§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If it is a fact that serious defalcations, to the amount of £1,500, have been discovered in the Ballymena Union; whether the late clerk, T. A. Matthews, and his son, R. R. Matthews, are held responsible for the embezzlement; whether R. R. Matthews has absconded; if it is a fact that Colonel Massey Studdert, the Local Government Board Auditor, when auditing the books, never checked them, but took Matthews's word that they were correct, and never called at the bank to verify the half-yearly balance; and, whether the Local Government Board have refused a sworn inquiry into these matters; and, if so, for what reason?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
It is the fact that defalcations have been discovered in the accounts of the Ballymena Union, amounting, it is stated, to about £1,700. Proceedings are pending against the late clerk on a criminal charge; but the Guardians cannot take proceedings against his son, R. Matthews, his whereabouts not being known. It is suspected that he left the country some time ago. Mr. F. Matthews's sureties have paid £300, being the amount of his fidelity bond. Colonel 1826 Studdert reports that there is no truth in the statement that he never checked the books of the Ballymena Union, but took Mr. Matthews's word that they were correct. Colonel Studdert further reports that he did not call at the bank to verify the half-yearly balance; that the bank book was produced at each audit, with the signature of the presiding Chairman attached to each weekly balance; and that this was the recognized authority for the genuineness of the book, though, in the present case, it turned out that the bank book was a false book, with the signatures skilfully forged. As I have already stated, in reply to a previous Question, if specific charges be preferred against any of the officers of the Union, the Local Government Board will consider the propriety of holding an inquiry.
§ DR. TANNER
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman, whether it is not a fact that the cloak which the Chairman of the Board, who is a member of the Orange Society, threw over these officials, materially assisted and contributed to these defalcations?
§ [No reply.]