HC Deb 04 August 1896 vol 43 cc1455-506

As from the fifteenth day of May next after the passing of this Act and during the continuance thereof the annual value of all agricultural lands and heritages in Scotland—

  1. (1) shall for the purpose of the occupiers' consolidated rate leviable by County Councils, including the portion thereof leviable under the Public Health (Scotland) Acts, be held to be the nearest aggregate sum of pounds sterling to three-eighths of the annual value thereof as appearing on the valuation roll; and
  2. (2) shall for the purpose of the occupiers' share of the poor rate, the school rate, and other rates leviable by parish councils, be held to be the nearest aggregate sum of pounds sterling to three-eighths of the annual value thereof as appearing on the valuation roll, subject to the deductions in pursuance of Section thirty-seven of the Poor Law (Scotland) Act, 1845.
The expression "agricultural lands and heritages" means any lands and heritages used for agricultural or pastoral purposes only, or as market gardens, orchards or allotments, but does not include woodlands or land occupied together with a house as a park, garden or pleasure ground, or any land kept or preserved mainly or exclusively for sporting purposes. Provided that if any question shall arise as to the lands and heritages falling within the foregoing definition it shall be determined summarily by the sheriff, whose decision shall be final.

*THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. GRAHAM MURRAY, Buteshire) moved to insert the following proviso to Subsection (2):— Provided that where lands and heritages are classified in terms of Section thirty-six of the Poor Law (Scotland) Act, 1845, if it shall be certified by the Secretary for Scotland that the rates leviable on the occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages in pursuance of the classification are less than, or as nearly as may be the same as, the rates which would without classification be leviable on such occupiers in terms of this Act, such classification (hereinafter termed a certified classification) shall have effect, and this sub-section shall not apply. He said the right hon. Member for the Stirling Burghs had more than once with characteristic modesty said that he did not pretend to understand what was effectuated by the Amendment. He could only attribute that to the fact which he read in the newspapers that the right hon. Gentleman had been closeted for a long time on Wednesday with the proprietor of the North British Daily Mail, who was formerly in this House, and a greater farrago of nonsense in connection with this Amendment never was written than he saw in last Saturday's Mail. It had its origin in this curious fact, that the gentleman who posed as a financial critic, and who had seen that the figures were mis-telegraphed, wrote a long article on the effect of the Amendments having put them into the wrong clause. [Laughter].


was understood to say that he had been misled.


If the right hon. Gentleman had only read the Dundee Advertiser, which, I suppose, it is beneath him to read, he would have found that it was perfectly right. ["Hear, hear!"] Explaining the Amendment, he said the Bill valued down agricultural land for the purpose of giving relief in rating, and in a parish where there was no classification the matter worked perfectly simply. But the case of the classified parish had to be dealt with because classification did not touch the value at which lands were rated. It merely divided lands into classes, and said that one class should pay one half or a quarter of the rate paid by another class. The view taken by the Bill as it stood was that the simplest and best manner was to abolish classification altogether, and that course had certain very tempting features. In the first place, it provided uniformity. Nobody could defend the extraordinary diversities of classification which existed in the different parishes. This matter ought to be dealt with upon some general principle, and ought not to depend upon the mere accident of the prevailing idea of the local authority at the time. In the next place, the abolition of classification would make a clean slate for any future legislation—a fair field to operate on when they came to attack the subject as a whole. But there were other considerations. In the first place, the abolition of classification was not necessary to the leading principle of the Bill—namely, to put agricultural land in its proper place. Then there were certain parishes which were very fond of their classifications, and their wish to stick to them was a legitimate feeling which they did not desire to disturb if they could avoid it. Then they had the views of the Opposition. He had always wished, as far as was possible consistently with maintaining the principle of the Bill, to fall in with the views of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Accordingly, when he saw the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Clackmannan excluding burghs on the Paper, he would have been very glad to take that Amendment as it stood. But there were grave difficulties in the way of adopting that course. What were they to do in a burgh where there was a landward burghal parish? It would have been a most confusing position—a position which would have necessitated a great many other complicated provisions. He took it, however, the object was quite clear. The right hon. Gentleman wanted burgh classifications left alone, and the Amendment he now moved entirely responded to the right hon. Gentleman's view. There was another consideration. The Bill originally was to be a permanent Bill—at any rate, until the whole subject was tackled. But, after the limitation introduced into the English Bill, it was quite obvious that it must be a temporary Bill. He was strongly impressed with the feeling that, the main object of the Bill having been accomplished and land having got its relief, it was not fair, simply for the sake of the boast of having the Bill unamended, to insist that burghs should give up their industrial classification during a period which was admittedly temporary. When the whole question was going to be attacked by a Commission, it would seem that they had, to a certain extent, prejudged it by doing away with classification. These latter considerations outweighed the former. He felt it was only a just concession to the right hon. Gentleman to put down the Amendment, which, in homely language, simply did this. It said the relief of agricultural land by the Bill in the unclassified parishes must be taken as the minimum of relief. If you had classification which, as a matter of fact, afforded that relief, then you could keep that classification. If you had classification which nearly afforded that relief, then, if you wanted to keep that classification, you could amend it in order to allow of it providing that minimum relief. The reason for the words "as nearly as may be" was that they did not want to put the parish to the trouble of altering its classification because the relief afforded was a few pounds less than the relief in the Act. If the Secretary for Scotland was satisfied that substantially the classification gave the relief that would be afforded by the Act, he would certify that classification. Consequential Amendments would have the effect of preventing the introduction of new classifications during this transition period. That certainly was part of their policy, because they thought that in the case of parishes not now classified things ought to remain in statu quo until the decision of the Commission was arrived at. So far as the Government grant was concerned, the Amendment made no difference to the Bill. The relief portion of the Bill depended on Sub-section 3 of Section 2, and that as it stood in the Bill had no relation to classification at all, for this very obvious reason. As the Bill stood they had to deal with classified and unclassified parishes, and therefore they never could have gone on dividing the money by the mere question of the rate paid by agricultural land. In other words, they had to take some common measure which would enable them to correlate classified and unclassified parishes. That common measure was found by taking the total rate paid and the proportion of the agricultural land to the total valuation of the parish. By that means they got an equitable division as between the two parishes. Three principles ran through the Bill. The first was the principle of contribution of personalty to realty; the second was the principle of rating reform; and the third was the principle of relieving agricultural distress. This contribution being made from personalty to realty, it was quite right that where one occupier had been bearing the burden as against another occupier he should be the first to get the benefit. But so far as the appropriation of the grant was concerned, there was no difference between the Bill as amended and as originally drawn. The real point which he wished to put before the Committee was that, in bringing in this Amendment, they conceived they were not sacrificing the principle of the Bill. As a concession to the other side, they said that during the transition period classification should not be disturbed so long as they secured to agricultural land the benefit which it would have under the Bill.

* MR. J. B. BALFOUR (Clackmannan and Kinross)

thanked his right hon. and learned Friend for the very important concession he had made by this Amendment. Undoubtedly it was felt that the Bill, by wiping out and absolutely destroying all the existing classifications of Scotland, would work in many cases great hardship and injustice, and bring about great administrative confusion. He was not sure that the evils were altogether obviated by the Amendment, but he very gladly acknowledged the spirit in which his right hon. and learned Friend had received the representations that had been made to him. His right hon. Friend had said that there was great temptation to have uniformity. He could well understand that temptation, but he was afraid it was one of those temptations that ought to be resisted if it was likely to produce either injustice or administrative confusion. Accordingly, although, no doubt, it was very tempting to abolish all the 158 classifications and make a new classification by the Bill, that would not have operated in the direction his right hon. Friend desired, and he had now seen his way to depart from it. From the very nature of the case, uniformity of classification was impossible. The necessity for classification depended on the nature of the subject dealt with. In cases in which all the property was of one kind there was no room for classification, but in parishes where there was a variety of property, then, in a greater or less degree, the necessity for classification came in. The state of things the Government found existing before the introduction of their Bill was not to be lightly subverted, and his right hon. Friend would not be surprised that many hon. Members, knowing the consequences that would follow, had felt it their duty to represent that there was a fair case for allowing some latitude in preserving classification. But the safeguard his right hon. Friend suggested was a very limited one, because no classification would be saved by this Amendment except where the classified agricultural subject was paying at or about three-eighths. It was quite plain that there would be a very considerable body of agricultural land and other subjects where the classification was wholly wiped out, and he would point out that the only criterion or standard proposed was the rate according to which agricultural land was classified in a particular area. If in any locality agricultural land was not classified about the figure he had mentioned, the consequence would be that the whole classification of the parish would be destroyed, not only as to agricultural land, but to every other kind of property. He would instance particularly the case of mines, an exceedingly important description of property. The effect of this Bill, although it did nothing for mines and property of a similar character, would be to absolutely destroy any benefit they derived from classification. The effect of the Bill would be to level up property of that lower and rougher kind to the highest standard of the most valuable house property, so that unless his right hon. Friend accepted an Amendment on Report, the result would be that his concession would not cover the whole ground. He hoped, therefore, his right hon. Friend might see his way to save classification in a larger sense than he did by this Amendment. With regard to the Amendment itself, there were some things which he did not feel at all clear about. As the Bill stood originally, its provisions were perfectly clear and intelligible. There would have been no difficulty in working them out. There were some things that he was not clear about in the Amendment. It left county rates alone because there was no classification there. A deficiency would arise under that head—how much he could not say, but putting it at two-eighths, what was to become of the remaining three-eighths? If his right hon. Friend meant that the five-eighths was to be given where under the existing classification there was no deficiency, to whom was that to go? ["Hear, hear!"] It could not go to the agricultural holder, because he had the benefit already. ["Hear, hear!"] If it was not to go to him was it to go to other people who were not interested in agriculture at all, and if so on what principle? Because the only relief to be given by the Bill was to go to the occupiers of agricultural land. ["Hear, hear!"] As the Bill originally stood, its provisions were perfectly clear and intelligible. It separated rateable property into two classes, one paying on the gross and the other on the net. The one paid upon the gross rental—for example in the case of county rates, and the other on the net rental—for example in the case of poor and school rates; and taking these two classes, which between them included nearly the whole county rates, agricultural property was to pay three-eighths upon all indifferently, leaving five-eighths to be contributed by the annual contribution. What was the effect of the Amendment? The first head of the rates was left alone because there was no classification, and the Amendment did not touch that. The Secretary for Scotland could take no cognisance of any deficiency except one arising under the county rate—that was to say, under Sub-section (1); because no other could arise under the provisions of the Bill, and there was no machinery for finding out any other deficiency. The only relief this Bill was to give, according to its title and provisions, was relief to the occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages in Scotland; and this Amendment, he thought, went beyond that in a manner which he considered objectionable, inasmuch as it would give relief where, according to the contention of the Government, depression did not exist.


said the fears of his hon. and learned Friend arose from a complete misapprehension. Out of the total classification, 64 parishes had only two classes. That was practically the Bill, because the one class was agricultural land, and the other was all the other lands. As to the rest, 76 parishes had three classes, 13 had four, 4 had five, and 1 had six. So that when they came to speak of complicated classifications, they had very few such cases to deal with; and as the matter worked out, they would find that most of the parishes would be entitled to be certified at once. The whole argument of his hon. Friend had gone upon the idea that the Government grant depended upon the Secretary for Scotland certifying the deficiency. But what the Bill really said was that the part of the occupiers' rate which represented the proportion borne by the valuation of agricultural lands and heritages in the rateable value to the total valuation of the rateable area should to the extent of five-eighths thereof, ascertained and certified by the Secretary for Scotland, be taken as the deficiency. There was not the slightest cause to inquire whether there was de facto or not a deficiency. They simply went to the valuation in order to get the proportion that agricultural land bore to other land; then, having applied that proportion to the total occupiers' rate in the parish, they took three-eighths, and having got a figure for each parish they arrived at the money to be got from Parliament, and they divided that according to the certified figures so that each got its share. What the parish did was to apply this money to the payment of the rates. The operation of the Bill by writing down the valuation necessarily made a hole in those rates.


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, if the money was paid to the local authority, and if the agricultural ratepayer had already got this relief, what was the authority or principle to warrant under a Bill of this kind the payment to persons other than agriculturists?


said it was all very well to speak of the agricultural ratepayer having already got the relief, but he had only got it by classification as a substitute for the relief otherwise provided in the Bill by writing down. Then as to the justification for giving money in this way, it followed from this principle that the real causa causans of giving the money was a contribution of personalty to realty.


said that, as he understood the Amendment, in certain parishes classification was retained, and these parishes were withdrawn from the purview of the Bill altogether. There was nothing fictional or fictitious about the deficiency. In the first instance the Bill was carefully devised and perfectly consistent, and Section 2 harmonised with the rest of the Bill. Now this change had been made, but the formula which had been devised for a necessary deficiency of rates was retained; the money which would come from the application of that formula would be in the bands of the Secretary for Scotland, and would be distributable under the later provisions of the Bill, and would, in his view, necessarily go in general relief of rates. If so, other classes of property which had been excluded by the rulings of the Chair would be let in. They had been prevented on that side of the House from moving Amendments which suggested the application of any of this money to anything but agriculture, but this proposal was on all fours with those that had been ruled out of order. He had himself upon the Paper an Amendment to charge the valuation of dwelling-houses of under £15 a year rental. The Amendment, taken in connection with the framework of the Bill, was a preposterous one, and legislation by sham certificates which did not represent any relief at all was a course which the House ought not to take.


said the hon. and learned Member had misinterpreted the effect of the Amendment. He seemed to suggest that the effect of this Amendment would be to do away with a real deficiency that would have existed under the Bill as it originally stood. Supposing a parish in which classification existed, and the effect of it was that agricultural land was taken at three-eighths. The Bill, as it originally stood, swept away that classification and substituted the provision in the Bill that the agricultural land should be taken at three-eighths. As far as agricultural land was concerned, the same state of things would exist in that parish before the Bill and under the Bill. The deficiency was exactly the same in the two cases. The only effect of the Amendment was that it prevented the abolition of classification as regards a certain number of non-agricultural subjects. It avoided the inconvenience of doing away with local systems of classification. The hon. and learned Gentleman maintained that the deficiency was fictional. It was no more so under the Amendment than under the original Bill. The money would, under the Amendment, go to precisely the same persons as it would have done under the Bill as it originally stood.


said that there could be no doubt that the Amendment was of very great importance. It went a step in the direction of minimising the evil effects of the Bill. But he suggested that the Amendment would be improved by the omission of all the words from "1845" to "in terms of this Act." The effect of that change would be to save all existing classifications in Scotch parishes. Was it worth while, for the sake of the sentiment of adhering to the idea of the principles of the Bill—the relief of agriculture—to interfere with existing systems of classification, merely to make them level up to the imaginary standard created in the Bill? Had the Lord Advocate considered the effect of the Amendment on the classification which at present existed under the Public Health Act? In counties that classification followed the classification under the Poor Law. But in burghs there was an absolute statutory classification with reference to public health. Was it to be annihilated or preserved? He could not agree with what some of his hon. Friends had said with regard to the financial aspects of this Amendment. The scheme was that the whole of the rates to which the Bill applied were to be taken as paid in the year 1896; and that gross amount was to be apportioned as between each rating area.

MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)

said that the Opposition maintained on the Second Reading, and still maintained, that to impose a compulsory and, as it were, an Imperial classification, was to act in many instances in contravention of the expressed wishes of the localities. Their proposition was alternative. It was either this, that no money should go to the parishes in question, or else, if the money did go to the parishes in question, it would go for the relief ultimately of those who were non-agricultural occupiers. They wanted to know distinctly whether, under the scheme of the Amendment, the money was to go to those parishes or whether it was to be denied to them. If it was to be denied to the parishes they could say nothing except to express astonishment. On the other hand, if it was to go to the parishes he must ask the Lord Advocate to answer this point—did it not necessarily follow from the Amendment he had produced that the benefit of the money going to these classified parishes would be receivable only, or in great part, by those who were non-agricultural occupiers? If so, it appeared to him to be in direct defiance of the title of the Bill, and he should ask the Chairman's ruling as to whether the Amendment was competent.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

wanted to know practically what the Government meant by the Amendment. He had heard both Law Officers and ex-law officers expounding it, and still he did not know what it meant. [Laughter.] If this Amendment was carried would the parishes in question get any money at all? And if they did not, where would the money go to?

MR. ASHER moved an Amendment to the Lord Advocate's Amendment, to leave out from "if" in the second line to "such" in the second last line.


said there was no doubt that, if parishes were classified parishes, they would get their share of the grant. As to the question asked by his hon. and learned Friend opposite, he had to say that the Amendment made no difference. It left the disposition of the money as to the persons who were practically relieved by it exactly as the Bill did, and therefore the Amendment was not out of order. As regarded the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs, he could not accept it for the reason that they did not think it consistent with what they believed to be the main object of the Bill—namely, to secure this relief to agricultural land. They did not think it fair to allow anyone to get less relief for agricultural land than he would get under the Bill. With regard to the classification of subjects under the Public Health Acts in burghs, the Bill did not touch that. He was not astonished that there should be a little difficulty about seeing that, because the matter was very technical, but he proposed to add words to make it quite clear. If only in common kindness to local authorities, words ought to be added, that was to say, in Clause 5, and he proposed after "assessment" to insert "leviable by County Councils." As the matter was somewhat complicated, it was deemed desirable to make it clear that the rate was that leviable by County Councils, and the assessment by the county authority would not touch the boroughs.

MR. ASHER moved to amend the proposed Amendment by leaving out the words "if it shall be certified by the Secretary of State for Scotland that the rates leviable on the occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages in pursuance of the classification are less than, or as nearly as may be the same as, the rates which would, without classification, be leviable on such occupiers in terms of this Act."


said they would stay exactly where they were, and would not be touched by the Bill. The only classification touched or saved was the Poor Law classification, and the classification of 1867 was not a Poor Law but a Public Health Act classification, not leviable on the Poor Rate at all.

SIR JOHN KINLOCH (Perthshire, E.)

said the Amendment appeared to him to be perfectly clear and logical. The Bill was to assist agricultural holders in classified and unclassified parishes. In order to assist agricultural occupiers in classified parishes, a deficit was created, and this deficit was made up by occupiers of other property. What would happen now was perfectly clear. By the Amendment the deficit created and put upon other industries would be paid by the Government as in unclassified parishes. Nothing could be clearer, and it seemed to him that an unnecessary amount of discussion had been raised upon this matter.


said that he had no desire to take part in this controversy, and, in fact, he had a strong desire in the other direction. If he did take part in it he should probably find himself between the upper and the nether millstone, a position he had no wish to occupy. But he wished to direct the attention of the Committee, and more particularly the Chairman, to another point involved in this controversy, and upon which he would like to have something in the nature of a ruling from the Chairman. As the Committee would observe, the title of the Bill was of an exceedingly explicit character, it divided the objects of the Bill into certain distinct heads. It described the Bill as one to amend the law with respect to the classification of lands and heritages for the purposes of rating in Scotland—that was one object. Further, it went on to describe it as for the relief of occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages, and then it went on to specify the two other objects. The Committee would observe that so far as it was a Bill for the relief of occupiers, it was for the relief only of occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages. The learned Lord Advocate spoke of classification as a means of relieving certain kinds of property, but there was nothing in the title of the Bill to recognise relief being given in that way or by that method, the relief to be given was to be given to occupiers of agricultural lands and heritages. It had been pointed out that, according to the Lord Advocate's explanation of the effect of the Amendment, the money which would come from the equivalent grant would practically go in these classified parishes not to agricultural occupiers, but to other classes of occupiers entirely.


said that was not due to the Amendment.


said he would point out that that would be the effect of it. The Lord Advocate said this did not alter the Bill, but it only showed that the Bill itself was in conflict with its title, and upon this point he wished to have some authoritative opinion expressed from the Chair, whether the title of the Bill was not so strict—if he were to criticise it he would say it was unnecessarily strict—if the title of the Bill was not so strict as to practically put out of order any part of the Bill which purposed to relieve any occupiers other than agricultural occupiers, and a fortiori whether the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman which brought that object more prominently before the Committee was not also out of order. Several of his hon. Friends had endeavoured to move, in one way or another, Amendments to the Bill, in order to restore some part of the relief to those very classes of occupiers who the Committee were now told were to be relieved under the provisions of this clause, and they were told that their Amendments were out of order.


said the question was involved in some difficulty, especially to one who was not intimately acquainted with the Scottish system of valuation and assessment, but first he had to say that it did not seem to arise here. It was a question that perhaps would arise upon the 4th Clause, when it would come to be decided how the money was to be distributed. It also appeared to him, as far as he had been able to understand it, that the effect of the Amendment proposed by the Lord Advocate would be this—that, whereas in classified parishes before the Bill came into operation, there was a deficit, and that deficit had to be filled up by other ratepayers, under the Amendment, if it was inserted and the Bill passed, that deficit would not be filled up by other ratepayers, but by the State; therefore, in so far, the holders of agricultural land would be benefited. [Cries of "No, no!"]


said that was just the point. He could perfectly understand the Chairman being somewhat confused as to the effect of the Bill, for in this particular it was difficult to understand, but what the Committee had before them now was the fact that this money, when given in this case, would have the practical effect of relieving occupiers of all kinds of property from the necessity laid upon them before of filling up this deficit.


held that the Amendment did not alter the Bill. The Amendment could not be more out of order than the Bill, and whether the Bill itself was out of order was not for him to decide. That was an objection to be taken on or before the Second Reading. The Amendment did not go beyond the provisions of the Bill, and therefore the Amendment was in order.

MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

asked would the effect of this ruling be that if Members of the Committee proposed Amendments giving relief to other ratepayers, these would not be beyond the scope of the Bill, and therefore in order?


said he must see the Amendment before he could decide that. If they proposed to do more for non-agricultural holders than the Bill did, then the Amendments would be out of order, but so long as they did only the same as the Bill did for occupiers, they would be in order.


said the change in classification had the indirect result of giving relief to other than agricultural occupiers; except so far as this result followed, the Bill did not relieve non-agricultural tenants. This new Amendment would cut out of the Bill a certain portion of Scotland, and, taken in connection with the rest of the Bill, affected the relief given to non-agricultural land. This, he submitted, essentially changed the character of the Bill.


said he had nothing to add to the ruling he had given, and if Members of the Committee were not satisfied, the proper time to raise the question would be when Clause 4 was reached.

MR. C. B. RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)

said he had followed with interest the discussion on the Amendment, and should be glad if the Lord Advocate, seeing the reception it had met with from hon. Members opposite, now saw his way to withdraw it. As he understood the Bill, the clause was simple and practical, and he was not in the least surprised that the introduction of the Amendment should have caused difficulties. The Amendment was put upon the Paper with the object of meeting objections of hon. Members opposite, but instead of it doing that they had looked this gift horse most steadily in the mouth, and would have nothing to do with it. The hon. Member for East Perthshire was an exception, and his remarks came like a breezy tonic. It seemed to him, both in regard to the Amendment and the points of order, that even with the Amendment, the Bill did not differ in its operation in classified parishes from what it did before. He did not see that the Bill did other than sweep away the existing and introduce a new classification. It must have been perfectly obvious to anybody who studied the Bill when it was introduced that its effect would be absolutely different in the classified and unclassified parishes. Under the Bill as brought in it was quite clear that the relief went practically to the agricultural tenants. He was aware that a considerable storm had been raised in his own constituency and in those of the neighbourhood as to the effect of the Bill. He had heard plaintive cries from Greenock and Paisley. He had given careful consideration to all the matters placed before him—and a great deal of it was most inaccurate—in regard to the operation of the Bill in these two parishes. On the Second Reading he pointed out that, so far as Greenock was concerned, there had been very considerable misstatement as to the effect of the Bill there. In the case of Paisley the effect of the Bill would be to have restored, so far as the larger half of the parish was concerned, the system of classification which had obtained in it up to within 12 months ago. In respect of the landward part of the parish of Paisley, there would be substantial benefit to the agricultural class in regard to their county rates. The benefit in respect to parish rates would accrue, not directly to the farmer, but to those at whose expense the farmer at the present time was benefited. The hon. Member quoted an instance of a classified parish in his own constituency to show that the benefit under the Bill as originally introduced would go, not directly to the farmer, but to those in the parish at whose expense up to the time of the passing of the Bill agricultural land had been relieved. He appealed to the Government to reconsider their attitude towards the Amendment. In his view the proposals of the Bill as first submitted were the best proposals. They were perfectly simple, and were far more intelligible than were those now before the Committee. If they were adhered to they would go a long way towards paving the way for the arrangement by the Central Authority of the whole system of rating in the rural parts of Scotland.

MR. ALEXANDER URE (Linlithgow)

said the Lord Advocate had stated in quite clear and distinct terms that he did not purpose, by preserving classification, to deprive classified parishes of the equivalent grant. But then, was it not plain that he must make some Amendment upon the 2nd Clause of the Bill? It appeared to him that it was because the right hon. Gentleman had not quite clearly seen the effect of the Amendment upon the 1st Clause that he had put down no Amendment to the 2nd Clause, The opening words of that clause were obviously not applicable to classified parishes. It began by stating that "the deficiency arising in the produce of the rates under the provisions of this Act," and so on. In a classified parish there would be no deficiency—certainly no deficiency produced by the provisions of the Bill. If the Lord Advocate would make it perfectly clear that the equivalent grant was to be given to all the parishes in Scotland classified and unclassified, the Opposition would be satisfied so far as that point was concerned. It was quite certain that in a classified parish, when agricultural lands were rated at a lower rate than they appeared in the Valuation Roll, a deficiency was at the outset created. Then the rating authority set itself to fill up that deficiency by raising the assessment upon other classes of property in the district. A great deal, therefore, might be said in favour of the view advanced from these Benches to the effect that when you were giving an equivalent grant to such parishes you were really giving it to those people who had, when classification was first introduced, filled up the deficiency caused by lowering the valuation of agricultural land. But then, do not let it be suggested that the benefit was to be confined to agricultural lands and heritages. It would inevitably go to all classes of ratepayers in the classified parishes, and especially to those people whose valuation was raised at the time when the classification was fixed. What the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Elgin Burghs asked was that the Government, having agreed to preserve classification, should not do the thing by halves, but should recognise that each rating authority that had been classified had done it upon scientific principles—that it had considered its local needs and requirements, and had fixed its classification having these in view. Why should Parliament, without any knowledge of the locality and of its requirements, alter the classification which the local authorities themselves had fixed? Why should they not recognise that the classification had been laid down by those best able to judge of the needs of their own locality? Why, if the change was such a very slight one, should the Lord Advocate seek to substitute an artificial and stereotyped rating such as he had prescribed in the Bill for the rating fixed by the localities themselves?

* MR. ALEXANDER WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)

said, that from his experience of classified and unclassified parishes in his county, he must dissent from the opinion of his hon. and learned Friend that classification in Scotland was based on scientific principles. It was the very reverse. And as to the non-agricultural ratepayers who were to be benefited, he put the case of two parishes existing side by side, one classified and giving five-eighths deduction to the agricultural occupier, and another without classification. By the Bill as it stood the five-eighths would have gone direct into the pockets of the agricultural ratepayers in the unclassified parish, while in the classified parish it would go into the pockets of those who had made up this sum to the agricultural occupier. He could not see any objection to these ratepayers who had been relieving the agricultural ratepayers in the past being relieved of the burden. He would much prefer to have seen the Bill kept as it was first brought forward. When the Lord Advocate introduced the Bill, he said that it would do away with existing classification, and the anomalies which, under the existing law, arose between parish and parish. He was only sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had not persevered in that view.


said that the Amendment had been taken objection to on the ground that these existing classifications did not stand on a scientific basis. It was rather difficult to say what a scientific basis of rating was. In his opinion it was to rate everybody all round on his real property. These classifications sprung from the will and judgment of the locality, and therefore he preferred them to any other system. He did not like the original proposal in the Bill, he did not like the Amendment, and he did not altogether like the state of things that would be left by his hon. Friend; but he infinitely preferred it to the other two. What was the object of the Government in their Amendment? It was that the relief should go to the agricultural occupier. It was, in fact, to carry out the object of the Bill, against which he and his Friends had been protesting at every stage. Therefore, those of them who thought that agricultural ratepayers had no greater title to relief than any others, contended that it was not their business to see that in these classified parishes they should be cut down to three-eighths. If public money was to go to the classified parishes, which he thought was very unjust, then, in heaven's name, let the other ratepayers have their share as well as the agricultural ratepayers.

MR. J. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

said that under the Bill as it originally stood there could be no classification. Therefore, putting together Sub-section (1), Clause 1, and Sub-section 3 of Clause 2, it was clear that the deficiency which arose from the fact that all agricultural rating was reduced by five-eighths, and all that would have been due in respect of the loss was to be replaced under Subsections 3 and 4 of Clause 4, it surely followed that under the Bill as it originally stood, the relief would never in any case have gone to anyone but the agricultural occupiers. He failed altogether to see how it could be said that the relief could have gone to anyone else. Under the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman it was clear that the relief would go to other persons. After giving the best attention that he could to the subject, he had not been able to see how anyone but agricultural occupiers could have been relieved under the Bill as it originally stood.

SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)

said he was under the impression that if the Amendment were accepted their money would not go into the pockets either of the agricultural ratepayers or the other ratepayers. That being so, he would ask the Lord Advocate whether he would consider the point and see whether some alteration was not necessary.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 158; Noes, 66.—(Division List, No. 376.)

Words inserted.

MR. T. SHAW moved, at the end of Sub-section (2), after "1845," to insert the following words:— Provided always that, in the case of any holding in a crofting parish, the Crofters' Commission in fixing whether for the first or any subsequent time a fair rent for such holding shall not he entitled to take into account the relief effected by this Act from a proportion of the consolidated rate, poor rate, and other rates before mentioned. The point raised by the Amendment was one of the greatest importance to the Highlands of Scotland. In introducing this Measure the Lord Advocate had expressly declared that it was not one intended merely to give a dole to the landlords. Unless this provision were inserted in the Bill there could be no doubt that at the next valuation of fair rents the landlords would obtain the whole benefit of the rebate in the rates.


supported the Amendment.


said he would be happy to accept the Amendment, but suggested the omission of the words "whether for the first or any subsequent time," and "from a proportion of the consolidated rate, poor rate, and other rates before mentioned."


assented to the first suggested omission, but not to the second.

*THE LORD ADVOCATE moved to omit from the proposed Amendment the words "whether for the first or any subsequent time."

Amendment agreed to.

Original Amendment, as amended, agreed to.


ruled that the following Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson) was out of order:—At the end of Sub-section (2) to insert— And the annual value of dwelling-houses in any Royal, parliamentary, or police burgh in Scotland, entered on the valuation roll as of a rent or annual value not exceeding fifteen pounds, shall, for the purpose of all rates leviable by the Town Council, or Police Commissioners, or the commissioners of such burgh, be held to be the nearest aggregate sum of pounds sterling to one half of the rent or annual value thereof as appearing on the valuation roll.

MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

, on behalf of Mr. J. WILSON (Govan), moved, after the word "heritages," to insert the words— not including land that has an appreciable value more than agricultural value. The Amendment raised a principle which was discussed at considerable length on the English Bill. They contended that by a Bill which dealt with agricultural depression relief should not be given to land in the neighbourhood of towns which was rapidly rising in value owing to its proximity to a good market, and which could not, therefore, be said to be suffering from agricultural depression. In Scotland there were many instances of this; in the neighbourhood of Glasgow and of many large towns land had increased from a merely agricultural value to a value of thousands of pounds. This was obviously not agricultural land, and ought not to obtain relief under the Bill. On the English Bill the Government admitted the absurdity, but said that it was one of the unfortunate drawbacks in connection with this Bill that some people would gain from it who ought not to. He submitted that the case with regard to Scotland was a very strong one. In the late Parliament a Resolution was adopted embodying the principle that owners of land such as that dealt with by this Amendment ought to pay more taxation than it did at present. That principle was admitted by both sides of the House, and there was not, he ventured to say, a burgh Member for Scotland who was not pledged to vote for increased taxation on such land. They were all in favour of the taxation of land values, and yet they were going to support a Bill to give relief to such land.


said he was afraid he could not accept the Amendment. The expression "agricultural lands and heritages" was limited by the section to "any lands and heritages used for agricultural or pastoral purposes only." They must remember that they were dealing only with an occupiers' rate, and not with the owners' taxation at all, and with land which was used for agricultural and pastoral purposes only.

MR. J. COLVILLE (Lanark, N. E.)

heartily supported the Amendment. He thought it was unreasonable that such land as was dealt with by the Amendment should be enhanced in value.


called attention to the case of land near a town which was held by the owner, often to the disadvantage of the community, in order that he might eventually get a considerable price for it. Such land would come under the Bill as "pastoral" land.


cited the case of Dundee, where the inhabitants had had to pay £30,000 for land which had been thus held for many years, and which they wished to acquire for a park.

MR. JOHN G. HOLBORN (Lanark, N. W.)

said that in his neighbourhood two-thirds of the paupers came from the agricultural districts. Within the last 10 years the town where he lived had spent £140,000 in an improvement scheme because they could not get land on the confines of the town, and had to rebuild in the centre. He knew land which was bought at £40 an acre and was sold at £2,000 an acre. The effect of the Bill in every one of the large towns would be to enable the landlords to hold up this accommodation land. He hoped that every burgh Member would support the Amendment, and do something to break the back of this land monopoly, which was such a weight on the enterprise of the community. He had that morning received a request from a meeting of representative working men in Glasgow to oppose the Bill. He was sure that the clause would be condemned throughout Scotland.


said that there were special circumstances connected with the letting of building land round the towns which made it a very different case from that of the crofters. This land was only let from year to year, or for shorter periods even, so that it might be available for building; and therefore the benefit of the relief under the Bill must go to the owners. This highly-rented land, with its enormous capital value, would obtain a large proportion of the total sum given by the Bill. In towns like that which he represented there had been a strong feeling that such land ought to be taxed on its capital value in aid of the rates of the neighbouring community.

MR. J. M. WHITE (Forfar)

asked the Lord Advocate whether he would he willing to accept a proviso that occupiers of this land near towns should have the relief under existing leases, but not after their expiry.


said that the land near towns which was used by the butcher and the cowkeeper was paying 100 per cent. higher rent than the same class of land further away from the market. He wished to prevent the owner of such land getting the benefit of the Bill. It was not let on leases, and at present, if it were within the burgh, it was only paying rates on one-fourth of its value, because it came under the public health classification. He hoped the Government would accept an Amendment on the Paper, which would practically exclude all burgh land from the benefit of the Bill. The Royal Commission on the Housing of the Working Classes, of which Lord Salisbury himself was a Member, suggested that this burgh land should be taxed on its capital value.


suggested that the Government should endeavour to be consistent with itself. Now, in the English Bill, they spent many hours over something which they called, on this barbarous side of the Border, accommodation land—[laughter.]—and his recollection was that the President of the Local Government Board admitted in the fullest terms that accommodation land ought to be excluded, but unfortunately he was not able to frame a definition of accommodation land. They had nothing to do with accommodation land in Scotland, but they knew perfectly well what they meant by the pieces of land referred to, and they required no better definition than was given in one or other of the Amendments on the Paper. He hoped the Lord Advocate would remove from the scope of this relief the land in question, on the ground that the relief would in Scotland go directly into the pockets of the landlords.


admitted that in some cases, no doubt, the relief might go into the pockets of the landlords, but they could not alter a general system because in one particular sporadic instance something might happen to defeat their intention. The definitions proposed would only lead them into an inextricable maze. Of the agricultural land within burghs in Scotland the valuation was, roughly, about £170,000, while the total valuation of the burghs in Scotland was 12 millions. Accordingly, as the grant was given by the proportion which the valuation of the agricultural land bore to the whole valuation, it was perfectly evident that very little of the grant would go to the land in question.

CAPTAIN PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)

said the voting down of Scotch Members by an English majority without any answer being attempted to be made to their arguments, was only a sample of the way Scotch business had been treated in the past, and he was afraid it would be so in the future. He trusted the Scotch people would understand the propensities of this Government in introducing a Bill of this sort.


said this was not a question of land in a burgh or land outside a burgh, and therefore the interesting statistics of the Lord Advocate did not apply. He contended that there was no difficulty in defining accommodation land, which it was admitted was not entitled to the benefit of this Bill. Such a definition had been made in the case of Irish land. The plea of the Lord Advocate was not tenable at all. He did not say they could define accommodation land with the most rigid precision, but substantially it could be done with the greatest possible ease.


said what was aimed at by the Amendment was land that was improved by the industry of the community, land not naturally valuable, but made valuable by the enterprise and industry of the community round about. As to the question of definition, the Lord Advocate knew that a definition was inserted in the Irish Land Bill. The position of the right hon. Gentleman was totally indefensible, and the opinion of the Committee must be taken on the Amendment.

Question put. "That those words he there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 70; Noes, 158.—(Division List, No. 377.)

* MR. J. McLEOD (Sutherland)

said the object of the Amendment he had now to move was to limit the Bill to the particular class it professed to relieve—namely, agricultural occupiers. The effect of the Bill as it stood would be that tenants of large sheep runs who had no agricultural land whatever would get a considerable amount of relief, and he could not see the slightest reason for giving them this relief. He read to the Committee on the previous day a list showing the enormous size of some of these sheep runs, and clearly it would be outside the object of the Bill to relieve these tenants, who were large capitalists well able to take care of themselves, and who were not suffering from the alleged agricultural depression. Experience in his own constituency led him to believe that, instead of these tenants suffering under any grievance of valuation, the very opposite was the case; and while the small agricultural occupiers, who mainly cultivated the soil, had received very small, if any, reductions in rent, these pastoral tenants, who might be termed "sheep lords" or "wool kings," had received reductions in rent amounting to 20, 30, 40, and more per cent. It would be going outside the object of the Bill to give relief in these instances. He had guarded against any possible grievance by proposing that only those who had purely pastoral subjects should be excluded from the benefits of the Bill. A favourite argument of the Lord Advocate was that under the present system farmers were taxed upon their stock-in-trade, but in this case the argument did not apply, for beyond some shelters for the sheep and shepherds' houses, there was no stock-in-trade upon these huge runs. To give the Committee some idea of the class of tenants he referred to, he mentioned that in his county there were holdings of 100,000 and 150,000 acres. It would be absurd to give the relief contemplated by the Bill in such cases. He moved, in the last paragraph of the clause, after the words "agricultural or," to insert the words "partly agricultural and partly."


said this Amendment would have the effect of cutting out all land used for pastoral purposes only. It could not be said that such land had not suffered from depression, and you could not get out of the application of a general principle just because particular persons might be rich. He would also remark that even if the Amendment was passed it would be a most easy thing to defeat it, because a man had only to attach half an acre of agricultural land to his holding and then he would come within the Bill.

MR. ROBINSON SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)

hoped his hon. Friend would not press his Amendment. Sheep breeders in the Highlands might be millionaires, but in his county some very poor men had to breed sheep, and for some years they had had a very hard time. He did not believe in doles, but if doles were going sheep-breeders must not be excluded.

Amendment negatived.

MR. T. R. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.) moved, in the last paragraph of the clause, after the word "only," to insert the words "cottage gardens." This Amendment had been put in the English Bill, and he hoped the Lord Advocate might see his way to accept it. The object of the Bill being to benefit the largest number of those interested in agriculture, they should endeavour to include the class for which his Amendment provided.


was sorry he could not accept the Amendment. It was true his desire was to follow the English Bill, and certainly he had no animus against the holders of cottage gardens. But practically the Amendment would not do very much for them. There was no means of distinguishing cottage gardens in the valuation roll, and a troublesome and expensive inquiry would have to be instituted in order to ascertain what the subjects were. Cottage gardens generally went along with cottages as part of the conditions of their tenure, and the rents were paid, not by the occupiers of the cottages, but by those who gave them.

Amendment negatived.

*MR. J. B. BALFOUR moved to leave out the words "or as market gardens, orchards." He did not think that, without a statutory definition, anyone would bring either of these kinds of holdings under the head of agricultural land. They related to occupation of a different kind altogether. Horticulture was as different from agriculture as a garden was from a field. That must have been felt by the framers of the Bill, because if market gardens or orchards would have fallen under any natural or ordinary definition of agricultural land, it would not have been necessary to mention them expressly as was done. The Lord Advocate had resisted the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy on the ground that any appreciable value, apart from agricultural value given to land, was capital value not presently realisable. But in the case of market gardens and orchards, the increased value was eminently value derived from present use. Market gardens and orchards had notoriously a very much higher letting value than agricultural land—probably two or three times the letting value of the latter; and it would be against the principle of the Bill—against the idea of relieving a distressed industry—to include them. The relief given would be proportionate to the rates paid, and they were paid according to the value. Therefore, the higher the letting value, the higher the rate and the greater the relief. They would be relieving in the inverse ratio to the necessity for it. Market gardens were generally in proximity to towns, and derived a great deal of their value from that proximity. The Government did not see their way to exclude accommodation land, but that was all the more reason for not giving an unnatural extension to the definition of agricultural land.


did not feel justified in this case in departing from the provision in the English Bill. He remembered that, during the discussions on the Scotch Parish Councils Bill, they used to cast across the Table, in reference to Amendments proposed to that Bill, the phrase that the latest sense of Parliament on this or that point had been taken in the English Bill. He thought the latest sense of Parliament in this matter had been taken in the English Bill, and he preferred to have uniformity between Scotland and England on this point. This was not a question of enhanced value derived from the industry of other people. The value of a market garden did not depend so much upon its position as from the extra wealth of culture which was put into the subject. The right hon. Gentleman said that the relief here would be given in inverse proportion, because the rate was high. That was always true when they relieved a rate. The man who paid a higher rate would always get more than a man who paid a lower rate. But it did not follow that he got more relief in another way, because a high rent and a high rate might press as heavily on one man as a low rent and a low rate pressed on another. When they came to the general question of whether a person who held land should be rated upon his whole stock-in-trade, precisely the same considerations came to the front in the case of market gardens and orchards (of which there were not many in Scotland) as in the case of agricultural land. He did not see any ground for making a distinction between the English and Scotch Bills in this respect.


contended that whichever way this matter was looked at, it did not come within the scope of the Bill. It was not a question purely of rating, neither was it a case of agricultural depression, because there was no industry which flourished more in the neighbourhood of large towns than that of market gardening. The very growth of population, which was not accepted as a reason for dealing with accommodation land, was, at; any rate, a reason for not bringing market gardens within the scope of the Bill. He did not think that the argument that, though this was a Scotch Bill, no distinction could be made between it and the English Bill, was a proper argument to be addressed to a Committee which consisted chiefly of Scotch Members.

MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)

could not see how a distinction could be drawn between agricultural land and market garden land. What was a market garden? If he happened to be tenant of a field, and he devoted it to the growth of cabbages, would he place himself beyond the purview of the Bill? What crops were market garden crops, and what were agricultural crops? He thought it would be a great injustice to market gardeners to exclude them from the Bill. If it was argued that, because a man's rental was high he was making money, he disagreed entirely with it. Misfortunes were quite as likely to occur to the man paying a high rent as to the man paying a low rent.


thought that nobody who was at all familiar with agriculture would have any difficulty in making the distinction between agricultural land and market gardening land. Had the Lord Advocate really considered the greatly-increased value of land turned from agricultural land into market' gardening land? Some lands had been quadrupled in value by the process. While it was no doubt an agricultural matter, he did think it was worthy of consideration whether land which in some cases had been quadrupled in value should be relieved under the Bill.

Amendment negatived.

SIR ROBERT REID moved, after the word "allotments," to insert the words— or which are occupied at a rental of less than ten pounds a year by farm servants or other persons employed mainly or exclusively for agricultural or pastoral purposes. His object was, he said, assuming for the purposes of the Amendment that the benefit of the Bill was to be confined to the agricultural interest, to include those who seemed to him most in need of relief. He had defined these persons, by reference to their occupations, as persons employed mainly or exclusively for agricultural or pastoral purposes. It might be said that there was a difficulty in deciding who would be entitled under the Amendment, but it seemed to him that there would be no greater difficulty in finding out the men connected with agriculture than in finding out what lands were occupied for agricultural purposes.


was afraid he could not accept the Amendment, because it introduced a perfectly novel principle. The Committee would observe that if the land was occupied for agricultural purposes it would fall within the scope of the Bill. If what his hon. Friend was aiming at was a cottage held along with the land for agricultural purposes, the occupier would get the benefit of the Bill, because the house and the land were one holding. But the hon. Gentleman suggested that if it was found that the occupier of an ordinary dwelling-house was a person engaged in agriculture, he should be relieved; in other words, the relief was not to depend on the character of the land, but on the occupation of the person holding it.

MR. J. W. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)

thought that one of the great blots on the Bill was that it only dealt with a certain class of agriculturists, and left the farm servants out altogether.


said he was exceedingly sorry the Lord Advocate could not make this small concession. The Amendment was an effort to deal with the very poor people who lived in cottages. He could see a certain amount of difficulty in the argument of the Lord Advocate, but he would point out that, if the Amendment were not accepted, the farm servants in the country would be actually paying a portion of their masters' rates.


said that in 99 cases out of 100 these houses would be exempt as being agricultural heritages. They were occupied together with the land, and the exemption was not confined, as in the English Bill, to the mere land, but included the buildings used on the land.


said that there were many holdings in agricultural districts which were described not as holdings but as tenements, which were occupied by those who were engaged in the lower grades of agricultural pursuits, and who would obtain no relief under this Bill. Such people, some of whom were ploughmen, lived, not upon agricultural land, but in villages or in small burghs, and they would have to pay their full share of the rates. He thought it was quite unjustifiable that they should not receive relief under this Bill. He had placed an Amendment on the Paper which limited the application of the Bill to such tenements as were occupied at a rental of less than £10 per annum by farm servants or other persons employed mainly or exclusively for agricultural or pastoral purposes. Unless an. Amendment of that kind were accepted, the present Bill would operate most oppressively upon the agricultural population of Scotland. ["Hear, hear!"]


said that the Bill ought to give relief to the class of farm labourers who lived in small villages where they would be subject to the higher rates that would have to be imposed in order to make good the deficiency that would arise from the operation of the Bill.


said that the Bill would not increase the rates.


said that the rates must be increased in order to make good the deficiency that its provisions would involve. Agricultural land would pay a lower rate than house property.


asked what the definition of a farm labourer was. They were men who were employed during a certain period of the year only.


said there could be no difficulty in differentiating between agricultural and other labourers. The poor farm labourer who dwelt in a small village found the greatest difficulty in meeting his rates.


hoped that the Government would accept the Amendment, which would involve no practical difficulty.

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

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 61; Noes, 134.—(Division List, No. 378.)

MR. MUNRO FERGUSON moved to omit the word "woodlands," so that they might share in the relief of rates afforded by the Bill. He did not, he said, intend to press the matter to a Division, but he should like some explanation as to why woodlands should be excluded, especially, as they had been assured over and over again, that this was a Measure of rating reform. In the classified parishes the butcher and baker would be entitled to relief, but as soon as land otherwise entitled to it came under timber the relief would cease. If land had been under grass or some other crop and was then put under timber, the relief given under the Bill lapsed. That was a feature of rating reform which he thought demanded some explanation. Take the case of market gardens and nurseries. Young trees would obtain relief from the rates until they reached a more mature age; but when this latter event occurred and they were transplanted on the hillside, they would begin to bear the full burden of local taxation. That was an extraordinary proposition. ["Hear, hear!"] Why should this form of crop, which was especially suited to a large portion of the country, be excluded from this measure of relief? One reason very often given in support of the Bill was that it would incidentally benefit the labouring population by leading to the employment of more people on the land. He knew of no way in which more labour could be employed on the land than through the development of the system of afforestation. One of the great disadvantages and hindrances in the way of planting was that the burden of local rates ran up at compound interest against the planter. He planted for posterity and his successor reaped the benefit, and, therefore, if there was a case for giving relief upon land one would have thought it would have been in the case rather of woodlands than of any use to which the land was put. There had been the same fall in prices in wood that there had been in farm produce, while in the Finance Act of 1895 it was provided that the Death Duties should be taken on the same valuation as that employed for plantations under the local taxation system—namely, 25 years' purchase of the unimproved value of the soil. Yet under the present Bill the Government proposed to leave this one form of occupation untouched. This was a subject which would he watched with great interest by many foresters and others who were interested in the growth of timber, and, though he did not intend to press his Amendment to a Division, he thought he was entitled to some explanation on the matter from the Lord Advocate.


expressed a hope that the Government would listen favourably to the Amendment. There was one very strong point in its favour that the hon. Member for Leith had not mentioned. That was that when the English Bill was first brought in woodlands were excluded in the same manner as they were in the present Bill, but in Committee the justice of taxing woodlands at a higher rate was pointed out and they were removed from the clause. The present exclusion from the benefit of this Bill would operate against woodlands in Scotland, while the exclusion did not operate against woodlands in England. Then, in addition to what the hon. Gentleman had said, he would like to add that, the growth of timber was one of the most precarious crops. It was subject to complete destruction by gales of wind, and whole tracts of woodlands then became wholly unprofitable. It was a crop exceedingly desirable to encourage, and, therefore, he hoped the Amendment would be favourably considered.

MR. H. C. F. LUTTRELL (Devon, Tavistock)

hoped the Government would not accept the Amendment, to which there was the most serious objection. The right hon. Baronet was altogether mistaken as the effect of what was done on the English Bill in regard to woodlands. Woodlands were excluded from the benefit of the English Bill, and what the hon. Member for Leith was proposing was exactly that which they had prevented the Government from doing on the English Bill. The Bill was to amend the law with respect to the classification of land and heritages for purposes of rating and for the relief of the occupiers of agricultural land and heritages. Who were the occupiers of woodlands? There were many large owners of woodlands, but where were the occupiers? What they were really proposing to do was to relieve large landowners in Scotland. That would be the effect of the Amendment. The hon. Member for Leith said he would be very willing to accept an Amendment which would not relieve ornamental woodlands, but how were they to draw a distinction between profitable timber and ornamental timber? The Amendment was a retrograde step, and he could not believe that the Government would accept it.

SIR J. STIRLING-MAXWELL (Glasgow, College)

said there was very great reason for hoping that there would be an increase in Scotland in the industry of growing trees. Such an industry was certainly one that required to be encouraged, and, as the Amendment offered some encouragement, he hoped the Government would listen to it.


was afraid that, unless the right hon. Gentleman saw his way to accepting this Amendment, there would be a difference created in the position of woodlands in the certified classified parishes and of those in the ordinary parishes unclassified at present.


trusted the Lord Advocate would not go back upon what was done in the English Bill. He would like to point out that woods and forests did not depend for their profit solely upon the timber. They grew other things and protected other things. There was a great profit derived from these woods by reason of the harbouring they gave to game of many descriptions, and he considered it would be unjust for the Government to listen for a moment to the proposal now before the Committee.


trusted the Amendment would not be listened to. He submitted this point to the Lord Advocate What was a forest? There were large tracts in connection with deer forests which were wooded, and the difficulty of assessing them would be insuperable. Any attempt to relieve what might be called the industry of growing timber would result in great abuses in the assessing of these forests. Even shootings in the north were not assessed as they ought to be, and he was disposed to look upon this as a barefaced attempt on the part of the landlords to take a part of the plunder which was being allocated to the agricultural interest.


said it was clear that he would not be able to please every one in this matter. He thought that the mover of the Amendment had been misinformed as to what happened on the English Bill. As originally drafted the Bill had the word "woodlands" in the definition clause. In Committee it was struck out, and afterwards it was put in the exclusion clause, and again it was omitted. Hon. Members seemed to forget that under this Bill the sum of money was fixed, and the question whether the word "woodlands" was or was not inserted did not affect the amount. He had some sympathy with the Amendment and thought that a great deal might be said for it, because "woodlands" was one form of cultivation of the land. But no one could suppose that forests were to be included in the Bill. As a rule deer forests had no trees. No doubt there was a certain number of trees in deer forests, but the woodlands referred to by the hon. Member for the Leith Burghs were those woodlands for which the occupier's rate was charged, not on the assumed value of the woodlands, but on the assumed agricultural value the land would let for if cleared of trees and put into the market as agricultural land. The safer course in this matter would be to put off dealing with the question until report, when, if the Amendment was moved in the appropriate part of the clause, he would then be able to give a decision.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

After the usual interval, Mr. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam) took the Chair.

*MR. MCLEOD moved, in the last paragraph of the clause to leave out the word "mainly" and to insert instead thereof the word "partly." His object was to prevent sporting lands, under the device of putting a few hundred sheep on them, obtaining relief as pastoral land. This was a matter which affected not only his own constituency, but the whole of the northern counties. He did not think that it would be admitted that a tenant who occupied a deer forest ought to get any relief.


did not complain of the Amendment or the spirit in which it was moved, but he thought the words in the Bill were better than the suggested Amendment of the hon. Member. Of course, shooting land as such, would never get any relief, but the Amendment might strike at persons whom the hon. Member did not desire to strike at.

Amendment negatived.

MR. CALDWELL moved, after the word "purposes" to insert the words— or any shootings, fishings, deer forests, or sporting rights, whether the same he let or unlet.


thought the words were unnecessary as no sane Sheriff would suppose that a shooting or fishing was an agricultural tenancy.

Amendment negatived.

MR. CROMBIE moved after the words "it shall be," to insert the words— decided by the parish council with right to appeal to the sheriff, by whom it shall be. His object, he said, was simply to prevent litigation.


said this was a judicial question, which would better be decided by the Sheriff than by a popularly elected body like the Parish Council, which had absolutely no experience in judicial matters.


said the Parish Council and County Council must exercise their judgment first as to what might fail under this clause.

Amendment negatived.

MR. CALDWELL moved, after the word "Sheriff" to insert the word "principal."


said he could not accept this Amendment, but he should be happy to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member dealing with an appeal from a Sheriff substitute to the Sheriff. The Sheriff substitute was a local resident Judge, and was easier of access than the Sheriff-principal, who in the case of the northern counties might not be accessible for some time.


agreed that in some cases this was so. He had had in his mind the case of the county of Lanark.

MR. ALEXANDER URE (Linlithgow)

asked whether, if there was to be an appeal from the Sheriff substitute, it would be desirable in some part of the Bill to make provision for some such procedure to be followed as that prescribed in the Public Health Act, by way of petition presented at the instance of the occupier of lands. In some of the Sheriffs' Courts of Scotland the Sheriffs' clerks were not familiar with the procedure to be followed.


said he would be very glad to consider that matter He would not promise that he would do so, because certainly expedition was required in this matter.


asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

MR. CALDWELL moved at the end of the clause, after the word "final," to insert the words, "except that where the decision is given by a Sheriff-substitute it shall be subject to appeal to the Sheriff."

Amendment agreed to.

*THE LORD ADVOCATE moved at the end of the clause, afted the words last inserted, to add the words, "The expression, 'Parish Council" includes School Board where a school rate is levied directly by a School Board."


ruled out of Order the following Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson):—At the end of the clause to add— Provided also, that when lands or heritages used for agricultural or pastoral purposes only have a value in excess of the value attributable to such use, they shall be entered on the valuation roll as of an annuel value, calculated at the rate of three per centum of their estimated selling value, and their annual value, so ascertained, shall be held to be their annual value for the purposes of this Act, notwithstanding anything hereinbefore contained.

MR. WHITE moved at the end of the clause, after the words last inserted, to add— The annual value for the purpose of the occupiers' rate or share of rate shall not be reduced as above unless the occupier has continuously occupied the holding for three years.


asked whether the Amendment did not come under a ruling that had been given by Mr. Lowther on a similar subject. They had already settled that what was intended was to happen during the continuance of the Act, and the Amendment proposed that it should not affect a specified class of occupiers.


said the Amendment was retrospective. The tenant might have been in possession for three years or more, and run on six or seven years. Another might be in a holding one day, and his tenancy expire in three years.


submitted that there was a material difference between the Amendment and that on which Mr. Lowther gave his ruling.


said he must adhere to his decision.


said they could hardly expect this momentous clause, which was regarded as the head and front of the Bill, to pass without further discussion. The Lord Advocate had laid less emphasis upon the relief of agricultural distress than upon the other grounds he had urged in favour of the Bill. He had defended the Bill on the ground that there was inequality and injustice in the present law as between agricultural and other land; that there was impartiality in the existing law between realty and personalty; and only in the last resource, when the other arguments failed to justify the position he was taking up, did he fall back on the old cry of agricultural distress. But, in the view of the country, agricultural distress was, after all, the real basis of the Bill. The hon. Member for Dumbartonshire said that agriculture alone of all industries in Scotland had failed to prosper in recent, years. Yet when he was last in the hon. Member's constituency he heard that all the industries of Scotland were depressed, and that the fault lay with the late Government. Not a single Amendment moved from the Opposition side of the House with a view to apportioning the relief of agricultural distress had been entertained. In connection with the question he invited the attention of the Committee to the change in connection with agricultural distress which had been imported into the Bill by the Amendments of the Lord Advocate. The Amendment relating to agricultural distress classified agricultural relief. There were three categories of agricultural relief created by the Bill. First of all, in parishes not now classified according to law, the relief of the agricultural occupier would be five-eighths of his rates; secondly, in those classified parishes which still remained classified, the agricultural occupier would get no relief, and the Bill would not make a particle of difference to him; thirdly, in the classified parishes, which were now to be disclassified, the relief would vary according to the circumstances of the original classification. There might be very little difference between the classification now dispossessed of the five-eighths set up by the Bill, or there might be a great one. He submitted that the result of the Lord Advocate's Amendment, now imported into the Bill, was that, with respect to the rates affected thereby, there were various degrees of relief given to agricultural occupiers—five-eighths in one case, nothing in a second, and in a third varying from next to nothing to possibly a great deal. The law as it now stood was hard enough to understand, but the law as it would be when this Bill passed he would not attempt to define. There were under the existing law certain optional classifications under two Acts of Parliament. Of these some were abolished, some were retained—all this apparently in the name of uniformity. There was a statutory classification apart from this altogether, and that was retained; so that they had one optional classification abolished, one retained, and the statutory qualification retained. And all this was to bring about, for a space of five years, a state of uniformity, and at the end of five years this very partial and qualified uniformity was to be set aside and the original chaos was to be restored. From the point of view of its technical merits this clause of the Bill they might part from without much regret, if without very much hope for its future working. But the technical part of the question after all was the secondary part, and on the substantial merits of the clause he had only one word to say. Take it with all its faults and merits, what did it come to? It came to this, that the root of this legislation was the English Bill—["hear, hear!"]—a Bill brought in, whether with true or false pretences it would be out of Order to say, but a Bill brought in avowedly with the object of relieving agricultural distress. The Government gave Scotland 11–80ths of the money. They simply gave them, in virtue of a constitutional principle, their equivalent share in the amount of money required to meet agricultural distress in Scotland. It was ear-marked in the very beginning as Scotch money. It belonged to all of them. The share which belonged to his own constituency in this money was something like £8,000 a year. What were they going to get back? They were going to get back £472 a year. Could the Unionist Members for Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Scotch burghs go back to their constituents and tell them that, whereas their share in this Scotch equivalent grant amounted to thousands a year, they must be content with sums of £200, £300, or £400 a year? He had not seen many Scotch Unionist Members on the other side present during' these Debates. He understood the proportion of Scotch opinion represented in the Lobbies against the clause they were now dealing with had been two to one against it. The fact was Scotch opinion had been dead against the Bill from the beginning, because they believed that it was an unfair distribution to one class of the community of money which belonged to the whole community. This was just as much, or nearly as much, a robbery of Scotland as if they had never received a penny of the money at all.


said the accuracy of his figures had been so repeatedly attacked that he claimed a right to say a word in reply. The position he took up was that agriculture had been in an entirely exceptional condition as compared with the other leading industries, and he had not heard a single word except vague generalities in contravention of that contention. ["Hear, hear!"] There had been a temporary depression in the woollen industry, but it had only been temporary. That was shown by the figures. In 1881 the number of people employed in the industry was 35,646, and in 1891, 40,034, and he was quite prepared, if necessary, to carry forward the figures in connection with the consumption of wool in reference to this special industry. The colleague of the hon. Member for Dundee had stated that the textile industries of Scotland were in a depressed condition, and he quite admitted that the jute industry was in a depressed condition. But the leading textile industries in Scotland had been upon the whole flourishing, as he could also prove. The hon. Member for Caithness had stated that the mining industry was depressed. He admitted that there had been a temporary depression in the industry, but the figures would prove it, was only temporary. In 1851 the number of miners in Scotland was 52,000; in 1871,77,000; in 1891, 84,000, and in 1894 there were 88,620 in coal alone. The number of persons employed in connection with an industry was one of the best tests they could have of its progress and prosperity, and he should like to know any leading industry in Scotland in which the number of people employed in it had not been steadily increasing, whereas in agriculture the numbers had been as steadily decreasing. The number of agricultural labourers in 1871 was 258,000; in 1881, 234,000; and in 1891, 220,000.


asked whether the hon. Member had taken into account the extra number engaged in working agricultural machinery.


said he had—everyone connected with agriculture, according to the Census Returns. Put concisely, the number of people engaged in non-productive occupations increased by 6½ per cent.; industrial occupations, 10¾ per cent.; domestic, 15 per cent.; professional, 16 per cent., and commercial, 37 per cent., during the last decade, while the agricultural labourers had fallen off by 6½ per cent. If the hon. member for Dundee would indicate any leading industry in Scotland in which the depression had been anything like that he would be glad to hear him. [AnHON. MEMBER: "Sugar!"] Sugar was not a leading industry, and it was in an entirely exceptional condition. It had been crushed out by the operation of the foreign bounty system.


said he did not challenge the hon. Member's statement. He simply pointed out the contrast between the statement he made and the statement he heard made in the election which ended in his return.


said the statements he had made in that Committee he was quite prepared to stand to, and he did not think that anything the hon. Member for Dundee had said had invalidated the position he had taken up.

* MR. COMPTON RICKETT (Scarborough)

said that it was a rash thing for an Englishman to rush into a Debate where Southrons usually feared to tread. It also required some courage to come between a Scotsman and the traditional "saxpence;" but one of his hon. Friends, a Scotch Member, after a struggle it was true, had expressed his willingness to surrender the grant of money for the sake of preserving the principle they defended. He commended the picture of a Member from Scotland refusing money as a subject to the future artist who should add to the frescoes of the Houses of Parliament. The question of the bounty, so to speak, to be allowed to Scotland was resisted strongly on that side of the House. They had an economic principle at stake in the English Bill and in the Scotch Bill. Free Trade they knew, and Protection they knew, but, as to the spirit in possession of the times, they might say to it, "Who are ye?" They would find that if they introduced this plan of making to one set of interests or to one form of industry a special concession, they had opened the floodgates to other concessions. Once take the first step, and then it was only a question of degree. They would have others clamouring for like grants, and every industry successively depressed would claim some allowance from the public purse. At last they would have to draw the line and refuse all concessions, or to go forward to the nationalisation of industries. If agriculture might claim relief, the House would also have to consider coal mining and trades which were depressed in turn. He supported the rejection of the clause.


said that the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee seemed to him to be made up, first of all, of an attempt to suggest extraordinary complications where none existed; and, secondly, to offer some general considerations for outside consumption. [Laughter.] The question was a simple one. It was a fallacy to suppose that there were three kinds of relief granted; there was only one kind of relief—the right, under the Pill, of the agriculturist to be rated at three-eighths of his valuation, and that was effected either where there was no classification or where there was a certain kind of classification. He had defended the English Bill on the same grounds as he had defended this Bill. [Mr. ROBERTSON: "The origin of the Bill is in the Queen's Speech."] When the hon. Gentleman spoke about the money of his constituents being taken, he thought that he begged the whole question. Though an equivalent grant in amount was given, the money was given by Parliament for the same objects as under the English Bill, and to say that the money belonged in definite proportions to Dundee and other constituencies was to mistake the purpose for which the money was given. The money was given to redress in England and Scotland an injustice to agriculture, and the amount of that money was conditioned by the rules of the equivalent grant.


said it was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to talk about the intention of Parliament in endowing Scottish agriculture in the same way as English agriculture. The intention of Parliament was not decided until it had pronounced on the arguments adduced, and their arguments were for the purpose of endeavouring, if they could, to make Parliament decide against a great injustice. From whom did this money come? The constituencies knew well that it was they who paid the money. Suppose that this was a Bill for paying five-eighths of the rates of ratepayers in the boroughs, and that the county rate payers received no relief. Was it likely that the County Councils would not raise a protest? Of course they would; they would not be deceived by the notion that this was a certain sum of money which Parliament desired to give, in order to pay the rates of the borough occupiers. Here the borough ratepayers paid the money and they got nothing. For example on the gross valuation of Glasgow that town paid £25,000 a year; under this Bill it would get, if the temporary payment of the Land Tax was relaxed, £2,000; Edinburgh paying £15,000, would get £2,000; Greenock paying £3,000 would get £72; Aberdeen paying £5,000 would get £500. The agricultural industry which was to be treated with this special favour had not in all parts of Scotland suffered; in some parts of the country it was extremely prosperous. In order that such a gross injustice as was proposed should not be inflicted on the burgh population of Scotland, and upon every man who lived in a house to which agricultural land was not attached, some theory had to be discovered, and that theory was that this was a rating reform. The Bill was an afterthought; it was not mentioned in the Queen's Speech. Scotland never asked for it, and a great majority of the hon. Members who had supported it in the Lobby knew very little about what they were voting for. As to Scotch Members, at this moment—he wished it were otherwise—right hon. Gentlemen opposite were supported by, he supposed, the largest minority that had been returned from Scotland to support a Conservative Government in his time, at any rate, and perhaps for long before. The Government had five Scotch supporters to every six Scotch opponents. That was the opinion of Scotland on general politics at the last General Election. But what was the opinion of Scotland in respect to this particular Bill. There had been two crucial divisions on this clause. The hon. Member for Kincardine moved an Amendment which amounted to a protest against enabling future rates to be paid by the rural population on three-eighths of their rental, and for that Amendment there voted 32 Scotch Members to 16 Scotch Members against it. ["How many were paired?"] He did not know anything about that. On the Second Reading, when they examined the pairs, the Opposition came out very much better. On the Amendment limiting the operation of the clause to two years instead of five the Opposition had 30 Scotch Members with them, and the Government 15. ["There were pairs."] Yes, but they had only to do with those people who voted, and he thought he was quite justified in saying that the people of Scotland were against the Bill in the proportion of two to one.


was surprised the right hon. Gentleman should accuse those who supported the Government of ignorance. ["English Members!"] The right hon. Gentleman alluded distinctly to Scotch Members. ("No, no!" and "Yes, yes!")


said he referred to those who came in to vote only.


was glad the right hon. Gentleman had corrected the impression which he left on his mind. But he would like, when a charge of this kind was made, even against English Members, to point to the extraordinary ignorance shown by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, in the remarks he made in moving the rejection of the clause. Alluding to the first and second Sub-sections of the Clause, the hon. Gentleman said, why is it that in the second Sub-section you deal with deductions, and in the first Sub-section you don't. He did not think it was an oversight on the part of the hon. Gentleman because last night questions dealing with the same question were put direct to the Lord Advocate.


said he asked the question last night, and he did not ask it without consultation with those on his side of the House who knew all about the subject.


was certain the hon. Gentleman would not have put the question at all if he had taken the trouble to make himself acquainted with the facts. The right hon. Member had stated that there were parts of Scotland where, under this Bill, farmers would get nothing. He challenged that statement There was no part of Scotland in which agriculture would not be benefited under this Bill. Would the farmer derive no benefit by having to pay in future three-eighths of his valuation? The right hon. Gentleman had made some wild statements. One of them was as to the price of wool. He said the lowest price of wool was 7d., and that now British wool was fetching 9d. to 11d. per lb. That was a gross misrepresentation.


said the figures 9d. to 11d. were taken from the Economist of last week. [Cries of "Withdraw."]


said he was a grower of wool, and he undertook to say that the price of black-faced wool at the outside was 5½d. ["Hear, hear."]

MR. J. M. WHITE (Forfar)

thought that the proposal which he had on the Paper, but which he understood was out of order in regard to Clause 4 would meet the point. At present the Bill was full of injustices, for those who suffered least would get the most. They had classified districts which got no relief and unclassified districts to which considerable relief was given. He considered this extremely unjust. He had property in classified and unclassified districts. The greatest depression was in the classified parishes but on that he got no relief.


appealed to the Committee to come to a decision on the clause. Of course he did not wish to interfere in any way with full discussion; he merely wished in the interest of the progress of business to go on to the other clauses.


reminded the right hon. Gentleman that Clause 1 was the most important clause of the Bill [The FIRST LORD of the TREASURY: "Hear, hear!"], and it was not unreasonable that Members should express their views upon it. [Laughter.] They were discussing matters of the greatest importance and they were received with nothing but jeers and laughter—[cries of "Oh, oh!"]—from Gentlemen opposite who knew nothing about it, had no interest in it, and whose constituents had no interest in it. [Cheers.] Under such circumstances discussion in that House became a farce. A different spirit had been shown by the Government. This was so important a part of the Bill that it ought not to be hurried through as long as Scotch Members had anything to say.


said that nine-tenths of all the money would be determined by this clause. As to whether the benefit of this Bill would go to the landlords. At the present time, a large portion of the North of Scotland was in the hands of the owners and a few big pluralist farmers. Therefore, in those districts the landlords would get the full benefit to themselves. Then on those lands which were let from year to year, the rent depended on the rates, and if the rates were reduced the rent would be increased. But the most important class of tenants in Scotland were the leaseholders, and when the existing leases fell in the present rents would he increased to the extent of the relief. The great bulk of the rate came under Subsection 2 and not Sub-section 1 of the clause. The consolidated rate was small compared with the School Board and Parochial rates. In parishes where classification existed the relief would go to the non-agricultural occupiers. The Lord Advocate's Amendment proposed a system of classification by register by the Secretary for Scotland. The only result of that would be that the relief given to agriculturists hitherto by their fellow non-agricultural ratepayers would now be given by the State. But he had no objection to the Bill passing, because the result would be that certain Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House who represented western divisions of Scotland would lose their seats at the next election.


said that he had the honour to represent one of the Divisions of Glasgow, and he was perfectly satisfied that the people of Glasgow wanted nothing but fairness and justice All the speeches made by hon. Gentlemen opposite on the Second Reading of this Bill were so many attempts to throw dust in the eyes of the people. This was a question of equitable and reasonable dealing with the matter of rating, and he very much mistook his fellow citizens of Glasgow if they attempted to save themselves from the just and reasonable taxes that would fall to their share even if the proposals of the Bill compelled them to pay a few pence or even pounds more in order that justice might be done. He took his stand on the plea of justice, and he was prepared to go to his constituents on that plea. The agricultural industry was suffering to such an extent at the present time that it ought not to be called upon to pay what he maintained was an unjust and unfair share of the rating burdens of the country.


contended that instead of benefiting under this Bill the citizens of Glasgow would be grossly injured by it. The first clause was wholly unjust to those who paid rates in boroughs and populous places. Instead of being benefited they were to be plundered by this attempt to relieve agricultural tenants at the expense of others, and especially of those in boroughs. He held that the Second Clause was grossly unjust, especially as it not merely differentiated between the agricultural and other ratepayers with respect to the taxes that had already been laid on, but would give them power to increase the rates with a light heart when they remembered they had only to pay three-eighths as against the whole taxation that would be borne by the other classes of ratepayers. He strongly supported the Amendment to omit this clause.


remarked that this clause was supported by the Lord Advocate upon one particular ground. The right hon. Gentleman threw overboard altogether the plea of agricultural distress and based his argument on the ground that this clause was to bring about a just principle of rating between agricultural land and other land. The right hon. Gentleman's statement on this subject was contained, very shortly, in his Second Reading speech. He said:— Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had failed to give the Government credit for the true principle which underlaid the English Bill and also this Bill. In the case of the English Bill they had to deal with the gross inequality between the burdens which for local purposes were borne by real as against personal property. The fact was that, roughly speaking, the personal property of this kingdom was worth about five times as much as the real property, and yet real property bore the whole brunt of local taxation. Was there ever such a monstrous absurdity as for the Lord Advocate to say that in Scotland real property bore the whole brunt of local taxation? Yet upon this footing the whole Bill rested. This clause dealt entirely with occupiers' rates. Who paid occupiers' rates? Was it real property paid thorn? Ask the artisan in the town who paid his rates? He would say he paid them out of his own industry, out of his wages, and no part of the payment fell upon real property. Again, take the occupier in the country—the farmer, and ask him who paid his rates. Were they paid by real property? Nothing of the kind, they were paid from the farmer's industry. The fallacy of the Lord Advocate's argument was the confounding of two cases, the man who paid the amount, and the amount which was paid upon his rental. The occupier paid out of his industry, but the rate was regulated by the amount paid to the landed proprietor. It was not the landed property, it was the tenant who paid the rates, the landed property simply specified the amount that was to be paid. Assuming the Lord Advocate's contention to be sound——[Interruption.]. He was, he thought, entitled to be heard on a matter in which all constituencies were interested. If the Lord Advocate's contention was sound, and if real property really paid the taxation, then it would naturally follow that relief from taxation should go to those who paid the rates. But so far as occupiers' rates were concerned, the occupier paid out of personalty absolutely. Sub-section 1 dealt with the occupiers' consolidated rates, and also with the Public Health (Scotland) rate. For the consolidated rate he took as a typical instance Stirlingshire. There the occupiers total consolidated rate was 4¼d., and of this the maintenance of roads took 3¼d. The Government proposed under the Bill to classify these consolidated rates which were not classified at the present time. In 1878 a Unionist Government introduced the Roads and Bridges Act. Prior to that the maintenance of roads and bridges was levied by tolls. What was the position of tenant-farmers in regard to roads and bridges in 1878?

[The hon. Member, who had spoken amid continuous interruption, made a lengthened pause.]


I must request the hon. Member to continue his speech.


I am perfectly ready to continue, but I think I am fairly entitled to ask for reasonable silence.


The hon. Gentleman must remember that he has addressed the Committee very frequently on the Bill, and therefore he must not be surprised if the Committee receives him with some impatience. If the hon. Gentleman will come down to more recent times and apply himself more closely to a discussion of the first clause he will probably obtain a hearing.


It is perfectly true I have addressed the Committee frequently. But this is a Bill that deeply affects Scotch constituencies. I never said a word on the English Bill, and if I have spoken frequently now, it is a subject on which I have most perfect knowledge. The hon. Member then resumed his speech. The question, he said, was whether or not the Consolidated Rate ought to be classified. Prior to the passing of the Roads and Bridges Act of 1878 tolls were levied, and they fell most heavily on agricultural tenants. But by the Act of 1878 the rate was placed on all county householders, with the result that a farmer of £300 rental, who paid £40 in toll dues, not only paid £4 in road rate. Surely that was not a case for classification. A farmer whose tolls had been compounded by a rate which was not more than one tenth of what he formerly paid had no right to ask for greater relief now. Indeed, the householders of every county were complaining that they were now assessed at more than their proper share because they were assessed at the same rate as the farmer. The result of the Bill would be that the agricultural tenant who used the roads would pay 3d., while the householder who did not would pay 8d. in the pound.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the question be now put." [Cheers.]


I understood from the hon. Member for Mid Lanark that he intended only to detain the House for five minutes. He has now been speaking for a quarter of an hour, but I suppose the hon. Gentleman is bringing his remarks to a close. [Laughter.]


Yes, Sir, I am. [Laughter and cheers.] The Committee was giving money to be allocated to Scotland, and all the Scotch Members asked was that, while English Members had had the benefit of having their money allocated according to their wishes, they should allow Scotch Members to apply their own money as they wished. [Ironical Ministerial cheers.]


, said he felt sure the Committee would not wish to part company with a clause that had afforded them all so much intellectual pleasure in a spirit of ill-humour and discontent, and, as he had not yet had an opportunity of addressing the Committee, he craved leave to say a few words. [Cheers.] The hon. Member for Camlachie had accused his colleague of being even more involved and less intelligent than usual, but he could not say that any Scotch Member who had taken part in the discussion was entitled to any great merit for his extreme lucidity. [Laughter.] He very much doubted whether any of those English Members who had taken so active a part in this Debate, though not in the way of articulate expression, had the slightest notion what the prevailing system of local taxation in Scotland was, or could rise in their places and say what was meant by classification. [Cheers and laughter.] Up to the introduction of this Bill the Scottish method of local taxation had always been held up to admiration, respect and wonder. It was always conceived to be the wisest and best mode of raising money for local purposes; and they always used to hear that nothing could be conceived better than a system of local rating which divided the rate equally between the owner and the occupier and allowed for classification. In Scotland they had never heard of complaint or any reason why this system should be attacked or interfered with. The Committee would have done well to consider whether the system of classification which had worked so well in Scotland should not be made compulsory. Under that system every class of property had to pay that share of the rates which it was best able to bear. Of course there was a divergence of opinion among hon. Members upon the question, because, whilst some were anxious that justice should be done, others were violently opposed to injustice. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] For his own part, he did not anticipate either very much good or very much harm from the Bill, and, indeed, he scarcely thought that it was worth the while of the Government to pass this Measure. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] He did not wish to inflict figures upon the Committee, but he had had figures prepared which showed that the Bill as amended would scarcely affect the agricultural class in classified parishes in Scotland at all, and that the only people who would (in those oases) benefit by it would be the owners of shops and houses. The benefit that the agricultural class would derive from it would be of a very minute character. They had in Scotland a system of rating which was far better than that in force in England. He regretted that the Government should have thought it right to introduce into Scotland this passion for doles. Of course, if doles were going about, Scotch Members thought it to be their duty to secure some of them for their constituents. That was, of course, merely one of the characteristics of human nature, but he was afraid that the desire for doles would grow, and would have a very demoralising effect upon the people. It was said that this Bill had been brought in with the object of assimilating the law of Scotland in reference to this question with that of England, but it must not be forgotten that the English system of rating was in urgent need of reform. "Hear, hear!" He denied that any such grievance existed in Scotland as called for this class of legislation, and he believed the Scotch system of rating might be placed on a right footing in something like six weeks, without hanging the whole question up for five years. He regretted having to speak at that late hour, but he should take part in the Division with very great pleasure.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 172; Noes, 74.—(Division List, No. 379.)

Clause 2,—