17 FEBRUARY 1906, Page 16


SIE,—In the Spectator for February 1011, p. 208, you write : "for some unexplained reason economy seems incompatible . with rates." From experiences of rate making and expending ,bodies, I think that I can explain why it is so. The same body is the taxing and the administrative authority. It is a fault underlying the whole of our system of local government. Supposing in Imperial matters the same authority framed the Estimates and then voted them, what would our expenditure .be ? If the War Office decided that it wanted so many .millions, and then voted that taxes providing so many millions should be imposed, we might have a better Army, we certainly should have a bigger Income-tax. The Executive want to do things well, but fortunately have to consider what Parliament will give them. The Town Council wants to do things well, and votes the necessary rate for so doing them. Local administration will always be extravagant till some means are found, such as a direct vote of the ratepayers on all expenditure necessitating a loan, which will put a curb on the zeal of the men in office. There is scope here for a real fiscal reform. There are Financial Committees, but all are parts of

the Executive.—I am, Sir, &c., H. E. MALDEN. The Beacon, St. Catherine's, Guildford.