§ MR. LANE (Cork Co., E.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Reports on Irish Agriculture, which are furnished to the Lord Lieutenant by the Registrar General, and subsequently presented to Parliament, are entirely prepared by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Metropolitan Police Force; what special training do Irish policemen undergo to qualify them to report on agricultural matters; has his attention been called to the Report of the police officer at Kanturk, that— "Prices are fairly high and remunerative; I attribute this to a better feeling existing in the country;" and is there any source of information on Irish agricultural matters available to the Government of Ireland other than the Irish Police Force?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Reports on Irish Agriculture issued by the Registrar General's Department are not prepared by members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Metropolitan Police. The information on which these Reports are founded is collected by enumerators selected from these forces, who have considerable experience, a large number of them having been employed in this work from time to time for many years. The District Inspectors report from their local knowledge as to the probable cause to which the good or bad yield may be attributed. The District Inspector at Kanturk stated his opinion as given in the question. There are various sources of information on such matters available to the Registrar General, who, wherever necessary, communicates direct with the agriculturists themselves. I may say 1010 that the Return of the Registrar General cannot be described as the Report of the Government, although it is an official Return. I may also remind the hon. Gentleman that the persons employed in collecting the statistical information on which the schedule of prices of the Land Commission was based were not members of the Police Force.
§ MR. LANE
Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that the time has come when there should be some Department of the State appointed in Dublin for the purpose of looking after agricultural matters in Ireland?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am not at all sure that some improvement might not be effected in the direction mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.