HC Deb 25 November 1926 vol 200 cc573-6

Where any amount or sum is required under this Act to be apportioned or allocated among two or more rating authorities according to the rateable valuation or the gross annual valuation of the respective areas of such authorities, the clerk of the town or county council by whom the valuation rofl relating to any part of such areas is made up shall, so soon as the same shall have been authenticated under the Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act, 1854, or Section sixty of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1903, give a certificate of the rateable valuation or the gross annual valuation, as the case may he, of such part to the clerk of any council, authority, or board by whom such apportionment or allocation as aforesaid requires to be made.—[The Lord Advocate.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to a move, "That the Clause be read Second time."

The Association of Education Authorities, among others have asked us to provide for certificates of valuation being given to them in cases where their areas or districts cover more than one rating authority. Under three Clauses in the Bill, the parish authorities, the District Board of Control, and the education authorities, may have occasion to make an allocation. For that purpose, they do not want the details of a valuation rofl. What they require to know is the total valuation of each of these parts or parishes within their area. Therefore, it is simply some total figures that they require. Although this might have been done by administration, and although it has been done as a matter of administration in the case of the education authorities under the Act of 1918, we saw no difficulty in acceding to their request as regards this somewhat simple matter and accordingly we have put down this Clause. May I say that I desire to move it without some unnecessary words that have crept into the Clause. In line 3, there are the words "or the gross annual valuation" and in line 8, again, there are the words "or the gross annual valuation, as the case may be." Those words are unnecessary, because the only case of allocating a gross valuation would be in the first year of the operation of the new Act, when, as the new kind of valuation rofl will not be available, it will be necessary to allocate on the gross valuation in the valuation rofl of the preceding year. Under the existing law these authorities have the information at present, and there is no need to deal with it in this Clause. I understand that this Clause will fully meet the desire of these authorities, and accordingly I beg to move its Second Reading.


As far as I can see, the omission of these words does not mean any material alteration to the Clause.


We must object to the alteration. I think the Lord Advocate should give notice of an Amendment of this kind.


I think it is only fair that we should have some time in which to consider the force of the alteration now suggested.


If objection be taken, I will put the Clause as it stands on the Paper.


As far as the underlying idea is concerned, I think the Lord Advocate will have met the desire of the education authorities in Scotland, and I am very well pleased that, while I could not convince him Personally, he has since changed his mind as far as this provision is concerned, and I hope that when we come to another proposal further on, his mind will be changed as easily as it has been on this point.


I take a radically different view from that taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Peebles and Southern (Mr. Westwood), and I regard this Amendment of the Lord Advocate as a very sinister one indeed. On his own admission, and as a matter of fact, as an acknowledged practice, there has been no difficulty whatever since the Education (Scotland) Act has been in operation in the clerks of the local councils, town councils, and so on, sup-plying the necessary information, but what is happening here is another stage in county-councilisation, in the county council control of local authorities, another interference by what I call the county gentry over more democratically elected authorities, who have hitherto had no difficulty whatever in supplying the certificates required. On the Lord Advocate s own admission, there is no justification for this Clause, and he has given us no instance whatever where a county rating authority has been put to any difficulty as a result of not getting these certificates. He has simply moved this New Clause because of the dictation or influence brought to bear upon him by the Association of County Education Authorities in Scotland, and I, for one, object to giving these county authorities any more power or any power whatever over the local authorities.

Clause read a Second time Amendments made:

In line 3, leave out the words "or the gross annual valuation."

In line 8, leave out the words "or the gross annual valuation, as the case may he."—[The Lord Advocate.]

Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.