HC Deb 04 March 1886 vol 302 cc1909-10

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If his attention has been directed to a leading article in The Witness newspaper of the 5th February, the Belfast organ of the Irish Presbyterian Church, headed "Changes in the National Education Office, Dublin," charging the National Board with violating the practice hitherto observed of maintaining the denominational balance between Presbyterians and Episcopalians in appointments to the office of head inspectors, and with appointing the son of the Ex-Secretary to the Board, now a member, a very junior district inspector, to the position of head inspector, passing over fourteen district inspectors of long and efficient service; whether such charges are well founded; if the gentleman now put over the heads of so many of his seniors obtained his original appointment as district inspector, without having been required to undergo the competitive examination by which all inspectors for a lengthened period received their appointments; and, whether such appointment was made when only three Commissioners were present, and in spite of the protest of one of the three?


The Commissioners of National Education inform me that they have recently promoted Mr. Newell, a son of their ex-Secretary, to the post of Head Inspector. Mr. Newell is stated to be a very able and meritorious officer. The post which he now fills is a very important one, and it has never been the practice to make appointments to it solely or mainly on the basis of seniority. The Commissioners have never recognized or sanctioned any such practice or understanding as is implied in the newspaper article referred to by the hon. Member. On the contrary, when such a practice was suggested in 1876 they distinctly declined to adopt it. As a matter of fact, I believe Mr. Newell fills a post vacated by a member of the same Church as himself. The circumstances of Mr. Newell's original appointment as Inspector were exceptional—though not without precedent—in that he was appointed on the result of previous satisfactory examination without being required to undergo a fresh competition. Sixteen Commissioners were present, and the appointment was made unanimously.