§ Mr. VERNEY
asked whether any, and, if so; how many, credit societies or loan banks on co-operative principles have been established in Ireland; whether any super vision is exercised over them by the Irish Government; whether their working is shown to be satisfactory; whether any, and, if so, what, financial assistance has been given them by the Irish Government; and whether any money so advanced to them has been or is irrecoverable; and, if so, to what extent?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am not in a position to say what number of these societies have been established in Ireland. They are not under the supervision of any Department of the Irish Government, but an inspector of the Department of Agriculture was allowed last year to examine the books of 103 societies to which the Department had made loans. The only financial assistance afforded by the Irish Government to these societies is by way of loans granted' by the Department, amounting in all to £17,800. Of this amount £600 was considered by the Department's inspectors to be bad or doubtful, but it is not possible to say how much may ultimately prove to be irrecoverable.
§ Mr. CHARLES BATHURST
May I ask whether, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, these agricultural credit societies, which have been so eminently successful on the Continent, are not likely to succeed in Ireland or in other parts of the United Kingdom?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I would rather not express an opinion. The subject is one well worthy of Debate in this House, and I hope it shall soon receive attention.