HC Deb 02 August 1911 vol 29 cc542-3W

asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether any decision has yet been come to by the Treasury as to paying certain expenses incurred by clerks of the Crown and peace in Ireland for printing and advertising certain necessary forms on their orders, which by a decision of the Court of Appeal in Ireland have been declared to be illegal payments by the county council of Galway, and which decision has prevented payment to printers and newspaper owners all over Ireland for amounts due up to 1st January of this year; whether he has considered the effect upon these people who, in the ordinary course of business, would have been paid their amounts last February, of being kept out of their money whilst a Government Department is considering whether they will appeal to the House of Lords or not; whether he will indicate what course the Treasury intend to take immediately; and what remedy will be placed in the hands of the creditors for this delay?


The hon. Gentleman is misinformed as to the effect of the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case referred to in the question. The Court of Appeal did not decide that the expenses dealt with in that case could not be legally defrayed by the county councils. On the contrary, the court clearly decided that the county councils had full power to make the payments, and that there was no other authority bound to do so. The matter accordingly does not appear to be in any sense one for the Treasury. All that the Court of Appeal did hold was, that while the county councils had unquestionable authority to incur the expenses involved, they were not under an obligation to do so. These expenses were undertaken by the county councils throughout Ireland since their creation in 1898, and prior thereto by their predecessors, the grand juries (save as to one item arising in its present form under the Local Government Act, 1898), and the Court of Appeal carefully pointed out the grave loss and inconvenience that would result to the ratepayers and local suitors if there were any departure by the county councils from the practice so long established. There has been no question of taking an appeal to the House of Lords. Indeed, an appeal could not be taken in the particular case.