HC Deb 14 August 1893 vol 16 cc135-6
DR. COMMINS (Cork, S.E.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the recent defalcations on the part of several poor rate collectors in Ireland, particularly to the latest instance in the Union of Athlone, where the defalcations are alleged to amount to several hundred pounds; whether he is aware that facilities for such frauds are afforded by a system of issuing to the collectors separate blank receipts for each portion of a holding separately rated on the rate books in consequence of which two or more receipts are often issued in the name of the same tenant whose holding may be composed of parts under two or more separate ratings, thus enabling the collector by giving a single receipt for the whole amount paid by the tenant and returning the counterpart filled up for only that to which it applies to conceal his misappropriation of the difference; whether he is also aware that as a check on this kind of fraud the Guardians of some Unions directed the printing of lists of the ratepayers whose rates appeared unpaid according to the collectors' returns, and whether the Local Government Board Auditors disallowed the expense of printing such lists and so removed the check it imposed; and whether, in view of the fact that the de- falcations alluded to have occurred chiefly since the withdrawal of that check or when it never existed, the Local Government Board will consider the question of permitting it under such restrictions or with such guarantees as would entitle the Guardians to use it as a privileged communication, or make such rules as to the issue of the blank receipts as would prevent their abuse in the manner indicated, and so as to obviate the facilities for embezzlement which the present system affords?


The attention of the Local Government Board has been called to the increased number of poor rate collectors who have recently been guilty of misappropriating the rates, and the Board on the 4th instant dismissed a collector who had embezzled the Union funds in Athlone and who appears to have adopted the system of fraud referred to in the question. The Board have frequently been obliged to threaten collectors with dismissal for failure to attend at the clerk's offices for the examination of their accounts, and they have also impressed on clerks and Boards of Guardians the necessity for a careful periodical examination of the collectors' books. The Local Government Board are of opinion that in many cases the defalcations result from the practice of allowing collectors to retain money in their hands which they admit having collected, but not lodged; and also, when a collector does become a defaulter, from the failure on the part of the Guardians to take energetic measures to recover the amount from the sureties. The Board of late have frequently had to interfere to press Boards of Guardians to take active steps in such eases. With regard to the latter portion of the question, the Board will consider whether it is possible to adopt additional precautious with the view of preventing fraud on the part of collectors.


Has the additional precaution of prosecuting these defaulters ever been adopted by the Irish Local Government Board?


I cannot say.