§ SIR GEORGE MCCRAE (Edinburgh, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland if he is aware that a dispute has arisen between the Town Council of Edinburgh and the distress committee as to a claim by the distress committee for repayment out of the rates of a sum of £3,700 disbursed on relief work for the unemployed, including wages and the expense of working a farm colony; whether the Local Government Board (Scotland) is prepared to advise that this payment is legal under The Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905; and, if not, what action he proposes to take in the matter.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. SINCLAIR,) Forfarshire
Yes, Sir, I am aware that such a difference has arisen. This difference raises a point of considerable doubt; and while the Local Government Board have expressed the view that it does not lie with the Town Council to refuse payment of the demand made, I may point out that where such differences cannot be overcome in any other way the procedure of Sections 175 and 176 of the Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1897, is provided by Article 16 of the Regulations (Organisation for Unemployed) (Scotland), 1905, as the method of settling such disputes by law. In answer to the second part of the Question, I have to say that the Local Government Board has not yet been called upon to consider and decide any question relative to the legality of any payment made by the distress committee out of the central fund. The statutory duty in this regard does not fall to be performed until the matter is brought under their notice on a Report by the auditor appointed under the Act to examine the accounts of the distress committee. I do not propose, therefore, to take any action in this matter, but I may express the hope that amicable adjustment may be attained without resorting to extreme measures.
§ SIR GEORGE MCCRAE
Is it not the fact that this matter has already been before the Local Government Board of Scotland and that there is a complete deadlock, with the result that the distress committee is being handicapped in its action.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)
Is the decision in these legal matters taken by the Local Government Board's own responsibility or on the responsibility of the Law Officers?