HC Deb 22 June 1881 vol 262 cc1034-5

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, with reference to Return "Piers and Harbours." No244 of the present Session, Why none of the works to be executed by the Board of Works in Ireland, out of the sum of £45,000 voted by Parliament last Session, for the erection of Piers and Harbours under "The Relief of Distress (Ireland) Act, 1880," were commenced before the 27th of August last year, the majority of them not until the month's of October, November, and December, and some of them not till the month of March this year, although the money so voted was intended to relieve the distress of last year in scheduled districts by the employment of the people, such employment being most urgently required; and, if he will take steps to urge the Board of Works to expedite the completion of those works?


Sir, the Government were most anxious last year that the works referred to by the hon. Member should be put in hand with as little delay as possible. The task was not as easy a one as it might seem at first sight. In addition to the various provisions of the Fishery Piers and Harbours Act which cause delay, such as the section providing for pre- liminary surveys and inquiries, a Report to the Treasury, the publication of notices, and security for the due maintenance of the pier when completed, there was the difficulty of selecting a limited number out of a very large number of applications for grants. That selection had to be made not simply on the ground of greatest benefit to the fisheries, but also for the purposes of relief of distress. Plans and estimates of the cost of the several works among which the choice had to be made had also to be prepared. For the purpose of diminishing, as far as possible, these obstacles to the immediate procedure, a Committee, consisting of Members of the Fishery Commissioners, the Local Government Board, and the Board of Public Works, was appointed. When I add that, after the various steps which I have mentioned had been completed, tenders had still to be obtained, I do not think that the delay complained of by the hon. Member is, in most cases, surprising, though I join with him in regretting it. In certain particular cases there have been additional causes of delay, some of which I stated in reply to a Question from the hon. Member a few days ago.