11 JULY 1908, Page 23

TAXATION IN SCOTLAND.* So far as we know, no book

on this subject has hitherto been publiahed. It has been written in the belief that the primary requisite for intelligent discussion of any new proposals is an appreciation of the problem in its historical setting. Seottish taxation is now before the public, and Mr. Turner, with no avowed political bias, but with the skill and ability of an expert in this branch of study, brings before us most accurate and adequate data. The various chapters trace the rise and development of the rates for the relief of the poor, for the support of schools, and for ecclesiastical purposes; and there is, in addition, a most illuminating chapter on the use or abuse of State subventions. About fifty years ago the rates in Scotland amounted only to £900,000; now, chiefly "through the fuller sanitary and educational needs of the people," they amount to £6,250,000. We have space only to mention one or two points which are of interest in view of recent measures before Parliament. Poor relief was first recognised by statute in 1424 allowing the deserving to beg when duly licensed and carrying a badge. There was no sympathy with the strong and able-bodied un- employed. "They are to be scourged and burnt through the ear, unless some honest and responsible man will of his charity take and keep such an offender for a whole year next follow- ing under the pain of £20 to the use of the poor of the parish. If any one who has received the punishment of burning shall be found sixty days after to be still in his idle and vagabond state of life, he shall be put to death." The greatest advance has been in education. Less than two centuries ago there were nearly two hundred parishes without a schoolmaster. The people were poor and scattered, and the schoolmaster, who once had to be content with a salary of £5 ha., then got £11 per annum! The educational rate came mostly from "each plough" in the parish, and the poor children were a charge "upon the common expenses of the Kirk Session," and they were fed—the "feeding of school-children" is no new problem—by being allowed "to have three hours granted to them every day to seek their meat and the people to be desired to be helpful to such as will give themselves to any virtue." We have read this volume with much pleasure. It is scholarly and well written, and should be of great assistance to the student of economics as well as to the public man.