HC Deb 02 August 1877 vol 236 cc325-7

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to the fact that contributions by the Treasury in lieu of local rates in respect of Government property are not applied to the purposes for which they are made; and, if so, whether he will, before further contributions are made, take such steps as will insure the proper application of the money?


As the hon. Member's Question is worded in a way that may give rise to misapprehension, some explanation is perhaps necessary. The Government, in accordance with the engagement given to Parliament, contribute to the local rates of parishes containing Government property, and then cause the Poor Law auditors to be regularly informed of every contribution paid, so that they may see that the contributions are in all cases properly accounted for. The Government contributions are in respect of all local burdens; they are calculated on the fair rateable value of the Government property; and it is the wish and intention of the Government that the contributions should be so allocated by the parishes receiving them as actually to go to the relief of every local burden, in the proportion which the Government property bears to the rest of the property in the parish. It has, however, in one or two cases come to the knowledge of the Government that a parish to whose poor rates a contribution has been given on the rateable value of the Government property, has excluded that rateable value when calculating the parishes' contribution, according to rateable value to the county or borough, in respect of the county or borough charges chargeable on its poor rate. The parishes so acting have disregarded the spirit and intention of the Government's contributions to them, and as soon as the Government became aware of the fact, they introduced into the Valuation Bill clauses providing an effectual remedy for the abuse, by requiring that the rateable value on which the Government contributions to any parish are calculated shall be taken into account in calculating and distributing all local charges in regard to such parish. Owing to the pressure of other business that Bill has, unfortunately, to stand over till another Session. But if the Government should in the meantime have reason to believe in any case that a parish receiving a contribution in respect of its local burdens fails to apply it in relief of the several local burdens in respect of which it is expressely given, and alone given, the Treasury will not hesitate to withhold further contributions from the parish so acting.


asked whether it would not be possible to prosecute the parish in such cases?


feared that it was hardly possible to institute prosecution, inasmuch as the present law did not require the parish to return Government property.