HC Deb 08 March 1900 vol 80 cc395-6

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland if the Belfast Borough Act, 8 and 9 Vic. c. 142, Section 21, requiring the council to cause an annual account in abstract to be prepared, showing the total receipts and expenditure of all funds levied by virtue of this Act ending 31st December, has been complied with by transmitting a copy of same to the town clerk of the borough on or before 31st January following in each year, under a forfeit of £20, and is he aware that a levy of rates has been made for the quarter ending 31st March, 1900, and again for the year ending 31st March, 1901, without the said abstract of accounts for the year ending 31st December, 1899, having been made out and will he take steps to enforce compliance with this statute in respect of the abstract of accounts referred to being transmitted to the town clerk before the council confirm the rates proposed to be levied for the year commencing 31st March, 1900.


Section 21 of the Act of 1845 provides for the preparation of an annual account in abstract showing the total receipts and expenditure of all funds levied by virtue of that Act. The only rate created by the Act of 1845 was the police rate, and there was, in addition, at that time only one other rate levied in the borough—namely, the borough rate. Since 1845, however, the corporation has obtained over twenty Acts of Parliament, and concurrently with the great increase in the extent of the city and the number of its population, there has taken place a correspondingly large increase in the volume of the accounts to be dealt with, so that, however feasible it might formerly have been to comply with the statutory requirement in regard to the period within which the abstract of the accounts shall be prepared, it is not possible at the present day to comply literally with the provisions of the Act of 1845 in this respect. The town clerk submits, reasonably, so I think, that it would be absurd to deal with the accounts of the corporation in sections, and that the present system of publishing the abstracts of all the funds after the audit of the accounts is the natural and correct method and most adapted to the circumstances of the present time. Any ratepayer can sue the corporation for the penalty of £20 prescribed by the statute. It is not a matter calling for the intervention of the Executive.