§ MR. GINNELL (Westmeath, N.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that the official in charge of the Labour Department of the Irish Local Government Board is opposed to the formation of small holdings out of untenanted land, has volunteered evidence in that sense, has omitted to send to district councils Form No. 6 or instructions for its use, and has refused to supply that form to a Member of Parliament for the use of his constituents; and, if this action has not his concurrence and is not in accordance with the practice of the officials in Great Britain, will he direct Form No. 6 and a circular explaining the 846 acquisition and disposal of tracts of untenanted land to be sent to every rural district council.
§ The CHIEF SECRETARY for IRELAND (Mr. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
I am informed that the hon. Member is under a misapprehension in supposing that an official of the Local Government Board has given any evidence to the effect stated in the Question. The Board have sent Form No. 6, and the Rules relating to it, to every district council in Ireland. The Rules provide that ratepayers and labourers are to be supplied with Form 6, free of charge, by the clerks of rural district councils. In the opinion of the Board, a circular explanatory of the acquisition and disposal of untenanted land is unnecessary, seeing that the law for the acquisition of land for cottages and allotments makes no distinction between tenanted and untenanted land.
§ CAPTAIN DONELAN (Cork, E.)
In order to make the Irish rural councils acquainted with their powers to acquire untenanted land for allotment purposes, and with the proper procedure, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to issue to them full information on the subject.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I agree that they should have the fullest possible information, and it was thought that by sending out the form referred to to every district council in Ireland that purpose would be fulfilled. I will, however, look into the matter again.
§ MR. GINNELL
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he will direct the attention of the Local Government Board for Ireland to the statements of some clerks of district councils that those bodies have no power to acquire tracts of untenanted land for the purposes of the Labourers Acts, or to let surplus land so acquired, and that they have not received either forms or instructions for those purposes; and if he will have sent to each rural district council a supply of Form No. 6, with a circular explaining the powers in question, and will have the time for completing schemes extended for three months to enable councils to avail themselves of their statutory powers in this respect.
§ MR. BIRRELL
The Local Government Board are not aware that any statements to the effect mentioned in the Question have been made. As I stated in reply to the previous Question, the law for the acquisition of land for the purposes of the Labourers Acts makes no distinction between tenanted and untenanted land. Under the Board's Rules, rural district councils are obliged to keep a supply of Form 6 and to furnish a copy, free of charge, to any ratepayer or labourer who may apply for it. The Board have no information before them pointing to the necessity for a further circular, or for an extension of time for the completion of schemes.