HC Deb 28 May 1847 vol 92 cc1248-9

wished to put a question to his right hon. Friend opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) respecting the superintendence of Government works in Ireland. It seemed that whilst the expenditure had been reduced from 250,000l. a week to 67,000l., the expense of the staff was not reduced in the same proportion; that expense amounting to about 14,000l. a week. It had been estimated by his right hon. Friend opposite, that the expense of the staff would be no more than 7½ per cent on the expenditure; and he therefore wished to know whether there was any prospect of the expense of the superintendence being reduced in proportion to the reduction of the amount of money expended on labour. He also inquired what proportion of these persons receiving 14,000l. a week were destitute electors?


said, he now held in his hand an account of the precise numbers employed on the 25th of this month, and he was happy to state that a very large reduction had already taken place in the number of persons superintending the works, and especially in reference to the classes to which the imputation contained in the question formerly asked by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire applied, but which, in the present state of Ireland, he should have thought it hardly worth that hon. Member's while to throw out. He would state the amount of reduction, which, he repeated, had principally fallen on those classes of persons, for he could not hold out the expectation that there could be so great a proportionate reduction in the superior class of officers, who were mainly military men, because a large proportion of them must necessarily be transferred from the public works to the duty of aiding the relief committees in the discharge of their various functions. It also must be obvious that the reduction of the superintending officers and pay-clerks could not be effected so rapidly as the reduction of the persons employed, as they must be retained for a certain time to wind up and to bring to a conclusion the various accounts. With respect to the two classes of persons, namely, the overseers and the check-clerks, which might perhaps comprise a certain number of electors, although not having access to the registry, he could not state how many of them were electors, the reduction which had taken place from the 31st of March to the 25th of May was as follows:—On the 31st of March the number of overseers employed was 11,218, and on the 25th of May, 3,716, being a reduction of about 7,000. In point of fact, this reduction was brought into effect, within a very small amount, on the 10th of May, when the number employed was under 3,800. Therefore the principal reduction had taken place before the noble Lord put his question on this subject on a former occasion. With respect to the check-clerks, there were, on the 31st of March, 4,835 employed, and on the 25th of May 2,080, being a reduction of more than one-half. Thus, in respect to the two classes to which the hon. Member for Oxfordshire's question referred, there had been a reduction of the number employed from about 16,000 on the 31st of March, to about 5,700 on the 25th of May. With respect to other reductions, they were going on as rapidly as was consistent with bringing the various accounts to a close.