HC Deb 28 March 1893 vol 10 cc1307-8
DR. MACGREGOR (Inverness-shire)

I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether representations having been made to him that many of the Crofters in the Western Isles of Inverness-shire are in a destitute state, and unable to procure the necessary seeds to be put into the ground this spring, the Government is prepared to render those poor people any assistance under the circumstances?


The Government are of opinion that assistance is best granted in the shape of wages for relief works rather than a seed loan or direct relief. In consequence a grant of £10,000 has been obtained for roads and footpaths, of which £3,000 was allotted to Inverness-shire. The County Council proposed to give three-fourths of that money to the distressed districts in the West, and one-fourth to the Eastern districts, but, as Secretary for Scotland, I ruled that, with the exception of £700 to Lochaber, the whole should go to the Western Islands, which I think is the right policy.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he thinks it consistent with the exercise of good Government to turn a deaf ear to the cry of a large section of the community for bread?


I do not think the Government have turned a deaf ear, seeing that the £3,000 granted represents wages—at the rate paid in the Highlands—for 1,000 men for a month or five weeks.


But that money is for making roads, and not to provide seed for these poor people to put into the ground. It is of no use to them. In consequence of the unsatisfactory reply of the right hon. Gentleman, I will at the first opportunity call attention to this matter, which is of urgent public importance.