HC Deb 23 August 1889 vol 340 cc362-5

Resolutions [22nd August] reported. (Seepages 137–218.)

First Resolution agreed to.

On the second Resolution,

MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)

I desire to call attention to the treatment of the Dungarvon Board of Guardians. We acknowledge that some irregularity occurred which justified the suspension of the Board, but surely the time has now come when the ratepayers should have an opportunity of reelecting a Board. I may be told that there are some people in the Union who are in favour of the continuance in office of the paid Guardians, because they save their salaries by the economy which they exercise. I admit that they have cut down the expenditure, but how? By cutting off relief wholesale, by nearly doing away with outdoor relief and offering the alternative of the House. We know some people would starve rather than break up their homes and go into the Union. What is the scale of outdoor relief given in that part of Ireland now? A shilling a week to the head of the family (usually a widow), and sixpence for every child under twelve years of age. No one will say that that is extravagant. I respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the time has not come when he should give the ratepayers the right of electing their own Guardians?


The case of this Union is now under consideration. I cannot say more than that. We are anxious to resume the normal methods of Poor Law administration wherever we can.

Resolution agreed to.

On the third Resolution,


I regret that I was not present when this Vote was be- fore the Committee. Had I been present at that time I should have called the attention of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, as I do now, to the laxity with which the Board of Works have discharged their duty in connection with Ballycotton Pier. The hon. Gentleman will remember that I have put several questions to him across the floor of the House in connection with this matter, dealing with certain defects in the manner in which the work has been executed. The pier cost a sum of £20,000. In the main it is fairly well built, but is defective in many respects, and it would be an unpardonable waste of public money after so large a sum has been spent upon it if it is not made effective for the purposes for which it was built. There are five or six different defects which have been pointed out by the Local Authorities, with reference to which the Grand Jury have made complaints, and in respect of which the hon. Gentleman himself has taken the unusual trouble of personally going to see the work, accompanied by an eminent engineer. That engineer has since reported, but I regret to say that, except in one particular, his Report has not been acted upon. That Report contains certain recommendations, and I learned this afternoon from the hon. Gentleman that a contract has been entered into by the Board of Works in order to carry out the recommendation concerning the removal of the old pier. But I ask the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the Board of Works have stated in reply to the Local Authorities that the work was satisfactorily done, and was more or less of a substantial character, and that the Grand Jury was bound to take it over. The Grand Jury have on two occasions refused to take over the work, and in consequence of that refusal the work was for a considerable time at a standstill. This evening the hon. Gentleman made a statement which conflicts with the view expressed by the Board, for he said that a contract had been entered into for carrying out one portion of the recommendations. I hope that whatever sum may be expended will be paid by the Treasury and not out of the sum set aside in Ireland for these piers and harbours. There are five particular points referred to in the report of the Engineer, Mr. Wolfe Barry, but they have not all been dealt with. The removal of the old pier is a necessary work, because boats coming in are liable to run on it and get seriously damaged. There is also a recommendation by Mr. Barry that the pierhead should be strengthened, because he feared that if any strong gale arose the entire pier would be washed away. I will not go into the other recommendations such as that respecting the depth of water. All I want the hon. Gentleman to promise is, as the Board of Works have acknowledged that this particular work has not been completed, and considering the Report of Mr. Barry, that in the interests of the taxpayers and the fishermen after this enormous amount of public money has been spent on the work the Treasury will act on the Report of their own engineer and carry out the four other recommendations he has made as well as that which they have already decided to give effect to.


A large amount of local contribution has been spent in the making of this pier. The pier when it is finished, or called finished, will be handed over to the authorities of the County of Cork, and the ratepayers will be bound to keep the pier which has been put up by the Board of Works, be it good or bad, in repair for ever. The local authorities of Cork refuse to take over an inferior pier. I beg to second every word that has fallen from the hon. Member (Mr. Flynn). I hope that the Treasury will, before they saddle us with the keeping up of the pier, at least see that everything that is necessary is done to the structure.

MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)

The reports we get of these piers shew that a large amount of money is spent on them, and the probability is that most of them are not required at all. It is often found that the work upon the piers has not been properly done, and then it is said it is very hard the local people should be called upon to keep the piers in order. I think they ought to be prepared to keep the work in order after it has been done. There is the same sort of thing in the case of light railways. I really am ashamed of this eternal begging for public money. I do not think the Secretary to the Treasury is in favour of the system, and I rather imagine that had it been left to him we should not have had any Light Railway legislation this year.


I do not agree with the hon. Member. These piers are most useful and necessary, and everybody in the localities wants them.


At this hour of the morning and this period of the Session, I do not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman through all the points he has raised. I must say, speaking purely from my official position as Secretary to the Treasury, that my sympathies are entirely with the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar). I think that he has laid down a very sound doctrine on these questions, and I am willing to admit that I have very great sympathy with what he says. With regard to Ballycotton Pier, I must not be taken as assenting to the sweeping statements made as to the condition of the pier. It is true we are carrying out works to improve the pier,