HC Deb 04 January 1894 vol 20 cc809-10
SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)

On behalf of the right hon. Member for West Leeds, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will, by a test case in the Law Courts, clear up the doubt that has been expressed as to the powers of Local Authorities to raise money by rate or otherwise for the purposes of the Irish Education Act, 1892?


In answer to the right hon. Baronet, I have to say that I am afraid that a test case would not be a possible means of solving the difficulty that has arisen in the interpretation of the Act. I am not quite sure that I know what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson) means by a, test case; but I suppose he means a special case, and if so I wish to point out that that could only he resorted to where there is an action pending in which there is some definite issue between litigants and contending parties. The right hon. Gentleman in his question refers to proceedings by way of mandamus; but this, I am advised, would be equally unlikely to lead to any definite result. The proper way to deal with amendments to the clause in the Act would he by Bill, and I am convinced that we shall be able to persuade Parliament to pass such a Bill in a shorter time than it would take to obtain an opinion in a Court of Law.

MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

To clear up this important matter I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a test case or any case can arise unless it can be charged that an illegal rate has been levied or an illegal payment made; and whether in such an event the right of action, if any, would not he with the ratepayers and not with the Government?


That is undoubtedly so, and that is what I meant to convey when I stated that there could be no special case unless proceedings were pending between two parties in reference to rates levied and the persons called upon to pay them.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of introducing some amending Bill to rectify the present state of things?


I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quite understands how the matter lies. A Bill has already been prepared by the Government, and we are only delayed by some proceedings which I am not yet quite acquainted with.