§ Mr. SHEEHAN
asked the Chief Secretary whether he is aware that close upon £800,000 of the million granted in 1911 for the purposes of the Labourers Acts still remains unallocated; whether this money was voted without any restriction whatever being placed upon its expenditure, and is there accordingly any reason for its being spent only or mainly in districts which during the previous twenty-eight years had failed to do anything to promote schemes under the Labourers Acts; whether he will explain why districts which taxed themselves almost to the limit of a shilling in the pound in the past should have their improvement schemes hung up and inquiries practically refused in order that counties which never taxed themselves to the extent of a penny should get a preference of cheap money; and, seeing that this administrative discretion of the Local Government Board constitutes a penalty upon district councils which dealt generously with the labourers' claims all along, will he use his position as president of the Board to see that the representations of Munster labourers are not unduly delayed?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The hon. Member appears to be under a misapprehension as to the facts. It is not quite correct to say that nearly £800,000 of the additional million granted for the purposes of the Labourers Acts still remains unallocated. While the amount of loans actually sanctioned is only £209,327, inquiries have been held, or ordered to be held, into further schemes proposing 3,567 cottages at an estimated cost of £679,707. Additional schemes have been received from forty-three rural districts, the estimated cost of which is £903,589, and will be dealt with as rapidly as possible, having regard to their comparative urgency and the extent of the financial resources available. The policy of the Local Government Board is to give priority to schemes formulated in those districts where the needs of the labouring classes in the matter of housing accommodation is greatest., and I see no reason to depart from this principle.