§ 43. Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
asked the Secretary for Scotland if his attention has been called to a meeting of representatives of 273 Scottish Parish Councils, held at Glasgow on 29th September last, at which a resolution was unanimously passed calling upon the Government to redress the grievances of these councils in the matter of rating under the Education Act, 1918, or to repeal that Act; if he is aware that some of the Councils have refused to levy the very high rate called for; and what he proposes to do?
§ Mr. MUNRO
My attention has been called to the meeting and to the resolution. I am not prepared under any circumstances to take steps to repeal the Education Act, 1918. The main increases in expenditure are not attributable to that Statute. I am, however, prepared to consider any statement of the grievances complained of, together with any specific proposals for their redress that may be put before me on behalf of the councils. I understand that very few of the councils have refused to levy a rate. I am advised that they are bound to rate for the sum allocated and apportioned upon them by the Education Authority of their area in terms of Section 13 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1918, and that, in the event of their persisting in their refusal, proceedings may be taken against them under Section 87 of the Poor Law (Scotland) Act, 1845.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
Is it not a fact that this new Education Act has greatly increased the educational standard in Scotland, and has made the education problem much more easy by removing the grievance of the Roman Catholic population of that country?
§ Mr. MUNRO
That is certainly in accordance with my information, and I may perhaps be permitted to add that in criticism of the expense of the Education Act it is often forgotten that the entire cost of the voluntary schools in Scotland has now been taken over and is borne by the public authority, and that that to a large extent accounts for the increased cost of working the education of that country.
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
With regard to the cost, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in many parishes the discrepancy between the cost in 1918 and 1919 is very great; that, for instance, in the parish of Gargunnock the cost, which was £6 per scholar, is now £36; that in another place the cost was 12s. 9d., and is now £8; and does he think that the poor country parishes in Scotland can possibly stand an expenditure of that kind?
§ Mr. MACQUISTEN
But is it not the case that they are all hard cases? Those I have given are only typical cases of what happens in the whole of the parishes.
§ Colonel GREIG
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these parishes are rich parishes and able to contribute their fair share of the education rates?