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National Board Of Education (Ireland)—Inspectors Reports

Volume 230: debated on Thursday 29 June 1876

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Question

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If he would explain to the House why it is that contrary to the practice heretofore adopted, the Reports of the Head and District Inspectors of Irish National Schools are omitted from the Appendix to the Report of the National Board of Education; and whether for the future these Reports will be included; whether there is any objection to grant, as an unopposed Return, the omitted Reports; what was the cause of the Appendix to the 41st Report of the National Board of Education having been delayed more than six months; and, whether steps will be taken in future to secure the publication of the appendix within a reasonable time after the presentation of the Report?

The annual Reports of the National Board of Education have become quite overloaded with appendices, one result being the annual production of a very large volume, at considerable public expense, containing much information not of very general interest; and another being, either that the publication of the Report itself was delayed, in order that the appendices might be published with it, or that the appendix, as in this instance, was not published until some time after the Report to which it related. Under these circumstances a Departmental Committee of Inquiry, appointed under the late Government, recommended that the Reports of the Head District Inspectors, which extended over more than 200 pages, should be presented to Parliament in future only triennially or quinquennially, instead of with each annual Report; and after some correspondence between the National Board of Education and the Government, to which is mainly due the special delay in the publication of the appendix to the 41st Report, this course was adopted for the future. If any special reason could be alleged for the publication of these Reports for this year, I would consider whether they could be given in the shape of a Return; but I have heard of none at present.

Cuba—Chinese Coolies—Question

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the statements made in a Report of the Commission sent by China to ascertain the condition of Chinese Coolies in Cuba are confirmed by Her Majesty's Consuls; and, whether, in that case, Her Majesty's Government intend to remonstrate with the Spanish Government on the cruelties brought to light in this Report?

in reply, said, that two years and a-half ago the Chinese Government suddenly put a stop to the exportation of Coolies to Cuba, owing to reports of great cruelties having been inflicted upon the Coolies, both before they left China, during their passage, and after they arrived in Cuba. Under these circumstances, Her Majesty's Minister in China suggested to the Chinese Government that the most desirable course would be to issue a Commission and send it to Cuba to inquire into the condition of the Coolies. That Commission was sent, and it was composed of three officers—one a Chinese, one an Englishman, and the other a Frenchman—and Her Majesty's Consul at Havana was directed to give the Commission all the assistance in his power. The Commission arrived in 1874, they spent some months in Cuba, and returned to China about this time last year. They subsequently drew up a Report, and presented it to the Chinese Government. As the Report was in Chinese Sir Thomas Wade had directed it to be translated, and it had not yet reached Her Majesty's Government officially. But privately a copy did reach the Foreign Office the day before yesterday. He had read a portion of it, and he must say that he never read a more painful report in his life; indeed, the word "painful" did not express at all the intensity of his feeling on the subject. He had received a despatch a short time ago from our Consul in Havana, and, though it did not come up to the statements in the Chinese report, in many particulars it corroborated the Chinese report. The hon. Member for Chelsea asked if the Government intended to remonstrate with the Spanish Government. The Government had not taken the matter into consideration, for this reason—that the Report of the Commission had not yet been received from Sir Thomas Wade, and that the question did not affect Her Majesty's Government, but the conduct of a European Power in regard to subjects belonging to an Eastern Potentate. It was therefore no part of the duty of the Government to remonstrate; but the subject had assumed such serious magnitude that the whole thing would be taken into consideration by Her Majesty's Government when they received the Report.