§ (6.37.) MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
I take the opportunity to recall to the attention of my right hon. Friend a Bill which, though several times mentioned, has not yet appeared—a Bill as to which there is a good deal of public interest—the Bill for the exemption of schools from rates. That Bill was given a place on the year's programme in redemption of a distinct pledge given last Session, and it has acquired still greater importance from the Debate earlier in the Session in reference to the use of schoolrooms for political meetings. A sort of understanding was come to that a clause in the Bill should embody the Resolution the House then arrived at. These two matters—the exemption of schools from rating, and the use of schools for political meetings—are of so much importance that I think we may ask if the Government are prepared with their proposals on the subject? Of course, if the Bill is not introduced very soon after Easter, the chance of such a Bill passing this Session is not very great. Without unduly pressing the Government, I hope we may have some assurance on this matter.
§ (6.39.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I do not intend to delay the House, but there are two questions I should like, before we separate, to put before the Chief Secretary. The first of these I have mentioned several times—the steam trawling carried on in Galway Bay. The law against steam trawling within three miles of the coast does not apply to Ireland, and so it is that Scotch and other trawlers, not being able to pursue the practice off other coasts, appear in increasing numbers off the coasts of Mayo and Galway. I hope that during the Recess the Chief Secretary will obtain information on this matter, and, if possible, arrange with the Admiralty for the presence of a fast gunboat, which will protect the interests of the Irish fishermen. Then the other point I desire to mention is the claim of the Christian 1292 Brothers' Schools to assistance under the Education Bill. I trust that the Government will obtain full information on this matter, so that when the Education Bill comes on we may not be told that the Schools of the Christian Brothers are entirely outside the pale of the Education Department. If the Secretary to the Treasury would make an official report as he has made an unofficial report, he would do great service.
§ (6.40.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. J. G. Talbot) desires us to bring on the Rating of Schools Bill. As he is aware, the House adopted the suggestion which I think emanated from himself, that added to that Bill there should be a clause dealing with the use of schoolrooms for other than purely educational purposes. I believe the Bill has been drafted, but whether it will be possible to find time to discuss it depends upon the progress we are able to make with other measures. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Nolan) has mentioned two matters, trawling and the Christian Brothers' Schools. I think my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary was present to hear the request in reference to the Christian Brothers' Schools, and I have no doubt he will keep the subject in view and make himself thoroughly acquainted with the circumstances. As to steam trawling and the change which the hon. and gallant Gentleman says is taking place in the fishing in Irish waters, that also is a question which demands, as it will receive, serious consideration.
§ (6.42.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
The Irish Education Bill will receive close scrutiny, and probably will be met with prolonged debate; and with this in view, I wish to say that the Return laid before the House on the Motion of the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) is of an extremely partial character, and, standing alone, will cause a very incorrect judgment to be formed of material facts in relation to Irish education. I shall put down a Motion which I hope to move when we reassemble after the Recess, for a second and supplementary Return which will qualify the imperfect and partial statement of facts as it appears in the 1293 Return of the hon. Member. It is desirable in view of the Debate that this second Return should be granted as soon as possible. If it is not granted, I must obtain the facts as far as I can in any other way open to me, for they are pertinent to the Debate on the Education Bill; but I think it will tend to economy of time if they are put before us in form not open to doubt. I take this opportunity to direct attention to the Motion of which I shall give notice this evening.
§ *(6.14.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone. S.)
I may remind the hon. Member that the Return is not in the form in which I placed my notice on the Paper, but in the form in winch the Government expressed willingness to give it, and therefore I am not responsible for any partial character it may have. But my purpose in rising is to ask the First Lord if he can indicate the day after the Recess when the Education Bill will be taken? It is a subject of the greatest interest to a large number of people in Ireland, and I shall be glad if he can indicate the probable time when it will be reached.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I cannot give any positive pledge beyond saying that it will not be taken in the first week after the holidays.
§ SIR W. FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when Committee on the Small Holdings Dill will be resumed?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My idea is that we ought to reach it on the Monday in the second week, May 2nd. The previous Thursday I anticipate will be occupied with the Budget discussion.
(6.45.) MR. P. O'BRIEN
Before we separate I should like to say a word with reference to the prisoner Egan, now confined in Portland Prison, and as to whom I put a question to the Home Secretary to-day. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say he had reconsidered the case, but I am anxious to know if he is still open to receive information I can put before him? It will be in the recollection of the House that when the question of amnesty was brought before us some twelve months ago by my late Friend and Leader (Mr. Parnell), and more recently by the hon. Member for Water-ford (Mr. J. E. Redmond), a clear distinc 1294 tion was shown to exist between the cases of Egan and the other prisoners convicted at the same time. The late Home Secretary (Sir W. Harcourt) admitted that Egan's case stood on different ground, and the right hon. Gentleman is the real gaoler in the case I suppose. I think the present Home Secretary expressed a similar opinion, and what I now want to ask is whether the right hon. Gentleman is still open to receive and consider information I can put before him in relation to Superintendent Black of Birmingham, whose evidence was mainly responsible for Egan's conviction? I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will give an assurance that he will give full consideration to facts which should lead strongly in the direction of a release of this prisoner.
§ (6.47.) MR. MATTHEWS
I cannot say that I have in the least altered the view I have previously expressed in regard to this case; but certainly, if material facts are brought before me, I shall always be ready to consider and to give full weight to them.
§ (6.47.) DR. TANNER
One matter in relation to Irish fisheries. There have been many remonstrances addressed to the authorities against the daily destruction of immature fish on the Irish coasts; and, putting the matter into a very few words, I would press upon the Chief Secretary that something should be done to prevent this destruction in the interest of a valuable Irish industry.
§ (6.48.) MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
Can the First Lord of the Treasury tell us what is the intention as to Morning Sittings after the Recess?
§ MR. CREMER
It is important to hon. Members who have Motions for Tuesdays or Fridays to have some indication.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I cannot give any intimation now. The arrangement for Morning Sittings ceases at Easter. As soon as there is any necessity for further time for Government measures I will communicate it to the House.
§ Question put, and agreed to.1295
§ Resolved, "That this House at the conclusion of the Morning Sitting this day do adjourn until Monday the 25th April."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)