Finally, with a view to stimulating local effort and the spirit of self-help, a provision was inserted in the Bill to which I attached the greatest importance. Power was given to the Council of any county or of any urban district, or to two or more public bodies jointly, to appoint committees composed partly of members of the local bodies and partly of co-opted persons, for the purpose of carrying out such of the Department’s schemes as were of local rather than of general interest. But in such cases, it was laid down that
“the Department shall not, in the absence of any special considerations, apply or approve of the application of money ... to schemes in respect of which aid is not given out of money provided by local authorities, or from other local sources.”
To meet this requirement, the local authorities were given the power of raising a limited rate for the purposes of the Act.
That the Act of 1899 has in the main answered the expectations formed of it by those who were responsible for its introduction there can, I think, be no doubt. The Act itself, as well as the methods of administration adopted in carrying out its provisions, have been the subject of a full inquiry by a Departmental Committee which reported in 1907. Their report must be regarded as on the whole eminently favourable. In one point only has any important change been recommended. The Committee suggest that the post of Vice-President of the Department should not be held by a Minister with a seat in Parliament, nor yet by a regular civil servant, but should be an office sui generis tenable for five years with power of reappointment. No effect has so far been given to this proposal by legislation.
In this brief sketch of the measures passed by Unionist Governments since 1886 with the object of promoting the material prosperity of Ireland, many points of interest have been necessarily omitted; but what has been said will suffice to show how baseless is the assertion, so frequently urged as an argument for Home Rule, that the Imperial Parliament is incapable of legislating successfully for Irish wants. Nothing could be more futile than to represent Irish problems,