§ (2.) £119,978, to complete the sum for the Local Government Board, Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Sir William Hart Dyke) was, by virtue of his Office, President of the Local Government Board in Ireland; and, therefore, it might be well if he (Mr. Sexton) called the right hon. Gentleman's attention, upon his entry into Office, to the manner in which the Department of which he was the head conducted its Business. The Irish Local Government Board was composed of three gentlemen, and they administered, as was seen from this Vote, a sum amounting to considerably over £100,000 a-year. The course pursued by the Department in several matters had excited great disapprobation in Ireland; indeed, there was a general feeling that it was a Department which was very ready to interfere where its interference was not needed; and that, on the other hand, in a case in which the public interest demanded its interference, a steam crane would not move it. A few evenings ago the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes), who he was sorry was not in his place, agreed to postpone the stage of a Bill which proposed to give Boards of Guardians power to give pensions to certain officers upon the abolition of office. He (Mr. Sexton) believed the Bill had been introduced with a view to certain amalgamations of Unions in the West of Ireland. One of those amalgamations was that of the Union of Newport, in County Mayo, with the Union of Westport in the same county. Up to the year 1848 the Local Government Board would have had to consult the Guardians and the ratepayers, and would have had to obtain the consent of two-thirds of the ratepayers before they could effect such an amalgamation. But a great many shady laws were passed in 1848; and by one of them the Local Government Board was empowered to carry out amalgamations of Unions without asking the opinion, or advice, or consent of the ratepayers or Guardians. That, he thought, was a most objectionable law. He admitted that 1265 the Union workhouses were too numerous in Ireland. Many of them were built at a time of enormous depression; and he was of opinion that now the number might, with great advantage to the community, be decreased, because an undue proportion of the Poor Law fund in Ireland was expended in the salaries of officials and the expenses of these establishments. But what he contended was that if the Government wanted to amalgamate Unions they ought to do it upon a national scheme and upon a considerable scale. They ought to take the country as a whole, and, consider what Union workhouses could properly be dispensed with, and how the amalgamations should be effected, having regard to the purses of the ratepayers and to the necessities of the poor. Both political Parties were vieing with each other in their declarations as to the question of Local Government in Ireland; he supposed that whatever Party was in power next year a measure for Local Government would be introduced on a very early day. If that was so, what was the use of proceeding now in a piecemeal and beggarly fashion with the amalgamations of Unions? Let the Lord Lieutenant apply himself to the question as a whole. Let His Excellency take the 163 Unions in Ireland and consider what part of them could be dispensed with, and let there be a large, well-considered, and impartial scheme of amalgamation. What did the Local Government Board do? They found that in the Union of Newport in Mayo the poor rates had for the last three or four years averaged from 6s. to 7s. in the pound; and that in the adjoining Union of Westport the poor rates had averaged only 1s. 8d. in the pound, and the proposal of Mr. Robinson, Mr. George Morris, and the third Commissioner, whose name he forgot for the moment, sitting at their ease in the Custom House in Dublin, was that the ratepayers of Westport, with a poor rate of 1s. 8d., should take on their shoulders the 6s. and 7s. rate of the Newport Union. Was that a reasonable proposal? Let anyone imagine what their feelings would be if they were ratepayers in Westport paying 1s. 8d. in the pound for the maintenance of the poor, and the Local Government Board came down and said—"You must take into your Union the Union of Newport with its 1266 7s. in the pound rate." Besides, this high rate had not been sufficient in Newport, because the Government had given large grants of public money for several years towards the aid of the local rates in Newport. The Westport Guardians were naturally very indignant at the proposal. They wrote him on the 16th of April last a letter, in which they said that they were opposed to the scheme on the ground that the same would be most cruel to the poor people of Newport to have to come long distances in all weathers, in some cases 42 miles, to obtain relief, and also on the ground of the injustice of adding an insolvent Union to the Westport Union, which had, up to the present, been satisfactorily conducted in every way. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) contend that it was reasonable to. single out the Westport Union to be victimized in this way? The Guardians of Westport pointed out that if this amalgamation was carried into effect the poor rate which they had been paying for the maintenance of their poor would be doubled. He (Mr. Sexton) was certainly of opinion that such an amalgamation ought to be devised, that while it had due regard to the necessities of the poor of the one Union, it also had duo regard to the condition of the poor in the other Union, and that in a time like this of great difficulty in Ireland, when ratepayers found it very hard to live and make ends meet, the Local Government Board should be careful in suddenly placing an intolerable burden upon their shoulders. A resolution was passed in the Westport Union to the effect that if the Local Government Board carried out their scheme the rate collectors would fail to collect the rates, and that the ratepayers were so much incensed against amalgamation with the Newport Union that they would have recourse to every legal means to defeat it. He thought that if the puny despots in the Custom House in Dublin persisted in imposing their will the people were morally entitled to put the residents of the Custom House to all the trouble that the full execution of the law would permit. The last letter he had received from the Westport Guardians was dated the 2nd of this month, and in it they stated they had passed a resolution requesting the attention of the Chief Secretary for 1267 Ireland to the fact that the proposed amalgamation was opposed by every Guardian of the Union except one, who was neutral, and was against the universal feeling of the ratepayers of the Union. It would be impossible, they said, for them to administer the law efficiently. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) mean to say that an arrangement which would oblige the poor people of Newport to travel 50 Irish miles in order to reach the workhouse was one which was in general accord with the necessities of their condition? The Guardians further said that the proposal, if carried out, would make the Westport Union pay the expenses of a poor district which hitherto had been unable to support itself; and the ratepayers in their protest objected in the strongest manner to the proposed amalgamation, and requested the Chief Secretary to stop this most unjust and high-handed proceeding on the part of the Local Government Board. It appeared to him that the Westport people had been very harshly treated in this matter; and unless the Local Government Board took some steps to devise a more workable scheme, and one which would inflict less hardship upon any particular body of ratepayers in Ireland, he could promise them they would not hear the last of it for some time to come. He had said the Local Government Board was very ready to interfere when it was not wanted, and slow to interfere when it was wanted. He might refer to a case occurring three or four years ago, in which they issued an order for the dismissal of a medical officer. Dr. Joseph Kenny had the misfortune to be arrested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). Some Members of the Irish Party had no reason to complain of the fact, because in prison they found him a most agreeable friend, as well as a most capable professional man; but public opinion was disgusted by the Local Government Board issuing an order for his dismissal from the office he held. On the other hand, he had heard that a Board of Guardians had sent complaint after complaint against a medical officer, and yet the Local Government Board treated the matter with the greatest indifference. Months had passed and no notice had been taken of the representa- 1268 tions. He also knew of a case in the West of Ireland, where a dispensary officer had no great zeal for duty, and during his frequent absence his porter took his place, and was in the habit of dispensing medicine, drawing teeth, and vaccinating children. In this case, too, the representations of the Guardians had been treated with complete indifference. Now, as to the Local Government Board being ready to interfere in cases where their interference was unnecessary. He would like the Government to make some statement with regard to the conduct of the Local Government Board in reference to the Treasurership of the North Dublin Union. Early in the present year the Guardians of the North Dublin Union wanted a large loan for permanent improvements which could not properly be put on the rates of the year. They made a proposal to the Bank of Ireland, but they refused to grant the loans. The Guardians then applied to the Hibernian Bank, and they agreed to give the loan on the condition that the account of the Guardians should be placed with them. The Hibernian Bank further offered to give the overdraft which the Guardians required at 3 per cent, the Bank of Ireland charging them 3 per cent. The Guardians agreed unanimously to change the account from the Bank of Ireland to the Hibernian Bank, and they did so, because not only would they get the loan which they required, and which the Bank of Ireland refused them, but they would also gain £300 a-year in the shape of interest. Was it not extraordinary that the Local Government Board refused to allow the North Dublin Board of Guardians to change their account from the Bank of Ireland? Was it not enough that the Bank of Ireland had extraordinary facilities and advantages over every other bank? Was it not enough that all Government money in Ireland, and all the funds of the Courts of Law—the Chancery and Bankruptcy Courts—passed through the hands of the Governors of the Bank of Ireland? Was it not too bad that all public Boards like the North Dublin Board of Guardians must be obliged to keep their account with the Bank of Ireland, even at a loss of £300 a-year in interest? He called on Her Majesty's Government to say that the Guardians of the North Dublin Union should be allowed to keep their banking account whore they liked, not 1269 to treat them as children, and not to impose upon the ratepayers a fine of £300 a-year for the purpose of having their account kept at a bank which was more favourable to the Government than the one they had chosen. He characterized what had taken place in this matter as an unwarrantable interference with the rights of the Guardians and with the interests of the ratepayers; and he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would say that the course that had been taken should not receive their sanction. He had also to complain of the action of the Local Government Board in connection with the Sligo Union, where, owing to The Returning Officer allowing six votes to be improperly recorded, the nominee of the landlords was elected by a majority of three. The Returning Officer of the Sligo Union improperly and illegally received the voting papers; the Local Government Board admitted the illegality; but they declined to give the seat to the candidate who, as they admitted, had a right to it. The Local Government Board said that they had no power to declare the Poor Law candidate elected, unless he was declared to be elected by the Returning Officer. The Returning Officer declined to declare the candidate elected. The Local Government Board, having found on inquiry that the votes had been illegally given, should have declared the other candidate elected by a certain number of votes; but instead of doing that they put the people to the trouble of going over the ground again. If that was the law, he said that the sooner it was amended the better; and he hoped the Government would take care that in future the candidates who were proved to have a legal majority should have the seats. Again, in the Donegal Union the Catholic children were in a state of spiritual destitution. The Guardians there, who were a band of narrow-minded and bigoted people, had refused to appoint a single Catholic officer—even a schoolmaster. The priest found it impossible to contend with the opposition he met with, and he was obliged to resign the office of chaplain, because he felt he could not retain his position in the absence of some Catholic official to instruct the children in the doctrines of religion. The result was that the children had been left without religious instruction for two years, without Divine service 1270 on Saints' clays and holidays, and without the ministrations of their Church. He asked whether that was not a case in which the Local Government Board ought to interfere? The Predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had endeavoured to induce the Guardians to appoint a Catholic schoolmistress, but they refused; and when the place had to be filled up they put aside a Catholic who applied, although the children were Catholics, and they appointed a Protestant young lady, who had no qualifications at all, and who, the moment she was put to the test of examination, was obliged to resign. The Local Government Board, three years ago, were ready enough to supersede the Guardians at Carrick-on-Suir. There the Chairman refused to allow the Guardians to present resolutions in connection with the poor rates; and, the struggle having gone on for some time, the Chairman of the Local Government Board sent down an order and dismissed the Board. He thought the same thing might be done in this case. A still stronger case occurred in the parish of Dunfanaghy. This had been an unfortunate parish for many years, owing to the number and cruelty of the evictions which had taken place there. A gentleman who had with the greatest zeal and energy thrown himself into the cause of the people, and had stood between them and their cruel oppressors, had been selected for special annoyance by the local Guardians. He presented himself for election last March; but, for the reasons referred to, he was excluded from the room, while others were allowed to remain; he wrote a letter of complaint to the Local Government Board last March; the Board had received the complaint, but up to the present time they had made no reply. He regarded the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke), who was Chairman of the Local Government Board, as too frank a man, and as too straightforward a Parliamentarian, to give countenance to action of this kind; and be believed he would now be as frank in his answer upon these points as he would have been before the assumption of his present Office. He knew, himself, of a case in which two young women died for want of medical assistance, and whose deaths lay at the door of the 1271 Board of Guardians and the Local Government Board. And there was the cruel and cowardly attack made upon Father M'Fadden, whom the Guardians dismissed from the office of warden. This reverend gentleman had stood between the unfortunate people of the district, who were endeavouring to earn a miserable living from a sterile soil, and who had to pay rent to landlords as cruel and grasping as any to be found in Ireland. At a meeting of the Board of Guardians, composed of seven landlords, three agents, and one or two hangers-on, Father M'Fadden had the insult sprung upon him of being dismissed from the office of warden—the duty of warden being to issue tickets for relief. Since then the poor people of the district had continued to go to his house, and he had been unable to relieve them. He said that this state of things was a scandal and an outrage. In a district containing 5,000 Catholics, the office of warden was now held by a Protestant clergyman; and they all knew how unwilling the Catholic people of Ireland were to approach a person of a different creed for the purpose of obtaining relief. It was a scandal that an eminent ecclesiastic, a man of apostolic energy and charity, should be cast out of the honorary office of warden to please the local landlords, and that the Local Government Board should stand by and allow that insult to be inflicted upon him—and that, too, in the midst of a wretched, poor, and suffering population. He (Mr. Sexton) would have wrongly estimated the character of the right hon. Gentleman if he found hereafter that his influence had not been used to prevent the continuance of this state of things; and he ventured to think he would make some strong representations to the Board of Guardians in the matter of Father M'Fadden and with regard to the Catholic children in Donegal Union, who were, as he had said, in a state of spiritual destitution.
§ MR. O'SHEA
said, he was well acquainted with the district which his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had spoken of; and he was bound to say that he concurred in thinking that Newport Union should be spread, as a matter of principle, over a larger area than was proposed, and, at the same time, he hoped that a measure would be passed next year which would 1272 render absurd arrangements of the kind they were now speaking impossible. It seemed to him, however, very unfair that the inhabitants of Newport should have to pay rates in connection with such a large district, while the inhabitants of the Westport district had hitherto escaped scot free. So that, although in principle he was absolutely in accord with his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo, he thought, if they could not get any better arrangement, it was not a very great injustice to Westport that the Newport Union should be amalgamated with it. In connection with this matter a case of great hardship might arise, and to that subject he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give his attention. He know that a Bill had been introduced to the House dealing with the subject of Union officers. Unless that Bill were passed, or some measures taken for giving retiring pensions to the officers of Newport Union, with whom he happened to be personally acquainted, he said it would be a hard case indeed. He hoped his hon. Friend understood that he was in accord with him in principle.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, the question of the amalgamation of Unions was gone into carefully by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer at the timehewas Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. A Commission was appointed consisting of very able men, who took a great deal of trouble in carrying out their investigation, and who reported most strongly against the amalgamation of Unions. They said that no Union in Ireland could be closed without inflicting great hardship on the poor in the district. Therefore, he thought the Local Government Board had acted wrongly in closing the Newport Union. If the boundaries of the Union were not right they ought to have been rectified.hehoped the right hon. Gentleman would not give his sanction to the closing of any Union in Ireland, because he was satisfied that by so doing he would cause grievous hardship on many of the poor. With respect to Donegal Union, to which the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had alluded,hehad himself taken some pains to bring the matter under the notice of the late Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and that right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that he was 1273 not authorized to exercise the power of appointing Vice Guardians. Injustice to the Local Government Board,hemust say with regard to many of the complaints made against them they had not power to act. Whereas in England the Board had very extensive powers, the powers of the Irish Local Government Board were extremely limited by statute. Of course, it required an extreme case to be shown before they could exercise their power of dismissal and appointment of Vice Guardians; but he maintained that the persistent refusal to appoint a Roman Catholic teacher under the circumstances that had been described was a case of such urgency as would justify the Local Government Board in interfering. He believed that if the Guardians were to receive a letter to the effect that if they did not appoint a Roman Catholic teacher Vice Guardians would be appointed, they would at once do what was required of them. He believed he should be in Order in referring upon this Vote, which involved a large increase for salaries of the officers of the Local Government Board, Dublin, and various other Unions, to the question of Union rating: which had been brought before the House. He would not go into the subject in detail, but would point out that Union rating had existed for the last 20 years in England, and that no dissatisfaction had been caused by it. When the Poor Law was first introduced into Ireland, it was intended to make the Union the area of rating; but parochial rating prevailed then in England and the area was altered in the House of Lords. A Committee sat to inquire into the subject in 1871; it took an enormous amount of evidence, and unanimously reported in favour of Union rating. He did not ask the right hon. Gentleman to express any opinion on the subject that evening; hut he asked him to take it into consideration during the Recess, in order to see if effect could not be given to the recommendation of the Committee of 1871.
§ MR. MARUM
said, there was in some parts of Ireland a great disinclination for anything in the nature of a Union Bating Bill. The Union of Kilkenny had protested against it. The question might be described as a ques- 1274 tion of town against country. There was nothing like unanimity on the subject, and he assured the Committee that the whole of the South of Ireland was opposed to Union rating.
§ MR. SMALL
said, his experience of the Local Government Board, Ireland, was that if they were asked to do anything to aid the population in the matter of rates they always said they had no power to do so. The truth was that the powers of the Local Government Board were so general and so vaguely defined that they could do what they liked. With regard to the case of the Catholic clergyman to which his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had referred, he ventured to say that many Members of that House did not know exactly where Dunfanaghy was, or what constituted the office of warden. He would, therefore, inform the Committee that the office from which Bather M'Fadden had been dismissed by the Board of Guardians was one which, although it involved a great deal of trouble and hard work, carried with it no pay. It was the duty of the warden to distribute tickets for relief to the poor people in the locality, and it had been an almost invariable rule in nearly all the Unions in Ireland that a clergyman of every denomination should be appointed to the office, so that relief might be provided for all.hewas aware that in most of the Catholic parts of Ireland Protestant clergymen had always been appointed; and, that being so, it seemed to him extraordinary that in the district of Donegal, to which his hon. Friend had referred, the only person to whom the poor people could go for relief was the man whom the Guardians had thought proper to deprive of the office of warden. He wished to address a few words to the right hon. Gentleman as to the improvement which he might effect in the procedure of the Local Government Board with reference to the election of Guardians. He had taken part in several elections of Guardians, both as Guardian and candidate; and he was obliged to say that the course pursued by the officials of the Local Government Board was very unsatisfactory. They could not expect Guardians to be placed in as good a position with regard to elections as persons were placed in in 1275 respect of Parliamentary and municipal elections, because in the latter cases clear rules of procedure had been laid down. That, however, he always considered to be a great misfortune, because, in his opinion, the election of Guardians was of more importance to the poor than the election of Members of Parliament or of municipalities. However, when questions arose with regard to Boards of Guardians, they were referred to the Local Government Board in Dublin; and the question be had to ask was—by what persons were they received, and by whom were they adjudicated upon? Within his knowledge, letters had been sent to the Board setting out at great length causes of complaint; and it was his invariable experience that the answers returned to them were of the most unsatisfactory kind. It always seemed that the person who received and answered the letters of complaint must be entirely unfitted to have anything to do with them. The questions which arose were always of a legal and technical character; and, that being so, he thought they should be submitted to a person of legal authority for consideration. He knew there was an officer connected with the Dublin Local Government Board who acted as Legal Adviser; but he did not believe that a hundredth part of the questions laid before the Board were ever submitted to him. It seemed to him likely that, instead of the questions being submitted to this gentleman, who bad been very attentive in some cases that he was acquainted with, they went before some clerks or underlings in the Office in Dublin, who took upon themselves to answer them. If that were so, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would agree that it was a very improper course, and one which ought to be at once abandoned. He thought it would be well that every case of complaint relating to the election of Guardians should be submitted to the gentleman acting as Law Adviser to the Local Government Board before any reply was given. He could give many instances of complaints which had been sent to the Local Government Board, and to which the most unsatisfactory answers had been returned. In his own Union he had known several controverted elections, and in connection with them many fine points had been raised; but the most unsatis- 1276 factory replies had been sent from the Local Government Board. In the case of the Donegal election, to which his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) had referred, they said that they had no power to interfere. It was very necessary, too, that attention should be drawn to the system of appointing Returning Officers in Ireland. The conduct of a very notorious partizan—Mr. Bell—in the North of Ireland, was the subject of a debate in the House last year, and very properly so. It was absurd that the very gentleman above all others who had the strongest interest in the personnel of the Board of Guardians should be appointed Returning Officer. The Clerk of a Union was the very last person who ought to be Returning Officer; and yet, under the general law, Clerks of Unions, except in the case of the Dublin Unions, were the Returning Officers. Mr. Bell had shown himself in the highest degree partial and prejudiced. His conduct for several years past had been of such a character as to render him completely unworthy of the confidence of any portion of the public; and yet the complaints which had been forwarded to the Local Government Board had been treated with the greatest indifference. Mr. Bell received votes for convicts and for officers on military service, and counted them, because he discovered that by doing so he could keep the Nationalist candidate out of office. He (Mr. Small) only desired, in conclusion, to put two questions to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke)—namely, who was it in the Office of the Local Government Board in Dublin who supplied the answers to complaints—was it any competent person, or an under clerk? And, secondly, would he direct an inquiry into the conduct of Mr. Bell, and appoint someone else to act as Returning Officer, in case it was found Mr. Bell had acted improperly?
§ MR. DEASY
fully recognized the fact that the present Government were not in a position to make anything like radical reforms in the Poor Law during the present Session. Last year several questions were entered into in great detail by hon. Members on both sides of the House, and pledges were given by the Government, and particularly by the then Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant; but they had not been fulfilled. 1277 He had, however, somewhat more faith in the present occupants of the Treasury Bench than he had in their Predecessors. Be that as it might, there were one or two points of comparatively small importance to which he desired to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke). The first of them was the ill-treatment of pauper lunatics. It was a question which had been debated already that Session; but nothing had been done towards remedying the deplorable condition in which those unfortunate persons were placed in the Irish workhouses. By a Return presented to Parliament this year he found that the total number of pauper lunatics in workhouses in Ireland was 1,873, and that the total number of idiots was 1,826. He did not propose to say anything about the idiots, because he believed that if proper provision were made in suitable buildings for pauper lunatics there would be plenty of accommodation in the workhouses for the idiots. Those unfortunate people were huddled together in some out-of-the-way corner of the workhouses. They were under the control of nurses, who were utterly unskilled, and who, for the most part, were paupers themselves. There were very few paid nurses in charge of the lunatics, and the medical men, under whose care they were, had to attend to 500 or 600 other patients, and rarely were in a position to inquire into the condition of the lunatics. It was quite impossible for men, most of whose time was devoted to the treatment of various diseases, to prescribe for the people who were suffering mentally. In a Report which was made by a Royal Commission, appointed by the last Conservative Government, and presented to the House in 1879, it was recommended that certain workhouses in different localities of the country, and in which there were very few paupers, should be set apart for the treatment of pauper lunatics. There were several workhouses in County Cork which were not filled to a third or a quarter of their capacity; and there was no reason why the Local Government Board should not make an Order compelling the Guardians to set one of the buildings apart for pauper lunatics, sending the paupers there into the workhouses in the surrounding districts. At the present time 1278 there was some room in the district lunatic asylums; but the Governors of those institutions objected to receiving the pauper lunatics on the ground that the asylums would become over-crowded, and they would be unable to treat properly the patients who were committed by the magistrates' orders. He admitted that, in some cases, that was a reasonable excuse; but in the case of the Cork District Lunatic Asylum, and one or two other district asylums he could name, there was room for the accommodation of a considerably larger number of lunatics. He was glad to see that, as far as the Cork District Lunatic Asylum was concerned, a good example in this respect had been set. The Cork Asylum was the only asylum in Ireland to which pauper lunatics from workhouses were transferred; and the Governors of that establishment had, he admitted, done all in their power, since the matter was brought before Parliament, to meet the views of the Guardians, and to lessen the over-crowding of pauper lunatics in the workhouse. But there was no reason why the same state of things should not prevail all over the country. No change in the law was required; all that was wanted was the approval of the Local Government Board and of the Governors. It was absolutely necessary that something be done before long for these people. They had nothing but the dullest surroundings as a general rule. They had no playground; they had no proper treatment, and it was impossible, as statistics proved, that any large progress in the recovery of their mental faculties could be made. He hoped the present Government, as the previous Tory Administration did, would take a deep interest in this question, and would apply themselves to it during the next couple of months. They had only to act upon the Report presented in 1879, and then they would have very little difficulty in carrying out this much needed reform. Now, with regard to the industrial training of boys in workhouses. This was another matter which should be dealt with immediately. Most of the boys who were brought up by the Unions spent most of their lives within the walls of the workhouses, owing to the idleness in which they were reared, and owing to the impossibility of training them in industrial pursuits. They 1279 might go out for a week or two; but they had been so accustomed to idleness within the workhouse that they did not care to remain in a situation in which they might have been placed. They invariably returned to the places where they had been reared. He might be told that it was in the power of Boards of Guardians to remedy this unhappy state of things. Several attempts had been made by Boards of Guardians; but they had never succeeded, simply because, under the present system, young people in the workhouses must necessarily mix with the older people. The result was that they contracted the vices of the older inmates. If the 15,000 children under 15 years of age, who were in the Irish workhouses at the present time, were to be brought up so as to become useful members of society, and earn their own bread, the Government must make up their mind that they should be trained outside the workhouses; that they should be sent to industrial schools, and taken away altogether from their present associations. It was really very hard that if a child was to obtain a real industrial training he must first of all pass through a prison, or be committed before two magistrates in a Court of Law. He was quite sure that if such schools as he had indicated were established throughout the country the ratepayers would not make any extravagant demands on the Government in the shape of capitation grants, even if they asked for them at all. The people would be willing to pay additional rates if they thought that in a short time a large number of the class of persons who now drifted into the workhouses would be brought up in such a way as to enable them to earn their own living, and not to eventually become a burden upon the country. There was a fine establishment in Youghal untenanted. There was no reason why it should not be bought for the accommodation of pauper lunatics, or for the training of children. It was a building which could be had for a trifle, the Youghal Board of Guardians having offered it to any public body for a mere nominal sum. There were throughout the country a large number of such establishments; and if the Government would set themselves in earnest to the settlement of the question of relieving the condition of the pauper chil- 1280 dren and pauper lunatics they would experience very little difficulty. The only other point to which he desired to direct attention was one which the late Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) promised 12 months ago to redress. It was pointed out during the discussion last year on the Local Government Board Estimates that the magistrates at Petty Sessions had the power of appointing Inspectors under the Explosives Act. Those Inspectors did not receive very large salaries—from £20 to £40 a-year each. They had very little to do; but whatever they had to do they did not do, though they took good care to draw their salaries. The Boards of Guardians in several parts of the country made up their minds that the salaries should not be paid; because they felt that if they had to appoint the Inspectors, and yet have no control over them, it was unjust to ask the ratepayers to pay any portion of their salaries. It transpired that the Inspectors had the first claim on the rates; that if the Board of Guardians refused to honour the cheque of the magistrates in Petty Sessions the Inspectors had only to present the cheques at the bankers of the Guardians and they must be cashed out of the first money lodged by the Board; the salaries must be paid even if the paupers starved. He considered that a great hardship. When the question was raised last year the Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) promised that he would give the magistrates the option of appointing as Inspectors under the Explosives Act members of the Royal Irish Constabulary instead of the clerks of the Petty Sessions and others who up to that time had been appointed. The magistrates at Petty Sessions, however, almost invariably refused to dismiss the men who occupied the position of Inspectors, and to appoint policemen in their stead. Of course, it was unnecessary to say that the Government did not pay the salaries, but that that burden was still placed on the ratepayers. Now, what he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke) to do was to compel the magistrates to dismiss their own friends and appoint policemen as Inspectors, who, on account of their training, and for several other reasons, were bettor able to carry out the provisions of the Act than the present Inspectors. It was generally conceded by the 1281 magistrates that policemen would make the best Inspectors, but that they did not like to dismiss the present holders of the offices. He did not think that a consideration of that kind should weigh at all, particularly when it was acknowledged that the present Inspectors could not do the duties cast upon them with the same efficiency as members of the Constabulary Force could. This was a grievance which had given a great deal of annoyance in Ireland, and yet it was one which could be redressed by a stroke of the pen. The Local Government Board had only to issue an Order compelling the magistrates to dismiss the present Inspectors and to appoint policemen in their places. He trusted that the different matters to which he had drawn attention would receive the serious consideration of the Government.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, he was sure hon. Members would not expect him to go at any length into the various matters which had been referred to in the course of this discussion. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had referred to the question of the amalgamation of the West-port and Newport Unions. As far as he (Sir William Hart Dyke) could understand, the question was practically settled before he took Office. The hon. Member for Clare (Mr. O'Shea) had referred to a Bill now before Parliament to provide for the compensation of the men whose offices were abolished. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman that it was nothing but just that men in such a position should receive some compensation. The Bill was not introduced to meet any one special case, but to meet any cases which might arise in the future. He was not prepared, however, to admit that the facts with regard to the amalgamation of the Westport and Newport Unions were quite as indicated by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). The hon. Member referred to two or three other matters connected with Ireland — to the Treasurership of the North Dublin Union and to the keeping of the Union's banking account. He also referred to the affairs of the Sligo and Donegal Unions, and another Union, the name of which ha (Sir William Hart Dyke) found a difficulty in pronouncing. Now, if there had been any misdirection 1282 of affairs in any of those Unions, and he could discover it, it would be his duty to remedy matters. He must say at once that the facts had not come under his knowledge; and, therefore, he was not prepared to deal with them at any length now. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Cork (Colonel Colthurst) referred to the question of Union rating. He (Sir William Hart Dyke) did not suppose there was a more difficult question that a man could undertake than that of Union or electoral rating; but it should receive his earnest and early attention. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, a Committee which sat in 1871 recommended most strongly that the Union rating area should be at once adopted. That had not been adopted; but there had been some change in the law. By an Act passed in 1876 some alteration was made with respect to the number of years' residence and the chargeability; andhebelieved that in some districts the alteration had afforded something like relief. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Small) had gone into questions of great interest; but he (Sir William Hart Dyke) feared that his answers to them would not be considered satisfactory. The hon. Member complained of the scant justice which had been done to Local Authorities by the Local Government Board in cases where complaint had been made in regard to certain election proceedings. The hon. Gentleman seemed to infer that, although there were very clever Legal Authorities responsible for these matters, certain improper election proceedings were not brought before those Authorities and decided in a proper manner. Of course, if he (Sir William Hart Dyke) found that such things occurred, he would know how to deal with them. The hon. Member also referred to the case of Mr. Bell. He (Sir William Hart Dyke) was sorry to say that he knew nothing about the case, and, therefore, could not give the hon. Gentleman any satisfaction. The very important question of the treatment of pauper lunatics had been brought up by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork City (Mr. Deasy). It was a question which, perhaps, might more properly have been raised under the Asylums vote; but, of course, the hon. Gentleman was within his right in mentioning 1283 it on this Vote as coming under the head of pauper lunatics. As the hon. Member was, no doubt, aware, before he (Sir William Hart Dyke) came into Office, Dr. Mitchell, a gentleman of authority on lunacy, was appointed, at the instigation of the late Viceroy, to deal with many of these questions. The Government was carefully pursuing the question, and they hoped to be able to deal with it in a satisfactory manner. He assured the hon. Gentleman that the question of the treatment of pauper lunatics was one in which he took some personal interest; and it should have every attention, so far as he was personally concerned. There was one other point the hon. Member raised, and that had reference to the industrial training of pauper children. He thought the hon. Member was slightly in error when he said that a boy had to commit a crime before he could enter an industrial school. As a matter of fact, a boy who was convicted of crime was sent to a reformatory, and not to an industrial school. He could only say, in conclusion, that all the questions which had been raised by hon. Gentlemen should receive his earliest attention.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he never asked a question of the Chief Secretary for Ireland without a certain feeling of disrelish. There was such an enormous number of Departments for which the right hon. Gentleman was either directly or indirectly responsible, and many of the Departments covered such a large amount of ground, that it was perfectly impossible for the right hon. Gentleman adequately to represent the multifarious interests which claimed his official attention. But he wished to draw the Chief Secretary's attention to one matter, which was very simple and easily comprehended, which he had several times brought before the notice of the Committee, and with regard to which successive Chief Secretaries to the Lord Lieutenant had promised their attention should be given, but with regard to which, he was sorry to say, nothing had been done—it was the question of feeding the paupers in the workhouses in Ireland. Three years ago he brought the matter before the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); he brought it before the right hon. Gentleman's Successor the right hon. Member for the Hawick 1284 Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan); and before the late Chief Secretary (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), and they one and all expressed their readiness to do what they could in regard to it; but, so far ashecould see, nothing had been attempted. Some of the paupers in Ireland were being slowly starved to death. He was firmly convinced that in the workhouses in the Western part of the country a largo number of men, women, and children died from insufficient nourishment. Some time ago he moved for a Return showing the different scales of dietary in force in the two Western Provinces— Munster and Connaught—and he was indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke) for the promptitude with which he had rendered the Return. The Return was so voluminous that he (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had hesitated to ask to have it printed; but he believed that if it were printed a great deal of good might be done in the way of enabling different Boards of Guardians to compare the different scales of dietary in force. For the moment he would direct attention to one case only—it was the one in reference to which he had invited the attention of previous Chief Secretaries. It was the scale of dietary in force in the Dingle Union, County Kerry. He instanced this, not because he believed it was the worst case in Ireland—he did not think it was by any means the worst—but because it was the one that he had particular occasion to examine when he inspected the workhouses some two or three years ago. Well, the scale of dietary in the Dingle Union was divided into two portions, one was for the healthy inmates and the other for the sick inmates. The inmates were classed as able-bodied men, able-bodied females, aged and infirm, boys and girls of three different classes or ages, and infants. Now, all the food given to an able-bodied inmate in this workhouse was eight ounces of Indian meal and one half-pint of milk for breakfast, and 1 lb. of bread for dinner. He got no other meat. [Colonel KING-HAR-MAN: Every day?] Every day; that was all he got. From the marginal column he noticed that pork was given twice a-week in soup to the classes receiving it—the aged and infirm—in the proportion of 6 lbs. of pork to 100 rations—that was to say, the pork given 1285 twice a-week was equal to something less than one ounce of pork, which was of the fattest description, for a ration. But the aged and infirm were treated to a luxury in the shape of tea. He should say, first of all, that aged and infirm women were allowed 10 ounces of white bread for breakfast, 10 ounces of white bread for dinner, and four ounces of white bread for supper, and they were also allowed half-a-pint of milk. Tea was served in the proportion of one-eighth of an ounce to a pint. Infants under two years were allowed— that was to say, the mothers were allowed, four ounces of white bread and half-a-pint of milk for breakfast, four ounces of white bread and half-a-pint of milk for dinner. He supposed the mothers could make some kind of arrangement by which the milk was kept for the night, though nothing was allowed for supper for infants. The meal in this case took place at 12 o'clock, and after the issue of half-a-pint of milk to the infants at noon there was absolutely nothing at all served out to them until 8 o'clock the following morning. So much for the dietary of the healthy inmates. With regard to the dietary for the sick, as to which he did not intend to analyze all the details of the classification, he desired to draw the attention of the Committee to one item only—an item which was thus noted in the marginal column—"No. 3 diet, of soup, is made in the proportion of two ounces of oatmeal to a pint of water." It was undoubtedly their lot to hear at different times of odd things in the shape of food supplies in different countries; but he thought it would be admitted that a diet of soup, composed of two ounces of oatmeal to a pint of water, was very extraordinary. This, however, was what was issued to the sick inmates of the Dingle Workhouse, and it was all the more remarkable because, if they merely crossed over the border and went into the adjoining district of Killarney, they found that the dietary at the workhouse there was of a totally different character. In the Killarney Workhouse they got something like an approximation to the ordinary English dietary, meat being given on Sundays and Thursdays to certain classes of the inmates—namely, the aged and infirm males and the aged and infirm females, while a meat soup was also issued to all classes on Sundays and 1286 Thursdays, and the tea was of a strength, as gauged by the quantity of tea put into the water, which was exactly double that of the Dingle Workhouse. In fact, throughout the entire scale the dietary for the inmates of the Killarney Union Workhouse was fixed at a very much higher standard than that of the Dingle Workhouse. If the Chief Secretary could only find the time to pay a visit to the West of Ireland, where the scenery was certainly of a character that would attract anyone fond of the picturesque, and if he should then take the trouble to visit the Dingle Work-house, he would find the inmates so emaciated and poorly nourished that they were hardly like human beings. There was a total want of physical power about them, and an evident lassitude and helplessness and air of depression, that were unnatural and horrible. As to the children they had a languid and lifeless appearance, while the class of persons classified as able-bodied males were not able-bodied, because they did not get a sufficient amount of nourishment to enable them to go through the ordinary daily exertions incidental to workhouse life, or to give them the appearance of properly developed human beings. With regard to the women who had children to nourish, they presented an appearance of attenuation and exhaustion that was truly pitiable. His own experience as a Guardian of the Poor in England had enabled him to observe the very great difference that existed between the dietary scales adopted in the workhouses of the two countries. He had been led some time ago to institute a comparison between the dietaries that were enforced in the prisons, not only of this country, but also of Ireland, and the dietary scales established in the Irish workhouses; and although he had not the figures with him at the present moment, he might state generally that he had arrived at the conclusion that if any person wished to be maintained and nourished at the public cost it was far better to commit a crime and go to an Irish gaol than remain a decent citizen in the condition of a pauper. Anyone who was guilty of crime in Ireland and sent to gaol was comparatively well-fed and in a position of luxury, as compared with the condition of an indoor pauper in the same country. At the time he had the figures before him be had sub- 1287 mitted them to a medical gentleman of considerable eminence in London, and that gentleman analyzed the quantities set forth in the different dietary scales and drew out in figures for his (Mr. O'Connor's) information the chemical equivalents embodied in a Report which he was afraid he was not able at the present moment to put his hand upon; but the result had led him to the conclusion that the dietary scales in force in the Irish workhouses were not sufficient to maintain an ordinary human being in a state of normal health even when not called upon for any physical exertion, the quantities of carbon and hydrogen not being anything near those low figures which had been recognized as indispensable where a human being had to be maintained in a normal state of health. That being so, he desired to ask the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary if he would cause an inquiry to be made into the dietary scales in force in the workhouses in different parts of Ireland, and if he found that, in the opinion of competent medical authorities, those scales of food allowance were insufficient, he would cause representations to be made to the Boards of Guardians responsible for them in order that some remedy might be introduced? There was one other point on which he wished to offer a remark. In the case of the Dingle Workhouse, to which he had already alluded, there was a considerable outlay, and the rates of the Union were drawn upon to a very high figure; but when they endeavoured to ascertain what became of all the money they found that the incredible proportion of between one-third and one-half was spent in staff salaries and expenditure, the amount of money so expended being out of all proper proportion to the amount expended on the actual relief of the poor. And that, he wished it to be understood, was not by any means a solitary instance. He might refer the Committee to many cases in the North of Ireland, and to some in Galway, where it would be found that the proportions of expenditure were almost equally scandalous. He could state, also, that in Leinster the same sort of thing prevailed, though not quite to the same degree; but this, he would unhesitatingly assert—that if in this country it were shown that anything like the same proportion were found to 1288 exist between the staff expenditure and the expenditure required for the relief of the poor which prevailed in any of the different Unions there would be an immediate local outcry. In Ireland, however, they had unfortunately to deal with a totally different state of things. They had there no healthy state of public opinion which was capable of affecting the action of the local bodies; and while in England there would be an immediate local agitation in case of anything of a scandalous or inhuman nature being observed, in Ireland, so great was the feeling of depression, and so languid was the condition of the public mind, that the people were content to witness these things going on from year to year, and were afraid to agitate, because if they were to take such a course they would be exposed to the action of that power which had in the past enforced so many miseries upon them. The ex officio Guardians dominated the Boards in those Unions, so that the farmers, who were, for the most part, the elected members, and who were generally inclined to feel for the poor, were deterred from making any representations on this subject. No doubt there were cases in which the elected Guardians in the Dingle Union were very much to blame for the unfeeling way in which they begrudged anything like the assistance that was really needed by the poor; but in the western part of Kerry he did not think that that was the case. He believed there could be no doubt it was the ex officio Guardians who were prepared to give large salaries to their own nominees, and very unwilling to give reasonable assistance to those poor creatures who were constantly on the verge of starvation. If the Chief Secretary would undertake to look into the details he (Mr. O'Connor) had thus brought under the attention of the Committee, with a view of enforcing the adoption of something like a reasonable dietary scale in all the Unions of Ireland, he would render a very great service to that country.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, they must all be indebted to the hon. Member for the facts he had brought forward with regard to the Irish Unions. He should certainly make full inquiry into the matters to which the hon. Member had referred, and, at the same time, the 1289 hon. Member must leave it to him to decide the form the inquiry should take. He would go further, and say that he would make a personal inquiry into the subject.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, he desired to state that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Queen's County (Mr. A. O'Connor) had his entire sympathy in the statement he had made with reference to the insufficient scale of diet which he had shown to prevail in the Irish workhouses; but the hon. Member had, unfortunately, wound up that statement by a reference to the ex officio Guardians, whom he had accused of being responsible for the starved condition of the poor in the Unions he had spoken of; whereas he had stated that it was the elected Guardians who were in favour of providing a proper amount of sustenance. Now, his (Colonel King-Harman's) experience was exactly contrary to that of the hon. Member for Queen's County, as he had found that, as a rule, on Boards where the ex officio Guardians predominated, the poor were much better taken care of than in those cases where the elected Guardians had their way; and in saying that he referred not only to the workhouse diet, but to the relief given to the outdoor paupers. He had the honour of being Chairman of two Unions, and he found there that the elected Guardians adopted the lowest possible scale of outdoor relief, and expected the poor to live on 1s. or 1s. 6d. per week. The ex officio Guardians wore, he believed, as a rule, more ready to adopt a liberal scale; but in many cases, through the influence of the elected Guardians, he was sorry to say people had died from starvation, long drawn out. It was certainly not to be put to the discredit of the ex officio Guardians that they were in favour of a system of starvation. With regard to the Returns that had been quoted by the hon. Member for Queen's County, he was not aware, until it had been referred to in that debate, that such a Return had been sent in. The hon. Member had stated that in consequence of the voluminous nature of that Returnhehad hesitated to propose that it should be printed; but he (Colonel King-Harman) thought it would only be an act of justice to have it printed, and he therefore hoped that not only would the hon. Member move to have it printed, so that 1290 it could be circulated among hon. Members, but that the Treasury would accede to that Motion when made. He had some knowledge of workhouse management in Ireland, and he must say he had been greatly shocked at the wretched scale of dietary the hon. Member had quoted as being in force in the Dingle Workhouse. He would not say that in any poor house he was acquainted with did he consider the dietary scale sufficient; but he had certainly been astonished to hear what was going on in the Dingle Union. The matter was, in his opinion, one of most vital importance, and he was glad the Chief Secretary had expressed his willingness to inquire into it.hehoped the Committee would allow him to call attention to a point put forward by the hon. Member for Queen's County, in which he most entirely concurred— namely, that the unfortunate creatures who were condemned to end their days in an Irish workhouse were not fed, nor housed, nor treated in other respects with the same amount of consideration as was shown to the criminal portion of the population, who, in the prisons where they were confined, certainly had much more luxurious hotels provided for their accommodation. In reference to the inquiry promised by the Chief Secretary, he would suggest that it should be extended to a consideration of the diet accorded to the enormous number of children reared in the Irish workhouses, as he believed it would be found that the milk supplied to them, was of improper quality.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
disclaimed any intention to attack the ex officio Guardians or anybody else. If he had appeared to have attacked the ex officio Guardians,hehad not done so by deliberate intention. He had certainly had no desire to attack anyone, his only wish having been to put before the Committee a plain statement of facts. He was aware that in Roscommon, in the Union of Boyle, of which the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dublin County was Chairman, the dietary scale was 50 per cent higher than that of the Dingle Union.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, the Committee were indebted to the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. A. O'Connor) for having brought forward a very important social question. The hon. Gen- 1291 tleman had been, he believed be was correct in saying, a Poor Law Guardian in London for some time; while the hon. and gallant Member for Dublin County (Colonel King-Harman), who had also taken part in the debate, was Chairman of two Unions in Ireland, an honour which be (Colonel Nolan) also enjoyed. Under these circumstances, be should like to say a few words on the question before the Committee; and he wished, in the first place, to say that he could not accept the remarks of the hon. Member for Queen's County as applying to the Poor Law Unions of Ireland generally, except on one point. It might be the case that the dietary scale of the whole of the Unions throughout Ireland was not sufficient; but he was not aware that the Unions in the West of Ireland were sensibly below the average of the working population in this respect. If they were to endeavour to raise the dietary scale for the whole of the class maintained in the different workhouses, they would be creating all sorts of dangers, especially if in so doing they made the diet of the paupers better than that of the working population outside. To pursue such a course would probably beget great trouble, and the consequences might be extremely serious, for a policy of that kind might have a tendency to coax people away from the work by which they maintained themselves into the workhouses, where they would be maintained by the ratepayers. It was, therefore, to the interests of the ratepayers and society in general that they should be very careful in the way in which they dealt with this question of workhouse dietary, which certainly ought not to be above that of the working population; while, on the other hand, if they were to reduce the elements of carbon and hydrogen below what was necessary for healthy existence, they would be perpetrating an absolute cruelty. But, without attempting to go into the scientific part of the question, he was really of opinion that the workhouse dietary scale could not be sensibly below that of the normal population. With regard to the way in which the poor's rate was expended, it was well known that only a portion of the money so raised went in actual relief, a very large amount being absorbed in the salaries and office expenses which that House had been the means 1292 of imposing upon the people. There were, at least, half-a-dozen different charges that ought to fall upon the Public Exchequer which were now borne by the rates of the Union. It would be much more satisfactory if the Guardians found that the whole of the poor's rate was spent in the shape of relief. With regard to the question that had been raised as between the ex officio Guardians and the elected Guardians, there could be no doubt that there were some of the ex officio Guardians who wished to see the paupers fed as well as need be; while, on the other hand, there were elected Guardians who had very laudable and proper ideas of economy, without which he hardly knew where they would be carried. He was glad to hear the Chief Secretary promise to inquire into the question; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman should be very careful in seeing that he did not do as much mischief in one direction as he might do good in another. If the Chief Secretary would do anything to show how they could reduce the poor's rate by getting rid of the charges which did not go for the relief of the poor, and putting them on the Public Exchequer, he would confer an enormous amount of good upon the Poor Law Unions, and materially save the pockets of the ratepayers. If he (Colonel Nolan) were to say what he thought was one of the principal evils of the present system, he should say it was not the question of relief or medical attendance, but the difficulty of getting the paupers off the Union rates by teaching them trades or otherwise enabling them to earn their own livelihood, so that they might bring up their children without being thrown on the public rates. One point on which a remedy was needed was in respect of the English Poor Law system, under which people who became paupers after long residence in this country were sent back to the Irish Unions. He could mention a case in which a man who had not been in Ireland for 20 years had been so sent back from London. That man had served in the Army in Egypt, and, being rendered unserviceable, was sent home to London and thence back to Ireland. That sort of thing, which was of constant occurrence, was a great grievance in Ireland. There was one matter on which be desired to put a question to the Chief Secretary. 1293 There was a Poor Law Union among his constituency, the Union of Oughterard, which it had been proposed to break up, and that proposal was carried at a meeting held some four or five months ago, which was called for the purpose of electing a Chairman. Most of the elected Guardians voted one way and the ex officio Guardians the other. Now, the popular opinion out-of-doors was against the breaking up of the Union; and he asked the Chief Secretary not to allow that Union to be broken up until there was at least the opportunity of a fresh election of Guardians, so that the sense of the ratepayers of the whole Union might be taken upon the question. He did not think the Union should be broken up simply on the action of a bare majority, unless the electors of the Union were distinctly consulted upon the matter. There was some fear that the Local Government Board might interpose and sanction the breaking up of that Union. If they did so, their action would have a bad effect. As far as he was concerned, he had no objection to the breaking up of the Union; but he thought the people ought first to be consulted. If it wore broken up, there was no Union within 20 or 30 miles, and the matter was consequently one that required a good deal of consideration.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he thought the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had well deserved the sympathy and admiration of the Committee for the gallant struggle he had made during the evening to deal with the numerous matters that had been discussed under the head of the Vote for the Local Government Board in Ireland, especially as he could not be expected to have made himself acquainted, during his brief occupancy of Office, with all the details of the Vote, while the Vote itself was one for which he was not responsible. It was not quite creditable to those who were responsible for the Vote, and who were acquainted with its details, that they should have absented themselves from the discussion. Since he (Mr. Gray) had been a Member of that House he had been present on every occasion when that Vote had been discussed, and he sincerely trusted that this might be the last occasion on which he should hear it debated—by which he did not mean to express a hope that he 1294 should not be present when the Estimates were discussed, but that a reform would be effected next year that would remove this Vote from the ken of the House of Commons, and enable it and other matters of a similar kind to be dealt with more efficiently by those who had a real interest in them, and were possessed of all the requisite knowledge concerning them. He did not intend to go over all the ground which, in the course of that debate, had been traversed by previous speakers; but there was one question—not a very important one—which he thought the right hon. Baronet (Sir William Hart Dyke) ought to be able to deal with without any great knowledge of the administration of the Department of which he was the nominal head. He referred to the question to which attention had already been called by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), who had complained of the conduct of the Local Government Board in regard to what they probably considered the outrageous proposal that Boards of Guardians should keep their banking accounts at such banks as they considered would be most advantageous to those whom they represented. Now, the right hon. Baronet was probably aware that financial proposals in Ireland were at that moment in a somewhat critical position. It was a very serious thing to find that the official Boards in the country, controlled as they were by a Minister of the Crown in Parliament here, should coerce the local representative bodies in Ireland to keep their accounts in the Government bank, boycotting the local banks. It was a serious thing that the local bodies should be compelled to keep all their accounts at the State Bank, seeing the attitude of the State Bank towards the other banks of the country. In view of the fact that the Lord Lieutenant had considered it so important that on two or three occasions since his accession to Office he had referred to the condition of Irish finance, he thought the Government should express some opinion on the point he was now raising. They should tell them whether they intended to continue this system of boycotting. The Bank of Ireland had at that moment enormous advantages over all the other Irish banks. They had, in the first place, an enormous Government issue of notes—so large an issue that they 1295 were unable to utilize it, having over notes to the extent of £1,250,000 which they were unable to get into circulation. They possessed, by law, the accounts of all the great Government institutions. The Court of Bankruptcy kept its account with them, also the Court of Chancery, to the extent of £250,000. Besides this they had other enormous financial resources. In consequence of the monopoly they enjoyed they, like all other monopolists, were not at all generous in the utilization of their resources. It was charged against them that they used their resources for political purposes. He did not propose to go into that question; but they did not occupy towards the other banks the position the Bank of England occupied towards London and English banks. They did not utilize their resources in aiding other banks, though the securities of those banks might be ample. There were some local bodies in Ireland, as, for instance, Boards of Guardians, who were not, by law, allied to the State Bank of Ireland by business; but the Local Government Board, by exercising its power of veto, compelled those Boards of Guardians, or some of them, to keep their banking accounts in the Bank of Ireland. In the case of the North Dublin Union they had done so directly and palpably to the prejudice of the ratepayers of the Union. As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had shown, that state of things inflicted a fine of £300 a-year on the ratepayers of the North Dublin Union; and not only did it do that, but it did something which, perhaps, from a general point of view, was much more serious. The decision of the Local Government Board to refuse permission to this Board of Guardians to keep its account at the bank which suited its convenience best threw a slur on that bank, and suggested to the mind of the public that there must be something wrong about it when a Government official—no less a personage than the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, for he was responsible, and could not divest himself of his responsibility—refused to allow a Board of Guardians to do business with it. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was not aware that he was responsible; but, as a matter of fact, he was President of the Irish Local Government Board, and was 1296 practically responsible to the House for the action of that Board—far more than he was responsible for the action of the Board of Works or of any other Department save that which was peculiarly his own—namely, the Chief Secretaryship. When the Irish public knew that the Government threw a slur upon one bank by refusing to allow a Board of Guardians to keep an account in it, although the balance would never be more than £3,000 or £4,000, they naturally enough imagined that something was wrong with that bank. In that way great injustice had been done to the bank in question. This was a matter on which he (Mr. Gray) did not think the right hon. Baronet would require to consult the officials in Dublin. He could make up his mind on a point of this kind at once, and could tell them whether or not he intended to join in the system practised by late Chief Secretaries of boycotting certain Irish banks by refusing to allow Boards of Guardians to keep their accounts wherever they thought they could do so with most advantage to the ratepayers. He would urge this question on the consideration of the right hon. Baronet, not for the mere purpose of cavilling, but because, in the present financial condition of Ireland, it really was a matter of urgency. The right hon. Gentleman, he thought, ought to tell them that, unless he saw some reason to the contrary, he would compel the officials of his Department to give more discretion to the Guardians in this matter of keeping banking accounts. The right hon. Gentleman should not permit those officials to throw an unmerited slur on any Irish financial institution by refusing the permission he had referred to, and treating it in the way he had described.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY TOR IRELAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, it seemed to him that his responsibilities were rapidly developing; but however they might increase he did not think hon. Gentlemen would find him disposed to evade or shirk them. The question which had just been addressed to him was a very important one, and he trusted the hon. Member would not consider him discourteous if he refrained from answering it off hand. If the hon. Member would put a question to him on the subject to-morrow or Friday, to bring the matter back to his recollection, he 1297 might be in a position to give the result of his inquiries.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he should be quite satisfied if the right hon. Baronet would toll him that he would consider the matter. It was natural that, considering the multitude of questions the right hon. Gentleman had to answer, he should have merely alluded to this subject in his general reply. All he (Mr. Gray) wished to do was to press this particular matter on the attention of the right hon. Baronet as being somewhat urgent, and, perhaps, not so well permitting of delay as the consideration of some other matters. Of course, he had not expected to elicit an answer that night.
§ MR. MARUM
asked for some information with regard to the expenses of the staff in connection with extraordinary services. Many of the clerks to the Unions, for instance, prepared the Jurors' and Voters' Lists; and the expenses of that work, he considered, should be thrown as an incidence of local taxation. He should not allow the matter to pass without remark— namely, that a great deal of work was done by the officials in workhouses which ought not to be thrown on them, and should be transferred to others.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the matters affecting the conduct of Poor Law clerks in County Cavan. In one case he had to complain of the zeal for Orange institutions exhibited by a certain clerk in an official capacity; but he (Mr. Biggar) was unwilling to go very deeply into the matter, because he was convinced that by those exhibitions of zeal those Orangemen showed themselves the worst enemies of, and likely to do most injury to, the Conservative Party in Ireland. They made all the Catholics more anxious to oppose that Party—they, in fact, stimulated others to operate against them. All he would ask was that this clerk should not publicly ex-press his great zeal for Orange institutions. The other case was a more serious one. It was in connection with the conduct of Mr. Graham, who was connected with the Cootehill Union—his conduct in reference to elections of Guardians in that Union. Mr. Graham had been connected with the Cootehill Union as clerk of the Union for a great 1298 many years. He had been kept in his position by a small majority of the Board, but had conducted himself in so outrageous a manner that not only might he have been dismissed from his office some years ago, but might have been criminally prosecuted for his conduct. He had been detected years ago in allowing a coal merchant to supply coals to the Union of a quality much inferior to that for which the Guardians paid. An inquiry was made into the matter, and this person acknowledged having taken a bribe from the contractor. If the Local Government Board had done their duty on that occasion this man would have been dismissed from his position; but, instead of dismissing him, they asked the opinion of the Guardians of the Union as to what they ought to do. The result was that a whip was sent round for the attendance of this officer's friends at the meeting of Guardians, at which his conduct was to be taken into consideration; and in the end a resolution was passed by a small majority declaring that another chance would be given him. The final result, therefore, was that he retained his position in connection with the Union. In his subsequent employment this person had been connected with many objectionable transactions in his position as Returning Officer for the elections of Poor Law Guardians. Mr. Graham had been instrumental, in connection with Mr. Boyd Montgomery, a magistrate for County Tyrone, in the falsification of returns; and the consequence was that Mr. Montgomery was struck off the Commission of the Peace, whilst the clerk of the Union got off scot free. Again, the Local Government Board should have insisted upon the man being dismissed from his office. Prom time to time he had put on the list of voters the names of persons who were not entitled to vote; and in a Poor Law election which took place at the beginning of the present year he actually suppressed 17 voters' papers from a particular district declaring that they had never been given in. An inquiry, however, was instituted, the voters swore that they had handed in the papers, the police gave corroborative testimony, and it was found that the clerk of the Union had suppressed these papers for the purpose of getting his friend elected. When the case was proved against Mr. 1299 Graham the Local Government Board acted precisely as they had done in the case of the coal contract—that was to say, they asked the opinion of the Poor Law Guardians. The Guardians passed a resolution stating that they would allow the man to continue in his office. Now he (Mr. Biggar) did not think that was at all a satisfactory state of things. He thought that when an inquiry was instituted by the Local Government Board, and when a man was convicted of misconduct, he should be turned out of office. At an inquiry held by an Inspector of the Local Government Board Mr. Graham had sworn that he had never been censured on any other occasion. That was untrue. He had been censured with regard to the coal contract, and he had been dismissed from his position as clerk to the Dispensary Committee of one of the districts of the Cootehill Union. The man did not speak the truth, notwithstanding that he was on his oath. For all those considerations he (Mr. Biggar) thought the President of the Irish Local Government Board would do well to look over the evidence given on those two matters—namely, in connection with the coal contract, and also in connection with the inquiry which recently took place into his con-duct in suppressing voting papers which were sworn to by the police as having been given into his hands. If the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Hart Dyke) would undertake, before the Report, to make some inquiry into the case, he (Mr. Biggar) would be perfectly satisfied. The matter was one which ought to be properly inquired into; and if the man was proved to be unfit for the position he held, he should be dismissed without hesitation. It was of the greatest importance that men in the position of Mr. Graham should be above suspicion. At any rate, the Unions in Ireland should not be served by dishonest officials.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he had been furnished with details as to the particular official his hon. Friend (Mr. Biggar) had referred to; and if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary "would undertake to have the matter inquired into, he (Mr. O'Connor), on his part, would undertake to furnish the right hon. Gentleman with such specific information with regard to persons and dates as would furnish abundant justi- 1300 fication for the investigation. It appeared, beyond all question, that this official was guilty of positive fraud—of embezzlement in collusion with the coal contractor. The malpractices of this person were such as ought to have secured for him his immediate dismissal when the facts were discovered. It appeared also that in consequence of misconduct which was reported to the Registrar-General an inquiry was granted. It was held by Mr. Matheson, a barrister, on the 28th of January, and the result was that Mr. Graham was found guilty and dismissed from the office of Superintendent Registrar for the Cootehill Union. The evidence which he (Mr. O'Connor) held in his hand of the suppression of votes by Mr. Graham appeared to be most complete. The suppression of votes on the part of this man seemed to have been a common, a systematic act. His refusal to register people entitled to vote was general. It was impossible to read the statement and the evidence on this matter and doubt that this person had been guilty of serious and sustained dereliction of duty. He (Mr. O'Connor) would be glad to place this MSS. statement at the command of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary; and if any official would take the trouble to carefully peruse it and consider it he would have to report to the right hon. Baronet that there was abundant ground for taking action.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRE-LAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, he was not aware of the circumstances of the first case alluded to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar). As the hon. Gentleman had stated, in the second case referred to representations had been made to the Government, and inquiries had been instituted. He (Sir William Hart Dyke) could corroborate the hon. Member's statement on this point from the information he possessed. It seemed to him that on one or two occasions Mr. Graham's conduct had been of a very serious nature; but, so far as he (Sir William Hart Dyke) was concerned, the case stood thus. The Irish Local Government Board had applied to the local Board of Guardians to ascertain their opinion as to Mr. Graham's conduct. The Guardians had consulted on the matter, and had passed a strong vote of 1301 confidence in their clerk; and, so far as he could ascertain, the view the Local Government Board took of the matter was this—that if the Guardians had confidence in their servant there were not sufficient grounds to dismiss him. If, however, other facts came to his (Sir William Hart Dyke's) notice on the subject he should be glad to give them full consideration. That, he was afraid, was all he could say upon the matter at present.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, it seemed clear to him that if the Irish Local Government Board had decided this matter on their own judgment this official would have been dismissed. The fact of the matter was that this man was a furious partizan, and that a small majority of the Board of Guardians, whose return this person was interested in effecting, were also strong partizans. One of the Guardians who had attended at the Board meeting to vote on this question of confidence in the clerk was the very person whose election was secured in consequence of the malpractices of Mr. Graham. This Guardian attended to vote in favour of the clerk. If the Government would like to go into this matter and read over the evidence, the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. O'Connor) would be happy to supply a copy of it, and also to give whatever details might be required. If the Government went impartially into this matter he was sure that this man Graham, who was really liable to be prosecuted criminally, would at least be dismissed from his office.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.)£36,111, to complete the sum for the Public Works Office, Ireland.
said, there was no Department in the Public Service in Ireland which gave less satisfaction than the Public Works Office. The fact was, the officials in that Department had too much to do—they had thrown on them by various Acts of Parliament more work than they could cover. There were three Commissioners in the Department who were not youthful men; but even if they had the energy of youth they would be unable to get through the work imposed upon them by the Acts of Parliament they had to administer. Anyone who was acquainted with the business of the Department would see that it was impossible for the existing staff 1302 to attend to it. They had to deal with something like 100 subjects. They had some 30 or 40 Drainage Acts to administer; and, besides this, they had matters affecting lunacy, barracks, and all sorts of things left for them to manage. Naturally it was found utterly impossible for those three men to do all the work, the consequence being that there was the greatest delay imaginable in obtaining loans; and even when loans wore granted there was the greatest deficiency on the part of the Department in the matter of watching the expenditure. He called attention to this matter on account of one particular Department of the Office. It might be that the various subjects were not mentioned in the Vote; but under the Act 5 & 6 Vict. arterial drainage was especially put under their control, and it was referred to in the [Reports of the Commissioners. The arterial drainage schemes all over the country were working badly, or, at any rate, had been working badly, for at the present time they were not working at all. The system under which money was granted for the carrying out of objects contained in local Acts of Parliament necessitated, by the language of those Acts, that any landlords who agreed as to a system of arterial drainage should jointly ask for a loan.
Do I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that this Vote involves the question of land improvements?
said, he begged to hand to the Chairman a copy of the Irish Public Works Commissioners' Report. It would there be seen the Commissioners had powers, under 5 & 6 Vict, and 1 & 2 Will. IV., which referred especially to arterial drainage. The Report of the Commissioners mentioned all the Acts referred to them. At the present moment, all the Acts relating to arterial drainage in Ireland depended upon the action of the landlords; but since the passing of the Act of 1881 the landlords had had no further interest in getting drainage works carried out, so that no further powers were being asked for. It was necessary, if work of this kind was to be continued in Ireland— and Parliament had evidently thought it necessary by passing these Acts—the Government must at once take the subject in hand, and get some new Act of Parliament passed by which, in the fu- 1303 ture, the Public Works Commissioners would be able to lend money. None was being asked for now, and none would be asked for under existing Acts. He did not, however, wish to go into the question of legislation. It was with regard to the working of the Acts under which the Commissioners at present operated that he wished now to speak. At the present moment, when an engineer—perhaps a speculative engineer— had designed a drainage system over a particular piece of country that he thought required draining, he submitted his plan to a certain number of landowners in order to get their consent to it, and having obtained that a Provisional Order was secured, and an Act of Parliament. Before the Act was passed, however, it came before the Public Works Commissioners, who sent down someone to view the land and report upon the scheme. On that Report, if favourable, the Act was obtained, and the money was lent; but from the moment that was done the Commissioners seemed to give no further attention to the matter, and the operation seemed to be paying money into the pocket of the engineer who originated and designed the scheme, and whose business with the contractor was to make the work as expensive as possible. There was no check upon what it would run to. In a case with which he was familiar the estimate for the carrying out of a scheme which was approved of by the Commissioners had been £42,000; but the actual expenditure had been £76,000. That was the sum advanced, and the landlords, who had consented to be formed into a Drainage Board on an estimate of £42,000, found themselves in the end obliged to contribute their share of £76,000. In another case which had come under his notice, where a work had been estimated to cost £34,000, the gentlemen who had associated themselves as Directors of a Drainage Board managed to get £86,000 out of the Loan Commissioners. The result had been that the average of all the drainage undertakings throughout Ireland had necessitated a tax upon the land of £6 odd. In some cases it had gone up as much as £13, and all this was owing to the fact that these unfortunate individuals, the Commissioners, who had so much business to look after, had not 1304 been able to exercise proper supervision over the application of the expenditure, and had no special Department to see that the estimates were not exceeded unduly, and to look after the interests of those who were subsequently taxed to pay the money. He would ask the Government to consider the case of the Irish land taxed 13s. per acre in 35 years to pay the cost of arterial drainage. The drainage part of the Acts under which these schemes were carried out had only been in existence 35 years, so that the Drainage Boards had only existed for that period. In many cases this tax was more than the rent. In addition to that, the Act required the Arterial Drainage Boards to be composed of landlords; but now that the tenants had the benefit of the land it was necessary that they should pay some share of the expense. The greatest necessity of the moment in Ireland was, and had been for years, to get a good system of arterial drainage; but that, he ventured to say, would never be secured under the existing arrangements.hewould add one thing more to this — namely, that if there was any new enactment for the purpose, or if, under the present law, the Board of Commissioners could be got to put an end to small District Boards, which he did not approve of, and form District Boards over large tracts of country embracing complete watersheds, so that the managing bodies might be of a comprehensive character, it would be a satisfactory reform, and an end would be put to a complicated arrangement which, at the present time, was of advantage to no one but the lawyers. He trusted that the Government would give their close attention to this subject.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he did not altogether go with the hon. and gallant Gentleman that all the evils of the present Public Works system would be cured by adding one or two additional Commissioners, with large salaries, to the Board. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had referred to arterial drainage, and that was, no doubt, a very important question in Ireland. Some small individuals in that country themselves carried out small drainage works. He thoroughly understood this question of arterial drainage, for he had paid some attention to it for a number of years, 1305 and it was a matter of great importance to Ireland. But it was thoroughly blocked in the manner which had just been stated by the hon. Member, because the landlords said—"It is not to our interest to drain the land; we are not the proprietors; we are mere rent-chargers," and the tenants had really no power. The remedy was, however, quite simple; the occupiers should be treated as the owners; and it should be decided by a majority of the occupiers whether the drainage should go on or not, and whether the country should be taxed for a system of arterial drainage. That would be a very good remedy; but there was another which be would prefer for the next two or three years, and that was a pure despotism, simply tempered with the right of petitioning. The Board of Works should decide, through competent hands, as to where a drainage scheme should be carried out. Of course, they should await petitions from the landlords and the occupiers, and with that safeguard this arrangement would work best for the next three or four years in Ireland. In any case, the present system ought to be abolished, for it was altogether futile, and a mere sham. He told the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time that this Bill would be of no use, for he knew that the landlords would not carry out the work under present circumstances. It should be left entirely to the tenant, and the tenant should be made responsible for it. Whoever received the benefit should pay the money. The present system was for two-thirds of the landlords to agree; but how could an agreement be got from them, when the greater part of them would not answer any letters on the subject? Under those circumstances, there could not possibly be a majority, and in this way all new arterial drainage had been stopped in Ireland. In some cases the existing arterial drainage was falling into disrepair, owing to the fact that the people who had control of the arterial drainage took no interest in it, because they considered that they derived no benefit from it. This was a matter which he thought the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland), and the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Sir William Hart Dyke), ought to take into consideration. There was another point which was closely allied to this, and which he 1306 would like to call attention to. When the Land Act was passed, it was agreed that tenants should have loans of money. He got a promise at the time that those loans should, in some cases, be smaller in amount than was originally proposed. He thought the original limit was fixed at £100, but he got that limit reduced to £50. That sum—£50—was not whatheasked for;heasked that it should be much less. However, the £50 limit had been tried, and it was found that it was not low enough. Whatheproposed now was that a much lower amount of loan should be granted—be would go as low as £20, or perhaps even as low as £10. This was very important. If a tenant of a £5 holding obtained a loan of £50, that loan practically swamped his holding.hemight possibly walk off with the money; but he certainly could not use it legitimately, for such a holding did not require so large an amount, and the tenant could not reap that advantage from the loan which he ought to have. He (Colonel Nolan) knew the difficulty about working expenses, and that small loans of £10 or £20 could not be granted single for the same proportionate cost as larger ones; but an excellent way of providing against that difficulty would be this—that five or six tenants requiring very small loans should be called upon to group themselves together. He did not say that they should be jointly responsible for the whole amount; but they should be called upon to group themselves together, so that one inspection should do for them all, and five or six tenants should ask for a loan of £100 and have it divided amongst them. In that way, with one single inspection, the Board of Works would be able to grant a loan to five or six small men, and the loan would be paid off in the usual manner. This was a subject of very great importance—if it were not he should not recommend these small loans. He did not see why the big men should get the loans, and the little men have none at all; and, after all, it was a very small thing to do—it was a mere matter of organization to enable the system to be properly worked.hewas quite aware of the expense of working and inspection; and, therefore, he would insist that there should be a grouping of the small men for the small loans. There was another objectionable rule 1307 which the Board of Works followed—a rule not objectionable with large men, but very objectionable indeed with small ones. At present, a loan could not be granted for drainage and building together. A loan could be granted for a drainage, or a loan could be granted for building; but it was impossible to get a loan for both. That was right enough when they were dealing with men who wished to raise sums of £5,000 or £6,000; but when they came to the case of the small man, who wished for £10 to improve his offices, and another £10 for his drainage, it was an unnecessary burden upon him to compel him to incur the cost of raising two separate loans. He (Colonel Nolan) thought the Secretary to the Treasury ought to adopt this system of grouping small loans together, so as to enable the benefits of those loans to go much further down; and in the case of such small loans he should allow drainage and building to be done together. Any ordinary engineer, or any man of common sense, could tell the value of the buildings and drainage in such cases— it was not a very recondite matter—and this would be a very important step of an extremely far-reaching character, reaching down to the great bulk of the people. There were ample means for getting in those loans, and if the Treasury would make the necessary arrangements they would have no large losses to face, and would be doing that which would prove a great blessing to the small men. He did not see how, under the present system, they could give any advantage which would reach the really small men. Such a thing was impossible. The present system was unfair and improper in every way, and ought to be remodelled. Of course, the cost of inspection was a practical objection; but be had pointed out the means of overcoming it. There was another subject which he also wished to refer to; but, as a question of Order had been raised upon it that evening, he wished to point out to the Chairman how it was strictly in Order. The Board of Works were responsible, at the present moment, for the construction of harbours; and, consequently, the question of harbours was strictly within the limits of the Vote now before the Committee. The Chairman had raised the point of Order on a previous Vote; but he (Colonel 1308 Nolan) wished to point out that the Irish Members had been in the habit ever since he had been in the House, for 10 or 12 years past, of discussing all Poor Law questions on the Vote for the Local Government Board, and all material questions which in any way affected the Board of Works on the Board of Works Vote. In fact, they had no other opportunities for discussing those matters. It would be convenient if the Committee were allowed to discuss the point he wished to raise under the present Vote. There had been some question raised about sufficient harbours, and the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) had alluded that night to the allocation of £250,000 for fishery harbours in Ireland.
Order, order! I pointed out some time ago that this is not the proper opportunity for discussing the question of fishery harbours. I cannot find anything in this Vote connected with fisheries at all. I must abide by the Rules of the House, and there is no Rule which authorizes the discussion of a matter not connected with the particular Vote before the Committee. We had the fisheries discussed on a previous Vote; and I must point out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that then was his proper opportunity, and that I will not allow him to discuss the fisheries now.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Allow me, upon the point of Order, to say that I would like you, Sir, to refer to page 181 of the Estimates; and there, about the fifth line from the bottom, you will find two stars, and opposite them the words, "Temporary assistant engineers for pier and harbour works, £450."Now, the things known as pier and harbour works form exactly the question which I wish to raise; and I do not see how, with such an entry in the Estimates, I can be ruled out of Order. I am perfectly aware that you know the Rules of Order much better than I do; but it seems to me, Sir, that you do not quite know the way in which those Irish Estimates are arranged.
Anything connected with the item for "Temporary assistant engineers for pier and harbour works, £450,"it will, of course, be perfectly in Order to discuss; but the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not be in 1309 Order in discussing the question of the Irish Fisheries on this Vote.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I do not wish at all to discuss the question of the Irish Fisheries—that is in another Vote.
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman confine himself to this question of the temporary assistant engineers for pier and harbour works?
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I will confine myself to the question of piers and harbours. I will go further than that, and say I do not wish to discuss the question of piers and harbours in general, even though I think that should come strictly under this Vote. Several hon. Members wish to raise this question, and I am in an awkward position. What I want to point out is that there was originally a sum for the very large item of £250,000.
Order, order! £250,000 for temporary assistant engineers? I wish the hon. and gallant Gentleman to understand that I cannot, consistently with the Rules of the House, permit him now to discuss the policy of piers and harbours in Ireland. It was fully discussed in the preceding Vote, and now the hon. and gallant Gentleman must confine himself to this item of £450 for the pay of temporary assistant engineers.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
I rise to Order. Would it not be competent for any hon. Member to discuss the administration by the Board of Works of the provisions of the Acts of Parliament quoted in the heading to the Vote, from 1 & 2 Will. IV. to 44 & 45 Vict. c. 49? And if those Acts do provide for the establishment of piers or the advance of funds for piers or harbours, would it not be competent to discuss such piers and harbours?
It would be in Order to discuss those loans which are specifically brought under the Vote; but I understand that the hon. and gallant Gentleman proposes to discuss the question of piers and harbours, which was fully discussed on a preceding Vote, Notice having been given that that was the proper Vote on which to take the discussion. It would be altogether disregarding the authority of the Chair to discuss that now. It would be contrary to rule and trifling with the Committee; and I have therefore ruled that the hon. and gallant Gentleman must confine 1310 himself to the discussion of the item of £450 in the Vote.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
I trust that you will not suppose for a moment that I was trifling with the Committee when I made the suggestion. I merely ventured to submit to you whether the functions of the Board of Works Office in Ireland could not be discussed in so far as they are limited by the Acts quoted in the heading to this Money Vote? But I do not in the least desire to trifle with the Committee or to waste its time.
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman were to discuss under this Vote the affairs of all the matters to which the loans might be applied he would travel very widely beyond the purpose of the Vote, and there would be no end to the discussion. It is not competent on this item of £450 to discuss the whole policy of the piers and harbours in Ireland, which was very fully discussed on a previous Vote.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
then proceeded with his remarks. He said he should have considerable difficulty in making himself clear to the Committee under the restriction which the Chairman had placed upon him; but, as he had already had some conversation on the subject with the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland), possibly that hon. Baronet would understand him even though he was compelled to approach the question from a very difficult point of view. He was obliged to approach the subject from a very technical point of view, and the technical point from which he would approach it was the point of contract. He wished to point out that the contracts for these piers and harbours were much lower than the estimates which the Board contemplated. It was very difficult to argue the point under the restriction placed upon him; but he would endeavour to meet the difficulty as well as he could. The piers and harbours were estimated by the Board of Works to cost a certain sum of money.
Order, order! I must remind the hon. and gallant Gentleman that I have already ruled that he cannot proceed in this way. He must really confine himself to the item of £450 if he wishes to deal with piers and harbours at all, and he must not go into the general subject.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
proceeded to say-that he believed the two gentlemen referred to in the item of £450 were gentlemen of extremely superior ability, and very valuable officials. He believed they were two gentlemen that he had the honour to know, and he had some knowledge of their professional attainments; but, nevertheless, he felt bound to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £450. The reason why he should move this was that the Estimate was too high. He hoped those two gentlemen would not think that he made the Motion out of any opposition to them. It was a very important matter indeed to see that the Estimates were not too high, when they had Estimates for about £100,000 worth of harbours, and those Estimates were about £20,000 higher than they should be. If the other contracts were similarly lower than the Estimates of the engineers of the Board of Works, there would be a difference of about £30,000, or £40,000 between the contracts and the amount of expenditure estimated by the Board of Works. In fact, there would be a saving of about £30,000, owing to false Estimates on the part of the Board of Works. He did not know whether he was out of Order, but he thought not, in pointing out that the Estimate was too high, and that the Secretary to the Treasury would have about £30,000 or £40,000 at his disposal in consequence. He did not see why that fact should occasion any delay in allotting the money, or why they should have to wait two or three years before it was allotted to the different harbours in Ireland. He would, therefore, suggest to the Secretary to the Treasury that he should take this important question into consideration, and that he should allow, in estimating the money to be allotted to piers and harbours, a sum of about £30,000, which the Chairman and the Secretary of the Board had over-estimated. He hoped they would have a better opportunity at some future time of discussing this question more fully, for it was his intention to oppose all these Votes on Report and in the Appropriation Bill, or whenever he could a proper opportunity. He regretted that he had been obliged to review this subject in a very mutilated form, owing to the extremely unusual and very inconvenient ruling of the Chairman.
Order, order! The hon. and gallant Gentleman must not comment on the ruling of the Chair.
§ MR. MARUM
said, there was no branch of the law in Ireland which was in such a state of utter confusion as that relating to drainage. In 1882 a Consolidation Act was brought in by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), who was then Secretary to the Treasury; and he (Mr. Marum) then pointed out that in the definition of a "district" the hon. Gentleman seemed to be quite unacquainted with the Irish people and their ways, and also in the definition of "holder," for copyholders were set down as holders. He (Mr. Marum) thought by that that a real statutory copyhold was intended; but it was no such thing, and the hon. Member for Liskeard said he would consider the matter. The Bill was again brought in in the following year in identical terms, and the statutory tenants, because they were not leaseholders, instead of being allowed a voice, were thrown out altogether. Another matter to which he wished to call attention was this—the landlords declared that it was difficult enough to collect the rents, without having to collect the rates as well. That was one reason why it had been impossible to obtain the 50 per cent of assents which were necessary to carry out the working of the drainage schemes. At a meeting with which he (Mr. Marum) was concerned, the tenants agreed that the rates should be paid by the tenant in the first instance and deducted afterwards. Another resolution passed was that the drainage rate should be collected by the poor rate collector, and that the owners in fee should have nothing to do with it. The hon. Member for Liskeard asked him to embody those views in clauses, and he did so; but when the Bill was brought in it did not contain a single word about them. On those two very important matters nothing whatever had been done. He put it to the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury that there was no branch of the law in Ireland in such a state of inextricable confusion as that which related to drainage. That was very much to be regretted, and he trusted the hon. Baronet would look into the very important matters which had been brought forward by his hon. Friends.
§ MR. MOLLOY
pointed out that this question had assumed very great importance. Large sums of money had been spent by the occupiers of land on the borders of one river for the purpose of improving the drainage. The Trustees were landlords who had no interest whatever in the drainage of the land, and the consequence was that the land, which was formerly worth 60s. or 50s. an acre, was now only worth 5s. an acre. Quite recently the occupiers took steps to have the drainage improved, and appealed to the Trustees to carry out the work which they, as Trustees, should have carried out before. They made several appeals, and meetings were called in order that a conclusion might be arrived at on the subject. Two engineers sent in offers to do the work, and there was a third who telegraphed from Dublin that he could not undertake it. It would hardly be believed that the Trustees did not appoint either of the engineers who were ready to do the work, but actually appointed the man who said he could not undertake it. They did so, however, and they also apportioned to him the sum of £20 for the purpose of getting a Report. A second meeting was held for the purpose of displacing the engineer who had been appointed, and to consider the appointment of a second engineer. The occupiers had done all in their power to obtain some satisfaction from the Department on account of which the present Vote was asked; they wrote to the Board of Public Works asking for an examination; the Board of Works returned despatches, and the Trustees held meetings, and it was stated that they were going to obtain a loan. But they had not obtained it, and the result would be that the people on the banks of the river, who were entitled to have the drainage carried out and their land rendered thereby of some worth to them, would receive no satisfaction. The effect of this obstructive action would be that the whole matter would be thrown over for another 12 months, as it had been before. That, he said, was a very great hardship, because, as he had already pointed out, the land was utterly valueless to the occupiers, inasmuch as instead of being, as formerly, worth from 50s. to 60s. an acre, it was now only worth a nominal sum. It was under those circumstances that he asked the hon. Baronet the Secretary to 1314 the Treasury to see whether he could induce the Board of Works in Ireland to compel the Trustees to carry out the necessary works.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir HENRY HOLLAND)
said, with reference to the point brought forward by the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy), that if the hon. Member would furnish him with particulars, he would inquire into the matter. He did not for a moment underrate the importance of this question of arterial drainage-in Ireland. He found from the last Report of the Commissioners of Public Works that their duties and powers at present were somewhat confined. The Commissioners stated that in respect to the matter of maintenance their functions were confined to advising the Trustees, and to distributing the charge amongst the proprietors of land in the district. As he understood, some Members would wish to see larger powers vested in the Commissioners. The Committee would remember that a Consolidating Bill, which would have had, he believed, the effect of enlarging the powers of the Commissioners, had failed to meet with the support it deserved. He should certainly desire that a similar Bill should be introduced next Session; and there would then be afforded an opportunity to the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum) to propose the alterations of the existing law which he considered necessary. The same observation applied to the remarks of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer). He did not see that there would be any opportunity of dealing with the subject in this Session; but he should be glad if anything could be done next Session for the purpose of improving the drainage system in Ireland. That was all he could at present say on this matter. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) had referred to the Loan Act, and to some Amendments which he thought might be introduced with regard to the working of that Act. He (Sir Henry Holland), speaking off-hand and without having had an opportunity of considering the question, thought that there seemed to be some force in what the hon. and gallant Member had put forward—namely, that tenants should be able to get loans for smaller sums than were granted under the Act, 1315 but that those smaller loans should not be granted unless the tenants combined together, so that one application might do for all. The other suggestion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, which seemed also worthy of consideration, was that one portion of the loan might be applied to buildings and the other to drainage. He (Sir Henry Holland) did not see why the loan should not be distributed in that way. The question, however, was one which must have been considered, and he assumed that there were practical difficulties in the way.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
asked, on a point of Order, for a ruling as to whether he would be able to discuss the question of harbours on the Report of the Vote? He was aware that the Speaker was not bound by the decision of the Chairman.
said, it was quite unnecessary for him to rule on the point of Order raised by the hon. and gallant Member. When any question arose he ruled it at the time. Mr. Speaker was responsible for his ruling, and he (the Chairman) was responsible for his ruling.
§ Vote agreed, to.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, there were five Votes for Ireland upon which discussion would arise, and he should be glad to know whether the hon. Baronet would postpone them? He did not think, looking at the lateness of the hour, that they would be able to finish the discussion on the Vote for Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions, Ireland, at that Sitting. There were, however, several non-contentious Votes that might be proceeded with.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
said, that the Votes on which the hon. Gentleman had said there would be some discussion would be taken on Wednesday.