TREASURY EXPENDITURE IN IRELAND.
"COMMISSIONERS" and "Boards" are not apt to undervalue their own paid labours in the public service. It is not to be expected that men to whom the expenditure of money is confided by Par- liament will report that the funds so confided to them have been embezzled or misapplied. Their occupation may be jobbing, but they will scarcely admit the feet and record a verdict against themselves. We may be sure that when any thine like an ad- mission of misappropriation is made, there is ample ground for is But Commissioners are responsible to the Treasury : and the Treasury to whom ? Of course to Parliament. Now everybody snows that this responsibility is a mere shadow. Indeed it would argue but a moderate degree of vigilance to look a little more closely than Parliament is apt to do into the proceedings of the Commissions and Boards which it has lately been the fashion to multiply. Were the facts fully known, we suspect it would appear that the Commissioners are induced by the Treasury to concur in and sanction many jobs and much waste, not that the Government exercises salutary control over the Commissioners. This suspicion is warranted by a statement in the "Sixth Annual Report from the Board of Public Works in Ireland.
There is one class of loans which are extremely difficult to regulate in a satisfactory manner: it is the one by which we find our responsibility com- promised more than in any other service,—that is, the class for advances which are allowed to be made for the entire expenditure on works of improvement ; the sole security being the tolls and revenue which the establishment thus to be raised is to produce.
4' The operations are under the sanction of acts of Parliament ; and the ma- nagement vested usually in a numerous body of local Commissioners, who act gratuitously and without responsibility.
4, The object being to improve the particular place or district by an immediate and large outlay of public money, it becomes the very natural desire of the local Commissioners to increase that outlay to the utmost, without their feeling any very great anxiety as to the value of a security which is attended with no risk whatever to themselves or to the community for whom they act.
" Consequently, in considering applications under this system, the Board has to contend with low estimates for the exproditure and exaggerated calculations
of anticipated revenue for the receipts : essential objects fur rendering the est& blishment entirely available are omitted in the calculations, perhaps not inten- tionally, till the Government be thoroughly embarked in the undertaking ; and it ia then sometimes brought forward, and even strongly urged. that unless a
further expenditure be incurred, the preceding outlay will be useless and make no return."
This roguery—for it is nothing better—is sanctioned, it would seem, by parties whom the Commissioners must obey ; though they very mildly remonstrate against it. They complain of "advances which are allowed to be made" to men who give in false estimates for the purpose of obtaining "an imme- diate and large outlay of public money" to improve "a par- ticular place or district." In another place they state, that the money is obtained by a "species of subterfuge, seeking vir- tually for grants under the ostensible name of loans." Who
are to blame for this misappropriation? Not the Commis- sioners, who expose and denounce it. Surely, then, the "Lords Commissioners of her Majesty's Treasury." It would help us to a knowledge whether the fact is so, if the Report stated the names of the applicants ; but, with few exceptions, the place or county alone is given. One suspicious case is that numbered 96 on page 21. The amount of the advance was 10,000/4 the purpose " to improve an estate, county Antrim; " not one farthing has been repaid, and the principal and interest due on the 31st December 1837 was 14,621/. 2s. 2d. Was there no security taken on the "estate?" Is not the property liable for the debt ? This is a case into which some inquiry ought to be made. In numerous instances money has been advanced to repair churches, (there is no end to the cost of the Church in Ireland,) of which not one farthing principal or interest has been returned. his impossible, in the absence of the minute information e Web the Report does not convey, to say whether there has been any undue preference of certain parts of the country; but, on looking over the list of loans and grants, the names of Kerry, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, and Wexford counties, certainly strike the eye oftener than others.
There are two funds, the Loan and the Grant. The amount of the first is 600,0001.; and of this sum 93,022/, is still in the hands of the Commissioners. Of the half million and upwards lent, a considerable portion must, we fear, be put down as irre- coverable. The Grant Fund consisted of 100,0001.; of which 87.4501, 16s. 3d. has been disbursed, and the balance in hand is 12,.5491. Bt. 9d.
These figures show that the funds will soon be exhausted. Doubtless, application will be made for additional supplies,: but before they be voted, let Parliament pause. It appears that the
loans are substantially gifts. The Commissioners admit that such has been the case in many instances. Even interest has not been paid on a large proportion of the pretended loans. Then it is not merely the amount, though that is no trifle : the temptation to favouritism and jobbing which may be safely indulged is almost irresistible. " What ! offend a supporter of Ministers or a friend of my own, by refusing to aid a scheme supported by such esti- mates as he produces! True, the money will help him to drain his bog-land; but what an advantage that will be to the poor people who live on his estate ! Besides, he only wants a few thou- sands as a loan—let him have them."
In this way, Irishmen are bribed with British gold. The know- ledge that such a fund exists, moreover, tends to check, fully as much as to promote, individual exertion and improvements. The habit becomes general of looking to the Castle for aid, and post- poning useful undertakings until that aid can be had; and when the money is procured, it would be against all experience to suppose that it will be economically and faithfully expended.