§ 72. Mr. SHEEHAN
asked the Chief Secretary whether it is the general policy of the Labourers Acts that tenants of cottages having only an allotment of half an acre of land were to be entitled to an additional half-acre on loans provided out of certain public funds; under what Clause in any Labourers Act does the Local Government Board, whilst refusing loans at the cheap rates provided by Statute, express their willingness to sanction loans if they are raised through banks or in the public market; and whether it is now possible for district councils to promote any further schemes of cottages or additional half-acres by means of State-aided loans; and, if not, what steps does he propose to take in order that the work of housing the rural workers in Ireland may be carried on as hitherto?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
During the passing of the Labourers Act of 1911 an undertaking was given by the Government that the additional million to be provided under that Act would be applied for the express purpose of enabling additional labourers' cottages to be built, and not for the purpose of increasing the allotments to existing cottages. Although under the Labourers Act of 1892 allotments up to one acre may be provided, that Act does not thereby entitle each tenant of a cottage with a half-acre allotment to have an additional half-acre. Under Section 17 of the Labourers Act of 1883 local authorities may (with the consent of the Local Government Board) obtain loans for the purpose of providing labourers' cottages and allotments on the same terms and conditions as they obtain loans for sanitary purposes. As I have already stated, out of the additional million provided by the Act of 1911 loans amounting to nearly £250,000 have been sanctioned, while about £410,000 will probably be required for the carrying out of schemes already inquired into, but in which loans have not been sanctioned. Thirty-nine other schemes have been lodged with the Board, and have not yet been inquired into, involving the erection of about 5,000 cottages and the provision of 460 allotments, at an estimated total cost of about £908,000. As regards the last paragraph of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to 1005 the reply which I gave on 24th instant to the question of the hon. Member for North Westmeath on this subject.
§ Mr. SHEEHAN
Will the right hon. Gentleman say if it is possible for district councils to promote any further schemes by means of State-aided loans?
§ Mr. SHEEHAN
Then what will be done by the right hon. Gentleman for labourers requiring them, who are leaving the country because they cannot get them?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I am very anxious to obtain an additional advance. In 1911 we got a million, and I shall be very glad if in 1913 I can get another million.