Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 19 Apr 1944

Public Business. - Local Authorities (Education Scholarships) Bill, 1944—Second Stage.

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

Dhá chuspóir atá ag an mBille seo. Cumhacht a thabhairt do Chomhairlí Contae agus do Bhárdais airgead a sholáthar i gcóir Scoláireachtaí i Meán-scoltacha nó i scoltacha Gairmoideachais an chéad-chuspóir acu sin. Aontú Aire an Oideachais leis na scéimeanna i gcóir scoláireacht a cheapfas na Comhairlí agus na Bárdais, sin é an dara cuspóir.

Ordú a tugadh sa Dara Dáil a cheaduigh i dtosach airgead a chur ar fáil as na rátaí i gcóir na scoláireacht sin. Nuair a ritheadh, dá éis sin, an tAcht Rialtais Áitiúil (Forálacha Sealadacha), 1923, tugadh an chumhacht chéanna sin ann in Alt a 17. Ach d'aithghairm an dara sceideal den Acht Rialtais Áitiúil, 1941, Acht sin na bliana 1923, agus ar an ábhar sin níorbh fhuláir an Bille seo a rith le cumhacht a thabhairt in athuair do na Comhairlí réamhráite airgead a sholáthar i gcóir na scoláireacht. Ina theanta sin bhí sé riachtanach leis na scéimeanna a bhí i bhfeidhm ó haithghairmeadh Acht na bliana 1923 a dhéanamh dleathach.

Tuairm 6,000 scoláireacht a bronnadh ar fad ón mbliain 1923 i leith de thoradh na cumhachta a tugadh in Acht na bliana sin. Ins an mbliain scoile seo tá scoláireachtaí ar fiú £35,000 iad ag 1,466 duine. Sa mbliain 1943 a bronnadh 340 ceann de na scoláireachtaí sin agus tuairim agus £8,000 is fiú iad. Athnuachaint ar scoláireachtaí a bronnadh roimh an mbliain sin atá sa gcuid eile.

Ní raibh sé d'fhiachaibh ar Chomhairlí in am ar bith scéimeanna scoláireacht a chur i bhfeidhm. Níl sin d'fhiachaibh ortha do réir an Bhille seo ach an oiread. Bíonn furmhór na gComhairlí lán-toilteanach i gcomhnaí scoláireachtai a bhronnadh, rud is léir óna bhfuil déanta le breis agus fiche bliain. Níl comhairle in Éirinn, cé is moite de cheann amháin, nach bhfuil scéim scoláireacht i bhfeidhm acu i mbliana. Níl rud do b'ionmholta ná go mbeadh scoláireachtaí le fáil ag malraigh i ngach ball den tír. Ina ainneoin sin measadh go mb'fhearr leanacht den tsean-nós agus a fhágáil fá na Comhnairlí féin a shocrú ar chóir dóibh airgead a chaitheamh ar scoláireachta nó gan a chaitheamh.

Beidh ar gach Comhairle dréacht dá scéim féin a chur os cóir an Aire, agus ní mór na coinníollacha ar fad a bhaineas leis an scéim a bheith tugtha síos ann. Ní mór eolas a bheith ann fá acfuinn na dtuismitheoirí, fá na hiarrthóirí a gceadófaí scoláireachtaí dóibh agus fá scrúduithe. Tig leis an Aire aontú leis an scéim, maolú nó athrú a dhéanamh ar aon chuid de, sin nó é a dhiúltú ar fad, má mheasann sé na socruithe a bhéas déanta ann a beith mí-réasúnach nó mí-fheiliúnach. Measaim go dtig liom a rá libh nach dóigh gur minic a bhéas ar an Aire scéim a dhiúltadh, ach tuigfe baill an tSeanaid go bhfuil riachtanas lena leitheid de choinníoll a chur sa mBille. Ar chaoi ar bith ní féidir foiréigin imirt ar Chomhairlí maidir leis an scéal, mar ní bheidh d'fhiachaibh ortha leanacht ortha leis an scéim, maran mian leo é. Ní amháin sin ach, tar éis don Aire a bhreith a bheith tugtha aige, tig leis an gComhairle an scéim a chur i bhfeidhm, más rogha leo é (Alt 2 (3)). Gidh go bhfuil an chosaint sin ann, áfach, ní gan údar maith a dhéanfas an tAire leasú nó diúltú ar scéim, ar eagla nach gcuirfí an scéim i bhfeidhm i ngeall air. Bíodh is nach n-aontuíonn an tAire leis an gComhairle fá phoinnte áirithe, ní hionann sin go díreach agus a rá go gcuirfe sé a chumhacht i bhfeidhm. Ní dhéanfa an tAire iarracht ar scéim a athrú ach amháin nuair a bhéas ceist prionsabla ann sin nó ceist éagcóra nó deacrachta a bheith ann maidir le riaradh na scéime. Ach má chinneann. Comhairle ar dhul ar aghaidh le scéim a mbíonn aontuithe ag an Aire léi, ní féidir leo eirghe as an scéim ina dhiaidh sin. Beidh ortha eolas cruinn iomlán ina taobh a fhoillsiú ionnus go mbeidh eolas le fáil fúithi ag tuismitheoirí, ag oidí agus ag gach dream a mbeadh suim acu inti.

Aon trácht dá ndéanfa mise anois ar chumhacht na gComhairlí maidir le clás áirithe ar bith nó comha áirithe ar bith do chur isteach, níl sé ach coinníollach, óir teastóidh ceadú an Aire ón scéim bheacht iomlán chun éifeacht dleathach do thabhairt di.

Ní thairgfidh aon Chomhairle scoláireachtaí do pháistí ar bith ach do pháistí a bhfuil a dtuismitheoirí nó a ngáirdiain ina gcomhnuitheoirí bona fide, ar dháta áirithe, i líomatáiste riaracháin na Comhairle sin. Ní bheidh sé dleathach d'aon Chomhairle a cheapadh gur riachtanach d'iarrthóirí bheith ina gcomhnaí sa líomatáiste ar feadh tréimhse áirithe aimsire —dhá bhliain nó níos mó, abair. Ba leatromach a leitheid sin de choinníoll ar dhaoine a dtugann riachtanais a gcuid oibre ortha bheith ag aistriú o áit go háit.

Is amhlaidh atá na scoláireachta dhá gcur in áirithe do pháistí nach acfuinn dá dtuismitheoirí iad do choinneáil ar scoil go gcríochnuighe siad cúrsa meán-oideachais nó cúrsa gairm-oideachais. Dá réir sin, tá sé d'fhoráil sa mBille go luadhfar i ngach scéim cadé an easba acfuinne a measfar do bheith ina comhartha go bhfuil congnamh scoláireachta ag teastáil. Ach, ina theannta sin, tá sé d'fhoráil sa mBille go bhféadfar gan claoi go dlúth le rialacha chlás na hacfuinne i gcás ar bith inar bh'ionann é sin agus leatrom do dhéanamh. Cinnfidh gach Comhairle ar na teorainn ioncuim nó luacha ion-rátuithe dá líomatáiste féin, agus féadfar na teorainn sin do leathnú do réir líon na bpáistí i muirear áirithe ar bith.

Isé an Roinn Oideachais a stiúrfas an scrúdú chun tástáil do dhéanamh ar ábaltacht na n-iarrthóirí chun sochar do bhaint as cúrsa meán-oideachais nó as cúrsa gairm-oideachais. In aon chás ina mbeidh an caighdeán cáilíochta sroichte ag uimhir iarrthóirí is mó ná uimhir na scoláireacht bhéas ar fáil, déanfar úsáid de thoradh an scrúduithe chun na hiarrthóirí do rangú do réir a bhfeabhais. Tar a éis sin, bronnfar na scoláireachtaí do réir ord feabhais na n-iarrthóirí; ach, más mian le haon Chomhairle a leithéid do dhéanamh, féadfar scoláireachtaí do chur in áirithe do cheanntair faoi leith nó do shaghsanna faoi leith scol—d'iarrthóirí atá ina gcomhnaí i gceanntair tuaithe nó d'iarrthóirí atá ag freastal ar scoileanna beaga nó scoileanna tuaithe, cuir i gcás. Rud eile, féadfaidh aon Chomhairle roinnt áirithe de na scoláireachtaí do chur in áirithe do bhuachaillí amháin nó do chailíní amháin, do réir mar measfaí bheith oiriúnach. Scoláireachtaí a mbeadh claon áirithe leo, freisin—claon i dtreo talmhaíochta nó tíobhais, cuir i gcás— féadfar a leithéidí do thairgsint.

Ní féidir scoláireachtaí do ghlacadh ach amháin i scoileanna ceaduithe, agus tabharfar faoi deara nach bhfuil an Bille seo ag coimeád na teórann do bhí san Acht roimhe seo maidir leis an achar do bhí, an uair sin, i Saorstát Éireann.

An scrúdú tástála agus an caighdeán chun cáilithe, beidh siad coiteann do gach scéim; ach má mheasann aon Chomhairle go mb'fhearr maolú do dhéanamh ar na tástála nó ar an gcaighdeán le haghaidh a líomtáiste féin, géillfear dá dtuairimí cho fada agus is féidir.

Maidir le hullmhú agus le tairgsint scéimeanna agus le soláthar sna Meastacháin le haghaidh scoláireacht a bronnfar nó a hathnuafar, séard atá sa mBille faoi láthair go mbeidh na nithe sin ina bhfeidhmiúcháin choimeádta—rud is ionann agus a rá nach ag an mBainisteóir ach ag an gComhairle nó ag an mBárdas bhéas an chumhacht. Séard do measadh ar dtús go mb'fhusaide an riarachán mura mbeadh ar coimeád ag an gComhairle nó ag an mBárdas ach an feidhmiúchán do bhainfeadh le caiteachais airgid. Ach do fuarthas eolas ó shoin tré mholta do cuireadh i láthair na Roinne agus tré na díospóireachta do rinneadh ar an mBille, agus táim cinnte anois gur b'í an tslí atá tairgthe sa mBille an tslí is lugha deacracht agus is mó éifeacht tríd agus tríd.

An méid airgid a chuirfeas Comhairle ar fáil le haghaidh scoláireacht, an méid scoláireacht a bronnfar agus luach gach scoláireacht, is ar an gComhairle go príomhach atá siad sin mar chúram, agus caithfear cuid mhaith saoirse d'fhágáil ag na Comhairlí i dtaobh na nithe sin—go háirithe ós rud é nach bhfuil na scéimeanna éigeantach ar na Comhairlí.

Mar sin féin, ní mór don Aire féacháil le treoir áirithe do choinneáil ar luacha na scoláireacht, ionnas go mbeidh siad mór go leor le bheith tairbheach agus ionnas nach mbeidh siad cho mór agus go laghdóidh siad uimhir na scoláireacht go mí-réasúnach.

Breathnófar na scoláireachtaí i ndeireach gach bliana, agus ní buanófar ó bhliain go bliain scoláireacht d'aon duine nach mbeidh dul-araghaidh sásúil déanta aige nó nach gcólíonfaidh cibé coinníollacha eile a measfar bheith oiriúnach. Taobh amuigh de sin, beidh na scoláireachtaí ion-choimeádta ar feadh tréimhse áirithe de bhlianta. Ba chóir iad do bheith ion-choimeádta ar feadh a ceathair nó a cúig de bhlianta—go háirithe scoláireachtaí i Meán-Scoileanna. Ní foláir ceadú an Aire Oideachais d'fháil do gach athnuadhadh scoláireachta.

Chífear go dtugann Alt 7 (1) cumhacht do Chomhairlí Contae an t-airgead le haighaidh scoláireacht do chur ar fáil tríd an Ráta Dealbhais. Ní bhaineann an fhoráil sin den Bhille leis na Bárdais. Chun airgead do chur ar fáil don chuspóir seo, tá cumhacht fachta aca-san cheana féin faoi'n Acht oiriúnach Bainisteoireachta Cathrach.

Mar gheall ar an tréimhse atá caithte ó hathghairmeadh an tAcht. Rialtais Áitiúil (Forálacha Sealadacha), 1923, is riachtanach údarás dleathach do thabhairt do Chomhairlí agus do Bhárdais i dtaobh a gcaiteachais agus a ngníomhachta ar son scoláireacht idir an dá linn. Táthar ag brath an t-údarás sin do thabhairt dóibh in Alt a 8.

Táthar ag súil go mbeidh an Bille nua seo ina chongnamh mhór le gléas oideachais do chur ar fáil do bhuachaillí agus do chailíní a chaithfeadh stad go ró-luath de fhreastal scoile mura mbeadh an Bille; agus táthar ag súil go ndéanfaidh gach Comhairle agus Bárdas soláthar fial, do réir a n-acfuinne, le haghaidh na scéim scoláireacht. Ina thaobh sin, chífear nár coimeádadh sa mBille seo an fhoráil, do bhí in Acht 1923, dhá órdú go gcaithfí cead d'fháil ón Aire Rialtais Áitiúil agus Sláinte Puiblí chun ráta ós cionn pingin sa bpunt do thógáil.

Tá súil agam go dtaithneoidh téarmaí an Bhille seo le gach Seanadóir. Tá dóchas agam go dtabharfaidh na Seanadóirí go léir a gcó-chongnamh uatha chun an Bille do chur tríd an Oireachtas gan mhoill, ionnas nach fada go mbídh údarás dleathach ag na Comhairlí agus ag na Bárdais don deagh-obair atá déanta aca agus don deagh-obair a bhfuiltear ag súil léi uatha tré scéimeanna maithe scoláireacht.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an mBille seo. Bille é chun scéim do ceapadh sa bhliain 1919 do leathnú agus do chur i bhfeidhm ar fuaid na tíre. Cuireadh an scéim sin ar bun fén sean-Dáil agus, más buan mo chuimhne, is i gContae Mhuigheo a cuireadh i bhfeidhm é. Bhí lúb ar lár sa dlí agus isé atá á dhéanamh annso ná a leithéid sin do cheartú agus scéimeanna den tsort chéanna do chur i bhfeidhm ar fuaid na tíre. Is ceart a rá go bhfuil an Bille níos fearr anois na mar a bhí sé nuair a tugadh isteach san Dáil é. Do thaisbeáin an tAire sa Dáil go raibh sé reasúnta agus go raibh sé sásta glacadh le leasuithe ó Theachtaí Dála ar an mBille.

I think that this is a Bill which we should welcome. It is, in fact, a legalisation of the old Sinn Féin scheme which was begun in 1919, if my memory serves me, in the Minister's County of Mayo. Some difficulties have since been discovered with regard to the law and this Bill is designed to tighten up the law and to make certain new provisions. As it comes from the Dáil, it is I think improved in certain directions as compared with the form in which it was when introduced. The Minister showed very great reasonableness in the other House in considering the points raised. There can be no question but that the Bill is one which ought to pass. While there may be points here and there to be questioned in Committee, this is one of those Bills —of which there are more than the newspaper reader might imagine—in respect of which there is not much difference of opinion but which are discussed for the purpose of improvement. The Bill is part of what used to be called the "educational ladder" and it provides for progress from the primary to the secondary or vocational schools. Incidentally, I think that we should not be satisfied merely with an educational ladder. There was an idea at one time that what was required in education more than anything else was to assist the more brilliant students and enable them to go as far as possible. That is a very sound idea but, at the same time, we should not forget that the main purpose of education should be the raising of the general level. Particularly in a democracy and in the difficult times through which we are passing, our principal concern should rather be to see that the great majority—that is to say, those who have to leave school at an early age to earn their living— get the best possible education and that it should be continued over as long a period as possible. For that reason, I should like to put on record my approval of the idea of raising the present school age which, at 14 years, is, undoubtedly, too low. I rather feel that the Minister agrees with me on that. I think that we should not be satisfied until we have that age raised and until we have provided an opportunity for the great bulk of the students to get a better education—an education which will not only fit them for their work but also fit them for something else which is, perhaps, almost as important in our day: the spending of their leisure. The thing which is, perhaps, most noticeable in this country and elsewhere is that, at a time when people have more leisure than ever before, they know less than ever before what to do with it. I think that we should endeavour, both from the point of view of our school buildings and from the point of view of raising the school-leaving age, to provide a better education for the general mass of the community, an education not intended to create a movement financially, from one class to another but to raise the general level of those who, when all is said and done, are our masters.

With regard to this particular scheme, it is accepted by everybody that the good student should not be handicapped by lack of means or facilities or by the selection of the school which he attends from getting the best possible opportunity to develop himself and to fit himself for citizenship in the State. I think that we should do our best to ensure that the selected students will not only get benefits for themselves but be an advantage to the community afterwards.

The standard should be kept as high as it is possible to keep it. There, we are up against one of those difficulties which go back a long distance in our history. The counties differ very much. I know from experience of university scholarships that where there are, say, five scholarships in a county, the sixth candidate in certain counties may obtain 72 per cent. and fail to secure a scholarship. In other counties, the fourth and fifth candidates may be below 50 per cent. and may not be eligible for scholarships at all unless the county council and the authorities relax matters somewhat. There are other local loyalties which go back very far, and I suppose we cannot do anything towards having a State scheme. If we had such a scheme, certain areas might get no scholarships at all.

There are other restrictions than the county restrictions in connection with these scholarships. The Minister indicated that there is power to provide that certain areas must get a certain percentage of scholarships. I understand that, in a particular county where there are too large towns and a big rural area, the county council has decided that a certain number of scholarships must be given to the rural area. That seems to me to be a very sound provision, provided the proper standard is attained by the students from the rural area. Then, again, there is a means test and, on that, I wonder what are the views of the Minister. I rather think that I should like to try the experiment of abolishing that means test. If there is to be a means test, the limit should be placed much higher than it is at present. In Dublin City, for example, I think the amount is £250 a year. It is simply preposterous that a man, say, in the clerical grade of the Civil Service or a craftsman earning £5 a week—and there are a number of them earning that—who is rearing a family should not have his children eligible for a scholarship simply because he has an income of that amount. There are several reasons. One reason is because people with an income between £5 to £15 a week are a very important class in the community. They make a serious effort to rear their children properly and are a very vital section of the community. They should not be put in the position that they are being taxed to maintain the education of the children of people with an income slightly below theirs. I could put my finger on people with incomes between the levels of £250 and £800 who are by no means what is called well-to-do.

In Dublin City the problem is not so serious as it is in the country, because of the existence of the Christian Brothers' schools. But for girls it is different, because there are no girls' schools similar to the Christian Brothers. Where facilities are good all round it should be more a case of letting the best horse leap the ditch, as they say in the country, rather than having a means test of so stringent a kind. In some places the means test is as low as £150. It is ridiculous that, say, a preventive officer earning very little more than £150 or, perhaps, as low as that figure, or say, a civil servant in the country earning £200, should be prevented from having a child eligible for a scholarship, if the child can pass the examination. I do not object to the idea that certain areas might have a certain number of scholarships reserved for them, providing a certain standard was attained. As far as I understand, in the country it is difficult to establish a person's means. It is one of those things that can only be done by acute ingenuity based on long experience. It is commonly said that people in the country whose incomes are far above the level laid down get scholarships. We should try to get the position in which the law is known and in which we abide by it. What we actually do, and often with complete unanimity, is to ignore it. That is being done in the case of scholarships, particularly in regard to the means test. We should have a general level of education provided for all.

When you come to the question of the educational ladder I think the obligation of the State is to see that only the good people, the people who are worth while, should be allowed on it. There is one aspect of secondary scholarships that has often struck me. People are under the impression that if you get into a secondary school and pass the leaving certificate or the matriculation examination something has been accomplished. Unfortunately that is by no means the case. There is hardly a greater blind alley than the education of the secondary school. The candidate who scrapes through the leaving certificate examination with a pass and comes to your door and says: "I have passed the leaving certificate, can you get me a job?" Is a great problem. I do not think there is anybody more difficult to get a job for. I know there are great difficulties in the way but it might be possible for the Department to do something to direct people at an earlier age than 18—at 16, for example—to acquire some particular skill. It is all right for a person who gets a scholarship and goes into the university to do an honours course there. The great bulk of the county councils, when giving the scholarships, insist that the scholar pursue an honours course. They do not want, in scholarships, people who in the university would be only pass-men. I feel that it was and is not wise to unsettle people and get them to go in for something that they are not able to do. To give them something they are not able to digest, whether education or food, is not good either for mind or body. It would be much better for everybody and for the community as a whole that certain people should become good craftsmen rather than indifferent clerks, or that they should endeavour to pass from the ranks of craftsmen where they know precisely what they are, into the vague and undetermined class of people who have no particular skill, and nothing particular to offer in the labour market.

I feel that the scholarships should go more to the vocational schools, perhaps, than to the secondary schools, except in the case of people who have particularly good prospects. There are some big anomalies in our education. County councils are very anxious that students should do agriculture in the universities. I have met every student doing agriculture in University College, Dublin, for a number of years and I think I can say that I have not met two students per year who were going to be farmers. They were going to teach farmers how to farm and to avoid with great care and zeal having to farm. That may be all right for a time when there is a particular need of instructors and inspectors, but surely what we want is that the people engaged in crafts and shops should have a higher level of education, know how to spend their leisure and how to do their work, and that we should have a greater diffusion of scientific education, not among the inspectors, but among people who are actually engaged in agriculture. It seems that with the very best intention we do not accomplish that. However, there are certain other points in the scholarship scheme. It is a good thing the Minister for Education is in charge of it and not the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. It was a good thing that last year practically every county except one had a scholarship scheme, and for that county the defence was made that it was giving a considerable amount of money to agricultural colleges. I think the Minister was well advised to make it clear that local bodies are to have the setting up of the schemes, and not the county managers, because the more interest we can get amongst local bodies in this matter the better for everybody. I am also sure that the Department of Education will deal with this matter rather as a friend and counsellor of local bodies than as a despot or dictator. I think that is pretty certain.

Now, with regard to the continuance of scholarships, I understand that the Minister is to have the last word. That, it seems to me, will place a very considerable burden on the Minister, and while there may be an argument in favour of giving the power to the local bodies, I am afraid that most people would prefer to take a decision of that kind from Dublin, rather than from the local authority, despite the fact that to give the power to the local authority would be a more democratic procedure. However, I welcome the Bill, and I should like to hear from the Minister that he feels that the standard should be as high as possible; that he feels that the parents of the people who get these scholarships should make a decision, when the children reach the age of about 16, as to what they are going to do with the child, if that is possible, and that the children should be directed into occupations where they will get some skilled knowledge or experience rather than the literary courses which they get in a secondary school, then to be thrown out, wondering what kind of job they will get.

I wonder what are the Minister's views on the question of the means test? Even apart from the emergency, I think that the figure of the means test should be very much higher than it is at present, both in the City of Dublin and in the rural areas. However, with these remarks, and with the statement that, while welcoming a Bill to improve the conditions of a small number of people who can get these scholarships, we should not forget the necessity for increasing the general standard and for raising the school-leaving age. For that reason the Bill is a very welcome one, and we should pass it, certainly on the Second Stage, and then through the Final Stages.

This Bill is welcome, of course, as far as it goes, but it goes a very short way, indeed, towards what ought to be our ideal in this matter of education. The time has come when we should aim at getting away from this make-shift system of providing continued education for a very limited number of individuals who are fortunate enough, or lucky enough, if you like, or who have the particular skill or ability to enable them to pass certain tests. In every progressive country, provision either has been made or is in the process of being made to provide free secondary education for all, and when I refer to secondary education I do not mean it in the very limited sense in which it is referred to here. I mean post-primary education of any type, whether it is vocational, aimed at technical training, or just cultural education such as is given in the ordinary secondary schools. I believe, too, that we are badly wanting in some kind of service which would give vocational guidance to young people at the age of 14, 15, or thereabouts, with a view to directing them into lines of education for which they would have a particular aptitude.

The Minister mentioned that last year 340 scholarships were awarded. Now, I take it that the number of children leaving the primary schools would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40,000 or 50,000 each year, and provision is made, under this scholarship scheme, for 340, who are able to pass the examinations. Now, with regard to a certain number of these children, their parents are in a position to provide education for them, and I presume that a certain number of them are provided for in the local vocational schools; but, in all, we know that the majority of the children who leave the primary schools never go beyond that: never have an opportunity, or certainly do not avail of the opportunity, even if it is there, to get further education. That is by no means a satisfactory state of affairs. If we are to hold our own at all in the new world that is to come, surely we must make better provision for our younger people in the matter of education. Perhaps we will be told that that is going to cost money. Of course it will cost money, but it would be money very well invested or spent. I believe that a provision of this kind is the best investment that the nation can make, and it is a country like ours—a comparatively poor country, if you like to put it that way—that can least afford to be economical in the matter of expenditure on education.

I thoroughly agree with what Senator Hayes said. The question of raising the school-leaving age is an urgent one, as the Senator has pointed out, and every opportunity should be provided for every young person to get further education according to his particular disposition or aptitude for a particular line. With regard to the Bill itself, its object, as set out by the Minister in his first paragraph—succinctly and rather naïvely I thought—is to give power to the county councils to provide money, and it gives power to the Minister to see how the money is to be spent. That, briefly is the whole purpose of the Bill. In this Bill, as in many other Bills, there is a little too much tendency to take complete power into the hands of the central authority. More discretion should be given to the local authorities in these matters. If we examine this Bill, we find that in every section of it the hand of the Minister is over all, as it were. In fact, strictly speaking, the only real power that is left to the county council is to strike a rate and raise the money; after that, it is all left to the Minister. Anybody who has had any connection with national bodies or national organisations of any kind, whether a trade union or a body like the Red Cross Society, or even a political organisation, knows that there is a great deal of resentment by local bodies or branches if too much control is vested in the central authority. There is an idea that those at the top or at the centre want to rule the whole business, and that is not good in a matter of this kind.

More freedom should be left to the local authorities in carrying out this scheme, and I do not think that there should be a universal test, such as is provided for in these schemes. For instance, the test papers are set by the central authority for the whole of the Twenty-Six Counties. I do not know whether that is good or advisable. In each county, people could be got who would set papers for their own particular county, and I believe that that would create a healthy position and a healthy interest in educational matters in the particular county. They would feel that they have more responsibility in the matter if they could set their own papers instead of having the papers sent down to them from headquarters, and where every candidate, whether in County Donegal or the City of Dublin, will have to pass the same test. There may be arguments, of course, in favour of that but, on balance, I would prefer that the local authority should have placed upon it the responsibility of setting its own tests for its own candidates.

The means test was mentioned. I quite agree with Senator Hayes that there should be some provision for change, if not the complete abolition of this means test. I know that it works inequitably in many areas, perhaps more especially in rural areas. The man with the fixed income seems to be hit the hardest in these matters. It is very difficult in a rural area to fix means where it is a question of business or a question concerning a farmer. The valuation of a man's farm is not always the surest test of his income, and yet we find in many counties that the effect has been to bar the man with a limited and fixed salary; the man with a big farm and high valuation is able to get a scholarship while a person with something like £5 a week is barred out. I think that is inequitable. Of course this whole scheme of scholarship is just a makeshift scheme. We know it is not always the best, the most brilliant or most promising pupil who gets through the examination test. Some people have a knack of passing examinations and they are not always the most brilliant, the most promising or the most desirable candidates. As Senator Hayes said, however, this is something to be going on with until we do make up our minds to tackle the whole question in a much bigger way. As such, of course, I am prepared to welcome the Bill and to support it.

I am delighted that this Bill is introduced even though it does not go so far as I would like it to go —to make scholarships more extensive and to bring the larger number of applicants referred to by Senator O'Connell within the scheme. The Bill approves of schemes of a type that have conferred invaluable benefits on the children of poorer parents. As Senator Hayes pointed out, originally this was a Sinn Féin scheme, or at least it was a Sinn Féin county council that first listened to the arguments that had been used for years previously by national teachers for such a scheme. These teachers appreciated the circumstances of several of the children attending their schools, children whose parents could not give them a secondary education, and because of that were deprived of the opportunities of which their more favoured associates in school could avail.

It was in 1919 that a deputation from the teachers of Mayo waited on the county council and impressed upon that body the desirability of inaugurating such a scheme. The county council was very sympathetic and a committee was set up composed of four managers, four teachers and four county councillors. They drafted a scheme and for the first few years the scheme was administered with County Mayo leading. It was not referred to Dublin at all. The papers were set in Mayo, the examiners came from Mayo but the scholarship committee of which I happened to be one found out that some ambitious parents, in their anxiety to see that their children would lose no chance, had found an opportunity of getting at the examiners. We changed the examiner, at least for oral tests, to the adjoining county, but even he was not immune from attention. In 1903, we asked the Education Ministry to take over the scheme and they did so. As a Mayo man I take a certain pride in the fact that the Mayo scheme was applied afterwards to the whole of Ireland. Whether it did any good or not to the rest of the country I do not know, but it conferred incalculable benefits in County Mayo.

Originally, the committee administering this scheme did not advert to certain aspects which afterwards transpired, but they had no doubt as to whom the county scheme should apply to—mainly to the children of parents who, out of their means could not provide them with secondary education. We found out that quite a number of children were going from very small schools into large towns where a teacher was to be in charge of the scholarship class, and that teacher had nothing else to do but teach the children attending that particular class the subjects in which they would be examined until the scholarship examination was held. That, of course, would go a long way towards torpedoing the idea in the minds of those responsible for the scheme, and after some trouble with the Ministry it was accepted that the larger number of scholarships under this scheme would go to smaller schools. I think six scholarships were to go to the smaller schools, two to medium-sized schools, and two to the larger schools. The day the Department accepted that scheme it went a long way towards ensuring that those who would benefit by the scheme belonged to the class for which the scheme was intended, and that it would provide for the majority of the children concerned.

The means test is one flaw in the scheme, a flaw that those administering it could never remedy fully. It provided that where it could be definitely established that the parent was in receipt of an emolument, such as a small pension, of £150 a year, the child was disqualified from entering for the examination. That was not fair, because it so happened that children of small shopkeepers and small farmers whose means would actually be above £150 had got the benefit of the scheme, whereas the children of parents in receipt of £150 a year or over were debarred. That is a flaw that should be provided against. Of course, it may be said that this is a matter for the local councils, but it has been the experience of those within the different councils that when they have asked for the abolition of such a test, they have never been able to impress on the majority that constitute these councils the desirability of amending it.

I should like to see it made possible for at least twice the number of children in each county availing of these scholarships. Finance enters into the question, but as the central authority recoups other services in the county— mainly public health services—half the amount expended on such services, a good case could be made for recouping county authorities 50 per cent. of the amount spent in awarding primary scholarships. At present in my county there are ten scholarships awarded. If we could provide 20 or 30 scholarships we would have 20 or 30 children who would reach the standard and eventually secure the benefit which a smaller number enjoy as a result of the facilities now provided for them.

The scheme has conferred incalculable benefit in my county among children who could never hope to secure a position of trust which their ability would entitle them to if they only got the ordinary opportunities of attending school. They have been enabled to get positions which they would never obtain only for this scholarship scheme. In so far as this scheme is concerned, I should like to see, where suggestions have been made by the administering bodies in different areas, covering such cases as that of children whose parents would be too poor to provide the necessary equipment, that the central authority would take a compassionate view of such representations. I am referring to the case of children of very poor parents who have secured scholarships and reached the qualifying standard but whose parents are not sufficiently well off to provide them with the necessary clothing, equipment and books. In such a situation counties should be empowered to make a grant at least to provide the children with equipment.

I know of cases of children who secured very high percentages, topped the list as a matter of fact, at the annual examinations, but who would never be able to enter secondary schools were it not for the fact that the council made provision and enabled the parents to provide the equipment required in the secondary school selected as the one in which they would enjoy the scholarship. I welcome the Bill. It will help to consolidate a scheme that has done a good deal to provide for children that would never be provided for otherwise. I sincerely hope that this is only a step towards the state of affairs which Senator O'Connell visualises, when secondary education would be placed within the reach of every child attending primary schools.

I welcome this Bill, but I look upon it merely as a make-shift. The ideal that we should aim for is secondary education for all. I believe that is in operation in progressive countries and it ought to be the ideal that we should aim at here. Because a man is poor, that should not be a bar to his son or daughter getting any education the State can provide. The question of the means test has been raised. Scholarships provided for in this Bill are awarded so that children of people with low incomes may get secondary education. How we are going to get that done without some kind of a means test I cannot explain. We may object to the means test in principle, but unless we are going to open education to everybody we will have to have some kind of means test to confine it to people who are deserving of scholarships. I believe if the application of the means test as a whole was in question, there might be something to be said because we know that in some cases inquiry in connection with the means test is too rigid. A little humanity and a little charity in these matters would obviate many grievances. I feel that some limit must be fixed to the income of the person whose children are to qualify for scholarships. What that limit should be is another matter. Senator Hayes mentioned £250 in the City of Dublin. I know there is an allowance for children and that it is not rigid. It is not a rigid £250. A certain figure is allowed for one, two or three children.

I had a case brought to my notice this week of an electrician who had £5 17s. 0d. a week and whose child was debarred from a scholarship because the income was over the income allowance. This man had three children and a sister living with him. Ten years ago we would agree that a man with £5 17s. 0d. a week was well off, and 25 years ago a man with that income would not be a tradesman. But £5 a week is only a living wage for many people at present, and to exclude people rigidly without taking into consideration the circumstances of the time is a mistake. I believe that the widening of the Bill to give power to the councils rather than to the managers would also bring to bear a more humane viewpoint on the aspect of limited incomes. I am glad the Minister has made this a reserved function of county councils and corporations, because many heads are better than one—with the viewpoint of councils or corporations—and they would be able to arrange a figure and a scheme that would be more acceptable to the general public than the scheme of one man.

In the City of Dublin we are awarding 80 scholarships yearly. I am not worried about the Minister's part in relation to this Bill. If the manager has disappeared from this Bill, the Minister has come into it. Senator O'Connell thinks the Minister has come in too much. I am not worried about that. Possibly the Minister will be able to impress his view upon those to whom Senator Ruane referred, who fixed an income of £3 a week as the limit. The Minister, living in Dublin, will possibly be able to suggest that in such a case the limit might be raised to £4. There is also the amount of grant given for scholarships. In Dublin, which is the only place of which I can speak, we give £100 for secondary scholarships. A boy who got a secondary scholarship some years ago afterwards got a university scholarship under the corporation. In that period no boy or girl that I know of got a scholarship who had not been 12 months in a secondary school. The idea is to help parents who cannot afford to give their children secondary education, to pay for their training. I suggests that grants should be sufficient not only to pay for their education but to compensate the parents for anything they have to pay for a child when at school. In the last few years an increasing number of children from primary schools are winning scholarships. At the time I speak of, the number of scholarships fluctuated between 30 and 40 per annum, but now there is a fixed number of 80. The point I wish to make is that people who avail of the scholarship scheme in the main would have made an effort in any case to give their children a secondary education, while children for whom these scholarship schemes are really intended are not really being touched because the schemes are not made sufficiently attractive for them. The amount of a scholarship is generally £20 for the first two years and £30 for the remaining two years.

I am satisfied from my own experience that 90 per cent. of the children who avail of secondary school scholarships would in any case, with an effort on the part of their parents, have been sent to secondary schools but we are not getting the children we ought to get, the brilliant boy or girl whose people are not in a position owing to financial circumstances to allow their children to attend secondary schools. The economic circumstances of the parents are such that when these children reach their 14th or 15th year they must be sent out to work. I know a number of cases where boys were getting a secondary education under the scholarships scheme. Possibly the boy got a job as a porter after some time in some shop and because the wages represented more to his parents than the £20 or £30 per annum granted for the scholarship, the parents were compelled to take the boy from the school and send him to work. I think the Minister might take that into consideration. I expect it will be his responsibility to approve of the schemes put forward by the various authorities and I would suggest that the amount of money granted for scholarships should be sufficient to make them attractive for the parents of poor children so that they would not turn down scholarships because they cannot afford to send their boys or girls to a secondary school. As I said at the outset, the ideal system is one of free education. These secondary schools should be open to all the children in the country. Before I sit down, I want to point out that it is only in comparatively recent years that secondary education has been made cheap enough to allow working class boys or girls to avail of it. Not so very long ago secondary education was the privilege of the well-to-do. Boys or girls of working class or middle class parents were denied secondary education because their parents could not afford to pay for it. Thanks to the work of various people, such as the Christian Brothers and nuns, education has now been made comparatively cheap.

It is dearer than ever it was.

It is certainly dearer than when I got it.

Where did the Senator get it?

I got it a long time ago.

Of course the cost of living has gone up but secondary education is comparatively cheap at the present time. The Christian Brothers have done Trojan work in that respect. I want also to pay a tribute to the nuns in Kings Inn Street who are giving free secondary education to the daughters of people who are not in a position to pay for it. I should like again to stress the point that the scholarships should be made sufficiently attractive to ensure that children of poor parents will not be prevented through economic circumstances from availing of them.

The question which has been referred to by Senator Colgan has brought me to my feet. It is undoubtedly a tragic commentary on our present educational system that anybody associated with industrial life in this country every day comes across young boys and girls of outstanding ability who are forced by economic circumstances to take up jobs in the very lowly-paid category which prevents them from developing their talents. That is a common experience of all of us engaged in industrial life. I would say that at the moment I have a young lad in my employment as messenger who, if he were given proper educational facilities, would undoubtedly rise to very great heights. He has brains and ability but his mother is a widow. His father died recently, and the boy is now the only mainstay of the family. I am afraid that this Bill would not provide a solution for cases such as that. It is a much bigger aspect of our social life than is provided for under this Bill. It is an undoubted fact that many boys and girls, who should under a proper system get the advantage of a secondary education, are forced through economic circumstances to take up forms of employment which preclude them from getting that educational advantage to which they would be entitled under a different economic system.

I join with Senator Ruane in urging that—I do not know that it would be possible under this Bill— all possible measures should be taken to provide the highest possible standard of education for children of poor parents. As regards the means test, my colleague Senator Richard Walsh has just pointed out to me that in the West of Ireland a farmer who has an income of £150 per annum would be a very rare bird indeed. I think that in a recent statement on that question it was shown that 247,000 of our farmers have incomes of about only £40 so that as far as the means test is applied to that stratum, I think the present test of £150 is fair enough. I do agree, however, with Senator Colgan that so far as a city worker is concerned, a city worker in receipt of £250 per annum might be a very poor man indeed, and I think that in that case the means test might be raised if at all possible. I do not know what the immediate consequences of that would be, but I do say that young people who have got married and who are in receipt of about £5 per week in wages, are not wealthy and are not people who can afford to pay for the secondary education of their children. Speaking from my own experience I would say that a farmer whose income is £150 is a fairly comfortable man. Incidentally, I think that his valuation is the basis of computation in this matter.

Would the Senator deal with this point? Would he prevent the children of a man working in Ballina for £3 per week from being eligible for scholarships?

I was not thinking of a man of that type. That man would come within the category of what I describe as an industrial worker. I was thinking of my own case, if I may say so, because I was reared on a 15-acre farm. I went for a county scholarship—I will come back to that again—and for various reasons I did not get it. Perhaps it was very lucky for me that I did not. There are thousands of people of that kind that the means test would not debar. I agree with Senator Hayes that the same argument would not apply in the case of industrial workers, but if the Minister is asked to increase the amount of the means test in the case of farmers, I think we are making a rather unfair request, because the farmer whose income is computed at £150 per annum would be very rare indeed. I agree with Senator O'Connell that the ideal solution would be to supply free secondary education for all children. I am sure the Minister would also agree with that suggestion, but there are difficulties in the way. Again, it is a purely economic problem, and it can only be solved through an economic medium. We cannot hope for a sudden change. We can only hope that in the future some new system will be evolved whereby it will be possible to provide the fullest education possible for all our people.

I should also like to support Senator O'Connell's suggestion that some method of vocational guidance should be established. Anybody who has experience of boys and girls going into occupations to-day will find more square pegs in round holes in this country than in most countries. It occurs every day. You will find doctors who would make good plumbers, and plumbers who would make good doctors. It seems to me that the whole fault of this lies in the early stages when a child is sent to be what his father and mother want him to be, not what he wants to be himself. Vocational guidance is vitally lacking in our primary schools, and, in my opinion, right up to our universities. From time to time I have fought in the university to see that vocational guidance was given to people coming there in certain capacities, and I am sure that university professors like Senator Hayes and Senator Liam O Buachalla will agree with me. I agree with Senator O'Connell. It is a financial matter, and I am sure that the Minister, no matter how willing he may be, has not the power to do anything better in the matter. I must come back to myself now, because Senator O'Connell suggested that this Bill was giving too much power to the central authority. It seems to me that the position of the Minister is similar to that of a managing director who sets his staff to do a certain job of work. Officials bring up a scheme to him, and he has to approve of it. I can see that in a case like this, where it is largely a matter of detail, the Minister must give final sanction.

I have grave doubts about the wisdom of leaving sanction for the schemes to county councils, even to Mayo County Council. My experience of county councils—and I come from a neighbouring county, Mayo—was such that I believe that I was diddled out of a scholarship because I or my people had not sufficient pull with the county council of the time. If Senator O'Connell is going to tell me that it is better to leave it in the hands of the county councils I cannot agree. I hope I am not offending members of county councils here when I say that in the past, at least—I am not sure whether it is the case now—it was possible that boys with the best brains did not get county council scholarships because influences could be brought to work. I cannot give details but I know that cases have been referred to in drama and in novels from time to time, and there is never smoke without fire. The local authorities have not always given things in the best interest. I am rather doubtful of the wisdom of applying Senator O'Connell's suggestion here. I want to welcome the fact that the power limiting the raising of the rates over a penny in the £ has been increased in this Bill. If it were possible for a county council or corporation to give greater amounts for these schemes. I do not think the ordinary ratepayers would object to having their rates raised by another penny in the £.

They could always do that.

The Senator misunderstands me. I am welcoming this Bill because it is giving power to go over a penny. It is a good indication to see that county councils and county councillors will in future be magnanimous and be willing to raise the rates to give children a better chance in life. If there is one subject I would insist on in examinations for scholarships it is civics, if I might call it so. I know Senator Hayes does not quite agree.

I never said that.

The Senator will forgive me. Anyone who has grown up and looks at the younger generation will notice an extraordinary lack of responsibility in regard to public property. It is remarkable in the city and in the outskirts of the city to see the acts that are perpetrated. I do not know whether it is due to the system of education or whether it is the fault of the parents or whether we are living in different days when the films excite boys and girls to perform acts that in other days were not done. Certainly old standards are not to be applied to-day—old standards by which boys and girls had more respect for public property and lived up to a higher code. Because of this I would suggest if it was possible the laying down of a standard of civics to be included in the curriculum of examinations for boys and girls coming along to our universities. Civics are needed very badly and because of this I think that they should be included in schools curriculum. I welcome the Bill for what it is. It is a gesture rather than an accomplishment, and I hope to see accomplished what Senators Colgan and O'Connell hoped for.

I have not very much to add to this discussion and I do not want to widen the scope of it, but I want to emphasise two points, one made by Senator Hayes when he says the object of this is not so much to give an opportunity to boys who have failed to pass examinations as to raise the general standard of education. This should be the real object in view. I wish strongly to endorse what has been said by Senator O'Connell when he referred to this Bill as being a drop in the bucket, so to speak, and I wish to ask the Minister if he has brought his mind to bear at all on the post-war problem. Has he in mind anything at all on the lines of the British White Paper as adaptable to this country? It seems to me to be most necessary that we should get to work on the whole question of education. We will never make democracy function unless we make people understand education. In a proper democracy people will say: "These politicians are fooling us; they are promising things that are quite impossible." Any educated man knows some things are impossible. That is why it is so important. Whatever the cost may be, we should tackle this question of education. We should try to give opportunities to the many and turn our backs on the old state of affairs in which education was the privilege of the few. I feel that the Minister should approach this matter, in the first instance, without any regard to what the cost will be. Let him sit down with his advisers or appoint a commission—I do not like commissions because they take too long to deal with a matter—and give us something on the lines of a White Paper, without regard to the cost. Unless the cost be enormous, we should be able to afford it. When the war is over, I do not think that we shall have any army at all. If we are able to divert even the pre-war expenditure on the Army to education, we might be able to do a great deal. Has the Minister been thinking on the lines of a comprehensive review of the whole of our educational system with a view to bringing secondary education within easy reach of the poor and giving people of small means an opportunity to pass from the secondary school to the university? Is he also considering that vocational education is a very poor, if necessary, form of education? True education teaches one, as a Senator has pointed out, how to use his leisure to the best advantage and how to devote his spare time to something better than cinemas and betting-houses.

Senator O'Donnell referred to vocational guidance. I have been associated with a body which was the premier body in England to deal with vocational guidance. We found that not much could be done in this connection for the poor because their opportunities were so few. Many professions were not within the income-limits of the working classes and their opportunities were, therefore, restricted. In the case of the well-to-do, whose children attended public schools and universities, there were opportunities for vocational guidance. In so far as vocational guidance could be applied here, I should be a strong supporter of it.

As I understand this Bill, it deals with a legal position that subsisted over a number of years when another Act ceased to be of effect and it contemplates the continuance of a scheme that was in existence for a number of years. It brings forward no great proposal to reorganise anything or to give any kind of new turn to anything. It may be that it brings the Minister a little more into this question of scholarships than before, but I am not certain that it does. If it does, I do not know that it is very helpful. Senator O'Donnell thinks that young people should get vocational guidance which should come from a particular body. I do not think that we shall get any kind of proper vocational guidance without a fairly clearly defined educational objective. The various branches of our educational system should indicate some kind of objective. We are completely lacking in that. In so far as this is a sort of legislative straw showing how the wind is blowing, I think if we could be depressed at present, it would depress us. If there were any Department that at present should be in the van, with unfurled banners and a certain amount of trumpet-blowing to awake the energies of the people and to keep them vigorous and hopeful through all the difficulties we have to face, it should be the Department of Education. This Bill indicates to me that there is not a note moving, that there is not a foot stirring and that there is no thought of any kind going on.

I take it that every one of us feels that we want a well-laid educational system, a vigorous teaching staff throughout the country, expert guidance on top and a spirit of hope and co-operation between the Department, the teachers and every branch of education. In that group of personnel we should have the heart-beat of everything that is good and strong in the country. If Senator O'Donnell says that what we want is free secondary education for all and if I say that what we want is really sound primary education for all, we are not necessarily talking about different things. We are discussing this matter a week or two after the outgoing President of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation declared: "If Ireland is to take her rightful place amongst the nations after the war, the whole educational structure must be rebuilt." That referred to primary education. The average number of children on the primary rolls in 1942—the last year for which we have a report from the Department—was 391,627. I do not think that anyone will say that a person who has occupied the position of president of the national teachers' organisation for 12 months is likely to make wild statements in handing over his responsibility to his successor. I think that he regards himself as the spearhead and spokesman of the real educational experts in the country— the national teachers. If they are not the real educational experts, I do not know who are. People higher up may take a wider view and may serve as path-finders to the national teachers, but the national teacher does the job in respect of 90 per cent. of those who receive education. When we have a man like Mr. O'Connor, after his 12 months of office, declaring that the whole educational structure must be rebuilt, we are merely fiddling with the question when we deal with a re-hash of legislation to enable county councils to do certain things for about 300 people per year. That matter has been thrown across this debate although this may not be the place to raise it.

But I think we are entitled to say that this measure is merely a "sop in ionad scuaibe." This Bill serves to remind us of a state of affairs which is really very disappointing and which may spell disappointment for us in the future. We have the raw materials for laying solid foundations for our education system. We cannot say that anything connected with the emergency prevented us from attending to these things. As a matter of fact, the emergency should have stimulated those who have now time on hands to deal with these matters, if direction from the Government or the Department of Education were forthcoming. I am not able to suggest what we can do about it, but I feel that there are very great opportunities facing us if we do it, and a very serious situation facing us if we do not do it. With regard to the Bill itself, I do not know why the Minister is taking additional powers here, why any local authority should be subject to the Minister's control, and why inside the scheme and after particular examinations the Minister should interfere with the way in which the local authority allots scholarships.

If the present Estimates are looked at, and compared with those for previous years, 1931-1932 and 1937-1938, and if the amount of money spent on the administrative side, that is, on the Minister's office, is compared with the amount of money spent on inspection and organisation, we find that as against the amount of money spent on inspection and organisation, which is really the first-hand work in connection with scholarships, there is an increase in the amount spent on headquarters staff. In 1931-32 the total cost of salaries, travelling expenses and allowances for the Minister's office was £85,300, and the cost of salaries, travelling expenses and allowances for the inspection and organisation staff was £84,417, that is, £85,000 for administration against £84,000 for organisation and inspection. In 1937-1938 that relation was fairly well kept. The cost on the administration side was £88,898 and on the inspection and organisation side £89,365. There was a bit of an increase in each, but there was no definite change. In the Estimates before us for 1944-1945, administrative expenses are £107,774, and organisation and inspection £95,113. While the cost of inspection and organisation between 1937-1938 and 1944-1945 has increased by some £5,700, the cost of headquarters staff has increased by some £18,800. That is probably symptomatic of the way in which the central office has gripped on to all kinds of detail.

No scholarships can be renewed unless the Minister's office see the whole ins and outs of the particular student and sanctions renewal. If there is going to be any kind of local responsibility—and by local responsibility I mean local interest in what the results of the scholarship are to the pupil—then I think the Minister ought to be kept out of it.

I do not know to what extent the vocational committee is going to be connected with either the granting of these scholarships on the one hand or a review of how the students who have scholarships are getting on, on the other hand, but I feel that it would be much more satisfactory if the local council had the decision of whether scholarships were to be renewed or even granted, and that the renewal would be dependent upon the recommendation of the local vocational committee. The type of scheme contemplated by the Minister contemplates differences between different parts of the country. Just as there are differences between parts of the country there are different stimuli in different parts to people who take an interest in different branches of education. In every possible way we can we should stimulate local interest in the actual practical results of their schemes. I think it is wrong, although other people differ from me in this, for the Minister to be stretching out his hand in this particular way.

There is just one other point I would like to raise. A report appeared in the newspapers the other day concerning some branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in Dublin. It discussed the question of scholarships for music. The report stated:—

"A resolution requesting the Government to institute a scheme of scholarships for the training and maintenance of young musicians with a view to saving and eventually developing an essential part of our cultural life was passed at the annual meeting of the Theatres and Cinemas Branch of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union in Dublin. The resolution ‘viewed with alarm the dearth of highly-qualified musicians in the country and the probable continuance of the present decline unless positive measures are taken to arrest the tendency'."

One branch of education that is very important is musical education, and in the difficult circumstances that the country is going through, there is one particular class that something can be done for with very great benefit, and that is the individual teachers of music—the people who in small country towns live by teaching the piano or the violin. They have, I am quite sure, a very lean time of it at present, and I do not think we are going to recapture that particular élan that we want in our general, national and cultural spirit unless we give some training to the best of the young people with musical talent. We cannot expect the national schools or even the secondary schools to bring out in a systematic way the musical talent and the sense of rhythm that is so much in our people and which, if not disciplined and developed in the way in which alone a systematic musical training can develop them, will mean that we are going to lose not only a certain amount of our spiritual strength but a very considerable part of our national culture.

I think the amount that would be required in order to give musical education to talented children in various parts of the country, by means of scholarships, would be very small. It would only amount to the kind of fees that are usually paid to private teachers of music in country towns. I do not know whether any system exists by which county councils give scholarships for music, and I am sure that a lot of the county councils might raise their hands in horror at the idea of the ratepayers' money being spent on frivolities of that particular kind, but I think that it is very important, and I am glad that this branch of the Transport and General Workers' Union to which I have referred, although they raised it more or less from a city point of view, raised the question at all because it is very important even in the city, and I believe that it is infinitely more important through the country.

We have a tremendous amount of talent—perhaps, "tendency" would be a better word than "talent," because it is very widespread—but that can only get direction and leadership, and it can only be developed properly, when the people who are specially adapted for musical training are provided with some chance of getting it. While other nations are doing so much in a destructive way and paying so much money to maintain people who are out of work, and so on, I think that under present circumstances, we should be able to do something for a valuable class of people who exist in our country and who are eating out their hearts in despair, losing both their capacity and their hope. I think that we could be using the material that undoubtedly exists, in maintaining something that, I believe, is vital to us if we are to have any education or appreciation of life in the country.

Now, Senator O'Donnell wants civics taught in the country. That recalls to me a thing that was written by the Abbé Bougaud, in a series of writings in French, on Christianity in the present times. Referring to the substitution in the French schools of the subject of civics for religion, he said: "C'est une pale fleur sans racine mais non pas pourtant sans parfum”—it is a pale flower, without a root, even though it might have a perfume. If we keep our spiritual values well in front of us, and if we have religion dominating the teaching and the outlook of the schools, as we have throughout this country—if we get that properly before us, I think our civics could take care of itself; but if we simply set out to teach civics without having the wider and the higher atmosphere around us, I do not think we are going to achieve anything at all. It would be much the same as looking for vocational guidance in a system in which there is no educational standard or no educational objective. I say these things because, as I say, I feel that this Bill is just a straw showing how the wind is not blowing, or rather a straw showing that the wind is not blowing at all, and at a time when all our talks and all our enthusiasms should be directed towards the advancement of education in this country, we are simply in the doldrums and getting no guidance whatever from the Department of Education.

I think that the wording of this Bill is, to a great extent, responsible for Senators talking around it instead of actually speaking about what is the real subject-matter of the Bill. Listening to Senators who have spoken I also got the impression that it would be a good thing for all of us, when we are speaking, if we tried to mean what we say. I certainly got the impression, in listening to many of those who have spoken here, that they did not mean what they were saying. For instance, Senator O'Donnell who, I am sorry to say, has just left the House, spoke of vocational guidance, but quite recently he was one of those people who went into ecstasies— ecstasies of horror, if one might use the phrase—at the idea of depriving parents, and particularly mothers, of the right of selecting this, that or the other thing on certain occasions. Surely, the best guidance for the career of the child is that of the parent and, with the parent, the teacher, as exists at present. It appears to me that if you are to have anything in the nature of vocational guidance by so-called experts—and everybody would not agree on the definition of what an expert is—it would only lead to further complications.

As I have said, it appears to me that, perhaps, the wording of the Bill is, to a great extent, the cause of Senators speaking so vaguely around the subject-matter. To my mind, Section 4 is the pith of the whole Bill, and the clauses therein indicate that a local authority has power to do anything it wishes, subject to the sanction of the Minister. Senators spoke as if we were not allowed to define limits of income. Clause (c), it seems to me, does not set any limit of income, provided that the local authority agree among themselves that such-and-such shall be the case and submit it to the Minister for his sanction. There is nothing in the Bill to indicate to me—and I look for enlightenment on the matter—that the Minister has any idea that there is a definite maximum which cannot be exceeded. I shall read clause (c), which is as follows:

"For the purpose of limiting the receipt of scholarships to persons who need them, the scheme shall prescribe, in respect of the parents or guardians of the persons to whom scholarships may be awarded, maximum limits of such matters... as may be appropriate for the said purpose."

So that, they must fix a maximum limit, and it does not say what the maximum limit is. Therefore, I presume that the local authority, the county council or the corporation, can set any figure they wish. Whether that is so at present or not I cannot say, but from the phrasing of this clause—and this is the subject-matter that is before us—it appears to me that all limitations of income seem to be abolished but that the local authority shall define, for the purposes of serving a need, the maximum required to provide scholarships for persons who need them. The local authority, according to the wording there, could say that every individual in the county needed a scholarship, and therefore it seems to me that what we have been talking about—a limitation of income —is not here at all; at any rate, it is not in the Bill before me, and neither are several of the other items that were mentioned in the debate.

Clause (d) seems to evade or to have set up a system of circumventing the definite prescriptions of clause (c). Clause (d) says:

"For the purpose mentioned in the foregoing paragraph of this section, the scheme, when prescribing maximum limits under that paragraph in respect of a scholarship, may provide for the award of such scholarship with a reduction of the amount thereof where those limits are exceeded by not more than a specified amount."

I read that as meaning that if there is an income of a certain degree over what is defined as a maximum degree, they still may award a scholarship with a relevant deduction. Even clause (e) seems to leave the matter open. It reads as follows:

"The scheme shall reserve to the said corporation or council power, with the approval of the Minister, to award in special circumstances the whole or part of a scholarship."

I do not see why that is put in there at all because all the clauses require the approval of the Minister. It continues:

"... to a person who does not comply with the provisions prescribed under paragraph (c) of this section in respect of such scholarship."

That seems to me to meet the difficulties of the local authorities and to provide for the complete abolition of that other clause. I quote this because Senators have been appealing to the Minister to abolish the means test, and because, according to this clause, they have been speaking of restrictions, some of which are, in fact, abolished. If I am reading this clause correctly, it is entirely in the power of the local authority to define any extenuating circumstances when applying for the sanction of the Minister. I agree, of course, that that provision as to sanction must be put in because they might go loco if it was not there.

The only thing that seems to be defined absolutely here is that there is an age limit. Paragraph (f) says:

"No scholarship shall be awarded to any person who is not within the age limits prescribed by the Minister and applicable to that scholarship."

I could argue that that is a very great hardship on persons who lose a scholarship because they are simply a day in excess of the age, even though they are very deserving ones. Clause (f) seems to be the only one emphatic in the Bill—that there is going to be a definite age limit.

The other prohibitions as to means test seem to me not to be emphatic at all. The age limit seems to be very emphatic. I suppose from their knowledge it was found that they could not get over the question without having further difficulties between local authorities, individual candidates and the supervision of the Minister. I wish to point out that that seems to be the one emphatic clause definitely defined. Clause (g) says that the scholarships shall be awarded only to persons who pass the examination tests prescribed by the Minister. All these clauses seem to me to be rather indefinite owing to the different interpretations. I should like to know if the same test is prescribed for all candidates going for scholarships?

Will the same test be applied to students going for a scholarship in the same county?

These, then, are the definite clauses in the Bill that we should be discussing—the clauses which mean that different tests may be prescribed for each county and possibly different tests for a specific scholarship. It seems to me that that is going to make a great deal of work for civil servants at headquarters, and that it would be a better scheme to have a definite schedule of examination for different scholarships allocated by local authorities. For instance, I should like to see scholarships allocated in vocational schools for the purposes of agricultural training only, and that there would be a total rural agricultural bias in the schedule of examination. Of course in the city, the agricultural bias could not obtain.

Clause (h) deals with the payment of the scholarship fund to the guardian or parent. I fancy that what I have said is really the kernel of Section 4. It is all very vague. We have nothing definite. It outlines the provision which can be made by local authorities and which must be sanctioned by the Minister, and it seems that local authorities are left complete freedom as to fixing the limits of income and also in other clauses dealing with the allocation of scholarships.

Section 3 seems to me to be very complicated. There is a different verb used from that used in Section 2. An amendment seems to have been passed in the Dáil to Section 2, making the verb plural instead of singular. Section 2 in the original Bill read:—

"The corporation of a county borough or the council of a county may, whenever it so thinks proper..."

In the Bill as it came to us it says:—

"The corporation of a county borough or the council of a county may whenever they so think proper..."

The verb in that section became plural before it came to the Seanad. In Section 3, now before the Seanad, we have the words:—

"Wherever the corporation of a county borough or the council of a county has determined to carry into execution..."

Can some vocational student or teacher tell us whether the word should be "have" or "has"?

Each or either or both.

As the Dáil was good enough to amend Section 2 so as to make it plural I think we might amend the other section so as to have the plural verb. That, however, is not what I was referring to as being puzzling in the text. Clause (a) of Section 3 says:—

"No such alteration shall be made without the previous approval of the Minister."

Later (b) says—

"Such scheme shall not be so altered that it contravenes the provisions of this Act."

That is rather Greek to me. Why should we put into any clause that the Minister shall not contravene any provision of the Act? It seems to be redundant. As commonsense people we should not put in any clause saying that we cannot do anything which would contravene the power of the Bill. It does not make sense to me. I may be wrong. Sub-section (2) says:—

"The Minister may attach to his approval under this section of an alteration of a scheme such (if any) conditions..."

That is subject to the previous statement where the scheme had the approval of the Minister. It says that the Minister can apply certain restrictions. He may attach some restrictions. That section seems to be confusing and I think the drafting should be more clear.

I have endeavoured to speak on the subject matter of the Bill. The main thing is that it just details what may be done. Everything that will be done subsequently would be done through the local authority scheme and the central administration, so that we are more or less giving them a free hand to fix matters up between themselves. We cannot say what limitations are to be imposed, or what restrictions they will be subject to, as none of them are definitely defined in this Bill. Section 7 says:—

"All expenses incurred by the council of a county under this Act (including the expenses of carrying into execution a scheme under this Act) shall be raised by means of the poor rate as a county-at-large charge."

Corporations or county boroughs are left out of that, but the marginal note says "Expenses of corporations and councils". I presume that a county borough is left out because all rates are a borough-at-large charge in the city. The marginal note indicates that the clause refers to the expenses of corporations and councils. I should like to know if that is a mistake there, and should it read, as in all the other clauses, that the expenses are incurred by the county borough or the council of a county? I wonder is that an intentional omission?

I conclude by emphasising to Senators who seem to be upset by the means test and all the other regulations that there are none of them in this Bill. Wherever they would come from subsequently they are not for us to define. Mainly it would be for local authorities to outline, and for the Minister to sanction, or to disagree with, as he may think fit. Many speakers were entirely outside of the scope of the Bill itself.

I want to follow in the footsteps of a previous speaker and to deal with the Bill if the Leas-Chathaoirleach permits me. I have very little to say on the Bill. Somebody said it is a drop in the bucket in the matter of education. I go a little further and say it is a drop in the ocean. Our entire system of education is out of date and antiquated, and it will be found more so immediately after the war. If the Government would concentrate on a higher standard of education they would be doing a job that is opportune. I hope that the Minister will give us some idea as to what the Government is doing in this matter. Between 300 and 500 students will be affected by this measure. There is something very fascinating about 300. According to returns given three or four years ago we had 300 national schools certified as unsanitary and I should like to know whether the Minister can tell us if anything has been done to remedy that state of affairs.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

I do not think that comes under this Bill.

No. But it is a pity you were not in the chair earlier. Other Senators got an opportunity of bringing in outside things.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am afraid I cannot permit the Senator to initiate a debate on the condition of national schools on this Bill.

I accept your ruling. Senator Mulcahy referred to a resolution passed by the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union regarding the tuition and teaching of music. I suppose I can reply to that.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

If Senator Mulcahy did so, the Senator may proceed.

Last year on the Appropriation Bill the question was raised in this House about the great number of working-class people who were interested in music, so interested that they gave up their spare time to it. Many people are talking about suitably employing their leisure hours, but there you have a large number of citizens coming together to study music. What is the reaction of the Government to that? Not one working-class band has got an opportunity of broadcasting during the last year, although the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs——

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Now, I think the Senator is enlarging the point.

Other people managed to do so. However, I will leave it there. Senator Sir John Keane struck a real note when he said that the matter of education should not be measured by expense. Coming from a man like the Senator that is a good note to hear. We cannot spend too much money on education, provided it is the proper kind of education.

Coming back to the Bill, the great mass of the people are divorced from what is contained in this measure. Some Senator talked about the means test. There is no more rigid means test in existence than the one that applies to scholarships provided under this Bill. Many working-class people, farm labourers, builders' labourers, and so on, have children of excellent talent. They proved that during their school years, but when they win these scholarships their parents are not able to maintain them in order that they may get the advantage of the scholarships. You will find many of them working on buildings or on the docks. I sincerely hope that the Minister will give the House some idea of the intentions of the Government regarding education. Seeing that there is unanimity in the House on this matter it is time that the whole fabric of education was tackled.

I welcome the Bill because it enables county councils to continue giving scholarships to deserving children. I welcome it because it provides that the making of the scheme will be a reserved function. I welcome it also because, in making it a reserved function, the Minister indicated in the Dáil that Section 2 envisaged the setting up of scholarships committees if councils so desired. In view of the remarks that have been made here by other speakers I should like to pay tribute to the scholarships committees, particularly to the scholarships committees in my own county and the neighbouring county, of which I have some knowledge. The scholarships committee that was in existence prior to the coming into force of the County Management Act consisted of a small number of county councillors who were interested in scholarships and a number of non-council members chosen by the council mainly because of their interest in, and knowledge of, educational subjects in the county. In the main, they were drawn from clergymen who had acted as professors or presidents of the seminary and from teachers and clergymen of different denominations.

In paying tribute to them, I should like to stress that most of the points raised here by speakers regarding means tests, the manner of applying the scheme, and the selection of subjects that were to be essential and optional, were decided upon by that committee. It meant a good deal of hard, unostentatious work. I think the Minister in the Dáil held up as an example the Dublin Corporation scheme. I was rather pleased myself at that because the Dublin Corporation scholarship scheme is exactly the same as that which appertains in my own county. The subjects that are obligatory and the subjects that are optional are the same. In all the years that I have been a member of an educational committee, I have not seen, and I personally, or any other member of the committee, would not stand for anything that would be a violation of the regulations concerning the granting of these scholarships. Each year when these regulations are sanctioned by the Minister they are circulated to all the primary schools in the area. They are published in the local Press so that there is knowledge on the part of those interested and means are provided, if any attempt should be made to give a scholarship wrongfully, to prevent that from being done.

There is one other point arising out of this Bill for which I should like to ask the Minister's sympathetic consideration. As the law stands at present, where a scholarship committee is established, no provision is made whereby non-council members can be paid travelling expenses for attending these meetings. I think that as a tribute to the work that has been done by the non-council members of these committees, some alteration should be made in the existing law and I would ask the Minister to devise some method whereby non-council members of such committees can be paid travelling expenses when they attend these meetings.

I do not think that the problems arising out of this Bill come very much within the province of a farmer and my principal object in speaking is to support the proposition made by Senator Hayes that the school-leaving age should be raised to 16. It has been said on many occasions that farmers would object to raising the school-leaving age to 16 but, as a farmer, I think it most essential that it should be done. Senator Mulcahy has stated that the most important thing is to give everybody a sound primary education. In my opinion, that is more important than to provide vocational education for our children and I think the Minister should give it serious consideration. I suppose in some cases the raising of the school age would entail hardship, but I suggest that that could be got over by a provision in an Education Bill or by an Order made by the Minister that on a certificate from the manager of a school, certain children could be exempted from the obligation to attend school until they were 16. I am sure that the manager of the school would not give such a certificate unless it were absolutely necessary. In my native county, Kerry, in my young days 95 per cent. of the children went to school until they reached the highest standard, sixth class. That class was usually reached between the ages of 15 and 16. I cannot see why the same practice should not prevail in this enlightened age when we have all this talk about education.

As I stated at the outset, I do not wish to discuss this Bill in detail but there is one other question which I should like to put to the Minister. Under existing regulations, county councils can object to scholarships being made tenable at certain colleges which play Rugby or which do not play Gaelic football. Under this Bill, will it be possible for any county council to object to scholarships being made tenable at certain schools? I should like to know if the Minister will himself retain that power so that he can object to scholarships being tenable at schools which do not play Gaelic football or which play other games which do not meet with the approval of the Gaelic Athletic Association. I think that the G.A.A. has too great an influence with the Ministers of the present Government and the sooner Ministers put their foot down and tell them they must mind their own business the better it will be for the country.

Is that your opinion as a Kerryman?

There are a few remarks I should like to address to the Minister on this Bill. First of all, I should like to say that I thoroughly agree with Senator Foran's suggestion that the educational system of the country must be overhauled and reorganised. That does not apply to primary education because I believe primary education is all right in the country. I should, however, like to see vocational education extended and steps taken for that purpose by the Government. I take, for instance, agriculture. We could have more agricultural scholarships in the country. I think the House will agree that agriculture is our basic industry and that in the post war period it will be the most important industry in the country. I am sure it will also be agreed that agricultural produce will have to be produced in such a manner that our farmers can compete in foreign markets with countries in which agriculture will be highly mechanised. What chance are farmers' sons getting at the present time to make provision for the post-war period? We have only three schools for agricultural scholarships, at Clonakilty, Ballyhaise and Athenry. They are not tenable at Mountbellew, Warrenstown or Pallaskenry. The schools must be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture, so far as I know, so that we have only three schools catering for the needs of agriculture. We can send them direct to the university or to Glasnevin but for primary scholarships from each of the counties they must go through either of three schools. I think that is not fair to the agricultural community. It is not giving due facilities.

In future, in my opinion, the man who is skilled in his work will be wanted in every industry. In the vocational schools to-day, boys and girls are being taught the subjects at which they are going to earn their living in the future. This system of education should be extended and helped, and more scholarships given. For this reason I ask the Minister to have more vocational schools and more agricultural colleges, so that the farmer's son will have an opportunity of learning the elements of agriculture and such things as veterinary hygiene, soil analysis, the composition of soil, and how to treat it, and manure analysis. If he has this, he is going to compete with people who may have had a better education but will not know the theoretical and practical side of agriculture. Every assistance, in my opinion, should be given by way of agricultural schools, and special provision made for agricultural students. There is a point on which I am not very clear, and I would like an explanation. Are the children of council members eligible for scholarships? Under several schemes of the Department of Agriculture, council members are not eligible. I am not too sure if council members' children are eligible for these scholarships.

Everybody agrees with the trend of the Bill inasmuch as it is a step in the right direction, but only a little step. I will not press the Minister for anything further, because I know he has considered this matter carefully, and is usually adamant. There is one thing to which I object in the Bill, and that is that it tends, as Senator O'Connell stated, to take control from the local bodies, and place it in the hands of the central authority. I submit that the House should be reluctant to grant that power. The Minister proposes to make local bodies tax gatherers, and he will dispense the moneys collected. I am a member of a county council that was abolished by a wireless notification, and now it seems that another function of that county council that reposes in the county manager is to be denied it. An official of the Local Government Department is going to raise this rate and transfer it to the Department of Education to be used at its discretion.

That is not correct. It is a reserved function.

Reserved to whom?

To the council.

It is abolished. The council is now the county manager. He is still a servant of the Local Government Department, and he is going to co-operate with the Department of Education in dispensing moneys raised from the ratepayers. I suggest that that is wrong. If necessary resurrect the county council for the purposes of the scholarship scheme. No great harm can be done. The council cannot go very wrong in the matter of scholarships. All it can do is dispose of the product of 1d. in the £, and it will be subject to the closest scrutiny by the Department.

Is maith liom a rá go bhfuil fáilte agam roimh an mBille seo as ucht an mhéid atá ann. Má tá locht ar bith agam ar an sgéal, ní mar gheall ar an mBille é ach mar gheall ar an méid nach bhfuil sa mBille.

Tá rud amháin i dtaobh an Bhille a thugas sásamh faoi leith dom agus sé an rud é sin go mbéidh an cead ann feasta sgoláireachta a thabhairt do dhaoine i ngairm-sgoltacha. Tá mé ar aon intinn leis an Seanadóir Ó hAodha nuair adeir sé nár mhiste leis go mbeadh cuid mhaith sgoláireacht le fáil feasta le haghaidh gairm-sgolaíochta. Teastuíonn uainn caighdeán na Ceárdaíochta a fheabhsú sa tír agus teastuíonn tuille ceárdaithe uainn agus sé an tslí is fearr leis an gcuspóir sin a thabhairt chun críche na daoine óga a mhealladh le aghaidh a thabhairt ar na gairm-sgoltacha.

Ach ní foláir cuimhneamh nach leor na sgoltacha ná nach leor an t-oideachas ann féin leis an gcuspóir seo a thabhairt chun críche. Caithfeamaid féachaint chuige go mbéidh cead ag na daoine óga dul isteach ar céirdeanna. Rinneadh a lán cainnte i dtaobh gairm-treoir no "Vocational Guidance", ach cén tairbhe bheith ag trácht ar a leithéide muna mbeidh cead ag na daoine óga dul leis an ngairm is rogha leo, nó leis an ngairm is fearr a bhfeileann siad di.

Dubhairt mé cheana é, agus ní miste liom é rá arís, gurb é an rud is mó, dar liom, atá ag briseadh misnigh na ndaoine óg le tamall maith sa tír seo, nach féidir dóibh dul isteach ar cheárdeanna. Pé'r bith cia is cionntsiocair leis an gcosg seo, tá súil agam go sgrúdóidh siad an cheist seo agus, más gá é, na riaghlacha atá ag cur as do na daoine óga ar an mbealach seo d'athrú.

Tá an locht seo agam ar an díospóireacht a bhí ann tráthnóna gur cheap beagnach gach cainteoir gurb é an meán-oideachas an t-aon oideachais amháin gur fiú cuimhneamh air. Shílfeá, ar an gcaint a rinneadh, nach féidir do dhuine bheith oilte muna rachadh sé trí chúrsaí na meánsgoile agus muna seasadh sé an scrúdú agus an teisteas fágála a bhaint amach. Sílim go bhfuil dul amú mór ortha agus tá súil agam go mbéidh níos mó measa feasta ar an ngairm-oideachas mar oideachas.

Rud eile a mba mhaith liom tagairt do agus sé'n rud é sin, go bhfuil sé in am againn feachaint chuige go mbéidh cead ag sgoláirí na ngairm-sgoileanna cur isteach ar sgrúduithe atá coiscithe faoi láthair ortha. Tá gnóthaí poiblí áirithe ann agus nuair a bhíos siad ag lorg cléirigh, socruítear coinníollacha na scrúduithe ar shlí nach ceadmhach do dhaoine a fhaghann a gcuid oideachais i ngairm-sgoil cur isteach ortha. Ba mhaith liom a iarraidh ar an Aire aghaidh a thabhairt ar an gceist seo agus é léigheas chómh luath agus is féidir.

Ní ceist dom-sa í.

Is maith liom an t-eolas seo dfháil ón Aire. Ba doiligh liom a chreidiúint go bhfágfaí an sgéal seo i bhfad mar tá, dá mbeadh aon neart aige air. Caithfeamaid a fháil amach cé'n tAire a mbaineann an sgéal leis agus iarracht a dhéanamh réiteach fháil air.

Níl ach pointe amháin eile agam le luadh. Mol an Seanadóir Breathnach na gairm-sgoltacha agus mhol Seanadóirí cile iad. Tuilleann siad an moladh sin. Duine ar bith a bhfuil spéis aige i gcúrsaí an oideachais ní fhéadfadh sé gan iad a mholadh agus ní fhéadfadh sé gan a rá gur truagh leis gan na céadta eile dhíobh bheith ann. Ach níl an Seanadóir Breathnach sásta leis an méid is féidir a dhéanamh maidir le oideachas talmhaíochta sna gairm-sgoltacha. Is cosúil nach bhfuil eolas ag an Seanadóir ar chlár léighinn na tuaith-eolaíochta sna gairm-sgoltacha; is cosúil nach bhfuil eolas aige ar an méid is féidir do na Coistí Gairm-Oideachais agus Coistí Talmhaíochta oibriú as lámha a céile. Is deacair a rá cé mhéid cile is féidir a dhéanamh maidir leis an abhar seo: an aimsir amháin a innseóchas dúinn é.

Bíonn daoine i gcomhnaí ag lochtú córuis oideachais na tíre agus á fhuagairt go bhfuil gá le athrú a dhéanamh air ó bhun go bárr. Léigh an Seanadóir Ó Maolchatha rud éigin dubhairt duine éigin le gairid i dtaobh athruithe ar an gcórus oideachais. Is iongantach an rud nach n-innsíonn na daoine seo cé na hathruithe a mholfaidís, cé na habhair a ghearrfaidís den chlár, cé na habhair eile a chuirfidís air agus cé'n chaoi a gcuirfí na lochtaí atá ann, dar leo, ar neamh-ní. Tá sé an-fhurasta caint a dhéanamh, lochtaí d'fháil agus mar sin de, ach is rud eile ar fad é a theasbáint cé'n chaoi a bhfeabhsófaí an sgéal.

I absolutely and entirely object to this means test. I do not think that the Minister, or any other Minister, could justify a means test to-day except on the grounds of charity. We have had the Labour Party, the Fianna Fáil Party, the Fine Gael Party and every other Party in the Oireachtas denouncing means tests in various Bills in recent months and to-day we have such a test accepted, apparently, without a word of protest.

Senator Maguire and other Senators may not be aware that the question of a means test is one for the local authorities subject, as in the other clauses of the Bill, to the sanction of the Minister. I dislike intervening and interrupting Senators.

Would it be possible for the Minister to accept a scheme in which there would be no means test and which might be put up by some county?

When such a scheme comes up it can be considered.

A circular that has been sent to all of us says: "The council will be required to submit its draft scheme, which must contain all relevant conditions, including particulars as to means of parents."

Yes, if the council wishes to have it.

If that is not a means test I do not know what is. The circular also says: "Provision, however, is made for the consideration of cases where hardship might be called for a rigid adherence to the means clause." If that does not mean a means test I do not know what does. It states it in three specific words.

The Senator is right. I beg his pardon. Every council has had one up to the present. There is very little chance that the idea will be discontinued. If a proposal should come up I should try to consider it, or we could consider it in Committee.

The whole point is that we should enable the children of the poor to be educated and not the children of the wealthy. If we try to justify the means test what do we find? On the figures the Minister gave, approximately 300 people get scholarships in a year. If there were no means test how many wealthy people's children would get scholarships seeing that the poor are at least ten times as numerous as the wealthy? It would amount to about 30 scholarships for the wealthy and about 270 for the children of the poor. In order to save that small sum by not giving 30 scholarships to the children of the wealthy we have all this business of inquiry into parents' means. The thing is thoroughly objectionable from every point of view. I can see a case of a T.D.'s son or a Senator's son going up for one of these scholarships and the parent could say: "I am a pauper; I have no income at all; I have only got an allowance of £400 a year." Could not that happen? It would mean that in addition to escaping income-tax he would also be getting his children educated at the expense of the public simply because he was a T.D. or a Senator. I think that that is altogether wrong. I suggest to the Minister seriously to consider abolishing this means test. It would not save more than 30 scholarships on the basis of the poor being ten times as numerous as the wealthy.

I was looking at the Directory and setting out the claims of various colleges to fame throughout England, and I did not notice that any college that offered a scholarship applied a means test. All offered scholarships on the merits of the student and did not ask whether the income of the parents was £50 or £100. When we have old established colleges here and in England and Scotland operating on this system why should our Government bring in this means test? When the children's allowances measure was discussed everybody held out against a means test. They held out against a means test for old age pensions. Why should we victimise a few people, say, shopkeepers or, say, coopers who earn £6 a week in Dublin? I ask the Minister seriously to consider wiping out the means test in view of the fact that it gives rise to a lot of corruption and subterfuges on the part of people who go to get scholarships for their children. It is only creating a rotten spirit to have county councils inquiring into the affairs of a local shopkeeper or farmer. That gets nobody anywhere and it saves very little money at the end of the year. Incidentally, I would be glad if the Minister when replying would tell the House if Senators' and T.D.s' allowances would be reckoned as part of income for the purpose of arriving at what a person's means is in connection with the scholarships. It would be very interesting to know that.

That will be a question for the council also.

The Minister says that it would be a question for the council to say whether it would be income or not. I do not know what they would say, but I have a very shrewd idea that they would say it was.

For that purpose.

I ask the Minister to try to estimate how much it would cost the country to do away with this means test or how it would affect the poor. I would say, in view of the fact that there are only 300 scholarships, that 270 poor children and 30 wealthy children would get scholarships. That is on the assumption that both have an equal amount of brains. I do not think it is worth while going to all this trouble to have a person's assets and means inquired into. There is no diocesan college that I know of that inquires, when giving scholarships, whether the parent recipient has a certain income or not. There may be exceptional cases where somebody has given a grant to a school prescribing certain limitations, but in general there is no diocesan college that does not give scholarships to all and sundry who qualify for them. They are not stopped simply because the valuation happens to be £51 instead of £49. I ask the Minister to follow the custom of the colleges and do away with this means test.

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

We have had a rather lengthy discussion on this Bill and I do not propose to detain the House very long, except to make a few points. We have had requests from various parts of the House for the removal, or abolition, as some members called it, of the means test, but I think that if those members who have advocated such a procedure were to examine the proposals in the Bill and ask themselves what the Bill really proposes to do, they will find that the removal of the means test would defeat the very objects of the Bill. The object of the Bill is to help the children of the poor, where they are specially qualified, to get secondary education, and there must be some measure by which you will apply the means test, because otherwise you will defeat the whole object of the Bill. There has to be some kind of a means test, and indeed it might be advocated that in certain cases the means test might be enlarged.

I welcome the Bill because it does make provision for the children of the poor who cannot afford to pay for this education and who are learned enough to pass a given examination, and because it provides that they will receive from the State assistance to help them to get secondary education. I agree with those Senators who have pressed that this is, or should be only accepted as, a beginning. We know that in this case it will be confined to those children who are capable of passing a certain examination, but I fear that we are having too much of this kind of examination test or preparation for examinations in our schools and throughout the country. If we could get to the stage where secondary education would be available to the children of all the people of the country who would be prepared to avail of it, I think that that would be the ideal situation which we all wish for, but we know that that is not possible at the moment. We know that the amount of money that would be involved to bring about that position would be something for which, in our present circumstances, we may not be prepared; particularly, as those who advocate the abolition of the means test may not be prepared to make their contribution.

We had appeals to-night from representatives of various sections in the House—from those who say they represent the industrialists of the country and those who claim to represent Labour. There are just one or two remarks that I should like to address to those people. They have pleaded, I think, with the Minister and the Government for an extension of vocational education in general, but I would say to those people that if they are sincere in their appeal, if they are sincere in what they say, when appealing to the Minister to extend vocational education in the country and make it available to the children of the poor, then they themselves must do something in connection with the matter, and I particularly refer to the Labour people. If vocational education or vocational training is to mean anything to the people of this country, then that training or education which a child receives in a vocational or technical school must be recognised by the different trade unions in the country. I have known of cases in the past where young people have attended vocational schools and where, in some cases, they became very efficient as a result of the instruction that they got there, but when it came to the time that these young people were about to enter into employment they would not be accepted by the trade unions or the different sections governing that particular class of industry.

If we are sincere, as well as making appeals to the Minister we should see what might be done to rectify that position. It is a very serious state of affairs. I have known very capable young people who have been refused an opportunity of working at the trades they had learned in the vocational schools because the trade union people did not recognise them, and would not allow them to become members of the union, except their fathers or people before them were occupied in the same trade. I think that is something the trade union people should give serious consideration to, and if they are sincere in their plea to the Government to extend this system of education they should help in every way in recognising those who have got technical training through vocational schools.

We had a complaint by Senator O'Donnell, who represents the industrial section of the country in the House. He said more than once here that industrialists in general find that the standard of education of young people going into industry at the present moment is not at all what it was in years gone by, that the standard generally is much lower. I ask the Senator how he came to that conclusion. What is the standard by which he examines the people of to-day? Is it the same standard that was set ten or 15 years ago? I should like to know if the people who talk in this manner take into account changed circumstances and the changed system of education here in the last few years? You have certain people saying that writing is not as good, and other people say that arithmetic is not as good as it was. I am not prepared to accept such statements. I would say to such people and to Senator O'Donnell who represents that section in the House that they could do much in this matter. They should encourage young people coming into employment to avail of the facilities that are at hand for attending vocational and continuation schools. If these people would do that they would be certainly doing much more than in levelling criticism where I believe it is not justified at all.

Senator Maguire went on to plead for the abolition of the means test. He must be a very innocent man. I do not know if there is any member of this House who thinks there is a borough council or county council which would be prepared to put up such a scheme of scholarships if the means test were abolished. In many cases it is with great reluctance that some councils put up any scheme at all, except when they are urged on by certain members who take a keen interest in this type of work. The majority of councillors are not very enthusiastic about spending money in this direction. If Senator Maguire is foolish enough to think there is any county council which will send the Minister a scheme whereby the children of the people in each county are entitled to sit for examinations for free scholarships, then I think he is living in a fool's paradise.

According to the terms of this Bill it is up to the county council to prepare and submit a scheme to the Minister. Some Senators objected because the Minister is mentioned too often, but we must recognise that the Minister is the responsible person in charge of education, and a county council might, with all the best intentions, put up a scheme which was unworkable or one not in keeping with the education policy of the country. It is essential that the Minister should have the final word. This Bill is only the first step in the direction we would all like to take. We would all like to see opportunities for secondary education made available to all. In the case of scholarships you have the pick of the lot, the brilliant people who would probably make good when they got employment. We must cater for the mass of the people, and for those who, while not as brilliant as others, would be successful in passing these examinations. If we could arrive at that stage then the money spent on education would be very well spent.

I advocated here before that mansions throughout the country might be used in some way for continuation schools. Please have also been made to the Minister to raise the school-leaving age. I believe that since the introduction of the family allowance scheme which applies now to children up to 16 years of age, there is all the more inducement for education and for considering in another light the raising of the school-leaving age. There again we will have the problem that we must have accommodation and teachers available if we are going to raise the age. As we must be prepared to cater for these people it is not merely a matter of raising the age but of providing accommodation.

There is always the tendency whenever the question of education is raised in any Bill, to make the discussion one on the whole philosophy of education and of educational policy. That is a good thing to a certain extent. We have had some very valuable speeches here to-day. I welcome them because it shows that thoughtful people who have been associated with public life for a number of years and who have given good service to the national cause are devoting a great deal of attention to this very important subject of education. It seems to me, at the same time, that we might have spent our time more profitably if we had confined ourselves more to what we are supposed to do—to discuss the principle of this Bill. It is a limited Bill and if we had tried—we shall do so, I hope, on the Committee Stage—to make it as good a measure as possible, that would have been more useful.

It seems to me that Senator Hawkins has defined in a very realistic manner the object of the Bill. That is to help the children of poor people who could not otherwise obtain the advantages of further education after they had gone as far as possible in schools which they are compelled to attend up to a certain age. This Bill is designed to help children who are gifted but whose parents would not be in a position to provide them with further education out of their own resources. That seems to me to be the primary aim of the measure. It may be regretted that everybody cannot get a secondary education. I am glad to find that the Minister in considering this further education following the compulsory period, has taken a wide view and that the approved schools which he has in mind are not merely bookish institutions. Everybody feels that there is a great deal more in education than the mere instruction provided by means of books and that it is very important that we should provide training in trades and crafts and in the methods of running a home. I speak particularly of the training of women in the rearing of children, so as to ensure that we use the wonderful resources of this country to the best advantage and so that people may use the good food that God has given us in a way that will produce a hardy, healthy, contented race. It is impossible to develop properly if you are not properly fed. A great deal of the malnutrition existing in this country is due, not to want of food, but to the fact that available food is not properly prepared and that wrong food is sometimes given to children. All that is a central part of domestic training.

I am very glad then that when the Minister talks of approved schools he does not mean what we used to call secondary schools. He brings in other classes of schools—schools or colleges which provide continuation education or technical education, or schools or colleges which provide instruction or training in agriculture, forestry, teaching or other vocational subjects. Vocational subjects for women are the domestic sciences and the courses of their education should be built round them and based on them. That is a thing that our educationists will have to ponder over. I hope that we shall get away from the idea that secondary education from books is the only form of education. Indeed this Bill makes it clear that the Minister has in mind other forms of education and that educational values are not bound up exclusively with book knowledge. I am particularly interested in this because of the feeling I have that women's education and training for their real object in life, their vocational education have not been as well developed as they might be.

Great advances have been made in recent years and I agree with Senator Buckley that wonderful work has been done in the vocational schools, but even more is required. I think we must advert to the fact that there has been a tendency to get away from the practical education of women, especially the training of women who are to become farmers' wives—and I hope a great many of them will aspire to that vocation. We were aiming at what we used to consider secondary education and we gave them a bookish education. At the end of that time they studied typewriting or shorthand. They were not able to go beyond a certain stage and they were spoiled for normal life. They had lost all interest in country life and a great many farmers remained unmarried because girls had not been properly trained. In our idea of secondary education, we shall have to recognise that a great many of our women must receive a domestic training. If we are to have our agricultural policy developed and to build the future of our nation on that policy, we must recognise that the training of our women is one of the firmest foundations. I hope, therefore, that a great many of these scholarships will be tenable at schools where, as part of the curriculum, training will be provided in the subjects that future farmers' wives will require.

There has been a good deal of talk about the means test. I quite agree with Senator Hawkins that you cannot expect county councillors to add to the rates to provide secondary or further education after the compulsory period for the children of people who can afford to pay themselves for such education. The poor rate has to finance these scholarships under Section 7. We could not burden the poor rate to provide education for the children of people who can make an effort to provide such education themselves. I welcome the Bill because it will give a chance to children who would otherwise not have an opportunity of advancing themselves and who have the natural qualifications and ability to make further education fruitful. I welcome it for the possibility it gives of providing a wider and a sounder educational scheme for our country. I think the country will benefit enormously if we develop this concept of education as a training for life and I congratulate the Minister on having introduced the Bill.

I rise to say that I agree with the proposals made in this Bill so far as they go, and I join with Senator Mulcahy and other Senators in pleading for a more comprehensive scheme of education generally. I think someone suggested that this was the time to plan for the post-war period in that respect and I support the suggestion that some scheme of that nature might be embarked upon now. My real reason for rising is to join issue with Senator Hawkins in regard to the point he made about vocational education. I do not know exactly what is in the Senator's mind, but if the Senator suggests that training in vocational schools should replace ordinary apprenticeship, I can tell him that that would be vigorously opposed by the trade union movement in this country. I do not know whether he means that a boy who spends five or six years in a vocational school should be accepted straight away into an organised trade union, but if that is what he meant, I can tell him that the trade unions would vigorously resist any such proposal.

Senator Hawkins also referred to the fact that unless the fathers of boys entering a trade were members of that trade union the boys would not be admitted to the trade. I thought this opinion had been exploded long ago. So far as I know there are only two trades which carry out this regulation for entering to a trade. My trade has an arrangement whereby only about 50 per cent. of the vacancies are reserved for the sons of members. The other 50 per cent. is thrown open to anybody who is competent or desirous of entering the industry. I do not know whether he also suggested in his remarks that vocational education in vocational schools could replace the ordinary training of apprentices in the workshop. I do not think that could happen in this country. The facilities are not there for vocational training on those lines. They are only intended for improving and supplementing the education gained in the workshop. Someone referred here to-day to square pegs in round holes in so far as the entry of people to trades and professions is concerned. The real trouble is there are not enough round holes, not enough jobs for the people who are seeking them. I do not agree with putting 2,000 people into an industry that can only employ 1,000 people. That is not going to solve the problem. I want to say as an official of the Trade Union Congress, representing the organised workers of this country, that any suggestion that the time spent in a vocational school could replace the training of an apprentice in a workshop will be strongly resisted. I want to emphasise the fact that the whole trade union movement is behind the proposal for greater and for proper vocational training for all apprentices. That scheme has been worked successfully here in Dublin for a number of years and has had the co-operation of both the employers and the trade unions—their whole-hearted co-operation.

In my opinion if the training of boys was completed in the vocational schools, and that training substituted for the training in the workshop, our whole industrial structure would collapse. So far as my industry is concerned we would have 500 members unemployed and what applies to my industry applies equally to any other industry in this State. The trouble is that there are too many in the industry. Any attempt to put over anything like that would be vigorously resisted by the whole organised trade union movement.

There is one thing in connection with the means test to which I would like to refer. It seems to me that the real test is the ability of a boy or girl to pass an examination, and the fact that a boy or girl's father or mother is rich enough to supply a secondary education for that child does not arise. It is outside the point and like the flowers that bloom in the spring, has nothing to do with the case. The fact that a man may be in a position to give a secondary education to his boy or girl does not necessarily mean that he does it. The real test is the ability of the boy or girl to pass. It is from that point of view that I should like the Minister to explain why it would not be possible to make the educational test the only concern in granting a scholarship. I hope that no extraneous test will be imposed by the Minister or by any of the county councils, such as has been hinted at by one Senator, and such as has taken place in the City of Dublin where boys and girls anxious to take a city scholarship are precluded from going to the university of their choice.

This Bill does not deal with university scholarships.

I am not strictly in order?

The Bill deals only with secondary and vocational school schemes.

Yes, and I hope nothing will be admitted in these scholarships by the Minister so extraneous as in the case of the City of Dublin scholarships.

I had not the opportunity of hearing many of the speeches but there is one point in regard to the means test which I would like to make. I do not intend to follow the lines of Senator Kyle, although I think there is a great deal to be said in favour of the educational test. We are continuing the position in this Bill. It is undesirable that we have to do it. I want to make this point in the presence of the Minister. I feel that this means test was something arrived at by the various authorities in a very rough-and-ready way. It is a matter that wants to be very carefully considered.

The local authorities put a certain monetary value on the income of an individual living in a large or small town that is not at all in keeping with the real circumstances. There may be ten or 11 children in a family, the income of which is £200 or £250, and there may be only one child in another family where the income in cash is apparently just within the limit necessary to bring the child within the scope of the scheme. I am not prepared now to suggest to the Minister how he should approach the matter. At present it is not done on any scientific basis but by a rule of thumb method. I suggest to the Minister that that aspect will have to be considered by him carefully. Another issue has been raised in a rather oblique way by Senator Hawkins and in Senator Campbell's reply. My reaction to that speech is unfavourable. I hate monopolies of every kind. In this Bill we are making provision for the raising of money to permit the children of parents to go to schools of an agricultural, vocational or forestry nature. When I heard Senator Campbell I asked the question: "If a boy wins a scholarship and goes to a vocational school for five or six years, is his future going to be determined by a trade union organisation? Are such bodies going to determine whether a boy can benefit by his learning in any particular industry where organised labour has a say?" I do not want to misinterpret the Senator. I want to get an understanding on this subject. The Senator said that the trade unions will fight sternly. What will they fight?

They will fight the suggestion that a boy should serve his time in a vocational school and then be sent into a trade as a fully-fledged journeyman. They will never permit apprenticeship to be served in a vocational school.

I think that the debate is being unnecessarily widened.

I am not trying to widen the discussion. I am trying to come to a point on which I require enlightenment. If we are to set up a scheme of scholarships for children from primary to secondary schools, what are we to do with the boys and girls when they come out of the secondary schools? Before I should send my boy or girl into a school, I should like to know what they were to do when they came out of it. I bow to the knowledge of Senator Campbell and the other Labour Senators on this matter. They have greater knowledge as to the competence of pupils coming out of these schools, as compared with apprentices, than I have. I suggest that, before we inaugurate this new scheme, we ought to have an idea of the employment which will be open to these young people when they come out of these schools. That is absolutely essential. There is no use in our raising money off the rates for additions to our present educational scheme and for training people in new schools if their labour, when they are finished in the schools, is to be a drug on the market. Are we to set up schools into which young people will go to be trained for certain trades into which they cannot gain an entry save by the authority, permission and approval of the trade union organisations? It is time for the trade union organisation to alter its point of view. Instead of being content with things as they are and imposing bans on the number of people who may work——

There is no work for them.

Instead of Labour taking the view that, if our schools turn out competent people, they are not going to be allowed into a particular occupation unless the trades unions agree——

No trade union has ever said such a thing and no trade union will say such a thing. Why should the Senator go on talking as he is since he admitted himself that he did not know anything about trade union regulations?

The Senator does not speak very frequently and I am prepared to hear him on this subject. I am merely trying to obtain light. It is quite clear from what Senator Campbell has said, whatever Senator Kyle may say, that it is possible for a vocational school to turn out real geniuses who will not get into occupations in which organised labour has control unless they start in as apprentices. Such boys could sell their labour in Britain or America at a high figure and we must deny them employment for their ability in their own country.

I think that that is all wrong. I had not the advantage of being present when the Minister was speaking, but we ought to have, concurrently with a Bill like this, evidence of what exactly is in the Minister's mind regarding the numbers of schools and pupils and the possibilities of the whole scheme in the future. To enlighten my friend, Senator Campbell, as to my opinion, I think that we would get much farther if, instead of taking the view that we are to have no opportunities for employing people, we set out to make more opportunities, to train more people and to equip them better. There is an absolutely defeatist attitude on the part of Labour——

That is a misrepresentation of the whole trade union position.

I do not want to misrepresent Labour.

I do not suggest that the Senator did it deliberately.

I do not want to do it either stupidly or deliberately.

This debate must not develop into a controversy regarding trade union rules and regulations.

I do not want to introduce extraneous matters, but I suggest we should keep clear in our minds the purpose of a Bill like this. I suggest that it may be difficult to keep a new scheme like this going and to provide high-class training for pupils. Senator Concannon has spoken very well, indeed, of this matter in another connection. We are tired talking of the futility of training people to be short-hand-typists. What are they to do? We are giving scholarships for agriculture and forestry. It would be instructive if the Minister would tell us just what interest there is in forestry in the country at the moment.

If I may be allowed to intervene, I do not think that that is relevant to the debate. Obviously, there would be no end to the debate if the Minister were to deal with all these topics.

Perhaps that is the Minister's view but, since we are asked to pass this Bill authorising local authorities to raise moneys for scholarships for different types of education, one would hope that there would be some evidence from the Minister as to what his expectations are in relation to these types of occupation. I suggest that this question of forestry is extremely important—perhaps more important at the moment than agriculture, from the point of view of the necessity of encouraging people to study this subject.

I do not know exactly what the situation was this year, but I think that a year or two ago the number of students studying forestry in the technical sense was less than half a dozen at the National University. Agriculture is not anything like as impoverished from the point of view of the number of people who want to study it, and to go and teach it, but I suggest to the Minister that this particular branch of education requires all the encouragement he can give it. It would be a very good thing if Senator Campbell could clarify the views he expressed here, because if we are going to say that people are going to have their hands trained in the schools, and if they are going to be equipped at the expense of the rate-payers——

I do not object to that.

What I am objecting to is that organisations may take up the attitude that because a boy trains in the vocational schools, spends four or five years there, and gets a very considerable knowledge of his work, he has still got to go and spend another four or five years as an apprentice. He is not allowed to utilise the training he has got in the school. I think that that is the wrong approach to the whole subject and is going considerably to vitiate the good results that might flow from a scheme of this kind.

On a point of order, I was called to order during the debate, and I was not going nearly as far as Senator Baxter. Surely, there is some limit. There is no reference in the Bill to the trade unions.

I have twice suggested to Senator Baxter that he should adhere to the subject matter of the Bill, and not put forward hypothetical cases. The question of trade union rules and regulations has nothing to do whatever with the Bill. We are not dealing with the position of children after they leave the schools.

Senator Hawkins raised this matter, and you cannot blame Senator Baxter or me for following on.

I again suggest to the Senator that he should not labour the matter.

I am not going to labour the matter. I have made my point. I did not introduce it, but I felt that the way the matter was introduced and discussed, and the reactions of Senator Campbell's speech were bound to cause further reaction. Any intelligent parent on sending a child to such schools would want to know what they were going to do when they finished there. This matter is vital to the whole scheme we are discussing. Some people may not like to approach the problem. I find less desire to discuss this than other matters, but I do not think it is going to do any harm. It is a problem that our community has got to face when they are thinking of education, either in the narrow or the wider sense. If we are going to have the position that we are educating our people technically, and that they are not going to be allowed to use that education I do not think the money spent on the scholarships is wise expenditure. We have done our share in the past and while individuals may have benefited, I am afraid the nation does not benefit from a great many who obtain scholarships in the university. If this scheme is going to have the same effect, and if people cannot get employment for one reason or another, then that attitude is going to determine the kind of training our people are going to enter for. That is a problem we have got to face.

I am afraid the debate has been misunderstood by some Senators. It was the vocational scholarships that was discussed, not vocational education.

I have read this Bill with some care, and the difficulty I find myself in is to form any conception of how it is actually going to work in practice. We are asked in the Bill perhaps not to sign, but to approve of, a blank cheque. We do not know to whom the cheque is to be made out and we do not know the amount for which it is to be filled in. The difficulty I find is that the Bill can be made to mean almost anything according to the way in which the Minister fills the cheque. I find myself in the rather peculiar position of agreeing with nearly everybody who spoke on any subject, and the reason is because the Bill is so vague that nobody was able to say what it would not do or what it would do: how the schemes were going to be applied.

I find myself not for the first time in somewhat strong agreement with Senator Mrs. Concannon. There is no doubt whatsoever that this country has suffered by reason of the fact that so many of our people set up as the Mecca for their children, the life of a professional man and that many of their children, although capable of entering a profession are incapable of making good in it. If there is one man that is miserable it is the unsuccessful professional man, who is incapable of competing with his colleagues but has got to keep up a standard of life that his income will not permit him to do. He feels a great mental strain and sense of failure.

Senator Mrs. Concannon pointed out that it would be possible to divert some of these scholarships to agriculture and forestry. I would welcome a little more indication from the Minister as to how these schemes are to be drawn up, and the limits to be imposed upon them. I suggest that the Minister should make certain when he is having an examination for forestry or agriculture that the people concerned will be suitable for the course. Education should show dividends. I know that I will have everybody around my ears when I say this, but I am going to say that I think if a man is going in for a course of agriculture, he should not be given a large number of additional marks for having a competent or incompetent knowledge of Irish. It will be necessary to select the subjects.

There is one further matter which I should like to mention now briefly, as I intend to put down an amendment on the Committee Stage, and that is this: The Minister has power not only to approve, disapprove or amend any scheme, but he has given to him the most remarkable power that I think has ever been given to any person, although I am quite prepared to be told that there are precedents for such powers contained in other Acts which I have not seen. The Minister, having either approved or disapproved of a scheme, or having amended it, is given power under Section 9 to determine every question or dispute which may arise in relation to the interpretation or construction of the scheme for which he himself is responsible, and his decision thereon shall be final and conclusive. His interpretation, not of what he said, but of what he meant to say, is to be final, conclusive and non-appealable or testable anywhere else. I intend to put down an amendment on the Committee Stage, when we can discuss this matter in more detail, but I suggest that that is putting the Minister in the position of Humpty Dumpty, who said: "When I use a word it means what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." Similarly, the Minister is given the power to say not what his words meant, but what he intended them to mean.

I could give several examples of how a power such as that has been used by various Departments of State during the last few years, but I will confine myself to cases which were actually recorded in the law courts. For instance, there was a case where a certain Department said that a man must till a certain amount of land in a certain year, but when the case was tested in court it turned out that what was meant was that a certain amount must be harvested in a certain year. Another Department stated the price at which certain goods must be sold, and then, afterwards, when tested in the law courts, it turned out that what was meant was the price at which these particular goods must be sold and delivered to the house of the customer in different parts of the country.

I think that this power which we have here, whereby a Minister, having failed to convey his meaning clearly to the persons for whom the scheme is meant—those who are going up for scholarships and the people who are endeavouring to frame a future for their children—while at the same time allowing the Minister to put his own interpretation or construction on the scheme, is a power which is subject to the very gravest abuse. He is not merely enabled to do it in the first instance, but a person who may have framed the future of his children, relying on a plain statement by the Minister as to what is the interpretation of the scheme, can have no great reliance on the words contained in a plain statement issued by the Minister if he is to be told afterwards by the Minister: "That is not what I meant; what I meant was so-and-so, and that is the construction that should be placed on the words." Such a person might very well say: "I have framed my children's future on that statement, and please put that matter right," but the Minister's statement is to be final, conclusive and unappealable, and I think that that is a most objectionable proposal and one that could only be justified if it were admitted by the Minister that he was incapable of putting into plain English what ordinarily he meant.

When Ministers are administering or supervising a scheme of this nature, I think that what they have in mind is to do their duty to the country as a whole, as they see it, and to see that the policy which they have announced to the country, and upon which they have been returned as Ministers, is being carried out. The fact that in particular cases civil servants who are entrusted with the administration of these schemes have not by them senior counsel to advise them —and even if they had, it would not be an unknown thing that the advice of the senior counsel himself might be afterwards upset in the courts—it has been known to have happened even in the case of Attorneys-General—does not mean that a scheme is not a good one. We cannot afford to have lawyers at our elbows when we are dealing with these matters, and for the past 21 years the Department of Education has succeeded, without having to go into the law courts, in supervising and directing, so far as it was possible for them to do so under the powers at their disposal, the schemes which have been in operation during all that period through the local authorities.

After 21 years one would imagine that a simple Bill of this kind should not have given rise to such prolonged discussion. After 21 years, when the original powers upon which the Department are working consist of three short paragraphs which are only inserted, in fact, as an appendix to an Act and which obviously were not designed, in an experimental period like 1923, to envisage all the future developments, it is not unnatural at all that a Minister should come along and seek to clarify the position.

Section 17 of the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923, says:

"The council of any county, or county borough may assist by means of exhibitions, scholarships, etc., any students or intending students at any approved school in Saorstát Éireann who are ordinarily resident in such county or borough and who satisfy the council that they are qualified to profit by instruction in such school and are in need of assistance, and who also satisfy such tests of ability as shall be prescribed in pursuance of this section."

There it is laid down clearly that the schemes should apply to those in need of assistance, and while I can see that there is undoubtedly a point of view and an argument, to which I perhaps gave fuller recognition than I should have in my interpretation of Senator Maguire, which may be advanced in favour of the entire abolition of the means test, I fear that if we are to do it we should have to withdraw the present Bill which embodies the principles enshrined in the Long Title, and we would also have to go back on the policy which has been in force since 1923. After defining what an approved school was—a school approved of by order of the Minister for Education— the section went on to say, in paragraph (3):—

"The tests of ability to be satisfied by students under this section shall be prescribed in a scheme to be formulated for the purposes of this section by the council of the county or county borough in accordance with rules to be made by the Minister for Education, and no such scheme shall have any effect unless and until approved by the Minister for Education."

That has been the law for the past 21 years. It has been found to be inadequate because, although the scheme in general must be approved, I am in the position that I do not want to turn down any scheme. I want to see all schemes possible brought into operation and I do not want to give even a pretext to any local authority to say that any action by the "bureaucrats" or the Minister has caused a scholarship scheme to be held up. Now, what is the actual position of the Department of Education? These schemes are submitted; new councils may be returned to office, as has happened recently, and new schemes may be sent in, or they may be sent in at the end of the year, after prolonged discussion locally. They may only arrive in my office towards the end of the year. I have my responsibility to review the schemes, and I do not think I should do anything that would impose undue delay upon the formulation and publication in the local Press of these schemes, and I certainly should not do anything that would prevent the schemes being put into operation.

If the councils themselves choose, as some of them have done, not to have any schemes for years, then that is their affair. I have not interfered with them, and I am not attempting to do so now. They are allowed full freedom either to introduce or not to introduce schemes, but if they do introduce them, then there must be some finality in regard to time, and if a scheme is sent up to my office and I consider, as I mentioned in my opening statement, that in certain respects it is inequitable or that the conditions are unreasonable, I think I can claim to the Seanad that I am merely acting the part of the honest broker as between the public interest generally and the local authority.

For the past 21 years the Department has done everything possible to try to meet local authorities and, if schemes have not been put into operation, nobody will dare say that it has been because of any action of the Department of Education. Questions will no doubt arise as to the interpretation of the scheme. I am sure if Senator Kingsmill Moore got this document into his hands down in the courts, he would be able to raise very many interrogatories as to its legal foundation. When the appendix to the 1923 Act which I have read out, was passed the Department of Education issued a scheme, and this scheme was sent out to local authorities. We have been working on that scheme ever since. We have acquired a very considerable amount of experience since, and though I am very glad to say in the vast majority of cases we have been met with every goodwill by the local councils—even when they do not agree with us they try to meet us—we may have cases, and we have had cases, where councils not alone try to impose conditions which do not appear to me to be fair and equitable but may even do certain things that are clearly outside the terms of their published scheme. For example, if there are seven candidates for six scholarships and these seven candidates are A, B, C, D, E, F and G in order of merit, and a council tries to put G into F's place and leave F out in the cold, I think the Minister for Education is entitled to interfere in that case. Such a thing has happened. Even though such occurrences may be few and far between—and I hope they will be rarer in the future than in the past—we must give the Minister power to deal with them.

Senator O'Donovan, who made a relevant speech—it was certainly one on which I would like to congratulate him—wanted to know why in Section 3 the Minister should have power to approve of alterations. The reason is that if a scheme is published and the council, subsequent to its publication in the local Press, chooses to amend it in some particular, I want to see, if there is nobody else to see, that if that is done such an amendment will also be made known publicly. As regards paragraph (b) which provides that such schemes shall not be altered so as to contravene the provisions of the Act, that is simply to save time. There is no use in having prolonged discussions and correspondence with the Department of Education if clearly the council are trying to do something which they are not entitled to do under the provisions of the Act. After all, the councils should make up their minds that the important thing is to get the scheme into operation and not to hold it up. Discussion can go on at the same time. Even if the matter is a serious one, we should not allow the scheme to be held up on account of it.

Senator O'Connell referred to the scheme as a make-shift. I was glad that Senator Ruane pointed out to him that it was one of the fruits of the Sinn Féin Movement in this country and, in that way, something that we should be proud of. The fact that there were 340 scholarships granted is no reason why we should not seek a bigger scheme. There is nothing to stop councils from increasing the amount of money devoted to this purpose, and I hope they will increase it. I think that councils could do a great deal more and the present occasion affords an opportunity of looking into the question to see whether more could not be done. Dublin Corporation has done splendid work in this connection, and I should like to pay tribute to them. At the moment they have 343 scholarships value for £7,326. County Dublin has provided 91 scholarships to the value of £2,330. Looking at the provinces, we find that between them North and South Riding Tipperary spend £1,930 and that there are 75 scholarships. Other counties like Kerry, Roscommon and Mayo run into £1,700 and £1,800 each. There are some counties, on the other hand, in which only £400, £500 or £600 is spent. That is the total value of the scholarships held at present. If Senators, particularly those who are members of local authorities, will look at the rateable values of their counties, I think they will agree that even the best of them, like the counties I have mentioned— Kerry, North and South Riding Tipperary, Mayo, Roscommon, and so on —although some of these counties are not wealthy, could do more, and that even from the narrowest point of view of investment, a great deal more could be done.

Section 5, sub-section (3) provides that different examination tests may be prescribed in respect of different scholarships. If the Local Appointments Commissioners had to be set up when Senator Mulcahy was in office, it is rather peculiar seeing that he was responsible for that far-reaching step, that he should come along now and suggest that in some manner I am interfering with the councils. I suggest that it is more reasonable and practicable to have a general national test, but provided the necessary safeguards can be given, I see no reason why local councils might not be able if they can give the necessary assurances to have local tests. In fact there are certain variations in counties like Mayo where scholarships are provided for agriculture and domestic science as well as for secondary education proper. In that case there is a variation to meet particular types of candidates.

As regards the means tests, Section 4 generally lays down headings which normally schemes are expected to follow and which our experience shows us are necessary. Senators will see that while under headings (c), (d) and (e) the means test is dealt with and due provision made for it, a council may depart in certain respects from it provided it has the sanction of the Minister. I think that Senators will agree that if power is given to a council to depart from the scheme in very exceptional circumstances to meet a special case of hardship in the award of scholarships, they should not be allowed that power without any supervision from the Minister. Surely it is not suggested that the council should depart from its published scheme in a particular case, even by its own resolution. Section 4 (d) was meant to deal with the case of a family with a large number of children. Most councils allow for extra children in the family by adding a certain amount, say, £30 per child to the basic amount which they laid down as the income of the parents. It may be impossible to deal in advance with certain cases and even in the most carefully prepared schemes it may not be possible to envisage a situation that may arise in a particular family and therefore it is thought we should have this power in Section 4 (e).

I was pressed in the other House to do something for a case of, say, a tradesman who might have £300 per year and five children and who had received a £40 scholarship. It might be said that technically he had then an income of £340. In another case the income might be £310 and five children and they might be outside the terms of the scheme. It is that type of case we have in mind in 4 (d).

I do not think we should interfere with the local authorities and I am glad to have the support of those Senators who followed Senator Maguire in saying that it was a serious matter for me to interfere with the local authorities in the matter of the means test. If it should happen that I find it desirable to take up the matter with the council, and that I consider the limit of income fixed too high or too low to make the scholarships equitable and have a fair distribution of the money, I would try to get the council to meet me and if in the end I failed to get them to see the point, I might be driven to such an extreme course as to refuse to approve of the scheme. But even if the Department does not agree with the council they would not try to take advantage of, and to jeopardise the chances of having a scheme. But when they found something unreasonable and, having thrashed the matter out, failed to get them to see reason, the Department might have to refuse approval.

Might I interrupt the Minister to remind him of the position of emergency bonuses?

The councils at present make their own tests. Even if a council asked me, as Senator Kingsmill Moore pointed out, I have no means of finding out what the income is. I hope the House will agree that if there is to be a finality in this matter the Minister must have the power that is in Section 9. Once there is a dispute between a council and an applicant for a scholarship, I hope the Seanad will agree that the Minister for Education rather than the courts should be allowed to determine the issue. If, as Senator Hayes said, there is some dissatisfaction because people are getting scholarships whose incomes are above the limits laid down in the schemes, there is much more reason to fear that the dissatisfaction would be greater if we were to wipe out the means test altogether.

If a person with an income of £1,000 was to be treated on the same lines, and if his children, no matter how brilliant, were to be educated at the expense of the local authority, we would certainly have much greater dissatisfaction. There may be a change in the position. I can see that there are arguments on the other side. Up to the present scholarship schemes have been regarded as a method of assistance for the poorer elements of the community. I feel certain when the question comes to be discussed by the councils that you will have the farming community equally as strong as the labouring community in the view that the scholarships should be confined to the class for which they were originally intended. I see that in Cork County the limit of income of a family with three children has been fixed at £156, in Longford, £150 for one child; in Limerick, £150 for three children; in Galway, £180; in Kerry, £200, for one child in each case; and Mayo, £280 for two children.

In some cases there is no reference to the valuation, and apparently a parent in a rural district who has a child going for a scholarship has actual income taken into consideration. In other cases the valuation is taken. In County Mayo the limit is £35 valuation for land, excluding buildings. In Galway it is £25 plus £5 for each additional child, and in Monaghan four times the poor law valuation is taken as the family income. The laying down of the means test, and the determination of the income of the family, will have to be done by the local council. I have no machinery for dealing with it. In case of a dispute, and if some abuse occurs where the parent of a child who has been an applicant for a scholarship feels that he or she has a grievance, if I feel it worth examining I hope the House will not find fault with the Minister for Education as the arbitrator.

Senator Ruane made the interesting suggestion that the Government might, at some stage, refund to the councils some of the expenditure on scholarships, thus encouraging them to do more. It is a thought that is well worth consideration, but there are other points of view which the Senator should take into consideration and which we ought to bear in mind when we embark on these rather wide and attractive developments in education. I refer to the question of finance. I noticed in regard to the proposals in Great Britain that a poor Welsh county is paying 8/6 in the £ in rates for education. If that is the position in a hill county in Wales, we could certainly afford—even the poorest of our Irish counties—to do far more than we are doing in respect of scholarships. Ninety-seven per cent. has been mentioned—I do not give it as a firm estimate—as the proportion of expenditure which comes from the central Exchequer for the upkeep of primary education. Only about three per cent. comes by way of local contribution. From that people will have an idea of how much the ratepayer escapes in this country and of how much he has succeeded in transferring to the central Exchequer.

To go back to the means test, I think that what we have to ensure is that the provision be reasonable, and what a fair-minded person would regard as equitable—a figure that will give fair play all round. I have a great deal of sympathy with Senator Colgan when he says that, at present, one cannot regard a sum of £5 or £6, being the weekly wage of a tradesman in the City of Dublin, as being anything more than is necessary for actual subsistence. As Senator Mrs. Concannon has reminded me, that is borne out by the Government scheme of emergency bonus. If the councils or corporations wish to take that bonus into consideration in making conditions governing their future scholarships schemes, I shall consider the matter very carefully. I do not want to encourage councils to set up unduly high limits but if, after deliberation, they think their proposals would exclude people who might, otherwise, be included if they did not make allowance for the emergency bonus, I should certainly pay due attention to their representation.

Is it possible to take into consideration the other side of the question—an increase in the scholarships during the emergency? At present, the cost of living is 71 per cent. above what it was in August, 1929.

The proposal should come from the local authority. I should not like to see the number of scholarships reduced. In some of the counties, the scholarships are not sufficiently valuable, in my opinion, to achieve their purpose, but I can understand the desire of the councils to distribute the money as widely as possible, particularly where there is a rural element in strong representation on the council. If a proposal of the nature to which Senator Mulcahy has referred comes up, it will be carefully considered. Senator Colgan mentioned that, even in the case of town workers—I suppose those engaged in what might be described as black-coated occupations might be included —there is a feeling that, though they may appear to be very well off, having regard to the high charges for rent and so forth, they are not so well off as rural residents might think. We must regard the scholarships as compensation to a certain extent in some cases for the loss of income which the children might bring them if they had obtained employment of some kind.

Senator Ruane referred to the question of personal expenses in the case of poor children. I think that provision can be made for that by councils, as was done by the Mayo Council, if they wish to do it under the definition portion of the Act. Under the definition, scholarship means "a sum... of money... awarded to a person for the purpose of assisting him to attend, or continue to attend, an approved school." Under Section 4 (h) "the scheme may provide, in respect of any scholarship thereunder, that such scholarship, in lieu of being paid to the parent or guardian... shall be applied... by the said corporation or council in or towards the payment of the fees and the personal expenses of such person...". In the case of certain students, brought into the preparatory colleges, we have been providing extra assistance where the parents were unable to fit them out properly so as to be ready for their studies.

Senator O'Donovan mentioned Section 7 and referred to the fact that the expenses incurred by the council of a county are referred to in sub-section (1) and that it is only in sub-section (2) that the question of the county boroughs arises. As I have already explained, the power of a county borough to raise money for scholarship schemes is dealt with under the appropriate City Management Act. Senator Walsh dealt with the question of agriculture. As I have said, the Mayo scholarship scheme provides for a certain number of scholarships in agriculture, the appropriate condition being: a holder of a scholarship in agriculture must pass the intermediate certificate examination at or before the end of his third year as a condition of further renewal and at or before the end of his fifth year must pass the leaving certificate examination and compete for one of the council's university scholarships in agriculture.

Similarly, the domestic science scholarship holder must pass the leaving certificate examination and compete successfully for admission to the Department's training schools of domestic economy or the Munster Institute. Perhaps that will be a headline for the Senator. Senator O'Donovan also referred to Section 5 where, in contrast to Section 4, in which the headings of the schemes are set out, the Minister takes power to prescribe certain matters and assumes to himself a special power in that regard. One of these matters is the examination test where, I think, there should be rigid control. I think that the House will agree that rigid control must be exercised to ensure that all candidates get fair play, and to secure that there be no departure from the published age limits.

May I call the Minister's attention to a small slip in drafting in the Bill? If the Minister will look at Section 2, sub-section (7), he will see a reference as follows:—

"The preparation and submission under sub-section (1) of this section of a scheme and the making under sub-section (3) of this section of a determination..."

That reference should be to sub-section (4).

Thank you.

Question put and agreed to.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

When is it proposed to take the Committee Stage?

I suggest that we take the Committee Stage of this Bill and, if possible, of the other Bill, to-morrow. As there is some urgency in connection with these Bills, it may be necessary to sit on Friday.

For what purpose?

In case we do not finish.

I think it will be agreed to take the remaining stages of these two Government Bills to-morrow.

Committee Stage fixed for to-morrow, amendments to be taken up to 1 p.m.

Top
Share