§ Mr. COOPER
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been directed to the statement made at the recent Herefordshire Assizes by Mr. Justice Grantham when sentencing Thomas Grice, assistant overseer for Orcop, who pleaded guilty to forging and uttering a banker's pass book, that he would have inflicted a heavier sentence had it not been for the fact that a Government auditor showed ignorance in his inspection of the accountancy and that the matter had gone on for 9 years; whether the official who audited these books possessed any expert knowledge of accountancy; whether he is still an auditor of the Board, and, if so, what does he intend to do in the matter?
§ Mr. BURNS
I have to-day replied to an oral question put to me on this subject by the hon. Member for the Hoxton Division. Perhaps I may be allowed to repeat the answer here:—"My attention has been called to this matter. I have also seen a report of a statement made by the Judge at the next sitting of the Court, which I find he regarded as practically exculpating the auditor from blame. I understand that the Judge instructed the official shorthand writer to take a note of this statement in case there were no reporters present, so that the statement might be the auditor's answer if anything were said against him. The present auditor entered the public service as a higher division clerk in the Office of the Local Government Board, after open competition, and up to the time of his appointment as assistant auditor in 1901 was employed on work in that office connected with the audit of the accounts of the local authorities. He is also a barrister. I am quite satisfied as to his qualifications for the office of district auditor, and also as to his ability and carefulness. The salary attached to the Audit District in question is £500 per annum, rising by £20 annually to £675. I should add that the forgery of the overseer's bank pass book, which led to the arrest and conviction of the assistant overseer, was, in fact, discovered by the auditor at the last audit."