§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with reference to the provisions of the Seed Supply (Ireland) Act, that the Poor Law Guardians may not sell seed potatoes to 1708 labourers except upon the application of the occupying owner or the tenant, and upon his agreeing to pay the price of the seed so sold, is he aware that the strict enforcement of this provision will leave two-thirds of the labourers without any potato seed whatever; and will the Local Government Board, under these circumstances, issue instructions to Boards of Guardians to accept solvent security from the labourers for repayment of the price of seed? I also beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can explain whether Colonel Spaight, in warning the Mallow Board of Guardians, on 20th instant, against any infringement of Section 5, Sub-section (2) of the Seed Supply (Ireland) Act, did so in his official capacity as Local Government Board Inspector; and can the Government suggest any course whereby the bulk of the agricultural labourers may be enabled to avail themselves of the provisions of the Act, so as to procure a supply of good seed in the coming Spring?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Local Government Board have no power to modify by any regulations that may issue the operations of an Act of Parliament. No doubt Colonel Spaight was acting in his official capacity in calling the attention of the Board of Guardians to the Act of Parliament under which they were proceeding. The Local Government Board have no authority to carry out the suggestion that solvent security should be accepted on behalf of labourers desirous of purchasing seed. But in cases where such security is offered, and when the fact is brought to my notice, I should most carefully consider the possibility of providing seed by other means than the Seed Supply Act.