*THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I rise to ask Her Majesty's Government whether the delay which has occured between the election of a secretary to the Mayo County Council and the ratification of that election by the Local Government Board has been the cause of any additional expense; and, if so, whether such additional expense will be borne by the Local Government Board or the ratepayers of the county; whether for the future it will not be possible in all similar circumstances to oblige candidates to satisfy the Local Government Board that they possess one or other of the qualifications for the post of secretary to a county council, as laid down by the Board's instructions, before presenting themselves before the county council for election instead of after the election, as was in this instance the case. In asking this question I should like also to put another question to the noble Lord of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether before ratifying the appointment the Local Government Board had taken any steps to ascertain the fitness of Mr. D. O'Connor Kelly, the late secretary to the Mayo County Council, for that post, to which he was appointed by the council, and, if not, whether the expense caused by the condition of the accounts when Mr. Kelly resigned the office will be borne by the Local Government Board or the ratepayers. The circumstances are these. On the resignation of the secretary to the Grand Jury (Mr. Blake), Mr. D. O'Connor Kelly was appointed secretary to the county council in his place. I have no reason to doubt the talents of Mr. D. O'Connor Kelly, but apparently they were not such as made him a very efficient secretary to the county council, because the state of business became so bad that the Local Government Board were forced to write a very strong letter to the Mayo County Council setting forth the condition of affairs and begging that the business should be at once put upon a satisfactory footing. Whether in consequence of this letter or not I am not able to say, but at any rate Mr. D. O'Connor Kelly resigned his post, and it was then found that the condition of 1068 accounts was such—I wish at once to say that I am only referring to their confusion—that a staff of forty-five clerks had to be sent down by the Local Government Board to put them in a proper condition. The clerks were so long at work that the expense occasioned amounted to something like £1,000. What I want to know is, will this £1,000 be borne by the ratepayers or by the Local Government Board. I have not been able to discover that the Local Government Board took any steps before sanctioning the appointment to ascertain whether Mr. Kelly was competent to fulfil the duties of the office. The Local Government Board must have been perfectly well aware of the circumstances under which the appointment was made. The circumstances of the appointment by the Mayo County Council would not be very interesting to your Lordships, and I will merely say that the gentlemen who made the appointment were men possessing the purest and highest motives of patriotism according to their lights, and that their only object was to save the pockets of the ratepayers whom they represented and whose votes they hoped to got again at the next election. They were, however, under a certain feeling of fear of the most powerful man in Ireland at this moment, Mr. William O'Brien, and, under those circumstances, the Local Government Board should have taken the utmost pains to see that any appointment made by them was really a fitting one. I now come to the questions standing in my name on the Paper. The case is as follows: An advertisement was issued in the newspapers stating that an election of a secretary to the Mayo County Council would take place on a certain date, and this advertisement was signed by the acting secretary who had been sent down by the Local Government Board. It was distinctly stated in that advertisement that no person should be eligible to be appointed to the office unless he had been secretary to another county council, or had proved by examination that he was fitted for the post. Three candidates of importance came before the council. One certainly fulfilled all the conditions laid down in the advertisement. The county council, however, elected a gentleman who had absolutely no qualifications, and when his appointment was communicated to the Local Government Board, that body also ignored the fact that he had passed no examina- 1069 tion. They proceeded to set him an examination, and gave him six weeks to prepare for it. I should like to know whether any extra expense was caused by this six weeks delay, which was altogether irregular.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
I am afraid a little confusion exists with regard to the noble Earl's questions, because he commences by asking me a question which is not on the Paper. I do not know whether that is what he referred to when he spoke of a question of which he had given mo private notice.
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
I heard of that, but as the noble Lord did not put it on the Paper I understood that he was not going to ask it. I am afraid I have not got a very full answer to the questions asked as to the expense incurred in the unravelling of the accounts referred to. I can only say that the appointment of the late secretary was not ratified by the Local Government Board; on the contrary, the Department refused to ratify it because the late secretary declined to present himself for examination. If the noble Earl wishes me to make further inquiries with regard to the expense incurred I will do so if he will place a question on the Paper.
*THE EARL OF ARRAN
Then I understand the late secretary was acting solely on the election of the county council, without his appointment being ratified by the Local Government Board?
§ THE EARL OF DENBIGH
That is the Report which is given by the Local Government Board. The delay which occurred between the election of a secretary to the Mayo County Council and the ratification of the appointment by the Local Government Board has caused no additional expense either to the county or to the Department. In answer to the other question, the Local Government Board report that it would not be practi- 1070 cable to require all the candidates to satisfy them that they are possessed of the requisite qualifications before they present themselves for election.
§ House adjourned at half-past Seven of the clock, to Thursday next, half-past Ten of the clock.