§ Mr. COTTON
asked whether the Chief Secretary's attention has been drawn to the proceedings at the inquiry recently held by an inspector of the Local Government Board for Ireland into an application by the Rathmines Urban District Council for additional loans amounting to £16,100 for certain local purposes; whether, as was alleged at that inquiry, the debt of the Rathmines district is, in proportion to population, largely in excess of that of any other urban district in Ireland; whether, as was also alleged at the inquiry, as regards a sum of over £9,000 said to be spent on the promotion in recent years of two Bills in Parliament by the Rathmines Council, some ratepayers who attended the usual audit of the accounts could obtain no satisfactory account of the expenditure of that sum, no vouchers being produced; whether the inspector refused to allow this 1062 matter to be investigated, sneering at it as an old grievance; and, if so, is it proposed by the Local Government Board to take any notice of the action of the inspector or to sanction the loans applied for without any further investigation?
§ Mr BIRRELL
The Local Government Board inform me that the inquiry referred to in the question was held on the 3rd instant. The reply to the second paragraph of the question is in the negative, and it is to be observed that, so far as a debt is due to borrowing, the general statutory basis is not one of population but of valuation, and from this standpoint Rathmines compares very favourably with some other important urban authorities in Ireland. With regard to the expenses in promoting local Bills, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply to the question on the subject by the hon. Member for North Kildare on 4th April, 1908. The Board understand that the inspector informed the gentleman who sought to introduce this subject, which was ventilated about three years ago, that it did not come within the scope of the present inquiry. The gentleman in question was told that he would be heard with reference to the actual subject matter of the inquiry and would be allowed to question witnesses through the inspector, a permission of which advantage was taken. In these circumstances the Board do not consider that the queries raised in the concluding paragraph of the question arise.