House Of Commons
Wednesday, 27th July, 1870.
MINUTES.]—SUPPLY— considered in Committee— Resolutions [July 26] reported.
PUBLIC BILLS— Ordered—Beerhouses* .
Ordered — First Reading — Constabulary (Ireland)* ; Common Law Procedure (Ireland)* : Pensions Commutation Amendment* ; Divine Worship in Licensed Buildings* .
Second Reading—Queen Anne's Bounty (Superannuation) ; Brokers (City of London) ; Ballot .
Committee—Public Schools Act (1868) Amendment —R.P.
Committee— Report—Benefit Building Societies* [116–243]; Corrupt Practices Acts Amendment* .
Considered as amended— Third Reading—Factories and Workshops * .
Third Reading — Pedlars" Certificates * ; Turnpike Acts Continuance, &c.* ; Local Government Supplemental (No. 4)* ; Sanitary Act (1866) Amendment * , and passed.
Queen Anne's Bounty (Superannuation) Bill—Bill 114
( Mr. Bouverie, Mr. Gathorne Hardy.)
Order for Second Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—( Mr. Bouverie.)
, in rising to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be road a second time upon that day three months, said, that practically the Bill was one for granting to Mr. Hodgson, who was the secretary and treasurer of the Queen Anne's Bounty Board, an annuity. Mr. Hodgson was first appointed nearly 50 years ago, and his salary had been for some years past £1,350 a year; and, in addition to that, he had been provided with a house rent free. Further, this gentleman, in this large house, in which the Governors of the Board held their meetings, was allowed to conduct his private professional business as an ecclesiastical lawyer; and, in addition to all that, Mr. Hodgson for some years was secretary to some of the right rev. Bishops. He had certainly given up those secretaryships; but his relative (and partner) conducted such business, from which he derived large profits, in the very house provided by the Governors of this Bounty Board. Mr. Hodgson was also some years clerk to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, and steward of several manors, and the duties of all these offices were performed in the house provided by the Governors of this Bounty Board, and now, when Mr. Hodgson had ceased to be able to conduct the business of the Board, the Governors united together in recommending that he should be granted a superannuation—out of what funds? Why, out of Church funds—Clmreh funds which had been provided for the poorest incumbents in the Church of England; and in order that that might be done, the most rev. and right rev. Bench of Bishops asked the sanction of Parliament—they asked Parliament to give this well-paid gentleman an annuity out of funds placed under their control for the poorest incumbents in the kingdom. This gentleman had not had much to do in his Office. [Mr. NEWDEGATE dissented.] The hon. Member for North Warwickshire shook his head; but he (Mr. Rylands) had good authority for saying that the duties of the Office were of a routine character. A Paper had been sent round by the Governors, setting forth that they had been accustomed to grant superannuation allowances, and if that were so, why did they now come to this House for its sanction to do it? But the evidence taken before the Select Committee of 1868 showed that an annuity was granted to one gentleman many years ago, and that that was under very exceptional circumstances. He would suggest that the duties of this Board should be amalgamated with those of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He would be glad to see the Bounty Office dealt with by an Act of Parliament, for certainly some legislation was requisite. He could not help thinking that if Mr. Hodgson was too aged to attend to the duties of his office, he ought to retire, and without a pension to be paid to him out of these public funds, and, therefore, he begged to move that the Bill be read a second time upon that day three months.
seconded the Motion.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—( Mr. Rylands.)
Sir, the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) has not confined his observations, while opposing this Bill, to the subject of it, but has entered into the wider questions involved in the proposal to amalgamate two Boards, the Bounty Board, and the Ecclesiastical Commission; and it happens, Sir, that I served for two Sessions upon the Committee to inquire into the proceedings and the business of the Ecclesiastical Commission, and afterwards for one Session I served on the Committee to which the hon. Member has referred, and which was appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the proceedings of the Bounty Board. Having therefore been a member of both these Committees, perhaps the House will excuse me if I venture to make a few remarks. The hon. Member for Warrington seems to me to be sadly in want of information, although he seems to have consulted part of the proceedings of the Committee, which inquired in 1868 with respect to the Bounty Board; but he almost totally ignored the Report, although he has noticed part of the proceedings and part of the evidence. Of the proceedings of the Committee upon the Ecclesiastical Commission he seems quite ignorant, and the hon. Member has advanced the opinion, that the House could not do better than set aside the Report of the Committee on the Ecclesiastical Commission, and the Report of the Committee upon the Bounty Board, which considered this subject of amalgamation incidentally in 1868. The hon. Member recommends an amalgamation, which has been recommended by neither of these Committees. In this respect the hon. Member's opinion is in opposition to the Reports of both the Committees. Then, Sir, the hon. Member referred to the immediate subject-matter of this Bill, the principal object of which is to provide superannuation for officers of the Board hereafter, upon a scale reduced and approved by the Treasury—a scale analogous to that which has been adopted for the Ecclesiastical Commission by Parliament — analogous also to the system of superannuations, which the Charity Commissioners have approved in the case of various charitable corporations. There are, therefore, the authority of the Treasury, the practice of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the practice of the Charity Commissioners in favour of these superannuation allowances which the hon. Member condemns. Then, Sir, the hon. Member fixed his attention particularly on the case of Mr. Hodgson, the secretary and treasurer of the Bounty Board, and the hon. Member went so far as to say that he thought Mr. Hodgson had, during the whole period of his 48 years' service, been very much over-paid — [Mr. RYLANDS: Hear, hear!] — and that it would be conduct creditable to him, and he even went so far as to say honourable in him—[Mr. RYLANDS: Hear, hear!]—if he rejected at once the superannuation, which is offered to him by this Bill, in his 87th year. Well, Sir, that would not, I believe, be in accordance with the judgment of any member of the Committee who served with me, and the objection to all superannuation allowances was not the judgment of the House generally, because it does so happen that the hon. Member for Warrington has such an aversion to the idea of any superannuation allowances under any circumstances, that upon the general subject he divided the House last year; but in favour of his opinion there were only 28 votes, while against it were 139 votes. I think, therefore, I may assume that the general judgment of the House is against the opinion of the hon. Member upon this subject, no less than is the practice of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, no less than is the practice of the Charity Commissioners, and no less than is the opinion of the Treasury, so far as I know; for I believe the Treasury have approved of the general scheme of this Bill. Sir, I am not complaining that any hon. Member should advance any opinions that he may entertain. I myself have very often been called crotchety and obstinate, and I do not blame the hon. Member, if such is his feeling about all superannuations, for advancing his opinion; but I hope the hon. Member will forgive me for showing him the mass of experience and the mass of opinion which is opposed to his suggestion in this particular case. But then, Sir, the hon. Member, after the terms which he has been pleased to apply to Mr. Hodgson, will excuse me if, having known what the conduct of that gentleman has been for 20 years and more, I express the opinion, that he is somewhat unjust in these expressions. Now, why is Mr. Hodgson paid a large salary? It is because his salary has been increased according to the accumulation of his work. He is, Sir, the secretary and treasurer of the Queen Anne's Bounty Board, and the Queen Anne's Bounty Board consists not only of the Bishops, but of the Lords Lieutenant, the Custodes Rotulorum, yourself, Sir, some other high officers of State, the Judges, and all the Queen's Counsel. I value that Board: and why do I value it? Because it has to deal with £3,200,000 of property belonging to the Church, and has to be the dispenser of it in a prudent and effective manner. If the House consider the organization that is provided for the disestablished Church of Ireland, I think they will see that in these two organizations, except that no officers of State are incorporated for the disestablished Church of Ireland, there is a strict analogy, a similarity of principle between this new organization and the composition of this Bounty Board. I admit that it would be an advantage if the lay members of the Board would attend more frequently and regularly than they do, but their not attending is entirely a matter that rests with themselves. [Mr. MONK: No!] Sir, I have considered this subject, because I was very anxious, and for 10 years in this House I attempted to obtain a commutation of the church rate and the reorganization of the parochial system for the maintenance of the fabrics of the Church, and after deep consideration, and, after having served on several Committees, I could find no organization in which the laity of the Church of England were so adequately represented as in this very Bounty Board. There is conclusive proof that this body is capable of economical action, and it is this—that they selected so good an officer, charging him successively with duty after duty—this very Mr. Hodgson — and the fact remains, which the hon. Member has admitted, and which I, as a member of those two Committees, have tested, that whereas the cost of management by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is 12½ per cent, chiefly by the exertions of this very man, as the centre of the operations of the Governors of the Queen Anne's Bounty Board, the business of that Board is conducted for 2½ per cent. And this is extended over no less than, in round numbers, £3,250,000 of capital. Now, how is that capital invested? I think there are 4,000 recipients from its proceeds in one class, and there are some thousands under another. Are these transactions merely the transactions of bankers? for it is thus that the hon. Member described the business conducted by the Bounty Board. Why, Sir, if any donation is offered to increase the value of a living—if any proposal is made to purchase land for a living with their assistance—it is the duty of this Board to aid that purchase, within certain limits of income held with the living; to investigate that proposal, to ascertain whether the purchase is advantageous, and to satisfy itself whether the title is good. The duty of the officers is to conduct these investigations and, on their responsibility, to advise you, Sir, and the other Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty, whether that transaction is such as would be for the advantage of the living and the parishioners. The same observations apply in the case of the building parsonage houses, where sums are lent to facilitate the erection of parsonage houses. Of course inquiries have to be made. Such investigations surely do not answer the description which the hon. Member has given of the Board as that they are merely carrying on the business of bankers. The superannuation proposed by the Bill for the treasurer and secretary is larger than that proposed for other officers of the Board; but it cannot last for many years, and really I must say to this House, presided over by yourself and Speakers, who have all been members of this Board, when the transactions of this Board have been so creditably conducted and on such an economical scale, that the circumstances do justify some peculiar mark of respect for the person, who has acted as the centre, for such he has been as the secretary and treasurer, for so long a period, of this large body of Governors, and has so largely contributed to place the Board in the position which it now occupies. It was Mr. Hodgson chiefly, who contributed to bring the business of the Board to that condition in which it was able to lend £600,000 to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. And I believe that the general feeling of the Committee, of which I was a member, is, that there is more reliance to be placed in the security of that capital, as now returned to the Bounty Board, than there was while it remained in the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and partly for this reason—the action of the two Boards is totally distinct. The business of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is to grant annuities out of certain funds, appropriated from the revenues of the Church by Parliament for that purpose. I have strongly urged, where I had the opportunity, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to go to the extreme limit of prudence in order to increase the stipends of poorer clergy in populous districts. If, therefore, there has been anything like imprudence in what they have done, in that respect, I feel myself accountable for having contributed to urge the Commission in that direction. But that which is the function of this Bounty Board is to hold capital, caring for its investment—not idly, but ready for re-investment, by meeting benefactions, and thus appropriating capital to the advantage of the Church, wherever there should be a demand for capital. This Board deals with capital; the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with annuities. This difference of function entails totally different systems of action; and I must say, Sir, that, considering that Mr. Hodgson has been engaged in this work for 48 years, and has, in that time, succeeded in combining the action of that department until it has become so thoroughly efficient and so thoroughly economical, I cannot but think that this House would do well to acknowledge its sense of such services by allowing to him this proposed retiring annuity for the very few years he can enjoy it. His is, to my mind, an exceptional position; otherwise I frankly agree with the recommendations of the Committee, that, now that the whole process of the business of this Board has been brought into complete order, there may be a reduction of salaries hereafter. I am in favour of the system of superannuation, because I think it better to pay a man in part, at all events, after his work is done, than while he is doing it; and the work done by this officer has been so efficient, and I may say so admirable, that, to my mind, in his case it would be only an act of justice on the part of this House to agree to the recommendation which the Board have made and the Treasury has sanctioned.
said, it would be better to confine themselves to the Bill before the House, and it appeared to him to be one for the purpose of enabling pensions to be granted to all the officers of the Board, and not to Mr. Hodgson only, and the question was whether that would be advisable. He thought that there should be a check upon creating those superannuation allowances to persons who were filling offices in quasi State Departments. The question was, what was the contract made with these gentlemen? They were well paid for their services, and if Mr. Hodgson was too aged to attend to his duties, he ought to retire; and he had no right to say he would hold on unless he received an annuity, particularly as it appeared that in future the scale of pay to these, gentlemen would be lower. He would support the Amendment.
said, he wished, as a Member of the Committee of 1868, to say a few words in support of the Bill. He must complain of the course the argument had taken. Two totally distinct questions had been brought forward—one, the Bill now before the House, and the other a proposal to fuse the Ecclesiastical Commission and the Bounty Board together. The object of the Bill was to reduce the scale of salaries to officers under the Bounty Board, and to establish a regular system of superannuation allowance. No doubt there was no contract with Mr. Hodgson under which that gentleman could claim a superannuation allowance; but the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Dickinson) seemed to have forgotten that it had been stated that occasional superannuation had been granted by the Bounty Board, under exceptional circumstances, which might occur again. It was said that this case of Mr. Hodgson's was not exceptional; but, surely, the fact of a man presiding for 49 years over a department with such singular ability and efficiency did form an exceptional case. Mr. Hodgson's duties required great care, attention, and judgment in their performance, and they had been very ably performed by that gentleman for nearly half-a-century. Mr. Hodgson's superannuation could not be made into a precedent, for the Bill only gave superannuations to those who were in the Office before 1829; and Mr. Hodgson himself was the only one who came into that class. He thought it would be a most pitiful economy if they did not consider and recognize the claims of so venerable and meritorious an officer. With regard to the proposal for amalgamating the Bounty Board with the Ecclesiastical Commission, the Committee of 1868 disapproved of such an arrangement.
said, the promoters which the Bounty Board had already the of this Bill asked for powers to do that power of doing, and therefore there must be some weakness in the Board or some doubts in the minds of the Governors which induced them to ask for these additional powers. The time must soon come when the House would have to take into its consideration the whole question of the administration of Church funds. The House was not called upon to legislate for the individual cases to which allusion had been made; but for the retirement of all persons who might be hereafter appointed. Fresh offices and duties had been put upon Mr. Hodgson; but no hint had been given of the probability of his being over-weighted with work. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had referred to the Bounty Board as being a representation of the laity. The Board in question consisted of 600 individuals; but of what use was a Board that could not secure a proper attendance? It was supposed by some hon. Gentlemen that all the lay members were able to attend; but Mr. Aston, when asked as to the mode of summoning a General Court—whether notice was sent to all the Governors or only to a selection of them—stated that notices were sent to all the Archbishops and Bishops, and to the sword-bearer of the Lord Mayor of London. Under the old charters, seven Governors were required to attend to form a quorum; but some time since they applied to Parliament to reduce the number to five, so as to enable them to form a Board. This showed that the Bishops did not consider the office one of great responsibility or importance. He wished to direct the attention of the House to one other point. Queen Anne's Bounty was the produce of a fund that was once claimed by the Popes, but afterwards appropriated by the Sovereigns of the realm to send out their forces to the Holy Land. The amount then was £16,000 or £17,000 per annum; but under the present system of management it had fallen to £14,232. When he found so large a sum as £6,517 paid in salaries, he felt that the House ought not to encourage an additional charge for superannuation when one gentleman had been for years in the receipt of not less than £3,000 a year—not all from this office, but from this and other offices, including his partnership in a lucrative business which was carried on in the very premises of the Bounty Board. The amount which it was proposed to bestow on him by way of pension would be far better bestowed upon the incumbents of some poor livings in the vales of Yorkshire. There could not be much trouble in managing the accounts, for the receipts and payments were principally in cheques. It fact, it was little more than a banking account, and could be managed for £1,600 a year instead of £6,000, and any respectable business house in London would transact all the business for a much smaller sum. He maintained there was no need at present for special legislation, and he thought that the Bill should be withdrawn, so that the whole subject might be fully considered by a Select Committee, in order that the property of the Church might be brought to light, and that the public might learn where it was, of what it consisted, and how it was invested. By the charters of the Board it was required to lay before Parliament in March each year a balance-sheet made up to the close of the preceding year; but it was made up in such a way that it was impossible for anyone to understand it, so as to ascertain what was the actual amount of income, or its real character. It was merely a statement of incomings and outgoings, and it was not made up for the year preceding, but for the previous preceding year. It was surprising that the House should be content with such a statement, and he trusted that a Committee would be appointed to ascertain the responsibilities of the Board, and whether it was able to meet those responsibilities. The whole subject might be more properly discussed next year.
said, there could be no doubt that when public property of so large an amount was managed by public servants, the expense of doing so must be considerable, for such men must be trustworthy and command their price. This was not a question which simply affected Mr. Hodgson, who was 86 or 87 years of age, and whose pension could not last for many years, but it was a question affecting the whole system of superannuation in the Bounty Office; and the object of the Bill was not to introduce superannuations, but to place that system under those rules and regulations which applied to all other superannuations. The constitution of the Bounty Board, which was of a peculiar character, had been defended by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate). He hardly concurred in the opinion which had been expressed by the hon. Member, because a Board consisting of 600 persons, comprising all the Privy Councillors, Bishops, Deans, Judges, and Mayors of towns could hardly be considered a proper body to regulate the affairs of such an institution. He did not think the issue in the least touched the question whether the Board was good or not. On the contrary, he thought it would be well, with the view of carrying out the other recommendations of the Committee, to pension this officer, which would enable them to reconstitute the Board and appoint a new Secretary and Treasurer, with an appropriate salary, and in fact secure that Queen Anne's Bounty should be properly managed. He would not enter into the question of the expediency of uniting the management of the Bounty Board with the Ecclesiastical Commission; for the way in which that Commission managed their business did not incline him to place any further powers in their hands. He did not wish to find any fault with the old members of that Commission, whom he believed to be men of considerable ability who attended very regularly to their duty. The question, however, was not really before the House at present, and was too large a one to be dealt with in any supplementary manner.
said, the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) had understated rather than overstated Ids case. The Bill proposed to give a power to the Board of Queen Anne's Bounty never before possessed by that body. He, for one, objected to superannuating the present officers, who had long enjoyed high salaries, some for a period of even 40 years. He maintained that this was not the Bill of the Bounty Board, but the Bill of the officials in the Bounty Office. It was introduced in the early part of the Session, and it was brought forward at the present period with the hope of getting it through, the real reason for all this anxiety being that the officials found it convenient to put forward Mr. Hodgson's name. There was a block in the Bounty Office, Mr. Hodgson, who entered the Office in 1822, refused to retire, though he was unable to perform the duties of his office; and this Bill was introduced to enable the Board to retire Mr. Hodgson on a pension. But Mr. Hodgson had no real claim, for he had been allowed to enjoy a large and remunerative private practice as a solicitor, and he and his partner, Mr. Lee, were secretaries to two Archbishops and eight Bishops, and besides that Mr. Hodgson was clerk to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, and held several other lucrative offices. If this Bill were pressed forward at this late period of the year, he (Mr. Shaw) was ready to stop there until the last hour of the Session to endeavour to defeat it, and should offer to it all the opposition which the forms of the House allowed.
said, the House would bear in mind that they were now discussing not the details and clauses of this measure, but merely its general principles. Last year Her Majesty's Government and the Treasury considered the question, and came to the conclusion that they would not be justified in objecting to the introduction of a measure of this description. It would, indeed, be a rather strong course to take to say that the Governors of this Bounty should not be entitled to come to the House to ask for the second reading of a Bill enabling them to superannuate officers with whose services it became desirable to dispense. But assuming the second reading to be carried, of course many of the questions raised that day would occur again in Committee. He rose now merely to indicate the course which the Government would take if his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bouverie) should, in the face of a very considerable opposition to the measure, proceed further with it, notwithstanding the lateness of the Session. Comparison had been made with the Superannuation Act of 1859; but his right hon. Friend seemed to forget this fact—that that Act had been preceded by others, and that it did not confer for the first time the right to grant superannuations, but regulated, and in many respects diminished and restricted that right. This bore on the very 1st clause of the Bill, which was to enable the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty to confer a special superannuation on one individual. It had not been stated that that gentleman entered the service of Queen Anne's Bounty on any contract to have a superannuation, and he (Mr. Stansfeld) thought his hon. Friend's (Mr. Ryland's) arguments had not been answered upon that point. If, therefore, they went into Committee on the Bill, and any hon. Member felt disposed to move the omission of the 1st clause, he should feel compelled to support its omission. With reference to the other officers, the Bill involved a dangerous application of a new power. He could understand a proposal to enable the Governors to grant superannuations on certain terms to officers who might in future enter the establishment; but the Bill seemed to convey a new right to superannuation to all the present officers, and it might be so interpreted. He should, therefore, consider it his duty to move a clause to the effect that the Bill should not confer a right to superannuation on any officer of the Board further than he would have been entitled to if this Bill had not been passed.
said, he must confess that he had heard with the most profound astonishment the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld), for he (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), distinctly understood that the Treasury had in writing expressed their assent to the measure. It was only on that understanding that he had allowed his name to appear on the back of the Bill.
My understanding—but I am subject to correction—is only that the Treasury did not object to the measure.
said, he could have no doubt on the subject. The arguments to which, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, no answer had been given, had been amply replied to by the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell), who said that in this Bill there was nothing which the Governors had not the power to do now, and that in the accounts which had come before Parliament it appeared that they had granted pensions which had been sanctioned without any objection being taken. This Bill was brought in for the purpose of regulating those powers, and bringing them under the control of the Treasury. Why should not these persons be put upon the same footing as the officers of the Ecclesiastical Commission? This was an office of great importance to the laity and to the Church, and Mr. Hodgson (about whom he knew nothing personally), from all he had heard of him, had efficiently discharged his duties, and was trusted by those whose interests had been committed to his hands. He would now pass on to the conduct of the Treasury, between whom and the officers of Queen's Anne's Bounty a correspondence took place last year respecting this Bill. An objection was, in the first instance, taken to the special provision which related then not only to Mr. Hodgson, but to three other old officers who had since died, However, representations having been made to the Treasury, a letter was written on the 28th April, 1869, by Mr. George Hamilton, who was then the Secretary of the Treasury, upon which the Bill was brought forward, and upon which he assented to have his name placed on the back of the Bill. Mr. Hamilton said, in that letter, that he was directed by the Lords of the Treasury to say there was no longer any objection to a measure enabling "the Governors to grant superannuations to the officers and clerks in their service;" that it would, however, be better to leave the Bill in the hands of Mr. Gathorne Hardy and Mr. Bouverie, as they were willing to take charge of it, and that "my Lords were prepared to give the Bill their support." He certainly understood that undertaking to extend not only to the 1st clause, which the right hon. Gentleman now said he would omit, but to the whole Bill. It was, therefore, with no small surprise that he had heard the remarks which had just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman.
said, he held that the Treasury, after the letter referred to, were bound not to object to the introduction and consideration of this Bill. It was perfectly true that Mr. Hamilton approved of the clause to which he (Mr. Stansfeld) now objected; but he took care to communicate to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty that he would take the course he was now taking.
said, he was unwilling to detain the House; but perhaps he might be allowed to occupy their attention for a few minutes. He thought he had some right to complain of his hon. Friend the Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands), and of those who supported the hon. Member, for the course they had taken. With opinions very much in accordance with theirs he had taken a part in bringing forward this Bill. They desired a reformed Bounty Office, yet they opposed this measure, which certainly was a step in the right direction. He quite agreed that the secretary of Queen Anne's Bounty was overpaid, and the existing arrangement of having the office of the Bounty at the private office of the solicitor was thoroughly unsatisfactory. The fact that the salary was large was a reason why Mr. Hodgson should not be willing to retire; but a necessary preliminary to reform was to retire the present secretary, and an efficient officer might then be appointed with a much less salary. Now, he believed, there was no doubt the Governors might have superannuated this gentleman themselves on their own authority. They were advised that they might have done so. Practically they had superannuated other officers, and the hon. Member for Kendal (Mr. Whitwell) had given an instance of that. But they were anxious to have the approbation of Parliament, and to proceed with due deference to public feeling. He believed that a sound and judicious system of superannuation was of great advantage to the public service; and without some such system it would be impossible to get rid of old servants, who had worked faithfully during their prime, but who might latterly become unfit for the proper discharge of their duties. No employer, even in private life, would discharge an old servant after many years' service, without making some provision for him in the shape of a superannuation allowance. He could not see why the Queen Anne's Bounty Office should be singled out and made an exception to the rule which prevailed in all other Departments of the kind, of granting superannuation pensions. He agreed with the Secretary to the Treasury that Mr. Hodgson's case should be placed upon the same footing as that of the other officers—and with that he believed Mr. Hodgson would be quite satisfied—but he objected to the abolition of the practice of superannuation. Suggestions had been thrown out to the effect that the Queen's Anne's Bounty Office should be amalgamated with the Office of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. He quite approved of that proposal, and, in fact, advocated it before the Select Committee, but was overruled. He was decidedly of opinion, however, that things could not remain as they were, and that some change was absolutely necessary. The Bill did not go so far as he would have liked; but, as there was no chance of carrying a large measure at present, he hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) would accept the Bill as an instalment of reform, and withdraw his Amendment. To any scheme for amalgamation this Bill would offer no impediment whatever; on the contrary, it would get rid of a preliminary difficulty. He hoped the House would read the Bill a second time.
said, he thought the Bill did not go far enough, and he hoped the Government would bring in a measure next year, and legislate more effectively on the matter. He also thought his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bouverie) was ill-advised in introducing an exceptional clause in favour of Mr. Hodgson; but, on the understanding that that clause would be struck out in Committee, he should vote for the second reading.
Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
The House divided:—Ayes 100; Noes 43: Majority 57.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.
Brokers (City Of London) Bill
( Mr. William Fowler, Mr. Morley, Mr. Eykyn, Mr. Bowring.)
Bill 71 Second Reading
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd June], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
Question again proposed.
said, that the result of discussions which had taken place outside the House was that the Corporation of London had withdrawn their opposition to the Bill, and, therefore, he apprehended that there would be no objection to the second reading. He congratulated the Corporation upon the public spirit they had exhibited in surrendering their jurisdiction over those who carried on the business of brokers in the City.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.
Ballot Bill—Bill 23
( Mr. Leatham, Mr. Hardcastle, Mr. Hibbert, Sir Harcourt Johnstone.)
Second Reading Adjourned Debate
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [16th March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
Question again proposed.
I propose, Sir, with the permission of the House, to explain very briefly the course I intend to take. No man has, perhaps, a fairer claim to explain his opinions than I have upon the second reading of this Bill, for I believe I have never opened my lips on this subject in the House of Commons, though I have frequuently voted upon it, and have always voted against the Ballot. There are two points to be noticed—one is the ground on which I shall found my opinion of the merits of the Bill; and the other is the question as to the time and peculiar circumstances under which we are called upon to give a vote. Her Majesty's Government were very anxious, if they could, to have brought to a definitive issue a measure of their own during the present Session for the establishment of secret voting. The House is perfectly aware of the cause—the pressure of Public Business—which has prevented the Government from giving effect to that intention. They considered whether it was fitting for them to ask the House to give a second reading to their Bill, avowing at the same time their inability to prosecute it to its ulterior stages; and they determined that this was not a course which it was desirable for them to pursue. And for a Government, indeed, I think both precedent and reason are against that method of proceeding. It is a matter of which the House ought to be very jealous—if, on the part of the Government, a disposition should be shown, especially upon a measure which is popular with a large portion of the community, to claim credit for the adoption of a principle, and, at the same time, to shrink from the adjustment of its details; and, therefore, we decided that we should best discharge our public duty by dropping a Bill which we had lost all hope of carrying to a satisfactory termination. The acts of an independent Member are, in some respects, a different matter. At any rate, we have no power to control the discretion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Leatham); he has exercised that discretion as he thinks best, and I am not here to find fault with him, but to answer the challenge, if I may use that expression, which he holds out to me in proposing that the House should give a vote on the second reading of the Bill. Under these circumstances, I think it my duty to vote for the second reading. I may say why I shall do so, although I shall not attempt to enter into any detailed arguments upon the question of the Ballot. At other times, whether rightly or wrongly, we were quite content to hear the question argued as it was argued by Lord Palmerston. Lord Palmerston had paid great attention to the question of the Ballot—at least, he felt a great interest in it. He always spoke upon it with much ability, and he usually founded himself on this view of the subject—that the franchise was to be viewed as a trust, to be exercised by a limited portion of the community for the benefit of the whole, and that the whole community had just the same kind of right to know how that trust was exercised on their behalf by the limited portion of the community intrusted with the franchise, as the public out-of-doors have to know how the power entrusted to their representatives in Parliament is exercised by those representatives within these walls. I do not refer to that argument for the purpose of claiming any adhesion to it on the part of those who always supported secret voting, but merely to explain my own view of the question. In substance, the change which has been made in the constitution of our Parliamentary system within the last few years is the basis of the change which will be made in my conduct with regard to secret voting. Even those who do not concur with the argument as to a trust, applied in former times by Lord Palmerston and other opponents of the Ballot, must feel that the position of the question has been very largely altered by the extension of the constituency. Lot us consider what that extension is; it is an extension nominally from a £10 suffrage to household suffrage, but really, virtually, and in principle an extension that is unlimited. When we have adopted household suffrage we have, I think, practically adopted the principle that every man who is not disabled in point of ago, of crime, of poverty, or through some other positive disqualification, is politically competent to exercise the suffrage; and it is a simple question of time and convenience when this suffrage shall be placed in his hands. To draw a distinction between household suffrage and lodger suffrage, provided the lodger be a person who has a certain permanence in his residential tenure, would be, in my opinion, wholly impossible; to draw a distinction between boroughs and counties is, I think, equally impracticable. I do not enter into the question now, though it is a very important question, whether, over and above the personal franchise, property franchises should be retained. The course taken upon the Reform Bill by myself and others whom I had the honour to act with showed a disposition on our part not towards the restriction, but towards the multiplication of the franchises—at least towards their extension by lowering the leasehold qualification, and by a variety of other propositions that were discussed. But the question is, not whether these particular franchises ought to be retained or rejected, but whether the principle upon which Parliament has placed the electoral system of the country is such that we may justly say the whole of the people of the country are presumably entitled to the exercise of the suffrage. I think that is the true view of the case, and that the extension of household suffrage to the counties is a question only of time and convenience. I am not at all sure—if this were the occasion to enter upon that subject as a question of party politics—whether the adoption of such a measure might not prove to be beneficial to the Gentlemen who sit opposite. With that I have nothing to do—it is not necessary to give an opinion upon it; but I think, in principle, we have bound ourselves to measures which must infallibly entail that consequence. That being so, I think the first view of the question as it stands is this—that there is no longer, properly so called, a limited constituency acting and exercising a trust on behalf of the whole people; but that the basis on which Parliament desires to found the representative system of the country is a basis not less wide than that of the entire nation, setting aside those who may be subject to positive disqualifications; and, consequently, that the trust which is exercised by the father of a family, or by an adult male, in giving a vote for a Member of Parliament is practically a trust which he holds mainly on behalf of his wife and children, all other persons being presumably entitled to act with him on a footing of equality in giving a vote. I own that, as far as I myself am concerned, under all circumstances—even when the argument has disappeared, as to a trust to be exercised on behalf of others who cannot exercise it for themselves—I should greatly prefer the public to the private discharge of every public function, and, therefore, I am not able to treat secret voting as an unmixed good. I look upon it as a choice of evils; and when we are to regard the Parliamentary franchise, disembarrassed of those peculiar considerations which attached to it as long as we had comparatively a very limited constituency, I ask myself—what is the first condition that it is the duty of Parliament to secure? I cannot doubt as to the answer which should be made to that question. The proper answer is, that the first duty which Parliament has to perform, after having conferred the franchise under those circumstances, is to provide that it shall be exercised freely. That it shall be exercised purely is also of the utmost importance. But then arises a serious question with regard to the character of the Ballot to be established—shall the Ballot be one so devised as to admit of a subsequent verification of the votes, or shall it not? Into that question it is not now necessary to enter; but that the Ballot be exercised freely is a condition absolutely indispensable. This freedom is threatened from many quarters. It is threatened, I do not hesitate to admit, from the dictation and possible violence of more numbers, as well as from the more subtle, more extensive, and more continuous action of those influences which are connected with property. To one case, though I have not the document actually at hand at this moment, I should wish to refer, because it was a case which produced a great action upon the public mind at the time; and it cannot, I think, have been wholly forgotten within the walls of this House—I mean the circular which was issued from the press in the town of Blackburn during the proceedings previous to the Election of 1868. That circular was an invitation issued by one of the political parties in the town—I need not say which, and it does not matter which—inviting all persons who possessed property, station, situations, or anything, in fact, by which they could acquire influence and bring this to bear upon the votes of their fellow-citizens, to meet together for the purpose of concerting measures to give effect to that influence. That was a hardy and daring attempt to put down freedom of election; but it was one that could not have been touched by law. If a law could have been framed which, without interfering with personal liberty, could prevent and nip in the bud attempts of such extraordinary audacity, I think Parliament would do well to consider such a law; but I believe it to be quite impossible. And if attempts of that kind can be made, if the influences of power, and property, and station can be organized in a large mass within the bosoms of great communities, and brought to bear individually upon all the votes to be given by poor and humble men, then I say the freedom of the franchise is in the utmost danger, unless special measures be taken to secure it. And here the vast extension of the franchise which has taken place immensely strengthens the arguments in favour of secret voting, if secret voting be a protection to the voter, In former times the bulk of the constituency consisted of persons supposed more or less to have property, and hence presumed to be more or less capable of defending themselves; but we have now adopted a different principle, and have thought fit to admit to the franchise, in a mass, those who are dependent for their bread upon their daily labour. To expose such persons to the action of this powerful and overruling combination is, in my opinion, to stultify the whole of that great operation of Parliament by which the franchise has been so largely extended as, for the first time, to give it a national character. It is therefore in obedience to necessity, and to a duty, that I think the time has come when the House will best discharge its obligations to the country by giving effect to the principle of secret voting. I rest my opinion upon these grounds—in the first place, that whatever else it be, the franchise ought to be free, and free it cannot be if the infirmities of our nature are exposed to oppressive influences and intimidation, whether coming from above or below. On the contrary, those infirmities will be aggravated, the voter will become a hypocrite in the face of day, he will conceal his intentions, his acts will be falsified, and will belie the convictions of his heart. It is our duty, therefore, above all things, to secure that votes shall be given freely. Next to that, it would be the desire of the Government to consider all the means which would tend to secure votes being given purely. One advantage that helps to mitigate the disappointment of postponing the measure which we intended to introduce, is that we shall have the opportunity of examining more carefully during the Recess than would have been possible during the pressure of this crowded Session the means proposed for this very purpose by my hon. Friend, and the other means which are proposed in competition with them, and of choosing among them what may be the best method of delivering a secret vote. But the secret vote, in some shape or other, does appear to be required by the social circumstances under which we live. I cannot place wholly out of view the fact of the extensive acceptance which the Ballot has received in other countries of the world. I can hardly suppose it possible that any, except those who have become enamoured of the question by studying it from a particular point of view, can feel a warm abstract preference for secret voting; but a practical preference for secret voting has been given, in one shape or other, almost everywhere where the English race has spread itself over the face of the earth. And other nations, our own rivals and companions in civilization, to say the least, have generally resorted to this method of procedure. Our judgment must be governed mainly by the conditions of the society in which we live, and also, in some degree, by the progress of opinion. And it is impossible not to see that opinion has very perceptibly moved in the direction of secret voting since the passing of the last Reform Act. Even the proceedings in the Committee which sat last year, in some cases emanating from members of the party opposite, tend to support that view of the case. But the conclusive consideration which weighs upon my mind is, that while the greatest and weightiest of the arguments against secret voting have either wholly disappeared or have been greatly reduced in scope and weight, in consequence of the change which we have adopted as to the actual constituencies, and still more as to the principle upon which our Parliamentary representation may now be said to be founded—while the arguments upon one side have thus lost much of their force, the arguments on the other side have not lost any of their weight, but, on the contrary, have gained strength. The greater dependence of the mass of the constituency renders them more open than heretofore to the illegitimate influences, if not of bribery, yet of intimidation, and we cannot, therefore, without a measure of this kind, secure the exercise of the franchise in that freedom which is its first, most vital, and most essential attribute. These are the reasons, briefly stated, which determine me to support the second reading of this Bill, for which my vote, if we go to a Division, shall be given unhesitatingly.
Sir, I must express my regret that a most important question of constitutional polity should have been brought forward for our consideration at the fag-end of the Session and in a scanty House of Commons. I regret it the more, because we have had a Bill upon the matter introduced by the Government, and withdrawn for special and sufficient reasons by them, without attempting to obtain any decision upon the principle of their measure. I likewise regret it because time, of course, is valuable at the end of the Session; and I cannot see what the hon. Gentleman, who to-day moves the second reading of this Bill, is to attain practically by any decision of the House, for he cannot for a moment suppose that beyond the second reading the measure is likely to make any progress this Session. I was quite prepared, if the question had been brought forward, according to the original intimation of the Government, to have entered upon the consideration of the matter, at least to have contributed my share towards a discussion of this great question, which upon the part of the House I hoped would not have been inadequate. Anything like a hurried or scrambling debate upon the Ballot appears to me to be a proceeding not worthy the dignity of this House; and such a course has tended, I think, of late years, very much to diminish the hold which the opinion of this House would have upon the country as deciding questions which closely concern the political future of England—though the consequences of the Ballot may be very different from those which are anticipated by Gentlemen upon both sides of the House. But I must protest against being called upon to enter into a discussion under the circumstances and in the manner in which we are met to-day. I cannot say that I thought the reasons of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) were, on the whole, satisfactory or consistent. The right hon. Gentleman is the head of a Government that has introduced a measure upon this question. I am not here to doubt the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues in bringing forward that measure, or for a moment to insinuate that the reasons why they did not press that measure were not such as, if stated, would be otherwise than satisfactory to Gentlemen on both sides of the House. But the right hon. Gentleman has told us fairly that a Minister is not justified in bringing forward a measure such as the Ballot, when he feels that there is no chance of carrying it; and that to ask for the second, reading of a Bill on the part of the Government, when they have no prospect of entering into the practical details by which the plan thus sanctioned by the House is to be carried into effect, would be, on the part of the Government, a proceeding that could not be justified, I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman. But what has he done to-day? He has given his sanction to a measure embodying the principle of the Ballot, just as much as he would have done if he had asked for an expression of opinion by the House of Commons upon the second reading of his own Bill. I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman is justified, according to his own declarations, in taking the course which he proposes to adopt with regard to the measure of the hon. Member for Huddersfield. I cannot understand how the right hon. Gentleman can reconcile the course which he is about to take this evening with the policy which, only a few moments ago, he congratulated himself on having adopted — that of having declined to ask the opinion of the House upon his own measure, which there was no chance whatever of carrying. Nor am I inclined on the present occasion to offer any remarks upon the general observations of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman never addresses us without commanding our attention and engaging our interest; but I have heard nothing from him on the subject of the Ballot which, at any rate, has the charm of novelty. The observations which he has made, and some of which he has introduced to the House, as if he heard of them for the first time, are very familiar to those who have paid any attention to this subject. The right hon. Gentleman has occupied a great part of his address in answering Lord Palmerston. Well, I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman, when he was sitting on the same Bench as Lord Palmerston, and when Lord Palmerston was making those speeches upon the Ballot, felt at the time an impatience—which to-day he has seized the opportutunity of satisfying—to respond in this manner to his former Colleague and chief. But I must say upon this head that an answer to Lord Palmerston, however satisfactory, is no answer to the opponents of the policy of the Ballot, who probably have given to the question as much consideration as the right hon. Gentleman himself. The great principle on which Lord Palmerston laid stress was that the franchise was to be looked upon as a trust; and, though that opinion appears to have been accepted by the right hon. Gentleman during the life-time of Lord Palmerston, the right hon. Gentleman to-day has directed his efforts and energy to demolish the justice of that position. I cannot say, speaking for myself, that I have ever looked upon the franchise as a trust, though I know it was a very convenient view for those who shared the limited opinions of Lord Palmerston upon this subject. I have always looked upon the franchise as a privilege, and it was a privilege that I for one was very glad to see greatly extended. But, holding as I do that the franchise is a privilege, and, as a privilege, ought to be freely exercised, is a matter entirely apart from the merits or demerits of secret voting. Into a general discussion upon that I certainly shall not enter. If we are to discuss the question of the Ballot in a manner worthy of its magnitude, I think it can be shown that objections will arise to it, which at least well deserve the deepest consideration of the House. Nor I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman that his conversion to the Ballot is to be justified by the recent extension of the suffrage. On the contrary, I have always thought that the wider the suffrage the less claim there will be for the adoption of the Ballot—that the strength and security of the voters will be proportionately increased. I have no doubt myself that the larger the constituency the greater will be its moral power, and the less would be the inclination, or the opportunity, to bring improper influence upon the exercise of the franchise by that constituency. I do not mean, however, by the phrase improper influence, to refer to that legitimate influence which character, property, and the due performance of the duties of life will happily give in this country to individuals who are thus distinguished. And, therefore, I entirely differ from the right hon. Gentleman in the conclusion which he has drawn that, because the suffrage has been extended to large classes in this country who did not enjoy it before, this circumstance furnishes novel and unanswerable reasons for giving them this protection of secret voting. In my mind, it is more likely that the constituent body of the United Kingdom, as at present composed, possesses in itself elements of independence which would command public respect, and which it would not be in the power of any class of individuals, as a general rule, improperly to influence. I could not help making these remarks after the somewhat unexpected and rather startling observations of the right hon. Gentleman. I am not myself on this occasion going to enter into any discussion of the Ballot. I think it is of great importance—especially when the subject is brought forward for the first time with the sanction of a Minister—that the question should not be dealt with in this by manner. We ought to give to this subject a discussion worthy of its importance; and then, whatever may be the decision of the House of Commons, and, ultimately probably, of Parliament upon the question, it will be felt by the country that the subject has been discussed thoroughly and completely, and that the opinion of either House of Parliament has not been caught by any accident, or by some clever contrivance at the end of a jaded Session on some Wednesday morning — and Wednesday mornings are proverbial for many accidental expressions which are not afterwards carried into effect. Let it not be said that we treated the Ballot as some mere, crotchety question, or one to be incidentally disposed of. Let us await the matured measure which the Government has promised us next year; and I am bound to say, from listening impartially to the right hon. Gentleman, that I think he does require time and opportunity to consider the question. Let us treat this question in a becoming manner; and, therefore, I cannot at all counsel a discussion on the present occasion, which it appears to me would be of a most unsatisfactory kind, and would give to the country a totally inadequate impression of the importance which the House of Commons attaches to this question, and of the spirit which upon the right occasion it will exhibit in dealing with it.
said, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had referred to what was known in Blackburn as "the screw circular." But it was fair to remember that political partisans on the other side had killed a man in the same town merely because he called out "Hornby for ever!" The circular had never actually been disavowed, but over very many of the signatures to that document there hung doubts as to their authenticity of precisely the same kind as existed with regard to that much larger document which fell like a thunderbolt upon London the other day when published in the columns of The Times. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine that if there had been secret voting in Blackburn the political results might have been different. But after the two Members returned at the General Election had been unseated, at the next Election, held almost under the shadow of the Election Judge's presence, the sons of those very gentlemen were returned by still larger majorities.
Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for this day month.
Order for Committee read.
said, that the Bill, with which the proposed Vote was connected, authorized the advance from the Consolidated Fund of two sums of £100,000 each. The first was to be applied for the improvement of the navigation of the Shannon, and was proposed to be a free grant. The remaining £100,000 was to be advanced on loan, to be applied to the improvement of the lands bounding the Shannon. Now, he thought that the first sum ought to have been placed upon the Estimates, and the second advanced by the Public Loans Commissioners. Further, he objected in point of form to the proceedings by which the Bill had been urged forward. After the Bill had reached a certain stage, it was discovered to be properly a hybrid Bill, as touching private interests, and required therefore to be dealt with accordingly. It was very doubtful whether the Bill ought not to have been dropped at once, as the usual notices had not been given; but the House thought it right to exercise the power which it possessed of ordering it to be referred to a Committee of which certain Members should be appointed by the Committee of Selection. The Order was to have been made on Monday. It was, in fact, made at 2 o'clock on Tuesday morning; but, greatly to his surprise, he found that the Committee of Selection had met on Monday, in anticipation of the Vote of the House, had appointed the Committee, had placed him upon it without his knowledge, and that the Committee met on Tuesday at 12 o'clock, and actually reported to the House at 2 o'clock that afternoon. That was a flagrant instance of hurried legislation, and he thought the House ought not to sanction it. The subject was one on which the public at large had been left almost without information. The whole affair he regarded as a farce, and he would suggest that the Bill should be allowed to stand over until next Session, when the Government might state their reasons for coming before the House. The Consolidated Fund ought certainly not to be charged with the free grant of £100,000. He wished to ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury why, if the money was to be granted, it should not be by Vote of the House on the Estimates. With respect to the drainage of the lands, the Public Works Commissioners already advanced loans for the improvement of estates, and there was no reason wiry this matter should be dealt with differently.
said, there had been no desire to prevent fair discussion. He admitted that certain stages had been passed through with great rapidity, as was indispensable if the Bill was to pass this Session. He was not responsible for the stops taken by the Committee of Selection; and it must also be remembered that the Bill, being a hybrid Bill, was in charge of a Parliamentary agent, whose advice in the matter was followed. The usual notices, no doubt, had been dispensed with in this case, but that was because the Bill was practically unopposed. The Committee, to whom the Bill had been referred, dealt with it in the way hybrid Bills were usually dealt with. If the Government were to put a Vote on the Estimates for the object in view, that would not give the House any greater power over the matter than it had by the mode of proceeding by a Bill, every clause of which might be opposed, in Committee. The method which had been chosen was in accordance with the usual practice, and was most respectful to the House.
said, there had been an irregularity in the matter, of which his hon. Friend (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had a right to complain. The Motion for the appointment of the Committee was made on Tuesday morning at a quarter past 2, but the Committee of Selection had named the three Members, by way of anticipation, on Monday. That was very much like stealing a march on the House. It was not the Committee of Selection, but the agent who was really to blame. The hon. Member for North Hampshire (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had not been properly treated; he could insist that the proceeding was bad ab initio, and it was for him to say whether he would waive his right to demand that it should be done in a formal and proper manner.
said, this sum of £100,000 would not be granted for the improvement of any river in Great Britain. The Report in which the grant was recommended was carried by a majority consisting entirely of Irish Members, and by the casting vote of the chairman, all the English and Scotch members of the Committee having voted against it. He hoped the Bill would be again referred to a Select Committee in the regular way, who should consider whether £100,000 should be granted in the manner suggested for the improvement of the navigation. He believed it was not the Shannon that required to be improved, but the drainage, for the benefit of the riparian proprietors.
said, he held that the public had not any right to complain, because the Committee was appointed to consider not the public interests, but the interests of the riparian proprietors.
said, he wished to explain to his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), who was so great an authority upon such subjects, that it was on Friday that the House resolved that the Shannon Navigation Bill should be referred to a Select Committee; two to be named by the House and three by the Committee of Selection.
said, that the sum of £100,000 was to be granted to compensate the proprietors for damage done to the banks of the river. It would be seen, from what had been said by the Secretary to the Treasury that the Committee of Selection, instead of anticipating, had acted in obedience to an Order passed by the House on Friday.
said, he recommended the Government to withdraw the Bill. He would like to hear something more about this free gift of £100,000 to the people on the banks of the Shannon, before he would consent to such a grant. The Shannon had run on for thousands of years, and could go on very well for another six months without the proposed grant. It was said this was no public matter, but this £100,000 was public money. It was a question if the other £100,000 that was proposed as a loan would ever be repaid.
said, this was not a gift to the riparian proprietors. The fact was, several years ago it was thought right for Imperial purposes that the navigation of the Shannon should he improved. The works undertaken by the Board of Works with that object had resulted in damage to the riparian proprietors; and, after full inquiry, it had been decided that the sum of £100,000 should be given by the Treasury by way of contribution to the cost of the new works which would be required. After a 10 years' delay, a Committee recommended the lending of £100,000; and now the hon. Member for Finsbury opposed the Bill, of which, by his own admission, he know nothing.
said, he had sat on a Committee on the Shannon navigation, and also on a Committee that inquired into the navigation of the Thames, and he must say that there was this difference between the two cases, that it never occurred to the people on the banks of the Thames to ask the House of Commons for a grant of £100,000 for the improvement of the river.
said, there was another river which he could mention, which had been improved without any grant of public money—he meant the Clyde. At the beginning of the present century a lad might wade across where now ships of the largest burden in the mercantile marine of this country could sail up. But the people of Glasgow never came to Parliament for a grant, and now the Customs' revenue levied in that magnificent river alone was far more than was collected from the whole of Ireland.
said, he hoped the Government would take the advice given by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Alderman Lusk), and withdraw the Bill. The object of the Bill was simply to bestow £100,000 on the proprietors on the banks of the Shannon; and they had heard no adequate reason why it should be proceeded with at this period of the Session.
said, that the explanation of the Secretary to the Treasury was satisfactory, and showed that there had been a previous Order for the appointment of the Committee of which he was not aware.
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That it is expedient to authorize an Advance of any sum or sums of money, not exceeding £200,000, in part as a free Grant and in part as a Loan, out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, to enable the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland to carry out the provisions of any Act of the present Session for amending and enlarging the powers of the Acts relating to the Navigation of the River Shannon, and for other purposes relating thereto."
said, he would divide the Committee against the Resolution, of which he hoped some explanation would be given by the Government.
said, he must insist on some further explanation of the circumstances under which the proposition was brought forward, and trusted the Government would consent, at all events, to report Progress.
said, that an explanation had already been given, although, perhaps, many hon. Members now present had not heard it. The proposal of the Government was based on the Report of the Committee which sat two years ago, and which had gone fully and at great length into the question, and had taken much evidence with respect to it. The Government had not adopted that Report altogether; but in the opinion of the Treasury a sufficient case had been made out for some contribution towards meeting the loss of which the riparian proprietors complained. It appeared that several years ago works had been undertaken for the improvement of the navigation of the Shannon, the cost of which was to be defrayed partly out of the Consolidated Fund and partly by the counties through which the river flowed. Those works were executed in such a way as at particular seasons to cause considerable damage by flooding the adjacent lands, and that had been a cause of repeated complaints. The matter was referred to a Committee, which reported that £200,000 should be advanced by the Treasury to improve the works and prevent injury to the adjacent lands in future. Mr. Bateman, the engineer, had given his opinion in favour of the proposed works upon the Upper and Lower Shannon. The matter had been attentively considered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who adopted a more moderate scheme, and who had come to the conclusion that it was just that £100,000 should be given out of the Consolidated Fund, and the remainder of the money advanced by way of loan, upon full security, thus meeting the riparian proprietors half-way. He (Mr. Stansfeld) did not look with favour upon grants of public money for objects which were partly local in their character, but the circumstances of this case were exceptional.
said, he had not intended to reflect in any degree upon the action of the Committee of Selection. The Secretary to the Treasury seemed to quote the Report of the Committee of 1868 in support of this grant; but he had evidently forgotten that the Committee distinctly stated that the navigation of the Shannon was almost useless. In reference to the present proposal, he (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had to state that Mr. Bateman had testified over and over again that the navigation works already effected were for their purpose excellent. The riparian proprietors, however, said that their lands would be improved by lowering the level of the river; but there was ample room for disputing that point. If a Division was taken he would certainly vote against the grant. It would be a great advantage, both to the public and the riparian proprietors, if the proposed Bill were given up for the present, and brought in early next Session, when it could receive due attention.
said, he thought Scotch Members were not entitled to taunt Irishmen with coming to that House with applications for public money, especially remembering that the Caledonian Canal was executed at the cost of the Imperial Exchequer. He also maintained that in this matter of the Shannon navigation the proprietors of the land bordering on that river, who had sustained great injury from the manner in which the works there had been carried out for the purposes of the navigation, had now a fair claim to have that injury remedied in the way now proposed. That was no grant to the Shannon proprietors. The grant now proposed was for a purely public purpose, and as a compensation in favour of which a Select Committee had, after full inquiry, reported.
said, he was under the impression that the navigation of the Shannon had been made the stalkinghorse to carry the outlay upon the drainage works behind it. The question required a great deal of looking into by competent and responsible persons, before the House was committed to a large expenditure, and the Government ought to take full time to satisfy itself that the project would be useful to the whole nation, as well as to particular localities, before embarking in it. Remembering who sat opposite to them, and recollecting also the questions of local taxation that were "looming in the distance," the Government should be very careful how they set a precedent by sanctioning this expenditure.
said, he held that the case of the Caledonian Canal, instead of being an example to follow, was a beacon to warn them against incurring this expenditure upon the Shannon. The Caledonian Canal was a mistake and a failure from beginning to end; and it having been executed more than 60 years ago, they ought to have grown wiser now.
said, he had never denied that this was a subject requiring considerable examination and discussion, and it would be extremely unwise, in the interests of those who were concerned in the River Shannon, now to press a measure that would be unacceptable to the House, or even to any considerable section of it. There was, he admitted, nothing vital in forcing the measure through at the fag-end of the Session; but he hoped it would be allowed to pass the present stage, and then the policy of the proposal might be discussed on going into Committee on the Bill. If his hon. Friend (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) persevered with his Motion, he should be driven to the alternative of moving that the Chairman do report Progress, in order that they might have a further opportunity of considering the matter.
said, he was rather amused at the suggestion of the Secretary to the Treasury, but he was too old a bird to be caught with chaff. If they allowed the proposal to pass its present stage they would virtually vote away in a hurried manner £200,000 of the public money, without any investigation, without plans, and without knowing what they were doing. Large sums had been spent on the River Shannon, and they might spend millions without ever making anything of it, for it was a mass of sandbanks and swamps. They had better wait till next Session, when the matter could be fairly and properly considered.
said, from personal knowledge, as well as upon eminent engineering authority, he must deny that the River Shannon had been correctly described by the hon. Gentleman who had last spoken. All the evidence taken upon the subject proved that great good could be effected by an expenditure of £200,000 upon it.
said, the total expenditure already incurred was some £600,000. True about one-half of that sum was paid by the counties affected; but the remainder came out of the Imperial Treasury, and it was high time to put a stop to such proceedings.
said, he would remind the hon. Gentleman opposite, who now so strongly objected to that proposal, that the late Conservative Government of Ireland had favoured measures like the present, and advocated a policy of promoting the material improvement of that country.
said, he thought it would be more convenient to take a Division on the question now than to report Progress.
Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.
Public Schools Act (1868) Amendment Bill—Bill 200
( Mr. Secretary Bruce, Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen.)
Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
said, he had given Notice to move that this House will, upon that day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee. The object of the Bill was to continue the Public Schools Commission, which, under the former Act, would expire on the 1st of January next. He thought it would be much batter to allow the Commission to expire, and that the further proceedings in respect to the seven public schools should be entrusted to the Endowed Schools Commission. He would not, however, press his Motion if the Government would accede to an Amendment winch stood on the Paper in his name—namely, in Clause 3, at the end, to add—
"Provided, That the approval or disapproval of Her Majesty to any statute made by any such Governing Body, in pursuance of the powers so vested in it, shall not be signified until such statute has been laid before both Houses of Parliament, for a period of not less than forty days."
said, the additional time was asked for not in the interest of the Commissioners, but in that of the schools. The object of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Winterbotham) was to get rid of the Commission altogether. He thought at that stage of the Session the proposal was a most unreasonable one. There was an important distinction between the powers of the Public Schools Commissioners, who were an unpaid body, and the Endowed Schools Commissioners, who received payment for their services. He believed the former were by no means anxious to continue their labours if they did not continue to enjoy the confidence which had hitherto been placed in them.
said, he had Amendments to propose in Committee providing that the bodies to be dealt with should be the new Governing Bodies. The question, therefore, would not be the constitution of those bodies, but the schemes they prepared. The Public Schools Act of 1868 enacted that if the Commissioners and the Governing Body agreed as to the scheme it would not be necessary to lay it on the Table; but if the Commissioners and the Governing Body did not agree, then it would be necessary to lay the scheme on the Table, in order that Parliament might decide between the Commissioners and the Governing Body. That being so, his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Winterbotham) now came forward with a proposition which would alter the whole plan upon which the proceedings in reference to the public schools had been hitherto conducted. Having regard to the period of the Session, the proposition was one which his hon. and learned Friend could hardly expect the Government to accede to.
said, he feared he had no alternative. He must press his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. Winterbotham,)
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clauses 1 to 3, inclusive, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
, in moving after Clause 3, to insert—
—said he would merely observe that if the Government refused to accept the clause their refusal would give rise to suspicions of a sinister motive."Provided, That the approval or disapproval of Her Majesty to any statute made by any such Governing Body, in pursuance of the powers so vested in it, shall not be signified until such statute has been laid before both Houses of Parliament, for a period of not less than forty days."
Clause (Statutes by new Governing Body to be laid before Parliament,)— brought up, and read the first time.
said, he thought that in his calmer moments his hon. and learned Friend would regret having said that a clause in the Act of 1868, which Act had been carefully considered, and was the result of a compromise, would give rise to suspicions of a sinister motive.
begged his hon. and learned Friend's pardon. What he had said was that the refusal of the Government to accept this clause would give rise to suspicions of a sinister motive.
said, the distinction drawn by his hon. and learned Friend was a distinction without a difference. As a Commissioner and as a Member of the Government, he repudiated in the strongest manner consistent with personal courtesy the statement of his hon. and learned Friend. His hon. and learned Friend had no business to make it.
said, he had not imputed a sinister motive to the Commissioners. What he had said was that if the Government refused to accept a clause which provided that the statutes of the Governing Bodies should be submitted to Parliament there would be suspicions of a sinister motive. It would be thought that the Government refused to accept the clause from an apprehension that the opinion of Parliament might be adverse to that of the Governing Bodies.
said, he was glad he had given his hon. and learned Friend an opportunity of withdrawing his remark under pressure.
said, he had not withdrawn anything.
said, he was glad then to have given his hon. and and learned Friend an opportunity of explaining. The Government could not consent to to the clause. It would give rise to debates. No good would result from it, while it would cause a delay in getting the schools into working order under new statutes.
said, he hoped the Government would accept the clause. He did not think there could be any objection to it now that the Commissioners and the Governing Bodies were getting more time.
Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause be road a second time."
The Committee divided: — Ayes 36; Noes 70: Majority 34.
Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.
Divine Worship Us Licensed Buildings Bill
On Motion of Sir PERCY BURRELL, Bill to give greater facilities for the performance of Divine Worship in parishes in buildings licensed by the Bishop of the diocese in which they are situated, ordered to be brought in by Sir PERCY BURRELL and Mr. GOLDNEY.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 245.]
Pensions Commutation Amendment Bill
On Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, Bill for amending the sixth section of Pensions Commutation Act, 1869, ordered to be brought in by Mr. STANSFELD and Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 244.]
Common Law Procedure (Ireland) Bill
On Motion of Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND, Bill to abolish certain real actions in the Superior Courts of Common Law in Ireland, and further to amend the procedure in the said Courts; and for other purposes relating thereto, ordered to be brought in by Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND and Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 242.]
Constabulary (Ireland) Bill
On Motion of Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND, Bill to make better provision for the Police Force in the city of Londonderry, and to amend in certain respects the Acts relating to the Royal Irish Constabulary Force, ordered to be brought in by Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND and Mr. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 241.]
On Motion of Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Bill to make provision in relation to certain Beerhouses not duly qualified according to Law, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Secretary BRUCE and Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN.
House adjourned at two minutes before Six o'clock.