§ MR. M'GHEE
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with reference to the circular sent to national school teachers m Ireland, requiring children to purchase from the school teacher school books and stationery of every description used by them at school, and also requiring 1046 the teachers to buy the same from the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, whether he is aware of the general and serious complaints as to the unfairness and inconvenience of the adoption of this rule; whether he is aware of the serious delay in attending to the orders sent to the Commissioners; whether the teachers are obliged to remit cash with the orders, and frequently months, and in some eases even years, pass before delivery is made to the teachers; and, whether, considering the loss and inconvenience to the children and the detriment to over 1,000 small stationers and booksellers throughout the country villages in Ireland, he will have inquiry made into the matter, with the view of throwing open for competition the supplying of these books and stationery in the same way as is done in England?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The regulation that all requisites for sale to pupils in national schools in Ireland should be purchased through the Office of National Education was made in the interests of the children attending these schools, in order to secure the best articles at the lowest prices for the children who, in Ireland, have to purchase their books and other requisites. The Commissioners are not aware that complaints of a general or serious character have been made on the subject. The goods are paid for before being issued from the Education Office. In the case of some articles a delay has occurred (but not to anything like the extent implied in the question) in supplying them, owing mainly to change of contractor, the result of contract being put up to public competition; also, to some other difficulties which, I am informed, will be but of a temporary character. Every opportunity is given to publishers and traders, as well as to managers of schools, to submit, for sanction for use, any article (either books or stationery) with the view to have it supplied, if not inferior to similar articles at present on the National Board's list. I am not in a position to speak as to the system pursued in England, but I believe there are considerable differences between the English and Irish systems that make any analogy of the kind drawn in the Question inapplicable.