I noted the other day that the North South Ministerial Council’s inland waterways meeting discussed how it might get the Irish government off the hook of its rash promise to fund the Clones Sheugh. It noted that:
[…] sponsor departments have agreed to examine the potential social benefits and leveraged funding opportunities in that context.
The interesting point is that the blasted thing wonderful investment opportunity was originally funded, using the same excuse, by a loan from the Exchequer Bill Loan Commission set up under the Poor Employment Act 1817. John Strettell Brickwood, Secretary to the Exchequer Loan Commissioners for Public Works [sic], said* that the Commission’s first £1.5 million was allocated in 1817 and that by 1835 £5.5 million had been advanced.
Of that, £200,000 (at 3¼% interest) was allocated to Ireland in 1827 and the Ulster Canal was allocated £120,000 of that; it drew down £40,000 in 1833 and the same again in 1835. Mr Blackwood said that the Ulster Canal money was issued under an express act of parliament, leaving the commissioners no discretion. There would be no repayment until the canal was complete, with the interest and principal payable only from the prospective income.
Isn’t economic development wonderful?
* First and Second Reports from the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the amount of advances made by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland with the Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed, 26 June and 27 August 1835