§ MR. THOMAS O'DONNELL (Kerry, W.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the county council of Kerry complained of the report and conduct of the auditor, Mr. Cyril R. Browne, in his recent audit of their accounts; that the auditor passed or approved of the assessment of the purchase price of the Limerick and Kerry Railway money received by the council, and subsequently made a private report to the Valuation Office with reference thereto, and that the county council has been refused a copy of the report; and, if so, whether it will now be furnished; whether the auditor's object was to bring under the notice of the Valuation Office the fact that this money was credited to the ordinary and not to the separate charges estimate for railway guarantees so that the Valuation Office might deduct these receipts from the assessment by the council for railway and harbour charges, and thus reduce the council's claim for refund under Section 58 (4) of the Local Government Act, 1898; and whether, seeing that the result so far has been to deprive this county of a sum of £480 already deducted from the Government 1488 grants, he will say what action, if any, he will take in the matter.
§ MR. ATKINSON (for Mr. WYNDHAM)
The county council made a complaint of the character stated. When the first transactions concerning the Great Southern and Western Railway Company were before the auditor he found that a portion of the purchase price paid by the company was properly applied in relief of the separate rates in respect of railway and harbour charges. Subsequently, however, he found that the council had changed its procedure and had applied a further portion of this money, not in relief of the separate rates mentioned, but of the ordinary district rate leviable off the guaranteeing areas. This would have resulted in the council obtaining a larger sum from the local taxation account than that to which the council was legally entitled. The rate in consequence was wrongfully assessed. The auditor made no report to the Commissioner of Valuation, but he did bring the facts under the notice of the Local Government Board and a copy of his report to the latter Department was forwarded by the Board to the Commissioner of Valuation.