§ MR. DONAL SULLIVAN (Westmeath, S.)
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the time allowed for the full collection of their warrants to the collectors of rates in the County Westmeath is four months; that the Local†Figures taken from the Annual Accounts laid before Parliament by Comptroller and Auditor General.‡Figures taken from the Estimates of the Protectorates for the year 1901–2, the completed accounts not having yet been received.526 Government Board refused admission to the Westmeath County Council to pay one of its collectors, Mr. John Coughlan, his full poundage (6d. in the pound) on the amount of his warrant, £583 6s. 1d., for the half year ending the 30th September last, on the grounds that this sum was not lodged by that date; that Mr. Coughlan only got his collecting hooks from the Secretary of the County Council on the 18th July, 1901, so that he had only then two and a half months to lodge the amount of his warrant; that Mr. Coughlan lodged by the 30th September £488 9s.; and that he only received as poundage £7 13s. 4d., instead of £12 4s. 3d.; whether, on the uncollected balance of £94 17s. 1d. on the 30th September, £6 13s. was stopped from him when the correct amount should be £2 7s. 6d.; and, whether, under the circumstances, he will direct that Mr. Coughlan be paid the amounts withheld from him.
(Answer.) The time allowed for the collection is six months, provided that the County Council strike their rate at a sufficiently early period to enable the warrants to be in the hands of the collectors at the beginning of the half year. It appears that on the 17th April last the County Council of Westmeath required Collector Coughlan to enter into a fresh bond for the collection of the rates, but as the collector did not enter into the bond until the 16th July, the warrant, which was ready on the 3rd June, was not taken up by him until the 18th July. As the delay was due entirely to the negligence of the collector in not perfecting his bond at the proper time, the Board were unable to assent to poundage fees being paid to him on sums collected after the close of the half year ended 30th September, 1901. The Board have no particulars showing the exact amount of poundage fees received by Mr. Coughlan for the collection in question, but he is entitled to fees on all sums lodged by him on or before the 30th September in respect of the levy for the half year ended on that date. It is essential for the proper carrying on of the business of County Councils that the rates should be collected with due diligence, and the refusal to sanction payment of poundage fees upon sums uncollected within the time prescribed is the only effective means of securing this result.‡(Irish Office.)