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Oral Answers To Questions

Volume 91: debated on Monday 25 March 1901

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South African War—Execution Of British Subjects By Boers

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether His Majesty's Government have received official information to the effect that four British subjects who had been made prisoners by the Boers, two of them named Theunissen, one M'Lachlan, and one Boyd, after being brutally treated, were taken out of goal at Wolmaranstad and publicly shot to death one by one by order of Generals Delarey and Smuts; and whether it is known on what grounds this execution took place.

I have received the following telegram from Lord Kitchener—

"M'Lachlan and Boyd, believed to be British subjects, and three burghers, Mathisen, Theunissen and Ahrens, were tried at Wolmaranstad on charge of high treason by the Boers, and shot on 23rd February."
I have no further information.

Taaibosch Train Wreckers

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the three men shot at De Aar on the 19th instant by sentence of a military court, confirmed by Lord Kitchener, for alleged treason and murder in connection with the wrecking of a train near Taaibosch, and the two men who were sentenced by the same military court to five years penal servitude for the same alleged offence, were thus punished in connection with the wrecking of a coal train near Taaibosch on Monday, 18th February, which train was also carrying Kaffirs, horses, and men of the 29th Imperial Yeomanry Company; whether any one or more of these men were among the eight Boer prisoners of war reported to have been taken by the rescuing force on that occasion; whether any one or more of them were local Dutch farmers who had failed to give warning of the contemplated train-wrecking to the British military authorities; whether any evidence was produced to show that they could have otherwise prevented the train-wrecking; and whether the proceedings of the military court are on record, and can be produced for the information of this House.

I have no further information beyond what I gave the I hon. Member last Friday†

† See page 847.

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can possibly give me a straight answer to a straight question?

Lindley Surrender

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the letter of the War Office, dated 16th December, 1900, demanding General Colvile's resignation, alleged that General Colvile was mainly responsible for the surrender of the Yeomanry at Lindley; and whether that allegation is borne out by the finding of the Court of Inquiry into that surrender.

The War Office letter alluded to stated that "the Secretary of State having discussed the incidents of the surrender of No. 13 Imperial Yeomanry battalion, concurs with Lord Roberts that you were mainly responsible for the surrender." The Court of Inquiry absolved Colonel Spragge from any blame —General Colvile was held responsible by his military superiors for not attempting his relief.

I have done so. The Court of Inquiry found that Colonel Spragge had done all in his power, and laid the responsibility on other shoulders.

Peace Negotiations With General Botha

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with reference to the negotiations between Commandant Louis Botha and Lord Kitchener, if he will cause inquiry to be made from the Boer general as to the terms which his Government consider essential to bring about the termination of the war, more especially as in Lord Kitchener's opinion Botha is anxious to bring about peace; and whether he will procure and lay upon the Table of the House the copy of the letter from Commandant Botha referred to by Lord Kitchener as having been brought to him through Mrs. L. Botha, on the 23rd ult.

The answer to the first paragraph is, No, Sir. In reply to the second I have to say that I have telegraphed to South Africa for the text of this letter, and will consider whether it can be laid on the Table of the House.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether if General Botha desires to give his version of the conversation between him and Lord Kitchener in reference to the terms of peace, he will afford facilities for its transmission by telegraph or otherwise to this country in its complete form and without delay.

This is a hypothetical question, and I cannot answer till the circumstances contemplated in it have actually arisen.

May I ask if it is a fact that Lord Kitchener has given one version of the conversation, and that possibly there is a second one, and does not that supply to the right hon. Gentleman's mind sufficient reason—

Order, order! The right hon. Gentleman has said that he cannot give an answer to the question.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can say whether Mrs. Botha went to meet her husband on the occasion of the recent negotiations for peace of her own motion; and, if not, at whose suggestion.

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War on what date the letter (No. 10) (in Paper Cd. 528) was sent by Lord Kitchener to Commandant Louis Botha, and what was the date of the reply (No. 11).

The letter from Lord Kitchener was sent on the 7th March; the reply from Commandant General Botha was received on the 16th March; I do not know on what date it was despatched.

Assistance To Boer Farmers After The War

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in reference to the Peace negotiations in South Africa, if he will withdraw the words "by loan" in reference to the assistance proposed to be given to the Boer farmers, in view of the fact that both Sir Alfred Milner and Lord Kitchener have expressed disapproval of those words, considering them likely to interfere with the success of the negotiations.

No, Sir. The negotiations are closed, and His Majesty's Government adheres entirely to the views it has expressed on this subject.

May I ask whether, in view of the fact that in respect of these conditions there is a great difference of opinion between the right hon. Gentleman, Sir Alfred Milner, and Lord Kitchener, these negotiations will be opened again with a view to settlement.

I am not aware of the great difference which the hon. Member supposes to exist, but in any case there is no intention of reopening the negotiations.

[No reply was given.]

Plague In Cape Colony

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the gravity of the outbreak of plague in Cape Colony and the number of persons who are now travelling backwards and forwards between the Cape and this country, he will ask the authorities at Cape Town to furnish weekly Returns of the number of cases and deaths among whites, negroes, Indians, and Malays; of the localities in which the disease is prevalent; and of the number of cases and deaths among the military forces in South Africa.

I have asked the Governor to invite the Cape Ministers to send a weekly Return in the form desired by the hon. Member.

Repatriation Of South African Refugees

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the fact that many former inhabitants of the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies, being British subjects, have been ruined in the course of the war in South Africa, and that in many cases their wives and families have come to this country while they themselves are serving in Colonial regiments in South Africa, he will consider the possibility of sending such refugee families back to South Africa at the conclusion of the war at this country's expense.

I could not give any pledge on behalf of His Majesty's Government, but I should be prepared when the war is over to consider any individual case such as is described by the hon. Member on its merits, and in connection with any petitions for repatriation that may exist at the time.

Boer Prisoners—Suggested Settlements In Canada And Australia

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if his attention has been called to the suggestion of General Ian Hamilton that some of the Boer prisoners of war at St. Helena should be afforded an opportunity of engaging in agriculture in Canada, and, in the event of that Government or the Commonwealth of Australia or New Zealand being willing to receive some of these men, if His Majesty's Government will consider the question, having regard to the absence of any occupation for them in St. Helena; and whether, in such event, upon the conclusion of peace, the Government will consider the issue of a grant equivalent to the estimated value of the passage to South Africa, and the re-establishment upon their farms of any Boers willing to settle in such British colonies.

I do not think it possible to enlarge these prisoners pending terms of peace being arranged.

War Despatches

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether any written despatches have been received from the Commander-in-Chief in South Africa since Lord Roberts's despatch of 15th November, 1900; and, if so, whether, in view of the meagre character of the telegraphic despatches and the censorship of extra-official sources of information, these despatches will be published before the debate on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill.

Will the right hon. Gentleman wire to Lord Kitchener requesting despatches as soon as possible?

I have no doubt that Lord Kitchener will send the despatches as soon as he finds it desirable.

Volunteers For The Front— Drill Arrangements

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if all the Volunteers and Yeomanry who have volunteered for service in South Africa have been drilled and trained after joining at their depots before embarkation by officers who have had experience of South African warfare.

There is no information to show this. At some few depots, there are officers with South African experience, but the majority of such officers are at present either in South Africa or at home sick.

St John's Ambulance Brigade—Pensions

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether a pension will be granted to the widow of Private J. Maddocks. No. 544. St. John's Ambulance Brigade, who, after long service with Lord Methuen's Field Force, died at Mafeking on the 18th January.

The widow in question has been awarded a pension of 5s. a week with 1s. 6d. a week for her child, and a gratuity of £5 by the Patriotic Fund. The question of how such cases should be further dealt with is now under consideration.

Canadian Horses For South Africa

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies will he explain in what way the winter climate of Canada interferes with the purchase and transportation of horses for the war in South Africa; will he also say how Canadian horses have borne the change of climate; and whether horses purchased in Australia or the Southern States of the United States have proved of better service to the authorities.

The severe weather in Canada during certain months causes horses to get out of condition, and also renders railway transport difficult. So far as information is available Canadian horses which have reached South Africa have borne the change of climate well, but there have been very heavy losses in some cargoes in passing through the tropics at this period of the year.

Royal Reserve Regiments

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can state approximately the total strength of the Royal Reserve Regiments on 1st March, and how many of these troops have volunteered for the garrison battalions in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

The Royal Reserve Infantry battalions approximately numbered 17,500 non-commissioned officers and men on the 1st of March. About 1,000 have enlisted into the garrison regiment up to date.

Officers' Half Pay And Retired Pay Declarations

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, seeing that inconvenience and delay may be caused to officers in receipt of half-pay or retired pay by the necessity of their declarations being attested by specified persons according to existing regulations, he will consider the desirability of allowing agents or bankers to give the necessary certificates of their clients being alive, according to the practice which prevails for analogous claims in the Indian Army.

Such declarations are required by the Appropriation Act. I will consider the question further.

Volunteer Regimental Sergeant-Majors

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he can state why regimental sergeant-majors of Volunteers are refused the rank of warrant officer, when this rank is granted to regimental sergeant-majors of Militia and Yeomanry, whose duties are lighter and less continuous.

The Secretary of State will consider this matter again, but it has not been hitherto deemed that the duties of sergeant-majors of Volunteers entitle them to warrant rank.

Milttia Disembodiments

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he can explain why regiments of Militia which were embodied in November or December, 1899, have not been disembodied in preference to those regiments which were embodied some-months later, some of which have been already disembodied; having regard to the statement made in the House on 7th August last by the then Under Secretary of State for War that battalions first embodied would have a strong claim to be first released.

Before the disembodiment referred to, the wishes of the various units were ascertained through the General Officers Commanding. Those units accordingly who wished to be disembodied were disembodied, and the services of those who did not press for disembodiment were retained.

Militia Officers' Promotions

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if officers of Militia over fifteen years service, seconded from the Militia to enable them to serve in the Regular Army, who are also captains in the reserve of officers, will be promoted on completion of their service in the Army so as to entitle them to rank as field officers in the Reserve.

There is no intention of promoting any particular category of officers en bloc. Individual cases of specially good service rendered will be considered on their merits.

Commander-In-Chief In India

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether Sir Power Palmer has been appointed Commander-in-Chief for India for the space of a year and a half only; and whether this is the usual period, and if not, why has any alteration been made.

It has been decided to continue Sir Power Palmer, who as senior officer in command took over the post of Commander-in-Chief in India provisionally, on the death of Sir W. Lockhart on 18th March, 1900, to make up a period of two years dating from 19th March, 1900. The usual term of the appointment has been for five years. It is not considered desirable to extend Sir Power Palmer's appointment beyond the time mentioned.

Was this appointment made solely to keep the place for Lord Kitchener?

Army Examinations—French Syntax

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been drawn to the decree concerning the teaching of French syntax, issued by the French Minister of Education, dated 31st July, 1900; and whether he will cause the rules for examination therein laid down to be adopted in the examinations in the French language for the English Army.

The Secretary of State will consider this matter in consultation with those engaged in the teaching of French at our military academies.

Will the advisers of the Secretary of State be the examiners or independent persons?

Canteen Bankers—Cury's Bank Gibraltar

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the canteen and other regimental losses at Gibraltar owing to the stoppage of payment of Cuby's Bank; whether be is aware that this bank was a semi-private one, kept by a man well known to belong to the class of money-lenders as distinct from that of bankers, and that regimental funds had been allowed to accumulate balances at the bank in excess of the regulations, one battalion losing upwards of £1,000 in canteen and sergeants' mess funds, and another £900; whether one sergeants' mess requested leave to remove its money from the bank, and was refused, and if so, can he explain why, and whether he can state the total loss of regimental moneys; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made as to responsibility in the matter.

The bank referred to is, I presume, that of Messrs. Cuby and Son. My attention has been drawn to the case and a thorough inquiry is being made into it.

Army Establishment Before The War

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War what were the numbers of regular soldiers in this country immediately before the South African War over the age of 20, and with one year's service; under the age of twenty, and with less than one year's service; reservists; also, what were the total numbers in each class belonging to the British Army.

The numbers of the rank and file on the 1st October, 1899, were as follow:—

At home.
Under 1 year's service28,245
Over 1 year's service65,072
Under 20 years of age28,183
Over 20 years of age65,134
Total in British Army.
Under 1 year's service30,302
Over 1 year's service168,487
Under 20 years of age32,663
Over 20 years of age166,120
The sergeants, drummers, and trumpeters are not classified as above, but amounted to 9,735 at home and 18,253 in all.

Military Manœuvres Act (1897) Amendment Bill

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce during the present Session a Bill to amend and? extend the provisions of the Military Manœuvres Act, 1897; or otherwise to ask for increased facilities for the training and instruction, on a large scale, of the troops in the United Kingdom.

Army Schools—Departmental Committee

I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he will state the names of the members of the Departmental Committee on the Conditions of Service in Army Schools; what are the terms of the reference to the Committee; and will the question of compulsion to wear uniform when off duty be considered.

The representative of the Treasury is Mr. T. L. Heath. The representative of the Board of Education has not yet been selected. Those of the War Department are Colonel Yates, A.A.G., Woolwich, and Mr. Higgins, Deputy Accountant General. The terms of reference are to examine the proposals for improving the tuition of pupil teachers at Duke of York's School and Royal Hibernian Military School, and to advise generally on the mode of training and remunerating Army schoolmasters and of inspecting Army schools; also to consider the necessity of an increase of the establishment. The Committee will, doubtless, not lose sight of the hon. Member's suggestion on the subject of uniform.

Queen Victoria's Funeral— Treatment Of Scottish Volunteers

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state the nature of the food and accommodation which was provided for Volunteers of the 1st Seaforth, Argyll and Sutherland, and Gordons on their arrival at King's Cross early on the morning of the 2nd February, and also during the hours they were in London by invitation of the War Office to take part in the funeral ceremonies of the late Queen; and will he say whether any dinner or other substantial meal was provided for these Volunteers; and, if so, where it was served.

The food supplied to these Volunteers was the same as that supplied to the whole of the troops, and was as follows:—Breakfast—Bread and butter, sandwiches, sausage or ham, and tea. Dinner—A large meat pie, bread and cheese, and a pint of beer or a bottle of minerals per man. The Cordons and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had both meals in the London Scottish drill hall. The Seaforths had their dinner there, and their breakfast at the King's Cross goods shed.

Is the noble Lord aware that these men had nothing but stale dry bread and cold tea?

Queen Victoria's Funeral— Details Oe Cost

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, seeing that in the Civil Service Supplementary Estimates there is a charge of £35,000 for expenses of the funeral of Her late Majesty, out of which the War Office claims £15,000 for travelling expenses, food, and accommodation for troops, will he state how much of this sum was expended in connection with the Volunteers from Scotland who attended the funeral at the invitation of the War Office.

The cost was estimated at £1,400. I cannot give the exact expenditure on each corps without going into details, the interest of which would not justify the labour of their collection.

Naval Shipwright Ratings

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, having regard to the fact that at the naval ports there is a deficiency in the naval shipwright ratings, and seeing that the present pay is inferior to the rate of wages in the dockyards or private shipbuilding firms, whether he can state what additional inducements, if any, are being offered to obtain shipwrights.

No additional inducements are being offered. A large number of boys are being trained in H.M. dockyards to serve as shipwrights in the Fleet, a plan which, in the opinion of the Admiralty, will enable them to obtain all the shipwrights they require.

Cromarty Firth

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that there is anchorage for His Majesty's Fleet in Cromarty Firth opposite the towns of Invergordon and Cromarty, Ross-shire; and will the First Lord confer with the Secretary of State for War as to the expediency of fortifying the two headlands known as the Sutors at the entrance to the firth.

I must refer the hon. Member to the answer given to a similar question on 14th December last by the Civil Lord.† It is impossible to consider the cases of particular harbours apart from the general question.

But has it not been promised that the First Lord will confer with the Secretary of State for War?

That is the statement in the question. My reply is that we must treat the question as a whole and not merely as relating to Cromarty Firth.

Naval Roman Catholic Chaplains

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can say on how many occasions since the year 1878 a Roman Catholic chaplain has accompanied a squadron of the Navy, in accordance with the Admiralty minute of that year.

No Roman Catholic priest has accompanied a squadron, the occasion required by the Minute referred to not having arisen. On two occasions Roman Catholic priests have been specially appointed to minister to squadrons, namely, at Crete in 1898, and in the North of China last year.

Colonial Customs Tariffs

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is prepared to enter into communications with the Colonial Governments with a view to induce them to adopt the customs tariff of the United Kingdom, so that British and Irish goods will be allowed to enter their colonies on the same customs tariff as applies to goods entering the United Kingdom, or, failing this, to induce those Colonial Governments who have not done so to adopt a preferential tariff for British and Irish goods, as is done by the Canadian Government.

I am not prepared to enter into such communica-

† See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxxviii., page 836.
tions as the hon. Member describes. It is, in my opinion, essential to the success of movements of this nature that the initiative should come from the colonies themselves.

China—Anglo-Russian Dispute At Tientsin

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state by whom, and at what date, the Russian concession at Tientsin was granted; whether it is a concession to the Russian Government itself; and whether its area includes a portion of the railway line which is mortgaged to British subjects as security for the Chinese Imperial railway loan.

On the 31st of December Li Hung Chang signed an agreement granting to the, Russian Government as a concession a considerable tract of land of which the Russian military authorities had previously announced themselves possessed by right of conquest. His Majesty's Government are not aware under what authority Li Hung Chang signed the agreement. In answer to the third paragraph, it appears that the concession includes property in the occupation of the Chinese Railway Administration, but at present it is not possible to be more precise. I may add that we have declared that the vaidity of the concession and of proprietary rights within it must be reserved for future examination. Count Lamsdorff made a proposal to the same effect to Sir C. Scott on the 20th instant.

I think that the answer just given may be taken to be an accurate statement so far as we are aware.

Anglo-German Agreement And Manchuria

On behalf of the hon. Member for North Roscommon, I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the German Government accepts the view of His Majesty's Government that the Anglo-German Agreement applies to Manchuria as well as to China proper.

His Majesty's Government have no information on this subject other than that already at the disposal of the public.

May I ask the noble Lord whether, in view of the statement, publicly made, that the German Chancellor has declared that the Agreement does not apply, the Government will take steps to ascertain whether the German Chancellor made that statement, and whether it is true?

If the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to put that question on the Paper, I will endeavour to answer it.

Russia And Manchuria

I beg to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether the Russian Government have presented to the Government of China a somewhat modified form of the agreement signed between the Russian and Chinese local representatives at Port Arthur; whether this last agreement reserves for Russia exclusive privileges in regard to all mines, railways, and industrial developments in Manchuria, and binds China to construct a railway from the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Great Wall, such railway to be under Russian military guardianship; and whether Russia has withdrawn from the so-called Concert of Europe.

We understand that the terms of the proposed agreement are still under discussion, and I am unable to make any positive statement on the subject. The Russian Government have informed us that they have no intention of withdrawing from co-operation with the other Powers in the affairs of China.

Do the other Powers accept the principle that the agreement should be made behind their backs?

I am afraid that that is a question of which I must ask for notice.

Alleged Looting In China

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if he can now say whether despatches of General Gaselee, with reference to looting and pillage in China, will be laid upon the Table.

I have looked at this despatch since the hon. Gentleman put his last question to me on this subject, and I do not think that it can be published.

Because it concerns the acts of troops other than those under General Gaselec's command. As far as I know, no allegation has been made against the conduct of our troops. But if the hon. Member can supply me with any particular allegation I will telegraph to General Gaselee, and any reply that may be received I will give.

Slavery In Zanzibar And Pemba

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether steps can be taken to expedite the emancipation of slaves in Zanzibar and Pemba.

As a result of various causes, including emancipation, it is estimated by the best authorities that there are in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba only half as many slaves as were believed to exist in 1897. It is the opinion of those of our officials who are qualified to judge, and it is believed I that the representatives of the missionary societies on the spot share the view, that further abolitionist measures would not be necessary. His Majesty's Government would be glad to consider any suggestions which may be made with a view of facilitating emancipation.


I beg to ask the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs whether it is a fact that Mr. M'Leavy Brown has been dismissed from the post of Director General of Customs in Korea, and, if so, what are the grounds of dismissal.

A difficulty has arisen in regard to Mr. M'Leavy Brown, Director General of Customs in Korea, but it would be premature to make any detailed statement on the subject.

Proposed Import Duty On Steel

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the formation of the American Steel Trust, the threatened increase in the German steel duties, and the need for raising fresh revenue to meet the growing expenditure of the country, he will consider the advisability of submitting proposals to the House for a substantial import duty on foreign steel.

I can only say to the hon. Member, what I say to the numerous correspondents who offer me suggestions for raising revenue, that I cannot anticipate my Budget statement.

Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say he is not prepared to consider this suggestion?

Merthyr Tydvil Stipendiary Magistrate

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will lay upon the Table of the House the correspondence that has passed between himself, the stipendiary magistrate for Merthyr Tydvil, and the justices of the peace for the division of Caerphilly Higher, in the county of Glamorgan; and if he can state the relative position and authority of a stipendiary and local justices in cases coming before them upon which they are not agreed; and whether the decision of the stipendiary overrides the opinion of any number of lay justices sitting with him in petty session.

A stipendiary magistrate when sitting with other magistrates acts as chairman, and, of course, in view of his position and legal acquirements, his opinion carries great weight, but I am advised that he has not in point of law any power to override the decision of a majority of the justices sitting with him. I do not think that any good purpose would be served by laying the correspondence referred to on the Table.

Brewers' Licences Returns

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in the Brewers' Licences Returns the number of brewers mentioned in the first column of Part III., under the heading of persons licensed, could be divided into two classes, namely, those who use malt only, and those who use malt with substitutes for same, and the amounts of materials used by each class be returned separately instead of combined as is now the case; and whether the actual quantity of bulk barrels of beer made by each and every class could be added to the Returns.

The change desired by my hon. friend shall be made in future Returns. It cannot be made in the Return for the year ended 30th September last, as that is already practically ready for printing.

British Wheat Averages

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state the mean price of the 4lb. loaf and the Gazette price of British wheat in the first week in March in 1900 and 1901 respectively.

The average Gazette price of British wheat per quarter in the first week of March, 1901, was 25s. 11d., and in the first week of March, 1900, 26s. 4d. There is no officially ascertained price of bread, but returns made to the Board of Trade by over 300 co-operative societies in Great Britain show that the mean price of the 41b. loaves sold by them at the beginning of March, 1901, was 5⅛d., and at the beginning of March, 1900, 4⅞d.

South Kensington Museum— Buckland Fish Collection

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is yet in a position to make any statement in reference to the ultimate destination of the Buckland Fish Collection at South Kensington.

Peterhead And Holyhead Harbours

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state the total of the Government grants to Peterhead Harbour, also the total of the Government grants to Holyhead Harbour.

The total expenditure upon Holyhead Harbour from the year 1855 to the 31st March, 1900, was £ 1,611,360. As regards Peterhead Harbour, I am informed by the Admiralty that the total of the Government grants to the Harbour works from their commencement in 1885–1886 to 1900–1901, both inclusive, amounts to £426,360, and that the expenditure during that period has been £398,000.

Heckmondwike School Of Science

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether he is aware that the Board of Education have ordered that fees must be charged at the Heckmondwike School of Science; whether this decision was taken on the complaint of the Dewsbury Grammar School authorities; and, seeing that the Heckmondwike Science School is under the admini- stration of a Technical Instruction Committee and receiving aid from moneys devoted to technical instruction, whether this requirement to charge fees is allowable under existing regulations of the Science and Art Branch of the Board of Education.

The answer to the first paragraph of the question is in the affirmative. The decision was taken after local inquiry, and is in accordance with Clause VI. of the Directory of the Board of Education.

was understood to ask if a charge on the local rates was not the alternative to fees; and, getting no answer, to give notice that he would raise the question on the Estimates.

Training Colleges

I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education whether a Board of Education Committee on training colleges has been appointed; who are the members of this Committee, if appointed; and what are the terms of reference to it; and will the Committee consider the lack of training college accommodation, with a view to reporting upon advisable measures of remedy.

No Committee on training colleges has been appointed. But a Committee is suggesting to the Board of Education courses of study desirable for candidates for certificates. It is not usual to publish the names of such Committees nor the terms of reference, which are not formal. The answer to the last paragraph is in the negative.

Irish Drift Survey

I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education whether it is intended to utilise the Geological Survey of Ireland in issuing the Drift Survey, and when it may be expected; whether it is intended to commence the Soil Survey of Ireland, and whether it will be conducted under the Irish Agricultural Department; and whether a sufficient grant and competent staff will be provided to enable its being properly carried out.

The question of the Drift Survey is, as I have already stated, under the consideration of the Board of Education. The question of a Soil Survey is one for the Irish Agricultural Department, not for the Board of Education, which has to do with geological surveys only. The last question does not arise.

Board School Sites In The Tower Hamlets—Rehousing

I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education, having regard to the fact that Mr. Wylie, who attended at the Limehouse Town Hall on Friday last to inquire, on behalf of the Board of Education, as to the eligibility of Blakesley Street site for the erection thereon of a board school in the Tower Hamlets School Board Division, Block H, was offered an alternative vacant site in the same block, and was assured on behalf of the Stepney Borough Council that if the London School Board would exercise its responsibilities for rehousing, by taking a larger number than twenty houses in any slum property, the council would willingly cooperate with the School Board in any rehousing scheme, whether the Vice-President will order the Education Department to veto the Blakesley Street scheme, which proposes to dishouse 120 people in the most congested and populous district of East London, and to accept either of the alternative suggestions offered.

There has not yet been time to consider the Report of the Inspector who attended at the inquiry.

English Land Registry

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General whether he can state the number of titles registered since 1862, when the existing system of land registry was established, under which it is open to any landowner in England to voluntarily register his title; and, having regard to the fact that the system of compulsory registration of title, under the Land Transfer Act, 1897, was to be experimental only, as is shown by the provision that the system was not to be extended beyond one county for three years after the first Order making registration compulsory; and, seeing that the new system came into operation in the county of London under an Order dated 18th July, 1898, whether it is intended to hold an inquiry into its working before the experimental period of three years expires on the 17th July next; or whether it is proposed to test the working of the system in some other way, in view of the complaints that 'the system has added to the difficulty and expense of dealing with property.

The total number of titles registered to the end of February is 17,281, of which 756 were prior to 31st December, 1898, as appears from the Parliamentary Return in July, 1899, No. 304. No case for holding an inquiry into the working of the Act has been established. Its extension is intended to be gradual, and its working will be tested from time to time by experience of the system in actual operation.

Keighley Sunday Letter Deliveries

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he is aware that on two Sundays in February the postman delivering in the Knowle Park district of Keighley returned numbers of undelivered letters; that the delivery of those letters was delayed twenty-four hours; that, on one occasion, the postmaster accompanied the man round the walk and insisted that he should not stay until his knocks were answered but should carry away the letters; and that, although many householders complain that though they responded with promptitude, the postman left before they reached the door; and whether he will give instructions to the Keighley postmaster to act in such a manner as to avoid inconvenience in the Sunday morning delivery of letters.

(Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBER- ]]]]HS_COL-1106]]]] LAIN, Worcestershire, E.)

The Sunday delivery of letters at Keighley having become too protracted, in order to test the working of the arrangements, the postmaster accompanied one of the postmen on his round on the two Sundays referred to. He reports that most of the houses in the Knowle Park district have no street door letter boxes, and that at many of them no one came immediately to receive the letters. In order that other people might not have to wait for their correspondence, and that the postman's Sunday work might not be unduly protracted, the postmaster instructed the postman, after knocking at the door and waiting a reasonable time without response, to proceed on his route. In the Postmaster General's opinion the postmaster was justified in adopting this course.

Light Railways In Highland Crofting Counties

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if he will state how many certificates have been issued by the Secretary for Scotland, under Section 5 of the Light Railways Act, 1896 for the construction of light railways in the six Highland crofting counties; and will he state how many light railways have been constructed in these counties since the Light Railways Act came into force.

Perhaps I may be allowed to answer in the absence of my right hon. friend. Five certificates have been issued by the Secretary for Scotland, but no light railways have been constructed in the six crofting counties.

Migration From Scottish Congested Districts

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if he will state how many crofters and cottars have been migrated with the assistance of the Congested Districts Board from the congested districts of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to other districts.

If the hon. Member means me to state the number of cases in which crofters and cottars have been migrated from the congested districts of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to places outside the congested districts area, the answer is that there have been none; but there have been, and are, in course of progress migrations of crofters within the congested districts, particulars of which will appear in the -Report.

If the information is to be furnished with the Report of the Board, when will that Report be presented?

Half Times In Scotch Schools

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether he can state the total number of children in Scotland for whom additional attendances have been claimed for the years ending 30th September, 1898, 1899, and 1900 respectively, under Article 23 (b) 1 of the Scotch Code, 1900; also the number of such children not employed under the Half Time Act but over ten years of age, and certified by the managers to be prevented from giving full attendance at school in consequence of being beneficially and necessarily employed at work during school hours during the same years respectively.

With regard to the first part of the hon. Member's question, the number of children for whom additional attendances were claimed under the article quoted in the Code of 1900, and under the equivalent article in previous Codes was as follows: 3,402 in 1898, 3,434 in 1899, and 3,082 in 1900. As regards the second part of the question, the number of such children not employed under the Half Time Act, but certified as described, was: 2,556 for 1898, 2,318 for 1899, and 1,211 for the period ended 30th April, 1900, at which date the article under which this allowance was made was abolished.

Ulster Assizes

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he could state when last the Ulster winter assizes were held in the city of Londonderry, and in what other Ulster towns or cities have they since been held; and whether, considering that Londonderry has as good railway and other accommodation as any other town or city in Ulster, the step will be taken of holding the winter assizes this year in that city.

Perhaps I may be allowed to reply to this question. The winter assizes were last held in the city of Londonderry in the years 1891 and 1895; in the remaining years since the former date they have been held in Belfast and Omagh. In the selection of the venue for winter assizes the governing consideration is the effective, convenient and economical administration of justice. This depends on a number of changing circumstances which vary from year to year, so that it is impossible at this period to give the undertaking asked for in the question.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what are the special circumstances which render Belfast so favourable a venue?

I cannot do that in answer to a question, but if the hon. Member will raise the subject on the Estimates I shall be happy to give him the numerous reasons.

Moville Police

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the fact that the three superior officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary stationed at Moville—namely, the district inspector, head constable, and senior sergeant—are Protestants although Moville is a place where over three-quarters of the population are Roman Catholics; and, seeing that some time ago complaint was made to the Inspector General by the parish priest of Moville asking to have this remedied, whether the promise then made by him would now be carried out so that some at least of the senior officers who are Protestants be removed and their places filled by Roman Catholics.

The facts are as stated in the first paragraph. No promise was made by the Inspector General to the parish priest of Moville to the effect mentioned. I understand, however, that the senior sergeant, who is a Protestant, is about to be transferred to another station, and that he will be replaced by a Roman Catholic sergeant.

The "Granuaille"

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Congested Districts Board's steamer "Granuaille" underwent her annual repairs and survey in England last year; and whether, if the Londonderry Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Limited, are willing to undertake the repair of the steamer on terms similar to those charged the Board by the English firm who did the work last year, the necessary work of survey and repair will be entrusted this year to the Londonderry company, to which port the "Granuaille" often puts in, and thereby give employment to a city contiguous to the congested districts of Donegal.

The contract for repairs to this vessel last year was given to a Scotch firm, whose tender was considerably less than that of the Londonderry firm. When the vessel again requires to be repaired, tenders will be invited from the firms at Derry.

Fish Curing Stations On The Donegal Coast

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state how many curing stations have been erected by the Congested Districts Board on the Donegal coast; who are the lessees of same; and why has the curing station at Rossbeg been taken from a local fishcurer and handed over to a Scotchman, although the local man was prepared to pay the same rent as the Scotchman.

There are ten curing stations, all of which save one, sublet to a Scotch firm, are at present on the Board's hands. These stations are only sublet for a fishing season, and then to the fishcurer who, in the Board's opinion, offers the best terms to the fishermen, regard being had to other circumstances, such as the business reputation of the applicant,

Londonderry Assizes—Sending Trivial Cases For Trial

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland if his attention has been drawn to the case of the King c Sarah Hagan and the King v. Mary Jane M'Laughlin and Mary A. Nelson, heard at the Londonderry Assizes on 18th March instant, and to the observations of Lord Justice Holmes commenting on the practice of magistrates sending such cases for trial at the assizes and putting the county to unnecessary expense, and stating that the Act under which the defendants were tried contemplated that such cases should be summarily dealt with and the county saved the expense of a trial at assizes; and if, in view of the observations of the Lord Justice in these and similar cases heard by him at the assizes for the north-west circuit, he will consider the advisability of issuing a circular to magistrates to refrain in future from returning such trivial cases for trial when they can be summarily dealt with at potty sessions, and also a circular to district inspectors of constabulary to cease asking magistrates to return trivial cases for trial, and thus save the ratepayers.

In the first case mentioned the coroner's jury had found a verdict of manslaughter against the accused, and it was upon that charge she was brought before the magistrates, so that they had no option in the matter. In the other cases the solicitor concerned for the accused applied to have the cases disposed of summarily and the police officer in charge offered no objection whatever to that course. The Government cannot dictate to the magistrates as to how they should decide the cases which may come before them, but instructions will be given to the police to call the attention of the justices in cases of this character to their power of disposing of them summarily.

Gweebarra Bridge, Co Donegal

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention as President of the Congested Districts Board has been drawn to a resolution of the Donegal County Council regarding the condition of the Gweebarra Bridge in the Glenties Rural District, County Donegal, and urging that the Board should take steps to have the bridge repaired; and whether, seeing that the bridge has only been recently erected by the. Board, they will comply with the request of the county council.

The bridge was completed in December, 1896, at a cost to the Board of £9,000. The Board is unable to relieve the county authorities of the responsibility undertaken by them in March, 1897, to maintain the bridge.

Killydysart District Council

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, having regard to the fact that the District Council of Killydysart, County Clare, were forbidden by the Local Government Board to pay an account due to Mr. Patrick M'Inerney, of Ennis, for timber, and that Mr. M'Inerney sued the District Council of Killydysart at the last quarter sessions and obtained a decree with costs against the district council, whether the Local Government Board will pay these costs incurred by the action of the Local Government Board in Ireland.

The guardians of the Killydysart Union inquired from the Local Government Board whether they could legally pay a sum of money to Mr. M'Inerney for timber supplied between August, 1897, and January, 1899, but for which he did not present his account until August, 1900. The Board informed the guardians that in view of the terms of Section 51 (7) of the Local Government Act, it had no power to extend the time for payment in the case of sums due since the date of passing of the Act, namely, the 12th August, 1898. The action of the Board consisted merely of explaining the limits of its own jurisdiction. The reply to the last query is in the negative.

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that the Inspectors of the Local Government Board do not unnecessarily interfere in these local matters?

In view of the fact that costs were incurred in this case owing to the acts of the Local Government Board, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to have the money refunded to the local authority?

I am afraid I can give no such undertaking. In this case the Board put a query to the Local Government Board, which replied that it had no jurisdiction. I cannot carry the matter any further.

Irish Local Government Drug Contracts

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Irish firms competing for the Supply of Local Government Board's prescribed lists of medicines are compelled to offer a discount off the scheduled prices; and that the Apothecaries Hall of Ireland, which holds a Royal charter, occupying a semi-official position, tenders for those contracts under cost price; whether any of the members of the Apothecaries Hall hold Government appointments; and whether a system will be adopted to enable private firms to enter into competition for those, contracts.

All firms tender upon precisely the same terms (and offer an abatement upon the gross cost of the articles purchased during the year). The Apothecaries Hall enjoys no privilege in connection with these contracts. It holds a charter for instruction in medicine, but the commercial branch transacts business for the benefit of the shareholders in the same way as any other firm. Private firms already compete for these contracts, and appear to secure about 96 per cent, of the contracts, and the Apothecaries Hall about 4 per cent. No change is proposed to be made in the system. I have no information on the second paragraph.

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer the second paragraph?

Congested Districts In County Sligo

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state the number of electoral divisions at present scheduled under the Congested Districts Board in the poor law unions of Tobercurry and Boyle No. 2 (county Sligo), and whether, in view of the fact that there are grazing tracts in these districts, some of which are advertised for sale, he will consider the advisability of having the whole of these unions scheduled in order to facilitate the sale of the waste lands mentioned to the Board.

The numbers are 9 and 3 respectively. There is no power to schedule as congested areas divisions not already scheduled.

Fever In The Isles Of Arran

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any complaints have reached him regarding the fitness of the person appointed to the position of fever nurse in the Isles of Arran; whether several fresh cases of typhus fever have broken out; whether he is aware that the medical inspector of health has not as yet paid attention to the complaints made in this House regarding his non-visitation to the Isles; and whether, in view of the fact that the spring mackerel fishing industry soon opens, he will direct this Gentleman to proceed at once to the Isles and take such steps as may be necessary to check this disease.

I have already stated that the employment of the male nurse referred to was the best arrangement possible in the emergency. Only one fresh case of sickness has since broken out, and it is doubtful whether it is fever. There is every reason to hope the disease is checked. The medical inspector visited the islands on 21st February, 28th February, and again on Saturday last, when he conferred with the medical officer of health, and ascertained that all due precautions had been carried out. The matter is being dealt with in the ordinary way by the rural district council, and the Local Government Board sees no reason for interfering in the discretion of the council in the choice of nurses, or otherwise.

Bailieborough Union Ambulance

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state why the Local Government Board have prevented the clerk of Bailieborough Union from paying promptly for the horsing of an ambulance van hired by them, which would diminish the payment to be made; and if he will direct more latitude to be given to boards of guardians in the future than is now allowed by the Local Government Board in such matters.

The Local Government Board did not take the action imputed to it in the first part of the question. The Board, in order to assist the Union in a controversy with the contractor, suggested that the guardians should enter into a permanent contract for the performance of such work. The guardians are acting on that suggestion.

Nationalist Members And The Commission Of The Peace

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Mr. Kendal E. O'Brien, an hon. Member of this House, has been deprived by the Lord Chancellor of Ireland of the Commission of the Peace, which he held by virtue of his office as chairman of the Tipperary District Council, and that Mr. O'Brien has been twice since re-elected to the position, and each time refused the appointment by the Lord Chancellor: whether the evidence on which Mr. O'Brien was deprived of the Commission of the Peace was based on extracts taken from two alleged speeches which appeared in newspapers, no representatives from which were at either meeting; and whether, seeing that Mr. John O'Dowd and Mr. Conor O'Kelly, both hon. Members of this House, were similarly superseded, and subsequently re-ap-appointed, there is any reason why Mr. O'Brien should not be similarly treated by the Lord Chancellor.

The circumstances of the case of the hon. Member for Mid Tipperary were different from those of the Members for South Sligo and North Mayo. The first hon. Member, so far from seeking to lessen the disqualification in respect of which he was removed from the magistracy, or allowing time to mitigate its force, gave utterance in further speeches, as reported in the press, to sentiments amounting, in the opinion of the Lord Chancellor, to further disqualification. The language reported to have been used by the hon. Member was communicated to him by the Lord Chancellor, but he neither I denied having used it, suggested any inaccuracy therein, or disclaimed its obvious meaning.

May I ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the hon. Members of this House who were deprived of the Commission of the Peace, and have since been restored, admitted or denied the language they had used; and also whether these hon. Members made any apology whatever previous to their re-appointment to the Commission of the Peace?

I have already given the grounds which guided the Lord Chancellor in this matter, and I can add nothing.

I beg to say that in the circumstances in which I was reappointed I made no apology whatever for the views I had stated. I wish to say that I was deprived of the Commission of the Peace for sympathising with the Boers, and afterwards, on my re-election as Chairman of the District Council, I was re-appointed to the Commission of the Peace, and I made no apology for my views with regard to the Boers.

Is there any appeal from the decision of the Lord Chancellor in these cases? MR. WYNDHAM: No, Sir.

In what particulars did the case of the hon. Member for Mid-Tipperary differ from the cases of the hon. Members for North Mayo and South Sligo?

Order, order! The hon. Member cannot call on the right hon. Gentleman to argue these points. [Ministerial laughter.]

I think this is not a matter for laughter. I think it is a very serious matter.

Order, order! The hon. Member is not entitled to make observations of that kind.

Allow me, Sir, to point out that you may not be aware that the hon. Gentleman who has just risen is one of the hon. Gentlemen referred to in this question, and he may have a personal explanation to make.

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman why the Lord Chancellor refused my application after being re-elected last June as Chairman of the District Council?

I think the hon. Member will see that, since I have put these questions to the Lord Chancellor, I cannot answer them without notice.

Sir George White's Claim At Antrim Assizes

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that at the County Antrim Assizes, on Thursday, 21st March, Sir George White claimed £25 in respect of damage done to the windows of his house at Knocknacarry, near Cushendun, for which damage the county court judge had previously awarded him £4 10s., that Mr. Justice Barton considered it was not a case of malicious injury, and disallowed the claim to compensation; and whether His Majesty's Government will see that Sir George White suffers no pecuniary loss in this matter.

The Government have no power to award compensation to Sir George White under the circumstances mentioned.

Is not this the house from which a priest was evicted, and has Sir George White turned house-grabber?

Dublin Customs House Examinations

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state who conducts the examinations held at the Custom House, Dublin, for candidates appointed by the county councils to the positions of assistant surveyor in Ireland; in what subjects the candidates are examined; and is the examination conducted in the same way, and are the subjects the same, or have they been increased, or has the standard for obtaining a certificate been raised since the coming into operation of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898.

The examinations are conducted by the Engineering Department of the Local Government Board. The subjects of examination in the case of persons not professionally qualified are English composition, arithmetic, mensuration, building construction, construction and maintenance of roads, chain levelling and surveying. The questions set in these subjects are of an elementary character. Before the Act of 1898 came into operation, the examinations were conducted at the office of the Board of Works, and the subjects were mensuration, chain levelling, road and drainage works, surveying, and estimates for works.

Have the subjects increased in numbers since the Local Government Board came into operation, and is it because the candidates are now Nationalists, whereas formerly they were Unionists?

Irish National Schools—Extra Subjects

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can state what is the fee paid for Irish taught in national schools as an extra subject; are fees paid on general proficiency or on individual passes; and in what classes, under new rules, may children be presented for Irish as an extra subject.

I am not at present in a position to make any statement on this subject, as the correspondence with the Treasury has not yet concluded.

Royal Irish Constabulary

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he will grant the Return on the Notice Paper for Monday with reference to the Royal Irish Constabulary.

Yes, Sir. But Galway having been merged into the county by the operation of the Local Government Act it has now no separate authorised police establishment. I can exclude Galway, or include it with a note to the above effect.

It is my mistake. I should have put Limerick instead of Galway. Will the right hon. Gentleman grant the Return, if I substitute Limerick for Galway.

Knockbrack (Donegal) Sub-Post Office

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that a sub-post office which has been in existence at Knockbrack, Letter-kenny, county Donegal, for upwards of twenty years was abolished last year; and whether, seeing that the inhabitants of the district are unanimous in asking that the office be re-opened on the ground of public convenience, he will give directions to have the old post office restored to the district, in accordance with the memorial to the Postmaster General setting forth the inconvenience caused by closing this office.

The sub-post office at Knockbrack, Letterkenny, was closed last year in view of the difficulty of finding anyone suitable for the appointment of sub-postmaster. The postal business of the neighbourhood is not sufficient to justify the maintenance of a post office, and as a house-to-house delivery has now been established the office is no longer required as a place of call for letters. The Postmaster General will, however, make a further endeavour to find a suitable person for the office.

Irish Language In The Post Office

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can say for what languages interpreters are employed in the General Post Office, London; and whether, seeing that until recently efforts were made to deliver letters addressed in Irish, he can state who is responsible for a circular issued to post office officials directing them to regard all letters addressed in Irish as undeliverable or insufficiently addressed, and therefore to make no effort to deliver them.

The ordinary staff in the General Post Office, London, is able to deal with correspondence addressed in most languages, but no regular interpreters are employed. The Postmaster General doubts whether there are many persons, if, indeed, there are any, who can write letters in Irish and cannot write in English, and he does not consider it generally practicable to make special arrangements for the translation of addresses in Irish into English, especially in the case of letters posted in England. Nevertheless, he has given instructions that in the event of a letter in Irish passing through an office where it can be deciphered, the address shall be translated into English and the letter sent on to its destination.

May I ask if the hon. Gentleman is aware that a number of Irishmen prefer to write their letters and address them in the Irish language?

That does not arise out of the question on the Paper. The Postmaster General has nothing to do with the language in which letters are written. If letters are written in Irish it will be for the convenience of the parties themselves.

Will similar instructions be given with regard to letters addressed in Gaelic?

[No answer was returned.]

Is it not a fact that a number of people Hying in Ireland can only write in the Irish language?

Glencolumbkille (Donegal) Ex-Sub-Postmaster

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can give the date of dismissal of the ex-sub-postmaster of Glencolumbkille, county Donegal, and the date of appointment of his successor; whether he is aware that the head postmaster of the district removed the post office to the house of a man named Byrne, whose house was the most suitable, and whom he recommended for the vacant position, and that a memorial, signed by nearly all the inhabitants, recommending the appointment of Mr. Byrne, was sent to the Postmaster General; and can he explain why the position has been filled by the appointment of a retired sergeant of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who was not a householder; can he say who recommended the present sub-postmaster for the position, and why a Protestant was appointed, seeing that the Roman Catholics are in a large majority in the district.

The situation of the late sub-postmaster of Glencolumbkille, county Donegal, was declared vacant on the 23rd December last, and it was decided on the 26th ultimo to appoint the present sub-postmaster. In the interim Mr. Byrne was placed in temporary charge of the duties (that being the best arrangement which could be made at the time), and two memorials, signed by inhabitants of the district, recommending Mr. Byrne for appointment, were received. Mr. Byrne's premises, however, were not so conveniently situated as the present sub-office: and there were other reasons against his appointment. The appointment of the present sub-postmaster was recommended by persons on whose judgment the Postmaster general can rely; and, having become the tenant of the premises in which the late sub-postmaster carried on the business, and which were central, and otherwise suitable, he was selected for the appointment. The Department is not concerned with a candidate's religious belief, and the appointment in such cases is dependent simply on character and fitness to perform post office work.

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the person to whom he gave the appointment was a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary at the date of his application and appointment?

I will do so if the hon. Member wishes, but it does not appear to me to be of any consequence.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is an Irish-speaking district, and that Mr. Byrne was an Irish speaker?

Cahir (Tipperary) Post Office

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether representations have been made of the unsuitability of the post office in Cahir, county Tipperary; whether the postal authorities have been negotiating for more suitable premises; and if he can state what steps will be taken to provide a post office in keeping with the requirements of this centre.

A scheme for providing a Crown post office at Cahir on a site in Church Street has been sanctioned and the acquisition of the ground is in progress.

Protection Of Irish Fisheries

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he can state the number and names of gunboats detailed for the protection of Irish fisheries, and how long ago they were detailed for this work.

The following gunboats are employed in the protection of Irish fisheries—namely, "Skipjack," "Argus," and "Amelia." The orders under which they are so employed were revised and issued in the year 1889; but gunboats have been employed in Ireland on fishery duty for many years prior to this.

The speed of the sailing cruisers varies with the strength and direction of the wind.

May I ask whether these sailing ships are of the least value against steam trawlers?

That question does not arise. The only question on the Paper is with reference to the number and names of the vessels.