to carry on that extended expenditure in the second year and then extend it still further so that we would have a four years build up. In other words, while the local authority may still raise the money they are raising at the moment, the State's contribution in the first year will be related to the money the local authority raises by the imposition of 1d. on the rates. It will be pound for pound on that. In the second year, it will be still pound for pound. For every 2d. on the rate, there will be a one pound per pound relationship. In the third year the State contribution will be one and a half to one and in the fourth year it will be the same thing. The aim will be a five to four ratio between state and local contribution, making one fund which will be divided into two-thirds for post-primary education and one-third for university education roughly. The local authority will provide their schemes first and the schemes will come to be sanctioned by the Minister for Education.

The fact that the State is providing money will give the Minister a certain influence over the nature of the schemes provided. Some Deputy asked if we could not influence the local authorities to spend more. I am sure that the one and a half to one State contribution on the product of the 3rd and 4th penny of rates will be an incentive to local authorities to raise amounts above the 2d. on the rates. Almost all except a few are raising that 2d. already.

With regard to the question of providing for the poor counties, one Deputy wailed quite a bit about the poor children in the poor counties. He mentioned a number of counties. The fact is that the poor counties, especially those he mentioned, are at the moment providing best for these poor children. They are not the offenders in regard to the question of providing adequate scholarships.

Deputy Kyne mentioned a matter in respect of which I should like Deputies to use their influence. He referred to the provision of scholarships and mentioned people on local bodies who feel they are there to prevent any impositions on the rates. I thought I covered the matter when I was introducing this Bill when I spoke about the schizophrenia which exists where you have all sorts of people saying that there should be more scholarships and better facilities but when it comes to paying for them think that there should be some Santa Claus who should supply the money. I think the Deputy was very helpful and I hope other Deputies on local authorities will be instrumental in persuading the local authorities to take full advantage of the provisions of this Bill.

He also welcomed the fact that one-fourth of the monies would be spent on scholarships to be awarded without reference to the means of the parents of the children concerned. At any level where you have a means test, there will be children who will just be excluded. If you have very able children at that barely excluded level, there will be a real loss to the country. Allowing one-fourth of the money to be spent on merit scholarships will ensure that at whatever level the means test is set, the able students near that level will have an opportunity of getting post-primary or university education.

Deputy Wycherley asked for scholarships to agriculture. These post-primary scholarships will be available in vocational schools and also in secondary schools where agricultural science is taught. The Department of Agriculture provides scholarships through its own Vote. One of the faculties in the universities to which these scholarships are available will be the Faculty of Agriculture so that in no way could a person consider that agriculture is being overlooked.

Time and again, I have tried to give a clear picture of the numbers going on to post-primary education. Again to-day, Deputy Russell worked on a base-line of 500,000 children in the national schools and 77,000 in the secondary schools. He worked on these as a proportion, one of the other. The children in primary schools are there from the age of four or five to 14. They may continue in "secondary tops" up to 18 years of age, so you are comparing the number of pupils from four to 18 years of age with the number in the group from 12 to 18 years of age. That is not a fair comparison.

If you want to get an estimate of the proportion of children getting post-primary education, the base-line to take is the age group 14 to 16 years. You then work out the numbers getting post-primary education in that age group in proportion to the number of children in the age group. If that is done, it will be seen that there is a very much better proportion in the numbers getting post-primary education and university education than the Deputy seems to think.

One of the criticisms of the Bill was that not enough money was being spent. Apart from the earlier consideration, on which I differed with Deputy Mulcahy, I should like to point out there has been other expenditure on education during the life of this Government. The national school building programme was doubled.

The Minister is getting a bit out of order now.

I just want to put it into perspective. We increased the staffs of national schools, we increased the salaries for teachers, we provided new buildings at Bolton Street and Kevin Street schools — an extra £4,000,000 was spent on education in that time.

We congratulate the Minister on any part he had in that.

I was not looking for congratulations. I wanted to point out that this Bill is only one of many financial commitments in relation to education made possible by the good management of the Minister for Finance. It is part of a pattern. I hope that once the ice is broken, as the Deputy himself put it, we shall be able to spend more on education and get more results from our spending. I am sure all Deputies will agree you cannot spend more money if you have not got more money. The reason we are able to spend more money is because there has been good management for the past four years.

In connection with the point to which I referred, will the Minister take the necessary action to compel Dublin Corporation to permit scholarship winners to attend the university of their choice?

The Act to which the Deputy referred — I meant to mention it — the Irish Universities Act, 1908, says that a local authority may provide money for scholarships at any university "provided that in no case shall any grant under this section be subject to or conditional upon any religious qualification or be devoted to any religious purpose". It is already in the Act.

I am asking the Minister will he compel the Dublin Corporation——

If the Deputy proves to me or to a court——

The Minister has already approved the regulations adopted by Dublin Corporation which prevent a Protestant scholarship winner from attending at Trinity College. The Minister cannot deny that.

I doubt if the Deputy has got his information from the proper source.

Indeed, yes.

My information is that the restriction which exists is in relation to Irish being compulsory in the entrance examination.

I should be obliged if the Minister would look into the matter.

I should be obliged the Deputy would look into the facts.

On the question of clarity, this Bill was brought in and discussed under very adverse circumstances. I think it is only fair to put this question to the Minister in relation to the preparations he has to make for the Committee Stage. I would ask the Minister to take two areas in relation to——

Surely this is an argument?

I should like to forewarn the Minister. There is no necessity to do it except to get business through in a way which will avoid unnecessary clashes. There are amendments we shall have to put into this Bill on Committee if the Minister does not put in an amendment.

I do not want to create a precedent.

When the Minister asks for the Committee Stage I may be able, in an orderly way, to make some relevant points.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee Stage?

The Minister must understand he cannot have it now. Perhaps I would be in order in helping the Minister to understand that? We are anxious to facilitate the business of the House in any possible way, particularly under the circumstances in which we are working, but there are things too important to go ahead with without understanding them. We should not consider approaching the Committee Stage without the Minister having an opportunity of considering some of the realities of the situation.

I did not want to discuss Section 4 in detail until we got an understanding as to how the fund would lie. In relation to that question, I should like the Minister to consider two areas. Take, first, Limerick. Limerick city provides for secondary scholarships and scholarships to secondary schools £1,350 a year and for university scholarships £1,800 a year. That is, they provide annually £3,150 for scholarships such as those contemplated in this Bill. How much are they going to get in the first year under this Bill?

What would they get for a penny on the rates?

They are going to get £709. That is the amount that would be raised on the rates. That is not understood. I do not think Deputies understand that under this measure, which proposes to move towards all these things, Limerick city can go on spending £3,150, but next year they will get £709 under this Bill and the following year £709.

They will get £1,418 in the second year.

Yes. But it will take four years for the State grant to accumulate to as much as Limerick is paying now.

Surely the relevant time to make this argument would be on the Second Stage?

The relevant time to make it would be Committee.

It would be relevant on the Second Reading.

The Second Reading of this Bill was a kind of cuckoo spit of welcome. It was smothered up in a kind of soapy expression of: "We are glad to see something." Neither the Bill nor the White Paper with it brought out that fact.

I have cited Limerick. Now take South Tipperary, which spends £2,500 a year on secondary and technical scholarships and £6,600 on university scholarships, a total of over £9,100. Tipperary will get only £1,530 in the first year. That will not put patches on the lacuna in the size of the scholarships.

There will be that much money for extra scholarships.

I really must intervene. This is a Second Reading debate.

I am explaining why we cannot give the Committee Stage to-day.

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 1st August, 1961.