§ COLONEL McCALMONT (Antrim, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether the terms of reference to the Horse-breeding Commission in Ireland allow of any expression of opinion as to the action and working of the Congested Districts Board; (2) whether about one-fifth of the whole income of the Board and of the £6,000 voted annually by 1337 Parliament in aid of its expenses is being and has been absorbed by their horse-breeding operations, and the greater part spent in the neighbourhood of Dublin; and (3) if the Congested Districts Board misapplies its funds, what remedy has the public or the congested population for whom it holds its funds in trust?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
As regards the first paragraph of the question of my hon. and gallant Friend, it will be for the Commission to put its own interpretation upon the terms of reference. Of the total expenditure of the Congested Districts Board on all purposes to the 31st March 1896, about one-eighth was spent on horse-breeding operations, and nearly one-half of this was capital expenditure on buildings and the purchase of horses. A comparatively small portion of the outlay on horses is spent in Dublin. The sum of £5,944, provided in the current year's Estimates in aid of the Board's expenses, is appropriated to the payment of the salaries and general administrative expenses of the Board, and the clerical labour employed in connection with the horse-breeding scheme would not absorb more than £200 of this amount. As regards the last paragraph, the accounts of the Board are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General, who, no doubt, would detect any irregularity in the event of the misapplication of the Board's funds.