§ Clause 61 (Local authorities in schedule) agreed to.
§ Clause 62 (Appointment of local authority in counties).
§ MR. RAMSAY
wished to draw the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury to the great difficulty experienced in getting meetings of farmers in large counties. He did not wish to obstruct the passing of the clause; but he hoped the hon. Baronet would be able to do something in that respect. If farmers were asked to meet for the purposes of local representation on the local authority they did not meet. It would be well if provisions were inserted in the clause to allow the parishes in each county to select tenant-farmers who should elect Members to represent them on the local authority.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
had given Notice of the following Amendment:—In page 33, line 22, to leave out—Authority, and in the manner by, and in which the members vacating office, were respectively nominated,and insert—Local authority electing a commissioner of supply, or occupier of an agricultural subject, as the case may be, to fill such vacancy.
§ MR. RAMSAY,
in the absence of the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay), wished to draw the attention of the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury to the fact that there would be great difficulty experienced in convening a meeting of farmers in the larger counties of Scotland, as proposed by the Bill. Therefore, he thought it would be better to alter the clause on Report. 2139 He did not wish to obstruct the Bill; but he must point out that the difficulty it would create was this—that farmers could not meet together to elect their own representatives. He thought the power to choose might be given to an elected representative board, selected by the tenant-farmers and the local authorities. He quite agreed with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Forfarshire; and, therefore, in his absence, he would move it. In the event of a vacancy occurring, as contemplated by the Act, it would be impossible to get the farmers of a county together to fill it. As an instance of this, he might take the county in which he resided, where there was an extensive district, with which he was connected. Since the Act of 1869 came into operation all the tenant-farmers elected in that district had died, and no means had been taken to fill up the vacancies. Therefore, he hoped the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury would consent to the Amendment he had proposed.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON
quite saw the force of the remarks of the hon. Member; but he could hardly agree to the terms of the Amendment in the absence of his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, who had had the charge and preparation of the Scotch clauses. Several hon. Members from Scotland had brought under his (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson's) notice the difficulty of getting a body of electors together to fill up the vacancies; but before doing anything in the matter, he would like to consult his right hon. and learned Friend as to the best course to be adopted.
§ COLONEL MURE
said, there were many counties in which the difficulty anticipated by the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay) would not arise, although, undoubtedly, it might be impossible to call meetings of every farmer in such counties as Argyll and Inverness.
§ MR. RAMSAY
could not agree with the views of the hon. and gallant Member. Even in such a county as Renfrew it would be difficult to get the farmers together at one point; and, therefore, the best plan to adopt would be to have a representative farmer from each parish charged with the election of the local authority. Without some such arrangement, no proper action could be agreed on, as, despite the observations 2140 of his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Mure) he was sure meetings of the general body of farmers would be impracticable in any county for such a purpose. He hoped the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury would consider the observations he had made, and he would then withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.