HC Deb 17 November 1884 vol 293 cc1843-5

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If, as President of the Local Government Board in Ireland, the subject of an investigation granted by his predecessor in office into charges brought on behalf of the ratepayers of Baltinglass Union, county Wicklow, against Mr. Dagg, clerk of the Union, and George Driver, rate collector, has been brought under his notice; whether it is the fact that the following persons have been excluded from the Register by their action: Edward Byrne, Denis Halpin, Garret Byrne, Edward Cusack, Peter Reilly, James Brophy, and Patrick Byrne; whether he has observed, with reference to Edward Byrne's case, the following statement in the Report of the Poor Law Inspector, who presided at the inquiry— The clerk of the Union admits.… complaint is well founded. He erroneously placed the word 'objected' opposite the voter's name, although the rates were duly paid on the 29th, June, 1883; whether he has noted that Denis Halpin's complaint is that he objected for insufficient rating, but the clerk alleges he objected to insufficient rating, the amount being £13 5s. £11 15s. separate, and £1 10s. his share of mountain pasture; whether he has observed, in the case of Garret Byrne, that he was duly rated and voted on a former occasion, but that the name was altered on the rate-book by erasing his name, and writing "reps Martin Byrne" over it; whether the inspector reports— The rate-book contains an entry 'Reps Martin Byrne,' and that entry appeared to me to have been written over an erasure of more than a blot; whether he has noted, with regard to Conservative voters, that the name of William Vavasour was improperly retained on the rate-book after he had ceased to be a ratepayer, and had been struck off by the Valuation Office; whether he has noted that Rate Collector George Driver had his own name down twice in 1882 and three times in 1883; whether many previous complaints have been made from various quarters alleging partizan action on the part of Poor Law officials, in which "mistakes" and "errors of judgment" were pleaded in excuse; and, whether he approves the decision of his subordinates who do not think that there are grounds for deeming the Clerk of the Union and Mr. Driver to be unworthy of further confidence by reason of wilful dereliction of duty on their part?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers I would like to ask whether substantially identical complaints were not addressed to the late Chief Secretary for Ireland last Session; whether he in reply did not state that the charges against Mr. Dagg were fully investigated by an Inspector of the Local Government Board, and disproved; and whether the present repetition of these complaints is not a vexatious attempt to reopen a question already settled?


Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman at the same time whether the junior Member for Wicklow has recently visited his constituents?


In reply to my hon. Friend I can only say that the Question which stands on the Paper does appear to relate to a matter which has already been disposed of by competent authority. An inquiry has recently been held, as promised, by an Inspector of the Local Government Board into certain complaints made against officers of Baltinglass Union in connection with the election of Guardians, and in regard to the discharge of duties under the Parliamentary Voters' Act. The hon. Member will hardly ex-me within the limits of an answer to a Question to enter into details as to the several cases he refers to. He is, I believe, in communication with the Local Government Board on the subject. The Board has communicated to the Guardians the result of the Inspector's inquiry, and stated that, having carefully considered the facts elicited at the inquiry, they do not think that there are grounds for deeming the officers complained of to be unworthy of confidence, by reason of wilful dereliction of duty—although, no doubt, some mistakes had been made. I see no sufficient reason to dissent from that view. With regard to the complaints in respect of the proceedings under the Parliamentary Voters' Act, the hon. Member is no doubt aware that it is open to any person who may consider himself aggrieved to institute proceedings.


With regard to the Question put by my hon. Colleague, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is not aware that the investigation to which my Question refers was held on the 17th September last, long after the one held last year?

[No reply.]