§ Mr. GINNELL
asked the Chief Secretary if he will ascertain and state the date of the appointment of the present secretary of Westmeath County Council, and the salary then fixed; the date of each increase of his salary since then, with the amount of increase, and whether it was preceded by notice of motion in each case; the present amount of his salary, and whether sanctioned by the Local Government Board; the payments made to him in each of the last three years under the 860W Grand Juries Acts, the Franchise Acts, and the Old Age Pensions Act, respectively; and the present gross annual income of this official from all public sources?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The present Secretary of the county council was appointed in July, 1906, at a salary of £10 a year, which was increased after due notice to his present salary of £40 a year in September, 1908, and sanctioned by the Local Government Board. The following sums have been certified by the Secretary as having been paid to him during each of the last three years ended 31st March, 1909, 1910, and 1911 under Franchise Acts, £89 Os. 1d., £99 7s. 3d., and £101 1s., respectively; under Jurors Act, £64 1s. 9d., £81 11s. 9d., and £82 Os. 9d., respectively; under Diseases of Animals Act, £80 per annum; and under Explosives Act £5 per annum. The Board have no record of any further payments having been made to him during these years, and his present gross annual income as county secretary as certified by himself would appear to be £308 1s. 9d.
§ Mr. GINNELL
asked whether the secretary of Westmeath County Council is the returning officer, and has the appointment of presiding officers and charge of the ballot boxes at the local government elections there; whether it is with the approval of the Irish Local Government Board he is using his powers, inducements, threats, and active canvass to influence the result of pending contests; if not, whether the Board will withdraw from him until the elections are over all power of interfering with them, and send down an impartial outsider to appoint presiding officers, take charge of the ballot boxes, and superintend the count; and, if not, what action the Board will take to secure the secrecy of the ballot against a person who has forfeited public confidence?
§ Mr. BIRRELL
The reply to the first paragraph of the question is in the affirmative. The Local Government Board have no information regarding the allegations of influence brought against this official, and they have no statutory authority to interfere in the conduct of the election. Under rules made by the Board severe penalties are, however, provided in the case of irregularities on the part of returning officers.