I bee to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware of the statements recently made by the Mansion House Committee respecting acute distress existing in the South and West of Ireland in certain districts; whether he will have them inquired into when the written applications and reports are placed in his hands; and whether he is aware that the funds of the Manchester and Mansion House Commitees are almost exhausted?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I believe the honourable Member was not in his place in the House when this question was raised and discussed last Friday. The Local Government Board are, at all times, prepared to inquire into any specific statements that may be addressed to them, in order to see that relief is afforded to destitute persons. I believe it was asserted at the recent 1195 meeting of the Dublin Mansion House Committee that the charitable funds referred to are nearly exhausted.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that any increase of taxation for the purpose of affording outdoor relief cannot be reasonably adopted by the guardians of those areas which are already overtaxed beyond their ability to pay; and whether, in this emergency, the Government will come to the aid of private benevolence, and assist overtaxed localities to meet the prolonged distress by relaxing the stringent rules regarding labour on relief works and by giving more employment?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I have no reason to doubt the ability of the ratepayers of these Unions to meet a fair proportion of the cost of the relief measures in operation, but I have already stated that if it can be shown at the conclusion of the relief works that the expenditure incurrred would involve a heavier burden on the rate papers than they could properly be called upon to bear, I will be prepared to consider the matter. I may add that, in view of a possible rise in the price of breadstuffs consequent upon the war between the United States and Spain, I have asked the Local Government Board how far the sufficiency of the wages now paid on the relief works may be affected. I am also considering the desirability, as the season advances, of having, in the case of large families represented on the works, employment afforded to a second member of such families.