§ 78. Mr. JAMES BROWN
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that, owing to the widespread unemployment in Scotland during the last year, there are very heavy arrears of rates to town and parish councils which cannot meantime be met; and whether he intends to take any action to assist those authorities in bearing this very heavy burden?
§ Mr. MUNRO
I believe it is the case that, owing to the widespread unemploy- 225 ment, the arrears of rates at the close of the current local financial year will be abnormally heavy. If parish councils are unable to meet claims upon them for relief owing to the existence of such arrears or for other reasons the Government are prepared to consider the propriety of making loans from the funds voted by Parliament last Session for relief of unemployment. Apart from this measure of assistance and from contributions towards the cost of approved relief schemes the Government cannot, I am afraid, take any special action in regard to arrears of rates.
§ 79. Mr. J. BROWN
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he is aware that, during the time between July and November of last year, when unemployment benefit was suspended, the parish and town councils incurred extraordinary expenditure, the rates for which fall to be collected this year; and whether he intends to give some measure of relief to those councils?
§ Mr. MUNRO
The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. In the case of parish councils the Act passed last Session enables the councils, with the sanction of the Scottish Board of Heatlh, to borrow money for the purpose of meeting the exceptional expenditure and to spread repayment over a period of years. If parish councils are unable to borrow the money required for relief in the ordinary way, they may apply through the Scottish Board of Health for a loan from the funds voted by Parliament last Session. In the case of town councils, expenditure has been incurred mainly on works instituted for the relief of unemployment, and the Government are assisting town councils by contributing a proportion of the cost.