HC Deb 13 June 1892 vol 5 cc959-63

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Schedule 3.


I beg to move the following Amendment:—Page 209, line 14 (column 3), leave out "1." The object of the Amendment is to abolish the right possessed by the Town Council of Inverness to levy "petty customs" in certain parts of the town. Such duties would be objectionable if applied to the whole of the burgh, but they are especially objectionable when applied only to a portion of it. The result is that a shopkeeper in one part has to pay half as much again as a shopkeeper in another part of the town. The existence of such a state of things surely cannot be defended. It is, moreover, an improvident arrangement, because the cost of collecting the taxes is thirty-five per cent. of the amount collected. It would be more satisfactory to levy taxes on the whole burgh. Therefore I hope that my Amendment will be agreed to.

Amendment proposed, in page 209, line 14, to leave out the figure "1."—(Mr. Barclay.)

Question proposed, "That the figure '1' stand part of the Schedule."

*(8.10.) SIR C. J. PEARSON

This and the next five Amendments are practically meant to effect the same purpose, and may be dealt with together. The petty customs of Inverness are by no means peculiar to that place; it is a well-known means of levying taxes in several burghs. It may or may not be an economical way of raising money, but the Government cannot agree for one moment to select one burgh for the purpose of putting an end to such a custom in it alone. Of the fairness or unfairness of the tax I say nothing. I will only mention that the question was not raised before the Committee upstairs, and that it is a wholly new point. I am, moreover, informed that these petty customs realised some £2,000 or £3,000 a year.




Whether it be hundreds or thousands the principle is the same.


It was £1,370 last year.


Very well. It is proposed to wipe that out without inquiry of any kind, and without consulting the people with regard to it. Now, I do not think that can be agreed to. These are matters of general policy touching all burghs in which the custom obtains; and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, there is a strong feeling on both sides of the question.

(8.14.) DR. CLARK

Our position is this: We wish to get rid of these petty customs in Inverness, and you desire by this Schedule to maintain them. I am glad to say that Inverness is one of the most progressive parts of Scotland, its population having in a few years increased from 74,000 to 89,000. But there are duties there on almost everything, and it is time that these absurd petty customs were removed. The financial position of Inverness is such that the Town Council may well consent to their abolition, for they are vexatious and unfair in their incidence. For these reasons I shall support the Amendment of my hon. Friend.

(8.16.) MR. MCLAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)

I am sorry that the Lord Advocate has not been able to accept the Amendment. I am well acquainted with the town of Inverness, and I would like to see these petty customs removed. They are all the more ob- jectionable because they are levied on only a part of the town. I believe that the majority of the people of Inverness would approve of their abolition. The town would then be put on an equality with the rest of Scotland. I hope the Amendment will be accepted.

(8.18.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR

The objection to the Amendment does not rest upon any special belief in the virtue of this particular mode of local taxation, but on the consideration that this Bill does not deal with the question at all. There is no evidence that the inhabitants generally desire to see the tax abolished. On the contrary, I understand that the town has ample power to abolish it if it so desire without coming to Parliament at all in regard to the matter. As it has not done so, I presume it is because the people there desire that it should be maintained. Whatever their opinion may be on the subject, we could not do anything towards abolishing the tax without giving them the opportunity of laying their views before a Select Committee, and hearing witnesses on both sides of the question. For these reasons I hope that the Amendment of the hon. Member will not be agreed to.

Question put.

(8.25.) The Committee divided:—Ages 22; Noes 59.—(Div. List, No. 186.)

On Motion of Sir C. J. PEARSON, the following Amendment was agreed to:— Page 210, line 13, leave out "sections 7, 8, 9, and 11," and insert "section 1 and sections 7, 8, and 9 of the Order thereby confirmed.

On Motion of Mr. LYELL, the following Amendment was agreed to:— Page 210, line 15, column 3, add "section 2, so far as it determines the number of councillors.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 4.

DR. CLARK (for Dr. CAMERON,) Glasgow, College

I beg to move the following Amendment:—Page 213, line 37, after "arrangements," insert "and house drains." The object of this Amendment is to make the Schedule apply to house drains.

Amendment proposed, in page 213, line 37, after the word "arrangements," to insert the words "and house drains."—(Dr. Clark.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


I accept the Amendment, as well as the next one.

Question put, and agreed to.


I now move, in page 213, line 40, to leave out sub-section (16.)

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 5 to 7 agreed to.

Schedule 8.


The Amendment I move is simply to secure that a list of witnesses on either side who are examined should be inserted in the record of procedure. There was such a provision in the previous editions of this Bill, but unaccountably it has been struck out.

Amendment proposed, In page 226, line 15, after "absence," to add "where the following witnesses were examined in support of the complaint, and the following witnesses were examined in exculpation."—(Sir C. J. Pearson.)

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 9 to 11 agreed to.

Preamble agreed to.


I think the understanding was that in the Preamble the word "health" should be left out.


left the Chair to report the Bill, as amended, to the House.


When will the Government take the Report stage?


rose to reply.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I beg to point out there is nobody in the Chair.

House resumed.


There have been great changes in this Bill. Dozens of clauses have been excised and dozens have been amended. Before the Report stage is taken we should like to see the printed Bill, in order that we may look through it and learn how it now stands.


For that I think the hon. Gentleman would require four days. I should be sorry to defer the stage so late as that, and it would be convenient to the general business of the House if we could take it to-morrow. But I quite recognise that if that course is not convenient to hon. Members I cannot press it.


Will it be taken before the Irish Education Bill?


I am pledged not to take the Education Bill till Wednesday, and therefore to-morrow we could complete this Bill if hon. Members would agree to that course.


I should prefer seeing the Bill in print, in order that we may learn what has been done. It could be printed to-morrow, and perhaps one day would be sufficient for us to read through it.


I will put it down for Wednesday.


I wish to point out that with regard to this Education Bill we have been buffeted about. It has always been simmering, but we never knew where it was; and now in the last moment I should like to know what will be done.


Order, order! The hon. and gallant Gentleman cannot discuss the Education Bill now.


I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that I do not pledge myself. I will put it down for Wednesday.


If this Bill is put down for Wednesday, would it not block the Irish Education Bill?


Order, order!

Bill, as amended, to be considered upon Wednesday, and to be printed. [Bill 408.]