§ SIR H. MAXWELL (Wigton)
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether it is within the powers of County Councils in Scotland to send deputations to London at the expense of the ratepayers; and, if so, whether there is any limit to the numbers appointed on such deputations or the length of their visit; and whether he is aware that the County Council of Lanarkshire have appointed a deputation of seven members to proceed to London, in order to watch the progress of the 402 Local Government (Scotland) Bill before the Standing Committee?
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR,&c) Clackmannan,
County Councils have no statutory power to send deputations to London, and it does not appear to me that they can charge the expenses of such deputations against the rates, which are appropriated by Statute to specified purposes. I may add that the Local Government Act of 1889 contains provisions limiting the powers of County Councils as to opposing Bills before Parliament, and that it was thought necessary to obtain, by an Act which recently received the Royal Assent, authority to County Councils to contribute to the expenses of a County Councils Association. Such statutory authority would have been unnecessary it County Councils had had a general power of expending the rates upon such purposes as that referred to in the question. I understand that a Sub-Committee of the Lanarkshire County Council has recently been in Loudon in connection with the Local Government Bill now before Parliament, but that they were here for only two days, and that it was not their object to remain for the purpose of watching the progress of the Bill in the Standing Committee.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
asked whether Town Councils had power to send deputations and charge for them?
§ MR. J. B. BALFOUR
Town Councils having a common good have many powers which do not appertain to County Councils.
§ DR. MACGREGOR (Invernessshire)
If County Councils have power to pay the expenses to London, why should they not have power to pay the expenses of the poorer members at home?
§ *MR. J. B. BALFOUR
I am afraid the hon. Member must have missed the 403 purport of my answer, which was that I did not consider that they have the power to make this expenditure out of the public rates.