§ Mr. GUINEY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland if he will state the number of district councils in Ireland which formulated schemes for building labourers' houses in Ireland under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, 1883 to 1906, by provinces, giving the number of houses built in each province, the average for all Ireland, and the average for each of the four provinces?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I would refer the hon. Member to the Return No. 192 presented to Parliament in June last, which gives the information required. The average numbers of cottages actually built per district on 31st March last were: Ulster, 103; Munster, 247; Leinster, 215; Connaught, 46; and all Ireland, 166.
§ Mr. GUINEY
asked the Chief Secretary if he will state the number of labourers' houses built in each province in Ireland during the period in which The Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1883, was operative, and the cost of erection in each province; what was the rate of interest on loans obtained under that Act; and the names of the counties in Ireland which built no houses under the Act of 1883?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
I would refer the hon. Member to the Return. No. 194 presented to Parliament in June, 1906, which gives particulars of the working of the Labourers Acts up to the 31st March, 1906. The only county in which no cottage had been provided was Mayo. The rates of interest at which the loans were granted varied from time to time between 1883 and 1906, but prior to the passing of the latter Act the annuity covering principal and interest on a fifty years loan, the longest period then allowed, was £4 17s. 2d. per cent.
§ Mr. GUINEY
asked the Chief Secretary whether, in view of the fact that the Local Government Board have issued a circular stating that, in dealing with new schemes under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts and the granting of local inquiries into the same, they will have due regard to the extent to which the Labourers Act has been already put by the petitioning district council, he will instruct the Local Government Board to also take into account the number of districts in Ireland which 2480W immediately availed themselves of the provisions of The Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1883, and borrowed money at a very high rate of interest, thus incurring loss to the ratepayers; are these districts which availed of this first Act to be now discriminated against, whilst the districts which are below the average will now receive a premium for their inactivity; and whether he will instruct the Local Government Board to recall the circular and allot the money to the councils in the order in which they filed their petitions?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The Local Government Board are not prepared to recall the circular as they consider that priority must be given to the districts where the labourers are most in need of proper and healthy house accommodation.
§ Mr. FFRENCH
asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that during the past twenty-six years the Wexford Rural District Council built 843 labourers' cottages of a design which, having been improved scheme after scheme, received the approval of the Local Government Board on no less than nine occasions; that the council have since July last been trying to get the Board to sanction this same plan in connection with their proposed new scheme; that the Board on the 3rd ultimo laid down the conditions under which they were prepared to sanction the plan; that one of these conditions was that the cottage proposed to be built should contain a certain cubic capacity; that the clerk of works to the council found that, out of the four apartments in the proposed cottage, three would contain 153 cubic feet in excess of the Board's requirements and the other was 28 cubic feet short; that to meet the Board's views the council proposed to build the houses a foot longer; and that, notwithstanding, the Board still decline to sanction the plan, requiring, in addition to all the concessions the council have already made, the cottages to be a foot wider; and whether, having regard to the improvements made by the council on this plan for the past quarter of a century and the further improvements now proposed, he will see that the Local Government Board will no longer withhold their sanction to it?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
It is obvious that a plan of a labourer's cottage which had to be improved scheme after scheme must have been a very poor one, and the fact that cottages have been built on this plan with the assent of the Local Government Board must not be regarded as an indication that 2481W the Board ever approved of the plan as being in every respect what it ought to be. On the contrary, the Board repeatedly suggested amendments, and after the passing of the Act of 1906 renewed their efforts to get one of their model plans or some other suitable plan adopted by the Council, sending down their senior architect to discuss the whole matter with the Council, who, however, declined to fall in with the Board's views. Bather than block the 1907 scheme altogether the Board decided not to press their objections "in deference to the Council's wishes." A new scheme having been now submitted, the Board thought it right to endeavour to have a better plan adopted and correspondence has ensued as stated with some beneficial results in the matter of amendments, but the Council have not as yet brought their plan up to the standard which the Board think must be realised under the Act of 1911. The cottages built under the old Acts have been found to be defective in many ways and the Board are quite determined that the feature of the new Act shall be a really satisfactory healthy and comfortable dwelling for the labourers. The figures of the council's clerk of works as to the cubic capacity of the different apartments are not accepted as correct by the Board.
§ Mr. STANIER
asked the Chief Secretary under what Acts of Parliament owners of land and local bodies in that country can obtain advances of money from public funds for the erection of cottages in the rural districts; what is the total number of cottages so erected, and the total amount of money so advanced to owners and local bodies, respectively; what number of cottages, if any, have been erected by public bodies, other than local bodies, during the last thirty years; what are the names of such public bodies; what is the total amount of money advanced or spent by such public bodies for such purpose; what is approximately the average rent charged in an agricultural county or other agricultural district in Ireland for cottages which have been erected by owners, on public money advanced to them for the purpose, by local bodies and by public bodies, other than local bodies, respectively; and what is approximately the average amount of land attached to each cottage erected in recent years in the rural districts?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The erection of cottages in rural districts for the accommodation of agricultural labourers is carried out by2482W rural district councils acting in pursuance of the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, 1883 to 1911, and the hon. Member will find full particulars showing the working of these Acts up 31st March last in the Return No. 192, presented to Parliament in June last. The average rent of these cottages is 1s. or 1s. 1d. per week, and in recent years the tendency of district councils has been to give the maximum garden allotment of one statute acre. The Local Government Board have no recent particulars regarding operations under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts in municipal towns which are non-urban, and therefore merged in rural districts, but the number of cottages provided by Town Commissioners is practically negligible in comparison with the number erected by rural district councils under the Labourers Acts. Public bodies other than local bodies have certain powers under Sections 67 and 68 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890, but the Board have no information as to how far these powers have been exercised.