§ MR. MACGREGOR (Inverness-shire)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether there are any means available wherewith to defray the travel- ling expenses of County Councillors who, in the Highlands of Scotland, in many cases have long distances to travel to attend the meetings of the Council; and, if not, will the Government make provision to enable poor members of the Council to attend to their public duties? MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.): At the same time, I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland what legal authority he had for permitting, as in the case of Ross shire, the payment of County Councillors' travelling expenses out of the rates?
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Sir G. TREVELYAN,) Glasgow, Bridgeton
The question relating to the payment of travelling expenses of County Councillors in the Highlands of Scotland is a very serious and important one. I am advised that in the event of a sub-committee or of individual members of a County Council being deputed to undertake some special work, such as the inspection of a distant road or bridge, their travelling expenses might competently be defrayed out of the County Council funds, as being incidental to the performance by the Council of its duties, 1831 and as probably saving the cost of having the same work done by professional persons, but that it would not be admissible to pay out of the County Council funds the expenses of County Councillors travelling to or from the ordinary meetings of the Council or of District Committees. I propose to direct a Circular to be issued to County Councils intimating my intention to act upon these views.
§ MR. HOZIER
Did the right hon. Gentleman send the letter that appeared in the Highland News last week authorising the Ross-shire County Council to pay County Councillors' travelling expenses out of the rates?
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
This matter was brought before the Secretary for Scotland in May last, and he found that there was considerable difference of opinion on the matter. A letter in the sense of the first part of my answer was addressed some time ago to the County Clerk of Sutherland. A letter of the nature which the hon. Member describes was addressed to the County Clerk for Ross-shire not authorising any particular expenditure, but saying that they would be favourably considered and probably granted. I have gone into the matter completely, and acted on the advice of the Lord Advocate, and I have no doubt the present Circular will meet the case.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
Does not the right hon. Gentleman think the rates would be well spent in paying the expenses incurred by County Councillors in the discharge of their public duties?
§ SIR R. PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
Has the right hon. Gentleman acted in this matter in consultation with the President of the Local Government Board with a view to taking action of a like character?