§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he is aware that the 120 persons summoned on the 25th of September last for local rates at Westminster were all summoned for rates due up to March, 1889, to meet local expenses up to that date, and that the demand note for the rates issued in April for rates made 28th March, 1888, state that it is—For rates for the 12 months commencing 26th March, 1838, and ending 25th March, 1889,1569 and adds, that all the rates (except the poor rate) "become due immediately they are made;" whether, on the face of any document issued with the rates, there is any mention of the rates being—Payable in eight different parts, each part being payable at a separate time,as stated by the Vestry; whether he will give the dates and the portions due at each date; whether he can ascertain where the money paid in June, July, August, and September for the general rate (for roads, lighting, street cleaning, local improvements, and School Board), for the Metropolitan Board of Works, for the local sewers rate, and for the public libraries rate, to supply all demands till 25th March, 1889, is deposited until required; and, whether he will, by legislation, if necessary, prevent ratepayers in any part of the country from being liable to legal proceedings for not paying rates six or nine months before the money is needed?
§ THE PRESIDENT (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
I am informed that the 120 persons summoned on September 25 last for payment of the rates of the parish of St. Margaret and St. John, Westminster, were summoned for an instalment of one-half of the poor rate due on the preceding 24th of June, and for the general rates for the year ending March 25, 1889. It is not stated in any document issued by the Vestry that the rates are payable in eight parts at different times; but I am informed that last year 2,286 out of more than 8,000 ratepayers availed themselves, more or less, of the option of so doing. With respect to the poor rates, it was stated in the demand note that that rate might, if preferred, be paid in three instalments—one of 9½d. immediately, and two of 5d. at Michaelmas and Christmas respectively; but there was no similar statement as regards the general rates. I am informed that the rates collected in May, June, July, August, and September were required before they were received; and that on June 1, when £12,182 was due under the precept of the Metropolitan Board of Works, the amount collected towards that sum was £4,193, and on July 12, when the payment was made under pressure, it became necessary to overdraw the account to the amount of £4,226; and that the install- 1570 ment under the precept of the School Board for London due from the Vestry on June 24 was not paid, owing to the insufficient amount collected, until September 13; and that on September 29 (the summonses referred to in the Question were heard on September 25), when a further sum of £5,654 was due to the School Board for London, the amount in hand towards it was £729. I cannot promise any legislation on the subject. The Vestry is a Representative Body; and it seems to me that the matter is one for the consideration of the ratepayers.