HL Deb 29 January 1931 vol 79 cc740-4

THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (LORD MARLEY) moved, That the Order made by the Secretary of State under the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929, entitled the Local Government (Scotland) (Adaptation of Enactments) Order, 1930, which was presented on the 10th December, 1930, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I want very briefly to move the Motion standing in my name, which is in connection with local government in Scotland. I was going to suggest that the Motion, as printed, is purely a formal Motion, but I am told that possibly there are one or two questions which noble Lords might desire to put, and if so I will do my very best to answer them. I may explain that the Motion is required under Section 76 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1929. The Order, copies of which are on the Table, makes a number of minor alterations in General Public Acts which are necessary in consequence of the Act to which I have referred, mainly because that Act abolishes certain local authorities. That is the principal reason. The second reason for this Order is that the rates for varying expenditure are now consolidated under the Act. The details of this Order have been explained in the Command Paper, No. 3742, copies of which are also on the Table. The explanatory Memorandum goes into the whole question, and unless any questions are desired to be put to me I will content myself with moving the Motion standing in my name.

Moved, That the Order made by the Secretary of State under the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1919, entitled the Local Government (Scotland) (Adaptation of Enactments) Order, 1930, which was presented on the 10th December, 1930, be approved.—(Lord Marley.)


My Lords, there are two or three points which I would like to put to the noble Lord, and I will do so by referring to the explanatory Memorandum. On page 3, in paragraph (3), we are told that under the Land Valuation (Scotland) Act of 1929 the functions of the sheriff are to be removed. I would like to hear whether an appeal will now lie, and if so to whom. Then as to page 4, paragraph (6), I would like to hear whether the effect of the changes there described will be to affect in any way the liability respectively of either owners or occupiers, or whether their liabilities will remain as they now stand. There is one other point with reference to Section 373 (4) of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892. I understand the first portion of paragraph (8) of the Memorandum, beginning on page 5 and going down to the end of the first paragraph on page 6, but I do not quite see the force or purpose of the last paragraph.


I am much obliged to the noble Marquess, who did mention to me that he was going to raise certain questions. I will do my best to answer them. If noble Lords who are interested will turn to paragraph (3) on page 3 they will see that it relates to the Land Valuation (Scotland) Act, 1854. The point about that was that originally it referred to parishes which were partly in rural and partly in urban areas. I am not a Scotsman myself, but I am told by my wife, who is Scottish, that when we see "partly burghal and partly landward," it means urban and rural. The point was that in Scotland, as in England, when there was a divided authority there was disagreement, and therefore the Act allowed for the sheriff to act as arbitrating authority. Under recent legislation parishes ceased to be rating authorities, and therefore the ratepayers will be in either a rural area under the county council, or in an urban area under the town council. There will be a right of appeal to the valuation committees in each case, and the arbitration appeal is no longer necessary and the sheriff's duties are abolished.

The next question relates to paragraph (6) on page 4—Roads and Bridges. The position is that under the old Acts 'sometimes the occupier of the land was assessed for the full value of that share of the rates which went to the repair of the roads, and he was entitled to recover from the landlord by a reduction of the rent which he paid, or vice versa there was an arrangement under which the owner paid the rates and was entitled to recover a half-share from the tenant. In other words, each had a liability for half the rates, and the question put to me was whether that liability remained. It is a fact that the liability is not altered under this 'amending Act, but it is only fair to say that there are cases of landlords who may, perhaps out of affection for their tenants, have paid the tenant's share of the read rate and have not recovered it. Equally, there may be cases of tenants who out of 'affection for their landlords have paid the landlord's share and not recovered it. Under the amending Act those charitable arrangements, I am afraid, are not able to exist any longer, but I am told that in Scotland they are very few in number.

The next point was as to why this same fifty-fifty arrangement was not applied to the burgh general assessment. The reason for that is the fact that they are so applied except in the few cases in which burghs have taken advantage of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, Section 373 (4), referred to in the Command Paper which we are discussing. That section allows certain burghs in Scotland to maintain their old usage in the distribution of the assessment. It was felt that it would be unfair to destroy a usage which had grown up from antiquity, and which was prized by some of the most ancient burghs. Therefore the amending Act by that paragraph allows for the existing arrangements to continue without disturbance in the way in which they are under that ancient usage. There is one further point in that connection. There is no objection to any burgh which does not at present use the old arrangements going back to those arrangements, provided two-thirds of the town council agree, under the terms of the section in the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, which has not been repealed, and is therefore available for any burgh which desires to return to it. I trust that these observations make the point clear and that the House will pass the Motion.

On Question, Motion agreed to.