§ MR. SHEE () Waterford, W.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the sum which at present car be borrowed by urban authorities in Ireland for public purposes is limited to an amount equivalent to double the valuation of buildings within the urban district, with the addition of the double of one-fourth of the valuation of lands, except in a few instances in which they have obtained special Acts of Parliament. Whether this fact does not in many cases preclude these authorities from undertaking schemes for water supply, drainage, the better housing of the poor, and other improvements under the Public Health Acts, and also from purchasing or establishing gas or electric light undertakings. And whether, in the Bill to amend the Local Government (Ireland) Act to be introduced by the Government, the law will be amended so as to exclude from the limitation as to borrowing all moneys expended for reproductive purposes, such as under the Housing of the Working Classes Act, and in connection with lighting.
§ MR. ATKINSON (for Mr. G. W. BALFOUR)
The limit of borrowing is correctly stated in the first part of the question. There are not many cases where these limits have been found to have debarred the local authorities from undertaking desirable works, but when this has occurred the authorities have usually sought an extension of their borrowing powers by private Acts. I do not consider, therefore, that the fact that the limit has been reached in a few exceptional cases affords sufficient grounds for removing the very salutary restrictions against local indebtedness imposed by Section 238 of the Public Health Act, 1878. The answer to the last paragraph is in the negative.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL () Cavan, W.
As this is a matter of very great importance to local authorities in Ireland will the right hon. Gentleman, if facts are laid before the Government which show that the Act is practically inoperative because of this provision, consider the advisability of giving the powers asked for in a new Act?