§ MR. N. K. SHEE (Waterford, W.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, (1) whether it is his intention to avail himself of the Bill for the amendment of the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, which the late Chief Secretary announced that he had in preparation; and, (2) whether he will include in any Bill for the amendment of the Labourers Acts, that may be introduced by him, provisions giving effect to the unanimous Resolution of the House of Commons on the 13th April, 1894, on the subject of allotments, and also provisions extending to Ireland the enactments contained in The Local Government Act, 1894, relating to the qualification and election of Poor Law Guardians?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The draft Bill which my predecessor had in preparation is a confidential document, which it is impossible for me to see unless with his authority. In reply to the second paragraph, I must decline at present to state the details of the Measure which I have in preparation.
§ MR. N. K. SHEE
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, (1) whether he has received copies of resolutions passed by many Boards of Guardians in Ireland calling upon the Government to reduce the interest charged on loans under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts, which is now considerably in excess of the interest charged on advances under the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Acts;(2) whether he will consider the expediency of extending the time for the repayment of such loans to forty-nine years, as under the last-named Acts; and, (3) whether, with 550 a view to facilitate the working of the Labourers Acts, he intends in any amending Bill he may introduce or by administrative action to provide that the Probate Duty grant to Poor Law Unions shall be regarded as a grant in aid of the payment of loans under the Labourers Acts in the case of Poor Law Unions which shall have obtained or may obtain such loans?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
In reply to the first question I have to say that such resolutions have been received, and, as the result of representations on the subject from the Irish Government, the terms for loans under the Labourers Acts have recently been revised by the Treasury. The rates of interest, having regard to the different periods which may be selected for repayment, are now the same as those fixed, specially, under the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890. On a fifty-year loan the rate hitherto charged was 3¾ per cent., but this has now been reduced to 3½, The answer to the second question is that loans can at present be granted for fifty years. In answer to the third question I have to state that the present method of distribution of the Probate Duty Grant has been in force for a number of years, during which period the Labourers Acts have also been in operation, and there seems no special reason for altering it now in the manner suggested. Besides, it is to be borne in mind that the working of these Acts will in future be much facilitated by the application of the "Exchequer contribution" of £40,000 per annum mentioned in Section 5 of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891. Under that Section this contribution was to be carried to a reserve fund in connection with land purchase until a sum of £200,000 had been so appropriated; this has now been done, and, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the first claim on the annual contribution of £40,000 will be in respect of the provision of labourers' cottages.
§ Mr. SHEE
asked if it was not possible for the Government to make loans under the Labourers Act at the same rate of interest as they made loans under the Land Purchase Act.