South Uist, 28 May 1883 - Rev Alexander Mackintosh

Rev. ALEXANDER MACKINTOSH (29)—examined.
(See Appendix A, XXVIII)

11289. The Chairman.You are Roman Catholic priest in the parish of South Uist, or does your cure extend further?
—My cure extends to the Boisdale district and South Uist.

11290. How long have you held this cure?
—Two years and nine months.

11291. Had you a previous cure in this part of Scotland ?
—In Wigtownshire and Ayrshire.

11292. Are you a native of the Western Islands?
—I am a native of  Lochaber.

11293. Let me ask you about the number of your people. What proportion of the population do the Roman Catholics form in the parish of South Uist ?
—I cannot speak for the whole parish, but I believe my congregation numbers 2000 and three or four souls.

11294. Of the various communions of Protestants, how many may there be ?
—According to the last census, a little over 400.

11295. Are the Roman Catholic population an ancient hereditary population, or are any of them of recent conversion ?
—There are a few of recent conversion, but the main bulk of the population are old hereditary Roman Catholics.
11296. They have never had any other religion

11297. I ask that because we heard a story in Barra that the people there had been converted eighty or one hundred years ago to the Roman Catholic faith ?
—I don't think that is true.

11298. Did you ever hear that story in the country?

11299. However, to your knowledge, it is the old hereditary religion of the people here ?
—There are a few converts—a very few.

11300. Have you any statement to make with reference to the administration of the Education Act ?
—Well, I would prefer to be asked questions. I am not prepared with a statement about that.

11301. In the district to which you belong, how many public elementary schools are there
—There are three public schools in the district which I represent.

11302. In this district of South Uist there are three elementary schools under the direction of the same school board ?

11303. How is the board composed?
—The parish minister is chairman, and there are two priests, the factor, three farmers, and the doctor.

11304. How many altogether?

11305. How many Roman Catholics?

11306. And in reference to these three schools, of what persuasion are the teachers in them ?
—All Protestants.

11307. Has there been any new election of teachers since you came here ?
—The island of Eriskay, since I came, is the only one where there has been a new election.

11308. Was there any effort made on the part of the people to obtain the selection or nomination of a Catholic teacher?
—I believe the wish of the people was always pretty well understood ; it was always pretty clear.

11309. But it was not stated in any petition or memorial
—I am not aware that since I came to the country there has been any memorial, and I don't know what happened before.

11310. When the nomination of this teacher took place, was there any discussion in the school board itself on the subject
—I am not a member of the school board, and I don't know if there was any other applicant at the time.

11311. You don't know whether any distinct effort was made on the part of the two Roman Catholic priests to obtain the nomination of a Roman Catholic ?
—I think when that election was made it was pretty plain there was not much use. There had been efforts made for another school, without any result, in the north part of the island.

11312. The same school board ?

11313. What was the nature of the effort made with reference to that school?
—I believe it was strongly represented by the two Roman Catholic members of the board that it was fit and proper and reasonable that in a place like this, in which the majority of the people were Roman Catholics, the feelings of the people should be consulted in the choice of a teacher.

11314. But the Roman Catholic community have it in their power to have their wishes satisfied by electing their representatives on the school board?
—Yes, but in the question of election, in a country like this, the wishes of the people are not very free.

11315. Has there been no systematic effort made up to the present time to get a majority of the school board elected by the people in conformity with their own wishes ?
—I don't know that the people themselves have made any such move, but I have repeatedly heard the rate-payers complain at this end of the country that they were not properly represented on the school board, and that their wishes were not sufficiently consulted.

11316. When does the next election take place?
—I think it is in two years.

11317. Have you in contemplation to endeavour to get the people freelly represented on that occasion?
—It was in contemplation at the last election to do such a thing, but in consequence of some correspondence
between our bishop and Lady Cathcart's representative the effort was not pursued, on account of a letter which implied a threat, and we, as representing the people, did not wish that the people should be in any way
punished for our efforts.

11318. Do Roman Catholic children suffer any positive disadvantage by being under the tuition of competent Protestants ?
—Holding the views I do about education, I do not believe in education without religion.

11319. Then, in case the Roman Catholics had a majority on the board, and the meaus of seeing their wishes carried out, they would not only desire, probably, in case of vacancies, the election of a Roman Catholic teacher, but they would desire to have Roman Catholic religious tuition in the schools?
—Yes, without interfering with the work of the school.

11320. And applying the conscience clause of course, in reference to Protestants

11321. Do you think there would be a very great reluctance on the part of the children of Protestant parents to attend the secular teaching of a Roman Catholic master?
—I don't think there would be in this district. I am not aware.

11322. Then, I understand there is no Roman Catholic teacher in this district in any of the public elementary schools ?
—There may be some monitors, but there is no certificated teacher.

11323. No head teacher
— No.

11324. Neither male nor female?
—Neither male nor female.

11325. Do you know any case of a school in this part of Scotland where the majority of the people being Roman Catholic, there is distinct Roman Catholic teaching going on in the school ?
—Yes, I know of one case in the Lochaber district, in the parish of Kilmonivaig, in which there is a Roman
Catholic teacher who teaches catechism at the hours allowed in the time table.

11326. In the schools here chiefly attended by Roman Catholic children, is there any religious teaching going on at all ?
—I am not aware there is.

11327. There is no Protestant religious teaching
—I have never heard that there is.

11328. How is the Roman Catholic religious teaching carried out? How are the children instructed iu their religion ?
—We have to do it for ourselves.

11329. Do you do it at all in connection with the secular schools, or is it in the form of a Sunday school? —We do it ourselves, never in connection with the schools.

11330. Professor Mackinnon. What is the name of your district

11331. In the north district is the proportion of Protestants and Catholics the same ?
—I believe that in proportion to the population the number of Protestants is greater than in this southern district.

11332. You were asked to appear as a delegate by the people of Dalebroge ?

11333. Have you anything to state?
—There were three delegates appointed by the people of Dalebroge. I think I can briefly state the grievances of the Dalebroge people. I cannot go into dates, but I understand the general condition of the people, and the things they have to speak about just now. The people of Dalebroge principally complain that the land which was formerly occupied by twenty-four crofters is now occupied by something more than double the number. They had common land extending from Dalebroge to within one mile of this town here. This common land was taken from them. The people were sent out from Frobost and were put on this common land, and pieces of land have also been taken from the people and crofts taken—a croft for the schoolmaster, a croft for the policeman, a croft attached to the Free Church manse, and crofts occupied by the people called cottars; and they complain there has never been a reduction of rent for this land which was taken from them. Further, that land was taken from them to make into parks of potatoes, and that for this land which was taken from them for this and other purposes there was never any reduction of rent made. The rent remains the same, and they practically have no common land to-day.

11334. Would they be satisfied if they got a small reduction of rent proportionate to the land they lost? —With the land they have now they could not make a living. There are too many people on the land, and the
land is not what it was, with over cultivation; it does not yield the crop it used to yield, and they have not enough land to leave part of it out for a year or two to enable it to gain strength.

11335. We had one man who said that he left part of the land out for two or three years in grass?
—I suppose that man meant what he was saying, but I don't think you will get another case of that kind in the

11336. Do they look to legislation to remedy their grievances?
—They certainly look to legislation now to remedy their grievances,

11337. What form of legislation do they look to?
—The law. In this part of the country it was the factor.

11338. I mean, of course, imperial legislation, not an appeal to the proprietor. Beyond appealing to the proprietor, what else do they look for?
—They look also for a settling of land at a fair rent and leases. They are looking out also for compensation for improvements which they may make, and encouragement to make these improvements, and no fear of their being sent out of those lands as long as they can pay their rents.

11339. When you speak of leases, what length of leases do you refer to ?
—I have seen people somewhat above the class of crofters in this country with nineteen years' leases.

11340. Would that satisfy the people of this country—nineteen years' leases
—I am not aware that it would altogether satisfy them. I believe there is a more radical change than that required before they would be satisfied.

11341. With regard to fair rents, do you think they would be prepared to pay the rent the tacksmen pay for their lands
—If they had the land in proportion to some of the tacks, they might consider themselves fortunate.

11342. You think the tacksmen's lauds are rented more cheaply than the crofter's land
—Some of them.

11343. Are the tacksmen's lands let by competition here when there is a vacancy in a farm
—The last farm that was vacant there was competition, but I heard it said—I don't know whether it was true—that the person who got the farm had been settled upon before.

11344. And that the highest rent was not accepted
—That it had been known before the farm was let who was to get it.

11345. And did the person who got it pay the highest rent that was offered ?
—That, of course, we do not know.

11346. What is your proposal to remedy the state of matters with respect to the schools
 —I think the school board might very reasonably be called upon to resign, as not representing the feelings of the rate-payers.

11347. You don't require a change in the law, but a change in its administration?
—We are quite content with the law.

11348. Is not a new school board elected every three years?

11349. Don't you think matters could hang on till next election, and remedy them then?
—I think the longer they hang on the worse things are getting, and it will not be so easy to do things then.

11350. We have had ten years of this administration since the passing of the Act; would it not be rather a serious step, seeing that the administration of it in this parish has been uniform since that time, to call upon
the school board in the middle of its term to resign, when you have the remedy in your own hands in one or one and a half years hence?
—Hitherto we have not had the remedy in our own hands, but I believe that at next election we may have.

11351. Do you expect the board would resign voluntarily, if they were called upon by the people of the parish?
—I have no great reason to expect anything from the board, so far as the feelings of the rate-payers are concerned.

11352. Of course, so long as they administer the Act, can you expect any other external agency to call upon them to resign ?
—I am not aware any other person has any right to call upon them to resign. I think if they had the wishes and feelings of the rate-payers at heart, they would see they are not acting in conformity with the wishes of the rate-payers, and they should as men of honour resign.

11353. Supposing you got the school board to give effect to the wishes of the people, I think you stated there was no religious education in the board schools at all, Protestant or Catholic ?
—I am not aware there is any religious education in the schools at all just now. I am not aware that in any board schools on the mainland, where a majority of the people are Catholics, there is religious education.

11354. Catholic ?

11355. But I mean, with respect to the schools of this parish, they are all taught by Protestants, unless there may be a monitor or so ?

11356. But with respect to religious education in these, there is no religious education so far as you are aware?
—Not so far as I am aware.

11357. But your wish is that there should be religious education—Catholic education ?
—Yes. decidedly.

11358. And the Protestant children would be protected under the conscience clause ?

11359. And be educated in the same way as Catholic children are where Protestant children are in the majority ?
—Yes, and even in the minority.

11360. With respect to secular education, I suppose you find it is conducted satisfactorily to your wishes? —Yes; I believe the inspectors are satisfied.

11361. With respect to school books, and all that?
—Well, there are a great number of children who are too poor to get school books for themselves.

11362. But the class of books they are being provided with, would they be the class provided if you had control of the schools ?
—I believe it would be about the same class of books. In our schools there are always books such as are supplied for use in public schools.

11363. In the Catholic schools throughout the country the secular books are much the same as the secular books in board schools ?
—I believe so,—Nelson's books, and Collins's, and other books.

11364. Would there be any difficulty in getting a supply of good Catholic teachers?
—I think just now the supply is considerably in excess of the demand.

11365. Suitable for the district?
—All the teachers in this country do not speak Gaelic, and we could get a few who can speak Gaelic, and plenty who cannot.

11366. Do you think it an advantage that the teachers in this district should be able to speak Gaelic ?
—I think, on the whole, it is an advantage; but I know there are plenty cases where the teaching is conducted by teachers who do not know Gaelic.

11367. But, other things being equal, you consider it is an advantage

11368. Do you think Gaelic-speaking teachers are to be got?
—Yes, some.

11369. Do you think they could hold their own in the market with respect to other qualifications and knowledge ?
—I am not aware they are in any way behind, so far as attainments are concerned.

11370. Where are they trained ?
—Some at Hammersmith, some come from Ireland, aud some at the Glasgow Free Normal School.

11371. What are the radical measures you spoke of in reference to the land and condition of the people?
—The first, I believe, is more laud. The people cannot now make a living as they used to do without land—grazing for sheep and for cattle. The people, I believe, can never be right until they have that. Then, further, I think this country will never be improved until the half crofts are doue away with as much as possible.

11372. If you gave more land to some of the crofters, you would take crofters and put them upon that additional land, and make whole crofts for those who remained?
—I believe, if the crofts were as they were formerly before the population was so crowded, the people would be able to mike a living, having the common land they used to have.

11373. If the, subdivision of the crofts had uot gone on as it has done?
—I believe there is another cure for the country too. In the different townships, from the number of people who would be able and willing to do some work at fishing, with a little land, as much as would keep two cows
perhaps, and give them potato ground. On the east side of Uist there is sufficient land to suit those people, aud sufficient fishing ground to enable them to make a living.

11374. And you would spread those that would give their attention exclusively to land, on the west shore? —The land on the east shore would not suit.

11375. Looking to the population of South Uist just now, and the amount of land suitable for crofts, do you think that there is a sufficient amount of land for the present population
—I believe there is sufficient for more than the present population without removing them very far.

11376. Of course, you would like to have some large farms still in the country
—Well, if it could be; but I don't believe in the good of the few at the expense of the many.

11377. But do you not think that a few farms of different sizes—some of them large, in this country, so far removed from other influences, would be an advantage in many respects to the community at large
—I believe it would, if large farms could exist in this country without in any way interfering with the benefit of the more numerous population. I believe there should be large crofts.

11378. Your objection to the farms in this country is that they are too many and too large ?
—Yes, and that the small holdings have been made smaller in order to increase the large farms.

11379. The complaint is not so much of the high rent as of the small holdings and bad ground
—Well, it does not come altogether to a question of rent. They do not complain that the rents were raised. That is not the complaint in this country. I don't suppose there have been cases in which rent was raised, in this township of North Loch Boisdale for instance, but the complaint about the amount of rent paid in this country rises through the way in which they were deprived of their common land.

11380. Without any abatement of rent at the same time?
—Without any abatement of rent.

11381. One or two of the delegates spoke to-day complaining that the rent was too high in this country, that the rent was fixed when the crofts were valued, not so much for the value of the ground as for their proximity
for kelp-manufacturiug purposes
—Yes, at the time kelp was in demand, fetching a fair price, the people were reuted according to the price of kelp; and Colonel Gordon promised the people to reduce the rent one-third when the kelp fell, and that promise was never redeemed. There were people who, at the time, engaged to pay in money and got crofts cheaper because they did so.

11382. Supposing the crofts were made larger in the way you suggest, what measures would you take to prevent their being made smaller again
—I don't think the ruling powers should in any way approve of subdividing crofts

11383. But they have been subdivided?

11384. What measures would you take to prevent a further subdivision, supposing they were now enlarged? —I would give a man the land conditionally, that it should not be sublet to his son or any other person.

11385. How would you provide for the overplus of people in such a case?
—That is a very difficult question. If the people had sufficient land, and able to make a livelihood with it, I believe a great many of them would go away to other countries, and a great many of them when they saw they could do work and keep themselves better in other countries, would perhaps stay there, but what to do with the surplus population as a body I don't see.

11386. You think it is not a question just now ?
—Not yet. When that comes there will be means to meet it.

11387. Are people in the habit of going south to work just now?
—A good many go in the summer and autumn.

11388. Do they invariably come back in winter?
—Not all; the most of them do.

11389. Mr Cameron.—What is the nature of the arrangement with regard to the potato ground you speak of ?
—The arrangement was that there was some of the common land marked off—land which had been reclaimed by the people from mosses, and which they had as a common land, which they ploughed, and which was farmed as common land, and the products divided amongst them each year. This land was taken from them, and potatoes were planted in it by the proprietrix, which potatoes they were made to labour at, and so much was that the case that threats were made use of if they were unwilling.

11390. When it was reclaimed, at whose expense was it reclaimed?
— By the working labour of the people of the township.

11391. They were not paid for it?
—Not for the first reclamation.

11392. What do you call the second reclamation ?
—The planting of the potatoes.

11393. They were paid for that?

11394. Did they get the seed ?
—Lady Cathcart supplied the seed, and the people worked it.

11395, And they were paid wages?
—I never heard what they got, but they complained of it.

11396. But they were paid wages?

11397. You don't know what these were?
—No. But at that time any wages would be poor enough for them, because they lost their own work at the time it was most important for themselves—the time for sowing and planting potatoes and everything else, and they were obliged to go there and work.

11398. Do you know with what object the people were supplied with potato seed and paid for their labour? —I have heard it said that it was to teach them agriculture.

11399. Was there no demand on the part of the people for labour? Was there no scarcity of work at the time which induced the proprietrix to do so ?
—There may possibly have been, but I don't know.

11400. Do the people here pay their rents pretty regularly?
—I cannot say as to that.

11401. Yon don't know whether there are many arrears?
—There are some arrears certainly.

11402. Have you ever heard of any cases of eviction for non-payment of rent or arrears?
—Yes; I remember a tenant last year in Kilphedar who had fallen through, and was not able to pay for his land, and he was sent out to Kilphedar common, and the half croft given to another.

11403. Was he sent out with his own consent ?
—If he gave his consent he has often and often complained now.

11404. Did he see his way to continue on the croft at that rent?
—I don't know. I don't think he was a man who could have continued.

11405. Do you believe, as a rule, there are many people in arrears of rent who remain on the property and are not evicted
—I believe there are a great many in arrears of rent.

11406. Don't you think that if they had this security of tenure you talk of, it might induce a more commercial spirit between landlord and tenant, and that more people might be evicted the moment they fell into arrears at all ?
—I cannot say as to that; I don't think, if they had fixity of tenure, with fair rent and sufficient land to make a living off, there would be many in arrears.

11407. But that would imply, as a necessary element, what you call a sufficiency of land ?

11408. So if they did not get what they considered a sufficiency of land, they might possibly be in a worse position with fixity of tenure than they are now ?
—They might be as bad, but I don't think they would be worse.

11409. But with reference to eviction
—Of eviction I cannot speak.

11410. My point is whether, if you adopted a purely commercial basis, instead of the kindly feeling which exists or ought to exist between landlord and tenant, when the tenant fell into arrears he would not be more
likely to be evicted than under the present system ?
—I believe there is no property in Scotland where there are more arrears than on this.

11411. And yet they are not evicted as a rule?
—I don't hear they are evicted. When a man falls helplessly into arrears he has to go.

11412. I suppose that is the case on most properties?
—I suppose it is.

11413. One of the witnesses spoke of summering his cattle on the ground of the neighbouring tacksman, for which he paid by means of labour, and he admitted the labour given was not only his own labour but that of the women of his family, and he gave that labour in lieu of the pasture of three cows, two stirks, and five or six sheep. Is that system one that is approved of by the people, or the reverse ?
—I don't think they are very fond of doing any labour for grazing; but as things are, they are obliged to make the most of it.

11414. They would prefer having hill grazing of their own?

11415. Is it a custom which prevails largely, or is this man an exception ?
—In this part of Loch Boisdale it prevails largely on account of the smallness of; the land the people hold, and it prevails also in Dalebroge. I am not sure about Kilphedar.

11416. If they had the land in their own hand, and the rent amounted to the same sum they would get for their labour, would not this system be better, in so far as it furnished the crofter with labour instead of forcing him to go south, which might be more disagreeable to him ?
—Practically it comes to the same. If he has to work for the grazing of his cattle, he would think as much of it as if be had to pay for it.

11417. But is it agreeable for the crofter to go away and be long away from his family in the south ?
—It depends on the remuneration.

11418. He would rather take less remuneration in the north than go?
—I believe if he got remuneration that would enable him to make a living, he would rather stay than go.

11419. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—You stated there are about 2000 Roman Catholics in the population in your district. How many children are there that should be going to school ?
—Some hundreds.

11420. Have you any land?
—Half a croft.

11421. Is that attached to your office?
—Not necessarily. It is practically since the church was put there.

11422. Do you know some work has been given by the proprietrix to the people within the last year or two? —Yes.

11423. And they have earned money

11424. Are you aware of your own knowledge or by report, that there are certain people who had money at their credit for work ?
—Yes, I am aware. I have been told it repeatedly by some of the people.

11425. Are you also aware that people who had money at their credit have been refused payment of it —People have reported so to me.

11426. At the same time, there is great poverty among the people generally ?
—Yes. I have heard people saying they had money to their credit at the office, and had gone wanting to buy a bag of meal, and the local factor told them he could not give them the money.

11427. What was his name
—Mr Walker.

11428. And they had to fall back upon the shop

11429. Referring for a moment to the schools, you stated that the people, at the time the last school board was elected, wished to put forward candidates, but in consequence of threats, the bishop thought it advisable
that no contest should take place ?
—He did not say he did not think it advisable, and he never reverted to anything he said before. He had
spoken to us about the advisability of having an election, and after this letter there was no further word said about it.

11430. Do you see any reason whatever why there should not be a
representation of the crofter element upon the school board ?
—I think it would be a great matter if there was a represention of the crofters.

11431. It would seem at present that there are five members who may be said to represent 400 people, and two members representing 2000?
—Well, from a religious point of view, that is so.

11432. With regard to the people getting more land, are you aware or do you believe there are several people in a position to take those increased holdings and stock them ?
—I believe there are several people who have sufficient money to stock holdings, but that money has not been made by land.

11433. But still they could do it?

11434. Do you also think there may be others who might get assistance from friends for so desirable an object?
—I believe there are many who might get assistance.

11435. Are the people here not generally strong and active—those who go to the south, for instance,—and good workers when they get there
—I believe they are good workers at labouring work.

11436. I believe you have in this district the tallest man in Her Majesty's dominions. Do you know his height? —I saw him measured in Mingalay. I believe he is 6 feet 8 inches in his stocking soles.

11437. Do you think the people are generally of a peaceful and well behaved character ?
—Yes, they are.

11438. And there is very little crime?
—I don't think there is much crime of any serious character beyond a slight breach of the peace.

11439. Aud concurrent with that, a deal of poverty?
—Yes, a deal of poverty.

11440. Do you agree in the views you have heard expressed by the people that it would be a very beneficial solution of the question if the people got their holdings increased ?
—Well, I cannot take upon myself to say what would be the best solution, but without some such solution, I
believe it is not possible for them to live.

11441. But do you concur with those who make that recommendation. Do you concur in the propriety of it ?
—I do.

11412. You mentioned one case in which, in the parish of Kilmonivaig, the bulk of the population being Roman Catholics, the whole thing has been left in their hands?
—Yes, practically the Roman Catholics are masters of the school.

11443. You have never heard of this proving disadvantageous to the Protestants who are there ?
—I never heard any complaint.

11444. What is the name of that school?
—Bunroy Public School.

11445. The Chairman.—You mentioned that you thought it would be an equitable thing on the part of the members of the existing school board, inasmuch as they don't represent the wishes of the constituency, that
they should retire. Now, supposing they did so, I presume they would be succeeded by Roman Catholic delegates ?
—A fair representation.

11446. Which would be a majority?

11447. You have also stated that one of your objects is the introduction of religious teaching into the schools? —Not necessarily that either, but there is another important thing attached to that. If we had, in this country, teachers who were qualified—certificated teachers of the Roman Catholic religion—they would be able to teach our children singing and other things which would be of use for our churches.

11448. I quite understand that, but you also said you thought it would be a desirable thing that there should be religious teaching in connection with the,secular education?

11449. Well, supposing the school board to be reformed and composed of Roman Catholic members, you could not introduce religious teaching at present without a change of teachers. Do you think a Roman Catholic school board would be inclined to discharge Protestant teachers for the purpose of introducing religious teaching ?
—I don't believe they would inflict any hardship upon the present teachers.

11450. In fact, they would wait until, in the course of events, a vacancy took place ?

11451. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—That is your own conviction?
—That is my own impression.

11452. That is what would you do if you were a member?
—I would not inflict a hardship upon other teachers who had come from other schools.

11453. The Chairman.—Do you know whether, in connection with the recent distress, there has been any considerable distribution of seed potatoes and corn seed among the people by the proprietors ?
—There has been a distribution of seed potatoes, and of corn too, but I really cannot say whether the people are to pay or not.

11454. You don't know whether it is gratuitous or not?
—I don't think they know themselves.

11455. Has there been labour appointed for them to do for the purpose of giving them wages and support ?
—The only labour that has been going on since the distress became crying, was blasting for the foundation of the hotel and working at the pier.

11456. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—In Barra we were informed that the proprietrix had begun to do something in the way people are pointing to here, by letting out portions of Ollosdale at rents varying from £15 to £20. Has anything of the kind been done here ?
—There was a talk for the last few years of redi vision of the lands here, in order to give every one a lot. This was generally understood to be the wish of the proprietrix for the benefit of the people; but from what I know of the people, they think this proposed redistribution would not improve them,—that there was not enough
of land to distribute among the number of people who would require land.

11457. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.—Have you ever occasion to buy meal here ?

11458. Can you tell what the price of meal is?
—I cannot tell, but I don't think it is what was stated. I think it is pretty reasonable.

11459. The Chairman.—You think it may be some old-fashioned measure that was referred to ?
—The people generally don't understand the different weights now in use, and probably the witness had misunderstood.

11460. Have you any other statement to make?
—I was asked by the people of South Boisdale to state that the delegate who came forward here had misunderstood or misrepresented their case about a certain thing which was in that paper. Reference was made to a piece of land, and the witness misunderstood it. He referred to a piece of land that had been formerly taken frem the people, and they have another delegate able and willing to explain the statement in the paper. I may, however, state that the people of the township I was in, or the different townships—because I was asked to represent them all as a delegate if I could—complained they are not allowed to keep as many dogs as they require. They allow the dogs are a nuisance when too numerous, but they say they are not allowed to keep as many dogs as will preserve their crofts. The land is so divided into plots here and there, that it is impossible to preserve it without a dog, and they have a complaint about the poor rates and school rates, and they particularly urge that the rate-payers should get a proper understanding of how the schools are paying, and how the money is spent.

11461. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—Was there not alleged to be some defalcatious or deficiency on the part of the officer connected with some of these?
—There are rumours in the country to that effect, but I cannot say.

11462. Are the accounts of the parochial board not printed?
—I have never seen anybody who has seen a copy. They may be, but the ratepayers in this part have not seen them.

11463. The Chairman.—In fact, you want a published return of the revenue and expenditure ?

11464. For the parochial board and the school board?

11465. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—Is there any complaint about roads?
—Well, the roads in this country are certainly inferior to what they are elsewhere, but I am not aware there is anything further to be said about them.

11466. The Chairman.—Are the meetings of the parochial board held in public
—I don't know that any one from this district attends them, and the meeting is a long way—twelve miles away, in the vestry of the parish church.

11467. Where is the school board meeting held?
—It is also held in the vestry of the parish church. I have nothing further to say, except that the South Boisdale delegate may have an opportunity of explaining what is stated in the paper.

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