§ (1) From and after the fifteenth day of May, nineteen hundred and twenty, Section eight of the Public Libraries Consolidation (Scotland) Act, 1887, shall have effect, and shall be deemed to have had effect, as if for 369 the words "one penny" therein occurring there were substituted the words "three pence," and the accounts of the Committee appointed under that Act shall be audited as part of the accounts of the rating authority, or, in the case of a combination of burghs or parishes for the purposes of the said Act, as part of the accounts of the rating authority making the largest contribution to the expenses of the Committee: Provided that the Secretary for Scotland, or, where the rating authority is a parish council, the Scottish Board of Health, may, as regards any burgh or parish, as the case may be, sanction a further increase in the amount of the libary rate to an amount not exceeding threepence in the pound,
Lords Amendment: In Sub-section (1) leave out the words
Provided that the Secretary for Scotland, or, where the rating authority is a parish council, the Scottish Board of Health. may, as regards any burgh or parish, as the ease may be, sanction a further increase in the amount of the library rate to an amount not exceeding threepence in the pound.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
This Amendment deprives the local authorities of the power of levying a rate and is therefore a privileged Amendment
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
With some regret I suggest to the House that it should agree to this Amendment. The history of the Amendment is simple. The proviso which the Lords have deleted in another place was not in the Bill as originally presented to this House. When the Bill came before the Scottish Standing Committee, an Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham), not precisely in these terms, but in somewhat similar terms. I accepted the Amendment in the terms In which the proviso was inserted in the Bill before it went to another place. I was moved by two considerations: first of all, that in the corresponding English measure the local authority had no restrictions whatever placed upon it as to the amount of the additional rate which it might levy, and that in the corresponding Irish Act there was a degree of elasticity provided similar to that provided in the Amendment that I proposed to accept. There was also the consideration that the working of a 3d. rate might be uneven in different districts in Scotland. In the so circumstances, 370 and under the assurance that the power conferred upon the Secretary for Scotland and the Board of Health would be exercised with care and discrimination, I accepted the Amendment and inserted it in the Bill in the form in which it went to another place. The proviso was deleted in another place, and I suggest that the Amendment which has been accepted in another place should be agreed to. If it is not agreed to, the Bill as a whole, looking at the stage of the Session we have reached, will be placed in imminent peril, and I think it would be a real calamity to lose the measure as a whole. It must be remembered that, in another place the Second Reading of this Bill was carried by only four votes and if the Bill goes back to another place, this House having disagreed with the Amendment, I very much fear that the Bill will be lost. A great deal was said in another place on this Amendment about economy. No doubt that is a desirable thing, but whether it is desirable to economise in the matter of public libraries may be a matter for discussion and even for dispute. Under the circumstances I have mentioned and animated simply by the desire to save this Bill I move.
I am sorry that the proviso has been altered, and that the authorities in Scotland have not been given this power.
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.