§ Mr. J. P. FARRELL
asked the Chief Secretary whether the effect of the provisions of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, compelling all occupying tenants of £4 valuation and under to pay rates on the ratepayers of the urban districts in Ireland has been brought to his notice; whether he is aware that in all or nearly 1812 all these cases these tenants are living in unsanitary slum dwellings in a state of chronic poverty and find it more difficult often to obtain a living than even to pay rates; whether as a matter of fact many of these poor people are in receipt of outdoor relief; whether it is the custom and the practice once a year to wipe off all such uncollectable rates as irrecoverable arrears, whereupon the amounts are reassessed and the ratepayers who bear the burden of municipal expenditure find these amounts relevied on them; whether he is aware that most of these tenements are owned by middle and ground landlords who before the passage of the Local Government Act, 1898, paid these rates and recouped themselves in many cases by an increase in rents which have never been reduced in respect of the saving of rates to such landlords under this Act; and if, considering all these facts and the number of these people annually disfranchised by this section, he will introduce a short amending Local Government Act to make the owners or immediate lessors of such properties responsible for the rates and pay the same?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the question on this subject asked by the hon. Member for Mid-Cork on 16th February last. In the case of rates put forward as uncollectable the circumstances of each person are separately considered. The results of the rate collection generally in Ireland do not bear out the statements in the question regarding the liability to collect rates. Provision is made in the Local Government Act of 1898 (Section 54) for the adjustment of rent in consequence of the transfer of liability for payment of the rate. As I have already stated, I am not prepared to recommend any amendment of the Act in the direction indicated by the hon. Member.