I hope I have made it clear that in my remarks I am not objecting in any way to an increase in the resources of University College, Dublin, or the National University of Ireland. But I am thinking of the work which is to be done in the country both by Trinity College, Dublin, and by the National University. I do feel that the proposals outlined by the Minister may have a very serious effect upon the work carried out by Trinity College, Dublin. That work is, I agree with the Minister for Agriculture, in the educational way small, but I feel that there should be an important future ahead. Besides educational work there is research work, and it is about that I am particularly uneasy. I believe that these proposals may be carried out without doing this injury which I fear. I believe that discussion between the different bodies involved would in all probability enable a satisfactory arrangement on these lines to be effected without affecting at all the question of whether this proposal can be carried out in such a way as to increase the resources of the National University. Now, those who have argued on one side seem to be of opinion that the injury which I fear can be avoided out of the present resources of Trinity College, Dublin. With great deference to the judgments and opinions of those who have spoken in that way I venture to say that I know more about the resources of Trinity College than they do. Their means of getting information upon the matter have not always been the fullest. It is possible to learn a great deal, no doubt, from reports of previous commissions, but I do say that it is not possible to learn anything of value from the opinions that are expressed by different people, whether they happen to be graduates of our institution or not. It is really only very few who know intimately the state of the finances of Trinity College, Dublin. It is quite true that it is not now the case that our accounts are in any way hidden. They have to be submitted to the Government year by year in the future, and it is quite right that that should be so. When once an institution becomes State-aided, it must necessarily submit to that, and it would not, and in this case does not, object to that at all. In the very letter from which extracts were read there is contained that clause specifying that in future years the accounts of Trinity College, Dublin, must be submitted to the Government, and that is not objected to on our side, and it will be done. Furthermore, I am perfectly prepared, for my part, to go through those accounts with any Ministers who are anxious to clear up any points that may not be clear if there be such, and to argue with them as to whether there is this possibility which they seem to contemplate in our resources. Beyond that, I should not think there would be the slightest objection to any inquiry the Government may think fit to institute as to whether those resources are being used to the full or not. I think it is perfectly right that a Government should consider the total resources of all institutions which seek for aid, to see that those resources are being used in the best and fullest way, even though, as in this particular instance, they can only, to a comparatively small extent, be said to be resources which have come from the State. The question still remains: Is university development in this country to take place upon lines that will mean that overlapping in different departments would necessarily ensue? I do not think that is likely to be the most profitable way of considering the problem of university development in the future. We are a small country, and it seems to me that it is much more probable that improvements can be effected in a more economical way by developing both universities, not along identical lines in all respects, but by developing them so that each university will specialise along its own lines, not one to the exclusion of the other, but each making its choice as to the particular lines it is going to take up. I hope that will develop and tend to healthy rivalry between the two universities, but a rivalry in which co-operation will also be possible. Whether that co-operation can be secured in this case or not will, I think, come out when once what I suggest should take place does take place—that is, that the Minister should consult with the different bodies and see whether there is a possibility of that co-operation or not. We cannot, I think, with advantage, go into such details here. They can be much better dealt with, in the first place at all events, in separate discussions, such as I have outlined.
There is a further question as to what should be done with the present students. I have here a letter received last week from a parent whose son is at present taking out a course in the College of Science in connection with Trinity College, Dublin. Naturally, he is asking what is to happen. Is the year his son spent there to be lost, and is he to start somewhere else? Details of this kind require consideration. We have instituted new degrees within the past year in order to meet this new development. Within the last six months we have given three of those degrees. Apparently, if this plan is to be carried out on certain lines those degrees would come automatically to an end. I do not know whether that is the proposal or whether that will necessarily follow from the proposal or not. But it might. That is why I say it is only reasonable to ask for some discussion on this proposal before we regard these details as finished.
I have only dealt with this proposal in so far as it is concerned with university work carried out by the College of Science. There are other aspects. There is the aspect of how that work is concerned with students of what may be called non-university rank. That aspect has been dealt with by other Deputies to a very considerable extent, and I do not propose to go into it in detail. But I do wish to say that I think it is a very important aspect of this question. Neither do I think it follows from what I said about the university work of the College of Science that it has not got a work and a function to perform for non-university students which cannot be performed by any university. There is a third aspect, and I think it is a very important one in this connection. That is, that this State will have, sooner or later—and probably sooner—to set up for itself a State institution in which mechanical testing, meteorological work, special work which can only be performed in a State laboratory, the testing of physical instruments and so on, can be carried out.
There is such across the water, for example, and I think we shall very soon require some institution of that kind. I do not think we shall be content as we have been up to the present to send instruments across the water to be standardised. That sort of work is not university work. It is work that can only be carried out under direct State control. It could not, I think, be performed adequately by a university. It could not be carried out in a way which would not cramp proper university work which should be either distinctly educational or work of a distinctively research character. This State will require an institution of that sort for itself, and it will take a good deal of money to provide it. Either we ourselves or other Deputies will, sooner or later, find ourselves in this position that we shall say: this State had a certain amount of valuable equipment of which it might make use, and could have arranged for that equipment to be still available for Government Departments, if it had wished to do so.
I think the details of this proposal ought to be carefully examined in that connection so that we may save the State in future, as far as possible, any expense which otherwise might fall upon the State directly and to an amount which it is difficult to estimate at present. I do not think that is contradictory at all to the proposal of the Minister. I think that the two things can be secured, but I suggest that they can only be properly secured by a full discussion of details—such a discussion as I have asked for, leaving, as I said before, the final decision with the Government alone as to how they will carry out their proposal.
In the very same connection there will arise a question as to whether it might not be possible to secure the co-operation which I previously suggested. In a similar connection also arises the point that I believe the State at present does make use in a definite and distinct way of the College of Science as an accessory to its own work. I believe that the Department of Agriculture and the Post Office, for instance, are both in the position of making use of the College of Science staff for solving problems connected with these separate Departments, and for carrying out investigations in them. How that is to be maintained under the proposal of the Minister I have not heard suggested. I can easily see that it would be possible, perhaps, to secure it, but that difficulties would be very likely to arise in securing it unless the preliminary details were very fully discussed and thought out beforehand. When a Department is a State Department it is perfectly easy for the Minister for Agriculture, for instance, to send any problem which might at any time arise to it, and that the Department should be set to solve that problem with as little delay as possible. If it becomes a purely University Department there is not that power to control it. The university staff might very properly say they were engaged on other problems, and it would have to wait over for a little and take its turn. I can easily see there might be difficulties in carrying out such work unless it was very carefully provided for beforehand.
There is another point which has been partially dealt with already, and that is the question of how definite civil servants are to be regarded as part of the staff of the University. My main contention is—not that I quarrel with the proposal of the Minister at all—that there is room for discussion with the different interests involved before he finally decides upon these details, and that that discussion may lead to the carrying out of this proposal in a way which would satisfy everyone. As long as that possibility remains, I urge on him not to leave it untried. What I suggest would not require any unnecessary or great delay, but it might lead to very important results for the whole country, as well as for any particular part. I do not mean anything offensive by that. I do ask the Minister—and I do think it is a thing which we can fairly ask him—not to close this matter up; I do not think he has closed it up, but to allow such discussion as I have suggested to take place before the details are finally arranged.
I do not want in any way to suggest that promises were made in this connection which were taken up in a different way from what was intended. It is very difficult at this stage to say, or to prove, exactly what was said, and it might have been meant in one way instead of in another. Therefore, I do not propose to do so, but I can, if anybody calls for it, refer to what was said. There is no doubt in my mind, and I do not think that the Minister for Agriculture will question it either, that there was some sort of assurance given as to some such discussion of details of this matter. I am not laying any great stress upon that, because things change in two years, and I know the Minister for Agriculture wants his Faculty of Agriculture, and quite rightly. I daresay his point of view is pretty much that which we read of —"a plague on both your houses." So long as he gets his Faculty of Agriculture in a university it will meet his point. I am not going into that.
There is one other thing I should like to say by way of explanation as to some remarks I made last Friday. Thinking over them afterwards I thought it was possible that something I said might be misinterpreted. It was in connection with the so-called £100,000 that was transferred to Trinity College, Dublin. I am anxious to be perfectly fair in that matter, and not to say anything which should in the slightest way be one-sided. I did think afterwards that perhaps one thing I said might be misinterpreted. Therefore, I will ask your permission, sir, to make a very short statement on it again. I urged and argued that so far as Trinity College, Dublin, was concerned, that action of the Government would, we hope, leave us in a level state as regards our revenues, as compared with what they were before the 1903 and 1923 Land Acts were passed. That, I think, is the most we have been hoping from it, from a general study as to our land revenues and the effects of the Land Acts on us. I do not want to correct that in any way. It is a forecast. It is the forecast which we make on our side. I think the Government take a more favourable forecast and think that we shall be somewhat better off when the Land Acts have come fully into operation. I think I went on to say that the Government had been able to do that —I am not quite sure of the words I used—perhaps it was, without straining the resources of the State.
Before I speak further about that, let us be quite clear about this £100,000. It was not a grant of £100,000 from the Free State Government; I do not think the Minister meant in the least to suggest that it was. Nevertheless it is taken up in that way in various quarters. It was not. It was simply that there was lying a sum to our credit on which we were able to call to the extent of £5,000 a year, if our losses from the Land Act of 1903 amounted to so much.
It was lying to the credit of the Public Trustee to be used for our benefit in that way. I think that is perfectly accurate, and I will ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce to correct me if I misrepresent the case. It was lying with the Public Trustee to be drawn solely by Trinity College to the extent of £5,000 a year if the losses from the Land Act should amount to so much. If they did not amount to so much it was to be drawn on to the amount to which the losses came. The Free State Government said "We will allow you to draw upon that at once to the full extent of the revenue provided by that fund." The fund was transferred from the Public Trustee to the credit of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Government. The benefit to us was that we were able to draw this revenue immediately instead of waiting for the losses due to bad sales to amount to the revenue of this fund. I think I said that in view of the fact that the fund had not attained the amount specified in the 1903 Act, namely, such an amount as would produce £5,000 yearly, the Government were bound under that Act to continue adding £5,000 yearly until it would reach the necessary sum. We agreed that the setting aside of £5,000 yearly should stop—I do not know how long it would have continued, but it would have been for a short time comparatively, and that instead the Government should give us £5,000 down, and £3,000 yearly for the future. I think I may have been taken to say that that was done without involving any drawing on the funds of the Free State. If I did say so I was thinking of the next two or three years during which the fixed sum of £5,000 yearly would have to continue. There would be a definite contribution from the Free State of £3,000 yearly, so soon as the Free State would be free from the liability to set aside the £5,000 yearly specified by the Wyndham Act. I have to apologise for taking up the time of the Dáil so long, but, in view of the difficulty and the complexity of the subject, I hope I will be excused. I do not think I often transgress in that respect.