§ 22. Mr. RONALD M'NEILL
asked the Chief Secretary whether his attention has been called to the proceedings of the Athlone Urban District Council on 24th July, when the question of the council's debts was under discussion, and it was stated by the chairman that the council had been presented with an account for coal supplied to them amounting to £2,000, of which they were unable to pay more than £200, and that they were threatened with legal proceedings by the contractors if the debt were not paid within a week; whether he is aware that it was also stated that a further sum of £2,800 was owing for gas, that the council were unable to pay interest on its debt, and that the rates could not be collected, and that it was decided to apply to the Local Government Board for a loan to enable the council to meet its current liabilities; whether he can say what is the total indebtedness of the Athlone Urban Council; and whether the Government intends to sanction a loan for the purpose of paying the tradesmen's bills of this council?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The facts are as stated in the first paragraph of the question. An application for sanction to a loan to meet the council's liability to the contractors in question has been received by the Local Government Board. The council were informed on the 16th June, 1911, in connection with a similar application, that the Board had no power to authorise borrowing for such a purpose, and they are new referring the council to the terms of that letter. There is no information available as to the other matters referred to in the question, and the Board have no precise particulars as to the total indebtedness of the council.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
Will the Local Government Board cause any inquiry into the finances of this body?