§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If he can now state whether he will, in consequence of the present depression, permit such unions 440 as may apply for delay to postpone the payment of the fourth instalment of the Seed Rate for another year?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was so long delayed a reply to this Question, which involves matters of considerable importance. The Irish Government have had this matter for some time under their consideration. The loan stood on the 5th of last month thus—the amount advanced was £598,306, and of that £536,255 was repaid. This left a debt outstanding of £62,051, and of this there are amounts recovered in hand which leave the balance not actually recovered not more than from £35,000 to £37,000. These figures show that the loans so far have been admirably paid; and there is no doubt that the Boards of Guardians have generally made every effort to collect the outstanding rate. Nevertheless, in some instances, the instalments are overdue. In such cases the Act empowers the Local Government Board to impound the poor rates to the extent of the deficiencies. In view, however, of the exceptional distress prevailing in the country, and of the fact that such an inroad on the resources of the Unions might seriously embarrass the Boards of Guardians concerned, we have come to the conclusion that this impounding of the rates is a step not to be resorted to at present. The Treasury have, therefore, agreed to the following arrangement:—They will authorize the Commissioners of Public Works to accept the sums already collected by the Boards of Guardians as seed rate, and now in their hands, if paid over on or before the 1st of May next; and, further, not to press until the month of April, 1887, for the payment of the amount of seed rate which may now be uncollected and due to the Guardians by the purchasers of seed.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is a fact that the non-payment of this seed rate will interfere with the right of these people to vote at elections; and, also, when it comes due, it will be recovered as a charge against the individual, or against the Union?
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I think that these are points which very obviously require that Notice should be given.