§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether it would be competent for a County Council to apply its share of the sum of £100,000, proposed to be given in relief of local rates in Scotland, wholly and exclusively in relief of the county rates paid by owners only?
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
It is proposed to give to the County Councils complete discretion as to the mode of relieving rates; and it is presumed that this discretion will be exercised in the interests of the general body of ratepayers, by whom they are elected. It would, of course, be competent for them to follow the suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, or to adopt any other application of the grant; but this is merely another way of saying that we propose to give an unfettered discretion to the popularly elected local administrative bodies.
§ MR. HUNTER
Arising out of the question, may I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, having regard to the contentious matters that would arise in connection with the distribution of this money in Scotland, he cannot adopt the same course in this case as the Chief Secretary adopted in respect to Ireland, and postpone the application of the money until next year?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The Treasury is never unwilling to postpone the payment of money to Local Authorities. If there is a general desire for the postponement on the part of Scotch Members, I think it may be done. I will consult with my noble Friend the Secretary for Scotland and the Lord Advocate on the matter.
§ MR. HUNTER
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell Bannerman), who is unable to be present, has asked me to press the Government to postpone the Vote as suggested.