HC Deb 05 July 1875 vol 225 cc950-1

asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, Whether he will withdraw the Copy of scheme for the management of St. John's Hospital and other Charities and Endowments in the city of Exeter; and lay upon the Table of the House, in its place, a Copy of the scheme which was actually approved by the late Endowed School Commissioners, Lord Lyttelton and Mr. Roby, together with the alterations made therein by the Education Department?


Sir, before I answer the actual Question of my right hon. Friend, it is necessary that I should give a short explanation as to the date and the signatures appended to the Exeter scheme. The incorrect date was, I find, the error of the copyist; the copies of the scheme delivered to the other House of Parliament had the correct date. As to the signatures of Lord Lyttelton and Mr. Roby, neither the Lord President nor myself were aware that they were printed with the Exeter scheme till we saw the Question of the hon. Member for Hythe, and they were appended by the Office to the Copy laid before the House in compliance with ordinary practice. The case, however, of the signature of schemes submitted to the Committee of Council by the old Commissioners, and having to be considered and amended after their powers have ceased, is full of legal difficulty; but, so far as we have been able at present to ascertain, the course pursued by the Office as to the signatures in the Exeter case was technically correct. However that may be technically, we think that hon. Members might justly complain that they had been misled—I need not say most unintentionally—as to the altered scheme, owing to the signatures which they saw attached to it. As it is all-important that the House should have full confidence of being always dealt with in perfect frankness as to documents placed before it, the Government think it best to move that the Order by which these Papers were laid on the Table be at once discharged; so that hon. Members may have again the full two months for raising objections, if they desire to do so. Respecting the course to be pursued hereafter as to the signatures attached to schemes belonging to the transition period between the two Commissions, we have now referred this complicated matter to the Law Officers of the Crown, and shall be entirely guided by their opinions. I beg, therefore, to move that the Order that the Copy of the scheme for the management of St. John's Hospital and other charities and endowments in the City of Exeter lie on the Table be discharged.


said, that after the very satisfactory statement of his noble Friend, he wished to repeat that he was perfectly sure the mistake was quite unintentional. Of course he should now withdraw the Motion of which he had given Notice with reference to the merits of the scheme.

Motion agreed to.

Order discharged.

Viscount Sandon