§ Mr. DEVLIN
asked the Chief Secretary whether 150 of the agricultural labourers' cottages in the Lurgan rural district have been condemned as unfit for human habitation, and as both dangerous and insanitary; whether the Local Government inspector was afraid to enter some of these cottages, lest they should fall in upon him, and expressed his astonishment that human beings were obliged to live in such wretched hovels; whether the inspector recommended that 150 new cottages should be built forthwith and the old cottages demolished; whether the Lurgan Rural Council proposed to erect sixty-three new cottages at £220 each, whilst the Local Government Board would only sanction £170 each; whether of 213 applicants for cottages, 118 of whose applications were approved by the Lurgan Rural Council, not a single one has had a house provided, although the applications were made as far back as November, 1905; and whether he will use his influence with the Local Government Board to expedite the erection of the necessary cottages?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
An inquiry was held in February, 1912, into a scheme adopted by the rural district council in September, 1911. Several representations were made to the council for cottages on the ground that the existing houses of the labourers694W were unfit for human habitation, and were adopted by the council but were not included in the scheme above referred to. The inspector in his report stated that "the necessity for a very large number of additional houses to replace insanitary dwellings is adequately proved by the very numerous cases in which medical officers have not hesitated to grant the necessary certificates"; but he made no reference in his report to the alleged reluctance on his part to enter the cottages in question. This council have made three improvement schemes since the passing of the Labourers Act of 1906, and orders have been made confirming those schemes and authorising the council to provide 160 additional cottages, forty-six others having been provided under Acts prior to 1906. Ninety-seven of these 160 cottages have already been built, leaving sixty-three, as stated, still to be erected. The council proposed to allow £220 for each of these cottages, but the Local Government Board, in accordance with their settled policy, could only sanction £170 per cottage out of the million provided by the Act of 1911, having regard to the limited scope of that fund and the numerous pressing and necessary schemes that have to be financed out of it. Of the representations received by this council, 118 have, as stated, been approved by them but have not been included in any of their schemes. In view of the limited nature of the fund available, the Board do not feel that they can properly at this juncture bring any pressure on this rural district council in particular in the matter of making a fresh improvement scheme.