HC Deb 21 March 1884 vol 286 cc461-3

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland a Question in relation to the report of a reply of his appearing in The Times of this morning to the Question asked by the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. W. J. Corbet). The Question was— To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the fact that while the Convent National schools are, according to Sir P. J. Keenan, the Resident Commissioner of National Education, 'remarkable fur their efficiency in secular teaching, and especially so for their moral and religious results,' the nuns who teach in them are deprived of the advantages of the increase accorded to classified teachers; and, whether he will inquire into the matter with a view to removing this irregularity? In reply to that Question, the right hon. Gentleman was understood to say that he would not give a definite answer without further communication with Sir Patrick Keenan. The report of the right hon. Gentleman's reply in The Times, however, is of a totally different character, and conveys the impression that there is no hope of redress for a grievance which is felt very strongly in Ireland. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether the answer in The Times was supplied by him or not; and, whether he can explain the difference in the reply as given in the House and the reply published in that newspaper?


Sir, when the hon. Member spoke to me in the Lobby with regard to this matter, I was confused, as I did not remember the exact circumstances. The fact of the matter is, I mislaid the paper on which I had written my reply, which I intended to read to the hon. Member for Wicklow; but I remembered the gist of it, and the substance of the reply as given in the paper and the substance of what was said are practically the same. It is a fact that a week—a few days—ago I answered that this matter had been considered, and it had been decided that the nuns must accept the disadvantage of not being classified. That was the answer I gave a few days ago; but then the hon. Member (Mr. W. J. Corbet) asks another Question, in which he quotes a very strong passage from Sir Patrick Keenan, and upon it I answered that the Government were going to make further inquiries. I think he will find that is what appears in The Times. I mislaid the paper that I intended to read to the House, and, forgetting the exact words, I answered the substance of them, and said that the matter was answered a week ago; but that, in consequence of the quotation made in the Question of the hon. Member, I intended to refer to Dublin for a further Report, and that I intended to wait until I heard from Sir Patrick Keenan.


I understood the right hon. Gentleman distinctly to say that he was waiting for a further Report from Sir Patrick Keenan, without any reference whatever to anything else.


I acknowledge that the reply in The Times is not verbatim of what I said; but it is the substance of it.


Does the right hon. Gentleman say that the report ill The Times was supplied by him?


Yes; the hon. Gentleman drives me rather hard. In consequence of the very large number of Questions that I have to answer, I find it convenient to have the replies in manuscript, and I send them to The Times. In this case I mislaid the written answer, and I gave an extempore answer, which was in substance the same—namely, that I would defer coming to a final judgment in the matter until I had Sir Patrick Keenan's letter.