§ MR. D. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland——(1) whether he is aware that, in the Return (No. 300) showing the amounts received by the county and borough treasurers in Ireland from the clerks of the peace in respect of the sale of copies of the registers of voters and supplemental lists, no receipts appear to have been credited for the years noted in the Return for the counties of Westmeath, Cork, and Galway, and the boroughs of Cork and Galway; (2) whether it is the practice of the clerks of the peace in these constituencies to charge for copies as required by Statute; and could he explain why the amounts have not been placed to the credit of the county and borough treasurers respectively; (3) whether he can state if, in any of these cases, any moneys have been credited since the passing of the Act requiring the same to be done in 1850; and how it has happened that the responsible auditors of the Local Government Board, who audit the Grand Jury accounts twice a year, have not called attention to the matter; (4) whether he is also aware that in the Return no sum appears anywhere audited under the heading of "Fines" for bogus claims and objections, although it is notorious that these are made in thousands annually; and (5) who is to blame for the neglect?
MR. G. RUSSELL
The fact is as stated in the first paragraph. As regards the second paragraph, the present clerk of the crown and peace for Westmeath was only appointed in January last, and he cannot answer as to the practice in past years, there being, he states, no materials in his office to enable him to give the information. With regard to the County Cork, the clerk of the peace states that no copies of the Parliamentary lists were supplied in the years 1891 or 1893; but that, in the year 1892, a sum of £9 8s. 6d. was received by him, which, I am informed by the treasurer, was only lodged to the credit of the county on the 17th of August last. As regards Galway County, the clerk of the peace received various sums 279 of money amounting in all to £26 10s. 9d. for the sale of copies of the registers in the years 1891, 1892, and 1893, and this amount was only lodged to the credit of the county treasurer on the 21st instant. In the case of the borough of Cork, the town clerk states that it has been the practice to supply copies of the lists free of charge, and in the case of the borough of Galway, sums amounting to £1 12s. 6d. were realised by the sales of lists in 1892 and 1893, which were only lodged to the credit of the treasurer since the Return in question was presented to Parliament. There appears to have been very considerable delay in lodging these moneys to the credit of the county treasurers, and the matter will be further and closely inquired into. The clerks of the peace for the counties and boroughs mentioned in the question state that no fines for bogus claims and objections have been imposed in the years mentioned. There has not been sufficient time to make inquiries from the officials of the other counties, but the matter will be carefully and fully investigated. With respect to the third paragraph, I am informed that the accounts of clerks of the crown and peace in all transactions under the Franchise and Jurors Acts are audited by the secretary to the grand jury, or such other person as shall be appointed in that behalf by the grand jury. Adequate powers are bestowed upon the person so appointed, to procure all necessary evidence to satisfy himself of the accuracy of the accounts submitted to him. The result comes before the Auditor of the Local Government Board, fiated by the Judge of Assize, and must be accepted by him, as he has no discretion in the matter. The question of check on these payments primarily, therefore, devolves upon the person appointed by the grand jury.