§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland how many cottages have been built up to the beginning of this year under the Labourers' Acts (Ireland) 1885–6, what is the average annual charge on the rates of the locality for each house, and whether he can see his way, by a simplification of the machinery of these Acts, to place their working on a more satisfactory economical footing?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The last annual Report of the Local Government Board shows that on March 31, 1895, 10,848 cottages had been provided under the Labourers' Acts, and that 802 others were in progress or contracted for. The next annual Report of the Board will bring this information down to the 31st instant, and they are unable at present to say precisely how many cottages had been built at the beginning of the year, but estimate the number at 11,500. The annual charge on the rates 747 in respect of each cottage varies in different unions, having regard to the class of building provided, the rents charged, and the scarcity or otherwise of building materials. The general average cost of providing these cottages may, however, be taken at about £125 for each cottage, and the average rent charged is only about 1s. a week, or £2 12s. a year. The annual loss to the ratepayers during the term of a loan of £125 for 50 years (the maximum period) would be about £3 per house, without taking into account the cost of repairs, collecting the rents, insurance, taxes, arrears, &c. These form a considerable item, often exceeding the rents paid by the tenants, and the Local Government Board do not think it would be very wide of the mark to put down the average loss to the ratepayers at about £5 per cottage per annum. This loss to the ratepayers does not arise out of any defects in the machinery of the working of the Acts, which, no doubt, is cumbrous, but from the low rent charged as compared with the cost of construction and the necessary outgoings.