Vocational Education (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 1943.—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Tá dhá rud le déanamh sa mBille seo: an chéad rud aca sin an dlí bhaineas le coinníollacha seirbhíse oifigeach de chuid na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais a chur ar aon dul leis an dlí hachtuíodh san Acht Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, agus sé an dara rud atá le déanamh socru a dhéanamh i gcóir tuiheadh airgid a chur ar fáil do Choistí Gairm-Oideachais óir tá barr-phoinnte an teacht-isteach a dtig leo fháil faoi'n Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha, 1930, bainte amach ag cuid mhaith aca anois.

Baintear feidhm as an mBille seo, freisin, le roinnt mion-leasuithe dhéanamh ar an bPríomh-Acht. Nuair a bhítheas ag cur an Achta Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, le chéile ní raibh sé caothúil Coistí Gairm-Oideachais a áireamh ar na hUdaráis Áitiúla a mbaineann an tAcht leo, toisc nár bhain ach forálacha áirithe san Acht sin le hoifigeacha de chuid na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais. Is le teoranta aoise le haghaidh oifige, le oifigeacha a chur ar fionnraoi agus a chur as oifig ag an Aire a bhaineas na forálacha sin. Tá na forálacha sin á gcur isteach sa mBille seo anois in Altanna 6, 7, agus 8 agus tá siad ar aon dul leis na forálacha a bhaineas leis an gcás san Acht Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, ag Altanna 23, 27 agus 25. I na theannta sin tá beartuithe go mbainfidh na forálacha seo feasta le gach oifigeach de chuid na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais is cuma iad a bheith i seilbh oifige le linn an Achta do rith nó gan a bheith. Déanann Alt a 9 den Bhille socrú dá réir sin.

Rinne an tAcht Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, athghairm ar chodacha áirithe den Local Government (Application of Enactments) Order, 1898, codacha a bhaineas le dí-cháiliú ar bheith mar bhaill de chóluchtaí puiblí. Ní bhaineann an dí-cháiliú sin feasta le baill de na Comhairlí Contae agus rl., ach chó fada is bhaineas le baill na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais baineann na forálacha a hathghairmeadh leis an gcás fós, agus ní mór, dá bhrí sin, iad a achtú arís i dtreo go leanfaidh siad i bhfeidhm i gcás na mball sin. Déantar seo in Alt 2 den Bhille agus san am chéanna athghairmtear Alt 4 den Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha (Leasú), 1936.

Tá an méid a bhaineas le cúrsaí airgid le fáil in Alt 4 agus in Alt 5. Nuair a ritheadh an tAcht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha sa bhliain 1930 bhí súil againn go leathnódh scéimeanna na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais do réir a chéile go ceann deich mblian nó dhá bhlian déag. Dá réir sin rinneadh socrú faoi'n Acht i dtreo go mbeadh an scála ioncuim ionmhéaduithe do réir ¼d. nó ½d. sa bpúnt ar luach ionrátuithe an limistéir ach gan dul thar 4d. sa bpúnt i limistéirí Contae, ná 6d. sa bpúnt i gContae-bhuirgí agus ins na Baile-cheanntair sceidealta. D'fhéadfadh Coiste Contae barr-phoinnte a ioncuim a shroisint sa mbliain a thosuigh an ladh lá d'Aibreán, 1940, agus i gcás Coiste Chontae-bhuirge nó Bhaile-cheanntair sceidealta ní sroisfí an barr-phoinnte go dtí an ladh lá d'Aibreán, 1942.

Ceapadh dá mbreathnuíodh na Coistí rómpa go stuama go mbeadh barr a bhfás déanta aca faoi'n am sin. Shroisceithre Coistí as na 27 gCoistí Contae barr-phoinnte a n-ioncuim sa mbliain 1940, agus as an aon cheann déag de Choiste Bhailecheanntair shrois ceithre cinn aca a mbarr-phoinnte féin sa mbliain 1942. I láthair na huaire tá barr-phoinnte an ráta sroiste ag cúig Coistí déag ar fad ach níl barr-phoinnte a bhfás bainte amach aca fós agus níl rómpa anois ach teacht-isteach atá seasta agus caiteachas bliantúil atá ag dul i méid.

Ní i ngeall ar lochtaí ar fhorálacha an Phríomh-Achta a thárla sé seo. Leis an bhfírinne a rá d'éirigh go han-mhaith leis an Acht agus tá ag eirghe go han-mhaith leis fós, cé gur seirbhís beagnach úr-nua a bhí le cur ar bun faoi. Chuir an tAcht ar chumas Choistí Gairm-Oideachais oideachas a bhí ag teastáil go géar i na gcuid ceanntracha a chur ar fáil. Tóigeadh céad agus ceithre cinn déag de scoltacha nua gan bacadh leis an méid leathnú agus feabhas a cuireadh ar shean-scoltacha. I na theannta sin ceapadh trí chéad oide lán-ama sa mbreis agus dá chéad oide páirt-ama: oidí a bhfuair cuid mhaith aca oiliúint speisialta faoi'n Roinn Oideachais.

Leagadh an scéim oibre seo amach go cúramach do réir an méid airgid a bhéadh ar fáil ag gach Coiste faoi leith agus, go dtí gur thuit ualach áirithe ortha nach raibh súil leis, níor braitheadh nach mbéadh an socrú a rinneadh sa bPríomh-Acht sáthach maith. Ní raibh súil, cuir i gcás, leis an méadú a tháinig ar an mbonus costais bheatha d'árduigh ón uimhir 55 ins na blianta 1933-35—am ar ceapadh roint mhaith oide nua i dtosach—go dtí 85, an áit ar horduíodh dó stop i Mí lúil, 1940. Ina theannta sin, ó thosuigh an cogadh, chuir an méadú mór a tháinig ar abhar teineadh, ar sholas, ar abhair do na ranganna agus ar choinneál suas na scol isteach go mór ar scéimeanna airgid na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais, agus rinne an Bonus Eigeandála a híocadh ó Mhí Eanair, 1941, breis cheataighe dhóibh Gan bacadh chor ar bith leis na deacrachtaí ó thaobh airgid a bhíos le réiteach ag Coistí áirithe, ní ceart a dhearmad nach féidir leathnú ar bith, dá fheabhas dá mbeadh sé, a chur i gcion mara mbídh cúl beag airgid ag Coistí Gairm-Oideachais le tarraint air.

Tá socrú á dhéanamh, dá bhrí sin, faoi Alt 4 den Bhille an ráta is aoirde a árdú 1d. sa bpúnt i ngach cás, sé sin le rá, ó 4d. go 5d. i gcás limistéirí Gairm-Oideachais Contae, agus ó 6d go dtí 7d. i gcás na gContae-bhuirgí agus na mbaile-cheanntar sceidealta. Tá súil agam go gcuirfidh an méadú seo ar an ráta áitiúil, in éineacht leis an deontas áirithe atá iníoctha ag an Stát leo faoi Alt 53 den Phríomh-Acht, ar chumas na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais sin a bhfuil cruadhóg airgid ortha a gcuid faidhbeanna a réiteach, agus go leigfidh sin do scéimeanna Gairm-Oideachais i gcoitinne fás iomlán a dhéanamh do réir mar beifear réidh dóibh.

Séard atá ins na deontais Stáit: (1) Deontais seasta nó bun-deontais a háirmhítear do réir méid na ndeontas a bhí iníoctha as an bPríomh-Chiste leis na Coistí Ceárd-Oideachais a bhí ann roimh 1930, agus (2) Deontais bhreise a háirmhítear do réir an méadú a bheas ag an ráta le haghaidh Gairm-Oideachais ar mhéid ráta de 3d. sa bpunt i gContae-bhuirgí agus i mbailecheanntair, agus ar mhéid ráta de 2d. i gContae Chorcaighe agus ar mhéid ráta de 1¾d. i ngach ceanntar eile.

Tá beagán thar trí phunt ar fad de dheontais á dtabhairt ag an Stát in aghaidh gach dhá phunt atá á cur ar fáil ag na húdaráis áitiúla iad féin. Tá socrú déanta i gCuid V den Phríomh-Acht le oideachas leanúna a dhéanamh oibliogáideach nó, mar adeirtear de ghnáth, aois fágáilte na scoile a árdú ó cheithre bliana déag go dtí sé bliana déag. Tá foráil sa gcuid sin den Acht freisin a thugas údarás do Choistí Gairm-Oideachais na costais a bheas ortha ag cur Cuid V den Acht in éifeacht a íoc as a gcuid cistí féin. Nuair a cuirtear Cuid V den Acht in éifeacht i gceanntar ar bith ní mór do Choiste Gairm-Oideachais an cheanntair sin cúrsaí oibliogáideachá a dtabharfar 180 uaid a' chluig de theagasc ionnta a chur ar fáil, sin nó cúrsaí saordhálacha a dtabharfar 180 uair a' chluig ar a laghad de theagasc ionta. Níor cuireadh Cuid V in éifeacht fós ach i ndá cheanntar—Cathair Chorcaighe aguns Cathair Luimnigh. Sa dá chathair seo tá sé de oibliogáid ar dhaoine óga idir 14 agus 16 d'aois nach mbíonn ag freasdal ar scoil nó rang ar bith eile freastal a dhéanamh ar chúrsaí speisialta teagaisc a mhaireas 5 uaire a' chluig sa ló lá amhain sa tseachtmhain ar feadh 36 seachtmhain sa mbliain. Cúrsaí sea iad seo thugas na Coistí Gairm-Oideachais sa dá cheanntar seo de bhreis ar na cúrsaí lan-ama saordhálacha bhíos ann de ló agus de bhreis ar na cúrsaí saordhálacha a tugtar um thrathnóna.

Caithfear an t-airgead a mbeidh ga leis a chur ar fáil do na Coistí Gairm-Oideachais má táthar le Cuid V den Phríomh-Acht a chur in éifeacht go generálta. Tá beartuithe seo a dhéanamh le hAlt 5 den Bhille seo. Tá socrú déanta san alt sin le go bhféadfaidh an tAire Oideachais i gceanntar ar bith a mbeadh Cuid V i bhfeidhm ann a ordú don Údarás Aitiúil Rátúcháin pé suim is leor leis a íoc leis an gCoiste má bhíonn sé sásta nach leór chuige sin na cistí atá ag an gCoiste Gairm-Oideachais cheana. Ní féidir leis an suim breise seo a dhul thar 2d. sa bpunt ar an luacháil ionrátuithe ins na ceithre contae-bhuirgí agus i nDún Laoghaire agus i gcás gach ceanntair eile ní féidir leis dul thar 1d. sa bpunt.

£5,500 sa mbliain an costas a bhí ar na cúrsaí oibliogáideacha i gCorcaigh agus nuair a bhéas an scéim iomlán ag obair i Luimneach meastar go gcosnóidh sé £2,600 sa mbliain. Is ionann na suimeanna seo agus an teacht-isteach a bheadh ar ráta 1.1d. sa bpunt i gCorcaigh agus 1.2d. sa bpunt i Luimneach agus a chur san áireamh go n-íocfadh an Stát deontais bhreise.

Ní háirmhítear ins na figiúirí seo an méadú a thagas ar an líon scoláirí a fhreastalas ar chúrsaí saordhálacha lán-ama de thoradh ar Chuid V den bPríomh-Acht a chur in éifeacht i gceanntar ar bith agus, dá bhrí sin, bíonn na costais a bhíos le n-íoc as Cistí na gCoistí Gairm-Oideachais i ngeall ar Chuid V den Acht a chur i bhfeidhm beagán níos truime ná thugas costas na gcursaí oibliogáideacha féin le tuigsint. Ach amháin i gcás Cathair Bhaile Átha Cliath, tá mé sásta nach dócha go rachaidh an costas a bhéas ag dul le feidhmiú Cuid V i gceanntar ar bith thar méid an ráta a bhfuil socrú ina chóir sa mBille seo, agus má théigheann, is as an bPríomh-Chiste a híocfar an bhreis.

Meastar, mar shompla, go gcosnóidh sé £45,000 sa mbliain i gCathair Bhaile Átha Cliath. Bheadh £18,600 le fáil sa gceanntar seo as an ráta 2d. atá beartuithe i gcóir Cuid V den Phríomh-Acht agus d'fhágfadh sin go mbeadh £26,400 le n-íoc as an bPríomh-Chiste.

Coiste Gairm-Oideachais ar bith a bhfuil leor-chiste aige cheana féin ní gá dó feidhm do bhaint as forálacha Ailt a 4 nó a 5 den Bhille seo in aon chor, ach tríd is tríd, isé an toradh a bhéas ar an dá alt, ná, áit ar bith a mbíonn Cuid V d'Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha 1930 i bhfeidhm, go mbeidh rann-íoc áitiúil le fáil ag Coiste an líomatáiste sin do réir ráta áitiúil suas le 9d. sa bpunt i gcás na gceithre Contae-bhuirg agus Dún Laoghaire, 8d. sa bpunt i gcás Brí Chulann, Droichead Átha, Gaillimh, Sligeach, Tráighlí agus Loch gCarman, agus 6d. sa bpunt i gcás Contae. Baineann na forálacha eile den Bhille le mion-leasuithe nó le leathnuithe ar an Acht Oideachais Ghairme Beatha, 1930.

Tá go leór daoine ins an tír seo nach bhfuil sásta le staid an oideachais. Ar an adhbhar san agus ós rud é go bhfuil cúrsaí oideachais chomh tábhachtach is atá ins gach ní a bhaineas le beatha, nuair a thagann Bille mar seo os cóir an tSeanaid ní mór go mbeadh fiós le fagháil ag an Seanad maidir le cúrsaí oideachais.

It is a pity that since the Minister left the Bill with the Dáil he did not turn to the necessity of discussing the relationship between education and the prosperity of this country, considering especially the tremendous importance of education in the modern world, and how much is being done in other countries to see that the security and the prosperity of the future are going to be based solidly on education. There is tremendous evidence of that even in those countries that are struggling in the stress of war. Whatever the reason, nearly every section of our people is dissatisfied in one way or another with the various branches of education. There may be justification for that, and there may not be, but there is one thing that is emphasised through their want of satisfaction, and that is that they have no conception at all of the professional body that is guiding our education. Then, when they see evidence of weakness here and there, even in the Departmental reports or otherwise, and when they hear their neighbours complaining about things, that dissatisfaction swells and undermines the general national morale. In this Bill the Minister makes certain small provisions for increasing the amount of money available for vocational and technical education; but the very nature of the proposals he makes shows that the restraint there was on the spending of money on technical education in some parts was already too great for the committee to deal with it adequately. I do not know what reason there should be for restricting the amount of money available to local bodies who are prepared to spend it on furthering the interests of vocational and technical education. It is a bad sign when we are passing a Bill here that there should still remain a certain restriction on the amount of money that is to be spent.

A second aspect of this Bill has brought about a considerable amount of concern, and has given rise to a considerable amount of criticism on the part of teachers. That last factor is very disturbing. It is disturbing that we have a Bill passing through the House without being given information that it is part of a progressive measure to improve our education, on the understanding that it is the basic stone upon which the social well-being and the political and economical intelligence of our people, as well as their prosperity, are going to rest. Instead of being told about these things, we are provided with a situation in which the general body of teachers are apparently in disharmony with the Department of Education, and feel that they are being unjustly treated and their prospects prejudiced.

As regards the importance of the work being provided for here I think that when we realise that the greater number of our young people leave primary schools at 14 years of age, we will realise there is a tremendous amount of work being thrown unnecessarily on teachers sustaining continuation and vocational education. When children leave school at the age of 14 they do not begin at once to study. There is evidence of that in the report of the Department itself—when they leave the primary schools they do not and will not study at once. We have a position in which a very great percentage of the children leaving school at the age of 14 years of age have a period not only away from study but very often from reading. If circumstances later on suggest to them that they want a little more education, the continuation schools are available but they go into them practically raw, and the work that has to be done by the teacher in the continuation school is very often to refresh the pupils' capacity even to read, write and calculate. The work that falls upon the teacher in the vocational and technical is very onerous work. It would be a great handicap on the work that they are doing if there should be disagreement between themselves and the Department of Education as to the terms of their employment.

I feel that the approach of the Department of Education in these matters is that they are not worth going into in detail until they can be gone into on a wider basis. We have the example of other countries as to how these things are dealt with. A number of educationalists, industrialists and people connected with social work were brought together under the auspices of the Nuffield College last year. They investigated the question and wrote a report on the subject of industry and education. They say:—

"...that the school-leaving age should be raised to 15, at least, without exemptions, immediately after the war, and, as soon as practicable to 16, but that it is fully as urgent to improve the quality of education at the earlier age, and to make provision for part-time education beyond the school-leaving age as to raise the statutory age to 16."

In a previous paragraph, No. 6, they say:—

"...that, in the case of those who leave school at the statutory age, the main demand of industry is not that they shall receive at school any specific vocational preparation for the occupation which they are about to enter, but rather that they shall be as intelligent and as adaptable as possible and, further, that they shall be inspired with a zeal to give of their best and with a creative and forward-looking spirit."

That is the type of school preparation that persons who are engaged in very technical industries are concerned with. A report was issued on the youth service after the war by the Board of Education in Britain. A special committee was set up to consider what should be the position of the youth service in education. The council that was set up to investigate was told that they might assume certain things. The first was:

"That the school-leaving age will be raised to 15, that the period from 15 to 18 will be treated in some degree as an educational period, in the sense that adolescence will be regarded as remaining the concern of the education service. That a system of compulsory part-time education during the working hours would be established for all young persons as they ceased full-time schooling after the age of 18."

The council was told to make these assumptions in proceeding with their work, and it has since been developed on that line in present legislation. Fifteen will be the minimum age there and they are going to go up to 16 as early as they can. But another feature of the mentality in other countries is the importance now being attached to adult education—that is, that children who are going through these continuation schools from 15 to 18 years of age, will be inspired to work at the work they have to do in these schools, by seeing that the people who are older than they are encouraged and are given facilities in an organised way to persue their education in the latter years of their adult life. In that way education is being emphasised as what you might call part of the daily work of people in other countries.

The last report of the Department of Education shows how shockingly weak is the foundation upon which we are working. I have heard it remarked that in the inspection of primary schools inspectors are encouraged to emphasise the things that are wrong, and that in the inspection of the secondary schools the inspectors are encouraged to point out the things that are splendid and that are right. It may be that the last report of the Department of Education on the position of certain aspects of education in the primary schools is unfair to the teachers on the one hand, unfair to the work on the other, and unfair to the pupils, but so far as we who try to see what is going on in the schools take an interest in it, and infer what kind of bearing it has on the future of our people and their work we are dependent upon education reports.

The last report was, I think, issued in September. It is the report of the Department of Education for 1941-42, and in a paragraph on page 16, on the question of reading in Irish and in English in the higher schools— Léightheoireacht i nGaedhilg agus i mBéarla ins na hÁrd-Ranga—the following sentence appears: "Ní fonn leo, mar ní dheineann siad dóthain ullmúcháin chuige, na daltaí a stiúrughadh chun brígh ailt, nó chaibidil, nó éirim scéil do thabhairt leo, agus an bhrígh sin, nó an éirim sin, do nochtadh go cruinn, soiléir i nGaedhilg nó i mBéarla; ní chuimhnigheann siad acht oiread ar na daltaí a threorú chun greim fóghanta d'fhágháil ar fhocail nó ar abairtí nuadha, nó chun tuille tuisceana i gcearteagar smaointe."

That refers to the weakness on the part of the teaching of reading in Irish and English, and it winds up with the last sentence, which gives us the aspect that the pupils have no desire as a result of their schooling to do any reading. So that in relation to the work of the primary school, in the higher classes, the last report of the Department of Education indicates that children leave the primary schools and have no desire to read in English or in Irish. If that is the note upon which the Department's last report ends in relation to children in the primary schools, and when we consider that the great majority of those in primary schools leave at 14 years of age, then we see what a terribly weak foundation our education is resting on.

We ought to be as realistic in regard to the importance of education as any other country. We ought to be more so, because of the smallness of our resources and the necessity for making the best use of them. No technical training of any kind is going to make our people as a whole either progressive or prosperous except it is laid on a sound basis of education. When we look back on our own past and think of the men who turned aside to lead the movement by which we gained national freedom, the names that come foremost to our minds are men who were educationists. We had Pearse writing in the Barr Buaidh in 1911 and 1912, a series of open letters challenging people on various things. We find him in one of these writing a letter to himself asking why he is bothering about politics and not with his educational work. Terence MacSwiney and Pearse were educationists. McSwiney's sphere of work was the very work we are discussing in this Bill—vocational and technical education. To that work they were prepared to devote their whole lives, the whole strength of their souls, because they realised that education was the foundation stone of Irish strength. I remember MacSwiney saying on one occasion that it was a great pity the Irish Councils Bill of 1908 had not been accepted at the time, because it would have given us control over education. We have control of our education now and we ought to remember these men who made it possible for us to sit in an Irish Parliament to discuss the aspects of Irish interest which we discuss. Some of those who made it possible for us to sit here were men who left the arena of education because they had the urgent call to devote themselves to politics. We owe it to their memory to remember what their views were on a matter which they considered so important. We owe the country something, too, when we recall the circumstances under which men of such calibre and devotion were taken from educational work and brought into politics.

At the present time we do not know who is directing our education. We have no information of what philosophy they have. There is no presentation of a picture of general educacation to our people. I suggest that the Bill before us to-day, by the very nature of it, is a sign of the lamentable weakness that there is in the Department of Education and in the mind of the Ministry as to the importance of the position which education should hold. This is not a case where we are lacking in raw materials. We have all the raw materials, all the inspiration, and all the urge to do first-class work in that realm. First-class work in that realm can only be done by the teachers. There should stand above the teachers a known group of educationists to whom the country would be able to look to guide national destinies in the realm of education.

In Great Britain very soon thousands of new teachers will be required. It is estimated that in primary schools alone they will require to increase the staffs by a third of the present numbers. When I see so many of our men and women going to work in Great Britain in the last few years because circumstances here were uninviting— not being able to find suitable work here—I shudder to think of the effect on our trained teachers, when a demand is made in Britain for some thousands of additional teachers because of dissatisfaction with the circumstances under which they are working here, and dissatisfaction with the security which they suggest is being threatened in this Bill.

All this points to the necessity for some radical change in the situation, providing us with an assurance that we shall have a body of professional advice—men and women of prestige— to whom we can look and in respect of whom we can say that they are presiding over the broad field of our national education schemes generally, so that we can have confidence that in efficiency, foresight and speed everything is being done to eliminate the weaknesses in the different branches of our education and that we are being made as secure in the immediate future as a sound education can make us.

I feel sure that the Minister must be aware that, since this Bill was published, discussion both inside and outside the Oireachtas has centred mainly on certain provisions affecting the position of officers and teachers engaged in the vocational schemes. In his speech, the Minister contents himself with referring to these provisions in just one sentence, describing them as "minor amendments or extensions of the Vocational Act, 1930." Those who will be immediately and seriously affected by those provisions do not regard them as minor provisions; far from it. The Minister said to-day—and we all admit it—that the Vocational Act of 1930, although introducing a new service, "has worked and continues to work very satisfactorily." We must, likewise, agree that it could not have worked satisfactorily if the officers employed in connection with the vocational schemes had not given satisfactory service and pulled their weight both in the administration of the Act and in the actual teaching. Yet, the Minister has thought fit to introduce clauses in this otherwise good and necessary Bill which have created very great uneasiness amongst those officers who have helped so much to make the working of the Act of 1930 satisfactory.

I think that the Minister has not been fair to the House. He has given no reasons for including in the Bill these particular provisions. He has not shown that they are necessary. When a Minister comes to the Oireachtas with a Bill containing such penal provisions, it is not unusual for him to explain at length the necessity for the powers which he seeks. He invariably shows that there is some good reason for the granting of the powers, that some abuses have existed, or that such abuses are likely to occur if the powers be not granted. The Minister for Education has not done that. I feel sure that he could not have done it. There have been no occurrences which would show that the granting of such powers was necessary. In the Vocational Act, 1930, the Minister has all the powers that are reasonably necessary to deal with the matters covered by Sections 6 to 9 of this Bill. The result of the inclusion of these provisions in this Bill has been to cause grave concern and uneasiness to all officers employed by the vocational committees. The Minister has evidence of that. Yet, he comes to the House and tells us casually that "advantage has also been taken of the Bill to make certain amendments to the 1930 Act." I think that that is not treating the House fairly. Certainly, it is not treating the officers who have given satisfactory service fairly.

Is the document in my hand a copy of what the Minister has just said?

Yes. Under Section 6, the Minister takes power to retire officers of the vocational committees at any age which he himself desires to fix. He may say that he will act reasonably. I do not say that he will not. But, when writing things into an Act of Parliament, we should not leave it in the power of anybody to act unreasonably. This section gives power to a future Minister, let us say, to act unfairly in the fixing of the age limit, not alone in the case of all the officers as a body but in the case of a particular officer. Section 7 deals with the power of suspension. I notice that the Minister and the vocational committee may suspend an officer but the committee is not given power to terminate the suspension; the Minister reserves that right to himself. Under Section 8, the Minister takes power to remove an officer from his position without inquiry. Sections 23 and 27 of the Vocational Act gave ample powers to the Minister to deal with officers who were not performing their duties. They also provided that the Minister would not have power to dismiss such an officer until a local inquiry was held. Now, if the Minister is of opinion that a certain individual is unfit to hold his office, he can be dismissed on 14 days' notice.

I do not know what objection the Minister has to having the inquiry that was provided for in the Vocational Act before dispensing with the services of an officer. It is no wonder that in those circumstances teachers and other officers of the vocational committees should be uneasy and should be wondering what was in the mind of the Minister in taking these powers in this measure.

Then we come to Section 9. It is a very short section but it sweeps away any vested rights which officers may have had up to the present time. It ensures that there will be no cases in the courts. The Minister, apparently, does not want another McEneany case in the courts. He is taking care that any vested rights which teachers had in the service or which they acquired while in the service are taken away from them. "The fact that an officer is in office at the date of the passing of this Act shall not be a ground for contending that Sections 6, 7 and 8 of this Act do not apply to him." That is retrospective legislation with a vengeance, in my opinion. I think the Minister should give the House some reasons for the introduction of these particular sections and should justify his actions in introducing them. It is not sufficient to say that he had not sufficient powers already because the powers are there in the Vocational Act to deal with officers who are not fit for their duties or who fail in their duties.

On the general question of the other sections which are, of course, necessary and quite satisfactory—the sections which make better provision for the financing of vocational education, to which Senator Mulcahy made some reference—nothing really is being done in this country and no interest is being taken in the question of education. Every time the suggestion was made to the Minister to take into his confidence for the purposes of advice and consultation, representatives of the various groups who might be interested in education, the Minister resisted it. Senator Mulcahy referred to certain matters that were dealt with in the reports of the Department of Education, and which pointed out that children leaving school at 14 years of age have little taste for reading. Apparently the blame for that is left on the teachers. Of course, the position is that there is no time given to the teachers to develop that taste in their pupils. The whole emphasis is laid on the oral teaching of languages, the oral teaching of Irish especially. There is no time at present for giving the children a taste for reading either in English or Irish. The position is entirely unsatisfactory in regard to primary education. Again I say that every time a suggestion was made that an impartial inquiry should be held into the whole question of education in the country, it was resisted by the Minister. People are not taken into the confidence of the Department in regard to the position of education. Everything is left to the Department to do and the Department is, in effect, doing nothing. We look across the Channel and see a country in the midst of a devastating war which yet can devote hours of Parliamentary time to the question of education, knowing, as everyone must know, that the future of the country depends on education. Here are we, happily free from the difficulties which the people across the water and other countries engaged in the war have to encounter, and yet we just drift along and do nothing on this question of education.

I do not know that this is the most suitable opportunity to deal with the general question of education, but I should like to say that I agree entirely with Senator Mulcahy in his observations regarding the importance and the necessity of paying very much more attention to the question of education, not alone in the primary schools but in all other schools, for it is only by doing so that we can hope to hold our own in the critical period that will ensue when this war is over.

I should like to say that this Bill is like the curate's egg— it has its good parts and its bad parts. I agree with what Senator Mulcahy has said about the importance of vocational education in this country and, in fact, in any country. I understand that the Juvenile Employment Commission that is sitting at present will be concerned to a very large extent with the extension of vocational education. As Senator O'Connell has said, there is much dissatisfaction amongst teachers and officers of the vocational education committees in regard to certain provisions of this Bill. Two of these provisions are, in my opinion, not only retrograde but vicious. These are the sections dealing with retiring age and the section giving the Minister the right to dismiss officers or teachers in the employment of vocational education committees. Heretofore that right was the right of the vocational education committee subject, of course, to the sanction of the Minister. The Minister was in the position of umpire. People who felt that they were unfairly treated by committees were in a position to go to the Minister and to try to get satisfaction from him, but under this section the Minister takes to himself the right to dismiss summarily employees, teachers or officers of vocational education committees throughout the country.

We discussed the question of a retiring age here before on another Bill introduced by the Minister for Agriculture, that is, the question of leaving the retiring age unfixed. I think it will be agreed that that is not at all satisfactory and that it can be used unfairly against officers of vocational education committees and teachers generally. I believe there should be no objection in fixing the age but to leave it without definition I suggest is not only unfair but unwise. As some speaker has already mentioned, by leaving the retiring age at the discretion of the Minister, it opens a way at some future date—I am not prepared to accuse the present Minister of any desire to do anything shady—for any Minister who so desires to inflict grave hardship on the employees of vocational education committees.

The Bill proposes to raise the rate that can be demanded from local authorities. I feel that that is one of its main proposals and, as Senator O'Connell says, the other provisions mentioned by the Minister are regarded as relatively minor changes, although to the teachers who earn their livelihood in the employment of vocational education committees they are of major importance. I think any of us who have had experience of the people employed by vocational education committees throughout the country will agree that they have done their jobs very well and they ought to be satisfied, at least, that nothing unfair or unjust will be inflicted on them.

While we are on this matter of the rate, I would like to know the reasons for the big disparity between the contributions of the State to the City of Dublin Vocational Educational Committee and the contribution given to other educational bodies throughout the country. The position in Dublin is that £47,983 is raised by rate. The Department contributes £64,700, making a total of £112,683, a percentage of 57.4. Cork gets £43,545 from the State for an expenditure from the rates of £5,413, making 86.1 per cent of the expenditure. Limerick gets £9,736 for an expenditure of £2,633, or 81 per cent. of the total. Waterford gets £8,001 for an expenditure of £1,856, making a percentage of 81.2. Dun Laoghaire, for an expenditure of £3,380, gets £5,974, a percentage of 63.9, approximating somewhere to Dublin. Bray, for an expenditure of £1,006, gets £3,830 making a percentage of 79.2. Drogheda expends £616 from the rates and gets £3,822 from the State, a percentage of 83.9 of the total expenditure. Galway for £1,041 from the rates, gets £5,108 from the State, a percentage of the total of 83 per cent. Sligo spends £632 from the rates and gets £3,795 from the State, a percentage of the total of 85.7. Tralee—I am not going to single it out for any special criticism—spends £474 and gets £4,702 from the State, a percentage of 90.8. Waterford, for an expenditure of £527 from the rates, gets £3,125, a percentage of 85.5.

In Dublin we have a total expenditure of £112,683, the combined figure from the rates and the State. If we got 80 per cent. in Dublin we would have to spend £239,915. It would probably be argued, as it has been argued on other occasions, that we are fairly well-to-do in Dublin. I think the suggestion was made by the Minister in his speech that the reason for not contributing more was possibly that Dublin had not claimed its full poundage. At present the City of Dublin Vocational Educational Committee claims from the Dublin Corporation only 5.16d. in the £ instead of a total figure of 6d. in the £, as allowed in the 1930 Act.

That is not an argument, because the position in the City of Dublin is that at least more than half the members of the Vocational Education Committee are also members of the corporation, and it is in their interest to see that, as far as possible, the rates are kept down. So the full demand has not been made by the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee, because we felt that we should try to help to keep the rates of Dublin down as much as possible— we all know that they are high enough already. But the position so far as Dublin is concerned now is that we have come to the end of the tether. This year, I believe, the full 6d. will be demanded.

Under the 1930 Act, we have built Marino Technical Schools and schools at Cathal Brugha Street which resulted in the expenditure of nearly £100,000 in the City of Dublin, and we are engaged in the extension of Rathmines Technical School. We have contemplated the building of new schools in Cabra and Crumlin. Actually, foundations have been cut in Cabra and work is to proceed immediately. In Crumlin they have a site and there is a grave necessity for a school for the big population there. We also have in mind the improvement of Kevin Street Technical Schools so as to establish a school of technology, and we also have in mind the building of a proper school of music. Many of the Senators may not know that the present Dublin School of Music is housed in a disused fire brigade building. They are doing wonderful work, but how they do it is a mystery to many of us.

We have all these works in contemplation and we feel that we have been unfairly treated in Dublin in the matter of percentage from the State in comparison with what has been given to other vocational educational committees throughout the country. It is just a question of taking money out of one pocket and putting it into another. The Dublin people will pay in the ultimate resort, but we feel that they should get a more favourable consideration than they have received so far. Before I close my remarks, I would like to appeal to the Minister not to press those parts of the Bill where he insists on the right of fixing at his will a retirement age. It would be better, whether it was high or low, that an age should be fixed so that people who had served would know when they were due to retire. It is a retrograde step that the Minister should take to himself power to dismiss people who, so far, have been under the direct control of the vocational education committees.

Since the Vocational Education Act was introduced in the Dáil it has undergone a change for the better—at least it has been made a little less unattractive, but why the Bill in its original form should be called an Educational (Amendment) Act I do not know. If the terms as set out in the Bill were implemented in an Act, there is almost a certainty that the conditions responsible for the success which has attended the vocational education system, since it was inaugurated in 1930, would be wiped away. I hold that no matter who may claim the credit for whatever measure of success has attended the system so far, the foundation of that success was the friendly spirit that existed as between the administrative committees and the officers to a very large extent, and also the inspectors who from time to time visited the areas in which these committees function.

Any attempt to upset those relations would do an irreparable injury to vocational education in the country. The committees that administer this scheme are not selected in a careless way. As you know, they are selected at the inaugural meeting of the county council. The members selected are the nucleus of the committee that is selected from the members of the county council. They are selected always—and I know that this applies to my own county, as I am sure it applies to other counties— not only because of their experience in such work under the old technical instruction schemes, but because of their general ability and integrity. Now, there was an undoubted effort, whether intended or not, to take away from these committees, under the new Bill, the power that they held since the inauguration of the scheme in 1930. I am glad that there has been an amendment of that particular section, and I trust that before this Bill becomes law there will be several amendments, because they are very necessary. Section 7 of the new Bill, as has been pointed out by other speakers, was absolutely unnecessary to preserve discipline. There was ample power under Section 27 of the old Act to enforce discipline where it was necessary, in so far as officers or teachers employed under the vocational education scheme were concerned.

Section 8 has also been referred to by other Senators here this evening. That was really a drastic innovation, and I am delighted that the Minister has seen fit to have that particular section radically altered: that is, where it says that if in the opinion of the Minister any teacher or official was considered unfit for the position he could be removed. Now, anyone who has had experience of Government Departments, or who is intimately connected with them, will know that there is no such thing as the opinion of the Minister: that the "opinion of the Minister" is really the opinion of some official in the Department concerned, who is absolutely unknown outside of the particular Department in which he functions. One feature of the old Act which gave confidence to the people concerned, and especially to the employees, was the fact that before any employees could be removed provision was made for the holding of a local inquiry at which the alleged offender would have an opportunity of being heard in his own defence.

Under the new Bill that local inquiry was eliminated, but I see that it has been restored in the draft, as passed by the Dáil. That, in itself, is a step in the right direction, because, as it was, many were of the opinion that the new Bill, if it became an Act in the form in which it was originally drafted, would drive a wedge between the officials administering this scheme in the counties and the committee that had been appointed. The committee appoints the official and, after that, the committee would really have no authority in so far as the work of that official was concerned, or at least the official would be placed in the position where he would have to play for safety as between the committee and the representative of the Department.

Now, no self-respecting body of teachers could accept that condition. I have been connected with a vocational education committee for the past few years, as a member of it. From time to time I have had occasion to meet the teachers engaged in the different branches throughout the county, and I found them to be a high-minded body of ladies and gentlemen who certainly had every occasion to resent the interference with their liberty which the Vocational Education (Amendment) Bill, if carried into effect as drafted, would bring about so far as they were concerned. The majority of these teachers are graduates of one or other of the constituent colleges of the National University, and are eminently suited to discharge the work in which they are employed by the county.

I should also like to see a radical alteration in Section 6, under which the Minister "may declare any specified age to be the age limit for all offices or for such offices as belong to a specified class, description, or grade, or for one or more specified offices." That is a very wide power, and I am sure that it will be radically altered before this Bill becomes law Quite a big number of teachers who are engaged in the vocational schools throughout the country are transferred officers. They functioned under the old technical instruction schemes, and many of them could only secure the qualifications by which they would discharge the duties of the office to which they were appointed after having reached what would be considered more than the average age.

I should like to see provision made for these officers, or to have Section 6 abandoned or amended in such a way as to give protection to these officers. First of all, I should like to see that, if necessary, a certain fixed age should be decided on, at which teachers should retire, although in connection with that matter it is the experience of many who are in touch with the question of education that a teacher's efficiency does not decline with his or her age, as the case may be, and that very often the efficiency of such a teacher may be increased. However, if a certain age must be decided upon, then let that particular age be specified, and wherever the drafting of the section with a view to carrying out that idea would interfere in any way or would be unfair to such officers as happened to have put in the number of years, the 40 years, necessary to give them full pension, cognisance should be taken, in my opinion, of their services under other branches of the Department of Education.

For instance, many of these officers were employees of the old Congested Districts Board; many of them had service as Irish teachers in the different counties, working under the Gaelic League, and I hold that any of those officers who afterwards secured positions under the vocational scheme should have the time that they spent in their former positions under other bodies recognised for pension purposes. I trust that before the Bill becomes law arrangements will be made to secure that in the case of officers retired under this section, and who have less than 40 years of service at the date of retirement, account will be taken of the service they rendered under other bodies since they became teachers. By doing that, they will be guaranteed a pension for which they certainly have worked and to which they are entitled.

I was glad to hear the Minister say, in his opening remarks, that the working of the Vocational Education Act of 1930 had been successful. He pointed out that that Act provided for an almost entirely new service and that, so far, its work has been very satisfactory. I cannot claim to have anything like the same knowledge of the working of the Vocational Education Act that other Members of the Seanad, such as my friend, Senator Ruane, can lay claim to, but I am interested in the question from the point of view of general education because I feel that the benefits which the Act can confer on the country are only just beginning. An enormous field still lies open to the men and women who are working the Act up and down the country, and in time to come, what is called vocational education will play a greater and greater part in our entire educational system. It is because I feel that this is so, and because I feel that it is all-important that those who are engaged in that work should be secured the best possible conditions of service that I should like to ask the Seanad to pay special attention to the provisions of this Bill, and to try as far as possible to have them made perfect or brought as near perfection as they can be brought.

The term vocational education is hardly more accurate in relation to the work that these teachers are doing than the old term technical education. In fact, what this whole system is doing is to provide the country with a form of adult education, or as Senator Mulcahy pointed out, continuation education. It is to be hoped that it will be made available to every citizen who cannot avail of secondary or university education, that it will be made more perfect, and that it will bring the general educational level of our citizens to a far higher pitch than it has reached at the present time. The work that these schools and teachers are doing is enormously important. In some ways these schools will be the real folk university of the future. Anyone who realises the work that has been done in the past in countries like Sweden and Denmark and the Scandinavian countries generally by means of the folk high schools will have some idea of the possibilities that are open to these vocational schools of ours and their staffs. A very valuable feature of the system is that it is an open system. Provision is made in the original Act for a considerable measure of local control over vocational education so that local people can attend to their own needs, and people living down the country who have their own ideas about what they and their children and their neighbours want in the way of education can have an opportunity of putting these ideas into effect in their own way. It seems to me that that is one of the most precious parts of the system.

I have no close connection with this system of education, but from what I have heard of it and its working from inspectors and people connected with it, I can see the greatest possibilities and the finest prospects before it, if it is given a chance. The main reason I have for intervening in the debate is fear of what I have described as administrative convenience. There is a danger that this Bill may prevent the system being given the chance it ought to have. Senator Mulcahy interested me very much when he made one point. He said that when this war is over and the new educational system is set up in England there will be a demand in England for thousands of teachers. That is going to be one of the greatest difficulties that will face England in the next ten years. The Minister for Education in the British House of Commons has said that one of their greatest troubles will be the lack of teachers. It will be inevitable that people here who are well qualified and experienced will be tempted to go across to England in the circumstances that are certain to arise after the war. If we do not take the greatest care to secure our teachers and give them conditions in which they can work to the best of their ability, we are running a great risk of losing the services of some of the most valuable people in Ireland. It is for that reason I want to ask the Seanad to try to secure that this Bill will do as little harm as possible.

There is another general aspect that I would like to dwell upon for a moment. It is similar to those upon which I have touched. This is one aspect of education in which the State and local authorities have complete control. They can do what they like with it. The people here in Parliament and the Department and the people in these local authorities have nobody to interfere with them in attaining their heart's desire as far as vocational education is concerned. As I have pointed out, this may very easily become the most important part of our educational system. There are difficulties in relation to other aspects of education about conditions and salaries because we have dual control. These difficulties are greatest in secondary education because it is shared between the State and the Church authorities.

In the vocational branch no difficulty arises because of that kind of dual control. No valid reason can be alleged why the teachers in this part of our education should not have the very best possible conditions, which would bring the very best men into the service. We can use the very best men almost more here than anywhere else, because this part of our education offers almost more scope for originality and for a really high level of culture than there is in the universities themselves. That is a point we should bear in mind when we are dealing with this Bill. There is nothing at all, except narrowness or red tape or the operation of administrative convenience, to prevent us giving these teachers such conditions that we shall be able to face the world and say that the men in this most important part of our education are as well treated as the teachers in any part of the world.

My difficulty about the Bill is that in my opinion it will worsen the status of those engaged in this service. As far as I can see the only reason for doing so is the desire to bring this Bill into abstract relation with the Local Government Act—some Civil Service idea about the mathematical propriety of having the conditions of these teachers on exactly the same level as those working under the other Act. The only reason the Minister can give is that this Bill should be in all respects like the Bill dealing with local agricultural committees passed some time ago. It will bring it into some sort of mathematical relation to the other measure and there will be a kind of notional perfection attached to this legislation. It will look well on a sheet of green paper but, as for its actual effect on the life of the country, the great danger is that that effect will be a cramping effect rather than an effect of liberation or of improvement.

I appeal to the Minister not to allow himself to be carried away by the idea of administrative convenience or mathematical alignment in a matter like this. The position of these teachers is not the same as that of other local government officers. These teachers have very important work to do, and I think that you are going to suffer a loss that will be out of all proportion to anything that will be gained if you interfere with that work by passing this sort of legislation. I cannot satisfy myself, with all the goodwill in the world, that this Bill is not a worsening of the position of teachers. The main effect of it, as the Minister said in his first sentence, is to bring legislation affecting the conditions of service of the officers of vocational education committees into line with the Local Government Act, 1941. Therefore, in short, it means that the main effect of this Bill is to bring these officers more stringently under the control of the Minister and his Department and to take them to that extent out of the control of the local bodies under whose control they are at present. To the degree to which that is done, harm is done, and it is much better to leave these local bodies what little freedom they already have in their relations with teachers.

For instance, the provision for a local inquiry, which is full and satisfactory under the existing legislation, is now being taken away. I speak of the provision for a local inquiry before a teacher can be dismissed. That is being taken away apparently because this Bill will then look more like the Local Government Act and for no other reason—simply for geometrical convenience. If the Minister replies that there is no just cause why these teachers should be at a different level from other servants of the Government, then I say that the onus lies on the Minister to prove that.

It will not do to state that on general principle no case can be made why these particular servants of the people will not do their work as well if they are put under that particular type of stringent control. If you are going to have work well done you will have to allow a certain amount of freedom. That is my main objection to this Bill, that it brings the teachers more stringently than they were before under the control of the Minister.

As Senator Ruane pointed out, the Minister has made a slight concession in Section 8. He has put in a small sub-section which empowers him, on the day on which he sends notice dismissing a teacher, to send a copy of that notice by registered post to the vocational committee concerned. That is by way of a very mild approach to the provision in existing legislation. The existing provision lays down that before a teacher can be dismissed there has to be a local inquiry, and what the Minister offers us now as a substitute for that local inquiry is a registered letter sent to the vocational committee. That is a plain case of where existing rights of teachers are being taken away, where their position is definitely being jeopardised to some degree, and even though there may be some weight in the principle that there will be general equality all round— that all these people should be reduced to the same level—even if that were the case it still remains true that people who have these rights ought not to be arbitrarily deprived of them without some sound reason. It might be all right to make new regulations for people coming into the service, but these people to whom I refer have had these rights for a number of years under existing legislation. It is completely arbitrary to take away these rights and to give nothing in return for them, except the discretion of the Minister to send a registered letter to the vocational committee. That is what that little change in Section 8 means. But the section as a whole means that where up to now the Minister had to have a local inquiry before he could dismiss one of these teachers, he is now entitled to dismiss him on his own fiat.

There is something very vague about the section dealing with the local inquiry. It says: "Where the Minister is satisfied on the result of a local inquiry that any statutory grounds for removal from office exist...." The phrase "on the result of a local inquiry" could mean that the Minister might be driving by in his motor car and might question a child he saw at the door of the school. That section does not imply compulsion on the Minister to have a local inquiry. If there is compulsion then the section is a strange one. It takes the place of a provision in the existing Act which made it mandatory on the Minister to have a local inquiry.

I do not think that very much of a case could be made about Section 7. It simply repeats in other language the provisions of existing legislation. It does not imply any worsening of the position of officers in relation to suspension in comparison with their present status. I am quite prepared to concede any good feature I see in the Bill, and I ask the Minister to believe that I want to help the general work of the Department and teachers.

In regard to Section 6, I feel that the teachers undoubtedly have a grievance. Under this section the Minister may declare any specified age to be the age limit for all offices or for such offices as belong to a specified class. That creates a new situation compared with previous legislation, and I wish to point out that whereas in this Bill the Minister takes the power to fix the retiring age, he says nothing at all about power to arrange schemes of superannuation which, certainly, should go along with such power. His answer may be that that is the function of the Minister for Local Government. Why is it that Minister's function? Why is a Bill brought before us which gives a Minister power to fix any retiring age he likes, but says nothing at all about the fixing of superannuation allowances? Surely if the Minister is going to be able to fix the retiring age he ought to be able to see that these people get their rights in the way of superannuation or gratuity? It is not fair that these two functions should be separated. If we are to set about putting our legislation into a state of geometrical perfection, why not secure that the same Minister should have power to fix the retiring age and to arrange for superannuation? Why keep these two things separate, and, as a result, leave the teachers in suspense? Remember that you are dealing with people amongst whom this Bill when it becomes an Act will create unnecessary anxiety and to that extent will interfere with their work. A great number of teachers are in a special position in relation to this question of superannuation.

Senator Ruane and other Senators referred to the fact that a large number of teachers who are affected are men who only came into the profession at a late stage of their lives, some of them of the highest qualifications, who have done admirable work not only since they entered this service but prior to doing so. I have a letter from one of them who gave me leave to mention his name. He is engaged in the science department of Bolton Street School. He is an honours graduate in science of nearly 40 years' standing—a man who has had nothing but the highest praise during his whole career. He was for a number of years a secondary teacher and his service in the vocational branch is not sufficiently long to entitle him to the full pension which he ought to get on his retirement. He has no guarantee that he will get any compensation for all the work he has done both in his former and in his present occupation.

Surely he has a right to such a guarantee. On the Agricultural Bill, we heard the case of a number of officers who were transferred from the local to the central service. Through some oversight, their case was left unattended to and now they find that they are threatened with deprivation, to some extent, of their pension rights. It is more important that we should devote our attention to a question of that kind than to getting our legislation uniform. It is more important that we should see that people are not mulcted in respect of their emoluments or allowances by legislation of this kind than that this Act and the Local Government Act and the Agriculture Act should be put on the same footing so as to look nice on a civil servant's file.

It is more important for us to see that men who have spent a long time in the public service at very poor remuneration will have some guarantee that in their old age they will not be cheated out of what is their due than that we should secure uniformity of legislation. I use the word "cheated" advisedly. Everybody knows that it is not beyond a Government Department, if it gets a chance, to deprive people of what they are entitled to. We all know of cases where rights have been taken away from people. Once these rights are taken away, it requires an earthquake to have them restored. That is what has happened in the case of the Local Government officials of whom we heard on the Bill which was recently before us. It is much more important for us to see that a man who has spent his whole life working for us will not have ten years of his pension rights taken away than it is for us to see that this legislation will be on all-fours with other legislation. When dealing with these matters, I ask the Seanad to remember that the interests of human beings are involved and that Senators are here to protect the rights of citizens and not to take them away.

I should like to refer to Section 9 which, I think, has not so far been mentioned. What is the object of Section 9? Section 9 reads:—

"The fact that an officer is in office at the date of the passing of this Act shall not be a ground for contending that Sections 6, 7 and 8 of this Act do not apply to him."

So far as I can see, that is a provision to make sure that no prior rights will be allowed to officers after the passing of this Act. I should like the Minister to give an explanation of that section and of its origin before we are asked to pass it. There, again, a case might easily arise in which some man had given long service and, by doing so, had established rights. If he has established those rights, why should we take them away from him by means of a half-intelligible section, even though the Bill will make things more convenient for the Minister's Department, the Department of Local Government or some other Department?

Why should we take away rights from people who have been working all their lives under the impression that they had those rights? Most of those people have been working under conditions that were far from palatial. The gentleman to whom I have referred, after spending 40 years at work, is enjoying a salary of £504, including bonus. That is not a princely salary for a man doing the work which he is doing. Now he finds himself, towards the end of his career as a public servant, threatened with a deduction of several years from what he always regarded as his pension rights, or, at best, left entirely at the mercy of the Minister.

As has been pointed out, it is not the Minister who is always responsible for the decision in these cases. The decision is very often come to by some anonymous person in the Minister's office. It goes through inexorably, and, so far as can be seen, there is no power to alter it. These are things which we should consider before passing legislation of this kind. We should not allow any consideration of convenience or paper simplicity, which is the main argument advanced in favour of this Bill, to lead us to worsen the position or take away the rights of public servants who have given the greatest service to the community, and who are capable, if they only get fair play, of giving value to the community out of all proportion to what the community gives them.

Anybody who has given any attention to post-war planning, whether for the world in general or our own small portion of it, must have recognised the enormous importance to that planning of education in general, and vocational education in particular. Senator Mulcahy and most of the Senators who followed him have reminded us of that fact. Vocational education in our country has a particularly important role to play in the post-war period, because, owing to the circumstances of our history, we were deprived for a long time of the technical training which other countries enjoyed. We have to make up for that now by very perfect technical and vocational training. In order to implement our industrial programme, we shall need men and women specially trained in those branches of education for which our other educational facilities did not provide. If not a poor country, we are a poorly developed country, and amongst the things most poorly developed are the faculties of our people. The faculties of our people in connection with technical matters have not been properly developed. Our educational system was not properly balanced. The hands of the people were not trained. It is time we realised that men and women consist of other parts than memory and brain. Other faculties require development, and it is the province of vocational education, following primary education, to give us what we need in this direction. For that reason, I share the opinion of Senator Tierney and other Senators that there is hardly anything we could discuss which would be more pertinent to the good of the country than a Bill of this kind dealing with vocational education.

The Minister has stressed the modesty of the aims of the Bill. He said that it was intended to bring legislation in line with local government legislation, to make it possible for local authorities to provide more liberal funds for vocational education and to extend obligatory vocational education to other areas than those in which it has already been tried out.

This matter is of very special importance now, because of the youth problems, especially the problem of the unemployment of youth, associated with it. As Senator Colgan has reminded us a special commission has been set up to consider them. The question of vocational education, therefore, will enter very largely into whatever schemes will be devised for the solution of these problems. The importance of this Bill is for that reason brought home to us. I quite agree with Senator Tierney that it should not leave this House without our endeavouring, not in any spirit of captious criticism, but in a spirit of really helpful criticism, to assist the Minister to make the Bill as good a measure as it can be made. We all regret that there are sections in this Bill which have caused misgiving to officers employed in vocational education. That is particularly unfortunate because, as Senator Tierney reminded us, we need their enthusiastic goodwill which has always been given to us in such large measure. We need that enthusiastic goodwill to make our vocational education schemes a success. On that account I was pleased that the Minister, to some extent, met objections and tried to satisfy the misgivings of these officers by amendments to Sections 7 and 8. I agree with Senator Tierney that the amendments are not altogether satisfactory though I would not agree that anybody in the Department is anxious to take away rights of the teachers or the employees. They do not attempt to do so at the moment but, at the same time, I do not think that these sections are very well drafted, and I hope that the Minister will bring in such amendments in this House as will make his intention clear.

With regard to the holding of local inquiries spoken of in Section 8, I hope the Minister will redraft that section so that it will make sense to ordinary people, because to me it is certainly very confused. If the Seanad prevails upon the Minister to redraft that section, it should go a long way towards giving this Bill a good send-off. It was only to-day we got the report of the Dáil Debates, and I was very pleased to read there that the Minister for Local Government and Public Health had given a definite promise that each case of a vocational teacher compelled to retire at the age which will be specified, will be considered. I hope that a liberal interpretation will be given to that promise. I do not need to go into the arguments. They strike everybody in the face. I have a special interest in this matter because so many of the teachers are my own constituents. A great many of these teachers are graduates of the National University and so both Senator Tierney and I have to look after their interests. We feel that we must keep an eagle eye on the Bill to see that nothing will go through that could be interpreted as prejudicial to their interests. I am sure that the Minister does not want to do anything against their interests. They are as dear to him as they are to us, but we must make it clear beyond yea or nay that their rights shall not be affected.

I should like to make one point with regard to the retiring age. I think the use of the word "any" in the phrase "any specified age" has given rise to a great deal of misapprehension. I hope that when the specified age is fixed, it will not be, a priori, assumed that women become inefficient through age—I believe that is the phrase—much earlier than men. It was rather suggested on another Bill that there would be special classes created in the case of offices under the Minister for Agriculture. I hope it will not be contended that women become inefficient, say, five years earlier than men. I think women, as a rule, remain efficient for a good ten years longer than men. Unfortunately, we know that in the case of primary education women suffer what, to my mind, is a grave injustice. They are obliged to retire at 60 in most cases and that makes it impossible for many of them to secure their full pension rights. I could never see any reason why that should be. I protest against it and I hope it will not be repeated in the present case because that would inflict a very grave unjustice on such women. Now that we are being warned in time, I hope that it will not happen again.

The general character which this debate has assumed interests me very much but it certainly depresses me very much to realise, after listening to the speeches of Senator Mulcahy and Senator O'Connell, that this country is making no form of comprehensive study or approach to this whole question of education. I do not want to follow other countries but it is astounding that England, notwithstanding its preoccupation in a life-and-death struggle, finds time to introduce a comprehensive educational scheme, right away up the educational ladder. Whether it is a good one, I am not at the moment concerned. I read the White Paper and it appeals to me. It has certainly gained a large measure of approval from all Parties in the House of Commons. Why has nothing been done here? This measure I think is deplorable inasmuch as it attempts to impose a form of bureaucratic uniformity on teachers in continuation schools. There is nothing more undesirable in education than that rigid uniformity. It raises what I might call a spirit of orderly disorder. There is nothing at heart more disorderly than a thing that looks uniform on the surface, and there is nothing more orderly in spirit than a thing that has a great measure of variety in its operation. I do hope that, in any amendments this House may make to the measure, Senators will resist, as Senator Tierney has suggested, any attempt at imposing this bureaucratic uniformity.

This whole continuation school system seems to contain in itself the germ of adult education. I think I am qualified to speak from personal experience on this subject, because I have had no education in the proper sense. I have been suffering all my life from those drawbacks, and I have been doing my best to overcome them in an individual way. I do feel pity for others who have got no education or only a limited education, who have not had the advantage of universities, the academic atmosphere or the learned lectures which people who go to universities can have, who are not given every opportunity for educating themselves as they go through life. This is a very limited application of that principle, but I do not approve of any system of rigid economy. I do not feel you will get the right spirit of adult education under any committee of the county council.

I would very much prefer the methods of the Scandinavian countries —I have read about them—where local groups are encouraged to come together and more or less express their own desires and draw up their own curricula as to what they want to study. Then they are given encouragement by the State as it may seem fit. I should imagine that this is the most human and economical way of educating the adult. You are not going to have that if you insist on rigid uniformity, if you insist that everyone must learn Irish before they get a Government grant or something of that kind. I do plead with the Minister, not only that he should have a comprehensive approach to this question, but that he should put in the forefront and in advance of any general scheme, an effort to develop some system of spontaneous adult education on the lines of the Scandinavian model and on those outlined by Senator Tierney.

Even at this eleventh hour, the Minister should proceed to get this thing out of the rut of the limited outlook of the civil servant and have the whole question of education viewed from a wider angle. I do not feel that there is much benefit in setting up a commission drawn from representatives of the denominations and the universities. I should much prefer to see something on the lines of the Beveridge Report, where somebody of acknowledged authority would be called in. Do not mind if there is nobody in the country—get someone from outside and say: "We would like a general scheme on this whole question." Then get the scheme and let us examine and discuss it and get on with the job. I feel that such a scheme is overdue and that we should tackle this question of adult education without any further delay. Let us encourage local groups so long as they want to learn. Let us give them every encouragement. I believe the real benefit of education comes when they get to know the right use of the tools. To teach them the right use of the tools should be the object of any sound educational system.

While I cannot speak with any knowledge on education as a subject because it is something that is rather outside my ken in a certain way, I am interested in this matter of vocational education in so far as it affects industry. Speaking as an industrialist or on behalf of industrialists, I would say that if there was any worsening of the conditions of the teachers in the technical education section, it might have a big reaction on the industrial policy of the Government itself. In the Federation of Irish Manufacturers, we have from time to time discussed the question of continuation education and we have appealed at various times for the raising of the school-leaving age to 16 years.

I am not assuming that the conditions of the vocational education officers are to be worsened. I am relying upon the fact that there seems to be a very strong opposition organised by them against the new clauses in the Bill and personally, so far as I can see, there is no reason why the 1930 clauses should not be left as they were. I do not see any need for change except, as Senator Tierney pointed out, changes which might improve those conditions. In so far as they are the most important branch of education in this country any effort to worsen conditions, if there is such an effort, should be deprecated. In the industrial arena we are very interested in the work of the technical schools, and quite a number of industrialists make it compulsory on their staffs to attend technical schools for further education in the particular industry in which they are engaged. If there is to be a sort of sit-down strike, or at least mental opposition, by the teachers to the Minister for Education it might react unfavourably on the education of the workers, and I am inclined to agree with Senator Tierney that the best we could give those teachers who are going to teach our industrial producers the use of their hands is what we should give them.

I would like the Minister to explain why it is absolutely necessary to bring in this new Bill. Senator Tierney suggested that it may be intended to make it uniform with Bills of a similar character coming from other Departments. If that is the only reason why the Minister is bringing in the Bill, then I think the vocational officers have a good case to make for themselves. I was interested in what Senator Tierney said about the possible conversion of technical schools into folk universities. I think we should develop and extend the teaching of handicrafts, and by handicrafts I mean things which are more indigenous to this country than a lot of our new industries, and which may have to form the basis of most of our post-war exports in the highly competitive period that will follow the emergency. That question will be worth investigation and examination by the officers of the Minister's Department.

The fact is that in the new world, while new materials and new methods of applying them may be quite common, we may have to revert to the rather primitive but very beautiful and artistic handicraft products of this country to continue our export trade. In the course of time, we would develop our capacity for the production of ordinary commercial goods as in other countries. In the meantime, we should do anything that could be done to encourage production of handicraft work like Dun Emer carpets, like the one gracing this floor; furniture such as that produced by James Hicks, or the book-binding of men like Colm O Lochlainn, or anything which could be developed to help in the industrial effort of this country.

I want to say one other thing in this connection which is rather astonishing to me as an industrialist, that we have to send quite a number of children, boys and girls of 14 to 16, back to technical schools in order that they may learn to write and spell. We have come across innumerable cases of boys, particularly those coming from primary schools in our city, who simply cannot write. It is an extraordinary fact. One particular case brought to the attention of the Minister was that of a boy recommended by the headmaster of a primary school. On giving him an ordinary simple sum he was quite unable to do it, and he was not able to write down an ordinary simple piece of dictation. I am sure it was an exceptional case, but I am rather surprised to learn from other manufacturers that they have had somewhat similar experiences. Most of them say, as regards girls, that they simply cannot spell even the simplest words. If compulsory continuation classes will help those boys and girls to improve their education I welcome it.

I must say that I am under a debt to technical education for any real education I have got. After leaving school, I had to earn my living, and go to a technical school to pull up for any ground I had not covered. That technical teaching gave me much of what was valuable to me in after life. I would deplore it very much but I am sure the Minister can assure me that the introduction of this Bill will not in any way worsen the condition of those teachers who are doing such valuable work in moulding for industry the young minds from which will proceed the industrial policy of this Government.

I am very glad indeed at the line the debate has taken to-day and I hope the Minister will welcome it. I agree with those who said that of all the matters that could come up here for discussion nothing is more significant with regard to our future than the subject of education. I think it is regrettable, however, that we feel ourselves in the situation where none of us, or at least very few of us, are satisfied with the conditions of our educational plan as a whole. I do not think that the parents of the children going to our primary or secondary schools to-day are the least bit satisfied with the results. We are dealing here with vocational education, and while some bouquets have been handed out with regard to the plan I have to confess that from my experience I cannot applaud at all what we are achieving under the Vocational Education Act. I am not talking in the dark here. I have been a member of a vocational education committee for at least 20 years or more, and if my opinion were asked as to where we are going, what are we trying to do, what road we are trying to travel, and what means we are adopting to get to our end, I could not tell you, and I do not know that any of my colleagues on the Education Committee along with me could tell either. Furthermore, I think that I could go into other counties and find exactly the same conditions, and if you ask me why are conditions like that, I cannot tell you; I cannot tell you why I cannot tell.

Now, I am not blaming the Minister for this, although from the fact that he is in control at the moment he, perhaps, must share the blame to some extent, but, as I have said in relation to this and other matters here before, this is a problem confronting all of us. It is a problem which is not going to be solved by any sort of slipshod or loose thinking or talking about it. I think Senator Mulcahy spoke truly when he said that actually we have no philosophy at all behind our educational plan, if we have a plan. We have no philosophy behind the plan really, and that is the main fault. I know, of course, that in your cities and some of the larger towns you have a number of vocational establishments doing, we presume, quite good work, but a comment has been made here as to the kind of material they get coming into these schools, the material that they have to try to mould, and it has been pointed out that the material is very poor. That is not a rare occurrence. Senator Frank Hugh O'Donnell mentioned the case of one boy, but I can assure the House that it is the experience of a great many of the teachers in the vocational schools throughout the country that that one boy was not simply the case of one "dud", but that that is generally the sort of material they have to handle. While, undoubtedly, you may be doing very good work in your cities and some of the larger towns, in my opinion we are not making any real progress in rural Ireland at all, and although we are spending quite a lot of money in our counties on vocational education, and although we have an excellent staff of teachers, I do not think there is any money spent where you see less good results flowing from it.

I have certain criticisms to make, but I should like also to make some suggestions as to where mistakes were made. In the first place, in my opinion, we erred when we built schools in our cities and large towns to cater for our rural population. I think that that was the first wrong step. In my opinion, it is wrong to take people from their rural way of life into the towns. In the second place, we are taking people from the rural districts into the towns, and what are they being taught in the vocational schools in the towns? In one class they may be taught engineering, perhaps; in another class they may be taught some woodwork; and then, largely, they get a commercial education. I agree with what Senator Tierney said when he indicated that these schools to-day are really continuation schools and not vocational schools at all; but one of the great faults that I see is the numbers of boys and girls pushing in on their bikes from the countryside to the towns in order to attend commercial classes, when there is actually no commercial life around them in which they could be employed.

There is no one to point out that to them—neither the principals or the teachers or the Department nor anybody else—and when they come out from that course, what have they to look forward to? I myself have inquired from many of the pupils who were in particular classes for a year, some of whom have managed to get employment, and when I asked what was the rate of wages I was informed that they were being paid the magnificent remuneration of 10/- a week—in many cases having to cycle back and forth to their work long distances.

Now, I do not think our county is isolated in this respect. I think that that is the sort of thing that is happening throughout the country generally, and it seems to me to be dreadfully pointless. I am quite satisfied that these children are being taught subjects which in themselves are good, and that they are accumulating a certain amount of knowledge, but they are going into schools believing that they are being equipped for a way of life, when it is not so at all, since that way of life is beyond them. It seems to me that there is a great necessity, now when we are actually giving powers in this Bill to increase the rate which may be levied off the local authorities, for a re-examination of the whole trend of our vocational education schemes, particularly in rural Ireland, with a view to seeing whether or not this money is giving us a return, whether or not there is not a better way of spending it, what purpose we have in mind, or whether it is likely to be fulfilled.

It struck me, when Senator Tierney was speaking, that he really came to the kernel of the whole thing. If we are to have a system of vocational education that will influence the life of the people who are going to stay in the country, and if we want these people to stay there and to keep them there if possible, you will have to do the best you can with them in their own districts and among their own surroundings. I live not far from a town, and for a number of years I have been looking at boys and girls pushing their way on bicycles into the town to attend the vocational school. I have always felt rebellious about that because, in the first place, I saw them going in, believing they were preparing for a job which they never got, and I was quite satisfied that when they pushed their way back again, as we say in the country, they were not worth three-halfpence to the people at home because they had got the taste of the town. Now, that is a wrong start if you want these people to work in the country. I am not suggesting, at the same time, that there is not a great necessity for additional knowledge for the people in the rural districts, and I want to see something more done in that respect. In fact, I suggest that the first step that was taken by the Ministry in the establishment of vocational schools was a wrong step. They should have looked at their counties or areas as a whole and determined in the first place what they wanted to teach and where it was to be taught. They should have determined, in the first place, what they wanted to teach, and then fixed their schools in the places that would be most conducive to get these children with the right approach, viewing things from the right angle, and in the kind of surroundings where that education could be imparted.

Senator Tierney spoke of the work of the folk schools in Denmark or in the Scandinavian countries generally. That is the sort of education we most want here. We want, firstly, a better understanding of the principles of citizenship, discipline and obedience. Those are the things that one notices to-day are lacking wherever one goes, with regard to the great majority of the young people growing up in this country. Parents, apparently, have failed to instil a sense of discipline and it is a much more difficult job for the schools. I feel that our vocational education plan everywhere, and particularly in rural Ireland, ought to be more closely related to the conditions of life under which the children live. In addition, while the mere learning of reading, writing and arithmetic and a fragment of history will improve the minds of the children there are subjects which come before that. I suggest to the Minister that in every one of our vocational schools there is necessity for all the children getting lectures and talks on citizenship, real patriotism, and a great many other virtues that people ought to have in life. Because they ought to have them but do not have them, life is barren for them and for others around them. The difficulties that this country is going to face are going to be no less than those in the war, in ways perhaps greater. Not alone will we have the need for trained minds but we will require a disciplined and sturdy people knowing why they are alive, who made them, what they live for and what they want to achieve. If you ask those who want to flee from the country and the others who cannot but want to do so, you would be astonished at the strange answers you would get, and sometimes no answers. There is a fault in education when conditions are like that with our rising generation. Our national schools cannot make that right. Our secondary schools and continuation schools cannot do it. The job is not being done there and I suggest to the Minister, with regard to the work being accomplished in rural Ireland, that the situation demands re-examination.

The Minister, in the typewritten document explanatory of the Bill which he circulated, drew attention to the fact that certain counties and certain bodies went to the full limit of expenditure earlier than anticipated. The development of the scheme was expected to be a gradual process, but it appears they very quickly went to the maximum of expenditure. Is not the same situation going to develop with the increased rate unless somebody keeps control? We all know what happens. This year you increased your rate and you have a certain surplus. There is a demand for some further expenditure. It is incurred by the appointment of some teachers, but other teachers are growing older and increments are being added to salaries. The net result is that eventually the sum you are liable for is greater than the initial expenditure. I do not think you have solved that position at all by this increase in the rate, unless you take some steps to see that committees will have a surplus and will have something in reserve so that when maximum demands are being made they will have sufficient to meet liabilities.

A great deal has been said on these three sections by Senators. I am against this plan whereby the Minister, no matter who he is, has absolute control. The reactions some day will be terrible. You can go on with that sort of thing over a period but the one-man dictatorship is upset eventually. It may come from external causes but it comes one day. You may take the reins and drive on but some day the coach will strike an obstacle and overturn. It would be much safer for the Minister to distribute the responsibility over local committees. I know how a local committee in my county expressed itself on this matter. The Minister knows that it is not a very rebellious body, but consists of quite a sensible group of people.

I suggest that the Minister is making a mistake. I can give evidence of the sort of thing that has happened. A particular official under our committee was, in the opinion of a number of the teachers, not giving satisfaction. Reports came in and were sent to Dublin. There were numerous communications passing and views expressed. Eventually we reached a stage after inspection by inspectors of the Department, when a letter came instructing the committee to dispense with the services of this particular official. There were members of our committee who knew the individual concerned, and who in the circumstances were satisfied that the decision was not just and the committee did not agree on it. Eventually a senior inspector came down and visited the school. After discussing the whole situation with all concerned he came back to our committee to inform us that it was to be left in abeyance and no further action was taken. In his opinion the whole question had been straightened out. Suppose the Minister were dealing with that, that particular individual would have gone long before now. That is the sort of thing that upsets governments.

That is not so.

The Minister says that that is not so, but the powers he is taking will enable him to do it. Perhaps I am not right in saying that the Minister would have dispensed with that man, but he is taking power to dismiss him. As a matter of fact, I sympathise with the Minister and his Department to a certain extent in connection with all the problems they are up against. I have certain experience. It is very dangerous and very unsettling for employees under this scheme. The Minister ought to be able to find a way out. I am not suggesting that the Minister has any desire to do an injustice but when a Minister takes power an injustice may be done. That is one thing that ought to be guarded against. If the Minister or his Department are satisfied about the results of the application of the Vocational Act to the country generally that is something on which I think he will not find people in agreement. I suggest to the Minister that education is something that you can never be satisfied about. You must always be amending and improving. We have so much leeway to make up here that obviously our vocational plan of the future requires much better thinking out than we have had evidence of from the product we have at present.

From the tenor of the debate it is obvious that the only sections with which the House disagrees as a whole are Sections 6, 7, 8 and 9. Of these I consider Section 9 the most vicious, inasmuch as it affects not alone existing officers but officers who have come in under this Bill. I have not much knowledge of educational systems. I am an ordinary layman and I presume that vocational education means that the Government considers it necessary for children leaving primary schools to have a cultural and educational centre at their disposal wherein they would learn, not perhaps the culture they would learn at universities, but a means of earning a livelihood of which they were deprived. I ask the Minister to reconsider Section 9. The vocational education system as it stands has attracted a number of very eminent men who render valuable services to this State. If they are going to be left in a state of suspense as to what their status is, how can the Minister hope to attract to vocational education any promising young teacher? Will not these young teachers say: "My predecessors do not know where they stand and why should I, at the outset of my career, enter a profession which is a blind alley, inasmuch as I am dependent merely and simply on the Minister's whim"?

The last speaker has prompted me to refer to clauses 6, 7 and 8. I have gone to the trouble of looking up the Local Government Act, 1941, and comparing clauses of the same effect as those in this Bill. The only alterations that I can see, if any, are in a few words which were suggested by me on the discussion on the Local Government Bill, 1941. There is an alteration from seven to 14 days in the time mentioned in relation to the removal of officers from office. The time under the 1941 Act was seven days, but under the present Act it has been increased to 14 days. I think it is satisfactory that that is so, because when the other Act was before us we objected to seven days as being a very short period. This Bill also includes the requirement of registered post. The word "registered" is put into the present Act, and it was not in the Act of 1941. The other clauses however are exactly word for word with those this House passed three years ago in the 1941 Act. As an official of a local authority, I do not know why we should have objection to these clauses relative to our "first cousins", the officials of vocational education committees.

Senator Tierney and other speakers have spoken of the worsening of conditions of the vocational teachers. I hope that nobody here believes that this Bill is going to worsen the conditions of employment of any vocational teacher. I do not think it is going to do that. Further references were made to conditions—I will not say legal conditions—in regard to the pension rights of these officials. These conditions have not yet been codified or legislated upon for other local officers. I think, however, that co-ordination between officials of local authorities, vocational officials and officials of agricultural committees, the bringing them to the same standard and system of remuneration, will ultimately bring us to the stage when we can have a satisfactory system of superannuation. I appeal to the Minister for Education to try to convince the Minister for Local Government that that is one of the greatest grievances of any official of a local authority.

Much was said about leaving vocational committees complete freedom to try to devise systems suitable to local needs but, in the next breath, we had Senator Baxter saying that somebody must keep control. Who is going to keep control if we have not this, as it would seem, octopus Minister? We must have a headquarters authority to supervise and control both financially and otherwise the working of vocational committees.

Nobody, so far, has enlightened me on the schedule of subjects to be taught in vocational schools. Senator Baxter referred to woodwork and engineering and general knowledge, but one thing I have got some knowledge of is the seed germination tests which have been operated through vocational education committees. That work has been of immense value to farmers and also of immense value in giving boys at vocational schools a chance of seed testing which before that they thought was very technical and could only be done by the Department of Agriculture in Merrion Street. It was a great thing to bring that test down to vocational schools in, say, Clonakilty, Westport or Donegal, and to bring technical education into the homes of farmers and into the mind of farmers' sons. If that idea could be developed further it would be of the greatest help to the farming community. I would like to see included in it human and animal hygiene. Possibly hygiene and health habits are being taught in vocational schools. If local authorities have any system whereby they can make recommendations to the central authority, then I suggest that they recommend to the central authority the inclusion of lectures on animal husbandry and animal hygiene. Nothing can be of greater value to a farmer's son than education on the rearing of calves, and the handling of animals from the bovine, equine and porcine points of view.

On the subject of the housing of pigs, there are the crudest and most ignorant ideas. I do not say that because the pig-sty may happen to be small and stuffy. I say it because we have gone too far in some respects in regard to fresh air and ventilation. An immense amount of information could be placed at the disposal of the farming community if these subjects were included in the curricula of vocational schools. I have not gone to the trouble of looking up the programme to see what subjects are taught in these rural vocational schools and nobody has given me much enlightenment on it. I do not know what subjects other than woodwork, engineering and general information figure in the programme. In the city, the schools cater for vocational callings such as tailoring, domestic economy and dressmaking. If we are to have successful vocational education in the country as a whole, it must be related to the work which is customarily done in the area in which the school is situate. If the district be wholly agricultural, then most of the education should be of an agricultural nature. By that I do not mean that it should be of an advanced agricultural type, such as is provided by the agricultural colleges. The farmer who sends his son to an agricultural college does so with the object of getting him a job afterwards. That is not the education which will be of greatest ultimate value to the community. The information which can reach every boy and every agricultural family through the vocational schools will be of greater value. That is a more important part of the Bill than the three sections we have been discussing.

I am associated with a local authority and am, therefore, first cousin of those vocational officials who have circularised us. They have nothing to complain of in connection with these clauses. Somebody must be placed in charge of us. There must be somebody to say the final word. Experience shows that no local authority official, no civil servant, no vocational education official and no official of a committee of agriculture gets a sharp knock. One has to be deserving of the "boot" before any of these authorities, about which there has been so much complaint, takes final action. I think that the increasing of the amount of money available for this purpose will be of immense advantage to the rural community. It will give them greater facilities for education, and it will help them in their way of life at home. It will be more useful to them generally than the education which would equip them for the Civil Service or other appointments outside their own areas.

It is quite clear to me from the tone of this debate that members of the House are agreeable to the Bill, with the exception of Sections 6 to 9. That being the case, Senators should have a square look at these sections, see what the position is and what arguments are being advanced as to why they should not be passed. The first argument was that there would be a rush of our present teachers across to England if these sections were passed. That was one of the main arguments. We were not all born in aeroplanes and we do not live in the moon. I do not think that any of us will pay much attention to that argument. I do not think that anybody in a permanent well-paid job, settled for life and qualifying for a pension will leave here for England. As regards the secondary schools, they are overcrowded. There are now, probably, 150 students in a college where there used to be seventy. There are more students in the secondary colleges than they ever had in the history of this country. When any new jobs are advertised, I do not think there will be any scarcity of applicants, having regard to the number of students at present in the colleges. I do not think that the Minister should have any fear that he will not be able to get new teachers or that the present teachers will rush out of the country.

It has been suggested here that the teachers are more or less downtrodden. Everywhere you go, the teacher is looked upon as a comparatively wealthy man. If he is married to another teacher, he is looked upon as a Croesus. That is the true position. In some cases, teachers have shops and farms and I understand that some of them have public houses, though they are not supposed to have such establishments. As a matter of fact, the teachers are considered the best-off section in the rural districts. They seem to be much better remunerated than the dispensary doctor or the local engineer or any of the other professional men. As regards the argument that the Minister should throw away these sections of the Bill on account of the shortage of teachers, I do not think that any attention should be paid to it. That argument could not be seriously advanced. The other argument was that there should be an inquiry before a person was dismissed. We all know that the only people who benefit from inquiries are members of the Bar and members of the solicitor profession. The longer these inquiries go on, the happier the legal profession is. But they are an absolute source of drainage of money so far as everybody else is concerned, including the accused and all those who have to attend the inquiry.

Do away with the courts.

I am not in favour of doing away with the courts. I say that it is absolute nonsense to have an inquiry in 90 per cent. of these cases. The Minister sends down his inspectors and gets their reports; then he sends down additional inspectors and gets their reports. He is not going to do anything wrong. The teachers have a very powerful union behind them which can make any representations which are desirable to the Minister. It is not as if something new were being set up. The system of inquiring into complaints has been in existence for a great many years. Nothing new is being set up in that connection. The inspector comes down and makes his report. After months, he may come back. If he is dissatisfied, he will warn the teacher time after time. That will go on until even the local people complain. Then, if he is going to be discharged, the committee tries to save him. That happens in every case.

I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

Before the adjournment, I was suggesting that the vocational teachers of this country were not badly paid. Now I do not want to give the House the impression in any way that I am of opinion that all vocational teachers are well paid. I think there are quite a number of temporary teachers, what one might call itinerant teachers, who are really badly paid. These are teachers whose duties are spread over various districts; they have to cycle, perhaps, eight miles one way or another to conduct various classes. I say that type of teacher is definitely badly paid and pretty well overworked. I would say to the Minister, if he is thinking of doing anything for teachers, that is the type of teacher I should like to see helped, especially the type which has been at that work for years, who is not a permanent teacher and who is not qualified to get a pension. I think that type of teacher might certainly be exempted from my general statement that the vocational teachers are well paid. I admit that there are exceptions and that type of teacher should be catered for. For the rest I think they are pretty well paid, no worse paid in this country than in any other country, and I definitely think that the Minister could state at the moment that there are no better paid teachers than those in Ireland. I remember two years ago reading of the salaries paid to teachers in the United States, where wages generally are much higher than here, and I was struck by the fact that the salaries paid to the teachers here compared very favourably with the salaries paid to teachers in the United States. That was, of course, two years ago, and the position may have changed since. It was stated then that teachers there were fleeing from the profession and going into other occupations.

There is one aspect of this Bill in which I think the Minister, in common justice to the teachers, should not persist. That is, the question of his being the ultimate authority to decide whether a teacher should or should not be dismissed. We all know that injustices have been committed in every Department of State where the Minister has had the final say in these matters. That has gone on for donkey's years, and as long as the Minister continues to be the ultimate court of appeal, so long as human nature continues to err, it will continue. I would say to the Minister that he should not persist in being regarded as the final arbiter. We may not always have Ministers or officials in his Department as able or as conscientious as he and his present officials are. We have got to assume that we shall not, and I would appeal to the Minister to establish some other system under which he would not be the final arbiter and under which there would be some court of appeal or umpire to which the victimised teacher could appeal. I think that is a very sound and proper suggestion. I would ask the Minister, in finally framing the Bill, to provide for an independent umpire, outside the Government, to decide these cases. Where there is a genuine dispute, an ordinary arbitrator should be left to decide it on its merits.

I regret to say that this debate has developed into a question of teachers' rights. I would like to have seen it on a higher plane, without so much discussion of teachers' rights. I would like to hear how we could improve our teachers and increase their efficiency, or get greater attendances at the schools, instead of listening to this ever-green and lasting complaint about teachers' grievances. Of late years, we have heard of nothing but teachers' grievances. We all believe they have grievances, and undoubtedly that magnificent document they circulated to members of the Seanad in connection with this Bill is a document of which all those associated with it should be very proud. They made a wonderful job out of a very weak case, and its effect on the Seanad to-day speaks volumes for the value of publicity. I congratulate those associated with the contents of that document. They are admirable publicity merchants and first-class salesmen of the stuff they had to sell.

A few of them would be worth buying!

Perhaps, but I do not think that document should influence the Minister or the Seanad. It appears to have influenced most of the Senators who spoke. Senator Mulcahy, I felt, started this debate on the right note. He brought us back to the days of Pearse. I remember reading what Pearse said. He told us that this country would never be a great exporting country in anything but the export of knowledge. It would never be a great exporting country from an agricultural or industrial point of view, because we have our limitations, and they are very marked limitations, but there were very little limitations on the export of education and Pearse looked forward to the day when the greatest export from this country would be the export of knowledge and we could set up an Irish empire on that basis. That was the one thing Pearse looked forward to. Men of that type were genuine educationists. I would be glad to see plenty of money spent on the development of education, and I hope some day that the reputation which the country enjoyed some 100 years ago in the export of knowledge will be recovered as a result of the activities of the present Government and of any future Governments.

Much has been said in praise of certain sections of the Bill and, of course, we have much criticism of others, but I do not wish to travel ground already covered, except, first to urge the Minister to avail himself of the power given in Section 5 of the Bill to extend the raising of the school-leaving age to other areas outside Cork and Limerick. I think that is one of the objects we should aim at, because, as Senator Tierney has stated, the vocational education school is the poor man's university.

In our large towns we have a number of young boys and girls—boys in particular—who are allowed to remain at home from school when they reach the age of 14. At that age there are very few occupations they can enter and they are allowed to run wild through the streets. I think that Senator Mulcahy referred to the fact that many of those youngsters do not even continue reading and thus helping to improve their education. The only way we can help those people, to my mind, is to extend this compulsory attendance at vocational schools. It has given more benefit to the people as a whole, and particularly to those young people, than any extension we might make in any other sections of our educational system, at the university or otherwise, because the training which these young people receive at vocational schools will be of greater benefit to them in after life than the training received by some of those who have attended our universities.

Much has been said here about the victimisation clauses if you might call them so in this Bill—some of the Senators have referred to them—and we have heard some Senators expound how essential this system of education was, how we must have the best possible people employed as teachers and instructors under this scheme. If that is so, we all agree to the principle that you must have the best and that, in order to get the best, it is essential that they be paid sufficiently well for their work. It is also essential, however, that rules and regulations should be laid down to which they must conform and that there must be some person or some authority to enforce those regulations. We are giving power to the county councils, on the one hand, to increase the rates in the various areas for the progress of this vocational education scheme, while, on the other hand, we are giving big State grants towards it, and it is only commonsense that with this great expenditure of money and with our anxiety to extend the scheme we must also have drawn up certain rules and regulations and give to some person or some committee the power to see that the people engaged in this work and in receipt of this money will be people who are fit and proper persons to carry out the work.

Now, there has been a great outcry about giving the Minister power to fix the retiring age. Some Senators have gone so far as to say that the Minister should not have such power at all. Of course, the peculiar thing about all discussions of this nature is that the speakers are always careful to say that they are not referring to the particular Minister concerned. I am reminded, in that connection, of the various discussions down the country in connection with the County Managerial Act. They all criticise it, but when the county manager himself is present they always say: "Of course, we are not referring to you; you are a very good manager." You have the same kind of thing with regard to various Ministers. Last week, for instance, we had the Minister for Agriculture here dealing with much the same kind of Bill as this, and the various speakers here said: "Well, of course, we do not mean to refer to the present Minister, but at some time in the future some other monster of a Minister might become Minister for Agriculture", or Minister for Education, as the case might be, and that at his own whim he might fix a particular age at which certain people would have to retire under this or other Bills that we had under discussion.

We also know, however, that certain safeguards are provided, and that, after all, the Minister is responsible to the Dáil for all his actions, and I suppose we may take it that he is responsible to a certain extent to this House also, although that is doubtful, but no Minister or officers of his Department will take it upon themselves to do something unjust, and I believe that the Minister must be provided with those powers.

Some other speakers referred to the fact that the Minister may fix a different retiring age for different types of people. Well, here, in connection with the very system we are discussing, you have various types of people employed; you have some lady instructors, some men instructors, and some people who have to travel over wide areas, and it could easily happen that in one particular section or area of employment a man or woman teacher could carry on their work at an older age than in another section.

As I have said, I do not wish to delay the House any longer. My only purpose in rising to speak was to urge on the Minister to do all he can to extend this vocational education scheme, to take his courage in his hands and to extend, particularly, the compulsory clause in this Bill to the remaining cities and large towns in the country.

B'fhacthas dom nach ócáid é seo chun cur síos i gcoitinne a dhéanamn ar chúrsaí oideachais no ar chuspóirí an oideachais. Ach feicthear dom, ós rud é gurb é Bille leasuithe an Bhille atá os ar gcomhair, go mba cheart dúinn claoi leis na leasuithe atá i gceist agus a rá cad iad na lochtaí atá le fáil ortha agus na buntáistí atá ag baint leo. Ní fheicimse go bhfuil locht le fáil ar an mBille agus thaithnigh liom go mór an méid adúirt an Seanadóir Hawkins agus é ag rá gur dóigh leis go mba chóir an córas oideachais seo do leathnú. Thuig mé uaidh nach raibh locht le fáil aige ar an mBille ach tá sórt dualgais orm, ós rud é go bhfuil baint agam leis an gCeárd-Oideachas pointí áirithe a chur os cóir an Aire agus a iarraidh air eolas do thabhairt dúinn ortha. B'fhéidir gur phléidh an tAire na ceisteanna seo cheana sarar tháinig mé isteach, ach ba mhaith liom na pointí seo a chur os cóir an Aire sin mar sin fhéin.

An dream is tábhachtaighe i gcúrsaí an oideachais taobh amuigh den Aire agus den Aireacht phléidh siad na ceisteanna seo ar feadh tamaill fhada ag códháil speisialta do tionóladh chuige sin. Cuid de na daoine a tháinig go dtí an chódháil sin bhí siad i gcoinne an Bille ach tar éis an Bille a phléidh agus gach mír de d'iniúchadh agus do scrúdú bhíodar sásta nach féidir locht d'fháil air agus go raibh sé ionmholta. Ina dhiaidh sin bhí pointí áirithe ann a raibh sórt imní ortha fútha agus ní raibh ag teastáil uatha ach go ndéanfaí soiléir iad. Ar an gcéad dul síos, maidir le mír (3) den Bhille ba mhaith liom go mór go mbeadh sé le tuisgint go soiléir—agus ní dóigh liom go bhfuil sé sáthach soiléir ins an mBille—nach gcuirfidh an tAire iachall ar choiste aon sórt oideachais a thabhairt isteach ins na scéimeanna gan comhairle ghlacadh leis an gcoiste roimh-ré. Níl sé míréasúnacn go n-iarrfaí ar an Aire go gcuirfeadh sé iniúil dúinn, ag míniú gneithe agus cuspóirí a Bhille dó, nach gcuirfeadh sé iachall ar choiste brainse nua léighinn bheith dhá mhúnadh gan comhairle ghlacadh leo roimh-ré.

Tá rud eile ar mhaith liom a chur os cóir an Aire—sin míreanna 4 agus 5— airgeadais na scéimeanna. Tá súil agam go ndéarfaidh an tAire cad tá ar intinn aige maidir leis an méid atá ins na míreanna seo. "Tá rátaí caighdeánacha", ann "flat rates" no "standard rates". Isé an locht atá le fáil ar sin go bhfuil contaethe bochta ann nach bhfuil ioncuim go leor acu. Contae na Gaillimhe, cuir i gcás, áit a bhfuil céad míle daoine agus freisin Contae Mhuigheo, ins na contaethe móra fairsinge sin is dóigh liom go mbeadh gach duine ar aon aigne le na rátaí caighdeánacha atá i gceist agam do chur ar siúl ar an mbealach ceart agus ar an mbealach a mba mhaith le muintir na gcontaethe sin í a chur ar siúl. Is dóigh liom gur féidir a rá taobh amuigh de na cathracha móra gur beag áit a bhfuil éileamh níos mó ann ar an gceárd-oideachais ná mar atá ins na gcontaethe atá luaidhte agam. Sílim go mba cheart go mbeadh suim faoi leith le fáil as an gciste Stáit le go mbeadh ioncum go leor ins na contaethe seo chun na hoibre do chur ar siúl ar an mbealach ceart. Is ins na contaethe bochta seo is mó atá an ceárd-oideachais ar éileamh agus ba cheart go mbeadh congnamh sa bhreis le fáil acu.

Maidir le míreanna 6 agus 9, is rud réasúnta achrannach atá annsin. Léigh mé go cúramach an méid adúirt án tAire ins an Dáil agus táim sásta ón méid adúirt sé nach bhfuil contúirt rómhór ann ach, ina dhiaidh sin agus uile, ba mhaith linn go mbeadh sé le feicéal go soiléir nach ndéanfar aon ísliú ar an status ná ar na cearta atá ag na hoifigigh go n-aistreofar iad fén mBille seo. Ón méid adúirt an tAire thuig mé gur chuir sé spéis faoi leith ins na míreanna seo, ach ní fheadar an ceart dom a rá go mbeadh spéis ag an Aire i mír amháin seachas mír eile; feicthear dom go bhfuil sé ag cur spéise faoi leith ionta agus tá súil agam go dtiubhra sé dhúinn, agus é ag tabhairt freagra ar an diospóireacht, go gcosnófar cearta na ndaoine atá i gceist agam.

Thairis sin, ní bheidh mórán eile le rá agam agus is dóigh nach ceart dom bheith ag tógáil suas ama an tSeanaid ag caint dom i dtaobh ceisteanna bhí pléidhte sar ar tháinig mé isteach. Ach ba mhaith liom iarraidh ar an Aire a chur in úil dúinn cén chaoi atá ceaptha aige leis an dlí do chur i bhfeidhm. Má tá air oifigeach do chur as a phosta níl fhios againn an mbeidh cead ag an gcoiste a iarraidh go gcuirfí fiosrúcháin áitiúil ar bun. Má bhíonn socrú déanta oifigeach a bhriseadh an mbeidh cead ag an oifigeach a iarraidh ar an Aire go gcuirfí fiosrúcháin ar bun. Tá fhios againn go maith go mb'fhéidir go mbeadh sé ar son leasa an oifigigh go gcuirfí fiosrúcháin mar sin ar bun; ach, ina diaidh sin, ba cheart go mbeadh an córas cosanta aige agus má cheapann an coiste éagcóir a bheith dhá dhéanamh ba cheart go mbeadh an rogha céanna acu. Thairis sin, níl rud ar bith le rá agam i dtaobh an Bhille; ach ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a rá i dtaobh cuspoirí an cheárdoideachais.

Ba mhaith liom é seo a rá mar fhocal molta. Is maith go mór le lucht oideachais an réiteach rinneadh idir Roinn an Oideachais agus Roinn na Talmhaidheachta le có-oibriú a dhéanamh eatorra maidir leis an obair atá dhá dhéanamh ins na scoileanna agus an meamram do cuireadh amach ba mhór an buntáiste é do lucht talmhaíochta. Cuireadh tús leis an obair agus tá súil agam go leanfar do spirid na códhála sin a shocruigh an meamram sin do chur amach. Tá súil agam go leanfar den obair agus go nglacfar comhairle go minic idir an dá dhream mar mhaithe leis an oideachas agus mar mhaithe leis an tír ar fad.

This is the first occasion since I was fortunate enough to be elected a Senator that the Minister attended this House, and I should like to express my appreciation of the kindly interest he has always shown in certain subjects such as Irish folklore and music. In these he shows an interest far exceeding what might be demanded from his position.

I will be brief on this Bill. I have listened carefully to most of what has been said here to-day, and as to the aims of technical education in this and other countries, I am heartily in agreement with what has been said. The education itself is in general on a rather low standard compared with countries on the Continent. We had a very late start in vocational education. When I was a boy I had experience of it in Germany and Switzerland, and I think it was about as far advanced there then as it is here now.

The position of this Bill is that it is not nearly a civil service or administrative Bill. In my opinion it is a Committee Bill, and I think that is Senator Mrs. Concannon's view. This is not a Bill in which Government policy is engaged as against the Opposition. It is a Bill that ought to turn back a better Bill, or as Senator Tierney said, a less bad Bill. I have been reading not only the debates in the other House but the very interesting debates that took place here when the 1930 Act was going through under the Minister's predecessor. Undoubtedly there is now a much more schoolmasterly attitude being adopted towards people in the country, and it is palpable in every piece of legislation dealing with local authorities which come before us.

In view of the extreme importance to the country of technical education I think technical teachers should be encouraged to regard themselves as a professional class, as a special class and not merely, as they seem to be regarded by a large number of people, as the officers of a local authority They are much more than that, and I think they may hope for a greatly increasing status in the country. I think there are too many young people being sent to universities here. It would be far better if they never were and if the social veneer connected with universities could be washed out for good. The university colleges very often turn out only semi-educated young prigs. The real value of education will lie in the combination of rural economy with the vocations. I have read the opposition to this Bill sent in by the various organisations interested and I agree with them. If amendments are put down I will be obliged to support most of them, particularly in regard to Section 8, which I think is highly objectionable.

As the last speaker has pointed out, this is really only a small amending Bill and scarcely lends itself to diversionary excursions into fields which would lead us very far away, however attractive these may seem. The fact is, of course, that the Seanad, as one can understand, would like to have further information about the progress we are making in regard to educational affairs generally. The annual report of the Department and the discussions in the Dáil provide at least some information. Those who are themselves engaged in educational work, in whatever branch they may be, have some knowledge of what is going on and they realise, perhaps better than those who regard the matter purely from the citizen's point of view, that education in the nature of things is not a service where you can accomplish revolutionary innovations overnight. You have to accomplish peaceful and harmonious transitions and adjustments and if changes are necessary you have to maintain the machine working as smoothly as possible.

Then, again, it is largely really a question of finance. The matter of the school-leaving age, for example, although it bristles with a number of difficulties, is very largely a financial question—a question of whether the State can afford to pay the rather large sum that would have to be provided annually. This sum was estimated some time ago at £1,000,000, if we were to raise the school-leaving age to 16, and I think that owing to the great increase in building prices, the increases that have taken place in standards generally in recent years, one would not be exaggerating in saying that £1,000,000 seven or eight years ago might easily be £1,500,000 now.

Is that for the country as a whole?

Yes. The vocational service has the disadvantage, of course, that it is not compulsory, and in the rural districts, owing to the emergency conditions the schools have suffered, I am afraid, rather severely. In order to maintain a system of rural continuation education we must have centres which are reasonably large to enable us to give full-time employment to staffs of teachers who will teach not only the ordinary continuation subjects, Irish, English, religious instruction, arithmetic or elementary mathematics, as well as metal work or woodwork, and domestic economy and crafts on the other hand for boys and girls, respectively. We have to have a certain attendance, a certain nucleus. Then, again, we have to be fairly certain that we are going to get a regular attendance and that we are likely to secure the interest of the people so that our rural experiment would be a success. We have to get teachers who will be enthusiastic, who will not merely regard their work as a routine job in which so many hours' duty per day, distastefully or otherwise, has to be put in but as a labour of love, something in which one goes all out to give one's best for the benefit of the pupils.

I do not think that our people realise the advantages of vocational education sufficiently, and it is quite clear from the remarks of Senator Baxter that even members of committees seem not to have a very clear idea as to what exactly is aimed at. We are not aiming at the objective that a job must be there at the end. We cannot guarantee jobs. The secondary schools or the universities cannot guarantee jobs. If we satisfy ourselves that as well as giving the pupil some adaptability, some self-reliance and some power to advance himself in the way of making himself more efficient in securing a livelihood we will be doing very well indeed. But, surely we ought not to leave out of consideration the influence on the character of the child. The ordinary traits or virtues of honesty, truthfulness, giving a good day's work for a good day's pay and the other homely virtues are of primary and fundamental importance— far more so, perhaps, than the ordinary literary subjects taught in these schools. I am afraid that we have got the idea that the vocational schools or the national schools should make up for defects in parental training and discipline. No matter how hard our teachers work, we cannot expect them to make up for the defects of bad homes, neglect of parents and children getting beyond control. The educational system ought not to be attacked if we have social evils of that character. There must be something more fundamental than weaknesses in our education to account for these evils. Senator O'Donnell referred to a child as not being able to write. I have a recollection that there was a question as to whether that child was quite normal. A certain proportion of children in our schools are not up to the average in intelligence and do not make the same progress, particularly in book learning, as the ordinary child does. It may very well happen that an employer will get a succession of those children when they become adolescent. As they are closed out from other avenues of employment, they may be driven to seek low-grade employment, if one could associate low-grade employment with our new Irish industries. Is it not possible that that is the type of youngster who would be driven to seek such employment?

Senator Baxter complains of children getting 10/- a week. Even 10/- a week in a country town was not scoffed at in pre-war days if the youngster happened to be living at home. It was regarded as a start which would lead to something better. I do not know whether the Senator, after his 20 years' experience of vocational education, has made up his mind whether our children should, in the long run, be educated to remain at home with their families or to go elsewhere for employment. There does not seem to be a very clear idea in County Cavan as to what we are driving at. Surely we cannot expect all our children to remain on the land only because it is the healthiest life and because it is most important, socially and nationally, to have a virile and intelligent population on the land. We cannot ask all our young country people to remain unless the prospects are, at least, comparable with those in other walks of life. We are not encouraging commercial work in these schools and in many of them no commercial work is being done. I think that the figure is at least 40 per cent. If local committees wish to give a special trend to vocational education in their areas, if they wish to relate it specially to agriculture or the predominant industry in the locality, they are encouraged to do so in every possible way.

It has been suggested that there is not sufficient advice. In the same speech, we are told that there is too much direction from headquarters. Senator Mulcahy complained that there was not sufficient professional advice—whatever that might mean. I have here a pamphlet of 26 pages dealing with the organisation of wholetime continuation courses in borough, urban and county areas. Every member of every vocational committee in the State got a copy of this memorandum. There is no need to quote from it. It deals with the organisation of continuation education in borough areas, first; then in urban areas and finally in county areas. It gives particulars of the type of course which ought to be provided in each case. It deals with the type of school, gives details of the programmes, deals with the teaching staff, explains how attendance should be encouraged, how school buildings should be maintained and so forth. Reference is made to religious instruction, social education, and the type of courses suitable for training for domestic work. There is also a reference to vocational guidance and advice. It is emphasised that it is the duty of the chief executive officers, the headmasters, and the committees— particularly the headmasters — to advise parents of students as to what courses are suitable for them.

Statements have been made that nothing is being done in the way of planning for the post-war period. That is not so. The matters referred to, such as the school leaving age, are under careful consideration. The questions of school buildings, remuneration of teachers, school programmes and the extension of continuation education, if possible, after the emergency, are the subject of consideration. It would be an extraordinary thing if, in planning our future development in its more material aspects, we should neglect education. That is not the position.

I do not know why Senators, including those who have been speaking with reference to particular organisations of teachers, should suggest that teachers' conditions are not as good as they should be. We constantly hear vague statements of complaint, such as the reference made by Senator O'Donnell to a particular case. When examined home, these are found to be loose generalisations which are not based on careful appreciation or understanding of, or even acquaintance with, the circumstances. When we are told by Senator Mulcahy that we are shockingly weak in our educational foundations—presumably in the primary schools—one would like to know on what evidence that statement is based. The Senator says that nearly everybody is dissatisfied with some branch or other of our education. Perhaps the explanation is that Irishmen like to have the right—whatever dictators may say—to have a grievance and a good grouse. I suppose it is just as easy, when one gets into the habit of blaming something outside for one's own defects, to hold the educational system responsible in this connection. Last year, we made, for the first time, the primary schools' certificate compulsory. Although we had not the advantage of the co-operation of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation, we were able to carry out the examination fairly successfully generally throughout the country and we have now for the first time a fairly accurate picture in the results of that examination, of what the standard is. About 71 per cent. of the children passed the examination— and successes were not confined to the big schools. I am glad to say that the small rural schools did quite well. On the whole perhaps they did as well as the schools in the cities. If we have definite measures of attainment of that character, we can criticise them but we certainly are not likely to make very much progress in estimating the value of the work so long as we have only generalisations of the kind we have heard here to-day.

There is an objection, according to Senator Baxter, to the Minister's taking power. I am sufficiently long Minister now to know that there is always a body of rather vocal opinion in this Assembly which seems to object to any Minister having any powers. In what way is the business of the State, as I have asked in this House before, to be carried on or in what way is the national machinery to be kept going if the final decision— which in fact generally rests with the Minister—that will be admitted—is going to be taken away from him in such important questions as determining whether a teacher should be retained in his position, in a case, as is clear from the relevant clauses in the Bill, where the inefficiency of the teacher is of long standing, where it is incurable, where there can be no question but that everybody interested has been made fully aware of the circumstances and opportunities have been given to make representations?

At the present time, in the case of other branches of the service, inspectors of the Department of Education estimate the efficiency of the work. There may be Senators more idealistic in their views than I am who think that there is no need for inspectors, that we should leave everything to the teachers, relying, as apparently Senator Tierney would have us, on the principle that the teachers, being persons who have a proper sense of duty, will always carry out their work satisfactorily. Surely we know that no ordinary business could be maintained if there is not some control or direction, if there is not some check on the way the workers are doing their duty. The work of education, being much more technical, certainly does not require less supervision and control than such economic enterprises if they are to give efficient service. The inspectorial service, however, is not, as has been often alleged, the kind of service that exists only for the purposes of reporting weaknesses and supplying information. It should be the eyes and the ears of the Minister and should give him information as to what the actual conditions in the schools are, make recommendations where the inspectors think improvements should be made, and, where they think that defects exist, report these also. Inspectors should not take a jaundiced or a prejudiced view. They should give full credit to good work done and make all allowances, and officially are asked to make all allowances, for difficulties in the teachers' way. That is the position.

An inspector goes to a school and finds that he is not satisfied with the work of a teacher. He tells the teacher he is not satisfied, that he proposes to call at a later date and make a formal inspection of his work. When that formal inspection is made, if the inspector's original view is confirmed, that the teacher's work is unsatisfactory, he may, in the case of the vocational education service, report the matter to the committee or, if he thinks that the inefficiency or unsatisfactory nature of the teacher's work is not sufficiently grave, he may say: "Well, I propose to look at your work again", but, normally, he would mention the matter to the committee in the yearly report on the working of the scheme.

If the teacher's service continues unsatisfactory, and a position arises that over a period of time he has not been able to satisfy the inspectors that his work has been of an efficient nature, the question of his removal from office or from his post may arise. It may arise on the annual report, or it may arise through a special report of the inspector, but in any event, as I have said in the other House, if the question of whether the teacher is to remain in his post is to depend, as was suggested, on the report of an inspector, I can categorically say that the teacher would be given the opportunity of having a senior or another inspector make an independent inspection of his work. Those who have such a lack of confidence in bureaucratic control, as they call it, may say—and I would not blame them for suggesting—if the arguments about the Minister not having any mind of his own are true, that his officials express his views; that even in a case where a teacher is being removed, the Minister has so little conception of his duties as not to give the matter his personal attention and examine it carefully himself, but is content to take whatever is put up to him by his officers as sufficient—if that is the position, certainly those who spoke of administrative convenience, and so on, have some justification; but that is not the position. The Minister, as lawyers present know, in any case of this kind, is bound to examine the matter himself carefully. If a case should go to court, and it transpires that the Minister has not examined the matter for himself carefully, it may very well be that the courts will reverse his decision.

The Minister is also responsible, apart from the personal responsibility which I assume a Minister would naturally have, and which I have pointed out, to the Oireachtas. He also has the position with regard to vocational education teachers that the committee is there, and, as Senator Maguire has rightly pointed out—my experience in the two Houses so far would certainly agree with his view of the situation—the amount of criticism we have heard of the clauses affecting the vocational teachers would lead one to believe that there would be no lack of agitation and representation and organisation if the position arose that the Minister arbitrarily attempted to remove a teacher from office without good cause.

Any member of the Legislature who has seen all the representations put forward during the past few months since this measure was introduced, will feel, I think, that there is a great deal in what Senator Maguire says. If the Minister for Agriculture and myself had included in the Local Government Act, of 1941, clauses dealing with the officers who are responsible to us, then nothing whatever would have been heard of all these grievances and suggestions of penalisation and victimisation, because, presumably, when the Oireachtas accepted these clauses almost word for word as Senator O'Donovan has pointed out, with regard to the main body of local government officials, it surely could not stultify itself by taking up the position that what was sauce for the goose should not be sauce for the gander, and that the vocational education service should be taken away completely from the authority of local government and put on an entirely new footing.

It may be all right, as Senator Tierney points out, looking at the matter very cursorily, to suggest—and there may be something in it—that we should try to make the vocational education service entirely independent of local government, but how can it be done? The vocational education schemes are financed through the local rates and it is the function of the Local Government Department to come in at every stage in the budget of the local authority. The Minister for Local Government, also, is the authority with regard to superannuation, and while it is possible that you may have a difference in the treatment of different types of officers of a local authority, one can see that uniformity, however much Senator Tierney may dislike it, is desirable in regard to the treatment of all local officers. For example, on the question of superannuation, it is certainly much better to have uniformity than to have a scheme with anomalies and incongruities at every step.

The county council, in the long run, is the body which deals with superannuation. On them rests the responsibility. They may not give any superannuation whatever. But, except the usual phrases about "administrative convenience" and "bureaucratic uniformity," I think we have not had anything to substantiate the case which apparently has been made that one body of officers who are clearly and undoubtedly officers of the local authority, even though they may be members of an educational service, should be picked out for special treatment. On what basis is the claim made that they should be accorded special treatment? The Vocational Education Act, 1930, Section 99 (3) provides:—

Every officer transferred by this section shall not, in the service of the education vocational committee to which he is so transferred, receive less remuneration or, subject to the provisions of this section, be subject to less beneficial conditions of service than the remuneration to which he was entitled and the conditions of service to which he was subject in the service to which he was so transferred.

According to that clause, the legal right, it seems to me, to which these officers are entitled is that they should enjoy conditions of service and remuneration not less beneficial than those in the service from which they were transferred, that is from the local government service. The Local Government Act, 1941, has amended those conditions of service, and, therefore, I think I am fully entitled to ask the Seanad to pass into law a Bill which proposes to impose the same conditions of service upon vocational education officers as obtain for officers of local authorities generally. That is one of the objects of this Bill, and it is not merely a question of "bureaucratic uniformity".

In the case of the retiral age, as in the clause dealing with the removal from office, I maintain that in the highest interest of the service and of the children and people of this country, the Minister should be in a position first, to fix a retiral age, and secondly, to remove, in cases where the committee fails to do its duty by removing, an unsatisfactory officer from his post. The Minister should be given power to enable him to step in to do so if he finds it necessary. These provisions have already been passed in regard to local government officers and, as far as I remember, there was no great opposition to them in either House. They were passed into law and they control the servants of local authorities generally throughout the country. The committees cannot have that technical knowledge except through the inspectors' annual reports, or through special incidental reports—they cannot in the nature of things have that knowledge of the efficiency of teachers in particular that the Minister for Education will have.

The inspectors are the officers, and, as I said, are the eyes and ears of the Minister, and if he and they are doing their duty, he would be fully acquainted with the position under the different schemes. He would be acquainted with the relative efficiency and otherwise of the work under the schemes. The Act which we are amending, as regards the removal of officers by the Minister provides in Section 27:—

"The Minister may, by order, either upon or without any suggestion or complaint from a vocational education committee, remove from his office or employment any paid officer or servant of a vocational education committee (whether appointed by or transferred by this Act to such committee) whom he considers unfit or incompetent to perform his duties, or who at any time refuses or wilfully neglects his duties or any of them, and may direct that a fit and proper person be appointed in his place in accordance with the law relating to appointments to such office or employment."

Sub-section (2) of the same section says:—

"The Minister shall not remove under this section from his office an officer or servant of a vocational education committee unless and until he has caused a local inquiry to be held under this Act in relation to the performance by such officer or servant of his duties of such officer or servant and considered the report of the person who held such local inquiry."

I submit that a local inquiry is always in fact held in regard to officers where there is any question of misconduct or failure to discharge their duties properly.

In regard to officers, where there is any question of misconduct or failure to discharge their duties the Minister would certainly hold an inquiry but, unfortunately the local inquiry that is referred to in that section is later on set out in Section 105, as being of a legal character: one in which evidence is taken under oath, witnesses are summoned and counsel employed. I fail to see why the Minister for Education should be bound, in a case where he is satisfied that a teacher has been giving such unsatisfactory service over a period of time that he is clearly unfit to be retained in his position, where the information to that effect is in the hands of the committee through the inspector's report and where, if it is necessary, the report of a further or senior inspector is made—where all these facts are brought before the committee, and the committee fails to take action, I submit that the Minister should not be bound to hold a sworn local inquiry to determine that matter any further.

The facts are known; they would probably be very fully reported in the local Press, where the proceedings of the committees are so often reported, and I suggest that the provision that where the Minister is satisfied, as a result of a local inquiry that any of the statutory grounds for removal from office exists as regards the holder of an office, the Minister may by Order remove such holder from such office, should not apply in case of continued inefficiency as a teacher. An alternative to sub-section (2) of Section 8 of the Bill is provided in sub-section (3) which says:—

"Where the Minister is satisfied that the holder of an office has failed to perform satisfactorily the duties of such office and is of opinion that he is unfit to hold such office, the Minister may (a) send by registered post to such holder at the principal office of the vocational education committee under which he holds such office a notice stating the said opinion, and (b) on the day on which he sends the notice, send by registered post a copy thereof to the said vocational education committee; and if the Minister, after the expiration of 14 days from the day on which he sends the notice and the copy therof and after consideration of the representations, if any, made to him by such holder or the vocational education committee, remains of the said opinion, he may by Order remove such holder from such office."

Senator Tierney spoke of the Minister's notice as removing the teacher or officer from office. The Minister's notice conveys to the teacher that, in the Minister's opinion, he is satisfied that the teacher has failed to perform satisfactorily the duties of his office and is of opinion that he is unfit to hold such office, and I suggest that the representations that can be made either by the committee or the holder of the office, or by both, within the fortnight, and the fact that the Minister has to consider these, is quite ample safeguard and is, if the matter be considered closely, as advantageous to the holder of the office as the holding of an inquiry which, in my opinion, held publicly in the legal way I have described, is not really necessary or suitable, nor can it bring forward any fresh evidence on the technical questions as to whether the teacher's inefficiency is long-standing, whether it is beyond control, and whether it is likely to continue.

Senator Colgan objected to the provision dealing with retiral from office. One would have imagined, from the representations that Senators have received, that it was never contemplated that a retiral age should be introduced but that teachers were to be allowed to continue in the vocational service until they were unable to walk to their classrooms, contrary to what takes place in the primary or secondary branches where teachers have to retire at 65 years of age and where, in the case of women teachers in the primary schools, as Senator Mrs. Concannon has pointed out, except in cases of special hardship, we have been reluctantly compelled to ask them to retire at 60 because of the amount of unemployment among young teachers. In the case of persons who are in the category that they entered the service rather late in life and will not have, let us say, 25 years' service, which would give them a reasonable pension—the pension in the case of officers of local authorities is calculated at a yearly sum of two-thirds of the salary, so that even after 25 years' service I think that unless there are special circumstances it cannot be said that an officer who would be retired, let us say, at 65 would be doing badly —if there are special circumstances; for example, if the officer has given service as a Gaelic League teacher or organiser, he can be dealt with by giving him certain added years towards his pension, and that has been done already.

Or as a national teacher?

Yes, it has been done. The Minister for Local Government, as Senator Mrs. Concannon reminded the House, has promised me that the cases of vocational education officers who have had previous service as primary or secondary teachers and whose service in the vocational schemes is short—let us say, under 25 years— will get special consideration if proposals for added years are put up in their case. In the case of those teachers who have not, let us say, 25 years' service but who have not secondary or primary teaching experience the Minister will also be prepared to consider proposals to give them added years, but not as favourably, perhaps, and understandably as those who have given long service as primary or secondary teachers and who are not getting pension benefit for their services in these branches.

I think I have mentioned most of the points that were made and have tried to deal with them. This is only the Second Reading, and if there are points which Senators think can be made by way of amendment to improve the Bill, we can go into them more fully on the Committee Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered, provisionally, for March 8.