§ 11 Mr. GINNELL
asked the Chief Secretary (1) at what date the Comptroller and Auditor-General took charge of the accounts of the Irish Constabulary Force Fund; whether an independent examination of the accounts of both branches of the fund prior to that date will be allowed; (2) if he will state the total amount of rewards and gratuities paid out of the Irish Constabulary Force 2231 Fund to French; the years and the services for which they were paid; the year and the offences for which French subsequently fled from justice; and (3) what memorials he has received, and on behalf of what number of subscribers to the Irish Constabulary Force Fund, praying for the winding-up and distribution of that fund; what memorials, if any, he has received, and on behalf of what number of subscribers, praying the contrary; and since more than 90 per cent, of the subscribers, whose property the fund is, call for its distribution, what precedent there is for keeping a fund in existence against the wish of its owners for the sake of a staff of administrators?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
As I have already informed the hon. Member, the accounts of the Constabulary Force Fund have been audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General since the establishment of his Department in 1866. An examination of the accounts prior to that date would not be practicable in view of the fact that the vouchers for receipts and payments have long since been destroyed. No grant from the benefit branch of the fund was made to ex-County Inspector French, but in 1870 he received £20 from the reward branch for good services in an important case of embezzlement, and another of £10 in 1871 in connection with a case of coining. In 1884 he was convicted of criminal conspiracy and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. I have received a number of memorials and resolutions praying for the winding-up of the fund, and also representations to the contrary, but I am not aware of the number of subscribers represented in these communications. I have nothing further to add to my previous replies to questions on this subject.
§ 24. Mr. FFRENCH
asked the Chief Secretary whether he has seen a copy of resolutions passed by the Royal Irish Constabulary pensioners residing in the county of Wexford, calling upon the Government to take immediate steps to have the Royal Irish Constabulary pensioners' fund wound up and equally distributed amongst those who have claims thereon, stating that the fund is in excess of all claims that are likely to be made on it, and that they are opposed to further subscriptions; that the fund being the property of the subscribers, they are opposed to have any portion of it handed over to the National Debt Commissioners, and requesting the Government to amend the 2232 law and rules governing the fund so that the accumulated capital may be paid over to those entitled to it; and will he say what action he proposes to take?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have received the resolutions referred to, and have nothing to add to the numerous replies I have already given to questions on this subject.
§ 33. Mr. REMNANT
asked the Chief Secretary whether the words of Schedule 4, Rule 4, of the Government of Ireland Bill, to the effect that the allowance awarded to an officer or constable shall in no case exceed two-thirds of his actual pensionable salary, are to be taken as limiting the operation of Rule 2 (b,) if under that rule the retiring allowance exceeds two-thirds of the actual pensionable salary; if so, whether he is aware that it would exclude from the benefits of Rule 2 (6) the senior officers and constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary; and whether, if Rule 4 is not intended to have this interpretation, he will take steps to remove the anxiety which exists among the Royal Irish Constabulary?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The object of the words referred to is to secure that in no case is the compensation allowance to exceed two-thirds of the salary which the officer or constable received at the time of his retirement. A limitation of this kind is a necessary incident to every scheme for compensation of public officers on abolition of office.
§ Mr. REMNANT
Will the right hon. Gentleman look into this matter in view of the obvious hardship incurred by senior officers?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I have looked into the matter, and really it must be taken as a rule of universal application in these matters that in no circumstances, on the abolition of an office, will such pension be granted as will give the man, when he is out of work, more than two-thirds of the salary that he formerly enjoyed.