HC Deb 11 June 1896 vol 41 cc834-6
MR. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether, in view of the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury that the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland were responsible for the fact that the sums voted for the Irish Education Fee Grant were less than nine-eightieths of the English grant, he is aware that the Commissioners in 1884–85 and 1885–86 made demands which were refused by the Treasury; and, whether he will consent to a Return of the correspondence between the Treasury and the Irish Government relating to this matter, prior to the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury?


who replied, said: The words attributed to me in the Question are not a quotation of anything I have said, but as a rough paraphrase of my statement, I am quite ready to adopt them. The Act of 1892 fixes the annual fee-grant at £210,000, or such other sum as Parliament may determine, having regard to the amount of the English fee-grant. For the year 1892–93 the Education Commissioners asked—and they received—a grant for three-quarters of a year at the rate of £210,000 a year. For the year 1893–94 they asked—and received—£210,000. For the year 1894–95 they asked—and received—£210,000. For the year 1895–96 they, for the first time, asked nine-eightieths of the English estimate, and it has been granted in full. In all these cases the Commissioners were, of course, responsible for the sum which, through the Irish Office, they demanded from the Treasury. In other words, like all other Departments, they were responsible for asking for what they wanted. The hon. Member asks whether in 1894–95 and 1895–96 they made demands which were not granted. In the last half of 1894–95, or in 1895–96, they made two requests to the Treasury—(1) For nine-eightieths of the English estimate for 1895–96—a request partially granted by the late, and fully satisfied by the present Government; and (2) for alleged "arrears" for the years 1893–94 and 1894–95. In the case of both these years, the request was three times refused by the late Board of Treasury, though 1894–95 was then not completed, and a supplementary estimate for that year might, no doubt, have been presented. The request was repeated to the present Board of Treasury, but by that time the year 1894–95, as well, of course, as 1893–94, had become a year which had closed, and Parliament had already definitely made the provision for the annual grant. It is therefore correct to say that, for the years 1892–93, 1893–94, and 1895–96, the Commissioners were responsible for the amounts received, having received each year all they asked for. In 1894–95, however, and before Parliament had finally determined the amount to be received for that year, the then Treasury did grant less than the Commissioners asked for that year. It is, of course, not the practice to lay upon the Table Departmental correspondence of this nature.