§ * MR. MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction existing in Edinburgh and Leith against the proposal to levy an ecclesiastical assessment for repairs on the manse of South Leith parish church; whether he is aware that these repairs cost £589, to which is to be added the cost of collection, amounting to an additional £400, and that an assessment of five-eighths of a penny per pound is to be levied, which will produce £1,250; whether he is aware that meetings have been held pledging the heritors to resist the imposition of the assessment; and if he will consider the advisability of introducing legislation to prevent the levying of such assessments.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith)
I beg also to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether, in view of the facts disclosed in the South Leith manse assessment case, he will propose legislation to abate such impositions in Scotland.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was also aware that at a kirk session an intimation was given that relief would be given to heritors under £50 and that those over £50 would be relieved to the extent of the assessment.
§ MR. SINCLAIR
Opinion among the heritors appears to be divided, and I am informed that the cost of collection did not amount to £400. With these exceptions, my hon. friend's statement of the facts, so far as it goes, seems to be correct. In reply to his last Question and that of my hon. friend the Member for Leith I may remind them that in 1900 the late Government passed an Ecclesiastical Assessments (Scotland) Act. The procedure laid down by that Act is apparently being followed by the heritors in this instance, and will be closely watched by the Government with the view of considering the advisability of introducing further legislation.
§ * MR. MCCRAE
IS my right hon. friend aware that yesterday at a meeting of the heritors, amid disorder, a motion was said to be carried to impose the assessment? And will he give facilities for a Private Member's Bill dealing with the matter?
§ MR. SINCLAIR
I know nothing about the meeting, and cannot give any undertaking as to a measure till I have seen it.