HC Deb 06 December 1906 vol 166 cc1155-7
MR. HALPIN (Clare, W.)

To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will state, in connection with the Milan International Exhibition, on what group jury Admiral C. P. Fitzgerald served, and what his qualifications were; if Mr. J. Sebastian Barnett, the other Irish juror, is connected with any trade interests, British or Irish; and why Dr. Yoshioka, the Japanese fishery expert, was permitted to serve as a British juror, considering that British and Irish fishery experts were available; will he say if the names of the merchants and manufacturers in such cities as Cork, Limerick, and Waterford, and industrial centres as Wexford, will be given who were approached by the Commission with a view to their participating at Milan, and if the name of the exhibition agents who were authorised to get a representative Irish exhibit will be given; will he explain why a special Commissioner was not appointed for Ireland to deal with the matter instead of giving the concession for speculative purposes to a private firm, and if a return will be given as to the fees paid to each juror for serving at Milan, whether he will state if the Government before giving further grants for exhibition purposes, will take steps when Commissions are being organised to see that the science, arts, and industries and trade interests shall be represented by Commissioners who are competent; whether the rules governing the system of awards will be published after each Commission is organised, and no jurors will be nominated unless they are experts and endorsed by the industries to which they belong, and that no foreigner will be allowed to represent British or Irish industries as Commissioners or jurors at future exhibitions, and that, for the protection of British and Irish industries, the expenses of jurors shall be provided for by each Commission.

(Answered by Mr. McKenna.) I am informed by Sir A. Rollit, the President of the Commission, that Admiral Fitzgerald served on group jury thirty, dealing with the construction and equipment of war navies, for which his professional career is the best qualification I can mention. Mr. Sebastian Barnett is not at present connected with any trade interests, British or Irish, but I understand he was so connected in the past. His knowledge of Italian rendered him a most efficient juryman. Dr. Yoshioka had expressed a desire to serve, and was gladly appointed upon the failure of the Commission to secure the service of an expert with the necessary qualifications who was also a British subject. With regard to the fourth part of the Question, I am informed that the Commission issued circulars inviting exhibits to about twenty leading merchants and manufacturers in Cork, among whom were the following:—Messrs. Baker and Company; Beamish and Crawford, Limited; Booth and Fox, Limited; the County Cork Agricultural Society; the Cork Distillery Company, Limited; Crane and Sons, Limited; Thomas Jennings; the Irish Cycle and Motor Company; Timothy M'Carthy, etc. To ten in Limerick, including:—Messrs. J. and G. Boyd and Company, the Limerick Lace School, Denny and Sons, Limited, etc. The Commission also sent circulars, with requests to make the exhibition known to all possible exhibitors in Ireland, to the Chambers of Commerce of Cork and Limerick. Notices were also inserted in the Press of the. United Kingdom. The name of the exhibition agents is Messrs. Hillman Brothers, of Newbury, Berks, a firm which possesses among other qualifications the special advantage of having been agents at the Cork Exhibition, and thus in touch with a large number of representatives of Irish industries. The President informs me that a special Commissioner was not appointed for Ireland because it was left to the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction to take the necessary steps to secure Irish representation. The exhibition agents, of course, acted under the directions of the Commission, and there was no question of their employment being "for speculative purposes." The sum of £25 was paid towards the expenses of each juryman who went to Italy from the United Kingdom and £10 to those resident in Italy. The President declined to take any remuneration for acting as a member of the superior jury. The remaining points raised in the Question form the subject of inquiry of a Committee which is now sitting, and I am unable to make any statement in anticipation of the Committee's Report in regard to them; but I cannot for a moment admit the implied imputations against the Commissioners.