§ Mr. GINNELL
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland (1) what reduction, in pursuance of the policy of retrenchment, has been made in the inspectorate and higher members of the general staff of the Local Government Board for Ireland since the War began; what its numbers and aggregate salary and expenses were in 1905 and in 1915, respectively; whether he will consider the advisability of the staff being fixed at the number of the former year; and what is the reason for retaining the surplus staff; (2) whether he will say what reduction, in pursuance of the policy of retrenchment, has been made in the auditing staff of the Local Government Board for Ireland since the 2094W War began; what its numbers and aggregate salary and expenses were in 1905 and in 1915, respectively; whether the statements of Poor Law officers are correct, that an auditor draws separate salary and fees for auditing the accounts of different local bodies at the same time and place, and double or treble fees when half-yearly audits are omitted and accounts for two or three half-years are audited at the same time and place; seeing that a yearly audit is sufficient for the accounts of the Corporations of Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, why the cost of preparing for half-yearly audits is imposed upon small local bodies with comparatively trifling expenditure; and to what useful work it is proposed to turn the surplus auditing staff; and (3) will he state what reduction, in pursuance of the policy of retrenchment, has been made in the labour staff of the Local Government Board for Ireland since the War began, seeing that new schemes are in suspense and the work consequently reduced to a minimum; what its numbers and aggregate salary and expenses were in 1905 and in 1915, respectively; whether, as in the former year, this entire staff can be dispensed with and such work as remains done, as then, by the Local Government Board; and to what useful work it is proposed to turn this staff?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The reduction in their staff which the Local Government Board have been able to make owing to the suspension of all borrowing for housing and public health purposes during the War represents a saving in all Departments amounting to £4,738 a year. This saving is not shown in the Estimates now before Parliament owing to the fact that a new Grant to Ireland of £5,000 for Child Welfare has been added by the Treasury to the Local Government Board's Vote for the ensuing year. This Vote, therefore, appears to be higher than that for the current year by £262, notwithstanding that the large retrenchment of £4,738 aforesaid has been effected by reductions of the staff. The actual reductions in the Labourers' Department include three inspectors, two architects, and nine clerks. One of the general inspectors employed exclusively in connection with municipal and loan expenditure has been seconded for service in the Navy, and the vacancy has not been filled up; and the vacancy caused by the death of an inspector of workhouse hospitals has not been filled up for the present. The work of the auditors has not been lessened by the 2095W War, and it has not been possible to reduce the number. The auditors receive no fees and are paid fixed salaries according to their class. The period for which the accounts of the different authorities must be made up and audited is fixed by Statute, and cannot be altered by the Local Government Board. Since 1905 eleven important Acts of Parliament have thrown heavy additional duties on the Local Government Board which could not have been fulfilled without an increase in the staff. There is, therefore, no analogy between the staff in 1915 and 1905; but the actual figures asked for by the hon. Member are as follows:
It would take a great deal of time and trouble to segregate the travelling expenses for each class in 1905 and 1915, but taking the aggregate the cost last year was slightly less than in 1905.
— 1905. 1915. No. Salary. No. Salary. £ £ Inspectorate, including Medical, General, Assistant Inspectors and Lady Inspectors 23 12,450 27 14,290 Auditors 18 9,780 21 11,995 Higher Staff 30 16,443 37 21,618