§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
asked the Lord Advocate, Whether the statement in The Highland, News is correct, that about 2,000 crofters, small tenants, in Inverness-shire, 1,736 in Ross-shire, and 539 in Sutherland shire, have been disqualified and kept off the voters' roll for non-payment of poor rates in June; whether large farmers of over £50 rental are retained on the roll, whether they pay their poor rates or not; and, if so, whether the Government will introduce a measure to place small tenants in the same position in reference to this matter as the larger tenants?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
Two thousand small tenants in Inverness-shire have been reported to the assessor as not having paid their rates, 1,599 of these being crofters. I have no accurate information as to the number in Sutherland-shire; but it is believed to be between 500 and 600. As regards Ross-shire, I am informed that 1,215 crofters and 521 other persons have been returned to the county assessor as not having paid poor rates. Non-payment of rates is a disqualification for electors who were enfranchised by the two last Reform Acts. Tenants paying over £50 of rent are not enfranchised under the Acts of 1868 or 1885, but under the Act of 1832. Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to bring in a Bill regarding franchise, the policy of reform legislation having been not to interfere with any existing franchise in extending the franchise to other householders on such conditions as to the Legislature seemed wise.