HC Deb 14 July 1881 vol 263 cc832-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If he can say why the dates of all the "Statements in reply to or in explanation of Evidence" published along with the Report of the Bessborough Commission, and amounting to 385 separate statements, have been withheld; and, whether the Committee signed their Report without having seen or studied this rebutting evidence?


, in reply, said, his only means of obtaining information to answer the Question had been to apply to the Secretary to the Commission, and probably the House would wish him to read that gentleman's reply. It was as follows:— The principal Report of the Commissioners bears date January 4, 1881. After that date no material alteration was made in it and the date was not altered. It was, however, again considered supplementarily, and separate Reports of the dissenting Commissioners were added to it on January 10. By that time, all the oral and the great bulk of the written statements in reply to, or in explanation of, evidence affecting individuals had been received and considered. The majority had been received and considered by January 4th. The time for receiving such statements was, however, extended for some weeks in order that full opportunity might be given as promised for replies. Many statements were accordingly received subsequently, and were printed by direction of the Commissioners, some of them as late as March. It is invidious to speak of the dates of those statements as having been withheld. The statements were mostly embodied in, or inclosed in, letters to the Commissioners. The dates of those letters, together with any other matter not forming part of the actual statement, were, in the ordinary course, deleted, and the actual statements were copied and sent to the press.


Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that rebutting evidence was received up to March?


I cannot say. I have read the answer as I received it.