§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, (1) whether he is aware that the Clerk of Strabane Union has rejected the claim to a Poor Law Vote, lodged on behalf of Mrs. Mary Browne, a freeholder, valued at £55, because the value of her interest, which it is impossible to ascertain or accurately estimate, cannot be filled in, although in previous years the Clerk accepted such claims; and that the same official rejected a form of claim lodged on behalf of a Mr. Toorish, on the ground that the column headed "Nature of Ratepayer's Interest" was filled up by the words "Immediate Lessor; (2) does this official act on legal advice, or on instructions from the Local Government Board, or on his own view of the Poor Law Acts; (3) what is the statute authorising such action by him; (4) is there any appeal or means of challenging his decision; and (5) as keen interest is taken in these contests locally, will the Local Government Board take any notice of the matter, or lay down any rule governing the reception or rejection of claims to vote?
MR. J. MORLEY
The Returning Officer reports that Mrs. Browne's claim was rejected because the nature of her interest in the property was not properly described, and that Mr. Toorish's claim was rejected because the form did not contain a statement as to whether any rent was payable in respect of the property, these particulars being requisite for the purpose of compliance with the 751 statute (Section 15 of the Poor Law Act of 1862). The Returning Officer further reports that he never accepted claims in previous years unless properly filled up. In reply to paragraphs 2 and 3, it is the duty of the Returning Officer to conduct the election in accordance with the various statutes bearing on the subject and the general regulations of the Local Government Board, and, as required by Section 88 of the Poor Relief Act of 1838, to make a Return to that Board of the persons elected Guardians "according to the best of his judgment and ability." In reply to paragraph 4, under Section 23 of the Poor Relief Act of 1843, disputed questions may be determined by the Local Government Board. In reply to paragraph 5, the Local Government Board have no authority to interfere with the Returning Officer in the making of his Return. When the Return is made, however, they have power to set it aside and order a, new election if they think fit.