§ SIR JOHN MACLURE (Lancashire, S.E, Stretford)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether more than one member of a family in need of relief, in the distressed districts in Ireland, is allowed to obtain employment on relief works under the arrangements sanctioned by the Local Government Board; (2) whether, in the instance of a family of eight or ten persons, the employment of one member would only mean the earning of a sum of 1½d. per head per day; (3) what precedent, if any, exists for the enforcement of the labour test upon women applicants for relief; and (4) whether he can see his way to recommend the increase of the amount given for a day's labour in all cases, and the abolition of the labour test in the case of destitute women?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
No application has been received from the guardians of any union, in which works have been opened, for authority to employ a second member of a family in exceptional cases. Any such application, if made, will receive consideration. The reply to the second paragraph is in the affirmative. Women were employed on works in 1891, and again in 1895, on both occasions at a lower rate of wages than men. Women are only employed on the works at Belmullet, where there is no male head of the family fitted for work. This was also the principle followed in 1891 and 1895. Relief from the rates may be given, without any return in the form of work, to any woman who is unfit for work. I cannot see my way to adopt the suggestions in the fourth paragraph of the Question. It must be borne in mind that the rate of wages for labour in the congested districts at this time of the year is only very slightly in excess of the relief given to persons on the test works, and also that peasant women in the west of Ireland are accustomed to field labour on their holdings at home. I should very much doubt if their labour on test works is at all as heavy as the work on their own holdings.
§ MR. J. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
May I ask whether women in the west of Ireland are accustomed to work at a distance from their own homes under gangers?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The only previous occasions on which relief works of this kind have been started were in 1891 and 1895, and on both these occasions the principles were adopted which are now followed.