HC Deb 11 July 1907 vol 178 cc50-3

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether, seeing that the Local Government Board of Ireland directed its auditor, Mr. W. E. Ellis, at the beginning of 1906, to hold an extraordinary audit of the accounts of the Holywood District Council in respect of sums of money obtained by James H. Barrett, formerly clerk to the council, for and on behalf of the council during a period of time from 1899 down to 1905, and not accounted for until the deficiencies were discovered in December, 1905, six months after Barrett's dismissal from his office of clerk, he will state the circumstances under which the Local Government Board of Ireland became aware of the deficiencies; whether the auditor has made any report or finding in the matter of the audit; and, if not, will he state the reason for the delay; will he state when Mr. W. E. Ellis was appointed auditor for the Local Government Board, what districts he has served in, and the cause of his removal from one district to another; whether he is aware that shortly after Mr. Ellis's removal to the Belfast district a Mr. John Smyth, of Belfast, made a declaration that Mr. W. E. Ellis had threatened to do certain acts in connection with the audit of the Belfast Asylums Board's accounts in a spirit of revenge against Dr. William Graham, the medical superintendent; and will he say whether the Belfast Asylums Board sent a deputation to the Local Government Board, or took other steps to secure the removal of Mr. W. E. Ellis as auditor; whether, seeing that signatures to a memorial asking the Local Government Board to retain Mr. Ellis were obtained by the said James H. Barrett on behalf of Mr. Ellis, will he say what steps were taken by the Local Government Board thereon; whether the Holywood Urban District Council has made further discoveries in respect of failures by James H. Barrett to account for other sums of money received by him for the council whilst clerk prior to May, 1905, disclosing an appropriation of moneys; and what steps the Local Government Board intend to take in the matter.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL for IRELAND (Mr. Cherry, Liverpool, Exchange; for Mr. Birrell)

Mr. Barrett requested the Local Government Board to direct the auditor to extend the ordinary audit of the accounts of the Urban District Council for the year ending 31st March, 1905, so as to include an additional month, in order to enable Mr. Barrett to close his financial transactions with the Urban District Council, and the Board directed the auditor to hold an extraordinary audit accordingly. Dr. Ellis was appointed auditor in the year 1892. He has served in the Limerick, Dublin, Kerry, and Belfast districts, his transfer in each case being made for Departmental reasons. The Local Government Board cannot trace any record of the declaration stated in the Question to have been made by Mr. John Smyth, of Belfast. A deputation from the Belfast District Asylum Committee waited upon the Board towards the close of the year 1904, and among other matters asked that the same auditor who audited the Belfast County Borough should audit the asylum district accounts, as the district was coterminous with the borough, but the Board were unable to make this arrangement. It is the fact that a memorial was presented to the Board (in 1905) asking that Dr. Ellis should be retained in the Belfast District, but the Board have no information as to the circumstances under which the signatures to the memorial were obtained. The Board informed the memorialists that it was not intended to transfer the auditor to another district. The Board have no information as to the penultimate paragraph of the Question. They propose to take no further steps in any of the matters referred to in the Question, but they have approved of Mr. Barrett's dismissal as executive sanitary officer in connection with other charges preferred against him by the urban district council.


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that for four and a half years from the date of his appointment down to the 31st December, 1905, James H. Barrett, clerk of the Town Court of Holywood, charged the Urban District Council of Holywood and deducted out of moneys he had in hand of the council the sum of sixpence for the service of each summons for the town court, although the summonses were served gratuitously by the police; that the council called upon Sergeant Samuel Donaldson, who is in charge of the local police barracks, to hand over the originals of the summonses served during this period, which originals were the property of the council who were named as complainants in each, so that the evidence of service could be preserved (the mode of service being endorsed on the back of each summons); and that Sergeant Donaldson replied that he had then just destroyed them; and whether, seeing that, in consequence, Councillor James Shannon, a member of the council, personally investigated all the cases for the quarter ending 31st December, 1905, with the result that he found that the summonses in each case had been served by the police, he will say what authority Sergeant Donaldson had for destroying the summonses; and whether it is intended to take any action in the matter.


The Local Government Board have ascertained from their auditor that it was Mr. Barrett's practice during the period mentioned to deduct from lodgments made by him for town court fines a sum of sixpence for the service of each summons. The summonses were served by the constabulary free of charge, but Mr. Barrett claims that he invariably paid over to the court summons server the fee for the service of each summons. The summonses in town court cases are not now served by the constabulary. The Inspector-General informs me that in March, 1906, as the result of a letter received from the Holywood Urban District Council, he inquired into the complaint against Sergeant Donaldson, and found that the sergeant had received from the clerk of the court summonses which had been disposed of, for the purpose of entering the particulars in the crime register, and had subsequently destroyed them as the clerk had informed him that the summonses were of no further use. The permanent record of the cases to which the summonses refer is contained in the order book of the court. The sergeant was instructed lot to take any further summonses from he clerk, but to obtain the required particulars for the crime register from another source. The Inspector-General does not intend to take any further action regarding the sergeant.