§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if his attention has been called to a recent speech of the Provost of Trinity College, one of the Commissioners of National Education, in which he charged the Government with having brought undue pressure upon the Comsioners of National Education in favour of the Irish language; can he state what pressure has been brought to bear upon the Commissioners; and, if no such pressure has been brought, will he consider the advisability of communicating with the Provost of Trinity College with the view of getting the withdrawal of such charge.
My attention has been called to the speech referred to in the Question. I am not aware that any such pressure as is suggested has been brought to bear on the Commissioners of National Education. No action has been taken regarding the statement mentioned in the Question, for if the Irish Government were to make a practice of endeavouring to secure the withdrawal of every statement attributing to them action that they have not taken or intentions they have not entertained, they would have little time for any other work. The Provost of Trinity College, however, on learning of the hon. Member's Question, has been good enough to favour me with a full statement in which he supports the view advanced in his speech by extracts from the correspondence which has passed between the Irish Government and the Commissioners of National Education on the subject of the teaching of Irish. I should gladly have read this statement to the House, but cannot do so because it would be entirely irregular and open to grave objection to publish correspondence between Departments of the Government. I may, however, say that while the Provost thinks those extracts bear out his remarks, they appear to me to have no such meaning, purport, or effect.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
asked whether, in view of the fact that the Provost of Trinity College, who was himself a member of the Commission, had in his speech alluded to this correspondence, and that he justified his speech by extracts from it, the Government were not entirely relieved from any obligation of secrecy. Ought not the whole correspondence to "be placed before the House?
No, Sir; I cannot assent to the proposition that if a member of the Board chooses to quote correspondence that has passed between one Department and another therefore the Government is to be forced to publish the whole correspondence. What would become of official secrecy?
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
Inasmuch as one member of the Board has published statements founded on the official correspondence, would there be any objection to other members of the Board publishing the correspondence?
Yes. I do not think because one member of the Board has done what may be considered to be irregular that the example should be followed by others. So far as I recollect, I do not think that the Provost of Trinity College quoted anything from the correspondence. I think he merely stated his opinion of it.