§ Mr. PIRIE
asked if the Lord Advocate can state, with reference to the following deputations from Scotland to Dover House, London, namely, those on 30th October and on 31st October, with reference to the House Letting Bill, on 1st November with reference to the National Insurance Bill, and on 2nd November with reference to the allocation of the education fund, whether any representations were made from the Scottish Office to discourage such meetings, and suggesting that the same purpose would have been served by these meetings taking place in Edinburgh; if he can explain if there is any special reason for this increase in the official interviews between those who are responsible for the conduct of affairs in Scotland and those who are affected by such conduct; and whether he can point to any result that justifies such proceeding?
§ Mr. URE
In connection with the National Insurance Bill the Vice-President and the medical member of the Scottish Local Government Board were in London during the Autumn Session, and one member, with the Agricultural Adviser, of the Congested Districts Board was in London in connection with the Scottish Landholders Bill. I am not in a position to state the precise number of days during which these officials were absent from Scotland, but while in London they were, of course, discharging official duty.
§ Mr. PIRIE
asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to the 1368 increasing number of deputations from Scotland to Dover House, London, during this Autumn Session, in one week alone about 170 gentlemen being received in four deputations by the Secretary for Scotland, at an estimated expense to the ratepayers of Scotland of about £2,000; if he is aware that the total annual average expenditure on similar deputations for the years 1904 to 1908 was £1,600; and, seeing that the deputations in question achieved no result which could not have been secured by their taking place in Edinburgh, will the Government consider the advisability in any legislation it may propose next year, or take other steps, to put an end to such expenditure of time and public money?
§ Mr. URE
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has asked me to answer this question. I am not aware of any general increase in the number of deputations from Scotland to Dover House. During the week referred to the number was quite exceptional, for reasons which are well known to the hon. Member. I cannot accept his estimate of the expense. My Noble Friend the Secretary for Scotland and I were ready to meet deputations in Edinburgh prior to the re-assembling of Parliament, but, as I understand, that was found not to be convenient for some of the gentlemen who appeared on the deputations.