HC Deb 11 March 1889 vol 333 cc1382-3

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the evidence given before the committee of the grand jury of the county of Antrim, wherein it is clearly shown that an exorbitant rate is charged for the collection of the county cess, although competent men with ample security are willing to collect it for half the amount; and whether he will urge upon the Government the advisability of entertaining at an early date a measure to put an end to the present anomalous system which prevails in Ireland whereby the cesspayers are almost entirely unrepresented on the grand jury?


I have no direct knowledge of the evidence referred to by the hon. Member, inasmuch as the action of grand juries in Ireland in regard to the appointment of cess collectors is in no wise under the control of the Executive Government. Having, however, caused the question to be brought before the secretary to the grand jury of the county Antrim for any observations he might desire to offer, he informs me that the grand jury committee heard several cesspayers, who gave their opinion that the poundage rate of 9d. is to much too pay for collection of cess, and that 4d. or 6d. would be quite enough. The committee are to report to the grand jury at Spring Assizes. The secretary adds that the Act allows payment up to 1s., and that 9d. has been paid in the county up to the present. With regard to the second paragraph, I am quite aware that the existing system of grand juries is anomalous, but among the many arguments of weight which might be urged for its alteration I have never heard that the promotion of economy in local expenditure was one.