§ MR. JASPER TULLY (Leitrim, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Local Government Board are aware that the medicine contract in Mullingar Union was cancelled last year as the result of a sworn Inquiry into grave irregularities which were found to exist, the accounts of the contractor not having been properly checked by the clerk of the Union, whose brother was in the employment of the contractor; and that the medicine contract has been voted this year by the friends of the clerk of the Union to the same contractor, whose tender was found to be the highest; and whether he can state what action the Local Government Board have taken in the matter?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The circumstances under which the medicine contract was terminated last year were referred to in my answer to the hon. Member's previous Question of the 26th January. I have no information regarding the occupation of the clerk's brother. The Guardians have this year given the contract to the same contractor; the tender was not shown to be the highest, and upon a comparison of the prices of the drugs most in use it would appear that three tenders were higher and five lower than the accepted tender. The Guardians are not bound to accept the lowest or any tender, and under the existing law the Local Government Board do not see their way to intervene in this matter. By Clause 39 of the Poor Relief Bill, now 1032 before the House, the Board will be empowered, however, to make regulations in respect of medicine contracts which, while continuing to the Guardians the power of selecting the contractor, will enable them to determine at a glance which tender is most favourable to the Union, a matter which they have great difficulty in deciding under the present system.