§ 1. Commander Galbraith
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the recent considerable increase in the rates of the city of Glasgow; and whether he will take action to ease the financial burden of the ratepayers and alleviate the position of those property owners who, being liable for a share in the payment of rates, are left with an inadequate return on their capital and without the necessary funds to meet essential renewals and repairs.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Westwood)
My right hon. Friend has received representations indicating concern at the recent increase in rates by several local authorities, including Glasgow, but in no case has any evidence been submitted on specific questions which are held to require special investigation. If such evidence is forthcoming he will certainly consider it in consultation with the local authority concerned. As my hon. and gallant Friend is aware, there is a strict audit of all expenditure to ensure that it is in conformity with the statutory powers of the spending authority. As to the burden on property owners, my right hon. Friend expects to receive before the end of the year the report of the Committee presided over by the Dean of Faculty which has been considering whether it is practicable and desirable to limit the maximum amount payable in respect of owners' rates.
§ Commander Galbraith
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a rate of 16s. 4d. in the £ in Glasgow is, approximately, equivalent to 33s. in the £ under the English system, and is twice as high as the rate in Edinburgh? In those circumstances, is he prepared to set up an official inquiry? If that should be beyond his power, will he try to get the Corporation to set up an inquiry on their own account?
§ Mr. Westwood
I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that this Question and answer were very carefully considered by the Secretary of State, whose attention I am quite prepared to draw to the supplementary question which has just been asked; but I cannot give any other answer than the carefully prepared answer which I have already given.
§ Mr. McKinlay
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that, in the adjoining authority of Lanarkshire, rates are higher? Is he also aware that the hon. and gallant Member who put this Question was a member of the Glasgow Corporation until he came to this House, and that the rates have been increased only by is. 6d. since he left? Is it an inquiry into the is. 6d. increase which is being asked?