§ MR. MEEHAN
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant 464 of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the evidence given before the Barrow Drainage Commission, 1885, by Sir Francis McCabe, M.D., F.R.C.S., and Local Government Board inspector, to the effect that the result of the flooding over an estimated area of 3,400 square miles was most injurious to the public health of the country, developed constitutional diseases, pulmonary phthisis, bronchial and catarrhal affections, acute and chronic rheumatism, predisposed to lunacy, enteric and typhus fever, bog lameness and chronic rheumatism in cattle, and liver rot in sheep; whether he is aware that, during the twenty-two years since this evidence was given, nothing has been done to provide a remedy, and that the flooded area has enormously increased, causing more widespread destruction to the health and property of the people; and what steps will now be taken to provide a remedy.
I beg also to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the evidence given before ~the Barrow Drainage Commission, 1885, by William Neale, M.D., medical officer, Mountmellick dispensary district, who stated that houses were annually rendered unfit for habitation, that whole families had to leave in flood time and huddled together in most insanitary houses, public health was seriously injured, malaria and typhoid fever and diphtheria prevalent in consequence of the floods, no adequate sewerage for the town was possible, and the water supply was contaminated; and whether, seeing that the population of Mountmellick town is 2,400, he will say whether he proposes to take any stops to secure that the people shall not still be compelled to live in a hotbed of disease, with a contaminated water supply and no possibility of proper sewerage
I beg further to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the evidence given before the Barrow Drainage Commission, 1885, by J. M. Tabuteau, M.D., medical officer, Portar-lington dispensary district, who stated that fifty houses or more were continuously flooded with from three to five inches of water on the floors; that he had to attend the sick standing on a chair 465 by the bedside, with four inches of water on the floor; that there have been epidemics, principally scarlatina and typhoid, of a virulent type; that the water supply was polluted, and no proper system of drainage was possible until the floods were prevented; and whether, seeing that Dr. Tabuteau stated this year before Sir Alexander Binnie's Commission that the evils he then described still existed in a more aggravated and extensive form, he will say whether this town of 2,000 population is still compelled to use polluted water.
I wish also to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the evidence given before the Barrow Drainage Commission, 1885, by M. Han-Ion, M. D., Portarlington, who stated that eighty years ago barges could come up the river to Portarlington, while a skirt' could not then come up; that public health was seriously injured, the results of the flooding being fevers, inflammation of the lungs, scarlatina, chest affections, asthma; that he had kept a register of diseases since 1843, and for the last twenty years diseases had greatly increased; whether he is aware that the condition described by Dr. Hanlon still exists; and what action, if any, he proposes to take in the matter.
§ MR. KILBRIDE (Kildare, S.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his atten-has been called to the evidence given before the Barrow Drainage Commission, 1885, by M. J. Darby, M.D., medical officer, Monasterevin, who stated that in consequence of the flooding from the river Barrow public health was injured, illness increasing, especially lung disease, that there could be no proper sewerage, the water supply was polluted, that the floods and high water in the river drove back the sewerage into the houses, and that he had counted 158 houses flooded; whether he is aware that the condition of the town with close on 1,000 population is far worse at present; and whether any remedy will be provided.
I beg further to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the evidence given before the Barrow Drainage Commission, 1885, by Dr. 466 James Kilbride, medical officer, Athy dispensary district, who stated that part of his district ran seven miles towards Monasterevin, was subject to flooding by the Barrow, and that chronic rheumatism, diphtheria, and typhoid fever of a very virulent type were prevalent; that the water supply was contaminated, and no system of sewerage possible under present conditions; and to the evidence of Dr. O'Neill, medical officer, Athy Union Workhouse, that people were suffering from chronic rheumatism, chronic heart disease, chronic effusion of the chest, malaria fever, that he lived in the flooded end of the Barrow, and had seen seven cases of heart disease arising from rheumatism by malaria, caused by the action of the sun on the wet surface when the floods went down; whether he is aware that those conditions existing over twenty years ago have enormously increased, affecting a population of over 6,000 people; and what steps he proposes to take to provide a remedy.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I will answer all these Questions together. I understand that the Barrow Drainage Commission of 1885 received evidence to the effect stated in the hon. Member for Leix, four Questions and in the two succeeding Questions of the hon. Member for South Kildare. I have already answered a number of similar Questions put by the hon. Member. I have fully explained to him that legislation is necessary before any large drainage schemes can be undertaken, and that no such legislation can be introduced until very full consideration has been given to the recommendations of the Arterial Drainage Commission whose Report has recently been received. The question of arterial drainage in Ireland is one of considerable magnitude, and I understand that the expenditure of some millions of public money would be necessary to give full effect to the recommendations of the Arterial Drainage Commission. It must be obvious that I cannot give any undertaking this session as to the introduction of legislation on the subject.
§ MR. MEEHAN
May I ask is it not possible for the Government to deal with this great evil, which affects the lives and property of the people, by some temporary measure of partial drainage, such as in the ease of the river Bann?
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that similar evidence has been given to half-a-dozen special Commissions and Committees and other bodies who have inquired into the subject any time for the past 100 years; whether any money has been spent on certain rivers I need not name in all that time; and, I desire further to know whether this Government will allow the matter to pass, as other Governments have done, and whether this state of things is to go on for over under a beneficent English Government?
§ MR. BIRRELL
I trust not, but the Commission has indicated a great number of reforms to be carried out, all of which require very large advances of public money, and, as we have to consider that the money should be devoted to the best purposes, that must take some little time.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Alport Commission made all these recommendations before, and the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition in 1888 introduced three Bills that did not involve the expenditure of millions of pounds, and in the opinion of experts not oven of £100,000.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
This series of Questions seems to be in the nature of an argument, rather than seeking for information.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR
With all respect I am asking the right hon. Gentleman if he is informed upon a certain point that affects this question very seriously. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been flooded, year by year, and nothing has been done.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I am quite aware of that, and also that some suggestions have been made to the effect that the expenditure of something like £100,000 might procure good results, and that is the question that is at present under our consideration.
§ MR. MEEHAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that the county councils of the district concerned have agreed to a temporary scheme of drainage, and that that scheme was approved of by Sir Alexander Binne.
§ MR. MEEHAN
On a point of order, Mr. SPEAKER, may I point out that a portion of the Question No. 8 on the Paper was omitted, a portion quoting from evidence given twenty-two years ago, that "the poor died young in numerous cases, leaving their children, who have to be supported by the workhouses." I desire to ask the Chief Secretary is he aware of the fact that the matter so described twenty-two years ago is now in existence in a more aggravated form, and it is possible that the poor must still be permitted to die young, and leave their children as a burden to the ratepayers of the district?
§ MR. BIRRELL
I cannot, of course, deny for a moment that the matter has again and again been reported upon, and that the evil consequences of the present position are of a most grievous character. All I can say is that any scheme which could be expected to do good would cost a great deal of money. That is what is being considered. I cannot promise this session to introduce legislation.