HC Deb 25 November 1926 vol 200 cc621-3

I beg to move in page 18, line 13, at the end, to insert the words The general meeting of a county council which is required by Sub-section (2) of Section seventy-three of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, to be held in the month of October, and at which, under Section seventy-one of the said Act, the annual budget of the county council is required to be submitted may, if the county council so determine, by passing a Resolution to that effect at a meeting of which due notice shall he given, be held on such day before the month of October as the county council may from time to time determine, and the provisions of the said Subsection and of the said Section seventy-one shall have effect accordingly. 7.0 P.M.

This Amendment has been suggested by the county council of Lanark, by the county councils of other counties and also by the County Councils Association of Scotland. I believe the Minister in charge has indicated his possible acceptance of this Amendment. It merely deals with the date of the meetings of the county council at which the annual budget is brought forward. According to the Statute, that meeting has now got to be held in October, and the county councils desire that the rates shall become payable in future in three instalments. That brings them rather too near the time of the 11th November, when the first instalment would be due. Therefore it has been considered that some elasticity should be given the county councils, and that by passing a Resolution they should have their budget meetings at an earlier date than October.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I understand the Secretary of State for Scotland has accepted this, although he does not say so. We should have some explanation. It strikes me as being peculiar how he agrees with the Lord Advocate in certain matters. A short while ago he was stating that this was merely a Rating Bill, and did not interfere with any other thing. Now he is going outwith what he has already said. This alteration carries the Bill a step beyond what was intended. It may be a very desirable step, but that is another matter. I have no great objection to the Amendment although I would like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman some explanation of the scope of the Amendment and the effect of it on the Bill itself.


It is obviously for the benefit of a county council, if it is able, to have its Budget meeting earlier than the statutory day in October. At one time we proposed—I think it was in the original Bill—that it should be as early as 31st July. County councils at that time said they could not possibly make their date any earlier. Since the Committee stage, Lanarkshire County Council, as the leaders, have said that they have such an enormous number of notices to make out, that in view of the instalment system, which is to be in their option under the Bill, they would have to keep the instalment dates too close together. If you have the instalment dates so close they are not instalments at all. It seems to me that is a matter of administrative machinery of which the county councils themselves are the best judges, and in this matter I think it is only right that a certain elasticity should be given to them. Therefore, as the county councils have asked for this, which is only an option to them to do it if they care, we see no reason for opposing what they ask.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 18, line 40, at the end, to insert the words and any sum borrowed under the provisions of this Sub-section shall not be reckoned in any calculation as to the limit of the amount that may be borrowed under the foresaid statutory powers. Perhaps I should explain that this Amendment is put down for the purpose of giving the county council the powers of borrowing sufficient money at a time to meet their liabilities. At the present time they are under certain limitations which do not apply to the borrowing powers of the burghs under similar conditions under the Burgh Police Act.

Amendment agreed to.