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Volume 32: debated on Friday 5 April 1895

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Killybegs Pier

I beg to, ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether his attention has been drawn to the resolution unanimously passed recently by the Grand Jury of the County of Donegal relative to the delay upon the part of the Government in carrying into effect the undertaking given so long since respecting the construction of a deep water pier at Killybegs; and, whether the Government have yet sufficiently considered the matter as to hold out the hope that the necessary work will shortly be proceeded with?

I am afraid I cannot at present supplement the reply given to a somewhat similar question addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury on the 26th March by the hon. Member for South Donegal.

said, the Chief Secretary had been good enough to send him a copy of the answer which was given by the Secretary to the Treasury on the 22nd of March last, to a question in reference to the proposed pier at Killybegs, and he was very much obliged to him for it. In that answer the Secretary to the Treasury stated that one of the reasons for delaying the erection of the pier was a question of funds, and he would like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that the Congested Districts Board would be prepared to pay over the balance. He understood there was a meeting of the Board, of which the right hon. Gentleman was the Chairman, on the 15th of last month, and he wished to ask him what took place at that meeting, and whether they had before them a copy of the resolution of the Grand Jury of the County of Donegal?

I am afraid I cannot answer that question off-hand, and I am not quite sure what light it would throw upon the matter. I shall be in Ireland in a few days, and there will be another meeting of the Congested Districts Board on Friday or Monday. Perhaps, after the recess, I may be able to give the hon. Gentleman some further information.

asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware that not merely unrepresentative and irresponsible bodies like the Grand Jury were clamouring for the completion of this work, but that there was a very strong feeling on the subject amongst representative bodies?

Prison Clerks

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether candidates for the situation of prison clerks were required to undergo the Civil Service examination, and whether, pursuant to the notice in the London Gazette, of the 9th September, 1879, they were charged the examination fee of £3; whether the fee charged is, as recently stated by the Secretary to the Treasury, according to a scale proportioned to the maximum salary attainable in the ordinary course of promotion; whether the examination fee of £3 corresponds in the scale to a maximum salary of £400 to £450; whether certain of the prison clerks who entered under the scale are debarred from any further increment after attaining to a salary of £150 after 15 years' service; and, whether, considering the expectations which were practically held out to the candidates for these posts, and the improbability that equally qualified men would compete for posts with a maximum of £150, he can see his way to redress the inequality between them and the members of the other branches of the Civil Service.

The answer to the first and third paragraphs is in the affirmative. The answer to the second paragraph is that, in the view of the Treasury (and it is that department, and not the Home Office, which is responsible in the matter), the fee has no relation to the rate of promotion in the particular department; still less to the chance of a particular clerk attaining the maximum to which it is proportioned; but depends on the maximum value of posts to which the persons passing the examination can be promoted without obtaining a further certificate. In the case of the prison clerks there were, and are, such posts in the Home Office of which the salary is as high as £450. As to the 4th paragraph, it is true that the salary of clerks of the second class cannot, so long as they remain in that class, rise above £150. I regret that, owing to the disuse of certain of the prisons and to other causes, there has been a block in promotion which has kept in the second class some clerks who might by this time have expected to be in the first. But large promotions took place from one class to the other in 1891, and I fear I cannot do anything further to improve their position.

asked whether the notices issued by the Treasury stated that the maximum salary for those who paid £3 examination fees would be £400 to £450?

Artisans' Houses At Mullingar

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, can he state the reason why the Irish Board of Works are delaying the advance of £1,100 to the Mullingar Town Commissioners for the erection of six artisans' houses (Scheme 4), the Local Government Board having sanctioned the loan on 9th January last.

I understand that the Board of Works have called on the Town Commissioners for a statement of the title of the premises on which it is proposed to build the houses referred to. As soon as this statement has been furnished, no time will be lost in proceeding with the case.

Royal College Of Science, Dublin

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education, if his attention has been directed to the inadequacy of the building used by the Royal College of Science in Dublin for the requirements of modem scientific training, and more especially to the chemical laboratory; and if it is proposed to take any steps to place the college on an equal footing with the similar institution at South Kensington?

My attention has been directed to the inadequacy of the building generally of the Royal College of Science in Dublin. The Science and Art Department has for some time been in correspondence with the Treasury and the Irish Government on the subject, and I hope that it may be found possible to provide the college with better accommodation. At the same time I may add that I consider that the buildings of the Royal College of Science at South Kensington are by no means adequate for the purposes for which they are used.

Alleged Death From Want In County Mayo

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, if his attention has been called to the death from want of a Mr. Hegarty, of Doonardyce, county Mayo, and to the fact that the case has been brought under the notice of Inspector Lynch of the Local Government Board, and that he has taken no action to prevent more deaths taking place; and, have any relief works been yet established in the district of Doonardyce, in the Castlebar Union; and, if not, will he see that works are immediately opened so as to help the people to tide over the period of distress?

The attention of the Local Government Board has been drawn to the alleged death from want of the person named in the question, and inquiry is now being made into the matter. The Board have not considered it necessary to recommend the opening of works in this district.

Law And Justice Estimates

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he will direct that pages 235–7 of the recently issued Law and Justice Estimates, Class III., be reprinted to show the actual amounts required for each class of English prison officials in salary and allowances for the past and present financial years, as is given in the case of the Irish and Scotch Prisons Services, and other Departments in this class?

I presume that what my hon. Friend desires is the details of subhead D of the Prison Vote, showing the method by which the figures of £307,732 for 1895–96 and £312,625 for 1894–95 are arrived at. I have taken note of this suggestion, and will communicate it to the Home Office for consideration in connection with future estimates. But in view of the elaborate details given on pages 239 to 247 I cannot think it necessary to give any further particulars in the current year.

The Volunteers

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, when he proposes to introduce the Bill in contemplation to enable the Government to accept the services of Volunteer corps or portions of corps in times of national emergency, as recommended by the Select Committee of last Session on the Volunteer Acts; and, in order that the introduction of such a Bill may not be liable to be interpreted as an act of menace to a Foreign Power, if he will consider the desirability of taking advantage of the peaceful relations now prevailing between Her Majesty and other Governments?

The Bill to give effect to this recommendation has been prepared; and the Secretary of State hopes to introduce it very shortly after Easter.

Post Cards

I beg to ask the Postmaster General, if he can state what is the estimated loss which the revenue would annually sustain if the thin post cards were sold at their face or stamp value, namely, for a halfpenny each.

If thin post cards were sold at their face value, the loss, calculated on the present numbers of such cards sold, would be about £6,000 a year; but as the effect of such a concession would naturally be that the thin official post card would tend to displace all other cards, no doubt the actual loss would be very much greater, and would extend to the private stationer as well as to the Revenue.

asked the right hon. Gentleman if he could say what the loss to the Department was on the sale of halfpenny post cards.

Women Workers In Textile Factories

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether, in their recent visits to textile factories for the purpose of making inquiry as to the opinion and the wishes of the women workers with regard to women's overtime, the Inspectors have seen the women workers in the presence of their employers?

An isolated case appears to have occurred in which the opinion of the operatives was asked in the presence of the employers; but this is entirely contrary to the usual practice of the factory inspectors, and instructions have been issued which will prevent its recurrence. It is clear that when operatives are questioned in the presence of their employers the inspector may fail entirely to ascertain their real opinions and wishes.

The Aged Poor Commission

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether the Government has considered the various Reports made by members of the Royal Commission on the Provision for Old Age; and what action they propose to take in regard to this question?

The Reports have only been in my hands a very few days, and there has not been time for the consideration of them by the Government. I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to renew his question after Easter.

Rathmines Township Commissioners

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland if his attention has been called to the reports in the Dublin Press of Thursday of the proceedings of the Rathmines Township Commissioners, from which it appears that the Assistant Secretary reported the introduction of the Municipal Franchise Bill in Parliament, and stated that their Secretary and the Secretary of the Pembroke Commissioners were both over in London watching the interests of the Commissioners, and also to the proceedings of the Blackrock Township Commissioners, at which the Chairman read a long letter from the Town Clerk, who was in London, commenting on the proceedings of the Parliamentary Committee having charge of this Bill, and that the writer was to have further conferences with the representatives of Pembroke and Rathmines townships, and Mr. Barton, in reference to the Bill; whether the Local Government Auditor will permit the expenses of these three officials to be charged on the rates; and will they ascertain whether their visit was undertaken without the authority of any Resolution of the townships?

Perhaps my hon. and learned Friend will repeat this question on Monday. It was only placed on the Paper this morning, and there has not been sufficient time to obtain the observations of the Local Government Board.

Welsh-Speaking-Travelling Inspectors

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether there is one of the travelling inspectors appointed by the Agricultural Department who is able to understand Welsh; and whether, seeing that the majority of the population in most of the agricultural districts of Wales are monoglot Welsh men, he will consider the advisability of appointing a Welsh-speaking Inspector to visit these districts?

(Mr. HERBERT C. GARDNER, Essex, Saffron Walden)

I believe that none of the Inspectors to whom my hon. Friend refers can speak Welsh, but I am assured that no inconvenience has arisen from this fact. On the occurrence of a vacancy, however, I should be quite willing to give effect to my hon. Friend's suggestion, in the event of a Welsh-speaking candidate presenting himself who was fully qualified in other respects.

The Great Western Railway

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether that Department has any special complaint in regard to the Great Western Railway Company, whose Bill is down for Second Reading before this House, either under the Conciliation Clause of the Traffic Acts, 1888 and 1894, or the Railway Regulation (Servants' Hours) Act, 1893?

The Board of Trade have no special complaint as regards the Great Western Railway. Under the Acts referred to, there are a number of cases pending, and these are being dealt with in the manner prescribed by law.

Land Tax

I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether his attention has been drawn to the change made this year in the receipt form for Income Tax, House Duty, and Land Tax, in which the requirement formerly prescribed has been omitted, namely, that the receipt for Income Tax must be produced to the landlord on the claim being made on the landlord to allow the tax out of the next payment of rent; and whether, this change having been made, a landlord can still demand to see the receipt; and, if not, whether, if he allows the tax to be deducted from the rent, he will be free from all claim for the tax should it not be paid?

It was found necessary to alter the wording of the form of receipts for taxes for 1894–95 in consequence of the passing of the Finance Act, and the opportunity was taken to make it a more convenient shape and to omit the words referred to in the question, for which there is no actual statutory authority. A landlord is, however, clearly within his rights in demanding proof that his tenant has paid his tax which he is deducting from his rent, as the tax, if unpaid by the tenant, would remain a charge on the property.

I understand it would be competent to require to see the receipt, although that is not stated.

The Local Veto Bill

I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to introduce the Local Veto Bill on Monday. Can he say whether the precedent of last year will be followed, and Ireland excluded from the operation of the Bill?

The same course has been followed in the Bill I am about to introduce as in the Bill of last year, and for the same reason. Of course, it will be entirely open to the House to say whether or not Ireland should be included. I propose to follow the precedent of last year.

Mr Macgregor And The Government

With the indulgence of the House I wish to make a short personal statement. As the Government have hitherto failed to legislate for the Highlands, and have now declared through the Leader of the House that they have no time for the purpose, I decline any longer to play merely the part of a voting machine—["Oh, oh! "and laughter]—to keep the Government in Office while they fail to fulfil their pledges to my constituents.

Order, order. While this is no doubt a personal matter, it hardly comes within the denomination of a personal explanation. The hon. Gentleman will take his own course as to what he intends to do but this is hardly a matter which comes within the category of a personal explanation.

Of course I bow to your ruling, but my object was a personal explanation, and I understood I was permitted to make it at this hour.

Fisheries (Close Season) (Ireland) Bill

On the Motion of Captain Donelan, Bill to amend the Fisheries (Ireland) Acts, 1842 to 1891, by providing the right of appeal in certain cases.

Bill presented, and read the first time; to be a second time upon Tuesday next, and to be printed. [Bill 195.]

Purchase Of Land Bill

On Motion of Mr. Jesse Collings, Bill to provide greater facilities for the sale of land to occupying tenants and others.

Bill presented, and read the first time; to be read a second time upon Wednesday, 24th April, and to be printed. [Bill 196.]