HC Deb 16 December 1908 vol 198 cc1873-5
MR. KETTLE (Tyrone, E.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the recent action of the Royal Dublin Society in refusing to admit to its library a book by Mrs. John Richard Green, entitled "The Making of Ireland and its Undoing;" whether he is aware that this book has been acclaimed in the world of culture as the most important contribution to Irish history published in recent years, and is in circulation in the National Library in Dublin, and in many other public libraries in Ireland and Great Britain; and whether he can state the grounds on which it was excluded by the Royal Dublin Society.

The hon. Member had the following other Questions down on the same subject—

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Members of the Royal Dublin Society enjoy the privilege of borrowing from the National Library books purchased with public money, and of retaining these books for an indefinite period in their own homes, to the inconvenience of the Dublin reading public; and whether he will make such alterations in the Charter as will deprive members of that society of the privilege of inconveniencing those citizens of Dublin who make use of the National Library for purposes of study.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Royal Dublin Society was originally instituted by Royal Charter for the promotion not of literature but of agriculture; whether its chief public functions are three public shows every year of horses, sheep, pigs, and fat cattle; whether it enjoys any endowment from public funds; and, if so, whether, in view of its recent manifestation of political prejudice, he will take steps to withdraw such portion of the funds as is devoted to the maintenance of a literary censorship, for which no provision is made in the Charter of the society.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in view of recent events, he will make such alterations in the Charter of the Royal Dublin Society as will limit the activities of that body to the improvement of agriculture.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland who is the present President of the Royal Dublin Society; whether the Lord-Lieutenant is a vice-patron; and whether the action of the society in excluding important works on Irish history from its library was taken in consultation with the Lord-Lieutenant, and is to be regarded as enjoying his approval.


The Royal Dublin Society was founded in 1731 for the promotion of husbandry and other useful arts and sciences. It does not receive any contribution from public funds, and I have no power to limit its action in the manner suggested. Lord Ardilaun is its President, and the Lord-Lieutenant its vice-patron. The selection of books for its library is not a matter which comes under the notice of His Excellency, and I have no information on the subject. In virtue of the agreement under which the society handed over its books and collections to the Government in 1877, members of the society elected before 1878 can borrow books from the National Library for one month. That agreement cannot be altered.

MR. BYLES (Salford, N.)

asked if the banishment of a book from a library was not the surest way to provide a circulation for it.


I know nothing about that.

MR. MOONEY (Newry)

May I ask when the Estimate under which certain sums were paid to this Society for promoting the breeding of cattle was altered?


Surely there is no connection between that and grants for the library.


But so long as money is voted for any purpose whatever to the Royal Dublin Society, surely the right hon. Gentleman has some power over that body?


said his information was, and it was not likely to be incorrect, that the Royal Dublin Society did not receive contributions from public funds. He could exercise no authority over the book committee of a lyceum or society of this kind.