I beg to ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is the fact that although the Scotch Education Code was laid on the Table of the House 562 on the 4th of March, it was not available for Members of the House until the 18th; and, if so, at what date the period during which the Code must remain before Parliament for consideration will come to an end? If the facts are as suggested in this question correct, then it seems to me that something must be wrong with the arrangement, either of the Scotch Education Department, or the printing of the House. I believe the Scotch Education Code was laid on the Table of the House on March 4th, though I do not think it was available to your Lordships until the 18th. From what I have since heard, I believe that the fault does not lie with the Education Department, which had really placed the Code on the Table of both Houses of Parliament on that date in such a form as to allow of its being printed and circulated. If that statement is confirmed by the noble Lord, then I hope either the Black Rod Committee or the proper authority will be applied to in order to learn why so long an interval elapsed before the Code was available for your Lordships. The second portion of the question was very important. Instead of 30 days being available for the consideration of the Code, only twelve days were left within which the House might be enabled to consider its provisions, or whether any action should be taken against them.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord TWEEDMOUTH)
said, he had put himself I in communication with three authorities in connection with this subject—the Scotch Office, the printers, and the authorities of the House. On the 4th of March the Scottish Education Code was laid on the Table of both Houses. The same messenger that brought the form that was laid on the Table of the House also brought the Code in its completed form to the printers. It was not now usual to lay the manuscript document on the Table of the House, because it had been found that enterprising members of the Press had contrived to gain access to the document, and had published it, either in whole or in part, or they had made use of their enterprise to get remuneration from newspapers as a whole. At the same moment that the "dummy" copy of the Code was laid on the Table the actual manuscript was placed in the hands of 563 the printers. The printers got to work at once, and the printing was completed by Friday the 8th. At the Evening Sitting of Friday the 8th it was obtainable in the Vote Office of the House of Commons, and on the 9th the printed documents were delivered in both Houses and to all the Public Offices. Owing to a mistake of some person connected with the printing office the Code was not included in the list sent out on March 11th as among the papers which were circulated, and which were to be obtained by Members on application. As a matter of fact, the paper was in their Lordships House on March 9th, and was available for Members on Monday the 11th.
§ LORD TWEEDMOUTH
said, the notice was not put on the printed paper sent out with the notices on the Monday morning, but he did not think that this fact could have been of any great inconvenience to the Members of the House or to the public. As a matter of fact, the Code appeared in the Scotch newspapers on the 11th, and there were leading articles criticising it on the same morning. The paper having been laid on the Table on March 4th, the day on which the period expired was Wednesday next, April 3rd.