§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, in view of the protests which are being made by the public bodies of Ireland against the new Orders of the Local Government Board for the keeping of accounts, and of the statement made by officials of the Local Government Board as to the submission of draft Orders to the county councils previous to their issue, he will state the names of the county councils which considered these Orders, and also the names of the public officials who approved of them previous to their issue, and say whether the boards of guardians and rural district councils were asked for their opinions prior to their issue.
§ MR. WILLIAM McKILLOP (Sligo, N.)
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he can state the names of the county councils, rural district councils, and boards of guardians in Ireland in which the accounts were presented for audit in an unsatisfactory manner owing to the deficiency of the system prescribed in 1899; and if he will point out the cause which led to the superseding of that system.
(Answered by Mr. Wyndham.) The Public Bodies Order was sent to every county council and county borough council, with all of whom the Board was in correspondence prior to the issue of the Order. It was also sent to a number of the councils of the larger urban districts. Many valuable suggestions were received from the local authorities, and these have been adopted by the Board. The communications received from public officials on the subject are confidential, and it would be contrary to practice to publish their names. The Union Accounts Order was not sent in draft to boards of guardians since it contained no material alterations upon the old Order. The Board's experience of the accounts of the local authorities mentioned in the Question of the hon. Member for North Sligo pointed to the necessity of the amendments which have been made in the new Order. The accounts of these authorities were, as a rule, presented for audit as satisfactorily 886 as the Board could have wished or expected, having regard to the fact that the old Order, made prior to the coming into operation of the Local Government Act of 1898, admittedly contained many imperfections. At various times during the past five years some of the most experienced accounting officers of the local authorities have directed the Board's attention to matters in respect of which the original Order required modifications and improvements, and there are no provisions in the new Order which are not the result of the experience gained since 1899.
§ MR. JOSEPH DEVLIN
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in view of the fact that a new system of accounts was prescribed for the Poor Law Unions of Ireland in the year 1899, and acted on by all the Poor Law Boards, he will say whether there was any complaint made by any of the boards of guardians as to the insufficiency of these accounts for public requirements; and whether, seeing that some of the forms prescribed in that Order were copyrighted by a Local Government Board auditor, and that a number of the boards of guardians and district councils have protested against any departure being made in the accounts, they having gone to considerable expense by the previous Order, and being satisfied with the present system, he will, in the case of small unions whose guardians have declared in favour of an amalgamation scheme, recommend to the Local Government Board the deference of the operation of the new Orders until the question of amalgamation is settled.
(Answered by Mr. Wyndham.) The forms of the Union Accounts Order are almost identical with the old forms, and where any alterations to the headings are necessary they can be made by the clerk of the union in the existing books with very little trouble. No copyright in the forms exists and it is open to any printer to prepare books in accordance with the prescribed forms for use by Poor Law Unions. The forms of accounts could not be affected by amalgamation of unions and no advantage would be gained by suspending the operation of the Order pending the Report of the Commission.