§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he was aware that the Ardee Board of Guardians 1379 recently gave the contract for the erection of a number of labourers' cottages to a person named Cooke, son of an evicted tenant on Lord Massereene's estate, who is wholly unskilled, being only accustomed to farm work, and that several skilled masons, including tenants on Lord Massereene's estate who had paid their rent, also tendered for the work, but their tenders were rejected; whether the two sureties accepted by the Guardians for the due carrying out of the work were two persons named Lawless and Finnegan, both of whom have been evicted from their holdings on Lord Massereene's estate for non-payment of rent; and if the Local Government Board intended to take any steps to protect the interests of the ratepayers?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) Dublin University
The clerk of the Ardee Union reports that it is the case that the Guardians accepted the tender of Bernard Cooke for the erection of 11 labourers' cottages. Cooke is the son of an evicted tenant on Lord Massereene's estate, and, so far as the clerk is aware, has no skilled knowledge as a builder, he having been accustomed to farm work only. Of the three other persons who tendered, two were masons, and the clerk believes they are tenants of Lord Massereene, but he has no information as to their having paid their rents. The Guardians are represented to have accepted Cooke's tender on the ground that it was the lowest. The clerk states that the sureties are not the persons mentioned in the question, but two solvent farmers named Denis M'Cullough and Thomas M'Donnell. The works will be, in accordance with the usual practice, inspected and reported upon by one of the Local Government Board Engineering Inspectors prior to the issue of the instalments of the loan sanctioned.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
Has the hon. and learned Gentleman ascertained whether the Guardians did more than accept the lowest tender? Would the auditor have passed the contract if they had done otherwise, and would not the Guardians have been surcharged?
§ MR. MADDEN
I do not think it is the duty of the auditor to surcharge the Guardians merely because they did not accept the lowest tender. I do not think 1380 they are bound to accept the lowest tender.
§ MR. SEXTON
If they accepted any but the lowest tender, would not the auditor call on them to explain why they had done so?
§ MR. MADDEN
If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to have information I will endeavour to obtain it for him, but I do not think that this is a matter which arises out of the question.