§ MR. LONSDALE
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland what amount has been lent by the Board of Works to boards of guardians in Ireland, since December, 1904, for the purpose of providing seed potatoes; and how many Poor Law guardians have availed themselves of this provision to obtain seed intended for the relief of distress from the Poor Law 395 Boards of which they were members, and so became disqualified from acting as guardians and liable to penalties for so doing.
Loans amounting to £70,0,7 13s. 2d. have been made since December, 1904, to boards of guardians for the purchase of seed potatoes. A table giving particulars of these loans will be found at pages 376–7 of the Annual Report of the Local Government Board for 1904–5. The board are unable to state how many guardians availed themselves of the moans of obtaining a supply of imported seed, but as all persons rated under £15 were eligible, it is believed that a considerable number of guardians did so. The primary object of the seed supply operations was, not to relieve distress, but, there having been a partial failure of the potato crop, to introduce now varieties of seed and thereby to improve the crop.
It is hardly a topic which can be dealt with by Question and Answer. If the Question is raised on the Estimates, I will give fuller information.