House Of Commons
Monday, 8th August, 1870.
MINUTES.]—PUBLIC BILLS — Ordered—First Reading—Parish Churches * .
Second Reading — Committee — Report — Third Reading—Militia Acts Amendment (No. 2)* , and passed.
Committee—Judicial Committee . [No Report.]
Withdrawn—Divine Worship in Licensed Buildings* .
The House met at Three of the clock.
Metropolis—Approaches To The Embankment—Question
said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works, If he can inform the House what steps are being taken by the Metropolitan Board of Works to open up approaches to the Embankment from the Strand and Fleet Street, and when such approaches will be available for the public use?
, in reply to the Question of the hon. Gentleman, said, he had to state that he was informed by the Metropolitan Board of Works that they were taking steps to open up two approaches to the Thames Embankment, the one from Villiers Street and the other from Norfolk Street, and the works for that purpose would be in hand at an early period.
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, If his attention has been drawn to the cases of four Militiamen, by name John Collins, William Osgood, Philip Kearns, and Henry Ives, who were tried on Monday last at the Police Court, Chatham, for being deserters from the Kent Militia Artillery, and in conformity with the Militia Act (1859), 22 & 23 Vict., c. 38, s. 12, were fined forty shillings each and costs, with the option of two calendar months' imprisonment, the case being that the said four prisoners, being artizans, had accepted an engagement on board the Great Eastern Screw Steamer while that vessel was employed in laying a submarine cable, and did not return to England in time to serve with their regiment during the training; and, whether he will, early next Session, propose an Amendment to the Militia Act, giving a discretionary power to magistrates to deal with similar cases according to their merits?
said, in reply, that he did not see anything unusual in the case. The men were absent without leave, and when brought before the justices they were condemned to the smallest possible penalty under the statute.
Army—Supplying Reserve Ammu- Nition— Question
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether, in his opinion, the present system of supplying reserve ammunition to troops in the field is likely to work satisfactorily in action, and, if so, whether he would not consider it desirable that the system, should be practised occasionally at our camps of instruction?
Sir, the general system of supplying reserve ammunition to troops in the field is already laid down, and is likely to work satisfactorily. A Committee has been sitting to consider it in its details, and the details which they recommend are about to be tried at Aldershot and elsewhere.
The Franco-Prussian Corre-Spondence— Question
said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, If he has observed and can explain the remarkable difference in the dates in the two extracts given below from the Franco-Prussian Correspondence (No. 2), Despatch No. 5, page 4, Count Bismarck to Count Bernstorff—
Despatch No. 7, pages 5 and 6, Lord Augustus Loftus to Earl Granville—"When the more modest French designs with reference to Luxemburg had been counteracted by events which are publicly known, the more extensive propositions embracing Belgium and Southern Germany were renewed. It is at this time, in 1867, that Count Benedetti's manuscript was communicated to me."
And if it was not Count Bismarck who gave Lord Augustus Loftus the information on which his Despatch above quoted was based?"With reference to my telegram of yesterday, I have now the honour to transmit to your Lordship a lithographed copy of the draft of the Treaty of Alliance, offensive and defensive, which M. Beneditti proposed for the acceptance of the Prussian Government at the commencement of 1869, on the eve of the Belgian railway question."
Sir, the noble Lord is correct in the reference that he makes to the Papers he has quoted. But we are not aware that it was Count Bismarck who gave Lord Augustus Loftus the information upon which the despatch quoted was based. With regard to the affair of M. Benedetti, I think, considering the transactions between the two foreign Governments, and that it is possible the whole of the elucidations of those transactions have not yet been produced, it would be better that I should abstain from giving an explanation which might be imperfect.
The Custom House—Question
said, he wished to ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Whether Her Majesty's Commissioners of Customs cannot make some arrangement for the safe custody of goods landed at the Custom House in London from steamers in the river till such time as the persons to whom the goods are consigned can attend themselves, or by their agents, bearing a written order to open the packages, the present practice being for the Custom House Officers to allow any self-constituted agent to seize a package, break open even locks, and carry off the goods when passed without any authority whatever, and to conduct the examination in a yard or shed, which is not even the property of Her Majesty, whereby several robberies have recently been committed, and much loss of property has occurred; and, whether the Custom House Officers are not amenable to the law as accessories to these robberies?
said, in reply, that he was sorry he had not had an opportunity of discussing this question personally with the noble Lord, for he might have shown him that he was under considerable misapprehension as to the rights, powers, and duties of Custom House officers. It was not correct to say that the practice was that the Custom House officers should allow any self-constituted agent to seize a package, break open the locks, and carry off the goods. The state of the case was this—The functions of the Custom House officers ceased when they had ascertained whether there were any goods on which duty had to be paid. The right to seize these goods depended on the bill of lading forwarded by the consignee from a foreign port.
Writers Under The Board Of Customs— Question
said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether the result of his communication to the Board of Customs will secure to the "Writers" in that department during this summer a fortnight's leave of absence without loss of pay?
, in reply, said, that this was one of the questions now under discussion between the Treasury and the Board of Customs, and he hoped a decision would be come to in the course of 10 days or a fortnight.
The War—Production Of Papers
I beg, Sir, to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he will undertake that any further Papers, with reference to the War, shall be communicated to Parliament in time to allow of a discussion on their contents before the Prorogation?
Sir, it would be very difficult for me to promise absolutely that further Papers with respect to the War should be communicated to Parliament in time to allow of discussion before the Prorogation, if the arrangements as to the Prorogation should be finally confirmed to-morrow. According to the state of Business, it appears that the Prorogation may, in the natural course, be on Wednesday. It is very possible that we may be able to lay Papers on the Table to-morrow; and, with the permission of the House, after the Questions are concluded, I will endeavour to state, as exactly as I can, what has occurred so far as the Government are concerned, and then hon. Gentlemen present will be able to judge.
Metropolis—The Foreign Cattle Market— Question
said, he wished to ask the Vice President of the Council, Whether the Corporation of London have taken any and what measures for the provision of a Foreign Cattle Market?
said, in reply, that the Markets Committee of the Corporation of London had submitted to the Privy Council a site which they considered sufficient for the purposes of the proposed market. The only reason why further measures had not been taken was, that up to the present time the Privy Council were not fully convinced that there would be sufficient water ac- commodation at the site. Inquiries were made into the matter, and until those inquiries were completed nothing further could be done.
The New Forest—Question
said, he would beg in the absence of his hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether he can promise that no sale or other permanent appropriation of Crown Land in the New Forest shall take place until Parliament has had an opportunity of expressing its opinion on the subject?
replied that there could be no considerable sale or appropriation of land without an Act of Parliament for disafforesting the New Forest. There was a limited power under the Act 10 Geo. IV., c. 50, enabling the Commissioners, under certain conditions, to alienate small portions of the forest not exceeding in value £1,000, but there was not the slightest chance that any considerable appropriation would be made.
Harbours Of The Colonies And Of India— Question
said, he would beg, in the absence of his noble Friend (Viscount Sandon), to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, with reference to the Defence of the Harbours of the Colonies and of India, Whether the "Cerberus" has left for Melbourne, and whether the "Abyssinia" and the "Magdala" have left for Bombay; and whether applications have been received from other Colonies for similar ships for the defence of their Harbours; and, whether such applications would be complied with, the cost of maintenance being undertaken by the Colony so applying?
said, in reply, that he had received a communication from the Colonial Office proposing the necessary arrangements for handing over the Cerberus to the Colony, but the vessel had not yet left. The Abyssinia and the Magdala had not left for Bombay. As to whether applications had been made from other Colonics for similar ships for the defence of their harbours, he had to say that the Cerberus was built at the cost of the Colony of Victoria, and that the Colonial Naval Defence Act provided for her future status and disci- pline. He was a party to the introduction of the Bill, which he thought very valuable, and Her Majesty's Government would be very glad to see other Colonies take advantage of the Act. He did not think, however, there was any application on the subject at present.
Civil Service Employes
said, he would beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, What special arrangements under the new system of open competition for Civil Service vacancies, to be in force from the thirty-first of this month, will be made to meet the cases of those employés of the Civil Service who, having been deprived of appointments through recent reduction or abolition of office, are now awaiting re-appointment?
Sir, the case of such employés has not been overlooked. They are mentioned expressly in section 7 of the Order in Council. The exact steps that will be taken with regard to the matter are not yet settled.
said, he wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works, Whether he can hold out any hope to the House that he will be able to convince the Metropolitan Board of Works, on artistic and utilitarian grounds, that Temple Bar ought to be removed or widened during the erection of the New Law Courts; and whether he, in his official capacity, does not think that the time has come for removing the barrier at the end of Fleet Street, whereby all traffic passing along it is brought to a slow speed, if not almost to a standstill, thereby inflicting a loss of time amounting to an enormous aggregate upon all those who have to pass through the narrow block passage to the City?
said, in reply, that he was not able at this moment to state what might be the views of the Metropolitan Board of Works with reference to Temple Bar. He regretted that the gentleman who had so long and ably filled the office of Chairman of that Board had died that morning. He hoped the office might be filled up by a man of equal intelligence and judgment; and, if so, he had no doubt that the Board would be led to the conclusion that the sooner Temple Bar was removed the better for the public. The space Temple Bar occupied was about 11 feet, and therefore it was quite clear if Temple Bar was removed 11 feet would be available for some purpose or other. But it was not merely that Temple Bar was an obstruction: everybody must feel that it was divested of every possible interest, whether artistical or otherwise.
Army—Breech-Loaders For The Volunteers— Question
In answer to a Question from Mr. SCLATER-BOOTH ,
said: I am not prepared to enter into an engagement to furnish breech-loaders to any particular corps of Volunteers. It is my intention to lay down rules for the gradual arming of the Volunteers with breech-loaders; but it is necessary to take precautions with respect to their custody, since they require much greater care than is at present paid in many instances to the muzzle-loading Enfields. I may take this opportunity of repeating that it is intended to publish as soon as possible Regulations by which officers and sergeants can qualify so as to earn within the year the £2 10s., making in all £4, which is necessary as the equivalent for an additional 5s. to the Capitation Grant. They will be framed with a view of rendering it as little inconvenient as possible to every qualified officer to obtain the necessary certificate, and though opportunities of attending schools of instruction will be afforded to those who require it, those who are qualified already will be enabled to obtain the certificate without doing so, and by simple examination at head-quarters. It will also be made less troublesome to earn £1 10s. to those whose shooting enables them to attain the required class in a smaller number of rounds, and the standard will be only 30 points for those who continue to fire with the present weapon. The Regulations will also provide additional facilities for a portion of the force to go to camps of exercise, by a contribution towards the expense of constructing the camps, with arrangements for obtaining rations at contract prices.
The Prayer Book—Question
said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, seeing that the Table of Lessons Bill has been withdrawn, Her Majesty's Government will consider the further Report of the Ritual Commission, with a view to seeing whether they cannot introduce a measure next Session to make such alterations in the Rubric as may be advisable?
Sir, Her Majesty's Government reluctantly abandoned the intention of prosecuting the Bill for amending the Prayer Book by the substitution of a new Table of Lessons, solely on the ground that they found unequivocal evidence that many hon. Members, well entitled to be heard on such a subject, and by no means confined to one section or party in this House, were disposed to object to our proceeding with such a Bill at the end of the Session, and likewise to contend that it was not desirable to deal with the Lectionary apart from the rest of the Prayer Book. Those allegations were of such a character that the Government felt it would be their duty to defer to them. The hon. Gentleman has stated that considerable inconvenience arises from a stagnation of the trade connected with the printing and binding of Prayer Books, and I am afraid I am not in a position to deny that such stagnation of the trade does exist. But the Question which he puts to me is a serious one—namely, whether we will consider the further Report of the Ritual Commission with the view of introducing, if possible, early next Session a Bill dealing with the whole subject of the Rubric. That is a most grave matter, and I am sorry to say it is totally impossible for the Government—which has not yet received the Report—to enter into any engagement whatever respecting it. The only thing which I, for one, have heard is, that the Commission has experienced extreme difficulty in dealing with the question, and that a considerable degree of diversity of opinion exhibited itself in the Commission. If that be so, it would be rash on the part of the Government even to hold language which at this stage might create an expectation that they would be able to deal with the question at a very early period. Upon a matter of this kind it would be ex- tremely difficult for the Government to enter, except when the way is prepared by a great union of opinion, otherwise they might do additional harm by raising serious and prolonged controversies.
Navy—Naval Stores, &C
said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, If it is true, as reported in "The Western Morning News" of the 3rd August, that the "Agincourt" and "Northumberland" having been ordered to sea, it was found that they could not leave in consequence of the almost total absence of shells and ammunition at the Bull Point Magazine; whether the "Audacious," "Iron Duke," and "Vanguard," now fitting at Devonport, will be delayed for want of tanks, of which there are none in store to fit them, several of that size having been sold three or four months ago; if it is true that the "Captain" and "Monarch" are 246 Palliser shot short of their complement, or half the number, and that there are none in store, and that the plant at Woolwich can only turn out seven or eight a day; and what steam factory accommodation the Admiralty possess in the Thames and Medway for refitting a North Sea fleet since the closing of Woolwich Dockyard and Factory?
Sir, the Questions of the hon. and gallant Gentleman concern the War Office more than the Admiralty, as the Secretary of State for War has under him the establishments at Woolwich and the magazines; but I have my right hon. Friend's permission to reply to so much of those Questions as concern him. In answer, then, to the first Question, I have to say that it is not true either that the Agincourt and Northumberland were delayed in going to sea, or that there is an almost total absence of shells and ammunition at the Bull Point Magazine. Both ships went to sea to the hour, and there is an ample reserve, both of shells and ammunition at the magazines. The origin of the rumour is that for some short time past the Palliser projectiles have been in course of examination, and that, in consequence, on the day when the ships sailed, out of 2,380 projectiles, which was the complement of each, 180, or 8 per cent, were short in the Agincourt, and 119, or 5 per cent, were short in the Northumberland. These were sent out on the following day in the Monarch. There is not a word of truth in the report as to the tanks of the Audacious, Iron Duke, and Vanguard. The Audacious and Vanguard, had their tanks on board a long time ago, and the Iron Duke, which recently came round to Plymouth, will have hers in good time. There is no deficiency in the store of tanks. The tanks which were sold some time ago, were unserviceable, and were only sold without being broken up for old iron because it was anticipated that they would, as they did, fetch a better price. As to the projectiles in the Captain and Monarch, the facts are these — The full complement of shell is on board, and there is a sufficient supply in store of shot of the old pattern; but recently the Admiralty have agreed with the War Office to make shot for the 12-inch guns of an altered pattern, and when these ships went to sea it was thought better only to take a half supply of the new pattern than some of the old and some of the now. They therefore took 80 rounds per gun of the new pattern, which is far more than sufficient for an experimental cruise. I find from Colonel Milward that, instead of seven or eight, the plant at Woolwich can turn out 25 to 30 projectiles a day—and more with a small expenditure if necessary—and the Admiralty have arranged with the War Office the proportion of shot and shell. As to the last Question, the hon. and Gentleman, who has been at the Admiralty, knows the capacity of the factory at Sheerness, and the amount of factory work which has been done at Chatham. I presume, however, that his Question points to some supposed work which cannot now be done for a fleet such as the Channel Fleet, after an action in the North Sea, in consequence of the closing of Woolwich. To that I have only to reply that not one of the iron-clads in the Channel Fleet could have gone into Woolwich Dockyard had it been open, and that its factory could only have been of service to the smaller class of ironclads, none of which are in the Channel Fleet.
said, seeing that the condition of things is altered since the first Naval Votes were allowed by the House, he would beg to ask the First Lord, Whether he would feel him- self bound by the statement made on Vote 11 of the Navy Estimates, that no expense would be incurred on the Chatham Extension Works beyond that provided in this year's Vote?
Sir, I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for giving me Notice of his Question. In the debate on Vote 11 of the Navy Estimates I gave him a pledge that we would not spend on the Chatham Dockyard Extension Works more than was clearly provided in those Estimates. But the circumstances under which the House has voted us a large credit justify me, I think, in saying that I do not consider myself bound by that pledge; and I hope by about Christmas next to have finished the first basin, two docks, and the approaches from the workshops, and also to have dredged the river so that they may be available for our largest iron-clads.
Navy—Case Of Serjeant Jacob Hill— Question
said, he would beg, in the absence of his hon. Friend (Mr. Pemberton) to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether he will lay upon the Table of the House a Copy of the Correspondence relating to the trial by Court-Martial of Serjeant Jacob Hill, of the Marine Light Infantry; and whether the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown has been taken on the legality of the sentence?
said, in reply, that Serjeant Jacob Hill, of the Marine Light Infantry, was charged, he believed, with procuring or assisting in the desertion of some men from a Regiment of Militia, was found guilty, and punished by reduction to the ranks. After the trial a solicitor wrote to the Admiralty on his behalf, raising some technical objections which the Admiralty were advised had nothing in them. He did not think that was a case in which Parliament would wish to have before it the correspondence on the subject. It would be quite contrary to all precedent; and he must, therefore, respectfully decline to lay the Papers on the Table.
Piloting Belligerent Men-Of-War
I wish, Sir, to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether representations have been made to Her Majesty's Government by the Prussian Ambassador complaining that English Pilots have been engaged in piloting French Men-of-War?
Sir, whether a formal representation to the effect stated by the hon. Member has been made to the Foreign Office I am unable to say, although it is a matter that I could easily have ascertained before coming down to the House, had I had previous Notice of the hon. Member's Question. I, however, mentioned on a former day that the subject had been dealt with by Her Majesty's Government, and that specific directions had been given with reference to piloting belligerent vessels of war, to the effect that no English pilots were to give assistance to the ships of war of the belligerent Powers, except for the purpose of steering them out of or into a British port, or in case of distress.
Stock Of Coals
Sir, I desire to make a personal explanation, which I had intended doing on Friday last, but then deferred in consequence of the absence—I regret to say through ill-health—of the Secretary to the Admiralty. Being under the impression that Supply would not be taken until Thursday, I was, unfortunately, not in my place on Wednesday last, but on the following day my attention was called to a report of some observations of the Secretary to the Admiralty, occupying some 25 or 30 lines in The Times newspaper, which were devoted to impugning the accuracy of the statement I had made on a previous occasion to the House. Immediately on seeing that report I thought it right to give the hon. Member for Montrose notice that I should take an early opportunity of making the explanation I am now about to give the House. In reply to my communication I received the following letter from the hon. Gentleman:—
"Dundee, Aug 5.
"Dear Sir John Hay,—Tour favour of yesterday has been sent to me here. I am not well, and unable to return to town, and you will please for that reason excuse me employing an amanuensis. I have not seen any report of what I said on Wednesday; but I did not impugn your accuracy. All that I said in regard to your quotations from the Coal Return was that you should have read the last sentence of the note at the top of the page, and I went on to remark that as the statements of the small stocks on the last day of January, if unexplained, might cause apprehension in the country, I would state the stocks at present in these depôts, and the quantities shipped but not arrived. There was a good deal of talking in the House at the time, and it is quite possible the reporters did not catch my words; but I said nothing about you except what I have just stated, and of course you are at liberty to make what use you please of this letter.
Believe me, truly yours,
"W. E. BAXTER."
The Return was a very long one, and I read only such portions of it as I believed bore out my statement respecting the great diminution that had occurred in our stocks of coal. I may observe that the Return does not show the specific number of tons of coal that were at sea and on their way to the respective depôts, but it was in the power of the hon. Member to have quoted any portions of it he thought fit. Another point upon which the hon. Member impugned my accuracy was with reference to the statement I made relating to the quantity of coal in Pembroke Dockyard. The statement I made was founded upon information given to me by the late storekeeper of that dockyard, from whom I have received the following letter:—
"3, Cranleigh Villas, Watford, July 29.
"Dear Sir John Hay,—I called a few days ago at the Admiralty, on Mr. Baxter, to offer him a suggestion, as I had been invited to do. Before I could enter on the subject Mr. Baxter informed me that he could hold no communication with me until I had written a letter to correct or to deny the accuracy of a statement made by you in the House of Commons, from information supplied by me, with reference to supplies of coals at Pembroke. I had not then seen, and until yesterday was unable to find The Times report of your speech, to which Mr. Baxter referred me, but, having seen it, I can find nothing to correct, and it appears to me that Mr. Baxter has drawn inferences which are not supported by what you said.
"I have the honour to be, dear Sir John Hay,
"Your most obedient servant,
"Admiral Sir J. C. D. Hay, Bart, M.P., &c."
I have read that letter with the view of showing that I accurately stated the nature of the information I had received, and which I believe to be correct.
Sir, I do not know whether the House will expect me, in the absence of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty, to volunteer any explanation of the first part of the hon. and gallant Baronet's remarks, which relate to something that occurred here the other evening. I think that the note of my hon. Friend, which has just been read, gives a very satisfactory explanation of that part of the subject. The hon. and gallant Baronet has, however, thought fit to import into his explanation something not relating in any way to what had been said Try any person on this side of the House, but which referred to a statement he made some time ago, founded upon information he obtained from a gentleman who has no longer any relations with the Admiralty. What the hon. and gallant Baronet said upon the occasion to which he refers was this—that he had received information that a particular officer in Pembroke Dockyard had taken a particular course in the purchase of coal, and that that officer had been severely reprimanded by his superiors or had been complained of.
If the right hon. Gentleman desires it, I will read what I then stated to the House. ["Order."] I merely wish to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he is inaccurate in his version of the statement I then made.
I have only one word further to quote from the hon. and gallant Baronet's observations "and that he was superannuated."
That is not what I stated.
Then I have nothing more to say in the matter. That, however, is what the hon. and gallant Baronet is reported to have said.
I have The Times report in my hand. I will hand it to the right hon. Gentleman to read to the House. It certainly does not contain the words he professes to quote.
Neutrality Of Belgium
Sir, in view of the approaching Prorogation of Parliament, I am anxious to state at as early a period as possible that Her Majesty's Government are not in a position to lay further Papers upon the Table relating to the subject alluded to in the Question of the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Somerset Beaumont). Knowing well the anxiety which the House must feel with reference to the course which the Government intend to follow, I will in a few sentences explain to them exactly what we we have done and what we have endeavoured to do. In so doing I shall confine myself strictly to statements of fact, not mixing up with them anything in the nature of explanation or defence, if, indeed, defence be requisite, but will allow such explanation or defence to stand over until the proper opportunity for making it shall arrive. On Saturday, the 30th of July, the Government made a proposal to France and Prussia severally in identical terms, and that proposal was that an engagement should be contracted by this country with each of them, whether under the name of a Treaty or whatever other designation might be given to the agreement, to this oifect—that if the armies of either one of the belligerents should, in the course of the operations of the war, violate the neutrality of Belgium, as secured by the terms of the Treaty of 1839, this country should co-operate with the other belligerent in defence of that neutrality by arms. It was signified in the document so transmitted that Great Britain would not by that engagement, or by acting upon that engagement in case of need, be bound to take part in the general operations of the war. And, of course, the other contracting party was to enter into a similar undertaking to use force for the preservation of the neutrality of Belgium against the offending Power. We proposed that the Treaty or engagement—for it has now taken the form of a Treaty—should hold good for 12 months after the ratification of a Treaty of Peace between the two belligerent Powers, after which period it is stipulated that the respective parties being parties to the Treaty of 1839 shall fall back upon the obligations they took upon themselves under that Treaty. Briefly stated and divested of all technical language, that, I think, is the whole of the contents of the proposed Treaty. On the same day—last Saturday week—and two days before the discussion which occurred in this House in connection with foreign affairs, the whole proposal was made known by the British Government to the Austrian and the Russian Governments, and confidence was expressed that, under the extreme pressure that existed as to time, those Powers would not hesitate to adopt a similar measure. That is the course Her Majesty's Government have followed in the matter. Now as to the reception of this proposal by the other Powers. As far as we have been informed the Governments of both Austria and Russia take a favourable view of the proposal. I will not say that the negotiation has proceeded so far as to entitle us to regard them as held bound to a particular course; but, in the main, I may say that the reception of our proposal has been favourable by both of those Powers. And now, with regard to the two belligerent Powers. The proposal having been sent to Lord Augustus Loftus on the 30th ult., on Friday the 5th inst., Count Bernstorff informed Earl Granville that Count Bismarck had left Berlin for head-quarters, and that, consequently, the communication with him through Lord Augustus Loftus had been delayed. The terms of the proposed Treaty, however, having been communicated on the same day—Saturday week—to the respective Ambassadors in London, Count Bernstorff had telegraphed their substance to Count Bismarck, who had informed him that he had not then received any proposal from Lord Augustus Loftus, that he was ready to agree to any engagement that would tend to the maintenance of the neutrality of Belgium; but that, as the intended instrument was not before him, he could only give a general assent to its purport, and must not be regarded as bound to any particular mode of proceeding intended to secure that neutrality. Count Bernstorff subsequently informed Earl Granville on the same day, on the 5th of August, that he had ceived a later telegram from Count Bismarck to the effect that he had then received a summary of the draft Treaty from him, that he had submitted it to the King of Prussia, and that he was authorized to state that His Majesty had agreed to the plan. Later still on the same day Count Bernstorff informed Earl Granville that Count Bismarck again telegraphed to him stating that he had seen the actual document, and authorizing him to sign the Treaty. Count Bernstorff has not yet—at least, had not when I came down to the House—roccivod his full powers in the technical sense, but he expects to receive them in the course of the day, and therefore I think that the engagement may be regarded as being completed on the part of Prussia. Now as regards France. That country has accepted the principle of the Treaty, but the French Government were desirous to introduce some modifications into the terms of the instrument that were not of a nature, as we thought, in any degree to interfere with the substance of the clauses. The House will perceive that as we had made an identical proposal to the two Powers, it was impossible for us to undertake to alter the body of the instrument, for fear the whole arrangements might come to nothing, although the sole object of the modifications so proposed was to prevent misunderstanding. We had no difficulty in giving such an explanation as we thought amounted to no more than a simple and clear interpretation of the document. That explanation was sent to Paris on Saturday evening. Perhaps the pressure of affairs in Paris may naturally account for the fact that an answer did not arrive by return of post in a regular manner this morning; but we have reason to believe that this explanation will remove all difficulty on the part of the French Government and will lead to the signing of the Treaty. Possibly, therefore, even before the termination of the present Sitting it will be in our power to make a further communication to the House. In the meantime I shall be glad to answer any question, if my statement has not been sufficiently clear; but, as I said before, I should wish to refrain from saying more than is absolutely necessary on the present occasion, and I hope the House will not enter into any general discussion upon the subject.
Sir, I do not know whether I shall be required to put myself regular in accordance with the forms of the House; but, perhaps, under the remarkable circumstances of the moment, and considering the statement we have just heard from the right hon. Gentleman, I may be allowed to say a few words in reference to the important matter which he has brought under our notice. I do not know what opportunity we may have of learning the progress of the negotiations to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred before the Prorogation of Parliament. If the House meets to-morrow, of course we may have that opportunity; but I do not know whether the state of Business may cause us to meet to-morrow. Now, as to the proposed Treaty, it is necessarily difficult to gather from an oral statement the meaning of a diplomatic document; but I infer from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's Government have taken decided steps to maintain and defend the neutrality of Belgium. That will be a satisfactory intimation to the country generally. I would not myself at this moment give any opinion as to the particular diplomatic course followed by the Government on this occasion. That is really too grave a question to be decided in an off-hand manner in the course of a conversation like this; but as a general proposition, where there is a Treaty guarantee so explicit as that expressed in the Treaty of 1839, I think the wisdom of founding on that another Treaty which involves us in engagements may be open to doubt. I do not at present understand, if we join with one of the belligerents to vindicate the neutrality of Belgium against the other belligerent in case he violates that neutrality, what limit there is to be to our interference; because it would appear to me that in such a case we should have to share the fortunes of war with the belligerent whom we have joined, and it is quite impossible to see how we could limit our co-operation with that belligerent merely to the frontier of the neutralized country. But this is one of the points on which, owing to the manner in which the proposal of the Government has been communicated to us by the right hon. Gentleman, it is difficult to form an opinion; but I may venture to express a hope that during the brief period of existence now allotted to this Session the Government should omit no opportunity of giving this House and the country the fullest account of this new engagement they may have entered into, and the latest information on these matters they may have obtained. Now, Sir, accepting the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman as the declaration of the Cabinet, that they are resolved to maintain the neutrality and independence of Belgium, I accept it as a wise and spirited policy, and a policy, in my opinion, not the less wise because it is spirited. I cannot myself believe the position of England is such that she can no longer take an interest in the affairs of the Continent of Europe, or attempt to exercise that influence which has been so often exercised not only with advantage to this country, but with great benefit to the Continent itself. The policy of England ought certainly not to be a merely European policy. She has an ocean empire, and an Asiatic empire. But she has a great interest in the prosperity, the peace, and the independence of the various States of Europe. Viewing it from a very limited point of view, it is of the highest importance to this country that the whole coast from Ostend to the North Sea should be in the possession of free and flourishing communities, from whose ambition the liberty and independence neither of England nor of any other country can be menaced. We find that part of Europe at present constituted in such a manner, and it is well such a position of affairs should be maintained. The circumstances under which that state of society was injuriously menaced some years ago, though the distribution of territory which then took place has been in some degree diminished, has, I think, led to many of those complications which have so distressed and alarmed us. I make no comments on the startling events which are now occurring. I have never spoken of them in this House with any prejudice. I wish we may maintain the friendship and alliance both of France and Prussia. I am of opinion that the events now occurring afford an opportunity to a Power like England of coming forward with a friendship which cannot be doubted, to give counsels of moderation in such a manner as will show that, while anxious for the peace of Europe, she respects the dignity and national feelings of both belligerents.
Sir, I think that the House will allow me to say a few words in answer to what I may call the Question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli), and that in my case, as in that of the right hon. Gentleman, it will not be necessary to make a Motion. I admit with the right hon. Gentleman that it is impossible for him or any other Gentleman to give any opinion on the subject of my statement except with reserve, because in such cases listening to an oral statement is very different from reading the document itself. But I hope I am not over-estimating the length to which the right hon. Gentleman goes in his judgment when I say I am glad he is disposed to view in a favourable manner what he seems to consider a wise policy. At the same time I wish now to say that the reason we restrained our own wish and the wish of the House last Monday by not making any general declaration on our part as regards Belgium was that we thought much danger might arise from such a declaration, that we might inadvertently give utterance to words that might be held to import obligations almost unlimited and almost irrespectively of circumstances. We had made up our minds that we had a duty to perform, and we thought that a specific declaration of what we thought to be the obligations of this country, founded upon the various considerations applicable to the case, would be much more satisfactory than any general declaration. It is by this instrument we ourselves desire that our view of the obligations of this country should be defined rather than by any vague expressions which might be used in reference to those obligations. The right hon. Gentleman said that as a general rule he would rather trust to Treaties which at present exist than cumulate them by other engagements. That observation reminded me that I might have pointed out more clearly what we thought was the necessity for this proposed Treaty. When the war broke out, we naturally looked to the declaration of the belligerents as to the neutrality of Belgium, and we were obliged to admit, as I think the House must have admitted, that those declarations contained everything that could reasonably have been expected from each Power speaking singly for itself; but, notwithstanding that, there was this weakness about them. In the event of the violation of the neutrality of Belgium by Prussia, France held herself released, and in the event of the violation of neutrality by France, Prussia held herself released. I think we had no right to complain of either Power. I think they said everything they could have been expected to say; but we thought that by contracting a joint engagement we might remove the difficulty and prevent Belgium from being sacrificed, and render it extremely unlikely that anything would arise to compromise our neutrality. That was our reason for thinking a Treaty of this kind necessary, because it is obvious that the Treaty of 1839, whatever value it may possess, could hardly be supposed to meet the circumstances of the present case with reference to the declarations made by the belligerent Powers. With regard to further opportunities for informing the House of our proceedings, I believe, and I may consider it as arranged, that the House will meet to-morrow and on Wednesday; and, certainly, it will be our desire not less than our duty to communicate to the House the substance of everything which we may propose to undertake in the defence of the honour and the fulfilment of the obligations of this country.
Lords' Amendments considered.
said, he had to move that the House disagree from the Lords' Amendment. First Amendment, page 2, line 14, after the word "condition" insert the words "religious profession," read a second time.
Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth disagree with The Lords in the said Amendment."
The House divided:—Ayes 101; Noes 40: Majority 61.
said, he must express his great regret that, in some form, a religious Census of the people was not to be obtained. Very strong representations on the subject had reached him.
Committee appointed, "to draw up Reasons to be assigned to The Lords for disagreeing to the said Amendments:—Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Mr. GLADSTONE, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN, Mr. STANSFELD, Mr. DODSON, Mr. GLYN, and Mr. ADAM:—To withdraw immediately; Three to be the quorum.
Reasons for disagreeing to The Lords Amendments reported, and agreed to.
To be communicated to The Lords.
Judicial Committee Bill—Bill, 249
Order for Committee read.
, in moving, That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, said, that it had been arranged that the Motion to be proposed by an hon. Member for the rejection of this Bill should be considered at this stage, instead of on the second reading. The House was aware that this was one of three important measures introduced by the Government in reference to the constitution of legal tribunals. Two of these Bills had been withdrawn, but a similar course had not been pursued with re- spect to this Bill, notwithstanding the near approach of the termination of the Session, because of the urgent necessity which existed for strengthening the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The business of the Judicial Committee consisted mainly of appeals from India and the Colonies, and also included certain important appeals from the Ecclesiastical and Admiralty Courts. At this moment there were no fewer than 257 appeals unheard from the High Court of Judicature in Calcutta alone, not to mention those from the other Presidencies of India and the Colonies. From the High Court of Judicature in Calcutta no appeal had been heard which had not been filed before 1866. When the House considered the enormous loss and injury to suitors which must arise from such a state of things, the necessity for an immediate remedy would become apparent. The evil, he thought, lay in the voluntary character of the arrangements with regard to the Court. Under the Act 3 & 4 Will. IV. it consisted of the Lord President for the time being, the Lord Chancellor, all the ex-Chancellors, the Judges of the Superior Courts at Westminster, the Chief Judge of the Court of Admiralty, the Chief Judge of the Court of Probate, the two Lords Justices, and the Master of the Rolls. A certain number of persons, who had at some previous time held those offices, might also sit in the Committee on being made Privy Councillors. There were at present 11 of them. Under the 3 & 4 Will. IV., Her Majesty had power to name also as Judges two other persons who were not included in the above denominations, and under that authority some of the most eminent persons who had taken an important part in the administration of the appellate jurisdiction had been appointed. In proof of this statement he need only allude to the services of the late Lord Kingsdown, to Sir James Colville, and to Sir Joseph Napier. Amongst retired Judges who had taken part in the business of the Committee he might mention Mr. Justice Patteson, Sir John Taylor Coleridge, and Sir Vaughan Williams. The Judges had undoubtedly been very assiduous in their attendance, but there had been much difficulty in securing the continuous session of the Court. Of course, there might be a question whe- ther a Court of Appeal should not be created in India, or whether the number of cases might not be diminished by raising the limit beyond £1,000, the present lowest amount which could be the subject of appeal; but the immediate question was how the Court itself could be strengthened, so as to secure an attendance de die in diem of competent persons. The Bill proposed, in the first place, that persons who had filled the office of Chief Judge in any of the principal Courts in India, and persons who had filled the office of Legal Member of the Council of the Governor General of India, might receive, in addition to their pensions, a salary of £1,000 a year, so as to give the country a claim upon their continuous services on the Judicial Committee. It was also proposed that any person who was a member of the Judicial Committee, other than those who had filled the judicial offices already mentioned, might receive a sum not exceeding £500 a year out of the Consolidated Fund, the object being that Judges who might retire in the vigour of their intellect and their powers might receive an adequate remuneration for converting a position of dignified leisure into one of full activity. Objection might, perhaps, be raised at first sight to the smallness of the sum named; but the intention was to place those Judges, as far as remuneration was concerned, exactly upon the same footing that they were at present. The salary of a Judge who was not a Chief Justice was £5,000 a year, in fixing which salary the expenses of circuit, about £500 a year, had been taken into account. The retiring pension, therefore, of a Judge who had served for 15 years being £3,500, an additional £500 a year would place him, as far as remuneration was concerned, nearly in the same position which he at present occupied. By a further clause of the Bill it had been proposed to take power to appoint any barrister of 15 years' standing, who should also be a Privy Councillor, and that persons so appointed should have conferred upon them a salary of £2,500 a year. To this clause he was aware that very general objection was taken among members of the legal, profession. On the other hand, there was much to be said in support of the proposal. Some of the most eminent Judges who had ever adorned the Bench, and some who still adorned it, had never been in receipt of a professional income of £2,500 a year. It would be invidious, perhaps, to name them; but members of the legal profession were well aware that there were many such cases. ["No, no!"] One of the most able Judges now upon the Bench was appointed by a late Lord Chancellor, and objection was taken to him on account of the extreme smallness of the income which he had been known to make when at the Bar. He believed he was very much within the truth when he stated that that learned Judge never, during the time when he was at the Bar, made a salary equal to £2,500 a year. The objection taken to his appointment was exclusively on the ground of the smallness of his professional income, although he was known to be a very able and judicious advocate. He might also appeal to his hon. and learned Friends connected with the Chancery Bar whether it was not notorious that the late Lord Cranworth, until he became Solicitor General, never made £2,500 a year. Yet, when he was appointed Baron of the Exchequer, he made an excellent Common Law Judge. He became successively Lord Justice and Lord Chancellor, and nobody could doubt his judicial capacity. It was unnecessary, however, to discuss the subject further, for the Government, knowing the opposition that was raised by members of the legal profession, did not intend to press this clause. Bearing also in mind that, owing to the period of the Session, there was not time for a full consideration of the subject, they proposed that the duration of the Bill should be limited to one year. Next year the constitution of the Judicial Committee must necessarily be considered in connection with the High Court of Judicature Bill and the Court of Appeal Bill, which had been dropped during the present Session; and if any circumstances should arise next year to prevent the Government from giving effect to their intentions with regard to these Bills, it would be quite possible to give to the Act of this year a more extended operation. There was a clause, not included in the present Bill, which, he thought, might well be added. It was known that there were Judges who, from considerations affecting their health or other circumstances, would gladly retire before the expiration of the period at which they could claim their full pensions—Judges of great judicial experience, great knowledge and learning, still equal to some continuous work, but not equal to the strain of being obliged to travel on circuit, as well as to attend the Courts of Law and Equity in London. To meet such cases it would be necessary to introduce a clause, of which he had not yet given Notice, enabling a Judge, after 10 years' service, to resign on his full pension, upon the understanding that during the remainder of the period of his 15 years' service the country would have a claim upon his exertions as a member of the Judicial Committee. There would be thus, under the proposals of the Government, three classes of Judges whose services would be secured. First of all, there would be those—of whom at this moment we had an eminent example, in fact, more than one example, in this country—men who had served the office of Chief Justice of one of the three principal Courts in India; next, there would be those who had acted as the Legal Members of the Council in India, and he knew that men of very distinguished legal abilities had filled that office. There would be next the Judges who had retired, and who, for an additional payment of £500 a year, would give the country a claim upon their continuous services. And, finally, there would be Judges who had served 10 years, and who, in consideration of being allowed to retire on the full pension, would undertake the less arduous but still responsible duties of the Judicial Committee. The Government were aware of the difficulties attendant on bringing forward so important a Bill at this late period of the Session, but the pressing nature of the subject itself and the accumulation of arrears rendered some legislation on the subject necessary. The Government had endeavoured to anticipate objections by removing the clause which had excited most adverse criticism. He, therefore, hoped the House would proceed with the Bill.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—( Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
, who had given Notice of Motion for the committal of the Bill on that day three months, said, that the ground of his objection to the measure was that the effect of it would be to reduce the highest appellate tribunal in the world to the condition of a second or third-rate Court. He did not attempt to dispute the inconvenience arising from the accumulation of arrears before the Judicial Committee, or that there was a very great "blockup" of business. Stated shortly, the remedy proposed by the Government consisted of two parts; the first—the introduction of paid Judges and of regular and continuous sittings; and the second—the reduction of the quorum of the Judges from four to three, and the giving power to the Committee to sit in two divisions for the despatch of business. Now, what were the duties of that great tribunal, which, almost upon the last day of the Session, it was proposed to remodel? Their jurisdiction was to advise Her Majesty upon the appeals presented to her from every Colony and every dependency of the British Crown over the whole world, involving every conceivable question that could arise between subject and subject, or between the subject and the Crown; important questions of criminal and constitutional law, of commercial and maritime law; questions, also, of International and prize law, and intricate questions of the conflict of laws. Cases from the remotest corners of the world—from British Columbia, Canada, the Cape, Natal, the Mauritius, Ceylon, India, Australia, and New Zealand, and even from China—came before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Nor was this all, for to this infinite variety of questions was to be added the great variety in the laws to be applied—English law, Roman Dutch law, French law, Hindu law, English law as modified by the colonial statutes, and a variety of others. Notwithstanding these great difficulties, the Judicial Committee, during nearly 40 years, had exercised its functions not only to the satisfaction of the suitors, but had so advised the Crown in its actions as to place the Committee in the very foremost rank as an appellate tribunal. Its advice and reports were held both in America and France, as well as in England, as judgments of the highest legal authority; and he ventured to say that there was no Appellate Court in the world—none certainly in England—that could for one moment stand side by side as regarded reputation with that great Court. There was no pretence for saying that the House of Lords could be compared with the Judicial Committee in that respect; perhaps one reason was that the Judicial Committee gave their advice to the Crown upon grounds of plain justice and common sense unfettered by technicalities. He, therefore, asked the House to pause before, at the fag-end of a Session, they ran the risk of reducing the Judicial Committee from the position it had gained to that of a third-rate tribunal. Let him remind the House what was the present constitution of this High Court. Before 1833, all appeals to the Crown were referred to the Privy Council at large. That was found to be unsatisfactory, and by the 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 41, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was constituted, and under that Act consisted of the Lord President of the Council, the Lord Chancellor, and the following, being Privy Councillors — namely, the Chief Justices, Chief Baron, and Judges and Barons of the Courts of Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, Master of the Rolls, Vice Chancellor of England, Judges of the Admiralty Court and of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Ex - Presidents, Ex-Chancellors, and those who have filled any of the above offices, and any two others selected by the Crown, and to these have also to be added, under 14 & 15 Vict. c. 83, the Lords Justices of Appeal. All had been picked men of the very highest attainments. These men had performed the duties gratuitously. He was prepared to admit that gratuitous services were open to objection; but, nevertheless, those learned Judges had brought this tribunal into a position of which Englishmen in every part of the world might be proud. The objection he had to this Bill was, that it would deprive the State of the services of these men. It was made a matter of money, and at the same time the value set upon the services of the Judges was only £2,500 a year, one-half the salary of a Vice Chancellor or a Puisne Judge; and the result would be that men who had thought it the highest honour to be chosen members of the Judicial Committee would no longer accept the office. Men of the greatest attainments looked to this position as the highest distinction that could be conferred upon them in recognition of public services, great learning, and proved judicial qualifications. But, by making it a question of money, the whole system was altered, and the existing attraction done away with. The present proposition was, that there should be four paid Judges; that the sum to be given should not exceed in all £5,000 a year; that the Judicial Committee should sit in two divisions; and that the salaried Judges should be bound to attend and render a quid pro quo.
said, this proposition as to £5,000 a year referred to an entirely different state of things—namely, that this sum should go to one paid barrister at £2,500, and to the increase of the salaries of other persons. It was impossible that any of the persons so paid should have only half as much as a retired Puisne Judge; inasmuch as the retired Judge would have his pension of £3,500, and this, with the addition of £500, would make his position as good as before, taking into account the expenses of circuit.
said, the right hon. Gentleman was entirely inaccurate; a Puisne Judge had £5,000 a year, and his point was, that the employment of a paid Judge at a salary of £2,500 marked that as the value of his services. But if the Bill had been so materially changed at the last moment, that was an argument against going on with so important a measure at the fag-end of the Session. He appealed to the Law Officers of the Crown whether the proposed alteration of the constitution of that great tribunal, to that of a tribunal made up of paid Judges with inferior salaries, sitting regularly and continuously with only three members, would not tend to its degradation and ruin as a final Court of Appeal? There was something which, even to lawyers, was more than money, and that was the honourable recognition of the legal ability, learning, and judicial qualifications requisite for the highest appellate tribunal. He entirely objected, as a rule, to appointing men to the highest Court of Appeal who had not proved by service on the Bench that they possessed temper, judgment, discretion, patience, and those judicial qualities which could only be tested by actual experience. Again, although that Bill was intended by its authors to make the sittings of the Judicial Committee more regular and of longer duration than at present, the effect of Clause 7 would positively be to re- duce them, as the legal "vacation" time which was to be excluded from the regular sittings, comprised 274 out of the 365 days of the year, leaving only three months for these sittings. That, of course, was not the object of its framers; but this fact showed how imperfectly and loosely the Bill had been drawn, and the House ought not at the fag-end of the Session to be called upon to pass it. Moreover, when the reconstruction of the whole of our judicial system was undergoing consideration, the constitution of that great appellate tribunal might well be allowed to form part of that scheme. The hon. and learned Member concluded by moving, as an Amendment, that the House should go into Committee on the Bill that day three months.
Amendment proposed, 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. Watkin Williams,)—instead thereof.
said, that after the statement made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department it was impossible not to feel that a very heavy responsibility rested on the Government for suffering such a state of things to grow up as he had detailed to the House, because there was no doubt that to a certain class of Her Majesty's subjects it was almost a denial of justice when appeals were postponed from time to time, as had been the case in that great tribunal. But that was not the only question they had to consider. Was it, he asked, on the balance of convenience and inconvenience better to adopt a bad remedy which was to go on only for a few months, or to wait for another before dealing with the matter? The addition they now proposed to the Judicial Committee was not equal to the elements of which it was now composed. Questions of International Law came before that tribunal, and it also decided on religious questions. It might be said these new Judges would not decide those great questions; but if that were so, was it just to the millions of our fellow-subjects in our Colonies and in India, who came to the Sovereign of this country for justice, to create a tribunal inferior to that which determined those grave matters among ourselves? It was indecent for the Government to press that measure within two or three days of the end of the Session, when to discuss it was a simple impossibility; and while they were attempting to correct the evil of a great arrear of appeals they might create an evil a thousand times greater by destroying the character of that tribunal. A number of appeals might be settled, but they might not be settled upon sound grounds, and more harm would be done to all parties concerned than could result from letting the question stand over till the beginning of next Session, when the Government might consider and bring in a measure which they themselves believed would be permanent. By limiting the operation of that Bill to a year, the Government showed that they had but little confidence in what they were doing. He did not pretend to go into the question itself; but he must express his deep regret that three days before the end of the Session, when there was no chance of the Bill being properly discussed, there should be an attempt to carry the measure through by the mere force which the Government had at their command. He believed it to be a hasty and ill-considered measure, and if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Watkin Williams) went to a Division he would vote against it.
said, he thought that everyone must feel sympathy with the efforts of the Government to do all they could to remedy what must be admitted to be a very great scandal, and he admitted that the Secretary of State for the Home Department had gone far to disarm opposition by the withdrawal of the 3rd clause. He could not, however, understand how this Bill could be considered a temporary measure. His great objection to it was that the very Judge from whose decision those Indian appeals were made was actually to review and determine the wisdom of his own decisions. It appeared to him to be far better to delay the enactment of a measure on this subject for a few months longer than to pass the present Bill hastily at the end of the Session. The real remedy for the evils complained of was not to be found in this patchwork attempt at legislation. With the greatest respect to Mr. Maine, a gentleman whose great learning was admitted, he could not think that the proposal to put among the Judges of the Judicial Committee a gentleman who had had no judicial experience was at all a satisfactory one. It was to be apprehended that the economical scheme of inducing retiring Judges to accept of seats in the Judicial Committee would lead to men of failing health and very advanced years becoming members of that tribunal. He held that either by high payment or honourable distinction the services of the best men ought to be secured for the Judicial Committee.
said, he approved of the Bill on the ground that the continual postponement of cases brought before the Court was a practical denial of justice, and if the measure were put off till next Session there would be an enormous accumulation of appeals from India. When men were paid for the discharge of a duty those who employed them had a right to exact the performance of that duty. The House had no power to appropriate the Revenues of India to paying the salaries of the two Indian Judges whom it was proposed to appoint.
said, he thought that unless the Government could answer satisfactorily the objection against appointing a gentleman to a Judgeship under the Bill, from whose decisions in India those appeals were made, it was only reasonable that they should assent to a postponement of any legislation on the subject until next Session.
said, the fallacy which appeared to pervade this discussion was that because a great many objections could be urged against this measure it ought not to be carried. But against a great number of things that ought to be done it was possible to urge objections, and this was one of those things. The evil this measure proposed to remedy was admitted on all hands. It was a very great and a growing one. The evil of large arrears of cases in an Appeal Court was much greater than that of arrears in any other Court, because in the latter case the inconvenience was simply one of delay, whereas in the former the longer the hearing was deferred the more appeals there would be. They would, in fact, increase in a geometrical ratio. When once appeals got into arrear the temptation to parties to appeal for the purposes of delay would be irresistible, especially in a country like India, where the interest of money was something like 10 per cent. Well, but how did hon. Members propose to remedy the evil which they admitted to exist? Simply by doing nothing at all. [Cries of "No, no!"] Yes, they objected to any legislation that Session, asking the Government to wait until February next, when, from Calcutta alone, there would probably be about 100 more appeals added to the list, already inconveniently long. They were called upon now by a great emergency to do something to vindicate their character for justice and business habits. Though the Bill was only for one year, what would be done under it would be permanent. Persons holding the most dignified judicial positions would constitute the new proposed Court. At present the appointments were in the absolute discretion of the Crown. Those appointed need not even be barristers, for the Crown might appoint two Bishops if it pleased. What new materials would they have at their command next year to assist them in their legislation upon this question, beyond what they had at present? The Bill would compel the attendance of those Judges, who, in consequence, must be paid for their specific services. It was of the highest importance that one of the Judges, at all events, should be well versed in Mahomedan law in consequence of the vast number of Indian appeals that came before the Court. The Crown had therefore advised the appointment of Sir James Colville, an ex-Judge of the Supreme Court of India. It was ridiculous to suppose that all the judgments had been given in India by one Judge. Hon. Gentlemen who argued that it would be improper to appoint a Judge who had a knowledge of Indian Courts of Law from his having administered justice there, seemed to give very little weight to the acumen which would be brought to bear upon the cases by the learned Judges with whom he would be associated. On these grounds he hoped that the House would assent to going into Committee on this Bill.
said, the question was not whether the evil existed; that was admitted; but whether the remedy proposed was a fit and proper one. Neither in the House nor out of it had they been able to find a single member of the legal profession who could say a good word for this Bill. The Bill went to degrade one of the greatest Courts in the country. It would patch up a bad system, and prevent their dealing as they ought to do with the question of the appellate jurisdiction. The proper course to take was to do away with the duplicate authority of an appellate jurisdiction, by the establishment of a Court of Cassation, which would command the highest judicial and professional ability to be had in this country. The evil of waiting for six months for a real and proper remedy for a great and crying evil would be far less disadvantageous than that of passing a measure which anticipated what ought to be done in the future, and placed a serious obstacle in the way of a great and necessary reform. He should therefore vote against the Bill.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
The House divided:—Ayes 64; Noes 45: Majority 19.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
On Question, "That the Preamble be postponed,"
moved that the Chairman do now leave the Chair.
said, he hoped his hon. Friend would not pursue that course. It was not in accordance with the usual practice. He had made his statement, and the sense of the House had been fairly taken on the question.
said, he thought that the course he had taken was entirely in accordance with the practice of the House. But it was contrary to practice to press a measure of this immense magnitude at the fag-end of a Session, and he was prepared to avail himself of all the forms of the House in order to frustrate it. He denied that the sense of the House had been fairly taken. If those Members who had been brought into the House in order to hear the Question put, and who had voted for the Bill, had heard the previous discussion, he believed many of them would have voted against the Bill.
said, he thought the House ought to hear the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown relative to this Bill.
Question put, "That the Preamble be postponed."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 39; Noes 63: Majority 24.
Preamble agreed to.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Power of Her Majesty to appoint two retired Indian Judges as salaried members of the Judicial Committee).
proposed an Amendment to the effect that the annual payment of £1,000 to be made to each of the two members of the Judicial Committee should come out of the Revenues of India.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words "There shall be paid out of the revenues of India to any person appointed a member of the Judicial Committee in pursuance of this section, during the time that he serves as a member of such committee, an annual payment not exceeding one thousand pounds, in addition to any pension he may be entitled to in respect of his services in India."—(Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
said, the Amendment of the Secretary of State was in direct violation of the Act for the better government of India, of August, 1858. When the Act was under discussion, in which he (Colonel Sykes) took an active part, very strong opinions were expressed of the inexpediency and even danger of permitting the House of Commons to control or dispose of the finances of India, as an unscrupulous Minister might apply them to political purposes; and the result was the unanimous adoption of the following clause in the Act, under the head of Revenue:—
It was evident, therefore, the Amendment could not be legally moved. He must consequently move that the following words be added to the Amendment: —"With the consent of the Secretary of State for India in Council.""The expenditure of the Revenues of India, both in India and elsewhere, shall be subject to the control of the Secretary of State in Council, and no grant or appropriation of any part of such Revenues or any other property coming into the possession of the Secretary of State in Council by virtue of this Act shall be made without the concurrence of a majority of Members of the Council present at a meeting."
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, adding, after the word "India," the words "with the consent of the Secretary of State for India in Council."—( Colonel Sykes.)
said, he did not understand why there should be an "annual payment" if the Bill was intended, according to the explanation of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce), as an experiment for only one year.
said, he might explain that it was only the Indian Council who could deal with the Revenues of that country.
, said he thought the words would be unnecessary, for this Act would of itself be sufficient authority for the payment being made.
said, he objected to the Revenue of India being applied to the payment of the salaries of Judges who were to hear cases other than Indian ones—colonial appeals, patent cases, ecclesiastical appeals, &c. India had to bear the whole cost of her Government and whatever other expenses England imposed upon her. When suitors from India appeared before the Privy Council they had to pay large fees, which ought to be sufficient to provide for the salaries of the Judges who heard their cases. Money ought not to be taken from India to maintain an English Court.
said, there would probably be 20 members of the Judicial Committee. It was only proposed to pay out of the Indian Revenue those two members of the Judicial Committee who gave special attention to Indian matters, but Indian suitors would also have the services of all the other Judges, who were paid out of the Imperial Exchequer. Nothing could be fairer towards the people of India than this payment of £2,000 when the advantages to them of the existence of this Court were taken into account.
said, he was sorry to hear that the Government intended to press this proposal for saddling the finances of India with the payment of a paltry sum of £2,000 a year.
said, he had never listened to a more unsatisfactory answer than that given by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce). He begged to ask this question, on which his vote would depend—Would the Government say that it was fair and right for the Colonies also to pay their share of the expenses of this Court? and, if not, why should a distinction be made to the disadvantage of India? This was another melancholy instance of the proposals made in the House of Commons at the expense of the people of India, who had no power to protect themselves.
insisted that the British Parliament had a right to appropriate the finances of India to any purpose they chose.
said, it was a proceeding utterly unexampled for a Government to press forward a measure of Law Reform which they could not get their own Law Officers to support. The Attorney General and Solicitor General had been distinctly challenged to rise in their places and support the Bill; but, like honest men, they had left the House.
said, he feared it would make a bad impression in India when the people there learnt that a clause so vitally affecting them had been settled in the very last days of the Session.
said, the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) was doubtless aware that we could not tax the Colonies, that being one of the fruits of the American War. But if the hon. Member contended that, as a matter of justice, a Colony ought not to contribute to the expenses of a tribunal existing mainly, or to a very great degree, for the convenience of the people of that Colony, he must join issue with him. If the Colonies took up so much of the time of the tribunal as India would do they certainly ought to assist in maintaining it. Hon. Gentlemen talked of the people of India, but they forgot the people of England. On what ground of fairness were the taxpayers of this country to be saddled with the cost of the very best tribunal which could be provided for doing justice—not between the people of this country, but between the ryots of India? No doubt an Act of Parliament had been passed directing that the Revenues of India should be appropriated to the Secretary of State in Council for India, but the House of Commons at its pleasure could alter that Act or could substitute another enactment.
said, he must distinctly assert that this Court would not be maintained by the taxpayers of England, but by the fees paid by the Indian suitors and others. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would actually be in receipt of the fees from those suitors, and yet wished to make the Indian people pay this £2,000 twice over.
said, that if the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was good for anything it meant that the House of Commons might appropriate the Revenues of India to political objects, the very thing which the Act of Parliament had been passed to prevent. He must accordingly press his Amendment.
Question put, "That those words be there added."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 48: Majority 12.
said, he wished to state that he should be prepared to move an Amendment limiting the duration of the Bill to a year. He assumed that the Court of Appeal would not exclude men who had held high judicial appointments—men who were of the stuff of which the Judicial Committee should be made.
said, that probably the Court of Appeal would not exclude them, but the question was would the public pay them. He must point out that though, the Bill should only exist for one year the offices created under it would be permanent, and the officers filling them would have to be paid their salaries year after year.
said, that the proposal to make this Bill endure only for a year would at first sight lead people to suppose that the appointments would be only for a year. But when once appointed these Judges would be permanent, and therefore the objections to the Bill continued in all their force. It was unjust and impolitic that this country should tax the people of India for advising Her Majesty as to the decisions that should be given in cases of appeal.
said, there was a great precedent for this transaction. The British Empire desired to do honour to the Sultan of Turkey and gave a grand ball on that account. But the British Empire was too poor to pay for it out of its own pocket, and therefore made the people of India pay for it. That was the precedent Her Majesty's Government desired to follow. The time had not arrived when we could pay for our own magnificence, and therefore we must put our hands into other people's pockets. The Government ought to get some lawyer to support them. The Lord Advocate had retired; but there was an Irish Law Officer on the Treasury Bench, and if the Government could get him to say something in support of the Bill it would give confidence to the profession.
said, he would ask the Committee to consider what would happen if they passed this Bill. The Government could not discuss the finances of India on the 5th of August, and yet three days after when they defeated opposition by official votes they proposed to lay down a most important principle It was the first time in the history of this country that, without the consent of the Secretary for India or the Council of India, two days before the close of the Session, a Bill was proposed imposing a tax on the people of India. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that we did not lay such a charge on the Colonies because we could not, owing to the American War. That was a doctrine which would not be forgotten by the people of India. He lately read a letter from India, written by a gentleman who probably knew more about that country than anyone in England, and he said that these small acts of petty, contemptible meanness had produced a worse effect upon the people of India than if we levied an annual tribute on them. If we levied £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 upon them, they would say there was something Royal in that; it would fall in with their ideas of magnificence; but these repeated acts of meanness and shabbiness were unworthy of a great country and ought to be reprobated by the independent feeling of the House of Commons.
asked whether, apart from all other considerations, it was not better that the people of India should contribute £2,000 a year to the creation of a great Court of Appeal than that they should have a Court constituted in India, the whole expense of which should be borne by themselves?
said, he did not see any such alternative. It would be abandoning the duty of the Imperial Government if we were to say to the Colonies—"You must pay for the constitution of the Court that is to hear your appeals." Nothing could tend more to loosen the bonds which united our Colonies to us.
said, he wished to record his protest against the House of Commons taxing a dependency for the maintenance of an English Court of Justice.
said, the unanimous opinion of the legal profession was decidedly against the Bill. Hon. and learned Gentlemen on the Government side had pronounced against it; but some hon. Members, who had not heard the discussion, had voted with the Government, and among them in the late Division was the hon. and learned Attorney General. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would see by the coming Division the position in which he was placed.
said, it was not unreasonable to ask that the subjects of the Crown should contribute to the expenses of the Court.
said, it was totally unworthy of a rich country like Great Britain to impose such a paltry tax on a poor country like India.
said, that, as a great number of appeals came from India, it was only right that India should pay its quota towards the expense of the tribunal which was to decide them.
said, in answer to the remark of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he must express his conviction that if that Bill passed the men who had made that tribunal the pride of England, and the greatest Appeal Court in the world, would decline to serve on it.
Question put, "That the words
'There shall be paid out of the revenues of India to any poison appointed a member of the Judicial Committee in pursuance of this section, during the time that he serves as a member of such committee, an annual payment not exceeding one thousand pounds, in addition to any pension he may be entitled to in respect of his services in India,'
be added at the end of Clause 2."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 36: Majority 2.
then rose and said, that the Government had brought in the Bill really with an honest desire to provide for a state of things which they believed to be a most crying evil, and the effect of its rejection would inevitably be the postponement for a full 12 months of any improvement of that great Court of Appeal for India and the Colonies. At the same time, the Government felt the disadvantage of pressing forward so important a measure at that period of the Session, and were conscious that they could not carry it without the general support and approbation of the House. Even if it went on they would have, at a later stage, to appeal to the consideration and friendly aid of the House to dispense with some of its ordinary forms in order to pass it; and it was impossible, after the Division which had just occurred, that they could make such an appeal with any hope of success. Therefore nothing remained for the Government but to abandon the Bill.
Clerical Disabilities Bill
Lords' Amendments considered.
said, he had to move that the House do disagree from the Amendments. They were, in fact, only one Amendment, for they all hung together, and were all referable to one point—namely, the omission of the 7th clause of the original Bill, which allowed a clergyman who might have given up the active performance of his duties in the hot haste of his youth to resume them subject to the discretion of the Archbishop of the Province, after a few years of mature reflection, with his mind, ripened and his religious feelings deepened. The Lords had struck out that clause, and he now invited the House to restore it in the name of toleration and of religion itself. It was said that this clause would let in the "black sheep." He denied it. The black sheep were the men who would simply change the clerical dress for a shooting jacket, and lounge at Homburg till they were tired of the life and then come back and take a living. Those who executed the deed under this Bill would be earnest though mistaken seekers after truth—men like Mr. Macnaught, who had gone back after a season of doubt and was doing again such good work at Liverpool. These were the persons whom the Bill in its present shape would alone of all men exclude, for the residue of their life, from the possibility of the Ministry.
said, he had intended to move the rejection of the 7th clause, but ultimately he thought it better to leave the matter to be dealt with by the Lords. The Bishop of London and other right rev. Prelates objected to allowing a clergyman to play fast and loose with his sacred calling. He would support the Lords' Amendment.
said, he should support the view of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope), as he desired to give others the liberty which he prized for himself.
said, that the original promoters of the Bill did not agree about the 7th clause, and it was unprovided for in the Preamble.
said, the question was whether the House of Commons should imperil the Bill by rejecting the Lords' Amendment. He thought the result of rejecting the Lords' Amendment would be to defeat the Bill, and, therefore, though personally he was of the same opinion as his hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope), he would vote for the Motion that this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.
said, out of all the private Members' Bills not more than three would become law this Session. He hoped, therefore, that the success of this one would not be imperilled.
Page 3, leave out Clause 7, the first Amendment, read a second time.
Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth agree with The Lords in the said Amendment."
The House divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 9: Majority 32.
Subsequent Amendments agreed to.
Army—Artillery And Rifles
Motion For Returns
said, he rose to move for an Address for—
He had also to move an Address for"Returns of the number of Field and of Horse Artillery Batteries at home, with the number of men and of horses attached to each Battery, and the number of men and of horses required to place each Battery in a condition for active service in the field; of the number of Field Guns in store; and of the number of sets of Harness in store."
He would take that opportunity of asking the hon. and gallant Member for Truro (Captain Vivian), whether he was in a position to give him any information on the subject of those Returns, and whether it was proposed to arm the Volunteers, who, in his opinion, had been badly treated in return for their services, with breech-loading rifles?"Returns of the number of Breech-loading Infantry Rifles produced since the adoption of the Snider breech-loading principle, giving the numbers obtained by the conversion of muzzle-loading rifles into breech-loaders; of the number obtained by the direct manufacture of Breech-loaders; of the number of Breech-loading Rifles issued to the regular troops and the reserve forces, specifying the number issued to each regiment; and of the number of Breech-loading Rifles of all descriptions now in store,"
said, that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War having intimated to the hon. Member (Mr. Sinclair Aytoun) that he had no objection to the Returns he moved for being given, he did not think it necessary to enter in detail into the subject before the House. There were 10 batteries of Royal Horse Artillery and 20 field batteries, which gave a total force of this arm which was supposed to be sufficient for a force of 60,000 men. The Royal Horse Artillery batteries had each six guns and three waggons, 172 officers and men, and 112 horses, while the field batteries had six guns, six waggons, 180 officers and men, and 84 horses—making a total of 180 guns, to every one of which six trained horses were attached, four trained horses, which would be available for gun service, being attached to each waggon. The Director General of the Ordnance was of opinion that this was a larger force of artillery for a peace establishment than was maintained by any other country in the world. With respect to the reserves, they were amply sufficient to supply deficiencies. There were a number of batteries in store at Woolwich, which were now being overhauled and put in fresh order. With regard to the number of breech-loading firearms, the Se- cretary of State for War had more than once stated that there 300,000 in store. At the present moment there were 269,964 breech-loading rifles and 39,456 breech-loading carbines in store, making a total of upwards of 309,000. With regard to the supply of this arm to the Volunteer Force, he was sure he only expressed the opinion of his right hon. Friend when he said that no one more highly estimated the character and value of that force than he did, and it was from no disposition to underrate them that he had not put the Snider arm into their hands. His right hon. Friend had, at an earlier hour in the evening, stated that it was his intention to arm the Volunteer Force gradually with the Snider rifle; but, as that was a very valuable arm, it would be necessary that some rules and regulations should be framed for its safe and proper custody. When that was done a distribution would be made. Purchases of horses were being made to make up the required number for the Artillery.
Motion agreed to.
Address for "Returns of the number of Field and of Horse Artillery Batteries at home, with the number of men and of horses attached to each Battery, and the number of men and of horses required to place each Battery in a condition for active service in the field:"
"Of the number of Field Guns in store:"
"And, of the number of sets of Harness in store."—(Mr. Sinclair Aytoun.)
Address for "Returns of the number of Breech-loading Infantry Rifles produced since the adoption of the Snider breech-loading principle, giving the numbers obtained by the conversion of muzzle-loading rifles into breech-loaders:"
"Of the number obtained by the direct manufacture of Breech-loaders:"
"Of the number of Breech-loading Rifles issued to the regular troops and the reserve forces, specifying the number issued to each regiment:"
"And, of the number of Breech-loading Rifles of all descriptions now in store."—(Mr. Sinclair Aytoun.)
Parish Churches Bill
On Motion of Mr. WEST, Bill to declare and enact the Law as to the rights of Parishioners in respect of their Parish Churches; and for other purposes relating thereto, ordered to be brought in by Mr. WEST, Sir PERCY HERBERT, and Mr. THOMAS HUGUES.
Bill presented, and read the first time [Bill 263.]
House adjourned at Eight o'clock.