§ MR. J. MACVEAGH
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that only a few of the Commissioners of National Education take any real interest in the duties of their position; that many of them have no experience of anything connected with primary education; that some of them scarcely ever attend meetings of the Board, and even if they did would not be able to understand the matters that come up for consideration; that as a result the Resident Commissioner can nearly always have any action he recommends adopted; and whether, as the whole working of this Board has for several years past been of a capricious character, he will take an early opportunity of devising some means whereby a radical change may be effected.
§ MR. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education strongly repudiate the suggestions contained in the Question. They assert that every member of their body takes a deep interest in the business of the Board; that a large majority are, or have been, patrons or managers of national schools and have intimate personal knowledge of Irish primary education; and that the majority attend meetings of the Board with great regularity. The Commissioners characterise the statement that some of their number would be unable to understand the matters for consideration as being quite 72 without foundation. Very full and detailed agenda papers, with explanatory memoranda, when necessary, are supplied to each Commissioner prior to meetings of the Board. Moreover I am assured that it is far from correct to say that the Resident Commissioner possesses the power attributed to him in the Question. The Commissioners deny that the working of the Board has for several years past been capricious. They have for the past eight years pursued an educational policy adopted in 1900 after very mature consideration and in view of the Report of the Commission on Manual and Practical Instruction. An opportunity for reconstructing the Board of National Education was offered last year bat was not accepted. No proposal to reconstruct the Board is at present before the Government.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
That is not an expression which ought to be used of His Majesty's Judges or of any gentlemen in the position of Commissioners of National Education. There is no object in making offensive observations of that kind.