§ Mr. SHEEHAN
asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that his predecessor in office, when moving the Second Reading of the Labourers (Ireland) Bill in 1906, estimated that the £4,250,000 provided under it would build from 25,000 to 30,000 cottages; can he say how many cottages have been actually built or are in course of erection for the money already expended; was it the estimate of Mr. Bryce that £23,000 a year would fall upon the rates in respect of improvement schemes under his Bill; how much has really fallen upon the rates on this account; did cottages under the old system cost the ratepayers £5 12s. 6d. each annually, and what do they cost under the later Act; was much emphasis then laid by the Government upon the necessity for providing sanitary dwellings for the Irish workers, in order to prevent the spread of disease, and a guarantee given that when the £4,250,000 was exhausted further cheap money would be provided for housing the rural labourers; and will he state what steps will be taken to continue the beneficent influences of the Labourers Act of 1906, by providing such further moneys at the 2¾ per cent. interest as may be necessary?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The figures quoted by the hon. Member were given by my predecessor when introducing the Labourers (Ireland) Bill in 1906, and he also made the statement as to the prevention of disease which is referred to in the question. The number of cottages actually built or in course of construction and the present charge upon the rates could only be obtained by calling for a return from all the local authorities, but it is expected that not less than 24,000 cottages with garden allotments, and 4,300 additional half-acre plots in connection with cottages previously 1483 erected, will be provided out of the four and a quarter millions. As regards the cost of cottages under the Act of 1906, the repayment of a loan of £170 for a cottage and plot would involve a charge upon the rates of £3 10s. 9d., less some £2 12s. for rent received. I have no knowledge of any guarantee to provide further cheap money as mentioned in the question, but, as I have already stated in reply to a question asked by the hon. Member for Mid-Tipperary, the Government are considering the question of re-enacting Section 18 of the Labourers Act of 1883.
§ Mr. SHEEHAN
Does that mean that money will be provided at the rate of interest which prevailed under the Act of 1906?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
Under the Act of 1883 money for labourers' cottages was provided out of the Local Loans Fund, and the interest was adjusted to make it as low as possible consistent with its being a self-supporting scheme. It will be at a low rate of interest.
§ MEMBER SWORN.—Colonel Seely (Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies), for the county of Derbyshire (Ilkeston Division) in the place of Sir Walter Foster, resigned.