§ (1.) £161,784, to complete the sum for Public Buildings, Ireland.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, the question of the Parks in Ireland would more properly come under the Public Works Vote.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
replied that the present Vote was for Public Buildings; the Vote for Public Works would be the next but one.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that he was not going to discuss the question of Public Buildings, but simply to point out a matter which he thought would properly come under the present Vote. What he would take leave to say was that he thought the Board of Works might very properly spend a little more money than they did in Phœnix Park upon seat accommodation for the public. At present there were only seats in those portions of the Park that were in the immediate neighbourhood of the gates; and when an inhabitant or a visitor desired to go into the Park he found that the seats were of a most inconvenient character and quite unworthy of the Metropolis of Ireland, and altogether inadequate to provide accommodation for the number of persons who frequented 1215 the Park. That was an important matter when people were out for a holiday endeavouring to enjoy themselves. It certainly did not add to the enjoyment of visitors to the Phœnix Park to discover that it was impossible to find seat accommodation; and as the expenditure of a very few pounds would remedy the defect, he hoped the Government would instruct the Board of Works at a very early period to remove that grievance. There was another point to which it was necessary he should call attention—namely, the cutting up of the Park for polo and cricket grounds. He had raised that question before. In London there was nothing of the kind, although there was larger park accommodation and a much greater number of people who might be supposed to require special accommodation for cricket and other recreation. In the case of the Phœnix Park, three or four acres of ground on the best level of the Park were railed off as a polo ground, and a notice was stuck up of the most audacious nature, which, in his opinion, was quite illegal, warning persons not to attempt or dare to ride over that portion of the Park, which, as a matter of fact, was railed off solely for the accommodation of the officers of the Dublin garrison. Then, again, there was a cricket ground of 30 or 40 acres on one of the pet spots in the Park. He thought the Park was quite large enough to provide accommodation for those polo and cricket gentlemen without selecting the choicest sites in it. It was monstrous that the pet portions of the Park should be given up for the sole amusement of a limited body of the public. If such a course were pursued in regard to Hyde Park, he felt satisfied that any structures similar to those which had been erected in the Phœnix Park would be pulled down in the same way that the Hyde Park railings were destroyed some years ago. His own opinion was that if a few of those illegal inclosures were pulled down by the people a salutary lesson would be taught. Phœnix Park was large enough to accommodate everybody; but he thought that some special portion of the Park should be set aside in a very different spot, away from the road which was most used by the public, in order to provide for gentlemen who desired facilities for special amusements. So far as the polo ground was concerned, he thought that the notice warn- 1216 ing the public off should be taken down. Why should the officers of the garrison of Dublin have allocated to their own sole use the very beautiful piece of level ground which, they were now enjoying, and every other person be prevented from riding over it, while in London no attempt was made, either in Hyde Park, Regent's Park, or in any of the other Parks, to make inclosures of the same character? His own opinion was that the Phœnix Park ought to be treated in precisely the same way. It might be said that it was an ungenerous thing to attempt to restrict the privileges of any particular class of the people; but what he maintained was this—that the enjoyment of the Park should be equally open to all, and that the best pieces of the ground should not be allocated to particular individuals, especially when there was no difficulty in obtaining all the accommodation that could be required elsewhere. He was afraid that it was the old story of giving an inch and taking an ell. The usurpers were not even content with a wire inclosure, but they were erecting stone buildings, which he maintained were an unjustifiable intrusion upon the rights of the public with regard to the enjoyment of the Park. Then, again, he thought the system of grazing cattle over portions of the Park created a public nuisance in many respects which prevented the people generally from walking over the grass. All those things in regard to Phœnix Park formed an eyesore which would not be tolerated in London for a single moment, and especially so far as the grazing of cattle was concerned. He had no idea who the owners of the cattle were. No doubt, there were deer in the Park; but they were an ornament, and so would the cattle be but for the nuisance which they created. It was very objectionable to see the large area of the Park turned into what he might almost describe as a cow-keeping establishment for the remuneration and profit of some particular body of whom he knew nothing. He trusted that the Government would remember that the Phœnix Park was intended not for the use of a particular set of persons, but for the public at large, and if the system were persisted in of sanctioning cow-grazing over the Park it might be carried altogether too far. The pleasure of the people ought to be the main con- 1217 sideration; and for those who required exceptional privileges it was most undesirable, either for cow-grazing or polo and cricket playing, that special privileges should be reserved against the general user of the public. Personally, if the present practice were persisted in, he would recommend the people of Dublin to do as the people of London did in Hyde Park—to go over and tear down the rails.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, his attention had not been called to this particular point in connection with the Vote; butheheartily concurred with the hon. and learned Member in the opinion that the Phœnix Park was intended for the use not of individuals, but of the public at large. The point as to providing more seats in the Park should receive consideration. He understood the hon. and learned Member to say that in regard to the polo ground there was a notice put up warning people off.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
said, there could be no question that anybody had a right to ride over the polo ground, and he would bring the matter under the consideration of the Lord Lieutenant in the hope that the notices referred to by the hon. and learned Member would be removed. With regard to the cricket grounds be trusted that before the violent steps shadowed forth by the hon. and learned Member were taken, an opportunity would be afforded to the Government to consider whether some of the grounds could not be removed to another part of the Park, if the public were really at present inconvenienced. On public grounds it might not be desirable to retain them in their present position; but, at the same time, it must be borne in mind that they would be very useless if they were placed in a part of the Park which would be practically inaccessible. He would ascertain whether the cricketing could not be removed to other parts of the Park, where it would not hinder the people from walking about; but he did not understand the hon. Member to be opposed to all cricket grounds in the Park. For himself, he could not agree in any such view.
MR. J. LOWTHER
said the hon. and learned Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) was hardly correct in saying that in the London Parks no spaces were allotted for cricket or football. In Batter sea Park, and he believed in some of the other Parks, spaces were appropriated specially for cricket and other games, as well as to riders.
MR. J. LOWTHER
said,hewas not in a position to say what amount of space was allotted. The acreage devoted to such purposes was, of course, a matter of detail, and did not affect the principle involved. All he wished to point out was that there were portions of the London Parks allotted to cricket and football, independent of the other parts of the Parks which were placed at the disposal of the general public. He trusted that his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury, when he inquired into the matter, would not be disposed too prematurely to concur in the idea that the allocation of a specific portion of ground for polo or cricket was an infringement of the rights of the public. He hoped his hon. Friend would not jump at the conclusion that it was not for the general convenience of the public that a portion of the Parks should be allocated for such purposes. And if such an allocation were made it was most desirable that the spaces allotted for those purposes should be within easy reach of the people who had recourse to them. If they were situated in such an out-of-the-way part of the Park as the hon. and learned Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) seemed to indicate they would be of little use to anybody. He, therefore, trusted that his hon. Friend would not commit himself, without inquiry, to any particular declaration upon the subject.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, there was an item in the Vote for the conversion of military barracks into Constabulary buildings. In fact, he saw items for that purpose—one of £700, another of £800, another of £900, another of £600. and, in the case of Tullamore, one of £1,670. He was at a loss to understand 1219 why those sums were asked for, and he thought that some explanation was demanded from the Government, for they certainly appeared to be very large items.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, he believed that some of the existing barracks were much too small or too dilapidated, especially in the larger towns, for further occupation. The sums referred to were only Estimates, and therefore conveniently given in round sums; and of course all the money that was not actually expended would be returned. He believed that this expenditure was due to the postponement of certain works that were asked for last year. It was contemplated that a considerable portion of this expenditure should have been incurred last year; but the work itself had been postponed. He was informed that this outlay had now become absolutely necessary, and that the work must be done at once. In regard to the question of the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy), he had no special information as to Tullamore as distinguished from the requirements of other towns.
§ MR. MOLLOY
asked whether he was to understand the hon. Baronet to say that this sum of £1,670 was to be expended in Tullamore for the conversion of military barracks into Constabulary buildings?
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, that upon page 61 of the Votes there were two items in reference to the navigation of the Shannon to which he desired to call attention. There was a great flood a few years ago, which did a considerable amount of damage; and he wanted to know bow a similar disaster was to be guarded against in future years, so as to prevent the injury from occurring again to which the farmers were liable from summer floods? He believed there had been many complaints in regard to the Killaloo sluice, and that there had been more than one flood of a serious character, which had been brought about in consequence of that sluice. The Government had promised to make inquiry into the matter; but so far as he could learn they had never done so. He trusted that the present Secretary to the Treasury would bear the matter in mind. 1220 There was another question which it was important to mention. He trusted that there was still time to get some declaration from the Government as to their intentions in regard to the Ulster Canal Bill. It was most inconvenient to find that Bill put down in the Orders night after night. He believed that there was no objection to the measure itself if the Government would leave out the provisions which related to the keeping up of the summer level. So far as he could learn that was the only serious objection to the Bill. Personally, he thought that an undoubted claim had been made for getting rid of this summer level in order to prevent the farmers, whose holdings were higher up, from being flooded in an attempt to maintain the level. He hoped to receive a precise and specific declaration from the Government on the matter; and he thought he was justified in assuring them that that was in reality the only point upon which objection was taken to the Bill.
also expressed a hope that some statement would be made in regard to the arrangements which were proposed to be carried out in reference to the Ulster Canal.
said, that an allusion had been made by the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy) to the items which appeared in the Vote for the conversion of military barracks into Constabulary buildings. His own opinion was that the whole of the arrangements for providing sumptuous accommodation for the Constabulary were objectionable and extravagant. He saw that in one instance a sum of £250 was put down for providing a bath room. Considering the very unpretentious bath rooms which ordinary people had to put up with, he did not see why the country should construct a bath room on so magnificent a scale, and should be called upon to pay £250 for it, in order to enable half-a-dozen or a dozen policemen to enjoy the luxury of a bath in Dublin, where there were plenty of public baths and wash-houses in existence. Then he saw that a sum of £2,300 was asked for the barracks in the little town of Portadown. He had had occasion not very long ago to call attention to the fact that the people who were proposing to set up this establishment were most neglectful of their duty, and that the lives of persons who found it necessary to pass 1221 through the place were left very much at the mercy of the Constabulary themselves. There was also an item of £2,500 for providing a Constabulary barracks in the little town of Dingle, in the county of Kerry, He did not suppose that all the other buildings in the town put together would cost as much as that. There was also a sum of £4,500 for a barracks in the town of Galway. Estimates of this kind were perfectly scandalous. What on earth was all this money required for at a time when they were professing to reduce the strength of the Royal Irish Constabulary by more than 2,000 men? It was quite notorious that one-half of the present Constabulary Force would be quite ample for the purpose of preserving law and order if they were not treated as soldiers. When he found that in the present Vote about £1,200 was devoted to the building of these palatial residences for policemen, and that only £1,000 was set apart for the building of residences for the National School teachers of Ireland, every man in Ireland, and the country generally, must be impressed with the fact that while policemen were munificently paid and housed in magnificent buildings, the unfortunate National School teachers, and every other person who added to the happiness and prosperity of the Irish people, were shamefully neglected. He thought they were entitled to have some explanation of this mania for building police barracks at this extraordinary rate. In many places it was found impossible to afford money for building a church in honour of the Almighty; whereas it appeared that there was to be no stint in building temples for police officers.hehoped the Chief Secretary would be able to afford some explanation as to the reason why the Estimates had become so swollen for the Constabulary. He wished, further, to know who had the controlling authority in the matter?
said, he could not understand why the Estimates should be increasing while the number of the police themselves was falling off. He certainly failed to see what ground there was for increasing the barrack accommodation. If they were going to increase the number of police in Ireland it would be a very different matter; but they had been assured over and over again by the late Government that the 1222 number was being decreased, and, therefore, he could not see what reason there was for increasing the expenditure. The instance of Galway had been mentioned. He understood that that was a decaying town—at any rate, it had not been a flourishing town for some time past, and he believed that premises quite suitable for the accommodation of the Constabulary were to be had in the town for a very moderate rent. It was notorious that in most of the places where it was proposed to incur this expenditure very decent accommodation was to be had at much more reasonable rates. The proposal to expend £4,500 in Galway was altogether extravagant and monstrous. There could be no justification for such an outlay in a town of the size of Galway, nor, indeed, in any other Irish town except Dublin. He strongly objected to the spending of a lot of money in extravagant police barracks, especially when the Government must be fully aware that they were able to get the necessary accommodation at a much more reasonable rate.
§ MR. MOLLOY
wished to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that last year they had had a discussion upon this subject; and on that occasion the items asked for under this particular head were shown to have been already obtained for the same purposes for which they were again asked for; but it was admitted, in the course of the discussion, that they had not been expended for those purposes, but applied to others. It was proved that sums of money had been obtained for the purpose of purchasing sites for police barracks; and it was further shown that the money so obtained had never been expended at all. In more than one case it appeared that money for a site had been voted two or three times over; and yet when a distinct question was put to the Government it appeared that no site had in reality been purchased at all. He asked the hon. Gentleman who was now in charge of these Estimates to see that the money drawn for police barracks was really expended for that purpose, and not, as was the case last year, taken for one purpose and expended upon another.
said, that, in regard to the question of police barracks, there was one point to which he desired to call attention. It must be 1223 borne in mind that these Estimates were not drawn by the present, but by the late Government; and he was very much surprised to find that there was no Member of the late Government present who was able to get up and give an explanation. With regard to police barracks, it was within his knowledge that the number of the Force had been largely diminished, and the buildings themselves had been allowed to fall into decay, so that the Government had now to build fresh houses. It was utterly impossible to obtain premises already in existence that were suitable. It had, therefore, become absolutely essential that the Government should build fresh houses, in order to replace those which had been allowed to fall into wreck and ruin.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he had no wish to criticize adversely the Estimates now under discussion as the Estimates of the present Government, because, as had already been remarked, the present Government had had no hand in preparing them. At the same time, no one who had studied the question of Public Works in Ireland could fail to see that there was a great want of that supervision in connection with this expenditure which was undertaken in connection with every other Department of the Public Service. There was, apparently, an ambition on the part of the Department charged with this expenditure to submit inflated Estimates every year by putting in a number of services which never could be completed within the year. His hon. Friend the Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy) had referred to one such case, and precisely the same thing would be found in the Estimates of the present year. He had before him the last volume of the Appropriation Accounts, and he found that in the case of the Constabulary barracks at Galway a sum of £3,000 was voted in that financial year, but not spent. So also in the case of Limerick, and in other instances; and it would be found that the sums voted had never been drawn from the Exchequer at all, for the reason that no site had been available. Could anything be more ridiculous than to ask for large sums—thousands and thousands of pounds year after year for building structures for which they had not the ground upon which to erect them? The inevitable 1224 result was that the Estimate was inflated to a very considerable extent, and the officials of Dublin found that they were in a position to draw a large amount of money under the nominal scope of this Vote. What was it they did last year? Instead of using the money for the services for which it was asked in Parliament, they went in for building things which had never been mentioned at all, such as an expenditure of £1,000 in connection with the Land Commission in Cork; £1,100 for Royal Constabulary huts, which had never been voted by Parliament; £1,200 at Ennis for Constabulary barracks; while the Botanic Gardens at Dublin were provided with new buildings at an expenditure of £1,800. In this latter case there was a marginal note stating that the expenditure had been sanctioned by a Treasury Letter of the 29th of November, 1883, a very long time after the Estimates had been passed by the House. On referring to the year 1884, he found that the Treasury was asked to consent to the appropriation of money for services entirely different from that for which Parliament had sanctioned the Vote. In other cases he found that the sanction of the Treasury was given to the expenditure after the financial year had altogether closed. He thought that was a piece of administrative irregularity which ought to require a very searching investigation on the part of those who were responsible for the matter. He only referred to these points in the history of this Department in order to show the laxity with which the Department was administered—a laxity which was greater than that which was permitted in any other Department either in Ireland or in this country. When he came to consider the character of the Votes submitted by the Irish Board of Works he could not help being struck by the fact that almost all the money asked for was to be spent on works that were of no permanent advantage to the country. It would be seen that the money was expended upon Constabulary barracks to any extent. Large sums of money were also voted in connection with the navigation levels of the different river valleys, everyone of which had already resulted in disaster to the farming population of the locality in which they existed. The consequence of the existence of these levels was that 1225 below Athlone, and below a very wide stretch of the Shannon, the whole of the agricultural produce of the low-lying lands was annually swept away, and the grazing was so deteriorated by the summer floods that the farmer was scarcely able to got anything out of the lands he cultivated. So it was, also, in the case of the Barrow, and one consequence was that the lands above were not drained at all. A Commission had been appointed to inquire into the drainage of the Barrow Valley, and it was found that as a consequence of the existence of these works it was necessary to maintain a high summer level. The result was that the agricultural occupations of the people, which were affected by this level, were rendered perfectly hopeless. And yet he found in this Vote that there was a sum of £12,000 for works proposed to be carried out by the Lagan Navigation in connection with the Ulster Canal. He was informed that the Ulster Navigation Bill would be withdrawn, and that the Vote would not be wanted. Nevertheless, there was an annual charge of some £1,000 or £1,200 for the maintenance of the Ulster Canal—a canal in regard to which there was no reasonable prospect of its ever being made available for commerce. As a matter of fact, in its present position, it was never likely to pay the wages of those who were employed upon it, and there was a strong recommendation that it should be drained, and its site converted into agricultural purposes. He failed to see why the Government, year by year, should ask for this grant of £1,000 or £1,200 for the purpose of keeping up this canal, when it was most desirable, for the interests of all concerned, that it should be closed altogether. There were a number of other items in the Vote to which, if the occasion were favourable, he should like to call the attention of the Committee; but, as he had said before, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite were not responsible for them, and, therefore, he did not think it would be fair to press the Secretary to the Treasury in regard to them.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, it was quite true that the hon. Baronet opposite was not responsible for the drawing up of this Vote; but he might, therefore, be in a position to express a more impar- 1226 tial opinion upon the various items of which it consisted. He shared to the fullest extent the views which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. A. O'Connor) as to the mode in which the Vote had been drawn up, and he thought that no criticism upon it could be too strong or too severe. Had the hon. Baronet noticed the fact that the Board of Works asked for these purposes last year a sum of £250,000, and. that this year they were asking for a further sum of £221,000? Two years ago £210,000 was asked for, and "only £204,000 expended. He, therefore, failed to comprehend the audacity with which the Board of Works now came forward and asked for this enormous sum of money, amounting to £17,000 more than was expended seven years ago. Was there any pretence of increased crime to justify the demand? As a rule, the Board of Works had been in the habit of asserting that disturbed times in Ireland were the reason why it was necessary to expend large sums of money on military barracks and Constabulary buildings. But there were no disturbed times in Ireland now. On the contrary, the political sky was almost obscured with showers of white gloves; and the Judges and Sheriffs were congratulating each other all over Ireland upon the absence of crime. Nevertheless, having only expended £204,000 upon public works in 1884, the Board of Works now asked for £221,000. In what items were the increase to be found? The Board were actually asking for £16,311 more than they did last year for new works. Not one word of explanation was offered; but, on looking more closely into the subject, he found that the increase was to be found in these items. £6,000 more was asked for Coastguard stations. What were they wanted for? What duties had the Coastguardsmen to perform? Was there an increased amount of smuggling going on? He had not heard of anything of the kind; and he could not find that the Coastguard did anything except worry the poor fishermen who were trying to earn a livelihood.hecertainly did not feel disposed to vote more money for Coastguard stations unless some satisfactory reason could be assigned for it. There was also the large item of £5,000 for sanitary improvements in Dublin Castle 1227 and the Lodge in the Phœnix Park. A great many eminent persons had been able to get on very comfortably in Dublin Castle and the Viceregal Lodge in the Phœnix Park since 1800, and he did not understand why a large increase of expenditure should have been rendered necessary now. Then, again, there was an item of £4,000 more for county police barracks. What was the meaning of that? The Estimate for the pay of the police was not diminished, although there were 1,000 fewer policemen than there were last year; and, in addition, they were asked to expend £4,000 more for police barracks. He felt bound to ask that the Government should give some attention to these Estimates, and offer some explanation to the House of these extraordinary items. £4,000 more for police barracks, while the number of the Constabulary had been largely decreased ! He should have thought that fewer barracks would have been sufficient. Then there was an item for the conversion of military barracks into police buildings. They were always converting something or other in Ireland. The Government were never satisfied to allow anything to remain long for its original use. If they built a house for soldiers, they wanted it for policemen, and they would at once find it necessary to undertake alterations at a cost of several thousand pounds. Surely barrack accommodation that was good enough for a soldier was good enough for a police constable; and he protested against this large increase of expenditure for Coastguard stations, sanitary improvements in Dublin Castle and the Viceregal Lodge, police barracks, and one thing and another that were not of the slightest interest or advantage to the Irish people. It was in this way the Estimates were increased by £4,000 in one direction, and £6,000 in another, while the sum asked for Science and Art buildings was £2,700 less. There was plenty of sanitary accommodation in Dublin Castle and in the Phœnix Park Lodge, and very scanty arrangements in connection with the promotion of Science and Art. Yet the principle upon which the Vote was framed was to increase the expenditure upon unnecessary purposes, and to diminish it wherever an increase was really demanded. The Vote was one for Public Buildings; but the item for the Post Office was £3,000 less, for inland 1228 navigation £3,000 loss, and for fishery piers £2,650 less, notwithstanding the fact that the harbours around the coast were falling (into decay, and the poor fishermen were year after year sent into the deep waters at the risk of their lives. £4,000 more was asked for police barracks for a diminished Constabulary Force; and although the Board of Works had been constantly warned that the harbours were falling into decay, they put down£2,650 less for fishery piers and harbours, and, at the same moment, inflated the Estimates for Coastguard stations, and provided £700 for additional furniture for the Public Departments. Even the cost of maintaining the Board of Works itself was £800 more this year than last. Last year it cost £700, and this year the Office which drew up the Estimate was brazen enough to come to Parliament for £1,576. Why had the cost of maintaining the Office of Works jumped up in one year from £700 to £1,576? The Estimate certainly appeared to him to partake somewhat of the nature of fraud. Was money to be spent in this way simply because it was public money? Would the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury, if he was connected with a Railway Company, or owned a mill, or even a shop in a small village, allow his money to be spent in this manner? Of course he would not. If any private Member of the House found that his money was expended in such a way he would not only discountenance the proceeding on the part of his employés, but he would take care that it met with the punishment due to the offence. He (Mr. Sexton) did not think the money of the country ought to be expended with less care, consideration, and responsibility than that of a private individual. Then, again, there was an item of £245 to provide a depot in Dublin for Crown witnesses. Had the informer, whose principal business was to swear away the lives of innocent men, become a permanent official of the Crown in Ireland? He had entertained the hope that with the disappearance of disturbed times they might have heard the last of the informer. He should not have thought that he ought to exist and carry on a lucrative traffic in an atmosphere of white gloves and congratulations between the Judges of Assize and the county authorities as to the absence of 1229 crime. Instead of fitting up a depot to make these men comfortable, the sooner they were removed to Mountjoy or to some other convict prison the better for the country. Turning to the English Votes, he was able to compliment the English Board of Works upon having no such increase of their Vote. He knew that it would be out of Order to discuss that Vote, andheonly referred to it by way of illustration.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREA-RUEY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, that it would, perhaps, best consult the convenience of the Committee if the discussion upon Public Works was taken upon the Vote which would come on later in the next Class. When it was reached he intended to make a statement upon it. He understood that it was simply by way of comparison that the hon. Member drew attention to the expenditure on Public Works in Ireland and England.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he had only been paying a compliment to the English Department; and if the hon. Baronet objected, of course he would not pursue the matter further. He was simply endeavouring to show that in the Irish Vote certain charges were made which ought not to be made; and he now proposed to point out how the Vote was managed in the Appropriation Accounts. If the hon. Baronet would follow him he would see that a most objectionable course had been pursued. The Board of Works obtained a Vote of £210,000; but of that sum only £204,000 was expended, leaving a net surplus of £6,000. In addition to this inflated Estimate, out of a further sum voted of £82,000 they only expended £66,000, leaving a further surplus of £16,000. And how was that money spent? It was spent for purposes which had not been authorized by Parliament at all—Sites for police barracks, £2,700; police employed in emergency work, £1,242; erection of Constabulary huts, £1,140; travelling expenses of carpenters employed in erecting Constabulary huts, £463; furniture for themselves and their friends of the official class in Dublin, £3,900; accommodation for Marines, £1,228; gas, &c, owing to the disturbed state of the country, £670; and in other items amounting altogether to more than £11,000 out of the £16,000 by which the Vote had been over-estimated. Having over-estimated the wants of the 1230 Department by £16,000, they expended £11,000 of the excess upon purposes wholly unauthorized by Parliament. They made an inflated Estimate for Coastguard stations and police barracks, and, taking the money' from one pocket, put it into another, expending it upon purposes which the House had had no opportunity of discussing, and of which they might strongly have disapproved. He maintained that there had been gross maladministration on the part of the Board of Works, and an evasion of the control of Parliament which ought not to be lightly passed over. Within the last few years the Board of Works had under-expended by £36,000 the money voted by Parliament. The whole Vote for Public Works was £82,000; but they had under-expended on Coastguard stations, barracks, and fishery harbours and piers, £16,000, altogether, which they had transferred to another head and expended upon purposes not authorized by Parliament. They had expended £2,300 on the General Post Office, £1,000 on the Parcels Post, £2,400 on barracks, and so on; and in some instances they had established new items of expenditure which had never been voted or considered by Parliament at all, such as the Land Commission at Cork, the erection of Constabulary huts and houses in the Botanic Gardens, and a gas engine at the General Post Office. He maintained that this was a system of jugglery and misappropriation of public money, which was most discreditable; and, in point of fact, it was a question whether it did not amount to a criminal offence. When it was found year after year that an important Public Department wilfully over-estimated the amount it required to spend upon certain items by tens of thousands of pounds, and then expended it upon matters that were not authorized by Parliament, that Department must not feel shocked if their conduct, when brought under the notice of the country, excited not only harsh criticism, but a feeling of indignation.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, that as an Irish Representative he protested against the expenditure of £12,100 for the erection of Constabulary barracks in Ireland. No person could travel for any distance in Ireland without seeing villages in decay, houses falling down, and everything in a state of 1231 ruin and dilapidation; and yet the Imperial Treasury was asked to erect splendid barracks for police constables, who lived in absolute idleness and luxury, and who had nothing whatever to do in the wide world. The new Chief Secretary had not as yet had much practical experience of Ireland; but it was to be hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would recruit his health as well as his political experience when the House ceased to sit by visiting Ireland. If the right hon. Gentleman did so, he was sure he would be struck very much indeed by this fact—that all through Ireland, even in the poorest districts, policemen were to be met with in large numbers living in splendid houses and having absolutely nothing to do. Some time ago there might have been some excuse for increasing the accommodation of the Irish Constabulary; but, as had been clearly pointed out by his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), at this period, of all others, it was extraordinary that the Government should desire to spend such a large and unusual amount of money in the erection of police barracks. He did not know whether it was that the present Government were apprehensive of the results of their proceedings or not; but it was certainly regarded in Ireland as a most extraordinary thing that this particular period, when a certain amount of calm prevailed all over the country, should be chosen by the Government for the expenditure of £12,400 on police barracks. His hon. Friend the Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), in drawing attention to the matter, had compared the expenditure for public buildings in Ireland with the expenditure proposed to be made upon the residences of the National School teachers. Now, he did not think that any people except Government officials in Ireland would have the supreme audacity to go before the House of Commons, or any assembly in any part of the world, and ask for a grant of £12,400 for building police barracks, for a force which did nothing but excite evil passions in the country, when they were only proposing to expend £1,000 upon the residences of the school teachers—people who were supposed to educate and train the children of the country in the way in which they should live. If the hon. Gentleman who was proposing this Vote could prove to the 1232 Committee that there was more necessity for spending money on police barracks than in building decent houses for the National School teachers, he might, perhaps, induce some of the Irish Members to look with greater favour upon the Vote; but they knew very well, and the hon. Gentleman who proposed the Vote knew, or ought to know very well, or if the Government did not know it, by reason of their inferior information about Ireland, they would soon know it, that there were no people in the United Kingdom or in the whole world who were more in need of decent habitations to live in than the National School teachers. And yet, although many of these good men, and well-educated men, were performing a work of incomparable service to the people of Ireland, they were compelled to live in hovels with miserable rooms, which in many cases were not water-tight. Notwithstanding the admittedly miserable condition of these persons only £1,000 was asked from Parliament to improve their condition, while £12,400 were asked for police barracks. He did not know whether it was the intention of his hon. Friends and Colleagues from Ireland to oppose this Vote or not; but he certainly thought it deserved to be opposed, because it was a most monstrous thing to spend £12,400 in building splendid houses for men who did nothing, while they only spent £1,000 for the most useful class of persons in the country. That was a state of affairs which deserved to be exposed in every possible way. His hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had drawn attention to the increased charge for Coastguard stations for Ireland. He would say this for the Coastguard, that they were a somewhat less offensive force than the police, but they were quite as useless, and, if anything, still more useless. It was seldom that the public heard of anything they did. They absolutely did nothing; and unless the Government were scared in regard to the prospect of an invasion by Russia,hedid not know what in the wide world, in a peaceful country like Ireland, they could want with expending £6,000 in building extra Coastguard stations. He could perfectly understand the necessity of keeping up an Army, and even of housing the police in good dwellings, because if they did not do so the men composing those Forces would throw 1233 them overboard; but he could not understand why they wanted to spend £6,000 more this year upon Coastguard stations when there was nothing more to be done by the Coastguard than to burn blue lights when an Evolutionary Squadron went over to Bantry Bay to overawe the peasantry of Ireland, and show them what the power of Great Britain was. So far as the police were concerned, although they had very light duties to perform, it was natural enough that the Government should desire to put them in good houses, because if that were not done the Constabulary would not consent to do their work, and in that case the Government would find it very difficult to get other men to perform the very unpleasant duties which the Constabulary were required to perform in Ireland. Therefore, there might be some sense in housing them in good buildings; but there could be no sense whatever in spending £6,000 on the Coastguard in Ireland, while the people were starving and Irish industries were going more and more to ruin, and when, from the want of the judicious expenditure of £6,000 here and there, the people were emigrating in thousands. There were many public works in Ireland upon which the public money might be expended with advantage. It was as much as the Irish Members could do to squeeze a few thousand pounds from Parliament for building- piers for the fishermen or anything of that sort. It had been found very difficult indeed to get advances of that nature in the county of Wexford. He knew that in that county applications had been made over and over again for the erection of piers for the benefit of the people, which would only cost a few thousand pounds; but it was found impossible to obtain the money. Nevertheless, for no object in the world. they were lavishly expending £6,000 in the establishment of Coastguard stations which were absolutely not wanted. There could be nothing more irritating to a starving and industrious people than to see the way in which the public money was squandered on a force of men, who did nothing all day long, from the time they got up in the morning until they went to bed at night, but look at the surrounding sea, and shoot seagulls. No more disreputable item than the sum of £6,000 it was now proposed to spend upon the Coastguard stations 1234 had ever appeared in the Votes, unless it were the item of £250 for the establishment of a depot in connection with Crown witnesses. If it wag recognized as a necessity in Ireland to make provision for the Constabulary and Coastguard, why on earth should it be necessary to provide a depot for Crown witnesses, and to supply thorn with fuel and water, rent, insurance, furniture, and so on? The Crown witnesses in Ireland were notoriously the greatest blackguards and ruffians the world had ever produced. In point of fact, it was a mutual co-operative business—the Government had to keep up the police, and the police kept up the Crown witnesses, and so the whole of this infamous system in Ireland was converted into a public institution. He should certainly vote against these monstrous items in the Estimates of £12,400 for police barracks, £6,000 for Coastguard stations, and £245 for a depôt for Crown witnesses, especially whenheremembered that they were allowing all kinds of worthy objects in Ireland to go to the wall for the want of a judicious expenditure of a little money. He trusted that his hon. Friends, if they did not get some sort of satisfactory explanation from the Government, would divide against these Votes. He was afraid that these Estimates were never regarded in a sufficiently serious light. The Government came down to propose them for the acceptance of the Committee, and two or three Gentlemen who had nothing else to do came into the House to loll about the Benches, and hear the Estimates discussed. The Votes were then passed in the coolest and calmest manner, and if it were not for a few of the Irish Members they would be passed without comment, no matter how absurd, or for what useless object they were proposed. If the hon. Gentleman now in charge of the Financial Department of the Treasury and right hon. Gentlemen who held an official connection in that House with Ireland were desirous of strengthening their position, and of claiming a fair and impartial hearing in Ireland, it would be well if they commenced their career now by explaining to the Committee what in the name of goodness was meant by spending these extravagant sums upon useless purposes in Ireland, while, at the same time, the Irish fishermen wore left to pursue their dangerous 1235 avocations without harbours to run to or any means of protection.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
would suggest to the Government that, instead of erecting new police buildings, moans should be taken to discover and rent suitable buildings already in existence. He had in his mind two or three cases in which new buildings had been erected that were wholly unnecessary, and representations had been made to him by the proprietors of house property that they had houses quite fitted for the purposes for which police barracks were required, which would have been available at one-fourth of the expenditure. He thought the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury should make it a rule to ascertain before submitting such Votes whether other accommodation might not be obtained, and whether there were not suitable premises, or premises which might not be made suitable, in existence already. It was most desirable that that fact should be ascertained before a large sum of money was expended in the erection of new buildings.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
wished to call the attention of the hon. Baronet opposite, for a moment, to another question— namely, an item of £966 in connection with the Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum. One of the items in the Vote was £446 for raising the boundary wall. He understood that the raising of this boundary wall was rendered necessary by the fact that there had been numerous attempts to escape from the asylum. A most extraordinary course of proceeding had been adopted in placing a body of 12 policemen, with a sergeant, in the hospital of this criminal lunatic asylum to guard against escapes, and distributing the hospital patients throughout the wards, a most objectionable arrangement, and one for which no precedent could be found. Formerly, when the grounds were only partially inclosed, and the attendants fewer in proportion to the number of patients, there was no necessity for extra precautions, and an escape rarely occurred. He knew that the hon. Baronet could not by any possibility have a personal knowledge of the matter owing to the brief time he had been in Office; and, therefore, he did not propose to do more than ask the hon. Baronet to inquire into it. There was a Commission appointed some 1236 time ago. Great complaint had been made in regard to the management of the asylum, and three of the officials connected with the Government were sent down to inquire into the complaints. When, however, he (Mr. Corbet) asked the then Chief Secretary, or his Predecessor—he did not at the moment remember which—to place the Report of that Commission upon the Table the right hon. Gentleman declined to do so, on the ground that it was, in a certain sense, a private document. How the Report of a Commission to inquire into such matters as grave charges preferred against the officials of a criminal lunatic asylum could be regarded as a private Report he failed to understand. He would only now ask the hon. Baronet to look into the matter, and see whether he could not lay the Report of the Commission upon the Table.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that in connection with the subject which had just been raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Wicklow (Mr. Corbet)—namely, the Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum,hewished to point out that while in 1863 there wore 130 patients there and only one death, or about ¾ per cent, in 1883 there were 172 patients and 16 deaths, or nearly 2½ per cent. This change had taken place during the tenure of office of the present Governor, or whatever his title might be.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he proposed to deal with that officer in a few moments. Taking the same two periods, for the purpose of a comparison, he found in 1863 the cost was £3,679, whereas in 1883 the amount was very nearly double, although the number of patients had not largely increased, having reached £6,623. Previous to the appointment of the new Governor any attempt to escape from the prison had been almost unknown; but now these attempts had become so frequent that the authorities had been obliged to place police constables within the asylum, and the patients in the asylum had been huddled together in order that the police might have proper accommodation. He did not object to that, because, of course, if they placed policemen there they must provide thorn with adequate accommodation; but he did object to the great 1237 increase in the cost of the establishment. They were now building up a big brick wall around the asylum; and he was afraid that there could be nothing more calculated to injure the patients and deprive them of all hope of cure than to surround them with a high and gloomy stone wall. In fact, the asylum would be made worse than a prison, and the effect, mentally, upon the patients would be exceedingly grave and serious. Wherever it could be done, it was desirable to provide lunatic patients with cheerful garden scenery, plenty of light and colour, and everything that was attractive; but hero, owing to the mismanagement of the asylum, they were now compelled to build up a wall, and treat the persons, not as persons suffering mental disease, but really as if they were all of them prisoners in an ordinary prison. The number of cures that were effected in the first period to which he had alluded was largo, and very large in comparison with the number of cures that were effected now. The inquiry of the Commission to which his hon. Friend alluded was made in consequence of strong complaints from various quarters, both inside and outside this criminal lunatic asylum. Among other things disclosed in the Report was the fact that the resident physician and Governor received, in addition to his pay, a considerable number of perquisites; and yet he was in the habit of skimming the milk supplied to the patients in order to supply it to his own children. He could quite understand why the Report referred to by the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. Corbet) had never been produced. The reason was that it was so highly condemnatory in its character that it justified all the complaints which had been made, and showed how lax the supervision had been which was exercised over this asylum. A certain quantity of milk was supplied by the contractor both to the Governor and his children, and also to the patients in the asylum, under a medical order. So serious had been the practices resorted to on the part of the Governor and resident physician, that this question of skimming the milk of the unfortunate patients and taking the cream away from them had rendered it necessary for the authorities to pass a Rule, which would almost seem incredible—namely, that none of the milk intended for the 1238 use of the patients should be skimmed, and that the officers of the institution should only receive the allowance fixed for them on the 5th of May. What would be said in this country if such a Rule were found necessary in an important public institution? Nevertheless, it would appear that in the Dun-drum Asylum the Governor and resident physician had acted towards the unfortunate people placed under his charge in such a way that a special Rule of this kind had to be passed. He had been quoting from official documents, which any hon. Member could see for himself; and the Rule he had referred to was Rule No. 8, which would be found in the Appendix to the 37th Report to the Visitors of the Criminal and Private Lunatic Asylums of Ireland.
wished to point out to the hon. Member that in discussing the Vote it would not be in Order to go into all these details. It was certainly not desirable, when the only question was the erection of a boundary wall, to enter into such elaborate questions.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he was probably trespassing upon another Vote which would have to be taken presently.hehad done so because he thought that as the erection of the wall for this asylum came under the present Vote it was desirable to include the whole matter.
said, the hon. Member would not be deprived of the opportunity of discussing the details into which he was desirous of entering. The only question now before the Committee was whether a sum of £446 was a proper sum to be voted for the purpose of erecting a boundary wall.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he would not trespass any further upon the time of the House in regard to this question; but he would proceed to call the attention of the Chief Secretary to page 59 of the Vote, where he would find one item connected with the expenses of Dublin Castle and the Viceregal Lodge in the Phœnix Park. Ifhewould look at the second column for maintenance and repairs, he would find that a very large sum was paid for regular maintenance and repairs. That appeared in the first column; but when they came to the second column it would be found that there was a charge for incidental repairs—when slates come off, or it was necessary to make an alteration in the 1239 brick-work and so forth; and in one item there was a sum of £1,080 for labourers' pay. Of course, the labourers' pay did not include bricks and other materials; and, turning to the item of cost in that respect, he found that the amount asked for materials was only £39, so that in order to use £39 worth of bricks and mortar, and wood, and so forth, it was necessary to expend £1,080 in labourers' pay. Then, again, for bricks and masonry, there was an item of £30 in connection with the Viceregal Lodge and Gardens, while the labourers' pay came to £1,200. He asked for an explanation of those items. He presumed that the work was carried out under the supervision of the officers of Public Works in Ireland; and it would appear, taking all the items together, that although only £100 worth of materials had been used the sum of £3,075 had been paid for labour. He would ask any hon. Member of that House, who knew what work was in connection with buildings, whether, on the face of it, this was not a palpable fraud? £3,075 spent in using up £100 worth of materials! He desired to point out how grossly these figures were exaggerated in the Estimates. The total amount for the maintenance and repairs of these two official residences in Dublin amounted to £15,000. If hon. Members would take the trouble to look at the amount expended in the repairs of the Royal-Palaces in this country, which, of course, were very much larger than Dublin Castle, or the Viceregal Lodge, it would be at once admitted that he was fully entitled to ask for an explanation from Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
would ask the hon. Baronet in charge of the Estimates if he could inform the Committee in what Office the Government insurances were effected? The Irish people thought they had reason to complain, in many respects, of the Government expenditure. It was expended with the least advantage to the ratepayers of Dublin and the people of Ireland generally that was possible. There were two or three Insurance Offices in Dublin of acknowledged solvency; and in this matter, as in other respects, the ratepayers of Ireland ought to have some advantage out of the Government expenditure. He trusted that the hon. Baronet who had just acceded to Office would in this particular, as in 1240 others, turn over a new leaf; andhe(Mr. P. J. Power) would be obliged if the hon. Gentleman would give the information now asked for.
§ MR. BIGGAR
was anxious to say one or two words, and in doing so he wished to guard himself against being supposed to make any attack upon the present Government for bringing in these Estimates. He knew very well that they were not responsible for preparing them; but at least they would be justified in not expending all the money asked for if they held it to be required for objectionable objects. A very important point had been raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton)—namely, the immoral system of getting money voted for one purpose and devoting it to another. That was a practice which, in his opinion, was altogether indefensible, andhehoped that it would receive no countenance from the present Government. The Committee would be justified in not sanctioning a particular Vote; but when money was voted they had a right to expect that it would be spent for the purposes for which it was asked, and not devoted to objects that were entirely different. He hoped the new Government would turn over a new leaf, and refuse to allow the public money to be expended upon purposes which had never been sanctioned by Parliament. The Irish Members represented the views of the Irish people, and he wished to impress upon the Government the desirability of allowing themselves to be influenced, as far as possible, in Irish matters by the Irish Representatives. The hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. A. O'Connor) had drawn attention to the amount of money which was expended upon canals in Ireland. He knew something about that question, andhewas prepared to say that, in regard to the Ulster Canal, the money expended had been absolutely thrown away. Before railway communication was developed in England, large sums of money were expended by this country in inland navigation; but since the establishment of railway communication this expenditure had been an entire failure, because it cost more to keep the canals in repair than the profit derived from the traffic upon them. He questioned very much whether the total amount of money derived from the freight for the carriage of goods upon 1241 the canals would pay the expense of keeping the canals themselves in order. That, however, was only a secondary and minor portion of the mischief which these canals did in Ireland. The principal mischief was in the drainage of the country and the injury inflicted upon farming operations 03' the floods which took place from the overflowing of the summer levels. They were maintained at an artificial level, and when the artificial obstructions wore removed the water would flow in its natural course, and agricultural operations would be carried on without the injurious results which now followed from the flooding of the low-lying lands. Much mischief was done by keeping up Lough Neagh at a summer level, because, when the wet weather came, the water invariably overflowed the valleys. The same injury was inflicted by the artificial obstructions on the Shannon, the Bann, the Barrow, and many other Irish rivers; and if they were removedhebelieved the result would be highly beneficial to the farmers who lived on the banks of these rivers, and in addition a considerable amount of public money would be saved. There would be two decided advantages—first, the saving to the Imperial Exchequer; and, next, the benefit derived by the farmers who lived on the banks of the rivers and loughs.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
intimated that he intended to call attention to the condition of Arklow Harbour either upon this Vote or the Vote for Public Works. If the hon. Baronet wished him to postpone his remarks until the next Vote he would be glad to do so.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, he was afraid it would be somewhat difficult for him to answer all the different questions which had been put to him; but if he omitted any one of them he hoped hon. Members would ask it again. He felt bound to admit the justice of one observation which had fallen from hon. Members opposite, that he was not responsible for these Estimates, and had not had sufficient time to make himself acquainted with all their details. He also felt bound to express his regret that neither the late Chief Secretary nor the late Secretary to the Treasury was present to defend the Estimates, or to explain what, no doubt, they would have been able to ex- 1242 plain. Generally speaking, there had been complaint as to the increase of the Vote. He would point out, without referring specially to the complaints which had been made of the expenditure on Constabulary buildings, that the increase was more than accounted for by the increase upon education, which amounted to £13,000; upon sanitary improvements, £4,000; and the improvement of Kingstown Harbour, £2,900, making altogether £19,900. One hon. Member complained that no more than £1,000 was proposed to be spent on residences for the National School teachers; but, although that was true, yet upon the schools and for educational purposes the sum of £13,000 had been altogether expended. With regard to the Coastguard, although the Treasury were primarily responsible for the Vote for the Coastguard, the Admiralty, whose opinion in a ease like that they were bound to follow, were of opinion that for some years a considerable expenditure would be required. It was said that while a large sum of money was proposed to be expended upon Coastguard stations, nothing was asked for such useful works as the construction of fishery harbours and piers.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
said, he was speaking generally, and not alluding specially to the hon. Member. He was sorry that he was unable to distinguish between the Members who had put the different questions which had been addressed to him. Certainly one remark which had been made was that only £1,000 was to be spent on education; whereas he had shown that the sum asked for that purpose was £13,000, and not £1,000. Another observation made by some hon. Member was that, while large sums of money were to be expended on the Constabulary and Coastguard, nothing was spent upon useful works in the shape of piers and harbours. He did not think the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan), who had done such good work on the Fishery Piers and Harbours Commission, would endorse that statement, that no money bad been advanced for any useful purpose. As to the Constabulary buildings, he was afraid he could add nothing to what he had already said. 1243 It was true, he believed, that the number of extra police -was being diminished; but these buildings were required for the regular body of Constabulary. In former years it was said that the Estimates submitted and passed in connection with providing Constabulary buildings had not been expended upon those objects, but had been devoted to others. That brought him to the very important point which had been raised by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) and other Members, as to the employment, on works not voted for by Parliament, of savings effected on works which had been voted. He could only say that he entertained a very strong opinion upon the impropriety of that proceeding, and he had always fought strongly against it. He was quite convinced that, except in cases of very great emergency, or on very special occasions which might arise from time to time, there could be no necessity, in a Service like the Civil Service of this country, for employing money voted for one purpose upon another. Of course, he must point out that in cases of this kind it was not the Department alone that was responsible, because the sanction of the Treasury had to be obtained; and it was necessary, therefore, that the matter should be submitted to them. So far as the estimated expenditure upon Constabulary buildings in the different localities was concerned, as he had said before, the items appeared in the Estimates in round numbers; but he would undertake to say that, as far as possible, the actual expenditure should be carefully watched. He imagined that it was of advantage to have these buildings erected rather than to continue in rented buildings. One hon. Member was of opinion that it would be better to rent them; but he (Sir Henry Holland) was informed that no buildings suitable for the purpose could be obtained, and it was considered much better to have their own buildings rather than to rent them, as, amongst other reasons, rents were apt to be raised at the end of a lease, if it was known that it was practically necessary for the Government to continue the occupation. As to the sanitary improvements in Dublin Castle and the Viceregal Lodge, it might be true that there had been no necessity for sanitary improvements before; but it was considered that the time had now arrived 1244 when something should be done in this direction. It was admitted that no work of this kind had been done for a long time, and therefore the present necessity became more apparent. The hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) complained that while money was expended on Coastguard stations and Constabulary buildings, works of great value to the country were not undertaken. He did not understand the hon. Gentleman to object to the expenditure on canals, but only to the manner in which the money was expended. Without assenting to the view of the hon. Member—for he was not in a position either to assent to, or dissent from, it with his present imperfect knowledge—he was inclined to agree that in the last 30 years it might be found that a considerable amount of money had very likely been wasted in the direction which the hon. Member had pointed out. Of course, the Government were only too anxious to get rid of the expenditure upon the Ulster Canal, which had really proved to be a white elephant; and he thought he had heard a suggestion that the hon. Member himself was prepared to take that undertaking out of their hands; but it would appear that the negotiations had fallen through. So far as the Ulster Bill was concerned, the Government had hoped to get it through before this. He thought there was a great deal in what the hon. Member had said about taking care that the levels of the water were not interfered with, not only in this particular case, but in other instances where it would be necessary to deal with canals. The whole subject would have to be carefully considered. As regarded the Dundrum Asylum, he hoped the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. W. J. Corbet) would allow the discussion upon the subject to be postponed until they reached the special Vote upon this asylum, He was afraid he could give the hon. Gentleman no information as to the raising of the boundary wall; but if the hon. Member would communicate with him he would cause an inquiry to be made. He thought he had now gone generally through the questions which had been put to him. Of course, he was not prepared to say whether the Irish Constabulary was too large or not; but it was not a question which could arise upon the present Vote. All he had to contend for on the present Vote was that 1245 the buildings proposed were not in excess of the number of the Force.
wished to point out to the Committee that the discussion of some of the questions which had been raised was somewhat irregular upon the present Vote. No Member would be deprived of an opportunity of discussing any question; but they would be raised more regularly on succeeding Votes. A question had been put to the hon. Baronet about harbours; and if that question was to be discussed it must be discussed now. It would not be competent for hon. Members to discuss it on any other Vote.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury had omitted to reply to the question which had been put to him by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. P. J. Power) in regard to the insurance of Government buildings. The hon. Member had suggested that the insurances in future should be effected in the two Irish Offices—the National or the Patriotic. He hoped the hon. Baronet would reply to that question.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
said, he was not at present in the possession of information which would enable him to answer the question.
§ MR. MOLLOY,
upon the point of Order, wished to know whether the Board of Works were not responsible for the matters which had been brought before the Committee?
said, the Committee could only discuss the items which appeared in this Vote which was for Public Buildings. The Vote for Harbours came under this Estimate.
said, the proper time to discuss all these questions was when the Vote to which they related was reached.
§ COLONEL NOLAN,
upon the point of Order, wished to know if it would be regular to discuss the proceedings of the Board of Works upon a proposal to reduce the salary of the engineer of that Board? If so, be would be prepared to move a reduction of the salary on that ground.
said, that was a hypothetical question which he would be prepared to answer when it arose. In the meantime, he would say that, according to his view, it would not be competent to discuss the proceedings of the Board of Works generally on this Vote.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he proposed, in Class II., upon the Vote for Public Works, to call attention to the Drainage and Improvement Acts relating to Ireland. He should be glad to know if that was the proper opportunity, or whether it ought to be brought on now? Personally, he did not care what Vote he raised the discussion upon, so long as he was not ruled out of Order.
said, there was no item for drainage under the present Vote; and, therefore, of course it would be irregular to raise the discussion now.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
said, he believed he would be in Order in calling attention to the condition of Arklow Harbour under this Vote.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
said, the necessity of calling attention to the subject arose from the fact that the Arklow breakwater, for which £5,000 on account was asked, had almost crumbled away. He would state as briefly as he could what the circumstances connected with this matter were. There never had been anything like adequate harbour accommodation at Arklow, although there was a large population there who mainly depended upon the fishing industry. Until quite lately the Government had never done anything to encourage the place; and the local lords of the soil had been too careful of their own interests, and the interests of their own immediate sympathizers, to do anything whatever to promote the welfare of the poor fishermen. But the Mining Company of Ireland—a Company which for a long time had carried on extensive works at Arklow— had expended a good deal of money in improving the place, and especially the quay at the mouth of the river. Owing to the depression of the times, they had been unable to keep the works in repair, or to extend the harbour accommodation in the way that was desired. Accordingly, the present Government, in 1876, entered into negotiation with the Mining Company, and the Company agreed to 1247 give up all their rights and interests without compensation on the understanding that a good harbour was constructed. Thereupon a Bill was in troduced into the House of Commons by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War and the right hon. Gentleman now the Leader of the House of Commons, who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Mining Company, thinking that they were making a soft bargain, declined to carry out the arrangement, and the Bill was withdrawn. So matters remained until 1881, when further negotiations were entered into with the Mining Company, principally through the exertions of Father Dunphy, the respected parish priest of Arklow. The Mining Company agreed to take the sum of £5,000, reserving to themselves certain rights and privileges for the purpose of their own trade, and a Bill was introduced into the House, of which the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone) had charge. That Bill provided that the sum of £15,000 should be given as a free grant by the Treasury towards the work, and a loan of £20,000 in addition, the loan being guaranteed by the barony of Arklow, and the baronies adjacent which were interested in the works. He was bound to say that the Treasury had acted in a fair spirit in this matter, and he wished to express his acknowledgments to the hon. Member for Leeds for the trouble he took in passing the Bill in question through the House in the face of some obstruction from the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) and others. The Bill became an Act, and everything was as it should be. But when the Board of Works came to formulate their plans, and when the plans came under the notice of the seafaring and fishing population of Arklow, they to a man condemned them in toto. They pointed out the breakwater was being put in the wrong direction; they took the matter up very earnestly, and sent a deputation to the Board of Works, who pointed out the defects in the plans. But the Board of Works would not listen to them. They then made a direct representation to the Lords of the Treasury, submitting to them the objections which they had laid before the Board of Works; but the Lords of the Treasury, of course, stood by the Board of Works, and the latter proceeded upon these defective de- 1248 signs. The plan was also carried out on the block system, although the Board of Works had before them the example of what had been done at Wicklow, where works of considerable magnitude had been completed on the plans and under the supervision of the able local engineer, Mr. C. Strype, who was also director of the important and flourishing chemical works in the town of Wicklow. The works having been carried out on these defective designs, and on this wrong method, a storm came on on the 15th of February last. It was not a very severe one; but when it came the breakwater went. About a week afterwards, he believed on the 21st of February, another storm followed. The effect of the latter was to sweep away the sand completely from under the breakwater, and the structure cracked throughout almost its entire length, the whole becoming practically a heap of ruins. He had drawn attention to the matter in that House at the time; but the late Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert), whose personal courtesy he could not too strongly express himself about, said, in reply to his question, that a recent severe storm had caused some subsidence of the concrete blocks, which was not, however, a serious matter, and had been remedied at a trifling cost. How such an answer could be given through the Secretary to the Treasury by the Board of Works he could not for one moment conceive. He should presently refer to the Report of the Engineer of the Board of Works, which, after a great deal of difficulty and pressure in that House, they had succeeded in getting laid on the Table as a Parliamentary Paper. At this time the sum of £17,000 had been expended upon the works, the full amount of the contract being £27,000. Adding to that £27,000 the £5,000 which had already gone to the Mining Company, there was a balance left of £3,000 available for other purposes. He had asked the late Secretary to the Treasury how the damage was to be repaired, and he replied that £3,000 would be enough for the purpose. But the Engineer of the Board of Works had stated in his Re-port that a sum of £1,500 in addition would be required—that was to say £4,500—to make good the blunders of the Board of Works. He (Mr. Corbet) objected to the payment of a single 1s. 1249 in excess of the contract. He thought it would be a monstrous thing to call upon the cesspayers of the baronies to make good the outlay that was caused by the defective plans of construction being carried out, especially the defective plan against which they themselves had so strongly protested. He held in his hand a copy of the protest which they made; the document was with the Lords of the Treasury, and it showed how accurately the people of the district had forecast what would occur. It was stated in the protest that the direction of the pier was a direct inducement to the shifting sand to follow it out to its extremity, and then to silt up at the mouth of the harbour. Now, that was exactly what had occurred; and owing to the wrong direction of the pier a current was induced which swept the sand completely away from under its foundations, and caused it to collapse in the way he had described. He had before him the Report of the engineer of the Board of Works. Bearing in mind that the damage was at first stated to be trifling, and that it could be remedied at a very small cost, he said that such a reply could not have been put into the mouth of the Secretary to the Treasury without knowledge. The engineer reported to the effect that over a considerable length the face blocks had moved out from 2 to 20 inches; that the sand had been scoured away from the face of the pier, and that orders had been given to have heavy blocks laid down along its base. He (Mr. Corbet) had visited the harbour, and rowed round it in a boat; and he found that, instead of the heavy blocks referred to, a lot of rubbish—the engineer called it"rubble"—had been pitched into the Channel along the sea face of the pier. The Report wont on to say that for 130 feet the breakwater had been more or less damaged, that the foundations had been scoured out from underneath, and a trench formed 40 or 50 feet wide, and of an average depth of six feet under the previous level of the bed of the sea. It would be seen by this that the engineer distinctly showed by his Report that the forecast of the people of Arklow, whose objections and protests he was too high and mighty an individual to pay attention to when they were made, was perfectly accurate. He should not 1250 detain the Committee longer than to say that he expected an assurance from the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury that a good, substantial, and permanent harbour should be constructed at Arklow for the amount of the contract which was entered into in November, 1882, and which contract was to have been completed by the 1st of June last.heunderstood that not over half the work had been done; and he thought it right, speaking for the baronies which had to repay the loan, that they at least should not have to pay for the blunders and mistakes which the Board of Works made in the teeth of their representations.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said, he was anxious to put forward two or three arguments in support of the claim made by his hon. Friend the Member for Wicklow (Mr. Corbet).hewas anxious to do so for two reasons—because he represented a number of people concerned in this matter, and because ha was intimately acquainted with the locality and its wants. Another reason why he was desirous of supporting his hon. Friend was that, quite apart from the case itself, it was another instance of the fearful mismanagement of these matters by the Board of Works. It was, of course, only competent to him, then, to refer to this particular instance; but, when an opportunity occurred, he should certainly avail himself of that opportunity for discussing the mismanagement of this Department in other parts of Ireland, more especially on the coast of Dundalk, where, according to the Surveyor's Report, their conduct had been of the most disreputable character. Here was a Vote granted by Parliament to carry out very necessary harbour works, and on account of which a large sum of money had been raised on loan upon the security of the people of the neighbourhood; they had had a Government official making certain plans, and the Government insisting upon those plans being carried out in the face of the representations of people living in the locality, which were that the plans were altogether wrong. The Government plans had been carefully considered by a seafaring people, who had pointed out the defects in those plans, and the very predictions they made in this instance had been verified by the event. The faults which they pointed 1251 out had been proved to be faults, and the first storm that came had absolutely-destroyed the pier. The Board of Works now proposed to violate the undertaking given to these unfortunate people of the locality by asking them to guarantee a further sum of money. They proposed to do that because, as the hon. Baronet would remember, a contract had been entered into, under the terms of which the contractors were bound to build a sound and useful harbour for £27,000. The extra sum, therefore, ought not to fall upon the people. That sum was only necessitated by the failure of the plans of the Government. Under the circumstances,hesaid that the people should not have to pay for the failure of the plans of the Board of Works; and he thought this argument of his hon. Friend was strengthened by the fact that the plans were objected to by the people themselves. He supported his hon. Friend in protesting against their having to pay another 6d. for this purpose. He hoped that the hon. Baronet would say that the people should not be called on to make any further advance in this matter, and that for this large sum of money obtained by loan on their security a safe harbour would be constructed in the locality, where there was great need of it, and where the people derived their entire subsistence from the labour of fishing.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, in cases of this kind, he believed that one of the first things to be done was to endeavour to find out whether there was any particular opinion in the locality with regard to the work to be carried out. He remembered a case in his own district where an engineer drew £8,000 on account of Water Works which were supposed to supply the town with the water of a particular stream; the stream was in connection with some mills which had not been working for many years, and as soon as the Water Works commenced their operations the bottom of the stream was left for weeks without water. There seemed to him to be a parallel between these cases. The engineer had gone to the harbour, but did not take the trouble to inquire what had been the condition of things there for a number of years, and, in point of fact, made a complete mess of the whole business. The engineer never ascertained whether the bottom of the har- 1252 bour was secure as a foundation—he built, so to speak, his house upon sand, and that they were told on very old authority was a very injudicious thing to do. That was the whole explanation of the matter. The engineer, instead of using granite, which could be had in the neighbourhood, on the outside of the breakwater as a protection, he simply put down a lot of rubbish from a local quarry, and the result was that it was all washed away in a short time.hethought the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. Corbet) had made out an extremely strong case. Seeing that the Government asked for a guarantee, and that the work was done entirely under the control of their own engineer and the Department which was in possession of the protest of the people in the neighbourhood, he thought it a hard thing that they should be asked to pay any more money. His opinion was that the system under which these works were generally carried out was a defective one. He suggested that these operations should be carried out by the engineers in the locality subject to the control of the Board of Works. But the Board of Works had simply a consulting engineer, whereas they ought to have one responsible for the work to be done— that was to say, they should not advance any money until they were satisfied that the work had been done properly.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, he did not think it would be necessary for him to go into the details of this matter after what had been stated by the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. Corbet). The question had been, as was well known, brought before the Treasury. There was a difference of opinion between the Local Authorities and the Board of Public Works, Ireland. It was very right that the question should be thoroughly examined, and the Treasury had agreed that an examination of the works should be made and a Report sent in by Mr. Stevenson on the difference of opinion which existed with regard to the state of the works between the Local Authorities and the engineer of the Board, and as to what ought to be done. Until that examination was made and the Report presented, it would not be possible for him to give any assurance 1253 as to what Her Majesty's Government would do in this matter. Much would depend on the nature of the Eeport— whether it was favourable to the view taken by the Local Authorities, or whether it was favourable to the view taken by the Commissioners. He believed that a great part, at any rate, of the details given by the hon. Member were correct; but whether the storm might have destroyed the pier altogether, if it had been improperly made, or whether the damage was increased by the defective character of the pier, were questions to be considered. He would only make this remark on the subject—that if the Board of Public Works was responsible for the details of the construction of the pier, it must be remembered that they were not responsible for the site; that responsibility rested with the Local Authorities. He did not know whether the site was or was not considered by the Board of Works in this case. [Mr. PARNELL: They were responsible for the direction.] However, the matter would, as he had already said, be fully considered.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he was disappointed to hear such bad accounts of the harbour works; but he hoped that when the Report was published it would be found that the state of the harbour works was more satisfactory than was supposed. Personally, he had great confidence in the President of the Board of Works in Ireland, as well as in the chief engineer. The chief engineer had been three or four times under examination by Select Committees, on which he (Sir George Balfour) had sat, and proved himself to be a very able officer. With regard to the expenditure on the Arklow Harbour, he (Sir George Balfour) hoped there would be no mistake as to the responsibility for that expenditure. He held that whatever extra expense was to be incurred by reason of defects in the designs or mode of construction, it ought not to be borne by the locality. The Government were bound to construct the work in an efficient manner, without expecting anything additional from the ratepayers. The people did their duty when they gave the guarantee for £20,000.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that in the construction of Arklow Harbour he had taken a good deal of interest, as it was 1254 a work with which he was practically acquainted, and which he had had the opportunity of inspecting from time to time. The hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) had said it was the intention of the Government to send Mr. Stevenson, a Scotch engineer of some eminence, to inspect the work and report upon it. Surely it would have been preferable if a gentleman who was acquainted with the peculiarities of the coast had been sent. It was well known that general principles with regard to harbour construction were not sufficient to apply in every case. When an engineer was about to construct a harbour it was necessary he should go through a long course of study on the spot in order that he might become acquainted with all the local peculiarities, with the nature of the currents, with the action of the tide, with the effect of the wind in moving about the beds of sands which formed such an important factor in the construction of harbours on such a coast as the East Coast of Ireland, where there were very large masses of fine sands in a constant state of movement. He certainly did not consider that the knowledge an engineer such as Mr. Stevenson might have acquired in the designing and construction of harbours on a particular part of the coast of Scotland was necessarily such as to enable him to pronounce an opinion upon a case which presented such peculiar local difficulties as that at Arklow. It was extremely desirable that the Government should associate with Mr. Stevenson an engineer of local knowledge. The coast about Arklow was exceedingly difficult and intricate. It was very doubtful whether a more difficult place to build a harbour than Arklow could have been found on any of the coasts of the Three Kingdoms. The problems —mechanical, engineering, and natural — connected with the construction of a harbour at Arklow were of the most complex character; and therefore he did not think it was possible for a Scotch engineer, accustomed to other conditions, to go to Arklow and say, offhand, what was right and what was wrong. He feared they would only have a repetition of the undoubted blunder which had been made. It would be gathered from what he had already said that he admitted to the fullest extent the 1255 difficulty of the Arklow coast; but he felt bound to say that in the designing and construction of the Arklow Harbour all the elementary and initial precautions which should have been observed, and would have been observed in any other case except that of a harbour constructed by and under the auspices of the Irish Board of Works, were omitted by Mr. Manning. The hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) had carefully avoided going into the merits of the case. As a matter of fact, the case had no merits so far as the Board of Works was concerned—if the hon. Baronet would inspect the harbour he would agree with him (Mr. Parnell) that, so far as the Board of Works was concerned in the construction of the Arklow Harbour, the case had absolutely no merits. What did the Board of Works do, or rather what did they not do? In the first place, they omitted to make any borings in order to ascertain the depth of the fine sand—sand which could be blown off the hand by a puff of breath. It was only by means of borings that the amount of excavation required in order to obtain a foundation upon solid ground could be ascertained. He was told by an eminent engineer, who had been very successful in harbour works on the East Coast of Ireland, that it would not have been necessary to remove any very large amount of sand; but the Board of Works did not make the slightest attempt to ascertain the depth of sand. They set to work to lay large concrete blocks of from five to ten tons weight upon the sand without anything but the most superficial scooping. The result was that when the usual scooping action of the winter currents and storms set in— there were no very excessive storms— the sand was scooped from under the outside blocks, those blocks tumbled in, and the whole work was practically ruined. He feared that very little good could be done without the removal of the whole of the damaged portion of the pier. If the attempts which had been made by the Board of Works to repair the damage by the deposit of outside blocks were persisted in it would be simply a case of throwing good money after bad; the money of the ratepayers and of the Imperial Treasury would be further squandered because the elementary conditions of a good job wore absent. Unless the damaged portion of the pier 1256 was removed and the sand was dredged away it would be impossible to make a work which would stand the force of the winter gales and storms. Then, again, the direction of the pier was at fault, and for that the Board of Works was also responsible. The direction of the pier was decided upon in opposition to the advice and remonstrances of the local ship and boat owners, who had studied the sot of the currents and the action of the shifting sands on that coast for a great number of years. Mr. Manning, however, ran the harbour several points of the compass away from the direction suggested by the local people. Now the direction of the harbour was a question which would require consideration, and consideration not only by an engineer of Mr. Stevenson's capabilities, inspecting the place in a hasty visit of three, four, five, six or seven days; but by men who had been educated as engineers in the best School of Engineering, and who had also had experience of the construction of harbour works in the locality. And after all this had been done—-after they had decided upon the steps to be taken for the restoration of the damaged work, and after they had agreed upon the direction in which the harbour was to be made to run in future—came the further consideration as to the source from which the extra expenditure was to be taken. The hon. Baronet the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) had held out to them the hope that if Mr. Stevenson's Report was against the Board of Works the Government would consider the matter with a view to preventing the cost of the blunder falling upon the local ratepayers. That of course was only just, as the local ratepayers had practically no voice in the matter except to give the guarantee, which they did with the greatest cheerfulness. The harbour might have been made at a cost considerably under the amount guaranteed by the ratepayers and granted by Parliament; but in no case would it be possible now to make the harbour without trenching on the reserve fund of £4,000 or £5,000, which was left over and above the Estimate, and which might otherwise have been employed in setting up useful works after the rough works, always necessary in harbour construction, were completed. That sum would be 1257 lost, andhefeared it would not be possible to make the harbour a complete work without the expenditure of a considerably further sum. It was manifestly impossible for the local ratepayers to give any larger guarantee. After their experience in this matter they had no confidence that the money would be properly applied, and that further mistakes would not be made. It was, therefore, necessary that the Government should face the matter boldly, and pay for the mistake their Department had undoubtedly made. Now, as regarded the whole matter. Of course, he supposed that Mr. Stevenson was an engineer of considerable experience, and was doubtless very well qualified to report on harbour works in Scotland under the peculiar local conditions belonging to the coast with which he might be acquainted; but he (Mr. Parnell) would suggest to the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) that he should consult an Irish engineer, altogether independent of any Government Department in Ireland, in addition to Mr. Stevenson. He would suggest, for instance, Mr. Strype, who was a practical engineer as well as a theoretical engineer, of great distinction and ability. Mr. Strype designed and constructed the harbour works at Wicklow, which were on a more extensive scale than those at Arklow. Those works had been most successful. Mr. Strype adopted a system of concrete construction which had never been tried before, but which had proved in this case to be practically successful. The Wicklow works were within eight or 10 miles of Arklow, though he did not think the conditions were similar. Indeed,heknow they were not. Yet Mr. Strype had had an opportunity of studying the currents and the other peculiarities of the East Coast of Ireland, and he had shown that in the case of the harbour at Wicklow that his study had been successful. It would be but an acknowledgment of public opinion if the hon. Baronet would add Mr. Strype's name to that of Mr. Stevenson in the approaching Government inspection of Arklow Harbour.
§ MR. MOLLOY
pointed out that Mr. Manning, in the Report which he made on his own work at Arklow, pooh-poohed the suggestion that any portion of the method which was used so suc- 1258 cessfully at Wicklow should be used at Arklow. Mr. Manning's words were—It is not necessary for me to say more, than whatever the merits of this construction may be—and I do not desire to discuss them—they cannot be used here.Now, Mr. Stevenson, who had been called upon by the Government to report on the works of Mr. Manning, was a gentleman who had made harbours, some of which had been most successful, and some of which had failed in the same way as the harbour at Arklow had failed. It seemed ridiculous, in the first instance, to go to Scotland to find somebody to report on the proper site of a harbour on the coast of Ireland; and, in the second place, that they should pick out a man from amongst the number of men who had occasionally, at least, failed in the harbours they had constructed. If the work at Arklow was carried out on the original plan of Mr. Manning, what guarantee was there that it would not be swept away in the course of 12 months? He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) that as they had in Mr. Strype a most capable man, a man who had most successfully constructed a harbour in the neighbourhood, who had a thorough knowledge of engineering, and who was perfectly acquainted with the coast, with its currents and difficulties and dangers, it would be most unwise in the Government not to associate him with Mr. Stevenson in the inspection of the Arklow works.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) would see his way, before this discussion closed, to give some assurance with regard to the very practical and moderate proposal which had been laid before him by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). He (Mr. Sexton) did not know precisely what was the reputation of Mr. Stevenson; buthesupposed he was a man of eminence. The Committee were not informed whether Mr. Stevenson was a gentleman officially connected with the Government. Was he?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, that all his information was the other way; buthedid not wish to pledge himself on the subject.
§ MR. SEXTON
remarked, that if Mr. Stevenson were connected with the Government little or no confidence would be reposed in him by the people; indeed, it would be very unwise to set him up as a judge of Mr. Manning's series of blunders. He (Mr. Sexton) regarded the engineer of the Board of Works as the champion blunderer of all Ireland— there was nobody like him to be found in the country. There was nothing in the civilized world like the record of the Irish Board of Works with regard to the construction of piers and harbours. What his hon. Friend (Mr. Parnell) asked was that a local engineer of capacity should be associated with Mr. Stevenson in making the inspection of the Arklow works. His hon. Friend was well entitled, personally as well as publicly, to ask the Government to give attention to the matter. The hon. Gentleman paid a considerable sum of money in wages—something like £150 a-week —to men for preparing the stone for the harbour at Arklow; and so long as the work remained in its present condition the enterprize of the hon. Gentleman, which had given employment to a large number of persons, would be frustrated. It was to the interest of the population of Arklow, and of the enterprize in which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork had engaged, that the construction of the harbour should be proceeded with as speedily as possible. The hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) had been moat polite and courteous in his statement; but unless they were told that Mr. Strype would be associated with Mr. Stevenson in the inspection they would have little confidence in the result. He (Mr. Sexton) had the pleasure to know Mr. Strype. He was not competent to judge of Mr. Strype's engineering capabilities, being himself un-instructed in that science; but he knew Mr. Strype was a man of high intellectual capacity, a man who was well acquainted with the difficulties of the East Coast of Ireland; and, therefore, if such a man were associated with Mr. Stevenson in this matter, the people could look forward with a rational hope to some steps being taken to remedy the grievous errors which had been made. He (Mr. Sexton) was convinced that if the Government were to send an intelligent apprentice round the coast of Ireland to examine the monstrosities put 1260 up by the Board of Works, he would make a Report which would astonish the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland). The Board of Works pursued a most objectionable plan with regard to designs. When a design was made they did not submit it to scrutiny, but endeavoured to keep it as sacred as possible. They positively refused to show the plans of the fishery piers to the Fishery Piers and Harbours Commission, lest, he supposed, their defects should be found out. Before they got very far, however, with the stone work, the defects discovered themselves, and became apparent to every eye. Another principle of the conduct of the Board was to inflate the Estimates. They put down about twice the cost. The result was, apparently, to exhaust the Parliamentary fund, and, at the same time, to discourage local contributions. Then, when the money had been granted by the Treasury, and the Treasury, as the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) knew, never displayed anything but great inertness in making these grants— when the Treasury, slowly, and with dignity and precaution, made these grants available for the Public Service, the Board of Works delayed execution for months, and in some cases for years. And when all was over, when the piers were erected, what happened? The coast of Donegal was strewn with records of the blunders of the Board of Works. Some of the piers and harbours there were nothing but traps for the fishermen. The wildest storms of the Atlantic were not so dangerous as some of the places of refuge put up by the Board of Works. At Enniscrone, in County Sligo, a pier was built two years ago. It turned out perfectly useless, and now another was being built at a cost of £6,000. A pier was also built at another place, and then the fishermen thought they would be able to conduct their operations with all safety. Before the pier was built they were able to fish some way or other; but now they were not able to fish at all, because where the pier was there used to be a jetty, at which they could land, but now, when the pier was made, no fisherman dare bring his boat into harbour. Such was the record of the Irish Board of Works; and if the new Government really meant to devote themselves to Irish resources, they could not do better than send some 1261 intelligent apprentice from England or Scotland to examine and report upon the present state of things. He did not know whether the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) intended to remain in Office long, even if circumstances were such as to enable him to do so; but if he remained in Office until the end of this year he would be able, by intelligent inquiries, to obtain proof of errors, blunders, mismanagement, ignorance, and waste of public money on the part of the Irish Board of Works as would be sufficient to condemn any Public Department.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he thought the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) should give them some assurance that a local engineer would be appointed with Mr. Stevenson to inquire into the failure in the construction of the Arklow Harbour. To those who were acquainted with the history of the harbour it was plain that the chief blunder which the Government made was in not giving any power in the construction of the work to any Local Authority. From the beginning to the disastrous end of the construction of the harbour local opinion had been deliberately set at naught. Over and over again very competent authorities in Arklow and the surrounding districts had given to the Board of Works their opinions upon the construction of the works; but their opinions had always been set aside. The consequence was to be found in the utter failure of the work. Some time ago an inquiry was made into the matter by Mr. Manning; but he, of course, was interested in giving as good an account of the affair as possible, because he himself was responsible for the blunder. There was not the slightest doubt that Mr. Stevenson would go to inquire into the subject with a mind somewhat prejudiced in favour of the Board of Works and of their engineer. The inquiry, therefore, would not command the confidence of the people; those who were interested in the harbour would not consider that the Government were thoroughly sincere in the inquiry unless they consented to appoint, either solely or in conjunction with another engineer, an engineer who had the confidence of the Local Authorities. Would the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) say what objection there could be to the appointment of some engineer who would have 1262 the confidence of the people? It must be borne in mind that, after all, the people of Arklow were more interested in the successful completion of this work than even the Board of Works or anybody else; and, therefore, it was only reasonable to imagine that they would find it directly to their interest to have appointed a man who would go to the bottom of the affair, and say, once and for all, where the blunders had been, and what it was necessary to do. The hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland") ought to say that, at least, he would consider the advisability of appointing some engineer who might fairly be regarded as the representative of the people. He was not at all surprised that the late Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert) was not in his place. He fully agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wicklow (Mr. Corbet) when he said that the late Financial Secretary to the Treasury was extremely courteous in his dealings in regard to this matter. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hibbert) was courteous to every person who approached him upon matters connected with his Department; but it was evident that the hon. Gentleman realized, just as well as any Member coming from Ireland, that the Board of Works had behaved in a thoroughly disgraceful manner in respect to the Arklow Harbour. Now, there would not be any satisfaction here, and he was sure there would not be any in the locality interested, unless the Government gave the assurance that they would cause the inquiry to be made, by Mr. Stevenson if they liked, but also by some authority connected with the district. The hon. Baronet would, perhaps, find it to his convenience, as well as to the convenience of the Government generally, to consider what the Irish Members were now saying. They required two engineers to be employed in this matter— one to represent the people, and the other the Government. That was a perfectly fair proposal, and unless the Government assented to it they would not inspire the people of Arklow with any confidence in their good intentions in making the inquiry.
§ MR. ARTHUK ARNOLD,
as one who had sat for two Sessions on the Harbour Committee, reminded the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) that the Committee reported unanimously in 1263 favour of the monolithic system of building harbours. It was only duo to say that in the last paragraph of their Report they mentioned, with approval, the work of Mr. Strype at Wicklow.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, he did not wish to detract from the value of Mr. Strypo's work at Wicklow; but, as had been pointed out, the conditions there were very different to those at Arklow. The question of adding another engineer in the inspection was quite a new one, and it was quite impossible for him to give an answer on the spur of the moment. He felt the force of what hon. Members had said as to studying the wishes of the Local Authorities, and he would consider what they had suggested. Of course, he could not now pledge himself as to any particular course of conduct.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
drew attention to the mode in which loans were granted for the erection of teachers' residences. The terms on which the loans were now granted were 5 per cent per annum interest, and the whole sum repayable in 35 years. There had been a very general wish expressed by those concerned, the managers of schools —expressed in a Memorandum drawn up by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland— that the loans should be granted at £3 15s. per cent per annum interest, and that the period of repayment should be extended to 50 years. He hoped the hon. Baronet (Sir Henry Holland) would be able to say he would consider any representation that he (Colonel Colthurst) or others might make to him on the subject.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
said, he would certainly give his most careful consideration to any representation which was laid before him on the subject.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked if the hon. Baronet thought he would be able, by Report, to make a statement with regard to the suggestion that a second engineer should be employed in the inspection of Arklow Harbour?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
said, he would make the necessary inquiries at once; but he was afraid he could hardly make a statement by Report.
§ Vote agreed to.