HC Deb 30 January 1891 vol 349 cc1397-401
DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether it is a fact that the number of persons in receipt of outdoor relief three weeks since in the Clonakilty Union was about 250, and for the week ending 17th January there was an increase of 458, making now a total of 871; whether he is aware that it has been shown by the Very Rev. John O'Leary. P.P., V.F., by relieving officers and Guardians, that great destitution and distress were prevalent in the division; and whether any relief works will be promoted without delay, as called for by the Guardians or the Clonakilty Union?


The figures given by the hon. Member are correct, and statements to the effect that destitution and distress are prevalent in the Union have, I believe, been made by Father O'Leary. It has been decided to carry out relief works.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the statement of a wellknown medical gentleman, Dr. Sandiford Glowntane, Mallow, made before the Mallow Board of Guardians— That unless the labourers and small farmers in his district get employment, in many cases they will be reduced to actual starvation; and whether it is true Colonel Spaight, I.L.G.B., stated works were recommended for the district; and, if so, what are the works proposed, and when will they be proceeded with?


I am informed that Dr. Sandiford did make the statement attributed to him; but Colonel Spaight, the Local Government Board Inspector, denies having made the statement attributed to him.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he has caused inquiry to be made into the condition of the smaller occupiers of land in the upper basins of the Swilly, the Finn, and the Deele, in Central Donegal; if so, what is the nature of the information furnished; and what steps the Government intend to take in the matter?


It is proposed to take steps without delay.


I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been directed to the distress now prevailing at Ringaskiddy, County Cork, and if any practical consideration will be given to the proposed causeway from Ringaskiddy to the pier, as recently proposed before the vice-Guardians of the Cork Union?


My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary yesterday answered this question so far as it relates to distress. I have not had time to receive any Report from the Board of Works as to the merits of the proposed causeway; but I may say at once that I am not aware of any funds from which assistance could be given to the work.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any, and, if so what, steps are being taken to relieve the great existing distress on the Islands of Clare and Achill?


Works are in progress in these islands, and railway works are now being constructed which will give employment and relieve the existing distress.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland of what nature are the relief works proposed to be carried out in the Ballyvourney, Clondrohid, and Inchigeela districts, and what amount it is intended to spend in each district, and whether all labour employed will be local or imported?


I am unable to say at this moment what the nature of the relief works is.

MR. COX (Clare, E.)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he has received a Memorial from the Clare Castle Harbour Trustees, through their Chairman, Lord Inchiquin, with regard to the proposed improvement of the navigation of the River Fergus; and whether, in view of the fact that the scheme suggested in the Memorial offers great advantages in the way of relief work by giving employment almost exclusively to unskilled labour, largely available in the locality, and in view of the admittedly great distress existing in the district, he can hold out any hope that the request of the Memorialists will be acceded to?


The Memorial referred to by the hon. Member has been forwarded to the Treasury by the Irish Government, and a reply has been sent to Lord Inchiquin, that the Treasury has no funds at its disposal from which assistance could be given for the improvement of the navigation of the River Fergus.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will lay upon the Table Copies of the Report of the Committee, ordered by the Irish Board of Works, which met at Clifden and Galway in January, 1890, to invite promoters to submit surveys and estimates for the Connemara Light Railway, of the tenders submitted, and of the contract and conditions entered into with the Midland Great Western Railway Company for the construction of the lines from Galway to Clifden, from Westport to Mulraney, and from Ballina to Killala, whether public competition was invited for the construction of these lines; and, if not, why not; and whether the Midland Railway Company, since they entered into the contract, have sublet the Galway and Clifden line, by an arrangement under which a considerable portion of the free grant is to be handed over to the shareholders of the Midland Company, as stated by the Chairman on 13th August?


I believe that copies of the evidence taken by the Commission of Inquiry in January of last year were placed during last Session in the Library of the House, and contain all information as to the various schemes then brought forward; there were no tenders in the proper sense of the word, as there could be no line to construct until an agreement had been made by the Treasury with the promoters. In order to give the House all information possible I yesterday moved for a Return of the Orders in Council, &c., which contain the agreements made under the Light Railways (Ireland) Act, and the right hon. Gentleman will find in that Return the particulars he asks for with regard to the Midland Great Western Railway. As regards the second and third paragraphs of the question, I may say that the lines for the construction of which agreements have been made with that company have been started under preliminary contracts, with the object of employing labour at the earliest moment on the works, and I understand that the company is about to invite tenders from a considerable number of selected firms for the final contract. I have no knowledge of any such arrangement as is alluded to in the last paragraph of the question, nor can I find any reference to it in such reports of the Midland Great Western Railway Company's half-yearly meeting as I have been able to consult.

In answer to a further question from Mr. J. MORLEY,


said: I do not think I can say that any other promoters had the opportunity of submitting terms, because the first proposal was a proposal as to a narrow gauge line. It was considered desirable to make agreements with the existing companies for the purpose of securing a satisfactory working of the lines when constructed, and the agreements made relieved the barony from any future charge. The Midland Railway Company will construct and work the line for all time.


I do not want to raise a controversy at this moment, but I desire to point out that a large sum of public money has been handed over to a Railway Company without giving other persons a chance of competition, and therefore the Railway Company appears to have been left to dictate its own terms.