HC Deb 08 April 1889 vol 334 cc1788-90

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the attention of the Irish Local Government Board had been applied to the fact that in pursuance of a Resolution adopted by a majority of the Belfast Board of Guardians, the rate collectors in Belfast are to be provided with forms relating to the Parliamentary franchise, which are not specified in "The Representation of the People Act, 1884," or authorized by "The Registration (Ireland) Act, 1885;" and the collectors are directed to fill up certain columns of these forms, and to serve them upon the landlords or agents of all dwelling houses in the city of Belfast exceeding the net annual value of £4 and not exceeding the net annual value of £9; and that, by an order printed upon the forms in question the Guardians call upon the landlords and agents, by authority of the Statutes above cited, to fill up the forms and return them to the clerk of the Union within 21 days after service; whether he is aware that the clerk of the Union last year informed the Board that the issue of such forms would be illegal, and declined to be concerned in it, and that the solicitor to the Board last year advised against the issue of these forms; whether the clerk is now absent from duty through ill-health; whether the issue of forms not provided for by the Statutes is legal; whether the Guardians who cause the disbursements of the funds of the Union for this expenditure will be liable to surcharge; and whether any person is under a legal obligation to fill up and return such forms?


asked whether forms of the nature in question were not in ordinary use in large boroughs in England?


I answer the question of my hon. Friend in the affirmative. With regard to the question of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, which appears on the Paper, I have to say that, dealing with the first paragraph, I am informed that the attention of the Local Government Board has been called by the question to circumstances which, I am told, are noted with substantial accuracy. In reply to the second paragraph, the Clerk of the Union last year informed the Board that in his opinion, there was no provision for the expense of these forms, and I am also informed that the solicitor for the Board has since taken the opinion of Counsel, who have advised him that these forms can be legally served. With regard to the third paragraph, the Clerk of the Union is now absent from duty, having been granted a month's leave on the ground of ill-health. With regard to paragraph four, I am informed that the form in question is legal. As to paragraph five, that relates to a matter of accounts, which will come before the Local Government Board auditor in the usual way, and I cannot make any statement in anticipation of what he will do. In reply to the sixth paragraph, I am advised that no person is under the legal obligation suggested in the paragraph, unless he, or the person for whom he is agent, is rated, or liable to be rated, in respect of the hereditament in question, or, unless he has, by payment of the rates, even if not so rated, brought himself under the section of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1869, which is extended to Ireland by the Representation of the People Act 1884.