§ County Councils, councils of county boroughs, councils of boroughs and other urban districts and rural districts, Boards of Guardians, the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police district, School Boards, Highway Boards, Surveyors of Highways, and the Isle of Wight Highway Commissioners.
§ MR. J RANKIN (Herefordshire, Leominster)
asked why Parish Councils were omitted from the list of spending authorities named in the Schedule?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that it was impossible to get accurate information as to all the past expenditure of Parish Councils. There had been no account furnished as to their expenditure for 1895–1896, but he had been supplied with the following information with respect to the last three months of the 208 year ending on March 31, 1895: 2,915 Parish Councils and 5,623 parish meetings had returned no accounts. 3,988 Parish Councils and 337 parish meetings had incurred some expenditure. In 200 cases no rate had been levied; in 328 the rate had been under one farthing; in 611 between one farthing and one halfpenny; in 608 between one halfpenny and one penny; and in 172 one penny. As yet the Department had only been able to examine half of the accounts. In the circumstances it had been considered impossible to include Parish Councils and meetings among the spending authorities under this Bill.
explained that he had put the question that the Schedule be added to the Bill by mistake. There was a new clause to be moved.
§ *MR. MUNDELLA
moved to insert the following new clause:—This Act shall not apply to any rate raised or levied in a municipal or county borough.He explained that there were many municipal county boroughs having a very large acreage of land which was unbuilt upon within the municipal boundaries. Sheffield, for example, occupied an area of about 20,000 acres, and there were within the boundaries of the city farms which paid rents up to £4 an acre. Surely it was not intended to relieve the owners of such farms from liability in respect of half the rates. The Duke of Norfolk was the ground landlord of a great part of Sheffield, and received enormous sums in ground rents. He also owned farms within the boundaries of the municipality. Was it thought desirable in those circumstances to extend the benefit of this Bill to his farms? The Bill was for the relief of agricultural depression, but depression could not be said to exist where land was let for £3 and £4 an acre. Within the boundaries of Leeds there was a farm belonging to a friend of his which was let for £3 an acre. In Hull there was about 3,000 acres of agricultural land within the municipal boundaries, and more than £7,000 a year was paid in rents for this property. If the relief given by the Bill was allowed to extend to cases of that kind they would be practically taxing the leaseholders in those towns for the benefit of their landlords, who owned land which was as yet 209 unbuilt upon within the area of the city, but which would some day realise enormous rents and which to-day was already paying very much more than ordinary agricultural land paid. He begged to move the clause standing in his name.
§ *SIR C. DILKE
thought that some such thing as the right hon. Gentleman proposed ought to be done, but the clause, he held, ought not to pass in its present form, for there were many municipal boroughs where the population was under 2,000 and which were really quite rural in their character. Therefore all municipal boroughs could not be excluded from the scope of the Bill. He suggested that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill should take the question into consideration in the interval before the Report stage. The case of lands of high value, such as those to which his right hon. Friend had called attention, ought to be met in some way or other.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER
said, that he supported the proposal of his right hon. Friend, but must ask for some modification of it. It ought to be amended so as to provide for allotments and cottage gardens situated within municipal boundaries receiving the benefits of the Bill.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he could not accept the Amendment in its present form certainly, and he could not give any undertaking that he would be able to do so at a later stage. He would, however, be quite ready to consider it before they came to the Report stage of the Bill, and to examine the question again, but he did not wish to be understood as giving any kind of pledge on the subject.
§ *MR. MUNDELLA
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was within the scope of his intentions that high-rented land of from £2 to £4 an acre was land which should be relieved of half the rates?
§ MR. STUART
said, it was clear that the recent Amendments and this new clause did raise a point that required consideration. This was the case of land which, either by its position or from other circumstances, had become so valuable that it ought fairly to be excluded from the operation of the Bill.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he quite acknowledged the importance of the ques- 210 tion, and also that it was a very large and difficult question which was undoubtedly worthy of attention and consideration. He could not, however, give any further assurance than he had already given.
§ *MR. MUNDELLA
said, on the understanding that the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged the importance of the question and was anxious if possible to meet it, he would ask leave to withdraw the clause.
§ Clause, by leave, withdrawn; Schedule agreed to, and added to the Bill.
§ Bill reported, as amended, amid loud Ministerial cheers; to be considered upon Monday 1st June, and to be printed.—[Bill 260.]