§ DR. CLARK(for Dr. R. MACDONALD) (Ross and Cromarty)
asked the Lord Advocate, Whether it is a fact that at Barra, on the last day previous to that on which payment of rates entitled the crofters to be put on the Register for this year there was no collector of rates to receive their money, and in consequence, thereof great numbers of those who were able and willing to pay rates were disfranchised; whether the fact of nearly 4,000 voters being disfranchised in the counties of Ross and Inverness is largely due to the bad 898 arrangements for collecting their rates, large districts being without post office arrangements to enable the crofters to pay their rates by postal orders; whether he will take means in the near future to press upon Parochial Boards the necessity of having rate collectors in sparsely populated country districts within a reasonable distance from the abodes of the ratepayers; and, whether, in the case of tenants under £4 a year, who have paid their rates to their landlords, but which the latter neglected to pay the collector in time to entitle the names of these tenants to be put on the Parliamentary Register, he will take such means as will prevent defaulting landlords to have it in their power to disfranchise their small tenants?
THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
The collector for Barra, who has more than one Island in his district, went to Barra on four separate days—twice in March and twice in June—to collect rates, after giving due notice, both through the ground officer and through the priest, who announced the date of one visit in March and one in June to the congregation in church. The last of these visits was on June 24. So far as I can ascertain, no one came forward to Castlebay, the place of payment, in order to pay his rates on the last day of June. I answer the second paragraph in the negative. In answer to the third paragraph, I do not think it would be possible to have more collectors without making the expense of the collection out of all proportion to the amount collected, and would place a very serious additional burden on the ratepayers. I have not been able to ascertain that there is. any ground for the suggestion in the last paragraph.