§ 65. Mr. W. GRAHAM
asked the Under-Secretary to the Scottish Board of Health whether the statement of the Secretary for Scotland, in connection with the proceedings of the Convention of Royal Burghs in Edinburgh on 3rd April, to the effect that relief for Scottish parish councils in the assistance of the able-bodied unemployed might be found in enlargement of administrative areas, is to be regarded as Government policy in this matter; whether any inquiry in such a direction has been made by the Scottish Office and, if so, with what result; and whether it is proposed to introduce legislation to give effect to such a proposal?
§ Captain ELLIOT (Parliamentary Under - Secretary for Health, Scotland)
The terms of the passage to which the hon. Member refers make it quite clear that the suggestion as to enlargement of administrative areas was put forward for consideration by the authorities concerned, and not as a statement of Government policy. No special inquiry has been made into the subject, and it is not at present proposed to introduce legislation to give effect to the proposal.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
In view of the fact that the larger area will have the effect of distributing the burden more evenly over Scotland, is it not the duty of the Scottish Office at least to make inquiry?
§ Captain ELLIOT
Though no special inquiry has been made, we are considering the matter generally, but, as the hon. Member knows, there is considerable difficulty, especially in the case of smaller authorities, who fear that they would lose their independence under this proposal.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
Before any inquiry is made, will the hon. Gentleman take into consideration the experience of the Scottish authorities as to the Scottish Education Act of 1918, whereby increased administrative expenses have been caused?
§ Captain ELLIOT
Considerations of that kind make the Department very chary of the suggested new amalgamation.