§ COLONEL MALCOLM (Argyllshire)
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether he can now make any statement in regard to the intentions of the Government as to the money available for Scotch purposes under the Budget proposals of the present Session?
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I beg to ask if the right hon. Gentleman is now able to inform the House as to the manner in which it is proposed to allocate Scotland's share of the yearly grant of £2,000,000, the English portion of which is to be directed to the remission of fees in State-aided schools?
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON,) Bute
The allocation of the additional money which will fall to the share of Scotland in connection with the further contributions from the Exchequer during the present and subsequent Sessions has engaged the careful attention of Her Majesty's Government. They have had placed before them by deputations and otherwise various claims upon the money so to be appropriated. The leading claims are those which have been presented in favour of the appropriation (1) to the cost of secondary education in Scotland; (2) to aid in the improvement of the University system there; (3) towards elementary education in Scotland so far as not yet absolutely freed; (4) towards the relief of poor rates; and, lastly, to the relief of other local rates. The high sense which the Government entertain of the claims of secondary education to the consideration of this House has been stated on more 17 than one occasion. The circumstances of the Universities also appear to found a strong claim for some aid towards facilitating the labours of the Commissioners appointed by the Act of 1889. It is obvions, however, that to deal with the subject of education in a way which would be satisfactory to Parliament and the country would require a larger amount of time than can possibly be found daring the present Session, whether regard be had to the importance of the subject itself or to the competing claims which might be presented. On the other hand, it is to be observed that the amount of money available for this year is only £100,000, as opposed to about £220,000 which will ultimately be available, and therefore the disposal of all the claims made upon the larger sum is not a duty of present urgency. By general consent, a large portion of the money ultimately available must be devoted to the relief of local rates, and accordingly the course which the Government will recommend the House to adopt at present is to assign the whole sum for the purposes of the relief of local rates administered by the Municipal Authorities of counties, burghs, and police burghs. The appropriation will be for one year only, and will leave for consideration at an early part of the ensuing Session the whole question as to the permanent allocation of the full sum of £220,000 among the various purposes to which I have referred—Universities, schools, the relief of parochial and other ratepayers. The Government are conscious that any proposal they car; make may occasion temporary disappointment in some quarters, but they entertain the hope that the House and the country will recognise in the proposal which I have sketched out, and which will be embodied in a Bill to be introduced when the Education Bill is passed, the desire of the Government to deal with the matter in such a way that no claim to share in the additional moneys will be in any way prejudiced when the permanent settlement is entered on in the ensuing Session of Parliament.