§ MR. PARNELL
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he has received any recommendations from the permanent officials of the Irish Local Government Board for the purpose of meeting the anticipated distress in Ireland; and, if so, whether he will state to the House the nature of these recommendations; and, if he has not received any such recommendations, whether he has decided upon taking any steps himself, or asking 1711 Parliament for further powers than those at present existing for meeting this distress?
§ MR. O'SHEA
said, he should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, at the same time, whether, in reference to the threatened distress and want of employment in Ireland, he has received any answer from the Treasury on the subject of the proposed construction of the Ennis and West Clare Railway on the security of a baronial guarantee?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I have not received an answer from the Treasury; but I think the answer that I propose to make to the hon. Member opposite will practically answer the hon. Member as to the specific Question he has asked with regard to the West Clare Railway. The permanent officials of the Local Government Board have reported that at present the information before them respecting anticipated distress in certain districts in the West of Ireland where it is most apprehended is not of such a character as would lead them to believe that the relief which may be afforded under the existing Poor Law Acts will be found insufficient to provide for the wants of the destitute poor in the coming winter. They have already issued a Circular to the Unions in the West of Ireland—that is, to all the Unions in Connaught, and to the Unions in the counties of Donegal, Clare, Kerry, and West Cork calling their attention to the necessity of making every provision both for indoor and outdoor relief, and especially to see that the relieving officers' districts are not too large, and that the relieving officers are within easy reach of the poor persons residing in every part thereof. The Local Government Board will also call upon their Inspectors to report as to the sufficiency of the arrangements in this respect made by the Guardians in each Union in their charge. In short, the Government have given every care to see that the normal machinery for the relief of distress is in proper order; and they expect to be able to meet the distress with the aid of that machinery. If exceptional pressure comes it will be their duty to see that the administration of the required relief is not interfered with from want of sufficient funds. I may say that this is a subject which, of all others, is most engaging the attention of the Government.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House from what source it would be possible to obtain the additional funds to which he alludes in his answer?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Sir, distress amounting to famine in such a state of things has always been a subject for special treatment by the Government; and I conclude that in the event of such a misfortune they would adopt the example of the Governments which have preceded them, and provide funds to keep the people from starvation, trusting to Parliament to support them afterwards.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the Government have information of widespread distress in Donegal and other parts of the West of Ireland; and, whether inquiries are promptly instituted upon the receipt of such information, in reference to what districts official inquiries have been held or ordered up to the present, and with what result?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Sir, my answer to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) partially deals with this Question; but I may state, in addition, that I have obtained from the Local Government Board the Reports respecting the distress alleged to prevail, or to be anticipated, in the districts of Carrick and Glencolumbkill, county Donegal, Ennistymon Union, county Clare, and Corofin Union, county Clare. So far the result of the special inquiries has been to show that the relief which may be afforded under the existing Poor Law Act is sufficient to cope with the existing and apprehended distress; but further statements having been made respecting distress in Donegal, further inquiry has been ordered, and is now in progress. One of the most experienced and reliable Inspectors of the Local Government—Mr. Hamilton—is at present investigating the state of affairs in the Garrick and Glencolumbkill districts. I expect his Report in a few days, and, meanwhile, I have seen a note from him to the Vice President of the Board which makes me feel hopeful on the subject, as it tends to confirm the reports already received. Inquiries are also in progress in Tory Island, off the coast of Donegal, and in Dromore West Union, county Sligo, and a gunboat has been placed at the 1713 disposal of the Inspector for the Mayo and Galway districts to enable him to visit the Islands off the coast of those counties. I think the hon. Member will thus see that inquiries are promptly instituted on the receipt of information showing such to be necessary, and that the Irish Government and Local Government Boards are fully alive to the responsibility attaching to them.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the Local Government Board have any means of coping with exceptional distress unless additional powers are conferred upon them?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
The hon. and gallant Member will find an answer to his Question is included in the answers I have already given in reply to similar Questions put to me this evening.