HC Deb 29 May 1906 vol 158 cc284-6
MR. MOONEY (Newry)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, if he can state what has been the amount unexpended each year since the formation of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, Ireland, out of the moneys voted by Parliament, excluding the sum of £18,000 per annum voted as a grant in aid, and which last year amounted to £190,406, to what fund does this unexpended balance go, under what section of the Act of 1899 is this money so diverted; and in view of the fact that the Department has repeatedly refused grants for objects which, if encouraged, would tend to the development of agriculture and kindred subjects, on the grounds that the Department had no money, he will take steps to ensure that money voted by Parliament will be expended on the specific objects for which it has been voted, and not diverted for the formation of reserve funds which were not contemplated by Parliament.


The unexpended balances out of the moneys voted by Parliament in respect of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland for each year since April 1st, 1900, are as follows—

£ s. d.
1900–1 3,099 8 10
1901–2 2,962 15 2
1902–3 3,141 3 4
1903–4 10,051 3 7
1904–5 10,307 14 1

These amounts are determined by the Comptroller and Auditor-General when the audit of the account for the year is completed. The amount in respect of 1905–6 has not yet been determined. The unexpended balances are surrendered to the Exchequer, as shown in the Annual Appropriation Accounts laid before Parliament. The hon. Member would seem to be under some misapprehension as regards the Annual Parliamentary Vote for the Department contained in the Estimates, and the moneys placed at the disposal of the Department under Section 15 of the Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Act, 1899, for the purposes specified in Section 16 of that Act. The moneys annually voted by Parliament must be applied for the purposes indicated in the several subheads shown in the Estimates, under which sub-heads the Vote has to be accounted for. The only unexpended portions of those Votes that are not paid back to the Exchequer each year, are balances to credit of the grants in aid. Such balances can be carried forward and can be applied in the succeeding financial year to the purposes for which the grants in aid were voted, and for no other purpose. The details of these balances are also shown in the Appropriation Accounts.


asked the Chief Secretary whether he was aware that in the public balance-sheet of the Department the figures for 1904–5 were not the figures which the right hon. Gentleman had given to the House, and also whether in view of the complicated way the accounts were presented he would direct that the balance-sheet should be issued yearly, so that it might be shown how the money was spent.


I have not the Report before me and cannot compare the figures I have just given; these figures may be assumed to be the most authentic.


asked whether it was to be assumed that the Department issued a balance-sheet before they knew the real state of their affairs.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N)

Does the right hon. Gentleman approve of the system by which a reserve fund is created?


said he could hardly say that without looking at the Act. That Act presented a great many things.


Could not the right hon. Gentleman see that the unexpended money went into such a fund, for instance, as that required for the financing of the Labourers Bill?


was understood to say he must look at the Act before he could answer that Question.


asked whether these matters would be considered by the Committee at present investigating the constitution of the Department.


said it certainly would cover part of the financial arrangements of the Department; whether it would cover all the matters referred to was another thing.


Is the financial management included in what is called the Horace Plunkett category?

[No Answer was returned.]