HC Deb 12 June 1906 vol 158 cc822-4

On behalf of the hon. Member for North Fermanagh I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether it was the duty of the Loan Fund Board for Ireland to supervise and audit the accounts of the various loan funds; whether the Board by such audits discovered that various loan funds in county Fermanagh and elsewhere were charging excessive rates of interest and renewal fines, were making loans in excess of their powers, and otherwise going outside the Loan Funds Acts; whether he is aware that several of the loan funds in county Fermanagh have become insolvent and are unable to repay their debentures to people who lent their money on the faith that the accounts were audited by a Government Department; whether it is proposed to make any reparation to the debenture lenders for the neglect of the Loan Fund Board to properly supervise the accounts; and is he aware that the borrowers have in many cases become insolvent, and that very little could be recovered from them.


The Secretary of the Loan Fund Board informs me that the Board's inspector visits annually the office of each working society certified under the Charitable Loan Societies (Ireland) Act, 1843. It is his duty to check the society's accounts since the date of the last previous inspection, to examine the promissory notes which appear on the society's books, to check the cash balances to inquire concerning the management of the society, and to report to the Loan Fund Board the material facts learned by him during such visit. Each Loan Fund Society is bound under the Act to report periodically to the Loan Fund Board. From time to time the Loan Fund Inspector has reported irregularities, and the practice of the Board has been to require their prompt abandonment. The Committee of Inquiry appointed in 1896 reported that Loan Fund Societies in Fermanagh and elsewhere were charging excessive rates of interests and renewal fines. So far as this prevailed, it seems to have been the outcome of a mistaken interpretation of the Act, dating back to the year 1845. It is a fact that several Loan Fund Societies in Fermanagh are at present insolvent and unable to pay debentures to the holders. This is partly due to defects in the law of a technical character, which cause considerable difficulty and expense to the societies in recovering their debts. These defects were partially obviated by an Act of 1900, but many still remain, and the Irish Government have introduced a Bill to amend the Act of 1900. The Second Reading of this Bill has, however, been opposed by some of the hon. Member's political friends. The Government are not responsible for the administration of the Loan Fund Board, which is not a Government Department as stated in the Question.