HC Deb 30 July 1908 vol 193 cc1709-10
MR. FFRENCH (Wexford, S.)

To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that for the last twenty-five years the Wexford Rural District Council have been in the habit of entering into agreements with the parties interested in the lands proposed to be acquired compulsorily for the purposes of the Labourers Acts; that under the improvement scheme they are at present about to carry out the council entered into a number of such agreements; that in cases where they failed to agree as to the price to be paid for the land they applied to the Local Government Board to appoint an arbitrator for that purpose; that on 8th May last the Board appointed an arbitrator to determine the purchase money to be paid so far as compensation for the same has been made the subject of agreement, and that the arbitrator did inquire into such cases; that on 18th June the Local Government Board wrote to the district council to the effect that in a case affecting the Newtownards Rural District Council the King's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in Ireland had unanimously decided that it was not competent for any district council where the lands were proposed to be compulsorily acquired to enter into agreements with the parties interested, and that the compensation therefore should be arrived at by the arbitrator, and accordingly the cases in which agreements had been entered into by the Wexford District Council should be submitted to him; that the arbitrator, notwithstanding the limitation to his appointment, did sit and inquire into these agreement cases and spent a considerable time inspecting the said sites; and whether, having regard to the terms of Section 3 (1) of the Labourers Act of 1896 and Sections 4 and 7 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890, the Local Government Board propose to appeal against the judgment of the King's Bench so as to have the law on the subject well-established.

(Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The facts are generally as stated in the Question. The Local Government Board do not propose to appeal against the decision of the King's Bench Division in the Newtownards case. An appeal, in fact, has been lodged by the prosecutors in that case, and the matter must therefore be regarded as being still sub judice.