HC Deb 18 March 1895 vol 31 cc1263-6
MR. P. A. M'HUGH (Leitrim, N.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland: (1) whether the Congested Districts Board has recently launched a new steam yacht at a cost of £10,000 for cruising about the west coast of Ireland; (2) what was the sum allowed by the Treasury for a steam cruiser for the west coast of Scotland, and what is the value of the fish caught on these coasts respectively; (3) has he observed the statement in the Board's Reports that the cost of administration of their income of £45,000 a year amounts to close on £9,000 a year; and would he state what is the amount given by the Treasury for defraying the salaries of secretary, assistant secretary, and staff of clerks, and how many of the latter are there; (4) will he furnish a Return of the items of administration as passed by the Auditor General, and especially of the sum of £1,367 5s. 5d. for an expenditure of £1,589 10s. in connection with the Irish Reproductive Loan Fund, and of £768 13s. 4d. for an expenditure of £957 10s. 4d. for piers, roads, bridges, &c.; (5) Is it intended to allow the expenditure of £9,000 a year of the Board's income being spent on a stud farm in county Wicklow; (6) is it the case that the Board has given £600 for the improvement of the town of Donegal, which is not in a congested area; (7) will he state the terms of the contracts which have been entered into for the approaches and ironwork of the viaduct over the Gweebara Estuary in County Donegal; (8) are cheques signed by members of the Board; (9) and how are powers of surcharge exercised by the Auditor General?


(1) The reply to the first paragraph is in the affirmative. The steamer will be employed on the west coast of Ireland in carrying fish, salt, and other requisites, and will also be made available for marketing fish cured by fishermen at the Board's stations—the remoteness of many of these stations being at present one of the chief obstacles to the development of the fisheries in congested districts on the west coast. (2) I have no information as to the matter referred to in the second paragraph. (3 & 4) The sum voted for defraying the salaries in the current financial year of the secretary, assistant secretary, and 17 clerks amounts to £3,321, details of which will be found in the Estimates. During the year ended 31st March 1894, further sums amounting to £6,955 were paid in respect of local inquiries, inspections, surveys, and engineering expenses, and full information as to the expenditure of this amount will be found in the third Report of the Board presented to Parliament in August last. As regards the items of,£1,367 5s. 5d. and £768 13s. 4d., to which special reference is made, these include the salaries, fees, and travelling expenses of engineers and their assistants in preparing preliminary reports and surveys of a large number of works, on the respective merits of which, without such reports, it was impossible for the Board to form an opinion. These preliminary expenses must necessarily in the early stages of the Board's operations bear a large proportion of the actual outlay on works. (5) The sum expended in the year 1893–4 on the stud farm was £2,473, which includes £1,695, the cost of buildings. The expenditure of £6,349 on horses includes their purchase, transport to congested districts, forage, and grooms' wages. Of this amount the sum of £514 was returned to the Board in the shape of fees. (6) The Board have agreed to contribute annually, for three years, a sum of £200 towards the cost of a bridge and approach road from the railway to Donegal, and before making the grant the Board satisfied themselves that the people in adjoining congested districts would be greatly benefited by these works. (7) A contract for the sum of £4,450 has been entered into with an English firm for the ironwork of the viaduct, and further contracts for £1,750 have been entered into with local contractors in connection with the same undertaking. (8 & 9) The Board's payments are not made by cheque, but by the usual payable order system as arranged by the Treasury. The powers of the Auditor General with regard to the Board's accounts are exercised in the usual manner under the provisions contained in the various Acts of Parliament dealing with the subject. I understand that the Congested District Board have now under their consideration, and will discuss the general question, of the cost of their administration.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Congested Districts Board has made a grant to Captain Eccles, Moneygold, County Sligo, to start a small weaving industry; how much money, if any, has already been paid by the Board on account of this industry; how many hands are employed, and has the Board received any return on the expenditure; can he state the amount expended by the Board on inspections in North Sligo; is he aware that no public notice was given of the Board's proceedings in North Sligo; and will he see that, in future, when the Board proceeds in any district to discharge its functions, the public will be duly notified of the fact?


The Congested Districts Board made a grant of £10 to Mrs. Eccles for providing and maintaining a class room for one year, in which embroidery and other cottage industries might be taught, and a further grant of £50 was sanctioned for the purchase of spinning wheels to be lent to this lady for the development of the weaving industry in the district. The total amount paid for this industry up to the present is £23 6s. 2d. About 30 persons receive instruction, and I may state that, quite apart frem the Board's testimony as to the results, I have received from Mr. Rolleston, the Managing Director of the Irish Industries Association, a letter speaking in the highest terms of the capacity and energy which Mrs. Eccles has shown in promoting the weaving industry and other industrial work in this district, and of the good results which have followed from the instruction afforded by this lady. The amount expended on inspections in North Sligo cannot be stated, as the expenses under this head are not allocated according to districts. Full information as to the Board's proceedings are contained in their published Annual Reports, and, in reply to the last paragraph, the Board, in discharge of its functions in any district, give public notice as the circumstances may require.