CEISTEANNA—QUESTIONS. - RELIEF OF UNEMPLOYMENT.

SEAN O LAIDHIN:

To ask the Minister for Finance whether the Local Government Board undertook to pay a sum of £20,000 to each of the County Councils of Westmeath and Longford for the relief of unemployment; whether any portion of these sums has been paid to these Councils and, if so, how much; also, if he will state the amount of the Motor Tax collected in these Counties of Westmeath and Longford and what is the amount allocated or to be allotted to each of these County Councils and when will same be paid.

I am not aware of any undertaking to the exact effect mentioned, but arrangements were made for the allocation of grants to County Councils in connection with Road Schemes for the relief of unemployment in proportion, roughly, to the amount of grants withheld from the various counties by the British Government. Under these arrangements grants amounting to £264,544 have already been paid, including sums of £4,333 6s. 8d. and £3,666 13s. 4d. to Westmeath and Longford respectively.

As arrangements for the collection of Motor Tax were only recently completed it is not yet possible to say what the sums collected under these heads have been in the several counties, or how the monies of the Road Fund will be allocated after Motor Tax has been paid into it.

SEAN O LAIDHIN:

Mr. Chairman, would I be in order in asking a further question. There was a circular letter sent from the Local Government Board to the Westmeath County Council, offering them a grant of £20,000 out of which unemployment was to be relieved. A fortnight later there was a further letter from the Government to the effect that £8,000 would be allocated for unemployment, and that County Councils were to proceed immediately with the scheme to relieve unemployment. I am sure that that £8,000 has not yet been paid, although the County Council of Westmeath have expended a large sum of money. I would like to know would it be possible for the Minister for Finance to secure for us a grant of a few thousand pounds for the relief of unemployment? The Provisional Government owe Westmeath County Council a sum of £90,000 in respect of withheld grants.

In the distribution of balances of withheld local taxation a grant of £18,614 was issued to Westmeath and on the same date a grant of £12,062 to Longford. I don't recollect any letter being sent to Westmeath County Council promising them a sum of £20,000, and I doubt very much if that statement is correct about the £90,000; in fact I have no hesitation in saying that the Deputy is altogether wrong in mentioning that sum.

SEAN O LAIDHIN:

Will I make a further enquiry about it?