I cannot hold an inquiry on what practically amounts to corruption on what the Deputy calls peculiar coincidence. There have been a few points raised by Deputy Good and Deputy Anthony. I trust Deputy Anthony will not think that he will ever convince Deputy Good of the danger of dealing with figures. I have failed for a couple of years in this House to make any impression on Deputy Good in that respect, and I do not think that Deputy Anthony will be anything more successful. On the other hand, I do not think Deputy Anthony was quite fair to Deputy Good when he described Deputy Good's attitude towards the Technical Report as a half-hearted support of that. Really, I suggest to Deputy Good that to take the special type of boy or girl that comes into the Labour Exchange with whom he comes into touch in his Technical Advisory Committee as a class on whom you can base an average deduction, for all the people who leave the primary schools may be very correct, but may be very incorrect as well. It is certainly a most unscientific and very dangerous conclusion to draw. I will admit that there ought to be a closer connection between education and industry in this country, but I suggest that neither the schools nor the State nor the local authorities are altogether to blame if there is not a closer connection. We found it extremely difficult to get business men, employers and manufacturers, to give any preference very often to the products of some of our technical schools, and Deputy Good. I think, knows that.
I have had occasion, I think, sometimes to refer to the lack of respect there is for education among the various classes in this country. In the Compulsory Attendance Bill we found it necessary to pass a law to compel some parents to realise the importance of education. I always felt that there was some excuse for the poor, uneducated parent in the slum or in the country who took up an attitude of that kind when I saw a similar attitude in practice adopted by the better off and more educated people. I have often seen the same contempt for training shown by leaders of industry and big businessmen as is shown by the poor parent who refuses to send his or her child to school. Again, it is an exaggeration to say that there is a complete neglect, and that even up to the present there has been a complete neglect of the pupils between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. That is not so. It is an exaggeration at the very best. I should say that practically one-third of the number are in attendance at school. I think, as well as I can remember, that the attendance at primary and secondary schools between fourteen and sixteen is about 40,000. That does not at all get rid of the very serious problem that Deputy Good described, and which the Technical Commission had to deal with. It is, if you like, a commentary on the neglect of this matter for twenty-five years. I will quite admit that. But while admitting that I am not accepting responsibility for all that particular neglect. I claim that the Technical Commission which was set up had a difficult problem to deal with, that they produced a most valuable report, and that they did make a number of extremely valuable suggestions. I refer to Deputy Good because he was on the Commission, and because he is familiar with every detail of the report. I ask the other Deputies who, I hope, have given this report the attention it deserves, to consider that report again, and ask themselves what are the necessary steps to take in an exceedingly difficult report to digest properly—that is, how you are to start if you do not make a mistake.
Deputy Anthony referred to the necessity of putting it all into force at once. If there were no question of money in the matter, and remember money must be taken into account, whether it is a question of spending a small or a big amount this year or the year after, the State must scrutinise its finances very carefully before it spends it. I am not saying that if it is necessary an effort should not be made to find it. I think nothing could be more unfair to this report than to think that you can put it all into force at once, as Deputy Anthony suggests. I think the Commission realise that. Running through this report you will find the suggestion, here is a programme you will realise only in the course of ten or fifteen years. I think that is a perfectly fair summing up of the attitude of the Commission themselves.
Deputy O'Connell asked, I think last night, why not make a start at once in a particular place. If Deputy O'Connell will turn to page 136 of the Commission's report he will notice an extraordinary thing. Twice in the report they have indulged in the luxury of printing things in large capitals, drawing special and careful attention to them. I will read out what they have printed in the second of these instances, and I presume they were doing it because they felt not merely the necessity of warning but that a lacuna existed as well. This is the quotation:—
"Schemes of continuing education must be preceded by intensive training of teachers. It would be fatal to embark on new educational ventures with untrained and insufficient teaching staffs."
That is, I quite admit, late in the report but, from the point of view of administering it, it is certainly one of the first steps we would have to take, that is the training of teachers. It is an extremely difficult and complicated report, difficult and complicated in the sense of knowing precisely where and how you are to start. Some portions of it, for instance, require legislation; others only require administrative action. But legislation is extremely difficult. We have no code to which we can simply tack this on as an amendment of the old code. For technical and continuation education we will have to draw up a new code, and that will be difficult. I will take one instance. So far as the mere words go —I, of course, realise fully that they were not put down by the members of this Commission without the fullest consideration—after looking at the matter from every angle they put down a recommendation for proper continuation education. Suppose we grant that there should be compulsory continuation education part time or whole time, when you begin to work out the details of a little thing like that you are up against all sorts of consequences that follow from it, namely, the excuses that will be reasonable why persons should not attend. You can only have schools of this kind at certain centres and there will be the question of distance and the attitude of the employers. You require, at any rate, legislation to carry out a simple recommendation of that kind and the legislation will require a great deal of consideration.
Supposing at present we were in a position to adopt these proposals. If we were told in the morning that the carrying out of the recommendations would cost over a quarter of a million, and that the State would find no difficulty in providing the money, I think it would be a waste of money to attempt to put it into force immediately. I think there is that to be said for Deputy Good's point of view, as against Deputy Anthony's, namely, that you can only do this gradually. Supposing next year you were able to start a scheme of continuation education in the city of Dublin, how is it to be paid for? I am not saying now that the money would not be there, that is not what I mean by the question. As the members of the Commission realised, and as the Deputies who have read this report must realise, the question of the contribution of the local authority comes in. If these recommendations of the Commission are to be carried out, as everybody knows who has read the report, it means a bigger contribution from the local authority than they have given up to the present. There is a suggestion of a minimum rate. If you start a scheme of that kind in one part of the country without the proper rate from the local authority you will have great difficulty in getting away from that example in the rest of the country. I want to be quite clear. I am urging the question of expense not as an objection to the adoption of the recommendation, I urge only that it requires careful scrutiny of expenditure so far as these schemes are concerned, and that it is only very gradually, with the best will in the world, that we can try to put this report into effect, and that is the sense of the whole report. Now, I hope it will be possible to consider whether certain steps cannot be taken, if the financial condition allows it even in the present year to at least make a beginning, to set the scheme in motion at all events. What I have done is this: I have got this report very carefully taken to pieces, if I may use the word, to show exactly what is involved in it and what are the first steps that ought to be taken, so that we should know thoroughly what is the precise system of education we are aiming at. I have asked that model programmes on the new lines should be drawn up. As I have said before, it will require that steps be taken before the scheme can be fully realised.