§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, he rose to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, to give, on the part of the Salters' Company, answers to the following questions:—What was the rental of the entire estate of the Salters' Company in the County Derry, including the town of Magherafelt, while held on lease by the Bateson family; and, on the expiration of the Bateson lease, what was that rental raised to in the years 1854 and 1865? How much of the £16,000 alleged to have been expended by the Company was devoted to improvements beneficial to their tenants, and calculated to enhance the value of the tenants' holdings; and what is the rate of interest exacted by the Company for such expenditure? Did the Company, since assuming entire control of the property in 1854, expend any sum, and, if so, how much, in paving, lighting, or sewering the town of Magherafelt, which, being below the population standard required by Law, cannot be placed under the provisions of the Towns Improvement Act; and are not the side paths almost wholly unpaved, and such buildings as the Town Hall unfit for public use, owing to their dilapidated condition? Have not the tenants of the town invested, by purchase and expenditure, capital to the extent of between £30,000 and £40,000; and have not the whole or the vast majority of their rents boen quadrupled since 1854, notwithstanding the said investment? Did not the Company in their printed reply to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, state that there was not, with their knowledge, a single "notice to quit" served on any tenant in the town of Magherafelt; and did not the Company admit, on the following day, that 769 forty-nine "notices to quit" had been served upon said tenants? For what purpose, if not for eviction or further increase of rent, were these notices served? And, have the Company refused perpetuity leases to persons desirous of expending large capital in the introduction of manufacturing industry into the town?
I hope, Sir, the hon. Member will not consider that I act discourteously towards him when I say that I do not think it within my duty to answer this Question. The rule of this House is—Before public business is entered on questions are permitted to be put to the Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs.The Question of which the hon. Member has given notice is not a Question that in any way relates to public affairs. It relates to the private affairs of a Company that owns property in the North of Ireland, and of whose affairs I can possibly have no official cognizance.