1. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £102,602, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board in Ireland, including various Grants in Aid of Local Taxation.
§ (5.25.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
On Friday night, when the moment of 12 o'clock intervened to check a somewhat heated Debate, hon. Members opposite were making a violent attack on myself, based upon the alleged inequality of treatment in the cases of Captain Eyre, Justice of the Peace, Mr. Kirnan, and Mr. Clarke. It was alleged that while these three gentlemen had been surcharged by an auditor of the Local Government Board in respect of relief afforded out of the poor rates to evicted tenants, proceedings against Captain Eyre had been taken under a 1621 Statute, purposely with the view of enabling him to evade payment. The hon. and learned Member for Longford said that whilst Mr. Clarke had been imprisoned in reference to a surcharge of £5, Captain Eyre, against whom there was a surcharge of £40, had got off scot free; and this, although both gentlemen wore charged on the same day and before the same Magistrate. I desire to point out that the trials did not take place on the same day, and that Mr. Clarke was subsequently tried under a different Statute, in consequence of the failure of the proceedings which had been instituted against Captain Eyre. I was told on Friday night by the hon. and learned Member for Longford that I ought to be ashamed of myself, and that my action as a Minister was disgraceful, and much more in the same strain, until he was called to order by the Chairman. In the case of Mr. Kirnan an accusation equally injurious to the Administration of the Local Government Board was made. The facts of the case are that Captain Eyre was surcharged in January, 1887, before I occupied my present post as Chief Secretary, and Mr. Kirnan was surcharged at the same time, and was tried under the same Statute. The proceedings against both were identical, and the payment was obtained from either of them. Mr. Kirnan and Mr. Clarke were subsequently surcharged last year, and were tried under a different Statute because of the failure of the earlier proceedings against Captain Eyre and Mr. Kirnan. The Committee may now judge upon what basis wild and reckless accusations are made against the Irish Government and against myself, and what reliance ought to be placed by hon. Members sitting on the Government side of the House upon statements made by hon. Members opposite. The episode is, in my opinion, interesting, as illustrating the sort of justification for accusations which it is thought proper to hurl across the floor of the House in most excited tones.
§ (5.29.) MR. T.M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
Unlike the right hon. Gentleman, when I find that I have been led into an inaccuracy, I beg to tender him a full expression of my regret. I hope the example which I, not a long-descended man, set will not be lost on the right hon. Gentleman.
§ (5.30.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
Sir, I too desire to apologise to the right hon. Gentleman for having made a statement which turns out to be inaccurate. Whilst I apologise to him fully for the inaccuracy of the information supplied to us in this particular instance, yet I do not think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman is well founded, because, out of the many charges hurled by Irish Members across the floor of the House, on this occasion alone has the Chief Secretary proved us to be inaccurate. I call the attention of the House to this fact, and to the length at which the right hon. Gentleman addressed it on this solitary triumph. I admit in the frankest way that on this occasion he has triumphed over us. But what about the hundreds of other cases in which we have brought the most damaging charges against the Irish Executive? They were accurate and could not be denied. If they were capable of denial why did the Chief Secretary not deny them as he has done in this instance? I apologise in the fullest way and without reservation for having made the statement that the Local Government Board, of which the Chief Secretary is the head, proceeded against two individuals on the same day under different Statutes. I would venture to direct the attention of the Committee to the great importance of this case, quite apart from that charge. Admitting now that we were wrong and misinformed, and that the Board did not commit the outrage of proceeding under different statutes, there still remains the extraordinary circumstances of the imprisonment of the man for signing the relief book of the union. I ask the President of the Local Government Board of England whether he knows of any case in England in which a Guardian of the Poor has been put in prison for signing the relief book, and not paying surcharge? I am informed that surcharging is not at all an uncommon thing in England, and will the right hon. Gentleman state whether there is any case in which a man has been thrown into gaol for three months because he has not paid surcharge? If he can state that he will certainly rescue the Chief Secretary from a difficult position and render him substantial help. If he cannot do so I ask whether it is fair that this man, Timothy 1623 Clarke, should have been kept in prison for three months, to the ruin of his business as a cattle dealer, for nonpayment of a small surcharge? I am informed that Kirwan was prosecuted at the same time as Eyre. He was also prosecuted a second time, and the Friend who supplied me with the information simply confounded the two prosecutions. On the second prosecution Mr. Kirwan was thrown into prison for a month for non-payment of surcharge, and treated as an ordinary prisoner. Clarke was not treated as an ordinary prisoner, but as a first-class misdemeanant, I believe. I would invite the President of the Local Government Board in England to give the law and practice here in regard to this matter.
§ *(5.35.) THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE, Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
The hon. Gentleman has appealed to me to state whether or not any imprisonment takes place in England for neglecting to comply with an order of the Local Government Board with regard to surcharge. I have not known, during the time I have held the office which I now hold, anything of the kind requiring to be done. The Local Government Board have, undoubtedly, in my time made surcharges, but they have been paid.
§ MR. DILLON
Are there many instances in which the surcharges have not been paid for a long time? Has the right hon. Gentleman ever known a man thrown into prison for not paying?
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I have answered the question, that I cannot say what has been done. During the time I have been President of the Local Government Board I have not known of anyone imprisoned for non-compliance with an order for surcharge by the Local Government Board. More than that I cannot say. The surcharges have, of course, been paid.
§ (5.36.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
The question is whether surcharge is not dealt with differently in different cases. I will tell you what occurred in Cork. The Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Cork District Lunatic Asylum was surcharged by the Castle Authorities, and for upwards of two years the money was not paid. But the Chairman of the Cork Lunatic 1624 Asylum is a Conservative—a high Tory of the city of Cork. The Dublin Castle Authorities, I would point out, imprisoned a Nationalist, but let off their Conservative friends. I would like the Chief Secretary to pay attention to this matter, and to answer it if he possibly can. Is it not the fact that Mr. Morgan and some of the members of the Cork District Lunatic Asylum were surcharged and allowed time to pay?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Sir, I ask the President of the Local Government Board whether it is not the constant practice in England to remit surcharges in certain cases, and to allow long periods for payment; whether it is the practice, in the case of a poor struggling man, to pounce down upon him, and to put him into gaol for a number of months simply because he has not paid the surcharge?
§ *MR. RITCHIE
The Local Government Board can remit surcharges on two grounds—legal and technical—in which the circumstances are such as to justify remission. There is no disposition, of course, to press unnecessarily in regard to the time at which the surcharge is to be paid.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Can the right hon. Gentleman give us a statement as to the amount of the surcharges remitted by the English Local Government Board within the last three years?
§ MR. DILLON
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly ask one of his clerks, before the Local Government Vote is disposed of, to say whether any person has been imprisoned in England for surcharge?
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman also, if convenient, give a Return of the number of cases in Ireland where surcharges have been made, and whether they have been remitted or not?
§ (5.40.) MR. KILBRIDE (Kerry, S.)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman what course he intends to pursue with regard to the Nationalist Press in Ireland?
Order, order! The discussion is on the Local Government Board Vote, and unless the hon. Member is going to speak of the Nationalist Press in relation to that Vote he will be out of order.
§ MR. KILBRIDE
The point I wish to raise is this. By direction of the Local Government Board the ordinary advertisements of the Carlow Board of Guardians, under the Labourers' Act, have been refused to the local Nationalist paper, and given to the local Conservative paper. As a matter of fact, the Nationalist paper has 10 times the circulation of the Conservative paper. I have a letter from Mr. Condon, owner and editor of the Carlow Nationalist paper, in which he says—Some time ago it became necessary to publish official advertisements relating to the Labourers' Act in Carlow Union, and although the Guardians of the Union, who have to pay for such advertisements, expressed by formal resolution their wish to have the advertisement published in the local Nationalist newspaper, as well as in the Conservative organ, the Local Government Board refused to accede to their wishes.Now, I wish to know whether Local Boards are to be prevented from having their advertisements published in the Nationalist newspapers? I ask what is the reason of this? Is it on the ground that the proprietors or editors of some of these newspapers have been, or may still be, in gaol as criminals, that they are not allowed to have these advertisements? If so, I beg to say that Mr. Condon was not in gaol for any offence under the Criminal Law Procedure Act; he was confined under the Act we have been discussing, namely, that of Edward III., and because he refused to admit that he was a criminal, and to ask for bail, he was practically told by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—"I will do all in my power to prevent your earning or your obtaining your ordinary means of livelihood." Does the right hon. Gentleman expect that mean and petty action of that kind will tend to allay public feeling against the 1626 Government in the districts where these things are done, or in anyway aid the cause of law and order? I would here remind the right hon. Gentleman that Mr. Condon was confined for two months in gaol for having reported a speech made by myself, a speech which was published without note or comment. It was said that a school was boycotted on that occasion owing to that publication, and that it was boycotted in order to lead to the amalgamation of two schools in the same neighbourhood, so as to enable them to get the grant; but I am glad to inform the right hon. Gentleman that the schoolmistress of the second school is going next week to America, and that we shall be without both schoolmaster and schoolmistress for a short time to come. I would, however, ask the right hon. Gentleman docs he want anything more of the same kind? I would also draw his attention to the fact that on the occasion of Mr. Condon's trial it was sworn that his paper did not reach the locality referred to until the Monday following the day of its publication, at the end of the week in which it was issued, that the school was boycotted on the Tuesday, and that the circulation of the paper had nothing directly or indirectly to do with the boycotting. I also put it to the Committee, whether a journalist who merely reports public events, and has had nothing to do with the matters charged, has any right to be treated by the right hon. Gentleman in the paltry and vindictive spirit which has been displayed towards him.
§ (5.48.) MR. J. O'CONNOR
I would remind the Committee that last Friday evening I brought this very question under notice, but that, owing to the peculiar facility the right hon. Gentleman has for overlooking things which are important to the issues involved, and passing on to other matters to which his sublime attention is more congenially directed, he did not allude to the case reported in the Cork Examiner to which I then referred. I pointed out that the editor of the paper had expurgated his offence, whatever it may have been, and now it has been explained that the offence consisted merely in the refusal to give bail. There were two cases—those of the Cork Examiner and the Cork Herald—which I brought under the notice of the right hon. Gentle- 1627 man. They are two papers published in an important city in the south of Ireland—a city having 80,000 inhabitants—these papers circulating over the province of Munster, and having been boycotted by the Local Government Board, so that the advertisements of the Cork Union were confined to a Conservative paper, owned by friends of the right hon. Gentleman, and circulating only among a few select people in the south of Ireland. This is not only unjust to the boycotted newspapers, but also to the people who read them, as well as to the contractors who send in tenders, because they do not see the advertisements in the papers they read. I say that this complaint applies not only to the Local Government Board, but to the Fisheries Board, and all the other Boards and Departments under the management of the right hon. Gentleman. Nevertheless we are constantly seeing the right hon. Gentleman turning up his eyes at the boycotting which prevails in Ireland. Why, Sir, we can point to documentary evidence showing that orders are issued by the Boards in Dublin under the management of the right hon. Gentleman that the advertisements are to be given only to those papers which are of the political colour the right hon. Gentleman approves of. At any rate, I think the right hon. Gentleman ought at least to accord to us the courtesy of noticing the complaints we make, and not to con fine himself to the making of sensational speeches on those points that are really of no great importance, while he entirely overlooks and passes by matters that are of very much importance, and upon which we are anxious to obtain information. Under these circumstances, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider the speech of my hon. Friend.
§ (5.50) MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
I do not desire, on behalf of the Nationalist Press of Ireland, to claim any favour from the right hon. Gentleman; but they do claim justice, and the ratepayers also demand justice, at the hands of the Government. This boycotting of the Nationalist Press not only works unfairly for the newspaper proprietors, but it also operates unfairly towards the people who pay the rates of the country. I will give the Committee an instance of this. There was an important meeting in the county of Dun- 1628 garvan not long ago convened by the Local Government Board, and Inspectors were sent down. The meeting was advertised in two of the local Conservative papers, not half a dozen copies of which ccirculated in that county, or in the neighbourhood of Dungarvan. I asked the right hon. Gentleman why a matter which intimately concerned the ratepayers of that district was not advertised in the papers which circulated there, and he said he understood that the proprietors of those papers had been guilty of breaking the law, and that the Government did not intend to insert any of their advertisements in those papers. Now, the guilt of these persons amounted to this—that they had inserted in their papers reports of the so-called suppressed branches of the League. I think, Sir, the proceedings of the Local Government Board with regard to surcharge afford a good illustration of the way in which Irish grievances are attended to by the Government. They are never tired of telling us that the grievances of the Irish people, when brought forward by their Representatives, will be attended to. On this question of surcharge we have again and again asked that the same law as is applied to England shall be applied to Ireland, namely, that there should be some kind of appeal; but, although the Government acknowledge the principle to be correct, they have done nothing to put it in operation in Ireland. In our country the auditors are appointed, not because of their fitness for the office, but because of the hatred they bear to the Irish people, and these gentlemen have no hesitation in surcharging the Nationalist Guardians, while the ex officio and Conservative Guardians are allowed to go scot free. I was surcharged in this way myself, and it so happened that Sir Robert Paul, my predecessor, had signed cheques for similar payments in previous years, but had escaped surcharge. When, however, he saw that I was so surcharged, Sir Robert Paul came forward, and by some pressure which he brought to bear, I was not forced to pay the surcharge. While I am on my feet I wish to draw attention to another matter which has been repeatedly brought forward in this House. I allude to the system of sending aged and infirm poor back to Ireland, to end their 1629 days there, after they have spent the best part of their lives in this country. For my part, I should be happy to approve of any arrangement which would enable these poor people to end their lives in the country from which they have been expelled; but I would point out that the question is an important one locally—
§ MR. P. J. POWER
But we are in the habit of writing to them and receiving communications from them upon it. At any rate, you have the power in this country of sending paupers who may be of Irish parentage, but who have been out of Ireland nearly half a century, over to us to be supported by us, and although we have in our unions a great many English poor, we have no right to send them over hero. Of course, if you, Sir, consider that this question is not appropriate to the subject of the Vote under discussion, I will not proceed with it, but I think some reference should be made by the right hon. Gentleman to the Irish Press question, and the reason why he refuses to insert advertisements in those papers which are published and have the largest circulation in the districts affected.
§ (6.0.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member, that the Government are bound by the statute, and the alteration he desires is an alteration which it is not within the power of the Local Government Board to bring about. With regard to the action of the Local Government Board respecting advertisements in the papers in Ireland, I have only to say what I think I have said on one or two preceding occasions, namely, that the principle which governs the Irish Administration in this matter is simply that Government advertisements ought not to be sent to papers which habitually break the law.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Those who send the advertisements. Politics are not regarded as long as newspapers do not break the law. I do not know that I have anything to add to that, and I think the Committee in general approves 1630 of the broad lines of the policy laid down by the Government in the matter.
§ *(6.2.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
We do not accept the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman as in any way satisfactory, and I think the Committee will see in this matter an apt illustration of the unfairness with which Nationalists are treated by the officials of Dublin Castle. I do not suppose the right hon. Gentleman lays down the principle that if any newspaper in any part of the country is punished for any offence against the law that newspaper is never again to receive a Government advertisement. The Government Departments, as I understand, do not farm out these advertisements as a matter of justice or favour to one paper or another in any of these three kingdoms. By certain statutes the Government Departments are bound to give notice to the people of certain things. They are bound, as a simple ministerial duty, to send the advertisements to those newspapers which do reach the people. If not, they are not giving notice to the people, and in spirit, if not in letter, they are breaking the statutes. It is a monstrous thing that gentlemen in the Local Government Board Office, who do not profess to be able to exercise judicial functions, should take upon themselves, the task of judging what is and what is not an offence against the law of the land. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman will admit that some newspapers in the north of Ireland have, from time to time, broken the law. I suppose he will admit that the Belfast News Letter has called upon people to break the law. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that, under these circumstances, that newspaper ought to get the Government advertisements? I suppose there are scores of newspapers in these three Kingdoms that have committed the offence of criminal libel. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that not one of these papers is a fit receptacle for Government advertisements, or does he draw a distinction between one sort of offence and another? I suppose the distinction the right hon. Gentleman draws is that a criminal libel is an offence against the law of the land, and a conspiracy under the Crimes Act is an offence against the law of the right hon. Gentleman. Very often, for simply giving the people of a 1631 district a plain account of what had happened in the district, an Irish newspaper proprietor is branded by the Local Government Board as a person unfit to receive a Government contract. The action of the Local Government Board is simply and solely a bit of political persecution. It is contrary to the spirit of the law under which the Board act, for, by giving advertisements to papers with little or no circulation, they do not give that notice to the people which they are bound by law to give. Now, Sir, who are the gentlemen on the Local Government Board who are laying down these principles? There is an interesting publication called The Financial Reform Almanack, which gives the relationship of Members of this House with Members of the Upper House. I should like to see the principle of these Returns applied to the Local Government Board. I do not want to see the relationship to Members of the Upper House especially given, but I should like to see established the relationship between the different officials and members of the clique who have the supreme command in Dublin. You have a member of the great family of Morris, a member of the distinguished family of Gibson, and a brother of the gentleman who is chiefly distinguished by the fact that he has been, from time immemorial, the Conservative candidate for the City of Limerick. You have numbers of men who have obtained their posts simply because they are related to people who are in authority. And now, having got their posts in this way—for services as Party hacks, or for the services of their brothers as Party hacks—they purport to exercise and to assume a judicial function in deciding which newspapers in Ireland are fit to receive Government advertisements, and which are not. I maintain that that is preposterous. It is another matter which shows the intolerance of the clique who really rule Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, by one title or another—sometimes as Chief Secretary, sometimes as President of the Local Government Board—is supposed to rule Ireland, but he does not do so. The actual control of the Administration is not with the right hon. Gentleman, but with the various hacks who do the things that the right hon. Gentleman has to 1632 defend in this House. I desire to call attention to the action of an auditor of the Local Government Board in allowing an improper payment by the Grand Jury of the County of Cavan, under circumstances in which no such payment would have been allowed had it been made by a Representative Body on which Nationalists were in the majority. It may, or may not, be known to this House that there is a difference in the mode in which the expenses of children sent to Reformatories and children sent to Industrial Schools in Ireland are paid. In the case of Reformatories, the Grand Jury or the Urban or Municipal Authority, as the case may be, is bound to pay the cost of the maintenance of the children; but in the case of Industrial Schools the Local Authority has an option. It may, if it likes, contribute to the support of the children, but it is not obliged to do so. Now, in the county of Cavan, although the vast majority of the cesspayers are Catholic, there is a Protestant majority on the Grand Jury, and for 16 years in succession it has absolutely refused to pay a farthing for Catholic children in Industrial Schools, on the ground that there is a Standing Order of the Grand Jury against payments for children in Industrial Schools. For eight years out of the 16, however, in spite of continual protest, the Grand Jury made grants to Protestant Industrial Schools. I consider that that is a scandalous instance of bigotry and intolerance. That is not all. Year after year the Grand Jury entered this payment to Protestant Industrial Schools in the published abstract of presentments as if it were a payment to a Reformatory. The entry ran "The Meath Protestant Reformatory" so much. The Auditor of the Local Government Board must have known that there was no such thing as a Meath Protestant Reformatory. He must have known it, for he had to audit payments in different parts of the country to the Meath Industrial School as an Industrial School time after time.
§ *MR. KNOX
This has been done for eight years. The improper audit occurred in every one of the eight years. The Grand Jury have not passed any such presentment this year 1633 owing to the attention which has been drawn to the subject in this House, but the improper payment was improperly allowed in the year last past. I do not make any charge against this Protestant Industrial School, as I happen to know that the managers discharged their duties satisfactorily and sent in the forms in a straightforward way, describing the institution as an Industrial School. The Grand Jury, however, falsified the Return, putting down the payment as if made to a reformatory. That is a fraud, and should have been prevented by the auditor. What is an auditor for if he is not to stop a fraud of that kind? If the Town Council of the city of Dublin were to perpetrate such a fraud we should have the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) on every platform throughout the Kingdom, denouncing the intolerance of the Irish Catholics. I appeal to the Chief Secretary to say a word or two in condemnation of the intolerance and fraud of the Cavan Grand Jury, although they are amongst his own supporters.
§ (6.18.) MR. M. HEALY
As the right hon. Gentleman has not risen to explain the remarkable incident referred to by my hon. Friend, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to explain how the Irish Local Government Board discharges the extraordinary duty cast on it of acting as censor over the Irish newspapers, finding out which of them keeps the law, and which of them breaks it. I say that as this censorship over newspapers by the Local Government Board affects the fortunes and properity of a great many Irish newspapers, we are entitled to further information from the Chief Secretary. We have it from the right hon. Gentleman that the Local Government Board, instead of having regard to the circulation of a newspaper and the fitness of the medium for the advertisement before it gives an advertisement, endeavours to find out, as the right hon. Gentleman says, whether the newspaper "is breaking the law or not." I want to know how they discharge that function? In what way do they proceed to ascertain the facts? Do they keep a file of the newspapers and submit it to their legal adviser? They have a legal advisar—a distinguished Irish lawyer— 1634 and I want to know is it on his advice that they act in discharging this important function? I have always thought that it is for the Courts to decide whether or not the law is broken, but that old maxim, like a great many other old maxims, does not hold with the present Government of Ireland. I say we want some little further information. We want to know whether—say in the case of the Cork Examiner or the Cork Herald—where they are accused of having broken the law, an opportunity is given to the editor or proprietors of being heard in their own defence. I apprehend not. We know it is said these papers are not loyal, but, notwithstanding that, I submit that the proprietors should have some right of appeal when the Local Government Board undertakes to decide a legal issue. These are the extraordinary incidents to which the Minute of the right hon. Gentleman, which, we have heard of for the first time to-night, has given rise. I think that when the right hon. Gentleman comes down to this House and declares that instead of dealing with the questions of Poor Law and out-door relief, the Local Government Board go into investigations as to how far the Criminal Law of Ireland has been observed or been broken, we are entitled to some information as to the lines, upon which the Local Government Board proceeds.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
In answer to the hon. Members I would say that no judicial functions are undertaken by the Local Government Board. As President of that Board I am directly and solely responsible for the principles laid down as regards the granting of these advertisements, and if blame attaches to anyone it attaches to me. I contend, however, that no blame attaches to me or to anyone else. I think that the Board would be going beyond their duty, and beyond what is just, if they were to consider the political complexion of any newspaper. I quite admit that general principle, but it would be equally absurd to expect them to give these advertisements to papers which they cannot conceal from themselves are in the habit of violating a perfectly well-understood law.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The law of the land. I do not believe that advertise- 1635 ments have ever been refused in a case where it could be seriously contended that the law had not been broken by the newspaper in question. No such case has been or can be adduced. If anyone thinks that this is being done in the case of a paper which has not broken the law—if they will bring it to my notice the matter will be examined into and full justice done.
§ MR. M. HEALY
No answer has been made to the criticisms of myself and my hon. Friends. If the proprietors of papers have broken the law, what is the branch of the law against which they have offended? Is it murder, or forgery, or any other of the numerous offences which find a place under the wide and sweeping term "the law of the land"? Let us take the case of the Cork Herald or Cork Examiner. What branch of the law has the proprietor of either of these papers broken? Yet they are subjected to this mean and contemptible device of boycotting. Another branch of the law is criminal libel. Is that the particular branch of the law of the land which the Irish newspapers who are refused Government advertisements have violated? It is no answer for the right hon. Gentleman to say, "The newspapers have been violating the law of the land," unless we are told what branch of the law of the land it is they have been violating. If the proprietors of the papers I have named have been guilty of illegality how is it that no member of their staff has been prosecuted? We all know that the Chief Secretary is a firm upholder of law and order, and would not allow illegality to go on for years and years without taking some steps to vindicate it. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman cannot regard the mean and contemptible device of stopping advertisements as the best means of vindicating the law. If the law has been broken, why does he not prosecute the proprietors of these newspapers? The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the officials of the Local Government Board undertake to hear and determine in camera the question whether newspapers have broken the law. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell me in what manner the 'Cork Herald or the Cork Examiner have broken the law, and why, if they have broken it, proceedings have not been taken against them?
§ *(6.32.) MR. KNOX
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a few plain questions. The first is whether the rule he has laid down that no paper, the proprietor of which has committed a crime, is to get Government advertisements, is applicable to every crime? Does it apply to the crime of libel in England as much as to the crime of conspiracy or the publication of meetings of suppressed branches of the League in Ireland? Has he considered, with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the English Local Government Board, whether the same principle is to apply to advertisements issued by the English Board? If it is to be applied to both countries, we in Ireland will have no special ground of complaint. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman lays down that the rule shall only be applicable to Ireland, I want to know what becomes of his promises of equal laws for England and Ireland? I should like to know also how the right hon. Gentleman is giving notice of events of which he is bound to give notice in districts where the only newspapers with any considerable circulation are papers which, according to his theory, have broken the law? Is he going to publish official newspapers for the purpose of bringing the advertisements before the public? And if the right hon. Gentleman deigns to answer these questions, he might also give some reply as to the case of religious intolerance which I brought before him, and which, owing no doubt to inadvertence and not to intentional discourtesy, he has omitted to mention.
§ (6.35.) MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
A surprising statement was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary a short time ago. He said that no question of politics entered into this matter. That reminds one of the statement that no question of religion enters into Jury-packing. If no question of politics enters into the question, how is it that everywhere throughout Ireland, since the right hon. Gentleman has been and before he was at the Irish Office, the only newspapers that have got the Government advertisements are the Conservative papers? We know that in every department of Dublin Castle the officials discuss among themselves what are the politics of the various newspapers, and in every case, unless there 1637 be special reason to the contrary, we know that the fact of a paper being Nationalist or not decides the question whether it is to get the advertisements. It is utterly ridiculous and preposterous to pretend the reverse. We know that the question of politics enters into the matter of giving advertisements, and we shall not hesitate to express our opinion here with regard to it on every possible occasion. The thing has been aggravated, and the injustice and scandal have become perfectly flagrant under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman asked for a case in which advertisements have been refused to a newspaper that has not broken the law. There is the case of Mr. Condon, the proprietor of the Carlow Nationalist. He was merely asked to give securities for good behaviour, and, as has been admitted in this House, that is not even a punishment. It was not alleged chat he had broken the law, and he has not broken the law since, because if he had, I suppose the right hon. Gentleman would have prosecuted him under his Coercion Act. Then there is the case of the Leinster Leader. What crime his that paper committed that it should be deprived of all the Government advertisements? It will not do for the right hon. Gentleman to ride off on State platitudes and generalities, by saying that no man is deprived of an advertisement who does not break the law, when he knows that, as a matter of fact, the assertion is completely without foundation.
§ (6.40.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
When the right hon. Gentleman expressed surprise at the suggestion that politics were taken into consideration in deciding in what newspapers these advertisements should be inserted, he seems to have forgotten the admissions which, since he has been a Member of the House, has been more than once made from that Bench. Some years ago, the distribution of advertisements was looked upon as one of the spoils of office; for with the event of a new Government, a new list of newspapers to which the Government advertisements were to be given was drawn up in every large public Department. It is only within comparatively recent years that the system was abandoned in this 1638 country, and a general approved list of newspapers, irrespective of politics, to which Government advertisements were given, was adopted and sanctioned by the Treasury. The system which used to be recognised in this country, and is now abandoned, is still in full force in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says he is responsible for what he calls the principle involved in the Minute; but he went on to say that the Local Government Board had full discretion in the matter. It is with a very large amount of discrimination and discretion that the principle involved in the Minute of the right hon. Gentleman is applied in Ireland. It is applied in such a way that a considerable number of narrowly circulating newspapers are kept in existence. There are a number of small papers in Ireland which could not continue without the subsidy which is given to them by means of public money, partly through the Local Government Board. But I object to the passing of this Vote without distinctive challenge on wide grounds. The Local Government Board is charged with the duty of looking after the administration of the Poor Law in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman justifies the dismissal of the Cork Board of Guardians and their displacement by three salaried officers on the ground that the Board neglected their duty. My charge against the Local Government Board is that it neglects its duty as a Board. Its administration is not only of an autocratic but of a very selfish character. One would suppose that the chief care of the officers of the Local Government Board was to secure themselves in the salaries which they draw, and that the duties which they are supposed to discharge are matters of a very slight importance in comparison. Of the £39,000 or £40,000 which is asked for £31,000 is set down for salaries. If the Local Government Board in Ireland had discharged its duty to the poor people their condition would be very different. One of the well recognised and fundamental principles of the Poor Law administration in this country is proper classification and separation of the inmates of the workhouse. I invite any one to inspect some of the workhouses in the West of Ireland. There he will find there is no classification whatsoever worthy of the name. It is perfectly true that there is 1639 a division of the sexes. The adult males are separated from the adult females, but the playground used by the children of both sexes is also used by the insane females. The Local Government Board has had its attention directed to the point year after year for the last 10 years, and yet the same bad system continues. Take the case of the food of the people. There is a Return in the Library of the House, which I moved for some years ago, and which sets forth the amount of food and its kind in each of the unions in Ireland. The quantities shown in that Return are startling. I have had a rough analysis or commutation made of the amount of nutritive elements in the quantities of food allowed to the poor people, and I am assured by competent medical authorities that the supply of nitrogen and carbon in the bread and milk allowed is not sufficient to keep an adult person in normal health even without any labour at all. The people in the workhouses, especially in the West, are kept on so low a scale of diet that it is marvellous how they continue to live at all. The condition of the people is deplorable, not only in regard to food and want of classification, but also in regard to the life they lead in these institutions. To see men wandering about aimlessly and hopelessly unoccupied from morning to night is something shocking. You have Inspectors whose duty it is to see to the condition of these people. What have these Inspectors ever reported about the want of occupation? Not a word. Another branch of the Poor Law administration is the supply of medicines to the poor. In this Vote you ask for salaries for Medical Inspectors. I should suppose one of the elementary duties of these Medical Inspectors is to see that the medicines are what they ought to be. I submit that that is an absolute impossibility, at any rate in some cases. I hold in my hand a list of the prices which one Board of Guardians have recently accepted as contract prices for the supply of drugs to the workhouses, and also a list of the prices charged for the same articles at the Apothecaries' Hall, where the prices are regarded as trustworthy and standard. For spirits of ammonia the Apothecaries' Hall charge 3s. a lb., but the drug is supplied to the Board of Guardians in 1640 question at 1s. per lb. Camphor linament is charged for at the Apothecaries' Hall at the rate of 2s. 8d. per lb., but it is supplied to the Guardians at 8d. per lb. Cod liver oil is supplied by contract at 2s. 6d., whereas at the Apothecaries' Hall the charge is 6s. Mercury pills cost 2s. 8d. per lb. at the Apothecaries' Hall, but under contract the charge is 10d. per lb. The charges in the case of ointment are respectively 2s. 6d. and 1s. The fact is that what the contractor supplies are inferior or spoiled articles which are of no value whatever for remedial purposes. Connected with this matter is another: the places at many of the dispensaries in which the drugs are kept are quite unfitted for the purpose. Many of them are exceedingly damp, and the Local Government Board Inspectors seem to take absolutely no notice of the condition of the places. Even when the drugs have lost all their virtue they are dispensed. Again, I would like to say a word as to the removal of paupers of Irish birth from Great Britain to Ireland, while there is no corresponding relief for Ireland in the case of English people who have got into Irish workhouses. What is the use of the Reports made upon this subject if the Government is never to be moved. Over and over again the Local Government Board has reported upon the extreme grievance on this particular point under which Ireland suffers. The Chief Secretary has admitted the grievance in this House within the last month. The Attorney General for Ireland has admitted the grievance, yet we have a continuance of it. The grievance has been removed in England and Scotland, but Ireland is still left to suffer in the matter. In a workhouse in my own constituency there is a family of persons. There are five children, not one of whom was born in Ireland; and yet, because the father happened to be born in Ireland—he was employed in Deptford—the wife and these children, who were left in Glasgow, were transported to the charge of the Letterkenny Union. The injustice of that is recognised by the Government, but they decline to bring forward any measure to put a stop to it. The poor of Ireland are utterly neglected by the Local Government Board. For the reasons I have mentioned I cannot allow this Vote to pass without any challenge. I, 1641 therefore, beg to move to reduce Item A by the sum of £2,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries and Wages, be reduced by £2,000."—(Mr. Arthur O'Connor.)
§ (6.56.) DR. TANNER
There are one or two points in connection with this Vote I desire to refer to. Colonel Speight is the Inspector of the Board told off to attend the Cork Union. Upon the occasion of his visits to the City he always frequents the most Conservative places. He takes up his quarters at one of the Conservative Clubs in the City, and dates his letters from there. It would be much more decent if an official paid by all parties took up his quarters at a more fitting place. The salaries of four Medical Inspectors are asked for in the Vote. I cannot help thinking one Medical Inspector could do all the work. What is the use of engaging four Medical Inspectors who all live in Dublin, and only leave that city upon very special occasions indeed. It is ridiculous to draw such salaries for medical inspection. I can speak with emphasis from my own experience when I say that usually when these Inspectors come down to a locality their work is practically nil. They have nothing to do. They come as a matter of form and ceremony, and they sit in a chair by the Chairman of the Board for half-an-hour, and then they go back again, having done their duty for that day. I am really convinced that two if not one Medical Inspector would be sufficient for all the Poor Law business. Then, again, there are the Engineering Inspectors and the Assistant Engineer Inspector. What their duties are I scarely know, for we never meet them anywhere. I am happy in the acquaintance of one of these gentlemen, and I know that he has a fair salary, and that he has other business. Two of these Inspectors get £600 between thorn and their expenses being paid, but it is simply ridiculous that this money should be paid for doing no work. I cannot but think that if some inquisition were made into these Estimates we should find that many of these salaries are simply means by which return is made for services rendered to 1642 the Government or the Tory Party in the past, and there is ample verge for largely cutting down expenditure. Certainly, I am at one with my hon. Friend who has moved in this matter. I know that a number of these gentlemen are enormously overpaid, with little or nothing to do. I can only speak now as an ex-Poor Law Guardian, for my occupation is gone, the right hon. Gentleman having suppressed our Board, but I can say that during a four years' attendance on the Cork Board I do not recollect the attendance of an Engineering Inspector, and the only occasion when I have found one at work was recently at Limerick. Something certainly ought to be done in the way of retrenchment under this Vote. With two Inspectors drawing £300 each I do not think it can be necessary to appoint a temporary Assistant Engineering Inspector at £100. I am convinced that this Vote covers a great waste of public money, money which is simply paid away for the purpose of keeping Toryism alive in Ireland. It is a feeble and unsuccessful attempt too. I sincerely hope that full light will be thrown upon this matter, and that the English people will come to understand it.
§ (7.5.) Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ (7.10.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 182; Noes 118.—(Div. List, No. 187.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That Item A, Salaries and Wages, be reduced by £2,000."
§ (7.20.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 124; Noes 186.—(Div. List, No. 188.)
§ Whereupon Mr. WILLIAM HENEY SMITH rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Original Question be now put."
Original Question put accordingly,
That a sum, not exceeding £102,002, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for the
Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board in Ireland, including various Grants in Aid of Local Taxation,
and agreed to.
2. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £24,661, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1891, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Public Works in Ireland.
§ (7.30.) MR. PARNELL (Cork)
I think the system under which this Vote is left to be explained and decided by the Secretary to the Treasury is a very injurious one to the very important interests which are dealt with in Ireland by the Board of Works. The Secretary to the Treasury is, from the nature of his position, unable to devote that attention to questions connected with the Irish Board of Works that might be expected from officials on the spot, and we always feel that in pressing him for information, that although we have to acknowledge his uniform courtesy and his willingness to do the best he can, yet that his good intentions do not cover his failure to deal with important subjects in a manner to which they are justly entitled. The responsibility of the Treasury, of course, in reference to matters connected with public works is great and important. I do not criticise the right of the Treasury to be represented on this Department to the fullest extent, but I think that an arrangement which practically leaves the whole care of this Department to the right hon. Gentleman, and the defence of its work and proceedings to him, is most faulty and not entirely to the advantage of the Board of Works, preventing a satisfactory result being arrived at. The Government of Ireland is a government by Boards. We are the most be-Boarded country in the world, and instead of having all these Boards represented by the Chief Secretary and the Secretary to the Treasury, we require, at least, two or three Ministers whose duty it should be to deal with the important subjects that come under the consideration of Parliament in connection with these Boards. This is especially true as regards the Board of 1644 Works, the Government Engineering Department for Ireland. Ireland is a country which requires greater attention, greater knowledge, and capacity in an Engineering Department than any country with which I am acquainted, owing to the backwardness of its resources, the total want of development of industrial works, and other circumstances, with which the Committee have been made familiar from time to time. We have a very good illustration of the want of attention and want of knowledge on this Board in what has not happened,—we have had no introduction or explanation of this Vote. This is a Vote for £37,000 for the salaries of this Government Engineering Board, to which is entrusted such important matters as the direction and construction of sea harbours, piers for fishery purposes, the issue of loans to tenants under the Land Act for the improvement of their holdings, and, further, the direction, to a very large extent, of the policy involved in the construction of Light Railways in Ireland. Yet we have had not a word of introduction or explanation from the Chief Secretary or the Secretary to the Treasury. I should have thought that on the occasion of introducing this very interesting subject, a subject which the Chief Secretary has specially marked as his own, the discussion of the expenses of this Engineering Board, which has for its duty the superintendence of these works for the improvement of the industrial resources of Ireland, upon which the Chief Secretary counts so much, we should have had some general statement as to the work of the past 12 months. But we are left absolutely to pass the Vote without any explanation or information as to the current year, except such as is contained in this small paper which has boon issued. We are without information on these three important subjects, to which I have alluded, the erection of fishery piers, loans to tenants for the improvement of their holdings, and the intention of the Government as to the construction of Light Railways and Tramways in Ireland. Now, I am not myself competent to go into any of these subjects, for the simple reason that I am without information. I know something of the Board of Works in times past, I 1645 know something of its failures in reference to particular works that have come under my knowledge, but again and again we have complained strongly of the total absence of information with which we are asked to approach this Vote, cither from documents or statement by the official charged with getting the Vote through the House. With regard to the question of Fishery Piers and Harbours, of which I shall have to say something in detail by-and-by, I want to say generally that I think it would be most desirable if the Chief Secretary would obtain some information for the House before next Session, so that we may know what we are about. Ho has placed in the Land Purchase Bill a clause of a very vague and nebulous character relating to fishing in the West of Ireland, of a skeleton character, which I suppose is intended to be filled in, and I earnestly hope that in the interval before we have this Bill before us, he will take steps to inform himself and this House as to the capacity of the Irish coasts for the development of sea fisheries, and as to the necessity which exists for the extension of work begun in 1883, and for which a sum of £250,000 was voted by Parliament for fishing piers and harbours, how far the work has been successful for the object in view, how far the money has been properly spent. I would suggest that he should appoint a Royal Commission for obtaining this information, by evidence taken on different parts of the coasts, so that when we meet again Parliament may have a record of the work of the Department. I would also suggest that proposals for this subject should be kept apart from other matters in the Purchase Bill, and dealt with free from political excitement and prejudice. The development of sea fisheries in Ireland is a matter of enormous importance to the country, and it is an object upon which Imperial money might be advantageously laid out, judiciously and after suitable inquiry. A proposal of the kind might result in benefit to the country and satisfaction to this House. It is a subject removed from Party politics, and one which, if the Government obtained full and necessary information, might well be dealt with in the coming Session. With regard to the 1646 Board of Works, and its failures from an engineering point of view, I regret, I exceedingly dislike, to be obliged to attack by name any officials in Ireland connected with the Board, and I do not propose to do so on the present occasion. I desire to hurt nobody's feelings, but I state, as a fact which has been abundantly proved, that the Board of Works has failed, both in design and in execution, with regard to the works entrusted to its care, and the money of Parliament has been scandalously wasted in a fashion which, as regards those instances which have come under my knowledge, appears to me most extraordinary and unreasonable. It is impossible to suppose that the mistakes of the Board are entirely due to ignorance, and I am driven to believe that the incapacity is due to a want of care on the part of the permanent officials, who are directly accountable to none, who have no representation in this House, and who, from long habit, have become careless as to the result of their actions. They simply sit in their office, make proposals, and draw plans, without any regard whatever to the actual local conditions, which ought to be considered before any engineering works are undertaken. I would instance two cases, with which I am well acquainted, as examples of the statement I have made as to incapacity or negligence in fulfilling the first duty of an Engineering Board. Let me take the example of Arklow Harbour, in County Wicklow. For the improvement of the fishery pier there Parliament in 1882 or 1883 voted a sum of £35,000. The result of that expenditure may be indicated by stating that where, according to the Admiralty charts, there was a depth of 20ft. of water at low tide before the expenditure, there is now only a depth of 4½ft. So your £35,000 have been spent in diminishing the depth of water at the entrance of the harbour by 15 or 16 feet, or at the rate of something over £2,000 for every foot shall owed. I believe this is the result going on all round the coast to a greater or less extent. It has certainly been the case with regard to the Harbour of Grey-stones, another example in County Wicklow. This harbour, before the expenditure of £13,000, had a depth of five or six feet at low tide, but a pier 1647 was built out into the sea, and the result has been to turn what was before pretty safe anchorage for small coasters into dry land. But, as I say, we are without information as to the expenditure of £250,000 upon fishery piers and harbours, of which Greystones is one. The Board of Works takes very good care not to give us this information in this Return of four pages put before us. They deprive us of the means of checking the conclusions they come to that the works are in good order, and that they have fulfilled the objects for which they were erected. The Return issued by the Board states that they have built 39 harbours and nine boat slips. The depth of water at low spring tides at the pier heads is given, but in 33 out of the 48 works the ground is dry at low spring tides at the heads of the piers. In eight of them there is a depth of from two to four feet, in eight a depth of from four to six feet, four from six to eight feet, one from eight to 10 feet, four from 10 to 12 feet, and one from 12 to 14 feet. So that out of the total number there are only 18 of sufficient depth to admit the ordinary class of fishing boats. In 33 there is no water at all at low spring tides, and in eight only a depth of from two to four feet, so that in 41 cases, the works are perfectly useless for the purpose for which they were projected. The Committee ought to be informed what is the state of things before more money is spent, and I hope that the Secretary to the Treasury will be able to mention some of the practical advantages which the fishermen and boatowners have gained by these works. So far as my information goes, the practical advantage is non-existent. There is too much reason to fear that this large sum of £250,000 has gone the way of the rest of the expenditure entrusted to the Board of Works in past years in works to a large extent useless, and often mischievous. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
Before I put this reduction, I must point out that this is a Vote for the personnel of the office of the Board of Works, on which it is perfectly relevant to discuss the organisation and administration of the office; but there is a special Vote for the works themselves, 1648 and, therefore, to examine the details of the works, would not be relevant to the Vote.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £23,661, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ MR. PARNELL
I may be allowed to explain that the object of my remarks, with regard to the works, was to impeach the designs of the engineers of the Board of Works. The construction of the works had probably been sound, and the materials good, but I chiefly complained of the selection of the sites and the designs adopted by the Board as unsuitable, and made without the knowledge of the local effect of the action of the tides, waves, and winds. I respectfully submit that, as far as the engineers of the Board of Works are concerned, I should be in order in discussing the policy of the designs, for which they are responsible, and that I should not be in order in discussing it on the question of the actual provision of the money for erecting the works in those places.
I perfectly understood the purport of the hon. Gentleman's speech, and I did not interrupt him, because I thought ho did keep within the scope of the Vote. My observation just now was to prevent, by anticipation, discussion travelling outside the Vote.
§ *(7.59.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
I have no reason to complain of the tone and manner in which the hon. Member has brought forward this question. It may be that some better plan might be found than that of making the Secretary to the Treasury answer for the Board of Works in Ireland. That is a question of policy which has been present in the minds of the Government for some time, and possibly arrangements might be made which would give the Government the assistance of some one with more detailed knowledge of the works of the Board than the Secretary to the Treasury can have. The hon. Member has 1649 just referred to Arklow, and he stated that formerly there were 20 feet of water where now there is much less. I have examined the Papers, and endeavoured to obtain the best information I could, both as to the condition of things "which existed formerly, and that which exists now, and I think the facts show that before this pier was built, there was often very little water for boats coming into the harbour. I am glad to have the hon. Member's testimony that the work has been well constructed, and he has neither found fault with the material nor the construction. He makes complaint of the design and the situation. At the time when these plans were put forward, according to the information I have obtained, there was considerable local opposition to the building of the north groyne. The Board of Works, it is only fair to say, adhered to the opinion that a north groyne was necessary, so as to make a certain amount of scour from the river; and I am not prepared to say that the information I have received from them leads me to the conclusion that there will not be, from time to time, some bar made outside the harbour, but so far as the entrance to the harbour is concerned, I believe the position of matters is very much improved. The Board of Works have consistently adhered to the view that a north groyne is necessary to complete the work, and that it would enormously improve the entrance to the harbour.
§ *MR. JACKSON
Under the Special Act, which the hon. Gentleman has quoted, there is a certain amount to be applied; and the Act contains a clause that, if the expenditure includes a certain sum, any additional expenditure shall be borne by the locality. From time to time there have been negotiations with the view to obtain for the locality authority to go on with the work.
§ MR. PARNELL
The right hon. Gentleman perhaps knows that the locality were prepared to go on with a certain portion of the work. Was ever any proposal made to the locality to accept the whole burden rendered neces- 1650 sary by the engineering failure of the Board of Works?
§ *MR. JACKSON
I do not want to go too much into detail; but I am under the impression that that statement is not quite correct. I think there has been a suggestion made—
§ *MR. JACKSON
As is known, there are on the spot blocks of concrete which clearly belong to the harbour works, and if it had been possible, while the works were in construction, to have utilised part of the plant of the contractor who built the main pier, no doubt a saving would have been effected as compared with what would be the case now, if these blocks were utilised. I believe the estimated value of the blocks is something like £4,000 or £5,000, and in all probability, according to the best information I can obtain, £4,000 or £5,000 additional would about cover the cost of building the north groyne. I hope it may be found possible in some way to complete this work, because we are entirely at one that this north groyne would be a great advantage and ought to be constructed. And it would, I think, have been constructed in the first instance had it not been for the local opposition. The hon. Member has referred to Greystones. I am willing to admit frankly that the work at Greystones has not been successful. I make the admission at once, because I honestly believe that it ought to be made; and, I believe, the Board of Works would be quite willing that I should make that admission. There have been difficulties, which some people, perhaps judging by the light of subsequent events, say should have been foreseen. With reference to the harbour at Greystones, I would remind the Committee that there has been a tremendous movement of shingle. I may note that the railroad at the top of the cliff has been taken further inland, the company finding it cheaper to undertake that work than to protect the cliff from the action of the sea.
§ *MR. JACKSON
I know that some people hold the view that this movement of shingle ought to have been ascertained and appreciated at the time. I say comparatively little about that, because I do not believe I have got a very good answer. At the same time, I think there is this to be said, that the movement of shingle has been much more severe than was contemplated at the time, as evidenced by the removal of the railroad. As regards Greystones, I have done what I could to make myself acquainted with the facts. I have met the hon. Member for the division on the spot. I heard what the local people had to say, and the Board of Works suggested that a temporary groyne, such as may be seen round the south coast of England, should be thrown out, as a defence against the shingle tilting up. On the part of the Treasury, I sanctioned the expenditure for that; but the people of the locality objected to the work, on the ground that it would interfere with their fishing nets. The work was, therefore, abandoned. I make no complaint of the local opposition, because, if the people haul their nets along the coast in pursuit of their fishing industry, there is no doubt that such a work would be, to some extent, injurious. The question is, What is to be done? The Board of Works say there is only one course to be taken, and that is, to build another pier or groyne, so as to check the movement of the shingle. That is estimated to cost about £7,000; and I have been for some time endeavouring to make the best arrangements I could. I do not hesitate to say that I was sanguine of getting help from the locality at one time, but I have not been successful in that. I have been in communication with the Irish Government, who have a surplus at their disposal and I may say that I have obtained the sanction of the Irish Government to the expenditure on this groyne, and I hope that may prove successful. I have shown the Committee, I think, that, notwithstanding want of knowledge in such matters, I have endeavoured to do the best I could to remedy what, lam bound 1652 to admit, has been an unsuccessful work. I do not say the same about Arklow, be cause, as far as I can judge after visiting it, the work is a substantial work, and I hope that, if it be possible to build the north groyne, we may have a great improvement there. The hon. Member referred to the account which was presented to the House with a view of giving it full and detailed particulars on the expenditure of those fishery piers under the Sea Fisheries Fund, and he has criticised rather severely the design and situation of those piers. It is only fair to the Board of Works that I should say that, as far as the responsibility of that Board is concerned, it is entirely limited to carrying out the works approved by by the Committee, because, as the hon. Member will have noticed, it is stated that the arrangement was, that the Fisheries Commissioners should recommend the sites, the works being carried out by the Board of Works. I believe it to be the fact that in all those schemes the action of the Board of Works has been limited to the preparation of the plans and designs for works to be erected on sites selected by the Fisheries Commissioner. Those plans and designs had to receive the approval of the Fisheries Commissioners before they were carried into effect; and when this approval was given the work was carried out under the control and superintendence of the Board of Works. I would here draw the attention of the Committee to a point which I cannot but feel redounds greatly to the credit of the Board of Works, and it is with regard to the manner in which they have carried out the works entrusted to them within the total amount of the Estimate. Everyone who understands anything about the matter will, I think, admit that large estimates for works connected with marine structures are necessarily of a somewhat hazardous character, and that it not unfrequently happens that works of this kind, especially when carried out on an extensive scale, as has been the case here, are not carried out within the estimates. In this particular case, however, the total original cost was estimated to be £239,215. These works have been carried out and completed, except in the case of four works which have since been inserted at a cost which would 1653 bring up the total estimate to £240,000. The Board of Works have done things that were not included in the original estimate, hut which were found to be desirable during- the progress of the works originally sanctioned. This additional work has cost nearly £20,000, yet it has all been done within the sum originally estimated. I have had some experience in carrying out marine estimates, and I repeat that from my experience it redounds to the credit of the Board of Works that they have been able to curry out those works practically within the estimates. Of course, there have been savings in some cases and excesses in others; but, taking them altogether, the works have practically-been completed within the amount originally estimated. The hon. Member has called attention to the fact that a considerable number of these piers were dry at the entrance during low water. I may state that, according to the information given to me, out of 40 fishing piers in Scotland there are only two which have any water at low water in spring tides. I can also speak from my own knowledge of a good many places in England where a considerable amount of fishing is carried on there is also no water at the piers at low tides. I do not, however, believe that this fact seriously interferes with the fishing interest.
§ *MR. JACKSON
They were carried out by means of money voted by Parliament; but I was going to show, in answer to the hon. Gentleman, that if it foe a fact there is no water at some of these piers at low water at spring tides, this is not a condition which is at all unusual or exceptional, inasmuch as in many other districts the same condition of things appertains, and that notwithstanding the fishing which is carried on is reasonably successful. I think I have now answered the several points raised by the hon. Member. I hope I have given him satisfactory replies with regard to Grey-stones, and also with regard to Arklow, 1654 and that with regard to the carrying out of the works recommended by the Fisheries Commission. The Board of Works deserve not blame but credit for having effected those works within the original estimates and with but comparatively little complaint.
§ *MR. JACKSON
I beg the hon. Member's pardon; I must accept the proposition put by the hon. Gentleman that it is desirable that something should be said with regard to them. I would, however, point out that I have already stated in answer to the hon. Member for Longford that the right time for making a statement with reference to the light railways would be on the discussion of the Vote for which the sum of £50,000 is provided. That is the only reason why a statement on the subject has not been made to-night. (8.25.)
§ (8.56.) MR. CORBET (Wicklow, E.)
There are one or two points which have been touched upon by the Secretary to the Treasury about which I desire to say a word. He dwelt very much upon what he thought was the fact that the people of Arklow opposed the plans of the Board of Works. Now, I have in my hand a Memorial from the shipowners, merchants, and traders of Arklow, addressed to the Board of Works, and in it they say the plans of the Board of Works were objected to by a few people who were not of much account, and pray that—When a reference is made to you from the House of Commons or elsewhere, you will, in the interest of all concerned, and in justice to the guarantors, who were instrumental in getting the grant and loan, adhere to your original plan and, if any slight change is made, instead of abolishing the north groyne, raise it about two feet higher and insert in it a post to allow vessels to remain fast.Yet the right hon. Gentleman stated that the reason why the north groyne was not made was that the people of Arklow opposed it. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to complete the harbour at Arklow on the plan originally made. He stated just now that there were between £4,000 and £5,000 worth of concrete blocks 1655 unused. Those blocks are lying upon the shore now, and in addition to this loss there was £5,000 spent on the repair of the breakwater before it was more than half finished. My contention is that the £4,000 or £5,000 spent uselessly in making these blocks and the £5,000 spent in repairing the damage done would have been ample to complete the harbour according to the original scheme. Not a stone of the North Groyne has been laid. In fact, the debris of the old construction lies as an obstruction in the fair way, and it is a peril to the boats on coming in and going out. The people there are very heavily weighted by the £20,000 they guaranteed to pay, and seeing that almost £10,000 of the money provided in the first instance has become derelict, I do think the Treasury ought to complete the harbour according to the original design. After the way in which the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the subject of Greystones, it would be ungracious of me to make any comments on it. We have had to wait a good while and to make many applications; but I thank courtesy the right hon. Gentleman for the and the invariable interest he has shown in the matter. To return to Arklow, the harbour works were badly done in the first instance, and I myself have seen the water washing through and through the pier. The fact that it was necessary to spend £5,000 in repairs is proof enough of how badly the work was done in the first instance. Considering the great interests that are involved, Arklow being the principal fishing station on the East Coast, I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will make an effort to have the works completed in accordance with the original contract.
§ (9.7.) MR. PINKERTON (Galway)
The right hon. Gentleman said the responsibility of the Board of Works is confined to the plans and specifications.
§ *MR. JACKSON
No, I did not say that. I said our responsibility was limited to preparing the plans which were approved by the Fishery Commission, and to carry out the works.
§ MR. PINKERTON
Am I correct in understanding that the responsibility rests with the Board of Works of 1656 approving all the plans submitted to their consideration?
§ MR. PINKERTON
That is exactly the responsibility I wish to father on the Board of Works. I put a question on the Paper on Friday about Galway Harbour.
§ *MR. JACKSON
Of course, the Harbour of Galway is not included in these Votes. It belongs to the Harbour Commissioners.
§ MR. PINKERTON
The position of this Harbour Board is very curious. They have incurred a debt to the Board of Works, who have appointed a receiver, and, therefore, I think I am entitled to consider the action of the Board on this subject under this Vote. I find that in 1880 £45,000 was borrowed from the Board of Works. Two engineers submitted plans to the Galway Harbour Commissioners, and Mr. Price was selected to execute the work.
§ *MR. JACKSON
I think the hon. Member is mistaken about that. The Harbour Commissioners employed an engineer to make plans. Those plans, were submitted to the Board of Works, and the Board of Works was asked to lend money. The Board had no responsibility for the design.
§ MR. PINKERTON
I said two engineers were asked by the Commissioners. to supply plans, and Mr. Price was finally selected to act as engineer. Plans and specifications were submitted to the Board of Works and approved by them, and £45,000 were expended in constructing a harbour of a very peculiar character. A deep dock was constructed, but the water was 10 feet deeper than the entrance channel. We are told the Government are not to blame for harbours silting up, but at Galway they have neglected to take the precaution to provide any channel to the dock. The right hon. Gentleman is probably aware that the Galway Harbour Commissioners were not perfectly unanimous with regard to the propriety of expending this money, and that it was-only after the approval of the Board of Works was given that a resolution in 1657 favour of the expenditure was carried by a single vote. The expenditure has not benefited the town in the smallest possible degree; in fact, at the present moment, the Board of Works find it necessary to have a Receiver and to reduce the salaries of all the officials. In order to effect economy they have refused to sanction a grant of £40 for the lighting up of the harbour, and, as a consequence, several persons have recently been drowned in the dock. You have two courses open to you: you should either spend more money in deepening the channel, or relieve Galway of the payment of the debt. I do not hold the Government responsible for any silting up. There is a possibility of any harbour, however well constructed, silting up in consequence of the action of the waves. I know a harbour constructed under the Irish Parliament which is now a grazing field. But with regard to the Galway Harbour the Government have no excuse to offer, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman cither to indicate his intention of spending more money in deepening the channel, or of relieving the people from the responsibility of paying the debt.
(9.15.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway)
I can corroborate all my hon. Friend has said, and I think I can give another reason why the Secretary to the Treasury should take the case of the Galway Harbour into consideration. The harbour is actually in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, or in other words of the Board of Works, of which he is the head. The dock was, to a great extent, executed as a relief work. It was commenced at a time when there was a great need of work in Ireland, and it was necessary there should be a large scheme of emigration from Galway or the provision of public works. The Harbour Commissioners built a really very fine dock considering the place, but they forgot the entrance. The dock is very nearly useless at present, but the thing could be easily remedied if the Secretary to the Treasury would make some effort to deepen the channel. The original grant has been expended, but certainly 1658 public money could not be better expended than in providing this channel. I have no connection with the Arklow Harbour, but the Secretary to the Treasury has admitted that something ought to be done there, and has expressed a strong wish to find a fund. The sum of £8,000 used to be voted annually out of Imperial Funds for harbours in Ireland: but unfortunately the late Mr. Blake, who took the deepest interest in the fisheries, trusting to the generosity of the Government, thought that if the £8,000 was stopped for two or three years the Government would renew it. But at that time the Treasury were a little too clever for Mr. Blake. They said we will give you £250,000 out of the Church Fund—a purely Irish Fund by the way—on condition that we are allowed to stop, the £8,000 which has been granted each year for the last 40 or 50 years. I believe Mr. Blake was under the impression that as soon as the £250,000' was spent the £8,000 would be renewed, and I think if the Secretary' to the Treasury will consult with the President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. Hicks Beach) he will find that that right hon. Gentleman was under the impression that the £8,000 ought to have been re-granted to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman certainly stated so in my hearing.
I was unfertile impression that the £8,000 was granted under the Board of Works Vote. [The CHAIRMAN: No.] The Secretary to the Treasury has dwelt at some length upon the exact responsibility of the Board of Works with regard to the plans of several harbours in Ireland. Experts differ as to how much water there should be at the head of the pier of a fishery harbour. If you can have eight or ten feet of water at low spring tide it is an overwhelming advantage, but, unfortunately, to secure that makes the harbour very much more expensive. I think the Secretary to the Treasury has under-estimated the Board's 1659 responsibility as to the plans and designs of harbours. I have not seen the original Papers in the case of the Grey-stones Harbour, but I do not think the Board of Works ever pointed out that the shingle would be a serious obstacle. In the case of a projected harbour some miles from Belmullet, the Board did point out that the shingle would prove a great obstacle, and as a consequence the harbour was abandoned. The Board of Works were extremely jealous in regard to the construction of fishery harbours. The Fishery Commissioners were very anxious to get an independent engineer to advise them with respect to designs, but the Board of Works would not recognise any engineer but their own. Not only that, but the Board detailed junior engineers to accompany the Fisheries Commissioners when choosing the location of the harbour, and one of these engineers would not give advice. He used to transmit his views to the Chief Engineer in Dublin, and then the Chief Engineer was willing to place plans and designs at the disposal of the Fishery Commissioners. Under these circumstances, surely the Board were responsible for all the engineering defects. Unless it can be shown—and I do not think it can be—that in spite of the remonstrances of the Board's engineers the Fishery Commissioners insisted upon locating a harbour in a given place, the Board are clearly responsible. Now, there is a pier at Claddagh, the repair of which is estimated at £100. The head of the pier has settled down, and there is a large crack in the pier. The work of repairing will, in my opinion, cost more than £100, but it ought to be commenced at once. Surely the Secretary to the Treasury could find the money out of this £38,000. When this Government came into Office the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) spoke of simultaneity in the remedial measures which would be taken in Ireland and England. But the Government are not adopting such a policy. They are postponing the construction of harbours in Ireland, and I do not think there is any possibility of the harbours being completed during the tenure of Office of the present Government. If Parliament is really to do any- 1660 thing in this, I hope the Secretary to the Treasury will pay some attention to this part of the subject. I understand the Secretary to the Treasury deprecates discussion upon the subject of Light Railways on this Vote, and prefers that it should be deferred; and the right hon. Gentleman is so invariably courteous in all his business arrangements that, so far as I am personally concerned, I am ready to accede to his request, but I hope that we shall have due notice of the time when this subject is to be brought on, so that Irish Members may be able to take part in a discussion upon a subject in which much interest is felt. There is another point not of large importance, but important to the labouring classes, and it arises directly under this Vote, and that is, the expenses of engineering inspection in regard to the erection of labourers' cottages. The Board of Works is responsible for these expenses. The Secretary to the Treasury put the engineering expenses at about £2 10s., but they are really very much more, and I have seen vouchers for £4.
This is a matter which should come under the Local Government Vote, not the Board of Works.
The Board of Works find the engineers. If the Secretary to the Treasury agrees, then I will take the opportunity of raising the point on the Report of the Local Government Vote, but I hope Mr. Speaker will not then refer me back again to the Board of Works Vote. However, I will not continue my observations on that point now.
§ (9.32.) MR. PARNELL
Just a word or two in reply to the right hon. Gentleman. He seemed to be under the apprehension that I had admitted that the materials used in the works at Arklow Harbour were suitable and the work well done; but in referring to the materials of which works had been constructed in Ireland, and in admitting they were good, I had in my mind works under the Fishery Piers Act for which £250,000 was voted—not the works at Arklow Harbour. It was in reference to a point of order you, Sir, raised that it would not be in order to go into the question of the construction 1661 of fishery piers, they having been constructed under a different Act to the works at Arklow Harbour. I have always maintained in the case of that harbour, and it is capable of proof, that the Board of Works committed great errors of judgment in the selection of site and in the method of construction adopted, owing to which the work either crumbled or was washed away. A concrete method was adopted and based upon a foundation of the most insecure character, and the repairs were executed with the most faulty and rotten material. In regard to what the right hon. Gentleman hopes may happen so far as Arklow Harbour is concerned, considering the years during which this matter has been brought forward from time to time, I think we are entitled to something more definite. The right hon. Gentleman hopes something will be done. Has he made up his mind that something can be done? The position of things is this—the Treasury refuses to make any further grant for the works, and says the whole of the expense should be borne by the locality. The locality, however, has refused to bear the whole of the expense, and asks that, at least, the Treasury should make a proportionate contribution to the cost. Up to the present time the Treasury has refused, and I wish to know whether the expression of a hope by the right hon. Gentleman that something may be done indicates that the Treasury are considering the desirability of departing from this resolution, and of taking any further share in the work.
§ *(9.35.) MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that in July last year I asked him whether he would consent to a Return giving particulars as to the amount of £4,000,000 advanced by the Board of Works for the improvement of landed property under 10 & 11 Vict., cap. 32. Is he now, as then, unable to assent to this Return being laid upon the Table? He has held out some hope that he would assent to it, though not in the form in which I asked for it. I know, from matters that came to my knowledge when in Ireland, that there is a very strong feeling that a good deal of this money has been wasted in the same way as advances for harbours. 1662 I feel that we should have the means of following the allocation of this money in the manner I suggested in my question on July 4 last year, that we should have a Return, giving the names and addresses of persons to whom advances have been made, the amounts, the dates and various particulars, so that we may, to a certain extent, follow this money. If the right hon. Gentleman says that the period of time over which this would extend is too long; if he says he cannot go back over 40 years, but that he might go back for five or ten years, that is quite another matter; but if he would assent to that, probably it might meet our purpose. From the point of view of the National Exchequer, and as representing those who have shared in these advances, I do think we are entitled to this information, and I must press for a reply whether the right hon. Gentleman will assent to the Return in the form I have indicated, or in what amended form?
(9.39.) MR. O'KEEFFE (Limerick City)
As pertinent to the Vote under discussion, there are a few cases which have come under my observation in the South of Ireland which strongly confirm the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) as to the incompetence and neglect of the Board of Works. The city I have the honour to represent has in the course of two years expended £40,000 on the repair of a portion of the dock wall, necessary through originally faulty construction. Nearly every pier on that important water way, the Shannon, is in the most defective condition. The harbour of Foynes is admitted by the Board of Works to be full of mud.
§ MR. JACKSON
I do not wish to prevent the hon. Gentleman speaking on this subject; but the harbour at Foynes, as I dare say the hon. Member is aware, is not under the Board of Works.
I pass from that. Passing westward, I may mention that there are two piers built at considerable expense, which, together with that at Tarbert, are fast crumbling into decay and will become ruins. At Kilrush, a rising town which has 1663 recently been brought into connection with two railway systems, the pier accommodation is quite inadequate for the requirements of the district, and I am glad to see from the papers that application is about to be made for £30,000 for improving the harbour and allowing deep draught vessels to come in and discharge their cargoes. On the sea-coast we have ample evidence that the designs of the Board of Works have had no more success in the South of Ireland than elsewhere. There is another matter which has, I suppose, given rise to a hundred questions to the right hon. Gentleman—the works at Killaloe. The Board of Conservators complain that these works, carried out on what is known as Mr. Bateman's system, will result in great danger to important fishery rights in. the Shannon, valued at £40,000 a year.
§ (9.45.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
North, East, and West the right hon. Gentleman has had his attention directed to examples of Board of Works mismanagement, and I have to refer to a notable instance in the South, in the often-mentioned Ballycotton Pier. I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman went very much out of his way to visit this pier, and doubtless he has all the circumstances in relation to the question in his mind. I will not go into these at length. If the Board of Works had paid attention, as it was their duty to do, to the complaints of the Grand Jury through their County Inspector as to the cause of the defects observable, there would have been no necessity for the visit of the right hon. Gentleman, or for the long newspaper correspondence and the long series of communications between the Board of Works and the County Grand Jury. With that sweet reasonableness that characterises him in this House the right hon. Gentleman will understand me when I say that the Grand Jury of the county could not have brought forward their complaints simply out of opposition to the Government, because the Grand Jury is an essentially 1664 conservative body, nominated, not elected, and not amenable to popular influence. When the pier was about to be handed over to the Grand Jury, that body, in accordance with their duty, sent down the County Inspector, Mr. Kirkby, to examine and report upon the pier. After a careful and lengthened investigation of many days, Mr. Kirkby reported against the Grand Jury taking over the work from the Board of Works. He reported the work defective in many respects, and advised the county not to incur the responsibility of repair and maintenance. Then the Board of Works, instead of sending down a competent man to overhaul the work, assumed a most truculent attitude, and insisted that the Grand Jury should take over the pier nolens volens, disregarding the Report of their Inspector. They went so far as to discredit Mr. Kirkby's professional capacity. They said he was utterly incapable of judging the character of marine works, and that he went outside and beyond his ordinary duties in making the Report he did. But, eventually, when they sent Mr. Wolffe Barry, the eminent marine engineer, he, after careful inquiry, found that the complaints made were well-founded to a very great extent, and that the defects indicated by Mr. Kirkby existed; that the platform of the pier had subsided owing to faulty construction, and that violent south-westerly gales had washed away the facing. Mr. Wolffe Barry made various recommendations, among others, that galvanised iron bands should strengthen the head of the pier. He also reported that the remains of the old pier should be removed if the pier was to be of any advantage to the fishing boats. Well, this went on for a couple of years, and I and my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork addressed frequent questions to the right hon. Gentleman, and I felt almost ashamed of pressing the right hon. Gentleman so pertinaciously. But, of course, we felt that it would be too bad if a public work intended to be a benefit for a large fishing population should fall into ruin owing to the reluctance of the Board of Works to move in the matter. At last there was this Report of Mr. Wolffe Barry, which, to a great extent, confirmed the Report of the Grand Jury Inspector, and I hope this will be a lesson 1665 to the Board of Works to pay attention to the representations of Grand Juries and Local Authorities on these matters, though I am not sanguine that, constituted as it is, the Board of "Works will ever learn from experience. I understand that the Treasury are about to advance a further sum for the removal of the debris of the old pier, which has long been a source of danger, and I hope the Secretary to the Treasury, in whom we have some confidence in these matters, will induce the Board of Works to carry out the other recommendations of Mr. Wolffe Barry.
§ (9.58.) MR. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
There is a matter I desire to press upon the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope it may not be in vain; and that is the application made by the Commissioners for the erection of a pier at Blackrock, Dundalk. I know that before I entered Parliament a memorial was addressed to the Board of Works on the subject, but not a word have the people heard about it. I may say I have visited the spot, and I know the necessity for the fishing industry. There are, I am given to understand, no natural difficulties to encounter; the bottom is good, and there is a ledge of rocks which acts as a natural breakwater. I may mention also, though it does not concern this Vote, that a pier would be of great advantage for the launching of the lifeboat there, which is manned by the fishermen of the locality. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would consent to receive a deputation on the subject.
§ (10.0.) SIR T. ESMONDE (Dublin Co., S.)
We have every reason to reciprocate the courtesy which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury invariably extends towards Members on these Benches—a style which is not always adopted by his Colleagues. The right hon. Gentleman has the happy knack of giving the soft answer which turns away wrath, but I should like to remind him that soft words butter no parsley, and we shall feel bound to torture him if he will not give us some sort of satisfaction with reference to the work of the body in Ireland, of which at this moment he is the 1666 legislative chief. One is getting sick of calling attention to the case of Arklow Harbour, but it is necessary to do so again because we can got no satisfactory answer to our inquiries. I happen to be interested in the harbour, because I am one of those unfortunate individuals who have to pay for the incapacity of the Irish Board of Works. Money expended on this harbour has been practically thrown into the sea. We have no desire to obstruct the business of the House, or to waste time, but I think we have a legitimate and strong ground of complaint in regard to the incapacity of the Irish Board of Works. I should like to show how these things are done in Ireland, because I think the action of this Board will constitute a strong case for allowing us to manage our own affairs. Take, for instance, the case of the canal between Lough Allen and Lough Macucan. It was considered necessary to join these two lakes by a canal, and the Board of Works took the job in hand. The canal, as a result, was so exceedingly well constructed that at certain points there is no water at all, and at other points there is so much water that it is impossible for boats to pass underneath the bridges, while along the greater part of the canal there is no tow-path at all. Yet the people of the county through which the canal passes have to pay taxation for money which has been literally thrown away. This affords a very good exemplification of the beauty, wisdom, and common sense of British rule in Ireland. I hope that the Secretary to the Treasury will give his attention to the matters I have referred to.
§ (10.8.) COLONEL NOLAN
I desire to complain of the excessive character of the charges made by engineers in connection with the inspection of labourers' cottages. This is mainly owing to engineers being brought from a distance, and I would suggest that in future, wherever it is possible, local engineers should be employed. This would tend to promote the erection of labourers' cottages in districts in Ireland in which they are much required.
§ (10.12.) MR. CLANCY
I wish to join in the expressions which have 1667 fallen from my hon. Friend with reference to the courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, but I fear he is too apt to padlock the bag containing the public resources, and to refuse to sanction expenditure when that might be advantageously allowed. Now I wish especially to refer to the case of Howth Harbour, as well as to that of Galway Harbour. I have been given to understand that when once a vessel gets into Galway Harbour it cannot get out again, while if it gets into Howth Harbour it cannot remain there. A year ago, by urgent pressure, I induced the right hon. Gentleman to make a grant for the purpose of clearing out the harbour, but only the entrance has been cleared, and the Government have refused to grant a single penny further to complete the work. The result is that though boats can now enter the harbour at low tide, they are, when once inside, in greater danger of being shipwrecked than they would be outside. This is no exaggeration, for I have frequently visited the harbour, which is in my constituency. I would suggest that out of the unappropriated proceeds of the extra duty on whisky a sum of £5,000 or £6,000 should be granted, in order to make this harbour safe for the vessels which have to use it. With regard to Galway Harbour, the policy of the Board of Works has been of a mean cheese-paring character. The low-paid officials have had their salaries reduced, while the highly-paid officials have had their salaries left untouched. Surely this policy of reduction should begin at the top instead of at the bottom. It is a humiliation to me and to the other Irish Members to be coming here to ask that these works shall be carried out, works which surely we ought to be able to deal with without coming to a House, three-fourths of the Members of which have no knowledge of the localities concerned. I hope that a future Parliament will remedy that state of things.
§ (10.20.) DR. TANNER
I wish to call attention to the case of Ballycotton Pier, which is in a very bad and 1668 dangerous condition. I was pleased that the right hon. Gentleman thought it right to visit the pier. Of course, he is not personally responsible for the jobbery which has taken place in connection with this pier, but I think we are entitled to remonstrate with him on his inaction. Would the right hon. Gentleman be surprised to hear that the centre of the pier has now become a lobster ground? It was originally filled up with earth and gravel, instead of with proper material; that filling up has been washed away, and, as I have already said, it has now become a bed for crabs and lobsters. Captain Mount, a large landed proprietor and a Conservative, who contributed a considerable sum towards the cost of erecting the pier, has again and again expressed his dissatisfaction with the jobbery which has been carried on in connection with the pier. The pier at this moment is nobody's child. The Board of Works assert that they have handed it over to the Grand Jury of the county, but that body will have nothing to do with the structure, and so the pier is going from bad to worse, and the shore is obstructed by large numbers of concrete blocks which are lying about. Is it right, is it honest, is it decent, that this state of things should continue to exist? I say that the pier affords a strong argument in favour of Home Rule, for it shows how badly things are mismanaged under the present system. The entrance to the harbour, too, is rendered very dangerous for vessels coming in, and I think it would therefore be as well if the pier were removed to another point. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that we expect an answer with regard to that projecting structure. There are other points, but if we were to speak about all the matters which come in connection with this Vote, and to deal with them in detail instead of discussing them in a single sitting, we should be carrying on the Debate for a week. When the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of Mayo and myself 1669 went over one of these structures built by the Board of Works we thought it almost impossible to land upon it when a high sea was running, and yet the poor people who have to use the pier have, to a large measure, to live from hand to mouth, and ought to have that faulty structure remedied. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to try and do something for these poor people. Can he not do something for the people of Antrim by the erection of some structure in Antrim Bay? There is no doubt that if adequate shelter wore provided there a great deal of good would accrue to the population, who are year after year plunged in the most abject destitution. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will take a trip to the Western coast of Ireland, because although I do not desire to see his Government remain in office I think that even when in opposition he may do something to remedy the condition of affairs which exists there, and which, to a great extent, is owing to the action of Her Majesty's Government. I do not like to make an appeal to any of Her Majesty's Ministers, I prefer fighting them; but I think they ought to extend some sort of recognition to what is going on in the West of Ireland, and that we ought to have some sort of response from the Chief Secretary when these matters are brought to his cognisance. I hope he will not only be advised on these matters, but will look into them personally, because if he did that instead of taking all his light and leading from his colleagues or subordinates he would, I think, try and do better for Ireland and the Irish people.
§ (10.33.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to call attention to what is being done in the Phœnix Park, Dublin, where, as we have heard to-night, £3,000 has had to be paid for the loss of a number of cows through pleuro-pneumonia. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury will remember that I protested against the grazing going on in the Phœnix Park, and also against the railing off of a portion of the Park in order to provide the hay for the Lord Lieutenant's deer. Cows are not allowed in the London Parks, and I ask why should they not be excluded from the 1670 Phœnix Park? They have already this year occasioned a loss of £3,000, and I am sorry to hear that some of them belong to the Chief Secretary, in addition to those of the Lord Lieutenant; and while these animals were suffering from pleuro-pneumonia the Chief Secretary was answering in the most accurate manner in this House the questions put by Irish Members, forgetful of his property in Phœnix Park.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman thinks he had no cows there, but we are informed that a number of valuable animals in the Park belonged to the right hon. Gentleman. I think it is undoubtedly a wise and proper thing on the part of the Board of Works to have taken away the Chief Secretary and Viceroy's cows and dealt with them as they have done, because Dublin has undoubtedly been a centre for foot-and-mouth disease and pleuro-pneumonia in Ireland. If cows are unnecessary in the London Parks they cannot be necessary in the Phœnix Park, and therefore they ought to be entirely removed, especially when the recent enormous loss is considered. Why, Sir, £3,000 is more than the British Government ever made out of cows in Ireland since the Act of Union. The other matter on which I have to protest is the railing off of so many acres of the park to provide hay for the deer. By making this enclosure the Government are shutting out the people—a thing which they do not do in London. Everybody admits that it may be necessary to put a railing round the young trees for protection, railings which can be withdrawn as the trees increase in size, but to rail off four or five acres of public land in order to grow hay for the Lord Lieutenant's deer is an infringement on the public right. Why should not the ground be used by the public, by the gentlemen who play polo, by the Horse Artillery, the police, and the cricketers? But you have no right to rail in a portion of the park for the use of the Lord Lieutenant's deer. I 1671 protest against these continuous invasions of the public right in the Phœnix Park, and assert that they ought not to be permitted any longer.
§ (10.38.) MR. P. J. POWER
I should like to have some information from the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the pier at Tramore. The pier which which was constructed there, and for which a considerable sum was locally subscribed, was partially swept away. A second pier was erected on the same site by the Government, but it was so badly constructed that in a few years it also was swept away; and now we have a fishing and watering place which is without a pier. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will pay us a visit at Tramore, where we shall be able to show him that, although an amount of local money was subscribed for the pier, it has been, through bad engineering, swept away twice. We do not want a pier on the same site, but we think we have a right to ask that a pier should be erected. I think I shall have the advocacy of the hon. Member on my right, because I remember that I went out for a sail with him off Tramore, and I remember his using very strong language with respect to the way in which we had to land, owing to the default of the Board of Works. If the right hon. Gentleman has any information to give, we should be very glad to hear it.
§ *(10.41.) MR. JACKSON
I will endeavour, so far as I can, to answer some of the questions put in the course of this discussion. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway has raised a question as to the Galway Harbour, which he says has not been put into a proper condition, and that the channel has not been cleared out by the Board of Works. I do not think that any blame attaches to the Board of Works with regard to that harbour. They undoubtedly approved the plans submitted to them, but their approval related simply to the 1672 proposed construction of the works and the question of security. The plans were prepared by the engineer of the Harbour Commissioners, and all the Board of Works did was to accept those plans as showing that the design was likely to be effectual, and upon that they granted a certain sum of money. But during the progress of the works, the Harbour Commissioners took it upon themselves to enlarge the harbour, and they did this without communication with the Board of Works, subsequently coming to the Board for a further sum of £3,000. As far as I can see, the work was substantially well done.
§ *MR. JACKSON
But that was not the fault of the Board of Works. The money advanced by the Board of Works was expended, and there was not sufficient left to pay for all that had to be done. I am under the impression the plan might be adopted by the Board of Works of sending the engineer nearest to the locality to look after these cottages. It is possible that engineers might have to be sent considerable distances, and even be sent on two or three occasions. It must be borne in mind that the responsibility rests with the Board of Works> and they cannot delegate it or shift it from their own shoulders. If they advanced money on these cottages, and the inspection turned out to be different from what they expected, they would be responsible. The hon. Member for Limerick referred to several piers, one of which was damaged by a recent storm, and the cost of the repair of which will be about £100. Reference has been made to Ballycotton. I have heard of Ballycotton many times. I have visited Ballycotton, and I have taken a great interest in it from time to time. It was at the request of hon. Members sitting below the Gangway, that I agreed to have a special inquiry made into the condition of Ballycotton Pier, and, as the Committee knows, 1673 that inspection took place. Well, certain recommendations have been made. One was, that the clearing away of the remains of the old pier and the general deepening of the harbour would be of advantage in all probability. I must say, as regards that, no blame attaches to the Board of Works, because that work was not included in the original contract. After being on the spot, and after listening to the recommendations of the engineer who went with me, and after careful inspection of the whole work, I came to the conclusion that it was desirable to clear away the old pier, and sanction has been given to that work; while, at the same time, sanction has been given to clearing away some of the rocks so as to afford more shelter. The hon. Member for Mid Cork has given it as his opinion that the pier head is in course of destruction. Mr. Wolfe Barry made the recommendation that it should be surrounded with iron bands. I am bound to say that the Board of Works is presided over by a gentleman of very large experience in the protection of these works, and the engineer to the Board is a gentleman who has had exceptional experience in regard to marine engineering; and I am bound to pay some attention to their Reports and opinions. They are responsible, and they accept the responsibility. When this Report was made, they pressed upon me very strongly that the pier should he given a chance, and they were willing to stake their professional reputation that this pier would suffer no harm. It seemed to me only fair that an opportunity should be given to test their opinion. I have had from time to time some careful measurements taken and Reports made as to the condition of this pier, and I will tell the Committee the latest one that I have received. It must be borne in mind that the stone coping at the top of the pier is about 35 feet above the base, and, therefore, any settlement of the pier under the water must in that height make a very great difference in any crack which may have taken place 1674 on the surface. Now, there is one joint in the stone coping which is taken as the test one; and on the 1st February, 1889, this joint, No. 4, was open 3⅝ inches; and on the 1st January, 1890, it was 3⅞ inches, showing, therefore, that the only difference in a year was nearly a quarter of an inch. I am still assured by the engineers to the Board of Works that they are still willing to accept the full responsibility for the condition of the pier. And so convinced am I that I have had no hesitation in accepting their representations. If there were the slightest indication that it was necessary to apply the iron bands which have been recommended by Mr. Wolfe Barry, of course there would not be the smallest hesitation in applying them. I do not think the hon. Member for Cork need be under any apprehension whatever as to the solidity of the structure. An hon. Member spoke of Blackrock, but I do not carry in my mind the information which would enable me to answer him. I will make some inquiry as to whether any representations have been made or not. The hon. Member for North Dublin referred again to Howth Harbour. I believe the entrance to the harbour is now quite satisfactory, and boats can get in and out. It must be borne in mind that Howth is a very large harbour, and was originally built for the Mail Boat Service, though it has long ceased to be used for that purpose. I have visited it, and I know all about it; and I do not hesitate to say, so far as I can judge, there is ample accommodation for boats to go in and out with perfect safety. I must say frankly that I do not think the case of Howth Harbour calls for any largo expenditure, because I think it is most admirably adapted to its purposes. I can call to mind a great many harbours in England which are used for boats, and which have not nearly so much water in them at low water as Howth. I do not think there is a strong case for clearing out Howth Harbour. Now, Sir, the hon. Member for Longford referred to the case of the cows in Phœnix Park. I am aware that on former occasions he has called attention to that matter. With regard to Phœnix Park, I may say that the Board of Works have acted throughout in consultation with the Veterinary Department. Whatever 1675 evils have been caused have been clue to the fact that the whole of the park was treated as one field. I think that during the prevalence of cattle disease it will be necessary to give up keeping cows in the park. At the same time, I think that a few deer add to the appearance of the park and to the enjoyment of those who frequent it; and in order that we may keep the deer, it is necessary to grow a little hay for their food during the winter. Attention has been drawn to Tramore Pier. With regard to that, I can only say that it is impossible for me to carry in my mind all the information which may be asked for. I have, however, made a note of what has fallen from the hon. Member for Waterford. The hon. Member for Cork referred to Arklow Harbour, and with regard to that I have to remind him that the Government have undertaken to complete the works there if the Local Authority will become responsible for a loan of £5,000. We thought at the time we made it, and we still think, that that was a reasonable proposal, and we had thought that means might have been found to induce the locality to accept the proposal. The estimated cost of the works is £10,000.
§ (11.4.) DR. TANNER
I spoke also of a pier on the west coast that is of no use at all, and urged that something should be done to meet the wants and wishes of the inhabitants of a very poor locality.
§ *(11.4.) MR. JACKSON
The hon. Member spoke of having seen the waves running 15 feet high. I should imagine he was there on a very stormy day. I have, however, made a note of his observations, and full consideration will be given to the subject. I trust now that hon. Members will allow the Vote to be taken.
§ (11.5.) COLONEL NOLAN
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman—and on this subject we ought, I think, to hear the opinion of the Conservative Members—whether he will consider the propriety of restoring to us the £8,000 a year we used to get for harbours?
§ (11.5.) COLONEL NOLAN
I do not want a pledge; but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to go carefully into the matter and make inquiries of the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. Hicks Beach), who was Chief Secretary for Ireland when this money was given.
(11.5.) THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order! The point the hon. Member is referring to comes under another Vote.
§ (11.6.) MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)
I desire to draw attention to the terms on which the Board of Works advance loans to the national teachers. At present, re-payment must be completed within 38 years, and that imposes a very heavy burden on the teacher, because if he retires in 30 or 35 years' time, he has to pay the whole cost of the building. I would suggest that the time should be extended to 61 years, and that the rate of interest should be reduced from 5 per cent, to 4 per cent. Another matter is that out of 8,000 teachers in Ireland, there are only 703 by whom this Act has been taken advantage of. That looks bad for the administration of the Act. I trust the Secretary to the Treasury will make a note of this; and that if it is possible to amend or alter the practice he will do it, and so confer a great boon upon the Irish teachers and advance the cause of education. It is hard to expect a school teacher to teach properly if he has not a proper dwelling. With regard to the sureties for loans and the rules under the Board of Works Act, at present it is insisted on that one of the school managers shall be one of the sureties. There is nothing, however, in the Act of 1875 requiring that. The Act says that any three solvent persons are sufficient, and surely that ought to be sufficient for the Treasury in advancing loans. The present system is very hard on a manager who, perhaps, is already a surety for two or three schools, and has two or three other heavy charges on him in his parish. I have been requested to bring this matter under the notice of the House, and I think it is one worthy of the attention of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ (11.9.) DR. TANNER
Before we take a Division on the Vote, I should like to express my strong disapprobation of the conduct of the engineer, to whom reference has been made, who draws such a large salary. I believe he has wilfully misled the right hon. Gentle man as to the pier in question. The right hon. Gentleman, when on the spot, must have noticed the pier riddled about in all directions with long bolts. As I have said, the centre of the pier has become a nesting ground for lobsters. I want the right hon. Gentleman to explain that away, and I must say I think you should have better officers to go into these matters and should insist on having better work done. As to Kinsale, it is one of the largest fishing ports in the South-West of Ireland, but the people have had a bad fishing year, and have not been able to pay up as they would have been had the season been a hotter one. I desire to ask that some allowance should be made for the bad season in dealing with these people. And now, in the interests of my constituents, I desire to ask a question as to the projected tramway from Macroom to—
§ DR. TANNER
It was the Public Works Report that misled me. As to the Assistant Surveyors of Buildings, I wish to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is going to pay attention to the grievances of these men. They occupy the position of the class of senior clerks in the English Office. They have long hours and very onerous duties, and they require special qualifications for the duties; they require to know all about buildings, and to be thoroughly up in architect's work, and it is very difficult for them to fulfil all the conditions at a very low rate of remuneration. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will condescend to give me an answer on this subject. Then, as to the protection of ancient 1678 monuments. There is an Inspector on the Vote who is paid £50 a year. But he draws also £200 a year as an Inspector of National Monuments, Now, I must say that this gentleman—who is a very respectable person, and whom once I used to know—does not do his duty. I regret to have to say it; but having had during the course of last year to be at Athenry, one of the most interesting places in Ireland for anyone who takes an interest in antiquarian remains to visit, I noticed how necessary it was that efficient inspection should be made. Athenry is the old station of the Kings, as its name signifies. There is an old castle there, one of the most perfect of its kind, but it requires two or three supports here and there to keep it from crumbling away. There is an old abbey at Athenry containing the tombs of several illustrious persons. One is the tomb of a great King, and is in a wonderful state of preservation, considering the atmospheric disadvantages it has had to bear. As I say, I know the gentleman who is Inspector of Monuments, and I think that if a representation were made to him he would see that the necessary steps are taken to preserve these monuments.
§ (11.16.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I think it desirable that the Government should be allowed to get the Vote. I should like to ask what is the exact amount advanced by the Government which has cost them £9,000 to lend under the Land Improvement Act. It seems to me that it costs £1 to advance 10s.
§ *(11.17.) MR. JACKSON
I can give the hon. Member no information on the matter. As to the Assistant Surveyors I have heard no complaint, but I will make inquiries. I have no knowledge of the circumstances referred to in relations to Kinsale Pier; and in connection with the ancient monuments referred to, I may point out that the subject does not come directly under the cognisance of the Board of Works.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.1679
§ 3. £3,935, to complete the sum for the Record Office, Ireland.
§ (11.19.) MR. T. M. HEALY
This includes, I think, an item for the Brehon Laws and Annals of Ulster, for which for the last 10 years there has been practically a standing Vote, though, so far as I can make out, we are no nearer the conclusion of this interesting work. Is it not curious that some of the most difficult translations in the Gaelic language should be in the hands of an Englishman who does not know a word about Irish?
These matters do not arise under the present Vote. One of them comes under the Stationery Vote.
§ (11.23.) DR. TANNER
In the case of this Vote, as of all others where you have a decrease, it is obtained by cutting down some of the smaller salaries. The Government would act more wisely if they cut down some of the large salaries. At the same time, there is a great deal too much money spent under this Vote. All the work of this office could be done by three or four clerks. This is a mediæval remain, and the sooner it is done away with the better.
§ *MR. JACKSON
I think the hon. Member is entirely wrong. There is a reduction of £2 this year, as compared with last.
§ Vote agreed to.
4. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum not exceeding £10,617, he granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1891, for the Salaries and Expenses in the Department of the Registrar General of Births, &c, and the Expenses of the Collection of Agricultural and other Statistics in Ireland.
§ (11.25.) COLONEL NOLAN
At the bottom of page 188 hon. Members will 1680 see that for the registration of all births and deaths in Ireland and the marriages of Roman Catholics £3,200 is taken, while for the marriages of Protestants there is £1,690 required. I do not begrudge the £1,690 for the registration of Protestant marriages, because I know the work is done well, but what I want to point out is the fact that the Catholic marriages in Ireland are very badly registered; indeed, a very considerable percentage of such marriages are not registered at all. The Irish statistics with regard to marriages are quite wrong. There is a large discrepancy between the English and Scotch and the Irish percentage of marriages in proportion to the births and deaths. The explanation of this is that many Irish marriages are not registered. The fee for registering a marriage is only 6d., and as a consequence the registration in the West and South of Ireland is somewhat carelessly performed. This is a very important matter, and I trust it will receive the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury.
§ (11.28.) MR. T. M. HEALY
We were promised last year and the year before that something would be done under this Vote towards sifting the prices alleged to be paid in Ireland for agricultural produce, but, as far as I can glean, the Government have not done a ha'porth to reduce the extraordinary sums they say the Irish people get for oats and potatoes, beans, barley, and so on. When the Irish peasants are receiving 3d. or 4d. a stone for their potatoes, the price is given in the Registrar General's Return at 6d. or 7d. Last year the Chief Secretary promised that he would look into the question of price, and we pointed out that it was not the price obtained in the Dublin Market that was to be taken into account, because one of the misfortunes of the Irish peasant's positions is that the moment he cuts his oats or wheat and thrashes it on the field, he has to sell it right off. The man has no barn, and he 1681 is not able to wait until he can take it to market. It is a very serious matter if it is represented to the Land Commissioners and other bodies that the price of wheat is 5s. more a barrel than it really is. The Land Commissioners have, to a large extent, been depending upon the Statistical Returns published by this Department. I am far from saying the Department is acting in any way in aid of the landlord party in the country. My belief is that these gentlemen are inclined to act fairly, but what I do submit is they do not give the peasant's market price in compiling those statistics, but simply the average price obtained in the large cities. I trust we shall hear from the Government what steps they have taken since last year to correct the very inflamed views held by the Department on this point. If anyone will turn to Thom's Directory for 1890, he will find the value of crops given as follows:—Leinster, £1,700,000; Munster, £1,300,000; Ulster, £3,100,000; Connaught, £873,000. Upon this estimate the Irish Secretary founds the argument that Ireland is extremely prosperous. We do not propose to delay this Vote; but we trust the right hon. Gentleman will avail himself of the opportunity of informing us what has been done in this matter.
§ (11.35.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. and learned Gentleman accurately recollects that I made some statement in this House on a previous occasion with regard to the statistics; but the statement was not made in relation to this Vote; it was really in connection with the Act of 1887. The Land Department very rightly came to the conclusion that they could not modify rents merely upon the general statistics obtained by the Registrar General, and they devised machinery to collect agricultural prices in order to enable them to carry out the provisions of that Act, which machinery has been since brought to the point of perfection. The Land Commissioners have kept in mind the undoubted value of the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman on a former occasion, and they have endeavoured to find out not merely what are the prices obtained in Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and 1682 other large towns, but what are the prices realised in the market towns of Ireland. I am not now in possession of the full details, as the question does not arise on this Vote; but, if the question is raised on the Land Commission Vote, I shall be most happy to give any information I can.
§ (11.40.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I protest against statements being made at Primrose League meetings and at other meetings that the price of hay in Ireland is 45s. a ton, when, as a matter of fact, the peasants cannot get more than 20s. a ton. I suppose that in London you pay 30s. or 40s. a ton for coal, but you can buy coal at the pit's mouth for 4s. 6d. a ton. I have known the price Is. 10d. a ton. When you are paying a high price for coal in London you are inclined to suppose that the Northumberland miners are drinking champagne and living in affluence. It is exactly the same in Ireland when agricultural prices are taken from central markets. By the time the produce has reached the central market it has passed through the hands of a number of middlemen, all of whom have to make a profit.
§ (11.41.) DR. TANNER
It ought to be borne in mind that most of the statistics to which my hon. and learned Friend has just alluded come from very unreliable sources. Most of the statistics come from the Royal Irish Constabulary—notably the District Inspectors—and I want to know whether there is any portion of this money paid to these policemen?
§ (11.43.) MR. A. O'CONNOR
I observe that there is a note against the entry relating to these clerks to the effect that they are to be replaced by Lower Division clerks. It would appear as if this office is in a strange state of transition. It might be a matter of some interest to know in what direction the Government propose to move in the matter of re-organisation. Their action may probably throw light on the mode in which they intend to deal with other Departments in the country. I would point out that the Secretary of 1683 this Commission is in a very exceptional position, because once in every 10 years he is concerned with Census work. Instead of being paid for the work actually done every 10 years he receives every year an annual sum of £100 or £200. I submit that nothing can be more ridiculous than to pay years in advance for services which are rendered only one year in 10. I wish to know whether it is a fact that this gentleman's salary is again to be raised in consideration of the Census work he takes in hand this year. If any increase of salary be allowed to him on this account it will be a distinct departure from an engagement entered into, I think, by the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury. Another point respecting the Registrar General is, I think, worthy of attention. Last year a Bill was passed inflicting all kinds of pains and penalties on officers in the public service who divulged official secrets. The Act was presumably intended for general and impartial application. Well, Sir, the Registrar General, for whose pay provision is made in this Vote, was proved in a rather notorious case a fortnight or three weeks ago to have volunteered information of a confidential character in regard to what took place in his own office. Dr. Grimshaw, it was deposed at the trial I speak of, volunteered the information that the Constabulary were making inquiries in the office with regard to the supposed wife of a medical man. I should like to know how it is an officer in that position can volunteer information of a private character, with perfect impunity, in view of the very stringent provisions of the Act to which I refer. This certainly is a matter which deserves consideration if at any time an application is made for an increase of this gentleman's salary.
§ (11.48.) MR. JACKSON
It was clearly understood that when the salary of the gentleman who looks after the Census was increased it was to cover the work of superintending the Census. Of course, the work connected with the Census is only for one year. It is the case, as the hon. Member has said, that one second class clerk, two third class clerks, and two transcribers are to be replaced by Lower Division clerks. As 1684 to the point the hon. Member has raised about the divulging of official secrets, I have no knowledge of the circumstances.
§ (11.49.) MR. A. O'CONNOR
Has any application been made for an increase in the salary of the Registrar General or the Secretary?
§ COLONEL NOLAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain the great discrepancy in the fee paid for Catholic marriages and that paid for Protestant marriages, and will ho say something about the accuracy of the Returns of the Catholic marriages in Ireland?
§ (11.50.) DR. TANNER
I want to know how much of this Vote goes into the pockets of the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary? If I do not get an answer I regret to say I shall have to put the Committee to the trouble of a Division.
§ (11.51.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid I cannot give any expression of opinion worth having as to the value of the statistics relating to Catholic marriages. I have no ground for supposing that they are of a less trustworthy character than the statistics in general. As to the question of the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), the police who act as enumerators get a small sum for stationery and postage, and when they have to sleep away from barracks they get 2s. or 3s. for their expenses. Of course, travelling expenses are also paid out of the Vote.
§ *(11.52.) MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to inform him that the statistics of Roman Catholic marriages in Ireland are recognised universally as far less accurate than the statistics of Protestant marriages? Whatever the cause may be he will find this stated in every book of comparative vital statistics, and I hope he will look into the question and correct what is really a scandal.
§ (11.53.) COLONEL NOLAN
I wish to point out that the reason is that the fee paid is very small. It is no fault of the Catholic clergy, but I have every possible reason to suppose that the statistics are grossly inaccurate.
§ (11.54.) MR. T. M. HEALY
Perhaps, Sir, it is due to the fact that the Irish Members do not sufficiently preach against early marriages. Of course these foreign people do not understand the matter, or they would probably concur with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in thinking that the great fault of the Irish people is that they marry too young. I contend that the statistics demonstrate that there are fewer marriages among the Irish people, and that they marry at a riper age than any other people under the sun. Perhaps if the unfortunate priests got another halfpenny or penny for returning the marriages the result might be the valuable one of clearing away the obscuration of the mind of the poor Irish Secretary.
§ (11.55.) DR. TANNER
I must take exception to any of this money being put at the disposal of members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and I shall take every opportunity of pointing out to this House the way in which these men are overpaid. On Vote after Vote you find that these men are bribed to do their nauseous work in Ireland. It is a great and hideous mistake to employ the police to do this work. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,260.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £9,357, be granted for the said Service,"—(Dr. Tanner,)—put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 5. £11,507, to complete the sum for the Valuation and Boundary Survey, Ireland.
§ (11.58.) MR. A. O'CONNOR
How is it that in this office the first class and other clerks are not treated in the same way as in the Registrar General's Office?
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported to-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again to-morrow.