§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH (Maidstone)
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the decision of Major Eccles, Local Government auditor of the Sligo County Council printing contract; whether he is aware that there were ten tenders for the contract, that the lowest was £216 13s. 4d. per annum for a term of three years, and the Council accepted the tender of Mrs. McHugh at £399 per annum, that the Sligo Ratepayers' Association challenged the legality of the contract with Mrs. McHugh, and that the Sligo County Council tendered the excuse that they declined to accept tenders from firms outside the county of Sligo; if he is aware that the secretary to the county council admitted that a considerable portion of the accepted contract was done in Dublin; and, seeing that Major Eccles has held that the contract was given for an improper purpose and not in the 1303 interests of the ratepayers, and declared it illegal under the eighteenth section of the Act of 1902, whether he proposes to surcharge personally those members of the Sligo County Council for the difference between the lowest tender and the much higher tender which was accepted.
§ (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) I am informed that the facts are substantially as stated in the Question. The auditor has not made any surcharge during the present audit, as the amount paid under the printing contract during the period under audit was in respect of liability incurred before the auditor declared the contract to be null and void.