§ MR. LEA
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the sum given to the landed interests of this country under the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, and which will not, under present, arrangements, expire until 1910, will by that period have amounted to £21,000,000 sterling; whether he can give an assurance that the Government will, at the earliest possible moment, take steps to discontinue this contribution to the landowners at the expense of the community; can he say whether the sum so saved will amount to £1,500,000 a year; and, if so, whether he will undertake to devote that amount to the nucleus of the old age-pension scheme.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OR THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH, Fifeshire, E.)
My hon. friend appears to have taken, for the purposes of his calculation, the amounts assignable out of the estate duty local taxation revenue to the relief of agricultural rates in Great Britain. Upon this basis his figures are approximately correct. The whole question of the relation between the Exchequer and local taxation is engaging the attention of the Government, and I am not prepared to give any pledge to deal with these particular grants independently of a more comprehensive scheme of readjustment.
§ MR. LEA
In view of the number of pamphlets issued by the Liberal Publication Department during the last few years on behalf of the Party, complaining of these doles to owners of agricultural 157 land, cannot the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance to the House that he will put an end to them as soon as possible?
§ [No Answer was returned.]