§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether there has been on the whole continuous increase in the amount of Grand Jury Cess levied in Ireland although the population of the country has decreased 33 per cent. during the last 40 years; whether it is the duty of any Government Department to supervise the expenditure or audit the accounts of the Grand Juries; whether there is any power of surcharge; and whether any detailed summary is published annually of the amounts levied and the expenditure of these bodies in some such form as the accounts of the Poor Law Guardians are issued by the Local Government Board?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR, Leeds, Central)
There has been considerable fluctuation in the amount of Grand Jury Cess levied in Ireland in past years. The average cess levied in the period of 1873 to 1894 was £1,223,305, the highest levy being in 1876, when it amounted to £1,325,053. In 12 out of the 22 years covered by this period the average was exceeded, while in the remaining ten years the actual levy was less than the average. The duty of auditing the accounts of the Grand Juries in Ireland is vested in the Local Government by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1877, and the audit is carried out in accordance with the provisions of an Order of the Privy Council made pursuant to that Act. The Order gives the auditors the power of disallowance and surcharge, but they have no power to deal with presentments fiated by the Judges at Assizes. Provision is 1469 also made in the order for the printing and publishing of the audited accounts in one or more newspapers circulating in the county, and an abstract of the receipts and expenditure in counties is also given in the returns of local taxation annually presented to Parliament.