§ MR. WILLIAM JOHNSTON (Belfast, South)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on what authority the Local Government Board of Ireland relied in its letter of the 28th September, 1898, to the Dungannon Board of Guardians, as to its reason for refusing to sanction the appointment of a woman as a rate collector; and, whether, in view of the fact that the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851, has repealed the 152nd section of the Irish Grand Jury Act, he will issue directions that women may be appointed rate collectors?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The letter to which reference is made in the first paragraph was based on the view taken by the Local Government Board of the provisions of the Statutes applicable to the case and of the general regulations and the established practice in connexion therewith. My honorable Friend's question suggests that the Local Government Board in their reply to the Dungannon Board of Guardians overlooked the implied repeal of the 152nd section of the Grand Jury Act by the Petty Sessions Act of 1851. The Board's letter may be open to criticism from the point of view of absolute legal preciseness, but any inaccuracy of statement in it is of a technical, not of a substantial character. It may be technically true that Magistrates have the power of addressing warrants for poor rate to persons other than the Collector; but in practice this would conflict with the General Regulations prohibiting Collectors of Poor Rate from acting by deputy, and warrants for Poor Rate are addressed by Magistrates, and properly so, to the Collector. Quite apart from this, however, according to Irish law the most efficient, expeditious and inexpensive mode of collecting poor rate from 'a defaulting occupier is not to proceed by Magistrate's Warrant, but by seizure under the Guardians' Warrant of all goods and chattels found on the defaulter's premises no matter to whom they belong. This warrant can only be executed by the Collector, and such work is not in the opinion of the Local Government Board suitable for a woman to perform.