asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is proposed to set up a Departmental Committee or a Committee of the House of Commons to inquire into and report upon the advisability of altering the system of making grants to local authorities from the per-centage to a block basis; whether the terms of reference will include an inquiry into the methods of making grants for education purposes; whether it is proposed to reach a decision so that it may operate for the year 1922–23; and whether local authorities will be represented on the Committee or will be heard by the Committee?
It is proposed to set up a Departmental Committee, on which some Members of this House will be invited to serve. The necessary steps are now being taken, and I hope to be in a position to announce the appointment of the Committee shortly. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative, and to the third part in the negative. It would be obviously impossible to apply a new system to the Votes of the financial year which begins in three weeks, but the course adopted by the Government, on consideration of the Geddes Report, puts an effective limit to expenditure on many grants. As regards the last part, it is not the intention that persons taking an active or prominent part in local government should be included on the Committee, but it will be competent to the Committee to take evidence from local authorities.