HC Deb 08 August 1889 vol 339 cc788-90

I beg to ask the Postmaster General whether it is true, as stated, that a Mr. Haines, belonging to the Wolverhampton Post Office, has been appointed Postmaster of Enniskillen, which office has been vacant for some time past; how long has this gentleman been connected with the Department; and whether he possessed any qualifications for the position; whether there were numerous applicants for the vacancy from some of the most important Irish Post Offices, and whether a number of these applicants were well qualified, and were highly recommended by their respective superior officers for the appointment; whether an Englishman was appointed Postmaster of Ballymena when vacant some months ago, and whether applications for the position were received from many qualified Irish Post Office officials; whether it is the custom to appoint Englishmen to such public offices in Ireland; and, whether Irishmen are eligible for such promotion in England; and when, if ever, such an appointment occurred?


It is the fact that Mr. Haines, who was recently in the Post Office Service at Wolverhampton, has been appointed to the Postmastership at Enniskillen. Mr. Haines has been connected with the Department for 23 years, and, in my judgment and that of his immediate superiors, was very highly qualified for the position to which he has been appointed. After very careful examination of the qualifications of all the candidates, he appeared to be distinctly more qualified than any of the others. The answer to the second and third paragraphs is in the affirmative. The hon. Member is, perhaps, not aware that officers in every branch of the Postal Service are eligible for Postmasterships, and applications are received from every part of the United Kingdom whenever a vacancy is notified. I do not know that my predecessors made it a rule to appoint Irishmen to Irish offices and Englishmen to English offices, and I think that, acting in accordance with the principle embodied in the existing practice, it is desirable to make appointments in either country of those servants who are best fitted for the position. I think it will be found that the countrymen of the hon. Member will have rather more to gain than to lose by such a practice.

MR. JORDAN (Clare, W.)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a considerable amount of discontent among all parties in Enniskillen at this appointment, and that an article condemning it has appeared in a strong Conservative journal, the Fermanagh Times?


I am not aware of any local dissatisfaction except that expressed in the terms of the question. I should think that if the appointment has been criticised in the local Conservative journal, it is an indication that it has not been made on Party grounds.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if in his time an Irish Postmaster has been appointed in Great Britain?


I hope to hold office long enough to appoint more than one Irishman to positions in Great Britain.


I may say that, in putting the question, I did not intend to insinuate that Mr. Haines was not qualified, but merely to raise the question of appointing English officials to places which Irish officials might reasonably expect to obtain.