§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether the Longford Board of Guardians applied early in last December to the Local Government Board for Ireland to have Longford Union included in the Schedule of Unions in which loans were offered to landowners on special terms, stating that employment would be necessary to prevent distress, and that the landowners of the union were willing to provide the employment if afforded the special facilities for borrowing; whether the Local Government Board refused this application, several proposals from landowners for loans being then actually before the Board of Works; whether the guardians repeated their application, advising the Board that distress was increasing and would soon become serious; whether the application being again refused the guardians addressed a remonstrance to the Local Government Board and sent a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant; whether since the last rejection of the application severe distress has been reported from several districts in the Longford Union; whether this distress and the consequent necessity for demands on public charity might have been prevented if the application of the guardians had been complied with at first; whether the Scheduled Unions are not chiefly those in which meetings in favour of land reform have been held; and, if he would state why relief has not been afforded to Longford?
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
Sir, I saw the hon. Member's Question only this morning, and have not, therefore, been able to refer to the authorities for the information which is necessary in order to answer it properly, so that I fear I may be unable to answer it quite in the terms in which it is put. But I remember 151 that the Longford Union did mate application to be added to the Schedule of Unions in which loans were offered to landowners. This Memorial was, according to the usual practice, referred to the Inspector of the district by the Local Government Board, and, acting on his recommendation, the application was refused, the Local Government Board being of opinion that there was no exceptional distress in the district to warrant it. The Guardians did repeat the application. I understand, also, that a further application was made direct to the Lord Lieutenant, who, after a careful consideration of the subject by the Irish Government, returned an answer to the Memorial. The hon. Gentleman asks me later on whether severe distress has been reported from several districts in the Longford Union since the last rejection of the application. Representations have been made from time to time of the prevalence of distress in that and other Unions, and those representations have been, in accordance with the general practice, referred by the Local Government Board to the local authorities. The hon. Member asks me further whether the Scheduled Unions are not chiefly those in which meetings in favour of land reform have been held. I believe it to be the case that the promoters of meetings on the subject of land tenure have very generally called them in districts which, on account of the distress prevailing in them, have been added to the Schedule; but I need scarcely say that the action of the Government was in no way influenced by the proceedings of those or any other meetings.