HC Deb 11 April 1910 vol 16 cc1027-30W
Captain CRAIG

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, with reference to the Report on Belfast (1) circuit, printed in an appendix to the Seventy-fourth Report of the Commissioners of National Education and the details therein given as to teachers' difficulties and the expenses incurred by teachers in the upkeep of school-houses, whether similar facts as to teachers' difficulties and expenses similarly incurred in schools under Roman Catholic clerical management were furnished by any other senior inspector in the manuscript and in the proof of his report for the same year; if so, whether these facts were published in that appendix; if not, why they were not published; whether he is aware that the report on Omagh circuit as printed in that appendix is shorter than that on Belfast (1) circuit by about one-third of a page, and shorter than reports on circuits in the Seventy-third Report and the Sixty-ninth Report by about three and four pages respectively; and whether he will state on what pages of the Seventy-fourth Report of the Commissioners can be found the facts to which reference is made on page 62 of Section 1 of that report, to the effect that, in order to present a faithful picture of the schools, it had been his painful duty to state certain facts which could be hardly regarded as creditable to certain managers?


further asked the right hon. Gentleman: (1) Whether senior inspectors of national schools are allowed thirty-six week days for annual holidays; whether the secretaries to the Board of National Education are empowered to forbid inspectors to apply for annual holidays; whether they are empowered to deduct certificated sick leave from annual holidays; whether any senior inspector who had had two days of annual holidays since the 1st of January, applied in November, 1906, for four days more; whether one of the secretaries in reply informed him that he should not apply again for leave that year; and, if so, why this course was adopted?

(2) Whether he is aware that Altinagh national school, 11,026, county Tyrone, is under Roman Catholic clerical management; that in 1907 the manager applied to the secretaries to the Board of National Education in reference to the promotion of the teacher; that in November of that year an inspector was directed to recommend the teacher for promotion to second grade; and that the Board had previously directed inspectors that their recommendations were to be goverened by a special regulation that a teacher in third grade should not be promoted to second grade unless the last three annual reports made upon his school by the inspectors be marked as at least good; whether the last three roports on this school had been respectively good, fair, good; whether the instructions to the inspector in this case were submitted, and, if so, to whom; and why this course was adopted?

(3) Whether he is aware that in the spring of 1908 an inspector of national schools was instructed by a chief inspector to visit, at a cost of 28s. for travelling expenses, and report on a school which had not been recognised by the Board of National Education, and whether he afterwards received from him similar instructions; whether the inspector sought instructions from the secretaries; whether, without an opportunity for explanation, the inspector was reprimanded for this application as being insubordinate, unnecessary, and improper, and for having placed the prefix Mr. before the chief inspector's name in referring to him; whether he is aware that the inspector then explained that his previous experience of the chief inspector's action did not appear to justify him in assuming that his instructions would necessarily be approved by the Board, and in view of that experience and of the circumstances of the case he felt it to be his duty to seek from the secretaries a confirmation of these instructions; whether any opportunity was offered the inspector of explaining his reference; whether he was informed that his explanation had been accepted and noted; whether he was ordered to remove to a circuit in the division of the other chief inspector, 250 miles distant; and, if so, will he explain why this course was adopted?

(4) Whether the secretaries to the Board of National Education are prepared to lay before the Board medical certificates from a regius professor of physic, a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, and one other medical docter, certifying that in their opinion the health of a senior inspector of national schools was undermined, attacks of insomnia and depression caused and his premature retirement necessitated by official worries, and a statement of detailed reasons for believing that these worries were due to official action unauthorised by the Board?


As these five questions all refer to one man, I propose to deal with them together. The inspector in question resigned in June, 1909, after having been for six months on sick leave, and was awarded the pension to which he was entitled on retirement on medical certificate. The certificates which he submitted showed that he was entirely unfitted to carry on his duties owing to frequent attacks of gout, with insomnia and extreme mental depression, and that he was in addition highly neurasthenic. There was no medical certificate to the effect that his state of health was due to official worries. In 1906 he was on sick leave for over twelve weeks. He applied in November of that year for four days ordinary leave, which was granted, but he was told that he should not again apply for ordinary leave that year. Inspectors are, I understand, allowed, as a rule, six weeks annual holiday, but should an inspector be on sick leave for a considerable portion of a year the amount of his ordinary leave may be curtailed. His general report on the Omagh Circuit referred to by the hon. Member contained nominal and personal particulars which were omitted in printing the Report, as it was not considered desirable to publish them. In the case of Altinagh National School he was not instructed to recommend the teacher for promotion, but was directed to make a special report on the school, and on his report the promotion was refused. Early in 1908 he received a request for certain information from a chief inspector, but instead of complying with it, wrote to the National Education Office for instructions. He was told that he should comply at once, and that the tone of his letter was improper. He subsequently submitted an explanation and apology, which were accepted. His transfer to another district was made in the ordinary course.

Captain CRAIG further

asked (1) whether the secretaries to the Board of National Education are prepared to lay before the Board a tabulated statement in parallel columns of certain facts attested by documentary and other evidence, and of certain answers printed in the volumes entitled Debates, Questions, etc, on Irish Affairs for Sessions 1908 and 1909; and whether he is willing to receive a similar statement; (2) whether on 23rd November, 1907, an inspector of national schools reported to the head of his department that a chief inspector had, by the surprise and menace of certain questions, endeavoured to induce the inspector to divulge in the presence of two other persons the contents of a specially confidential reply to a specially confidential question from the Board of National Education; and, if so, whether any action was taken in consequence?


I am unable to reply to these two questions without a more definite indication of the particular matters to which they are intended to refer.