ALEXANDER M'KECHNIE, M.B. and CM. Glasgow University, Bunessan (31)—examined.
35146. Sheriff Nicolson.
—How long have you resided here ?
—Over six years.
35147. I suppose it is the first place you practised in?
—No; I was in Inverness.
35148. Have you heard the evidence given by the people to-day ?
35149. Have you the means of judging whether it was correct and well founded ?
—I cannot tell you that; I am not in a position to give an opinion upon that
35150. Are there many poor people in the district?
—There are not very many paupers, considering the extent of the united parishes.
35151. But are there many people who find a difficulty in making a living on their land ?
—I believe there will be some of them poor through last year's potato crop having failed.
35152. Is there much difference between the condition of the crofters and the cottars in that respect ?
—Of course, the crofters have the benefit, I have no doubt.
35153. Do you find that there is any want of milk anywhere?
—The cottars, as a rule, have no cows; at least, a number of them.
35154. And are they able to get milk for their families?
—Several of them will get milk from their crofting neighbours.
35155. Is the health of the people generally good?
35156. Are there any particular diseases to which they are liable?
—Chronic rheumatism is very prevalent.
35157. What kind of houses have they generally ?
—They are pretty fair; I have seen worse houses.
35158. Are there any of them that you consider so poor as not to be proper dwellings for people in their position ?
—They are always repaired by the proprietor, those bad houses.
35159. Are none of them very bad?
—No, I really cannot say they are very bad at all; there are several places worse.
35160. Are none of them so bad as to have any injurious effect upon the health of the inhabitants?
—Well, there is a want of drainage about several of them, and that will have an effect upon the health of the people.
35161. Are they generally well clothed?
35162. And the children also?
—Yes, pretty well too.
35163. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Of what place are you a native ?
35164. How long have you been here?
—Over six years.
35165. In reply to Sheriff Nicolson, you said you were not in a position to give an answer to one of his questions ?
—Not about the crofting system.
35166. Why not? Is it because you hold a public office?
—And I don't interfere with their transactions in that matter.
35167. But you hear a good deal, don't you?
—I sometimes hear complaints.
35168. But although you don't interfere with these things, yet you must hear ?
35169. You have heard the people to-day telling their story ?
35170. And you are aware there is some poverty, or else there would not be an application for extra relief ?
—That is so.
35171. Had you anything to do with the distribution of that extra relief ?
—No, except that I gave a guinea to the fund.
35172. You were not one of the committee for the distribution?
35173. At that time had you occasion to go among the people and observe there was very serious destitution?
—I was going about daily at the time.
35174. What did you observe ?
—I observed nothing particular, but they said they were very poor.
35175. What did the distribution consist of? Was it money or provisions?
—It was given in money and provisions both.
35176. Do I understand you to say there was not at that time anything extra bad in the position of the people that were so receiving this money ?
—Well, the application for relief from the board was heavier than in former. Of course, I had no other means of testing the thing.
35177. But before you gave your guinea to the fund, didn't you think there was a necessity for making a subscription ?
—I simply gave because I was requested to do so.
35178. Mr Cameron.
—I suppose the applications to the Parochial Board are, generally speaking, a fair test of the poverty or well-being of the people ?
—I think it is the only test there is.
35179. Are there more applications now than when you first came?
—They are fewer now, I believe.
35180. What allowance is given to the poor?
—It varies from 2s. 6d. to 30s. per month.
35181. What is the averege allowance to an ordinary pauper without dependants per month ?
—One or two get nearly 30s. When there is a family that can support their parents, they come down to 5s. or 6s.
35182. What is the ordinary allowance to a pauper who can do nothing for himself per month ?
—6s. or 8s. per month, or more or less.