HC Deb 15 May 1905 vol 146 cc284-6
SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board what part the audit of the Local Government Board has played in connection with the frauds of which the late town clerk of Holborn has been convicted; whether he has any official information showing that robberies to the amount of thousands of pounds have for years been passed by the audit, which, but for the fact that the town clerk became ill, would not have been discovered; and what steps, if any, he proposes to take in the matter.


At the last audit, the district auditor discovered that Mr. Jones, the late town clerk of Holborn, had improperly retained a large sum received by him on behalf of the borough council, and as a result of this discovery all the frauds of which Mr. Jones was convicted were at once brought to light. The Answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative, and I may say that it was prior to Mr. Jones's illness that the improper retention of a considerable part of the moneys in question was discovered by the auditor, who thereupon called upon Mr. Jones to produce proof that he had not received any part of the remainder. The case does not appear to be one in which it is necessary that I should take any action.

MR. BENN (Devonport)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he has received a request that some person representing the Government should assist the Holborn Borough Council in its present inquiry into its administration; and, if so, whether he can comply with the request.


I received a letter from the Holborn Borough Council, in which they stated that while feeling themselves perfectly competent to investigate their own affairs they would welcome the presence of any official the Local Government Board would care to send to assist at the meetings of the special committee investigating the defalcations of the late town clerk. This communication received my consideration, but I did not think it necessary to avail myself of the offer of the council.


Then does the right hon. Gentleman propose to allow this investigation to be resumed without any appearance at the inquiry on the part of his Department?


I do not think the interference of the Local Government Board is called for. Had the borough council requested me to send an official I might have done so, but they did not.


But you had a letter from the council?


Order, order! The hon. Member is not entitled to argue the matter.

MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)

Will the right hon. Gentleman take action in accordance with the last clause of the Question?


There has been no request.