HC Deb 04 March 1886 vol 302 cc1877-8

asked the Secretary for Scotland, Whether his attention has been called to the palpably erroneous character of some of the statistical Returns relating to Scotland presented to this House; for instance, to the Return of Scotch Municipal Burghs, No. 260 II. dated November 1885, in which Kirkcaldy is made to have a population of only 13,320 and 4,218 municipal electors, or nearly one elector to every four inhabitants; and Dysart, a population of 10,877, with 484 municipal electors, or one elector to upwards of twenty-two inhabitants; whether the Crown agent is the only person responsible for such Returns; and, if he will take steps to establish an efficient agency to furnish correct Returns for Scotland?


(who replied) said: The Return in question related to municipal burghs in England, Wales, and Scot- land—what was asked having been their population and number of inhabited houses according to the Census of 1881, together with the number of persons on the burgess roll, distinguishing men from women. The terms "municipal burghs" and "burgess rolls" are inapplicable to Scotland, and great difficulty was experienced in dealing with that part of the Return which related to population, both for this reason and also because the Census of 1881 does not specify the number of persons entitled to the municipal franchise. After a correspondence between the Home Office and the Crown Agent, it was decided that the number of municipal electors only should be given— these being taken from the population of the Parliamentary burghs, as shown by the Census, so that in cases such as Kirkcaldy and Dysart, where the Parliamentary and municipal boundaries are not identical, the Return cannot be said to be reliable, and the statistics necessary for making it so do not exist. May I be allowed to suggest to my hon. Friend and to other Scotch Members moving for a Return, that it would be convenient before doing so to submit the draft terms of the proposed Returns to some Scotch official, so that it may be adapted to make the Return accurate. Thereby much inconvenience and such anomalies as exist in the present case would be saved. But, under the circumstances, there is certainly no blame attached to the Crown Agent under the late or present Government.


asked if the right hon. and learned Gentleman was aware that every almanac and railway guide published in Scotland gave the population of the municipal burghs and the municipal and Parliamentary voters; and, whether, in future, the Municipal Returns were to be prepared in his Office or in that of the Secretary for Scotland?


in reply, said, that would be a matter for amicable arrangement. He objected to the quotation of unauthentic and irresponsible railway guides.