HC Deb 19 April 1911 vol 24 cc861-3

asked the President of the Board of Education if he could ex plain how it was that if the Holmes' circular was written for his guidance, it was not submitted to him; and whether the said circular was submitted to the Permanent Secretary of the Board before circulation?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)

The regular practice is that copies of all such memoranda are filed amongst my papers at the time when they are distributed amongst the Board's officers. This is done in order that they may be available for my use when occasion arises. In ordinary circumstances they are brought definitely to my notice at the time of distribution. The date of the distribution of the memorandum in question happened to be during the Spring Recess, when I was absent from London, and on the following day a great national bereavement occurred which absorbed much of the attention of Ministers, and as no question arose at the time for decision by me in connection with the subject to which the memorandum referred, it was filed amongst my papers instead of being forwarded to me, so that I did not see it until February of this year, as already stated. With regard to the last part of the question, I must refer the hon. Member to the numerous answers I have already given on the subject, and in particular to my reply to the hon. Member for Taunton on the 27th of last month.


Is it not a fact that this practice of issuing secret and confidential circulars dates entirely since the appointment of the present Permanent Secretary to the Board of Education?


I should like full notice of a question of that character. My present information is that the fact is not as stated by my hon. Friend. Communications of a confidential character have always passed between the Board and its servants. That must of necessity be the case in all Government Departments.


Do I understand correctly that the circular was submitted to the right hon. Gentleman personally before issue, and that the fact that the right hon. Gentleman did not peruse it before issue is not due to any fault on the part of the Permanent Secretary?


It was not submitted to me for perusal; I have not stated that at all.


Was it submitted to the Permanent Secretary before issue?


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman was not in the House when I gave very full answers on this matter. I have stated over and over again that the circular was printed and distributed under sanction given by the Permanent Secretary and with the concurrence of the author of the Memorandum.