§ 54. Mr. WILLIAM THORNE
asked the Home Secretary whether, in view of the revolt of certain aggrieved districts in Outer London, the refusal of the West Ham overseers to pay in full the police precept now levied upon them, their payment of the previous precept only under threat of personal distraint, the fact that the basis of levy for the expenses of the Metropolitan Police has become disarranged, and that the recent Departmental action only perpetuates the disarray and aggravates it, he will undertake to refund all unjust balances charged or to be charged on the aggrieved districts in this matter pending speedy readjustment, if these districts on their part will consent to pay them for the present without prejudice and under protest; whether he can give any hope of a speedy readjustment and rectification of the basis of Government contribution to the Police Fund or of the methods of financial maintenance of the Metropolitan Police; what practical steps he is prepared to take to put an end to the present disarray; and when is he prepared to take such steps?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I cannot accept as accurate the hon. Member's statements. A slight inequality in the incidence of the charge for the Metropolitan Police has arisen owing to the fact that the counties of London and Middlesex are unable to pay from their Exchequer Contribution Accounts the full sum due from them, while the West Ham Borough Council has sufficient funds from the Exchequer Contributions to meet the full charge. The 351 overseers of West Ham, by way of a protest, have deducted a portion of the police rate due from them. The grievance is a very small one, and can only be set right by legislation; and I have strongly advised the West Ham overseers to represent their case to the Departmental Committee which is now considering the whole subject of the incidence of local taxation. No Departmental action has been taken outside the ordinary procedure required by law. I have no power to give any such promise as the hon. Member suggests, and I can only say that I shall be very glad to assist in putting the matter on a more satisfactory footing when Parliament finds time to deal with the important question of local taxation in all its bearings.