§ Mr. NANNETTI
asked the Chief Secretary if he can say why the present Resident Commissioner of National Education and his immediate subordinates have, within the past few years, refused to give inspectors whose salary increments have been withheld any explanation whatever as to the cause of such treatment, and further, have even threatened them with suspension or dismissal for merely venturing to inquire the reason; is he aware that, prior to the appointment of the present Resident Commissioner, an explanation was usually given to any inspector whose increment had been withheld, and whether, as the existing practice as indicated above is open to abuse, he will impress on the Board the necessity of having the Resident Commissioner's authority properly defined and restricted?
The HON. MEMBER
further asked if the Chief Secretary is aware that with regard to the salary increments withheld from some of the officially subordinate inspectors of national schools during the past few years, and for the withholding of which the inspectors in question are refused all information, the Resident Commissioner says the two chief inspectors are responsible, while the two chief inspectors, on the other hand, say in private that it is he himself who is to blame, but being his subordinates are afraid to say so openly; and whether, as the 19 non-resident Commissioners know little as to what is being done in their name except as represented to them by the higher officials referred to, he will consider the desirability of appointing a small Commission to inquire into the working of the National Education Office?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Commissioners of National Education inform me that the statement that the inspectors whose increments of salary have been withheld have been refused any explanation is in-correct. They state that an increment has not been withheld in any case save for conduct involving official censure, and that the inspectors were fully aware in every case that their service was not approved. Two inspectors who had incurred grave censure on several occasions wrote to the Commissioners letters of an insubordinate character demanding explanations as to the details of their cases which were not given, but the inspectors were not threatened as stated in the question. The Resident Commissioner is not personally responsible for the withholding of incre-2464W ments, which are granted on conditions precisely similar to those obtaining in other Departments, and no change has been made in the procedure since his appointment. The Commissioners have ample facilities for making themselves acquainted with the business done in their name. I am not aware of any necessity for the appointment of a Commission as suggested.