§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what specific local rates County Councils may apply the additional grant in aid from the Excise Duty not allocated by Parliament; whether under the Local Government (Scotland) Act, rates payable by proprietors are consolidated on an average of 10 years; whether it will be in the power of County Councils to apply the whole of the grant in aid for the reduction of the local rate falling to be paid by the landlords; and whether it is or is not possible to give any relief to householders whose rents are under £4?
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON,) Bute
I have been asked to reply to this question. The rates which are levied by the County Councils are County General Assessment, Police, Registration of Voters, Lunacy, Militia, Sheriff Court-houses, Road, and Public Health. With the exception of the last two, these rates were all, prior to the Local Government Act of last year, paid by owners only, and under the provisions of that Act they continued to be paid by owners only up to the average of the last 10 years. Above that average they are paid equally by owners and occupiers, and the Road and Public Health Rates have always been, and continue to be, paid by owners and occupiers equally. The determination of the specific local rates levied by County Councils to which the additional grant may be applied is 903 left entirely to the Councils themselves. It would be in the power of the County Councils to select for relief a rate which, up to the average of the last 10 years, will continue to be paid by owners only. It would, on the other hand, be equally open to a County Council to select for relief a rate payable half by owners and half by occupiers. With reference to the last paragraph, the hon. Gentleman seems to have overlooked the fact that, as regards county rates, there is no exemption of ratepayers under £4, except on the ground of individual poverty, and, accordingly, the relief from the rates will be equally beneficial to them, as to all others.