§ Mr. LUNDON
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland at what price the seed potatoes supplied to rural councils last year were purchased by the Local Government Board; what was the fixed price put on by the Local Government Board to rural councils; what was the charge for freightage, etc.; if he is aware that in some cases the labourers had to pay more than Is. 8d. per stone; and if the full estimate of the cost of these potatoes and the incidental expenses will b given so as to satisfy the general public, and particularly the labourers?
§ Mr. SAMUELS
Seed potatoes, under the Labourers Scheme; were purchased by rural district councils, with the approved of the Local Government Board, through the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland, who had arranged beforehand with shipping merchants to supply such potatoes at a fixed 1111W price. This price was the price fixed by the military to the grower, plus a fixed sum to cover cost of handling, bagging, and placing free on rail. The fixed price so determined and charged to all rural district councils was £10 5s. per ton—that is to say, 1s. 3⅜d. per stone. The incidental expenses incurred by rural district councils in connection with supplies were heavy in some cases and considerably increased the cost. The expenses were not subject to control except in so far as the remuneration of officers was concerned. In a number of cases the remuneration was materially reduced. In ten rural districts, out of 130 receiving supplies the charge slightly exceeded 1s. 8d. per stone. In one rural district the charge was 1s. 9d. The average charge was about s. 7d. a stone. The Return suggested in the concluding part of the question could only be compiled at an expenditure of time and labour which would not be commensurate with the information obtained.