§ MR. J. DEVLIN
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the comment of Dr. Todd, K.C., Acting Recorder at Belfast, on 30th April last, with regard to the rates of interest charged in a number of money-lending cases which came before him, the interest amounting in some cases to about 100 per cent., and to the suggestion of Dr. Todd that if the poor people understood the nature of the promissory notes which they signed they would be very careful before doing so; and whether he would advise the Government to take action in this matter with a view to preventing the hardship which the present system inflicts on ignorant borrowers.
703 (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Money Lenders Act, 1900, provides relief in such cases as are referred to in the Question. In proceedings taken by a money-lender for the recovery of money lent, the Court, if satisfied that the interest charged is excessive, may take an account between the parties and relieve the borrower from payment for interest or otherwise of any sum in excess of that which the Court adjudges to be reasonable. I gather from a newspaper report, to which my attention has been called, that the cases in question were referred by the Acting Recorder to the registrar of the Court in order that a proper rate of interest should be fixed.