HL Deb 17 March 1884 vol 286 cc12-4

asked the Lord President of the Council, Whether any Return laid before Parliament contained the present numbers of in habited houses in the various counties and boroughs in Ireland returning Members to Parliament, classified according to their various rateable values; whether the Return respecting the franchise in Ireland, ordered by the House on the 7th of February, would contain such information; whether it was a fact that the Return so ordered by the House could not be commenced until next month; and, if so, why; and, further, if such was the case, whether it was in accordance with the statement made in the House on the 7th of March, that every effort was being made for its production at as early a date as possible; and whether the Government had given any instructions for the immediate preparation of the Return, in compliance with the Order of the House? He felt that some apology was due to the Lord President for the fact that a Question on this subject was again put to him. The answer which he received on the last occasion was very full, and so far as he understood it was quite satisfactory. The Lord President stated that every effort would be made for the production of these Returns as soon as possible. He had since learnt, however, from an answer given to a Question in the House of Commons, that the work of preparing these Returns would not be commenced until after the 1st of April, and would not be proceeded with until the House of Commons should vote the necessary funds. He understood that the course pursued in this case had been somewhat unusual; the- ordinary practice being to prepare such a document directly it was ordered by either House, even in cases where a little expense was entailed. It was a one-sided affair to say that a Return could not be prepared, whoever ordered by, until the House of Commons had voted money for it. If a Return were ordered by the House of Commons, their Lordships would never think of questioning it. As regarded Ireland, it was very desirable to know what the conditions of the constituencies might be in order that it might appear what was the number of inhabited houses which existed throughout Ireland when this Return was moved for and agreed to. He was informed there was no Return now before Parliament that conveyed the information he asked for; if there had boon he would certainly not have pressed for this Return.


said, that it would have been more convenient if the noble Karl had put the Question to the noble Lord representing the Treasury in their Lordships' House. The noble Earl was certainly right in supposing that there was no Return at present before Parliament which gave the number of inhabited houses in the various counties and boroughs in Ireland returning Members to Parliament classified according to their various rateable values; but the Return which the noble Earl had already moved for, and which had been ordered by the House, would give those details. The state of the case with respect to the Return was this. The noble Earl and the House would remember that there was an unavoidable difficulty in the way of the Valuation Office completing this Return within a short period with its ordinary staff and under its ordinary Vote, nearly the whole of its staff being engaged upon work of a statutory kind—on the revision of the valuations, which it was necessary should be completed by a certain day. He understood, however, that the Return had been put in hand, and was being carried on so far as the means of the Valuation Office at present permitted. But it would be impossible to complete it or get it ready within such a time as would suit the noble Earl's object without supplementing the Vote. The Treasury had consented to propose a Vote in the House of Commons, and that Vote would be moved as soon as it could be managed. As soon as the necessary money was obtained, the Return would be pressed on with all possible speed.

House adjourned at half past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.