§ *MR. JAMES O'CONNOR (Wicklow, W.)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury (1) if it has come to his knowledge that the Blackrock Township Commissioners are engaged in consolidating their township loans by the issue of debenture stock for the purpose of paying off £12,084 due to the Board of Works; that the Board of Works refuse to accept repayment unless on condition that for every £100 due the Blackrock Commissioners shall pay £114: 10s.; (2) whether he is aware that when the loans were obtained no intimation was given that such a condition would be imposed, and that no such condition was inserted in the mortgages to the Board of Works; and (3) whether this is a legal demand by the Board of Works upon the ratepayers of Blackrock in view of the conditions of the 115 mortgages agreed to by the Board of Works when the loans were granted?
§ *MR. HANBURY
I am aware of the facts mentioned in the first paragraph, though they are stated in a somewhat misleading form, and the amount outstanding is £11,598, and not as stated in the Question. This sum represents the outstanding balances of 19 recent loans advanced by the Board of Works at different dates between 1888 and 1896, for specified periods varying from 15 to 50 years. The mortgages distinctly state that the repayments are to be spread over these periods, and there is no condition enabling the borrowers to pay them off earlier to suit their own convenience, and at the loss of nearly 15 per cent, of capital to the lenders, the taxpayers of the United Kingdom. The rule is the same for all loans, whether in England, Scotland or Ireland. So long as the market price of local loans stock is considerably above par, as at present, the solvency of the Local Loans Fund might be seriously affected by premature repayments of the loans at par only, and it is therefore the practice of the Treasury to safeguard the taxpayer by refusing to allow premature repayment at a price far below the current market price of the stock. The demand is, of course, perfectly legal.