The MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
rose to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the O'Keeffe case. It would be for the House to consider whether they would choose to enter into a discussion of the matter; but, for his own part, he did not propose to enter into the merits of the controversy; and if, as he hoped, the House would agree to the propriety of an inquiry, it followed that the case was not ripe for discus- 2024 sion, but should await a full statement of the facts by the Commissioners, and all other parties interested. Probably the great majority of the House were tolerably well acquainted with the outlines of the case; but without entering into the merits—and he hoped without running any risk of contradiction from his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bouverie)—it would be convenient that he should shortly state the facts. In the spring of last year a communication from the Bishop Coadjutor of Ossory apprised the Education Commissioners that the Rev. Mr. O'Keeffe had been suspended from his functions as priest of the parish of Callan. On this being read, Mr. Justice Fitzgerald proposed that the communication be acted upon. Mr. Justice Morris moved as an amendment that Mr. O'Keeffe should have an opportunity of knowing the nature of the communication and of offering any explanation which he might deem necessary. The amendment was negatived, the original motion was carried, and in accordance, as was stated by the majority of the Board, with their usual practice, Mr. O'Keeffe was thereupon removed from his office of manager of the schools under the Board, not absolutely, but until the sentence of suspension had been set aside by any competent tribunal. The next step was the appointment of a manager in his place. There were five schools, some of them having a committee, and others not. With regard to the latter, the Board, also acting, as they alleged, in conformity with precedent, appointed the Rev. Mr. Martin—stated by the Bishop of Ossory to be the appointed successor of Mr. O'Keeffe as parish priest—to act as his successor in the management of the schools. With respect to the schools having a committee, a communication was addressed to them, stating that Mr. O'Keeffe had been removed from the management, and requesting that a successor might be appointed. The committee nominated Mr. Martin, and he was confirmed in the appointment by the Commissioners. The Correspondence laid on the Table showed that Mr. Martin entirely failed to obtain access to the schools, or control over the teachers. He was therefore unable to furnish the Returns and other information required by the Board, and, the Board having sent down one of their Inspectors to make inquiries, that In- 2025 specter was unable to obtain access to the schools except on one occasion, when he was forcibly ejected by Mr. O'Keeffe. It was quite clear that the regular official communication between the schools and the National Board could not be kept up in that state of things. Many discussions afterwards occurred at the Board, and a great many propositions were made; but it was not necessary at that stage of the proceedings to trouble the House by describing them. The final resolution to which the Board came was, that under the then existing circumstances it could not exercise that due supervision over the schools which was requisite, and therefore they must cease to be treated as National schools. He must now mention what occurred in the House on that subject last year. The removal of the Rev. Mr. O'Keeffe was the only one of those facts then before the House, and his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouvorie), on the Report of Supply, moved a reduction of the Vote for National Education in Ireland with the object of calling the attention of the House to the action taken by the Commissioners in that case, and also of censuring that action. The House was not very fully attended at the time. His right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and he himself took part in the discussion. They stated explicitly that they were then not able entirely to support the action adopted by the Board, or to coincide with the view it had taken of its duty; but believing that it had proceeded in perfect faith, and looking at the great services which it had rendered, they said they thought it was highly inexpedient for the House to pass any censure upon the Commissioners. They further said that as it appeared the case would be brought before a legal tribunal, and as a Court of Law might probably pronounce some decision which would affect the status of the Rev. Mr. O'Keeffe as parish priest of Callan, they were not prepared then to recommend the Board to reverse the decision it had come to, but to wait for the judgment which might be delivered by a Court of Law, and to take whatever action might then be necessary in reference to the case. That was the position of the Government, and that position they had maintained up to the present time. Well, in that state of facts, the right 2026 hon. Member for Kilmarnock having moved for all the Papers and Correspondence relating to the case, had placed on the Journals of the House, a Notice, the effect of which—and he had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman intended it to have that effect—was a direct Vote of Censure upon the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland for the course they had pursued in that matter. That Motion was postponed at his (the Marquess of Hartington's) request, pending the production of further Papers, which would be laid on the Table in a very few days, but which would not materially alter the state of the facts as he had just given them. Well, the Commissioners—or a majority of them, at any rate—finding that a Resolution was about to be proposed in that House censuring their conduct, not knowing what the decision of the House might be on that Motion, came to the conclusion that they ought to be afforded some means of stating their own case and being heard, before the House of Commons was asked to agree to such a Motion. The Commissioners felt that, of all the parties concerned in that case, they alone were without any authorized or accredited representative in that Assembly. The Rev. Mr. O'Keeffe was most ably represented, and his interests, he was sure, would be thoroughly taken care of by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock. The Government might also be supposed to be capable of defending its own action. If Cardinal Cullen could be regarded as a party to that case, he would, no doubt, have advocates in that House to vindicate his share in the matter. It might be well that he should state briefly what the position of the National Board was. No doubt the Board were, to a certain extent, under the control of the Government of the day. They held their offices during pleasure, and if the Government of the day were of opinion that they could not support the policy the Commissioners were pursuing, it was, of course, competent to the Government to resort to the extreme measure of removing them, and appointing others in their stead. To that extent, the Commissioners were a Department under the control of the Government. But the Chief Secretary was not a member of the Board; he had nothing to do with their ordinary administration; he was not aware of what 2027 was done by them until after it had been done; and therefore, excepting on important matters of policy, in regard to which a change of system would, of course, be communicated by the Commissioners to the Government of the day, the latter could not be held responsible, and the Chief Secretary could not be deemed in any sense the organ in that House of the Commissioners. Finding themselves, then, in the position he had described, the Commissioners, or the majority of the Commissioners, had agreed to a memorial which he would read to the House verbatim. It was as follows:—The undersigned Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, having regard to the grave misstatements of facts and motives which have been circulated widely with reference to the course they have adopted in the case of the Rev. Robert O'Keeffe, express their earnest wish for a full inquiry before a Parliamentary Committee, as to the circumstances which induced and have followed his dismissal from the position of manager of five National Schools at Callan, and the removal of four of these schools from the roll of the National Board. They desire to be heard before a decision is pronounced on their public conduct; and claim the opportunity of defence as justly due to them, and to the great interests which may be compromised, should error and misrepresentation be permitted to prevail in a controversy vitally affecting the welfare of Ireland.That communication was sent to him, and it was signed by an absolute majority, or by 13 out of the whole 20 Commissioners.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
asked what were the names attached to that resolution, and the date on which it was passed?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, it was not a resolution proposed at the Board. He had stated that it was a memorial; but he was quite willing to call it anything that his hon. Friend opposite might wish. It was a communication that had been made through him to the Government, with the intention of being made known to the House, and it was received by him in the course of last week. He would mention by-and-by the names of those by whom it was signed. On receiving that communication the Government thought that when a body such as that asked for an inquiry before their case was decided upon, it was almost, if not absolutely impossible to refuse them the inquiry which they requested. Whatever might 2028 be the nature or the functions of a Board whose conduct was sought to be censured, the House, he believed, would hesitate in passing a Vote of Censure upon them before it allowed them to be heard if they asked for that privilege. And when they looked at the character and position of the persons composing the National Board he believed the House would be less inclined to censure them before giving them the opportunity they asked for. In the Amendment to the present Motion which the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock had placed on the Paper it was implied that all the facts were already in the possession of the House. Well, that might be so. The facts, he admitted, as far as the printed Papers were concerned, were already before the House; but when they came to discuss the merits of that question he was much mistaken if a large number of hon. Members who discussed, and a still larger number of those who voted upon it, would not be more influenced in the decision they came to by the articles they might have read in the newspapers, by the ex parte statements which might have been made on the one side or the other, than by a careful examination of the dry facts contained in the official documents before the House. It would be seen by the memorial which he had read that the Commissioners referred to misstatements which they said had been made, and it could not, he thought, be denied that grave imputations had been cast upon some of their body. It was, in his opinion, quite open to the Commissioners to allege that the public mind had been prejudiced against them, and that they were desirous not only of bringing the facts of the case under the notice of the House, but also of laying before it the grounds on which they had acted. He would read to the House the names of the Commissioners by whom the memorial had been signed, and they were names which he believed would carry with them as great weight as any which could be selected in Ireland. He did not, however, wish to urge that as a reason why the House should give a decision in favour of the Commissioners. He had no doubt that, whatever the weight and position of the majority of them might be, the House, if, after full inquiry, it came to the conclusion that they had acted unjustly or under a 2029 wrong impression, would not be deterred from censuring them. When, at the same time, it was found that some of the most respectable men in Ireland asked for inquiry, and when their names were such as to preclude all suspicion of their having been actuated by sectarian or party spirit, the House would, he felt assured, pause before it condemned them before hearing what they had to say in their defence. The names of the 13 Commissioners who had signed the memorial were as follows:—Lord Kildare, who was the senior Commissioner but one of the National Board, and also Chancellor of the Queen's University; Lord Monck, who was one of the Church Temporalities Commissioners; the Lord Chancellor of Ireland; the Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas; and the Lord Chief Baron, who were both members of the Senate of the Queen's University; Judge Long field, who was a Protestant, and to some extent a representative of the disestablished Church in Ireland; Mr. Justice Fitzgerald; Rev. Dr. Henry, who was President of the Queen's College at Belfast, who was a Presbyterian minister, mid. a member of the Senate of the Queen's University, and who could not be supposed to be actuated by any strong sectarian views in favour of the Roman Catholics; Mr. Gibson, Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Donegal, who was also a Presbyterian, and who, he believed, sat for some time in that House as Member for Belfast—that gentleman was a member of the Senate of the Queen's University, and placed upon the Commission for the purpose of representing the interests of the Presbyterian Church; Mr. Lentaigne, Inspector General of Prisons; Mr. J. O'Hagan, Mr. J. A. Dease, and Mr. P. J. Keenan. He had not read those names to the House because of the weight of authority which they might command, but because he thought it would be altogether unprecedented in the history of the House if it were to condemn such a body without inquiry. There was another consideration to which he also wished to call attention. The House was perfectly aware of the great services which had been rendered to the cause of education by the National Board in Ireland. The Board had been in existence for more than 40 years, and they had carried into execution the great scheme of National Education which 2030 had been proposed by the late Lord Derby—perhaps not in accordance with the wishes of all parties, but with singular success. Under their administration the schools of the National Board had been scattered over the whole of Ireland in the most populous as well as the most remote districts, and in those which were Protestant as well as those which were purely Roman Catholic, they had been successful in enlisting the willing co-operation of the Roman Catholic clergy, and more recently of the clergy of the Protestant and Presbyterian persuasions. That, he maintained, was a very great measure of success consequent on their administration. It was idle for him to disguise that the rejection of the Motion which he was about to make, and the passing of a Vote of Censure on the Board would lead to its immediate disruption. That, however, he did not mean to urge as a reason why the House should not ultimately pronounce such a decision as it might deem right upon their conduct. Whatever might be the disadvantage attending the disruption of the Board, the House would, of course, if it were of opinion that they had acted unjustly, not hesitate as to the opinion which it should pronounce. At the same time the disruption of the Board and the termination of the present system of National Education in Ireland was no light matter and any resolution leading to that result the House would, he had no doubt, adopt with great regret. He did not mean to say that the system of united education might not be carried out under some other administration; but if the Board were censured without inquiry the House must not shirk the consequences of their disruption and the destruction of the national system of education, which for a period of 40 years had been conducted with great success. In conclusion, he would remind the House that it would labour under a very mistaken impression if it were to suppose that the disruption of the Board would be a severe blow against the powerful influence of what was known as the Ultramontane party in Ireland. That party had never looked favourably on the system of National Education. From its very foundation up to the present moment it had been denounced by Dr. M'Hale, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, and nothing, he believed, would 2031 give that Prelate greater pleasure than to hear that the National Board had been condemned. Cardinal Cullen, too, could not, he thought, be claimed as a supporter by the advocates of that system. The fact was that those who were in favour of it were the moderate Roman Catholics in Ireland. The Protestants, who had held back from it for a time, had also become its adherents; and, under those circumstances, it was clear that it was to the Ultramontane party that encouragement would be given if that House were by its vote to destroy the National Board. It was a mistake, he might add, to suppose that the Motion which he was about to make was intended for the purpose of delay. All that the Commission asked for was to be heard, and it could not take the proposed Committee a very long time to hear what the majority and the minority of the body had to say. It was possible, also, that Mr. O'Keeffe might wish to be examined before the Committee, and that a few witnesses would have to be called with reference to matters of rule and practice. It was quite impossible, however, that the investigation could be so protracted as to prevent his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock from bringing forward his Motion at a later period of the Session. Besides, he had the authority of his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government for saying that if there were any difficulty in obtaining a day for the discussion of that Motion the Government would take care that one should be provided. He would merely observe further that he could hardly suppose the House would reject the proposal which he had to make, which really was one the acceptance of which was a matter of pure fairness and justice to the Commissioners. The noble Marquess concluded by moving the appointment of the Committee.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report to the House the circumstances of the dismissal by the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, of the Reverend Robert O'Keeffe from the office of Manager of the Callan Male, Female, and Infant National Schools, and the Newtown and Coolagh National Schools, by their Order the 23rd day of April 1872, and of the removal of the said Schools from the Roll of National Schools by their Order the 7th day of January 1873."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
§ MR. BOUVERIE,
in rising to move, as an Amendment—That this House, having partly already before it, and having partly ordered to be laid before it, Copies of all Minutes and Proceedings, and of all Correspondence of the Board of National Education in Ireland, relating to the Schools at Callan or to the Reverend Robert O'Keeffe, do pass to the Orders of the Day,said, that the statement of the noble Lord was characterized by his usual candour and fairness, both with respect to this and his (Mr. Bouverie's) Motion for a future day. The noble Lord alleged that the effect of his present Amendment and of the Motion which stood in his name for a future day, would, if carried, be to destroy the national system of education in Ireland—which was an alarming prospect to hold out. That allegation might have well been made as an argument in answer to his Motion of Tuesday next, but it was no reply to the Amendment he was about to move. He wished to deny at the outset that in moving this Amendment to the Motion of the noble Lord he had any sectarian or party feeling in this matter, and no one would regret more than he should if such feelings were imported into this question. Indeed, it was most unnecessary, because the division list of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland on the Resolutions submitted to their consideration, and also the Papers, showed the question was not one of religious feeling or of a sectarian character. His noble Friend spoke of his being the representative of Mr. O'Keeffe. He could assure the noble Lord that he stood there not as the representative of any person, sect, or party, but solely in the interests of justice, equity, and public prudence. It was not a Protestant gentleman who had first brought this question under his notice, but a distinguished Roman Catholic, who had asked him to look over the Rev. Mr. O'Keeffe's Petition to the House and see whether it was correctly drawn up according to the forms of the House. Having read through the Petition be had been led to look into the Papers connected with the case, and the result had been that he had come to the conclusion that the Commissioners of Education in Ireland, distinguished as they were, and worthy of all commendation in their personal character, had, in this instance, been guilty of an incredible 2033 amount of injustice and imprudence. Turning to the immediate question before the House, he complained of the manner in which the noble Lord had treated him in this matter by taking a step which was not in accordance with the usual practice of the House. His Amendment was somewhat old in its form, which was now very rarely used; but it had the great advantage of permit-tin the House to put aside a Motion as ill-timed without expressing any opinion whatever on its merits. In support of the propriety of the course he had taken in making such a Motion, he begged to quote the authority of Lord Eversley, who had expressed surprise to him on more than one occasion that it was not more frequently resorted to, as it afforded an admirable mode of dealing by way of postponement with a question upon which the House was anxious not to express any decided opinion. He was satisfied that he could not be accused of laches in this matter. He brought the subject before the House last year, and the statement of facts he then ventured to make was of so convincing a character that neither the noble Lord nor the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government were able to face it, but contented themselves with merely appealing to the House not to destroy the Commission by voting for the Motion he then proposed. Since that time other transactions in connection with this matter had occurred, which he proposed to narrate to the House—although the noble Marquess had entirely passed over them. On the 7th of February, the very day after Parliament had re-assembled for the present Session, he moved for Returns of all the Papers connected with the case. Those Returns were not laid upon the Table of the House until March, and then a considerable time elapsed before they were printed and placed in the hands of hon. Members. On the 22nd of April he gave Notice of his intention to bring this subject forward on the 20th of May, and on the 8th of May the noble Lord, who up to that time had evinced no desire whatever of instituting any inquiry into the matter—and, indeed, he said he thought that everything that could be inquired into in relation to it was fully before the House—came down and gave Notice of this Motion, which was in point of fact an Amendment upon his (Mr. Bouverie's) 2034 Motion which amounted to a Vote of Censure upon the Commissioners, and which stood upon the Paper in his name for the 20th instant. Although he had had considerable experience in that House, he could not recollect any instance of a Motion of this kind being dealt with in this way by those having charge of the Business of that House. He did not think that the noble Marquess had intentionally brought forward his Motion to-night in order to put aside his Motion on Tuesday, but that would be its effect at all events. Perhaps the House would allow him to observe that the effect of this Motion upon his own was this—that while it was in truth an Amendment to his Motion the forms of the House would prevent him from bringing forward his own Motion as an Amendment to the noble Lord's. In fact, he was quite precluded from bringing forward his own Motion before the day he had intended, because the Papers in relation to the case upon which it was founded, and which the noble Lord had promised to lay upon the Table of the House had not yet been presented.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
observed, that the Papers to which the right hon. Gentleman alluded had been presented.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, if that were the case they must have been presented within the last 24 hours, and that if they had got into the possession of the public Press they had not yet reached the hands of hon. Members. By the course he had thought fit to take, the noble Lord had gained a great advantage over him. He was not familiar like his noble Friend with the sport at New market; but he had heard that occasionally a practice was resorted to there which was called "roping," and he had an idea that it consisted of driving an adversary's horse against the ropes so as to spoil its chance of winning. He rather thought that in the present case he had been "roped,"—quite unintentionally, of course—by the noble Lord. The noble Lord had said that this Motion of his was not intended for purposes of delay. That might be so; but no sensible man could vote for the Motion without feeling that its necessary effect would be to cause delay. The noble Lord had stated that the object of the Select Committee he had moved for was to hear what the 20 2035 Commissioners, and what those who were opposed to them, and perhaps what Mr. O'Keeffe himself, had to say in the matter. All he could say was that if the Committee was to enter fully into a dispute between 20 Irish gentlemen and an exasperated Roman Catholic Irish priest, and had to hear them and probably some Irish Members into the bargain, the noble Lord must be a very sanguine man if he thought that this matter would be at an end within a reasonable time before the Session terminated. When a discussion was before the House with respect to Maynooth many years ago, Mr. Vincent Scully, the then Member for Tipperary, after having occupied the whole of a Wednesday afternoon sitting, remarked, when the debate stood adjourned at a quarter to 6 o'clock, that he had then spoken upon four points out of the 12, of which his speech was to consist, and that he would reserve the other eight points for a future debate. Hon. Members might, therefore, judge what probability there was of a controversy of this sort being speedily concluded. What was the meaning of this proposed inquiry? The noble Lord had admitted that the facts of the case were all before the House, and it was upon the facts that the House would be called upon to determine the question. The noble Lord had gone through the facts very briefly; but he would go through them a little more in detail, because they were important. He should commence with the resolution of the Commissioners of the 23rd of April of last year. Mr. O'Keeffe having been suspended by Cardinal Cullen because he had brought an action in Her Majesty's Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland, the fact of his suspension was communicated to the Irish Board of Education. It also appeared that he had been dismissed from his office as chaplain to the workhouse at Callan. The Commissioners of the Poor Laws in Ireland did what he should have thought all just and rational persons would have done when a charge was made against a man affecting his position and character—they communicated with Mr. O'Keeffe with regard to the announcement that had been made to them, and they asked him what he had to say on the subject. They did not indeed pay much attention to his reply; but the Education Board, not having taken 2036 that course, and having dismissed him without any communication, he (Mr. Bouverie) was entitled to assume that if the rev. gentleman had been heard he might have satisfied them that be had good grounds for what he had done, and ought not to have been suspended. Mr. O'Keeffe then had no knowledge of his suspension as manager of these schools until the Board communicated to him that he had been suspended. That suspension was carried by a resolution which the House would, he hoped, allow him to read. It was passed on the 23rd of April. He ought, however, to explain that at the previous fortnightly meeting the minority on the Board had proposed that a communication should be made to Father O'Keeffe that he had been suspended. The matter was thus noticed in the Minutes on the 9th of April—The Right Hon. Mr. Justice Fitzgerald moves—'That the consideration of the Rev. W. Martin's letter be postponed to this day fortnight, and that no reply be given in the meantime.' Lord O'Hagan (the Lord Chancellor) seconds this motion. The Right Hon. Mr. Justice Morris proposes as an amendment' That a copy of the Rev. Mr. Martin's letter be sent to the Rev. Robert O'Keeffe, the present manager of the Callan National Schools.' The Rev. J. H. Jellett, F.T.C.D., seconds this amendment. On a division, the amendment was declared lost by a majority of one.On the 23rd of April it wasproposed by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, and seconded by Lord O'Hagan (Lord Chancellor) that 'the certificate of the Roman Catholic Coadjutor Bishop of Ossory be received and acted on by the Board until the suspension therein mentioned shall have been removed or declared invalid by a competent tribunal.' It was proposed as an amendment by Mr. Justice Morris, and seconded by Mr. Waldron, that—'Before any action should be taken on the letter of the Rev. Mr. Martin to the Board, or on the letter of Dr. Moran, Coadjutor Bishop of Ossory to the Resident Commissioner, the Rev. Mr. O'Keeffe get the opportunity of knowing the nature of the application made, and of offering an explanation.'He had had no Irish experience; but he thought that Irishmen were celebrated for their love of justice, and he should have supposed that such a proposal as that of the 9th of April made before any 20 gentlemen in the world would have commanded universal assent, and that before they proceeded to dispossess Mr. O'Keeffe they would have communicated the charge made against him. The Commissioners, however, adopted the resolution of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, 2037 and did as much as was in their power to oust Mr. O'Keeffe. It was a remarkable thing that according to their own rules the Commissioners had no power to remove the manager of a school. They were acting ultra vires, and did what they had no more business to do than if they attempted by resolution to remove the Speaker from the Chair of that House. That was the first act, and he had thought it his duty to bring it under the notice of the House. It ought not to be lost sight of that this resolution of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald's was only carried by a majority of one, and one of these gentlemen was the counsel of Cardinal Cullen in his action against Mr. O'Keeffe. Mr. Martin, who was appointed parish priest in the place of Mr. O'Keeffe, was named manager of the schools by the Board. Mr. O'Keeffe was still recognized by the parishioners as their priest, and was accepted by the parents, children, and teachers as manager of the schools. He could not, however, draw the salaries which were always paid through the manager, and the Board no longer recognized Mr. O'Keeffe as manager. On the 5th of November Mr. Justice Lawson, thinking that the existing state of things was not creditable to the Board, and having been one of the minority, moved to repeal the resolution of April 23rd, but was again defeated. The Board had by the decision of that House obtained a locus pœnitentiœ and this would have been a capital opportunity for the Board, if they had chosen, to repeal their previous resolution. They, however, refused. Mr. Justice Lawson felt that a great hardship was being inflicted upon the teachers and the scholars, and he moved on the 17th of December that the Treasurer should be allowed to pay the teachers directly without the intervention of the manager. The Board, however, by a majority of of 12 to 5, refused to agree to this proposal. The minority were not satisfied, and Mr. Justice Morris, a Roman Catholic gentleman, on the 7th of January again brought forward a resolution that the Callan schools should be allowed to go on under the management of Mr. O'Keeffe. Upon that Mr. Justice Long-field moved to strike the Callan schools altogether off the rolls of the national schools. The latter resolution was carried by 10 to 6, and the result was that because Mr. O'Keeffe refused to 2038 allow himself to be denounced as a liar—by his own curate in his own parish church, and because he brought an action against his curate in a Civil Court and recovered damages, and because he was for bringing that action suspended by Cardinal Cullen on Papal authority, that therefore the teachers and children of the Callan schools were to be deprived of all public assistance. This astounding conclusion was another illustration of the old proverb—"That a bad beginning makes a bad ending." But that was not all. It appeared that Mr. Justice Long field, a man of great ability and eminence, wrote a letter to the Board defending the course pursued by the majority, which would appear in the Papers. In this he suggested that the Board might be disposed to take an altered view of the case if an entirely new application were made for admission of the schools on the roll. It was rather an odd thing to English minds—if his Irish Friends would allow him to say so—that disagreements and differences having occurred among the Board, the dissenting minority and some of the majority as well should write letters in order that they might appear on the Minutes of the Board—a proceeding as irregular as if the Members of that House addressed letters to the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair about the matters in dispute in the House to be published in their Records. Mr. O'Keeffe thus appeared to have received a hint to present himself de novo to the Board as if he had been a stranger in these transactions, and as if he had started afresh as the manager of these schools, and that then the Commissioners would have to consider whether his schools should be taken on under this fresh application. Mr. O'Keeffe took the hint. An application was made, and an Inspector was sent in the regular way to look at these schools. He reported in their favour, and the Commissioners were bound, under ordinary circumstances, to make him manager of these schools. What did they do On the 29th of April the Board passed a resolution—That the application of the Rev. Robert O'Keeffe for aid to the Newtown and Callan schools be not complied with, inasmuch as he was removed from the management of those schools by our order of the 23rd of April, 1872, until his suspension as parish priest of Callan, mentioned in that order, should have been re- 2039 moved or declared invalid by a competent tribunal, and inasmuch as it does not appear that such suspension has been removed or declared invalid by a competent tribunal.The Board declared that until his suspension as a priest by Cardinal Cullen had been removed or declared invalid by a competent tribunal, he should not be reinstated. So that this gentleman once tarred with this brush of suspension, became a pariah and an outlaw. The Cardinal had damned him in this life, at any rate. He had no rights—he was not to be treated as a British subject, and when he came in the ordinary and regular way before the Board and asked to be appointed as manager of these schools, the Board told him—"You have been suspended by a competent tribunal—by Cardinal Cullen as the Legate of the Pope—and as long as you are thus suspended we will have nothing to say to you." He was not prepared to allow a body of lay gentlemen, who, as a public body, had the administration of public money to the extent of £500,000 per annum to act in this manner towards parents and children in Ireland. All these facts appeared in the Papers, although the noble Lord had thought it unnecessary to touch upon them, and these were the facts which the House had to decide upon. "Oh but!" said the noble Lord, "we have a memorial from the Commissioners"—not, the House would observe, from the Commission. There was some confusion in the noble Lord's statement upon this point. There might be a memorial from the 13 Commissioners who formed the majority, but not from the Commission, and he was not at this moment asking the House to censure the Commission. The Commissioners made a terrible mistake. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] In his opinion they did make a terrible mistake, because they acted contrary to the first principles of justice. He should not ask the House to censure individuals, but to censure the Board which carried on business and which had a common seal, and the whole proceedings of which must be in writing. How was a Board to be heard viva voce before a Committee? The proceedings of a Board must be entirely a matter of record, must consist of written Minutes, and no one person, or two or three or any number of members of that Board could by any possibility, according to strict Parliamentary 2040 practice, speak as the Board. Two or three men, although the most eminent members of the Board, could never be construed to be really the Board itself. If the Board as such wished to make a defence of the Board, his noble Friend, instead of moving for a Committee of Inquiry—which was, in reality, a substitute for the old-fashioned practice of examining persons at the Bar of the House—should have informed those members who had applied to the Government that the only way in which a defence could be made by them was by putting their statement in a Petition from the Board. That would have been the proper course to pursue. He had observed his noble Friend had carefully avoided saying that he was prepared to defend the Commissioners. His noble Friend said they were not represented in the House. But as there had been Ministers of State who were prepared to defend public Boards when they were right, he concluded that his noble Friend was not prepared to defend the Board, believing they were not in the right, although he was willing that an opportunity should be afforded to some of them of being heard before a Committee. But his noble Friend had lost sight of the fact that one of his Colleagues, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, was a member of the Board, and that two other members of the Board—Lord Kildare and Lord Monek—were both Peers of Parliament, and at any rate in the other House had the fullest opportunity, if they wished, to state their case and repudiate those statements which it appeared had created so much distress in their mind. When the House was by the admission of his noble Friend in possession of all the facts of the case—and Notice had been given of a Motion of Censure upon the Commissioners arising upon those facts—was it not almost an absurdity to interpose with a Motion to enable a portion of that Board to be heard before a Committee? It did seem extraordinary that these eminent, learned and distinguished gentlemen, who raised such a clamour to be heard because they had been accused in the House of Commons, and in newspapers with which the House had nothing to do, refused absolutely to hear what Father O'Keeffe had to say. Not only did they refuse to let him have an opportunity of being heard, but they would not even give 2041 him notice that he was to be dealt with. [Cheers, in which Mr. Gladstone joined.] He was glad he had the assent of his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. He knew that he had the judgment and feeling of his right hon. Friend with him on this matter. His right hon. Friend would never have made the speech which he made last year if he at any rate had not been convinced that the Commissioners had committed a most fearful mistake. At the time of the debate on this subject last year, he (Mr. Bouverie) said, that the Commissioners, by treating the suspension as valid "until it was removed by a competent tribunal," were putting themselves in a most terrible dilemma, because the question of the competency of the suspension would come before the Court of Queen's Bench. The Court of Queen's Bench had since decided that the suspension was illegal, and that the jurisdiction which Cardinal Cullen had attempted to exercise over this priest had no foundation in the common or the statute law of this country. Was that a decision by a competent tribunal? What interpretation were the Commissioners going to put upon that? They were in the dilemma of having either to restore Father O'Keeffe in the face of Cardinal Cullen's suspension, or they must insist that the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench was not worth the paper it was written upon, and they must uphold Cardinal Cullen against the Law Courts of the country. One of the Commissioners, Dr. Henry, had written a letter to the Board, not being himself present when the decision was given, expressing his approbation of the contemplated suspension of Father O'Keeffe, in which he stated that—Mr. O'Keeffe may have appealed to legal tribunals, but that does not alter our position as Commissioners, for it is clear that no legal decision, or any issue that would be sustained in a Court of justice, could reinstate him as parish priest contrary to ecclesiastical jurisdiction.If the view which Dr. Henry took of the duty of the Commissioners was correct in the administration of public funds granted by the State, they were subservient serfs of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Cardinal Cullen—of that ecclesiastical jurisdiction which had been decided by the highest criminal authority in Ireland to be utterly illegal. That was really a very grave question, and 2042 he wished before he sat down to remind the House that he was not asking them now to decide upon it. He had gone into the facts more fully than the noble Marquess, because he thought it of importance that the House should be in possession of them. The noble Marquess's Motion was simply one which would cause interminable delay, and was not called for by the justice of the case. It was not necessary to hear individual Commissioners for the House to decide whether or not to pass a Vote of Censure upon the acts of the Commission as a body, and if the House was prepared to give the "go-by" to this conduct of the National Education Commission, in the fear that by passing the Vote of Censure he should propose on a future day they would destroy that Commission, all he could say was—and he hoped the House would agree with him—that, if their conduct in the case of Father O'Keeffe was to be taken as an example of the principles upon which they were to conduct their business, and deal as between man and man with the subjects of Her Majesty, the sooner that Commission came to an end the better. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, having partly already before it, and having partly ordered to be laid before it, Copies of all Minutes and Proceedings, and of all Correspondence of the Board of National Education in Ireland, relating to the Schools at Callan or to the Reverend Robert O'Keeffe, do pass to the Orders of the Day,"—(Mr. Bouverie,)
§ MR. CARDWELL
desired to say a very few words on the question before the House. His right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) told the House, in his concluding sentences, that he did not ask for an immediate judgment upon the main question involved; but in some parts of his speech his right hon. Friend addressed remarks to the House—and in some parts of the House there was a great willingness to receive the observations with applause, if not with excitement—which would have been suitable to an occasion on which they were arguing the main ques- 2043 tion. What Her Majesty's Government now said was that they were not prepared to decide the question now, and they claimed for those whose conduct was impugned that fair hearing and that amount of justice which, as far as his experience had gone, was never refused in an assembly of Englishmen, even upon a question of religious excitement. His right hon. Friend had accused, not individual members of the Commission, but the whole Commission of being guilty of injustice, imprudence, and folly, and had stated that they were no longer fit to dispense the public money or to deal with the great questions which came before the Board of Education in Ireland. These were serious charges, and ought not to be decided upon under any circumstances which should leave the decision open afterwards to impeachment or dispute. But under what circumstances did his right hon. Friend ask the House to arrive at a conclusion? He said, in effect, that, as the Commissioners did not allow a hearing to Father O'Keeffe, they, in turn, should have no hearing granted to them; which was to say that in this solemn matter he wished the House to imitate conduct which he himself condemned. His right hon. Friend also said, the Commissioners were no longer fit to perform those duties they had hitherto discharged with such signal benefit to Ireland. Further, his right hon. Friend said—and he could scarcely believe his ears when he heard the words—that as three of the Commissioners—the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Lord Kildare, and Lord Monck—had seats in the other House of Parliament, they had an opportunity of making a Parliamentary defence. It was the first time in his life that he had heard the statement that accusations in the House of Commons were to be answered by speeches in the House of Lords. The question for that House was not what should be done hereafter by the House of Lords, but what the House of Commons should now do. They were bound to proceed with deliberation and fairness, and in order to this it was necessary to take such preliminary steps as should render their judgment indisputable and unimpeachable when it had been arrived at. His right hon. Friend objected to the demand of these 13 gentlemen, because it was not the act of the whole Commission; but did his 2044 right hon. Friend forget that it was the demand of all the members of the Commission whose judgment had been assailed? And what was the demand? It set forth that the signataries, Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, having regard to the grave misstatement of facts and motives which had been circulated widely with reference to the course they had adopted in the case of the Rev. Father O'Keeffe, claimed to be heard before a decision was pronounced on their public conduct, and claimed the opportunity of defence so justly due to them, and to the great interest which must be compromised in a controversy so vitally affecting the welfare of Ireland. Would the House refuse this demand, and arrive at a conclusion condemnatory of the conduct of the memorialists before they were clear that they were not acting upon grave misstatements, and in the absence of further information as to what had been done? Such a course had never before been taken by the House of Commons, and he hoped it would not be pursued now. His noble Friend asked the House to appoint a Committee, not for the purpose of delay, but in order that the statements of the Commissioners should be before them before arriving at a judgment on the question involved. It was not right, therefore, now to discuss the merits of the case, and prejudice, by anticipatory appeals to feeling, the solemn judgment which the House must pronounce when all the facts had been brought out, and which should be so formed as to be sound, impartial, and unimpeachable.
§ DR. BALL
said, his reason for opposing the appointment of the Committee was not altogether in accordance with those which had already been assigned either in the House or out of it. Nor did his view of this case agree with much that had been put forward in public discussion, and therefore he rose early in the debate to put before the House what he ventured humbly to submit was the true view of this question. He wished first to clear the subject of one incident which occurred at the commencement, and which was the only matter before the House when he spoke upon it last year. At the time to which he referred the only question before the House was the refusal of Mr. Justice Morris's application that Mr. 2045 O'Keeffe be informed that the fact of his suspension had been communicated to the Commissioners, and that he be heard with reference to it. On that occasion he pointed out that the refusal to hear Mr. O'Keeffe might be pregnant with very grave consequences, because it was not a case decided upon the ordinary rules and discipline of the Catholic Church, but one which had been decided in an extraordinary and unusual way. He distinctly declined to adopt the principle that a clergyman, whether of the Catholic or Disestablished Church, was not bound to accept the judgment of his Bishop, who had proper jurisdiction over him. But he pointed out that the Commissioners had shut their eyes to the fact that this decision was no exercise of the ordinary authority of the Bishop of Ossory, but was the act of the Cardinal, Archbishop Cullen, and he had also pointed out—because it was a subject of which he was thoroughly master—that in no church in these realms had an Archbishop original jurisdiction in the diocese of another Bishop, and that the jurisdiction could only be by way of appeal. But how stood the case? The instrument of suspension of Cardinal Cullen commenced by reciting that he had been commissioned, not that he was proceeding by consent, but as special Legate direct from Rome. He had shown that Justice Lawson brought that fact before the Commissioners. He had pointed out that that touched a serious question. Here was an individual taking upon himself to exercise authority—reciting that his authority was not by consent nor by his office as Archbishop but by an instrument giving him special authority direct from a foreign Power—to adjudicate upon the property and upon the rights of a British subject. In the Court of Queen's Bench the Lord Chancellor proceeded to plead that that rescript from "Rome" was legal, and gave Cardinal Cullen authority within the British dominions. Mr. Justice O'Brien, one of the Judges, said it was a legal document; but two Catholic Judges—Justices Barry and Fitzgerald—pronounced the document illegal. Illegality was not, however, the whole of it. This was a document that touched the supremacy, and he challenged the contradiction of the Law Officers of the Crown when he said that whatever touched the supremacy was a misde- 2046 meanour in Common Law. Now, let the House see what a hole the Board got themselves into by not asking Mr. O'Keeffe to state his case. The Commissioners had never allowed themselves to be informed of this rescript, or considered whether it was legal or illegal. There were great lawyers on the Board, who, if the matter had been brought before them, might have paused and seen that this was not an ordinary case, and that, therefore, the ordinary precedents did not apply. He had heard it said that a statement he had made to the effect that a person accused should be heard before any proceeding was taken to remove or injuriously affect him applied only to Courts sitting as Courts. On that subject he would quote a recent judgment of Lord Hatherley in a case in which a Board had, as here, removed a person without hearing him. What did Lord Hatherley say?No one would expect to find that such a course had been adopted in any assembly of English people, who were accustomed in some degree to the ordinary principles of justice, although they might hare but a crude idea of its form.The Commissioners were, therefore, in exactly the same position as a Judge when proceeding to deal with a man's status, his office, and his duties. There was too much in the discussion about Cardinal Cullen and Father O'Keeffe, as if the whole question at issue related individually to them. For his part, he could not but think that the interests of the children and of the schools imperatively demanded to be considered. What grounds had the Commissioners for saying—"Let this litigation go on between the Cardinal and the Priest? We will wait till it terminates or until the Cardinal has withdrawn his interdict." When would that be? Why, the question on which the Court of Queen's Bench had given judgment would be brought to the Court of Error, and probably be carried to the House of Lords, and during all that protracted litigation were the schools to be closed, the children uncared for, the interests of education neglected? Were the Commissioners during that long interval practically to say that they would not give 6d. to a number of schools which their own Inspector had reported as being conducted with great success and ability? That was what he par- 2047 ticularly condemned in the conduct of the Commissioners, and it was a matter which needed no inquiry. Mr. Justice Lawson made a proposal which, had it been accepted, would have redressed the whole matter:—"Let Cardinal Cullen and Mr. O'Keeffe continue their litigation; but let us meanwhile pay the teachers and continue the education of the children." One of the Commissioners had intense scruples on the subject, and said—" Oh, the Treasury would never sanction the payment." Well, they wrote to the Treasury, and, to the credit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they were authorized to pay the teachers. Having got that authority, Mr. Justice Lawson saw a way out of the difficulty, and recommended that the teachers should be paid, not through either Father O'Keeffe or the Bishop of Ossory, but through the Inspector, so that the education of the children might be carried on. That proposal was rejected, and the interests of the schools, of the children, and of education were utterly disregarded. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland anxious to maintain the position of the Cardinal—he would be a most ungrateful man if he were not—and the other Commissioners forming the majority—on the part of one of whom, at least, there existed a strong feeling towards Father O'Keeffe—dedined to assent, not manifesting by such a course that interest in education which might be expected from a Board to which was committed the well-being and elevation of the children. He admitted that in ordinary cases rules were to be followed; but it was a true remark of Mr. Burke's with regard to official rules, that there were times when it was dangerous to adhere too strictly to them—when much greater evils might be incurred by not having the manliness and boldness to shape out the course which the circumstances required. The present was a peculiar case. There was no precedent for an Irish priest venturing to come into conflict with a Legate from Rome. There was no precedent for a Roman Catholic priest having the courage to proclaim, as Mr. O'Keeffe had done, that In cœnâa Domini was not the law of England, founding himself upon evidence given by a Roman Catholic Bishop before a Committee of the House of Lords. When a great crisis of that kind arose—when vast interests were at stake 2048 —when a conflict touching the supremacy of the Crown on the one hand, and the status and rights of a Roman Catholic ecclesiastic who claimed to exercise a certain jurisdiction as the Pope's Legato on the other, was pending, it was no time for peddling. It was not the ordinary case of a Bishop suspending a curate for downright disobedience to ecclesiastical law and rule. The Commissioners ought to have felt that it was no ordinary case, and in the interests of education have acted as the independent representatives of British protection and British justice. They ought, too, to have remembered that Mr. O'Keeffe had rights in his individual capacity as proprietor of two schools. He was absolute owner of ground and buildings. Suppose a Member of the House of Lords who happened to be a clergyman was involved in some transactions in reference to schools on his private estate, could the Commissioners refuse to deal with him in his capacity of owner because he was also a clergyman? How could they escape from their own rules in reference to that part of the question? They refused to recognize his right as a private owner because he had been suspended as a priest, and because there seemed to be a determination on their part to stand by the assertion of the ecclesiastical supremacy and by the authority of Cardinal Cullen. Was there anything to be gained by the Committee asked for by the noble Lord? They were to inquire and report to the House the circumstances of the dismissal of Father O'Keeffe. Why, there were no circumstances connected with the dismissal but those he had stated. He was dismissed under an instrument in the hands of the Legate from Rome giving authority to that effect. All the resolutions of the Commissioners were founded upon that. They were not asked to inquire whether the rules of the Board were or were not wise—whether in the interest of the children they ought to be altered. He agreed with his right hon. Friend that with the conduct of the Commissioners as individuals they had nothing whatever to do. The question was, whether their final vote, given in their public capacity, was or was not prudent? On that subject what information could they obtain that they had not before them? They had a Paper of great ability by Judge Long field, defending the Commissioners. 2049 They had an exhaustive Paper of 40 pages by the Lord Chief Baron, in which was evidenced that regard for minuteness of investigation which characterized him. On the other hand, they had a Paper of three pages by Mr. Justice Lawson. If the Judges were in conflict, would it not be wiser and more seemly that such conflict should be upon paper, and not be extended to viva voce evidence before a Committee? The question had been now open upwards of a year. Paper after Paper had been produced; Notice after Notice had been given. Was it desirable that they should have the Lord Chancellor giving evidence on one side and Mr. Justice Morris on the other? He could conceive no course more likely to produce discord and those feelings which the judicial mind was incapable of entertaining in the serene atmosphere the Judges breathed. The arguments which had been addressed to the House from the Government bench were directed against the Motion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), which was not now before them, and showed no necessity for the inquiry asked for. They went to show how extraordinarily cautious the House ought to be, lest by placing distinguished men under censure they should be driven to resignation. No one was less disposed than he was to say or do anything calculated to lead to such a result. There were in the majority and in the minority on the Board men who were his most intimate personal friends. Could any one believe that, having lived on such terms of intimacy with them as he had, he would be a party to any expression of opinion tending to lead to the resignation of any of them, than which no result was more to be deprecated? But this he said—a great crisis had arisen; it was desirable and necessary that no procrastination should be allowed; that the interest of education should be upheld; and that the question should be taken out of the arena into which they were now sending it—the arena of personal ambition, personal conflict, and personal discord.
§ MR. COGAN
said, he regretted that attempts had been made to excite religious fanaticism over this question. He would appeal to the fair play of the House not in a case where grave accusations were preferred against men of the highest eminence, who had been discharging im- 2050 portant duties under no ordinary difficulties, to refuse them a hearing on the ground that they had refused to hear Mr. O'Keeffe. He reluctantly refrained from entering on the present occasion into the case and offering, as he believed he could easily do, a conclusive defence of the Commissioners. To do so now would be irrelevant, and beside the question, as were the speeches of his right hon. Friend who had last spoken, and that of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock. The question now was, would the House refuse to allow the Commissioners the justice that they claimed as of right, that they should be allowed to state before a Committee of this House the grounds for the course they had taken, and to show that they had acted according to an established rule, as was evidenced by many precedents applied to Catholic and Protestant clerical managers of schools alike, and to show that the adoption of any other rule must tend to the break up of the system? When that Committee reported would be the time to discuss the merits of the case in the House of Commons. Their uniform rule since the establishment of the Board by Lord Derby had been to require in the case of every clergyman, Protestant or Roman Catholic, a recognition of his ecclesiastical status by his superiors, and never to discuss the grounds on which that recognition was withdrawn, and they were obviously unfit to act as a Court of Appeal in ecclesiastical matters. That line had been consistently followed by Archbishop Whateley and others who were not likely to be the "subservient serfs" of Rome, and the Board of Charitable Bequests had a similar rule, while the statutes of Queen's University provided that a Dean of Residence must have the approval of his ecclesiastical superior. The Poor Law Commissioners, moreover, suspended Mr. O'Keeffe from the chaplaincy of the workhouse 11 weeks before the Education Board took action respecting the schools. Irish Members sitting opposite should consider the difficulties which would arise if Parliament insisted on the abandonment of the rule, and the educational anarchy which would result from the destruction of the great fabric which for 40 years had rendered incalculable service. He deeply regretted that his personal friend, Mr. Justice Lawson should have penned 2051 serious accusations against his colleagues, imputing to them that they were prejudging questions they might some of them have to try as Judges, and suggesting that they were the mere registrars of Ecclesiastical mandates. They should have known that they were men incapable of being actuated by improper fear or mean motives; and as to the vote of Mr. John O'Hagan, it should be remembered that the resolution of the Board conveyed no opinion on the legality or illegality of the ecclesiastical suspension. Had it done so, as was alleged it ought, the objections as to pre-judging questions which might hereafter come before the Judges, would indeed have some foundation, and of itself alone should be a conclusive proof of the wisdom and necessity of the practice the Board adopted. It was important that the schools should have a manager respected by the people and reverenced by the children, and the responsibility for the educational interdict lay with those who by force and unseemly conduct had prevented the continuance of the schools. He was confident that after calm deliberation by a Committee the House would come to a decision honourable to the Commissioners and conducive to the peace and happiness of Ireland.
§ MR. AGAR-ELLIS
said, he thought his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bouverie), after postponing his Motion at the request of the Government, should not be precluded from bringing it forward by this proposal for a Committee. He hoped English and Scotch Members would give no credit to the threat that the condemnation of the Commissioners would result in their resignation and in the destruction of mixed primary education in Ireland.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, that the document which had been read by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary ought not to carry the slightest weight. It was, in fact, a sneaking document. It had been signed by a certain number of the Commissioners behind the backs of the rest. After the Board had said that it was not necessary to have any further inquiry, the Motion now brought forward was not one that should have any weight with the House. The people of England, represented even as they were in that Parliament, would not allow Cardinal Cullen to govern Ireland.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE,
who rose amid cries of "Divide," said: I have no intention of detaining the House more than a few minutes; but as Mr. O'Keeffo has written to me I am anxious to say a few words in his favour—although so intense seems the prejudice of some hon. Members that they cannot understand how a Roman Catholic priest could communicate with me. Well, Mr. O'Keeffe has done so, and he has done it for this reason, I suppose—because he knows that I am likely to understand his case. I have a very few words to say, and they are these: let the House remember what they have to decide, whether Mr. O'Keeffe shall be heard before the body of this House—it is to decide. One of our chief functions here is to hear the grievances of Her Majesty's subjects; and Mr. O'Keeffe, as one of Her Majesty's subjects, holding himself to be aggrieved, appeals to the House of Commons to be heard. Her Majesty's Government propose that Mr. O'Keeffe shall not be heard before this House—if at all—until a Committee has heard the case of the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland. Now I put it to the House, which is the aggrieved party—Mr. O'Keeffe or the Commissioners? And I appeal to the justice of the House not to allow a British subject to be deprived of that right of appeal which is common to Englishmen, because Her Majesty's Government wish to put in a plea in defence of the Commissioners, who have unjustly dealt with this individual. The Government seem to desire to make it appear that they are not responsible for these Commissioners. Have these Commissioners, then, a separate and independent authority of their own? Are they self-existent—independent of the Government of this country? This cannot be so, and I say that Her Majesty's Government have no right to shirk responsibility for the conduct of this Commission. This question has now been before Parliament for more than six months. Last Session we were met with a plea for delay, and the House acceded to that plea. Six, seven, eight, nine months have passed, and again we are asked to delay. What a contrast does the conduct of this House present to that of the Prussian Parliament! We are informed to-day by The Independence Belge that the Prussian Parliament have completed their legislation on this sub- 2053 ject, involving as it does the maintenance of the supremacy of the State, which there, as well as here, has been invaded by the intrusive authority of a foreign Pontiff. The day before yesterday the Emperor of Germany signed the new laws for the defence of the State of Prussia against the invasion of his rights and those of his subjects. You have it admitted by Cardinal Cullen himself that he acts here under an authority which your Courts have declared to be illegal. He has used that authority to the injury of a British subject. He has used that authority to remove Mr. O'Keeffe from the possession and management of property which is avowedly his own. Sir, I do trust, when such a grievance as this, when such a manifest defiance of the law, and when such an invasion of the supremacy of the Crown is not only alleged but admitted, that the House of Commons will not shrink from hearing Mr. O'Keeffe.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 159; Noes 131: Majority 28.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Select Committee appointed, "to inquire into and report to the House the circumstances of the dismissal by the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, of the Reverend Robert O'Keeffe from the office of Manager of the Callan Male, Female, and Infant National Schools, and the Newtown and Coolagh National Schools, by their Order the 23rd day of April 1872, and of the removal of the said Schools from the Roll of National Schools by their Order the 7th day of January 1873.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he had reason to believe that a large number of Members left the House under a misunderstanding. They did not expect that a division would have been taken as early as it had been. That circumstance he regretted very much; but he rose chiefly for the purpose of asking when the Government proposed to move the nomination of the Committee?
said, the only answer he could give was that the Government were anxious to prosecute the inquiry with all possible speed. It would be their duty to lose no time in preparing the materials for the nomination of the Committee, and doing everything in their power to expedite its sitting, with a view to an early Report.
§ COLONEL STUART KNOX
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would also state of what number it is to consist?
said, it was impossible to name a day for the nomination of the Committee until inquiries had been made as to the Members who were willing to serve upon it; but they would not lose an hour in proceeding with the matter so far as it depended upon them. In answer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he might state that, in his opinion, a small Committee would be the one best qualified to prosecute this inquiry with despatch.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
asked whether, when the Committee had reported, the Government would give him, if necessary, a day for bringing the subject before the House in accordance with the promise made by the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland?
Most certainly.And, on May 22, Committee nominated as follows:—Mr. Secretary CARDWELL, Mr. GATHORNE HARDY, Mr. WHITBREAD, Mr. BOURKE, The O'CONOR DON, Dr. LYON PLAYFAIR, and Mr. Canes;—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Three to be the quorum.