§ MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, in view of the fact that all the benefits arising out of the River Suck Drainage works are, by the Drainage Acts, conferred on the occupiers of the lands drained and improved, and that, not with standing this, a larger charge or annuity has been placed upon the owners than upon the occupiers; whether, if the owners receive no return for the annuity charged to them, he will favourably consider their claim for a remission or reduction of this charge?
§ MR. HANBURY
It is the fact that the charge on the proprietors represents non-productive outlay on the works, and in addition they are obliged to pay the maintenance rates levied in the district. They were, no doubt, induced to embark upon the undertaking by an estimate of results based on prices in force 18 years ago, when the scheme was first undertaken. As the occupiers only pay an annual sum not exceeding the estimated annual improvement in their lands on the basis of present prices, they no doubt pay a smaller portion of the cost than the proprietors under the Final Award. The Draft Award charged a capital sum of about £78,000 on the occupiers, and,£58,000 on the proprietors, which sums under the Final Award became about £67,000 and £71,000 respectively. The difference is due partly to the exclusion of certain lands and partly to a reduction of the estimated improved value in consequence of the Inquiry which was held after the publication of the Draft Award. The proprietors have, however, had the benefit of a free grant of £50,000, without which their share would have been larger to that extent, and the Government has no funds at its disposal out of which any further charge could be met.