House Of Commons
Monday, 28th July, 1873.
MINUTES.]—SELECT COMMITTEE— Third Report—East India Finance [No. 354].
SUPPLY— considered in Committee—CIVIL SERVICE ESTIMATES—SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATES—NAVY ESTIMATES.
WAYS AND MEANS— considered in Committee—Consolidated Fund (£26,470,716).
PUBLIC BILLS— First Reading—Threshing Machines* .
second Reading—Expiring Laws Continuance* ; Telegraphs* : Royal Naval Artillery Volunteer Force* ; Four Courts Marshalsea (Dublin)* ; Sanitary Act (1866) Amendment (Ireland)* .
Committee— Report—Slave Trade (Consolidation)* ; Constabulary Force (Ireland)* ; Local Government Provisional Orders (No. 6)* . ; Statute Law Revision* ; Public Health Act (1872) Amendment* .
Considered as amended —Third Reading—-Merchant Shipping Acts Amendment* , and passed.
Third Reading—Endowed Schools Act (1869) Amendment* ; Crown Private Estates* ; Defence Acts Amendment* ; Public Schools (Eton College Property)* ; Conspiracy Law Amendment * , and passed.
Withdrawn—Juries.* ; Local Rates and Taxes (Scotland)* ; Entailed and Settled Estates (Scotland)* ; Spirituous Liquors (Scotland)* ; Vexatious Objections (Borough Registration)* ; East India (Great Southern of India and Carnatic Railway Companies)* .
Ireland—Frankford Bench Of Magistrates—Question
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to a Return presented to the House relative to the attendance of Magistrates at the Frankford Petit Sessions in the King's County, which states the attendance of Magistrates at such sessions during the six months embraced by the Return to be that of the paid official Magistrate (alone) on five occasions, and on the remaining eight Petit Session days to have been nihil; whether he is aware that the attention of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland has been called to such non-attendance; and whether, failing the Lord Lieutenant of the County to recommend a gentleman of character, position, and intelligence resident in the neighbourhood who had expressed his willingness to attend the Frankford Bench, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland has declined to appoint this gentleman to the Commission of the Peace, on the sole ground that the local Lord Lieutenant's statement that his predecessor had declined to include this gentleman in the Commission, afforded in his the Lord Chancellor's judgment a valid excuse for such refusal; and, further to ask, what course the Government means to adopt to prevent a denial of justice to persons resident in the large district in and about the town of Frankford?
said, in reply, that the attention of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland had been called to the non-attendance of the magistrates at the Frankford petit sessions, in the King's County. His Lordship had stated that he would take steps to communicate with the Lord Lieutenant of the county on the subject.
Elementary Education Act—Examination In Music In Training Schools—Question
asked the Vice President of the Privy Council, Whether Mr. Hullah's Report on his examination in Music of the Students in Training Schools, for 1872, has not been in print since February last; and if he will inform the House why it has not been circulated among Members; and, whether Mr. Mullah will not commence his examination for this year in the ensuing month; and, if so, if the General Annual Report is not immediately to be circulated, the Vice President of the Council will provide that the separate Report of Mr. Hullah be immediately circulated, so as to enable those who are interested in the cause of popular music to make such representations to the Educational Department as may appear important?
in reply, said, he hoped that it would be possible in the ensuing year to make arrangements for circulating the General Report, including the examinations of the students in training schools earlier than was possible this year. He did not think, however, that Mr. Hullah's Report on his examination in music could be issued separately. The fact of that Report having been in print since February last was no reason why the Department should publish it earlier than the other Reports, or that any different rule should be made in regard to it than obtained with other Reports.
Post Office—Telegraphs—Return Messages—Question
asked the Postmaster General, If he would consider the expediency of authorizing, for the benefit of the Revenue and of the public, the sender of a telegram to receive a reply not exceeding ten words on the payment of an additional sixpence?
I have made inquiries, Sir, on the subject to which the Question of the hon. Member refers, and I am sorry to say that it would not be advisable to take the course indicated. The Department are put to exactly as much trouble in sending a reply, as in sending the original message; and we do not believe the number of replies would be so much increased by the reduction my hon. Friend proposes, as to justify us in making the change.
Commercial Treaty Between Ava And France—Question
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If he will lay upon the Table of the House Copy of the Commercial Treaty or Commission recently negotiated between the Courts of Ava and France?
in reply, said, it was not usual to lay upon the Table of the House Treaties of Commerce concluded between countries other than our own. However, if the hon. Gentleman would move for a copy of the despatch of Lord Lyons relating to the treaty recently negotiated between the Courts of Ava and France, there would be no objection to lay it on the Table.
Metropolitan Police—Lighting Of Cells—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is intended by the authorities to adopt, at the large number of Metropolitan Police Stations, a mode of lighting the cells similar to that successfully carried out in the six City stations of London?
in reply, said, that for some months past arrangements had been in progress for lighting 38 cells in the interior district of the Metropolitan police district and 19 in the outer district, by the same mode as that adopted in the City police stations. The change would be extended to the stations in course of erection.
Army—Adjutants Of Yeomanry Regiments—Question
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether the Reports of the Inspecting Officers of Yeomanry Cavalry, containing recommendations relative to the necessity of increasing the pay of Adjutants of Yeomanry Regiments, have been received; and, if so, whether it is the intention of the Government to comply at an early date with those recommendations?
Sir, one of the Reports has been received, but not the other. The subject is one which requires and will receive careful consideration.
Army—Medical Department—The Medical Warrant—Question
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether he has been able to give the attentive consideration he promised to the representations made to him by the Parliamentary Bills Committee of the British Medical Association and other bodies on behalf of the Army Medical Officers affected by the recent Army Medical Warrant, and what the result of that consideration is?
Sir, the subject, which is one of much detail, has undergone careful consideration in the De partment; but I have not yet been able so far to consider it as to submit the result to the Treasury, which is a necessary preliminary to the submission of any modifications of the Warrant for the sanction of the Queen. No time shall be lost in taking the necessary steps, and an answer shall be returned without any unnecessary delay.
Agricultural Labourers Meeting At Leighton Buzzard—Alleged Disturbance—Questions
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, in consequence of a question by the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmarice) on Wednesday last, relative to an alleged disturbance at Leighton Buzzard, county of Bedford, he has received any information on the subject; if so, whether he would be good enough to state the purport of that information, especially as it affects the conduct of the police on the occasion?
Sir, since the Question was put by the noble Lord I have received a Report from the Chief Constable. One of the allegations made by the noble Lord on the information he had received, was that a policeman had challenged one of the speakers at this public meeting to fight. That and other statements were explicitly denied by the Chief Constable. I am further informed that the irritating language used by the speakers caused great excitement, and that the police experienced great difficulty in defending them from violence. Indeed, the safety of those gentlemen was due to the exertions of the police.
asked the noble Lord the Member for Calne, Whether he would state the authority on which his statement was based and on which he accused the Magistrates of conniving at illegality?
Sir, in reply to the hon. and gallant Member, I wish to state that the evidence on which I based my Question was private information and newspaper extracts. As regards the names of my private informants, while having every wish to oblige the hon. and gallant Member, I do not think that I am under any obligation to mention them. At the same time, as the evidence was of an ex parte character, I, for that reason, purposely framed my Question so as not to imply any personal guarantee of the accuracy of the account sent to me, though I have no reason to doubt the veracity of my informants. I wish to add that I had been informed, and I now find correctly informed, that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had had his attention called to the occurrences at Leighton Buzzard, and I was consequently under the idea that he might be able to give the House some authentic information as the result of inquiry on his part. It was, I have no doubt, owing to an oversight that he stated he had no information. I only allude to that part of the question as a personal justification. With reference to the charge that I accused the magistrates of conniving at illegality, I think the hon. and gallant Member will find if he looks at my Question, that I did not do so. What I said was, that that imputation was being disseminated in the country, and that it was desirable to take whatever steps were necessary to remove any apparent justification for it. I did not say I believed the imputation myself. I hope this explanation may be satisfactory to the hon. and gallant Member opposite.
said, that the Question was put down for Tuesday night. He came down when the House met, and was there until nearly three in the morning. It was impossible to make inquiries, and he was unaware of any such communication having been made as had been referred to. It was possible that the Under Secretary had communicated the information; but he (Mr. Bruce) had desired all the information to be sent to himself.
said, he was quite sure it was purely an oversight; but he was astonished when the right hon. Gentleman said he had received no information. As a matter of fact, he held in his hand the answer of the Home Office, which was entirely at the right hon. Gentleman's disposal.
Foreshores—Encroachments At Truro—Question
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether his attention has been drawn to the Report of Captain Graves on certain alleged en- croachments on the shore of the river at Truro; and, whether such encroachments are in accordance with the order of the Board of Admiralty (made after the inspection and Report of Mr. Rental, C.E., in 1841), which laid down that—
"No erection of any kind should thereafter be made on the shores of that part of the Truro river and harbour shown on that plan, without being first inclosed by wharf walls built in position and direction as shown by red lines on that plan?"
said, in reply, that he found on inquiry that the facts were as follows:—A firm of merchants at Truro having bought some foreshore from the Duchy of Cornwall, submitted to the Board of Trade plans of works which they proposed to construct. The matter was referred to Captain Graves, the Inspector of the Coast Guard station, who reported upon it; and the Board acted upon his Report. With respect to the Admiralty Order of 1841, their jurisdiction had been transferred to the Board of Trade, who felt themselves at perfect liberty to alter a regulation made more than 30 years ago, if upon careful inquiry, it should seem desirable to do so. He was, however, instructed that the present case was not affected by the red lines shown on the plan referred to, which did not reach up as high as the site of the new works in question.
Parliamentary Reporting In The Colonies—Question
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether he can give the House any information as to the system of official Parliamentary Reporting which exists in some of our Colonies?
Sir, there is a system of official reporting in some, if not in all of our principal Colonies. I have seen specimens to-day, and the work appears to be excellently done. Considering, however, the bulky volume which is required for the speeches delivered in Houses containing 70 or 80 Members, I confess that I should view with some apprehension the extension of the system to a Legislature numbering more than 650. The temptation to lengthy speaking afforded by the certainty of full reports would, I fear, greatly protract our Sessions. If the hon. Gentleman wishes for specific information from the principal Colonies as to their precise systems, I have no doubt that I shall be able to obtain it for him before the re-assembling of Parliament next year.
Treaty Of Washington—Board Of Assessors—Claim For Aves Island—Question
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the Ayes Island is or was one of the possessions of the British Crown; and, if so, for what reason the claim of Messrs. Hayman and Co. was not referred to the Arbitration Commissioners?
Sir, the right of Great Britain to the possession of Aves Island was disputed by Venezuela, and the question was allowed to drop after 1856, without this country having abandoned its claim. Messrs. Hayman's claim was against the Government of Venezuela, who interfered to prevent them from exporting guano from the island. It amounted to £21,000, for which they received about £1,950. A similar claim of some United States' citizens was afterwards settled more advantageously, whereupon Messrs. Hayman transferred their claim from the Government of Venezuela to that of the United States; but Her Majesty's Government were advised that there were no grounds for such a proceeding, and refused to present it to the Commissioners at Washington. They were supported in their opinion by Mr. Carlisle, our counsel to the Claims Commission, and by the Law Officers of the Crown.
Army—War Office—Chief Clerk, Military Department
asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is a fact that the Chief Clerk of the Military Department, whose appointment was struck out of the Army Estimates (which were in the hands of Members of the House of Commons in February last), has not yet been informed what provision has been made for him by way of superannuation; whether the Chief Clerk (Mr. Freeth), who has served nearly thirty-five years, retires voluntarily or in consequence of the abolition of his appointment; whether, as far back as the 4th of April last, His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief was pleased to recommend Mr. Freeth for full pay, or the highest rate of retirement to which his special services seemed to His Royal Highness justly to entitle him; and, whether such recommendation, together with Mr. Freeth's appeals of the 22nd and 25th of February, and 8th of March, containing high testimonials from Generals Sir Richard Airey, Sir Charles Yorke, and Lieutenant General Forster (under whom Mr. Freeth served) have been laid before the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury; and, if so, with what result?
Sir, the question between the War Office and the Chief Clerk of the Military Department, has only now been finally settled between the Departments, and therefore, the final result has only now been communicated to Mr. Freeth. He retires not voluntarily, but in consequence of the abolition of his appointment. The usual course has been taken—namely, that the recommendation of His Royal Highness has been laid by the Secretary of State before the Lords of the Treasury. The letters referred to in the Question were not given to me, except that of the 8th of March, on which the recommendation of His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief was made, which formed the substance of the official letter to the Treasury. The Lords of the Treasury have assigned to Mr. Freeth a retiring allowance of 40–60ths of his pay, being the highest amount they considered they had it in their power to give under the Superannuation Act.
Duchy Of Lancaster—Guide Over Lancaster Sands—Question
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Whether the report that the guide over the Lancaster Sands has been or is about to be dismissed is correct; and, if so, whether it is contemplated to abolish the office?
Sir, in consequence of charges brought against the guide over the Lancaster Sands, a public inquiry was held, at my request, by the Chairman of the Ulverstone Petty Sessions. As the result of that inquiry I found it necessary to dismiss the guide as from Michaelmas next. But, so far from abolishing the office, I propose to put it on a much more satisfactory footing. The justices have consented to appoint a committee who will supervise this officer, and I have every reason to hope that his duties will be more effectually performed.
Spain—Recognition Of The Carlists—Question
asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the Despatches forwarded by Her Majesty's Representative at Madrid confirm the accounts received from other sources in Spain, that the Carlist cause is rapidly gaining ground in that Country and that Don Carlos is advancing on Madrid; and, if such be the case, whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to consider the propriety of recognizing the supporters of Don Carlos as belligerents?
Sir, the information which can be obtained at Madrid respecting the operations of the Carlists is necessarily meagre; but from it and from the accounts in the public journals, it would seem that Carlist bands have over-run large districts in the north of Spain. Matters have not arrived at a state to call for a consideration of the question of the recognition of Carlist belligerent rights.
Royal Commission On Loss Of Life At Sea—Mr Plimsoll And The Board Of Trade—Question
asked the President of the Board of Trade, Whether he has yet had any Reply from the honourable Member for Derby to the inquiry addressed to him on the subject of the charges made by the honourable Member for Derby against the officers of the Board of Trade?
What has happened, Sir, is this—On the 8th July I wrote to the hon. Member for Derby calling upon him to furnish the names of the many officers of the Board of Trade whom he charged with corruption and bribery, or else to withdraw the charge. On the 18th of July I received a. note from the solicitors of the hon. Member for Derby, stating that he was absent from ill-health, and that they had reserved the letter until he should be in a condition to have it submitted to him. I must add that a few clays afterwards I saw a letter addressed to the Editor of The Times by the hon. Member for Derby, in which he referred to a Question asked me in the House of Commons and my answer to it, and said it was necessary for him to take the advice of his solicitors and counsel before he answered my letter. The answer to my letter reached me on Saturday last, the 26th instant. It is a letter of considerable length, which will no doubt be made public without delay. It complains of the violent attack which, in the opinion of the hon. Member, I had made upon him by asking those questions; it alleges that the inquiry into the evils of the merchant service is being steadily resisted by the Board of Trade—the inquiry before the Royal Commission; it goes on to say—
The letter then goes on to state three or four cases or classes of alleged misconduct by the Board of Trade which are most inaccurate and unfounded in point of fact and information, and which, if inquired into, would not afford any ground, in my opinion, for anything approaching to a charge of corruption. The letter then contains a passage which I am glad to read to the House. The writer says—"Here let me say that a money bribe is not the only form of corruption. Underhanded social pressure may he scarcely less mischievous and no less powerful than a gift in bank notes."
The letter ends by proposing to refer the conduct of the Board of Trade to a Committee of this House, to be appointed by the Committee of Selection. What I have to say in answer to that is, that an inquiry into the conduct of the Board of Trade, if necessary, would be most legitimate; but that is not the question I asked the hon. Member. My question was, who were the individuals among the officers of the Board of Trade whom he accused of corruption, and the charges against whom it was my duty to investigate. The result is, that the hon. Member has furnished me with no materials whatever for investigation. He has mentioned the name of no person; he has given no grounds of the slightest validity, even of a primâa facie kind, to enable me to discover the unnamed and imaginary persons whom he charges with corruption. Under these circumstances I will not trust myself to characterize the charges that have been made against a number of officials whose character I am bound to protect. I shall leave it to the House and the public to judge of this case, because I hope the hon. Member will move for the Correspondence."Nevertheless, I have confidence in the independence, zeal, and ability of the Royal Commission as a whole, and I trust that its labours will result in the accomplishment of the objects I have in view."
Navy—Chatham Dockyard—New River Wall—Question
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether it is true that a portion of the new river wall supporting the extension of Chatham Dockyard has fallen or seriously given way; and, if so, what length of wall has been so affected, and whether there is any reason to fear that other portions of the wall may give way in a similar manner; and, whether he can give any estimate of the probable cost of re-instating the wall? He also wished to know whether the Government have abandoned the intention of erecting the new factory, for which no definite designs have yet been submitted, nor any provision made in the Estimates?
said, in reply, that it was not true that a portion of the wall in question had given way, therefore no apprehension was entertained as to further portions giving way. The Government had not abandoned their intention of erecting the new factory.
Hrh The Duke Of Edinburgh
The Queen's Message
Message from Her Majesty brought up, and read by Mr. Speaker (all the Members being uncovered), as follows:—
Her Majesty having agreed to a Marriage proposed between His Royal Highness Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Kent, Earl of Ulster, Duke of Saxony, Prince of Saxe Coburg and Gotha, and Her Imperial Highness the Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, only daughter of His Majesty the Emperor of All the Russias, has thought fit to communicate it to the House of Commons.
The numerous proofs which the Queen has received from Her faithful Commons of their Loyalty to the Throne, and of their attachment to Her Person and Family, leaves Her Majesty no doubt of their readiness to enable Her Majesty to make a further provision for His Royal Highness.
In the absence of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, owing to indisposition, which I hope and believe is only a passing one, I have to make a Motion that this House will to-morrow, at Two of the Clock, resolve itself into Committee to consider Her Majesty's gracious Message; and I give Notice that my right hon. Friend will to-morrow, at the same time, move in Committee a Resolution on the subject. I have to express my extreme regret on account of the particular time this Message has been communicated, that I must throw myself on the courtesy of the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. Cross), and to ask him to allow the Government to have precedence to-morrow at 2 o'clock over the Motion of which he has given Notice, and for which the Government had promised the use of that hour. The Government are anxious to make arrangements the most convenient for my hon. Friend and the House, and they therefore propose that his Motion shall immediately follow that of my right hon. Friend with reference to Her Majesty's Message. Supposing Supply is closed the Report will follow, and if it should be impossible to terminate the discussion at 7 o'clock, it will be resumed at 9 o'clock. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by making the Motion to which he had referred.
said, he would not for one moment do anything to stop the proceedings of the Government in reference to the gracious Message which they had just received from the Queen. He was quite content that his Motion should come on after the Message was considered, on the understanding that if the debate was not concluded, it should be resumed at 9.
begged to remind the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government distinctly and emphatically promised to give Tues- day evening for the discussion of the Factory Acts Amendment Bill.
said, the promise of his right hon. Friend was carefully worded and was conditional. It was the intention of the Government to fulfil the promise as far as possible, and they proposed to make the Order for the resumption of the debate on the Bill of his hon. Friend the first Order for Wednesday.
Motion agreed to.
Committee thereupon To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
Parliament—Business Of The House—Precedence Of Government Orders
moved, that on Wednesday next, and every succeeding Wednesday, Government Orders of the Day do have precedence.
said, that the result of the proceeding just taken by his right hon. Friend would be to prevent any private Member from bringing forward any subject. He would, therefore, ask the Secretary of State for War, whether, and when, he intends to nominate the Royal Commission on Officers' grievances arising from the Abolition of Purchase? He had been unable to give Notice of the Question; but after what had occurred "elsewhere," the right hon. Gentleman would, no doubt be prepared to answer it.
said, an Answer to an Address from the other House of Parliament ought, in the first instance, to be communicated to that House. When that Answer had been given, he should be able to afford the hon. Gentleman any information he desired.
said, he would take the earliest opportunity of calling attention to the subject.
Motion agreed to.
Supply—Civil Service Estimates
Order for Committee read.
Supply—Considered In Committee
(In the Committee.)
Class I Public Works And Buildings
(1.) £57,800, to complete the sum for New Courts of Justice and Offices.
wished to know from the First Commissioner of Works, what progress had been made with regard to the erection of these buildings, and whether it was true, as reported, that the Government were going to proceed to the erection of a stone groined ceiling for the Central Hall—an erection which would require to be supported by heavy buttresses?
asked what had been done with respect to the completion of the contract?
said, the Government had accepted a tender not for the whole of the works for which tenders were originally asked, but for those works with certain deductions. Specifications in detail had been examined, and were now being completed. The plans had been brought to that stage when they could be annexed to the contract, and the matter now was in the hands of the solicitor to the Office of Works, and the solicitor to the contractors and the architect. It was true that a stone groined ceiling was going to be erected in the Central Hall in accordance with the design of Mr. Street, and that it would have to be supported by buttresses which would take up considerable space. Professional opinions were very much divided on the subject, but it was intended to adhere to that design. Copies of the plans and drawings would be shown to any hon. Members or to the legal profession or others who had a right to see them, but it would not be possible at present to exhibit them to the public.
asked when the work would be proceeded with?
wished to know with reference to the New Courts, whether it had been finally determined to use wood rather than tiles for the flooring? In the case of the new National Gallery, the First Commissioner had unfortunately resolved to introduce wooden floorings throughout, in opposition to the views of the architect and the general feeling in favour of tiles.
asked whether the contract for the building of the New Courts would be within or something near the original estimate, and whether the extent of the buildings had been reduced in order to bring them within the original estimate of cost? He understood there had been a rise of 6 per cent on ordinary labour, and 10 per cent on skilled labour.
expressed a hope that the contract would be signed as early as possible, so that there should be no further postponement.
said, it would be satisfactory to the members of his profession to know that there was at last a chance of the work being begun.
said, that the building would, like other buildings in this country, be constructed with a wooden flooring; but due precautions would be taken against fire. Of course a contract could not be entered into without reference to changes in the price of labour in the market. With regard to the expenditure, it would he more than had been sanctioned by Parliament. The estimate was £750,000; he was not in a position to state the exact amount of the excess, but it would be a considerable sum. That, however, would be a question between the Treasury and the House. If the policy under which these Courts of Justice were being built should be adhered to, application would be made to Parliament next Session to sanction an increase of expenditure, and to charge it upon the fund specially appropriated for the erection of these buildings. The present contract would be signed as soon as all the preliminary steps had been taken.
believed the question was not answered—namely, whether any alteration had been made in the contract to meet the increased price of provisions and the cost of labour. He would also ask whether, as in the case of the Natural History Museum at South Kensington, any changes would be made in the form of the building in consequence of the change in prices?
said, he had already stated that the Government had accepted the tender for the works as specified by the architect, subject to certain deductions he had proposed—which might be generally described as economies in the construction of the buildings, the general form of the building remaining the same.
Vote agreed to.
(2.) £207,445, to complete the sum for Consular Establishments Abroad, &c.
in accordance with Notice, called attention to the Report of the Committee on Consular Services which was laid on the Table last Session, and enquired whether it had been considered by the Foreign Office as a whole and in detail, and whether the opinion of the Secretary of State and of the proper officers of the Department had been placed on record respecting it? This might seem a superfluous inquiry, but the fact was that the Committee, having occasion to refer to the Reports of two previous Committees, one of which—that of 1858—was of an elaborate and detailed character, stated that they were unable to say that those recommendations were ever taken in hand and examined. The Committee made two recommendations, one of them of a very stringent and urgent character. One of them was that a classification and organization of the Consular offices should be made and introduced tentatively only, so as to avoid the necessity of pensioning off a large number of officers capable of rendering considerable service to the country. The second recommendation was very important, because it was in conflict with the recommendation of a previous Committee. That Committee said that the unpaid Consular service was a thing to be discouraged; but the last Committee thought that excellent service might be rendered by foreign merchants undertaking the duty of Consul and recouping themselves by means of fees, and they recommended that some clear distinction of title should be made between paid and unpaid Consuls. The service in China, Japan, and Siam was supplied by persons going out in their youth for the purpose of learning the language. Little change was recommended as to these establishments, but the Committee thought the expenses at Siam might be considerably reduced. Had the noble Lord become acquainted with a serious defalcation? £2,000 had been appropriated by the acting Consul at Hankow who had left the country and not been heard of since? Great difficulty was experienced by the Committee in reconciling the claims made by the Consuls to increased salaries, owing to the increase of prices, with the necessary requirements of the public service; and he did not know that they would have been able to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion if they had not received valuable evidence from a gentleman in the Foreign Office (Mr. Kennedy) who gave it as his opinion that all the necessary increase of salaries might be provided for by reductions which he saw were feasible in the service as now constituted. This able and intelligent officer made a journey to the Levant, visiting many of the Consulates there, as to which there had been most difference of opinion in this House; and from his statement the Committee gathered that a great deal too much tenacity had been shown by the Foreign Office in retaining the Consulships of the Levant. Some of these Consulships had recently been suppressed, and if the recommendations which had been made were carried into effect, they would cause the suppression or reduction of several more. The same remark applied to the Consulates in Morocco. The noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office had had the opportunity of reducing two or three, but still further reductions were necessary there. It was the opinion of the Committee that this gentleman, who had shown so much capacity, might be usefully employed by the Foreign Office in visiting other parts of the world, especially the coasts of France, Spain, and Portugal, with a view to some more comprehensive plan of reducing the Consular establishments. The North German and Americans, for example, had a more simple and cheaper organization than we had, by means of Consuls General who supervised a long stretch of coast, and officers subordinate to them carried on the detailed work at less expense. Then the evidence which had been given before the Committee showed that the Consular Service in America was not in a satisfactory condition, and it also appeared that the Consuls were inadequately paid in several parts of the world. No doubt it was for the interest of the community that there should be proper Consular establishments throughout the world—Consuls had functions to perform of a legal and notarial character, which, as all agreed, should be paid for by the levy of fees as for services rendered to private individuals, and it was desirable that the discharge of their duties connected with shipping and the like should, as far as practicable, be paid in like manner by the persons resorting to them for such purposes, while the residue of their remuneration should be provided by Parliament. It had been suggested that the last mentioned payments might be commuted for a small tax on British shipping—an arrangement by which, if the shipping interest consented to it, matters might be greatly simplified. Consuls were guided in the performance of their duties, in a great degree, by regulations issued by the Foreign Office and the Board of Trade, and the Committee recommended that the regulations issued to them by the Board should be reconsidered. In conclusion, he asked whether the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was prepared to make any statement to the Committee on that subject?
as a Member of the Committee, thought the subject was one well deserving the attention of the House. There were many points in respect to which, if the views of the Select Committee had been carried out, considerable economies might have been effected. Some reduction in that matter had, indeed, been made by the Foreign Office, but last year the net decrease was only £37, because while there was a nominal reduction of £2,863, it was counterbalanced by other increased charges amounting to £2,826. The noble Lord the Under Secretary ought to state what the Government had done to give effect to the Report of the Committee on the Diplomatic and Consular Services. The Foreign Office very rarely carried out recommendations effecting economy, but appeared always happy to carry out those involving additional expenditure; and in this case, considerable impression might be made on their Consular expenditure, if the recommendations of the Committee were carried out in a right spirit. One of these recommendations was the general appointment in the small trading centres of Vice Consuls in the persons of merchants, who would be glad to undertake the duty simply for the honorarium or fees they would receive. In many subordinate places respectable merchants would be glad of the distinction that would attach to holding the office of Consul or Vice Consul, and to discharge the duties for fees. Economy might be further effected in many places by the consolidation of the Diplomatic and Consular Services. In China, Japan, and parts of America, we had Representatives holding Diplomatic as well as Consular offices; but in Stockholm, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, and Lisbon, we had both Ministers and Consuls. In these cases the Consular duties might very well be discharged by resident members of the Diplomatic Service. By consolidation something like £50,000 a-year might be saved. Unless something was done next year, he hoped the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for North Hampshire would give them an opportunity of voting for the reduction of the Vote.
was not surprised that the hon. Gentleman opposite had called attention to the subject, seeing that so little result had followed the recommendations of the Committee to the appointment of which Lord Clarendon assented, which examined Lords Clarendon, Derby, and Malmesbury, and which investigated the whole subject so thoroughly. The evidence given was sifted with very great care, and after due consideration the Committee made their Report; but hardly anything had been done in consequence of that Report:—the tendency of Departments was generally to do nothing, if they could avoid the trouble. Having served on that Committee, he was satisfied that considerable economy might be effected by a consolidation of offices, and by taking advantage of the facilities afforded by railway and telegraphic communication, instead of keeping a great number of officials in inferior positions. It was incumbent on the Government itself to take some action in this matter, or else, when a similar question was raised again, the House would perhaps refuse to be satisfied with a Committee, when they could have no security that its Report would be attended to. The Report of the Committee in this case was one of a very moderate character, and its recommendations were calculated to improve the efficiency of the service and to reduce the expenditure; and if the noble Lord was not prepared to announce that its recommendations would be carried out during the present year, he trusted he would assure the House that they should receive early consideration.
said, it might be a good thing in some instances to accept the services of merchants as Vice Consuls; but it was bad policy to reduce the salaries of our Consuls at important stations in the East, because the impression produced was that a new Consul at a lower salary was an inferior man, whose decisions were entitled to pro- portionately less respect. Many of these Consuls required to have as much knowledge of law as a County Court Judge in England; they lived in climates fatal to the members of their families; they were in some instances so isolated as to be practically banished from civilized society. All this had to be borne in mind in fixing a salary, and in some cases injury had been done to British interests by unwisely lowering a salary, as the result was that less respect was paid to the official who accepted it, even though he was not inferior to his predecessor in ability. A difficulty in the way of consolidation of the offices of Minister and Consul was, that Ministers were changed oftener than Consuls, and sometimes had conflicting duties, as in the case of the siege of Paris, when the Minister properly left, in order to maintain his communications with the French Government and with his own, while the Consul remained in Paris, though he did not remain as long as he ought to have done. No doubt, in some instances, the offices would bear consolidation; but, as he had pointed out, disadvantage would arise if it were too extensively carried out.
said, that so far from being in favour of closing the ports in China, he would strongly urge the extension of our commercial relations in that country by the establishment of Consuls or Vice Consuls. There would be great difficulty in extending the trade there, if they once commenced closing the ports. It would be better to extend, rather than reduce them, and to free commerce by the removal of fees. In his opinion the salaries of Consuls ought to be paid entirely out of Imperial funds.
said, the Select Committee did not mean to recommend that ports should be closed in China, but that the Foreign Office should not be deterred by any question of loss of prestige from closing ports which otherwise it would be undesirable to keep open. The Committee were also of opinion that in order to meet the claim put forward by the larger Consulates for additional pay and allowances, it would be necessary to cut off such smaller branches of the service as might be dispensed with.
concurred with the hon. Member for Warrington that there ought to be a union of the Diplomatic and Consular Services. He wished to call attention to the case of the British Consul in Sicily, the trade of which island he considered was of immense importance to this country, and he thought that case ought to receive the attention of the Government. The Consul was a gentleman eminently qualified for the post. At Palermo he had 10 Vice Consuls under him, with whom he was in constant communication, and he was incessantly called upon to discharge functions of the utmost importance to trade, and frequently, also, to the native population. That officer, he regretted to say, was left by the Government in the position of a mere trading Consul, who would be altogether incompetent to perform the duties fulfilled by the gentleman in question. He trusted that state of things would receive the attention of the Government during the coming winter. He was informed that the irregularities which formerly occurred in the Consular Service in China had now entirely ceased.
hoped the Foreign Office would carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee. He could hardly agree with the hon. Member for Warrington that a union of the Consular and Diplomatic Services could be carried out to any great extent. In some of the Chinese stations it might answer very well; but except in a few cases, it would be found to be totally unsuited to Europe and the West.
said, he could assure hon. Members that Lord Granville had given the fullest and most impartial consideration to the Report of the Select Committee, and in the spring of this year had addressed a letter to the Treasury on the subject. He could not read the whole of that long communication, as it was a departmental correspondence; but he would remind hon. Members that the Committee spoke in highly favourable terms of the way in which the Consuls performed their work. Although the Committee sat for two Sessions, and although any complaint on the part of our merchants would have received the careful attention of the Committee, yet no evidence was forthcoming to show that the commercial or mercantile world was dissatisfied with the Consular body. It appeared to him (Viscount Enfield), that if the mercantile and commercial world had thought their interests were not sufficiently protected by the Consular Service, they would have availed themselves of the opportunity of proving it before the Committee. The Committee testified to the economical administration of the British Consular Service. There had been a net decrease of £3,000 in the five years ending 1873–4, after allowing for the salaries of the Consulates in the Levant first placed on the Estimates in 1870–1. One of the most important recommendations was referred to in Paragraphs 1 to 20, where the Committee mention the classification of the Consular Service which they think might be carried out with great advantage. Lord Granville concurred generally with that recommendation. It must, however, be a work of time, and the interests of the present Consular officers must be consulted. Lord Granville thought that a classification might be made, by which juniors might pass through various grades by transfers and promotions. There might be three grades in the Consular Service, so that a gentleman entering in the first grade might pass into the second, and so on, and thus make it more of a service than it was at present. Paragraph 23 left it open to the Secretary of State to appoint persons otherwise on his own responsibility. It was not desirable that the service should be made strictly a close one, and lists were being prepared, and a classification carried out which would show how that important recommendation could be applied. Paragraphs 24 to 27 recommended a revision of Consular ports in the Levant, and the adoption of the changes recommended by Mr. Kennedy. Many of these had been already acted upon, showing a saving of £500 a-year, and others, such as the Janina Consulate, would be shortly completed. Paragraph 28 recommended personal inspections of Consulates such as Mr. Kennedy carried out in the Levant. Had it not been for the labours of Mr. Kennedy in carrying out the Treaty of Commerce, this inquiry would before now have been completed. Mr. Kennedy had been in Paris as British Commissioner under the Treaty of November 5, 1872, but he would now visit the Consulates in France, Holland, and Belgium; Mr. Wylde had visited Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, and would visit Italy in the autumn; and Mr. Victor Buckley would visit and report upon the Consulates in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Baltic Provinces of Russia and North Germany. Inquiries were also being made into the accounts of the several Consular Church establishments to which grants of public money were made under the Act of 6 Geo. IV., c. 87. These grants still amounted to £9,000 a-year, but might very likely be reduced. Paragraph 32 hinted at a certain increase of expenditure in expensive ports, more liberal outfits, calculations in allowing pensions for work done in unhealthy localities, more liberal leave of absence, &c. To carry out these views there must be complete harmony and agreement between the Treasury and the Foreign Office. A Committee of both Departments had been appointed to look carefully into all these matters. The Committee of the Treasury consisted of Mr. S. Blackwood and the hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. W. H. Gladstone). The Committee of the Foreign Office consisted of Lord Tenterden and Mr. W. H. Wylde, of the Consular Department, assisted by Mr. Buckley. That Committee had already met. The Select Committee of that House, as regarded fees, suggested either a revision of fees or the substitution of a tonnage duty. British fees were very low in comparison with those levied by other countries; but if a tonnage duty were imposed, and if the notarial duties of Consuls were extended, the Consular Acts would require to be amended. The Committee next recommended that greater power should be given to Consuls to deal with refractory seamen. That could only be done by Consular Conventions with other countries, and Parliamentary legislation would be needed to record the reciprocity demanded by foreign Governments. The Board of Trade would be consulted by the Foreign Office, and Mr. Reilly had drawn up a Memorandum on the subject. Another point recommended by the Select Committee was greater simplification in the returns and forms of the Board of Trade; and a revision of their Code of Rules and Instructions was recommended by many of our Consuls. That could not properly be done until the new Merchant Shipping Amendment Act had been passed. These were the chief points in the Report of the Committee, and he would repeat that they were dealt with by Lord Granville in a very long letter which he had addressed to the Treasury. The defalcation of one of the Consular agents in China had been brought under the notice of the Foreign Office. The Treasury insisted on his immediate suspension, and that steps should be taken for his arrest. There would be difficulty in obtaining a conviction, as the matter would have to be treated as a breach of trust, and not of fraud. The Treasury, however, were of opinion that a prosecution should be instituted, even if it failed, as an example to others. This officer, who had escaped from justice, had been apprehended and held to bail, but his trial had not yet taken place. With regard to the closing of certain ports in China, that had been done in two or three cases, but it had been found very inconvenient to trade, and the Consulates in those localities had to be re-established. The hon. Member for Warrington advocated the consolidation of the Diplomatic and Consular Services; but he could hold no hopes that Lord Granville, as long as he held the seals of the Foreign Office, would consent to such a consolidation, which would, in his opinion, be for the advantage neither of the Diplomatic nor of the Consular Service. The hon. Member for St. Ives had adverted to the case of the Consul at Palermo. His claim was now under consideration, with others of a similar nature, with a view of ascertaining whether Consuls, who were neither willing nor able to trade, might receive in lieu a fixed salary. Lord Granville had given immediate attention to the recommendations of the Committee, and if it should be his (Viscount Enfield's) duty to move the Votes for the Consular Service in another Session, he believed it would be found that economy had been promoted and the efficiency of the Service increased by the action of the Foreign Office in carrying out the main recommendations of the Select Committee.
expressed a hope that next year there would be a considerable reduction in the payment by India of the Consular and Diplomatic Services in Persia.
inquired whether the Reports of the gentlemen who had made a personal investigation in foreign Consulates would be laid upon the Table or be regarded as departmental only?
said, that those Reports, which would be regarded as strictly confidential, would probably be referred to the Departmental Committee now sitting.
Vote agreed to.
Supply—Post Office Services
(3.) £2,745,342, Post Office Services, &c.
said, he had given Notice of a Motion for Friday last, on the subject of an Order recently issued by the Postmaster General, for the compulsory registration of letters containing postage stamps, but was- unable to bring it on. The delay had, however, he hoped, enabled the right hon. Gentleman so to re-consider the matter that he would be able to announce that the Order had been rescinded, so that it might be unnecessary to submit the Motion on the Report of Supply. The Order in question extended to bank notes, letters containing postage stamps, watches, or jewellery; and, as to the last two items, he had no objection to urge. The reason assigned for its issue was to diminish the temptations to which servants of the Post Office were exposed by the sending of articles of value in unregistered letters; and it was clear from the Notice that had been published, that it was the intention of the Post Office authorities, that the registration of letters containing any of the articles enumerated should be compulsory; but the Postmaster General, in replying to a Question last week, said it was not intended to require letters containing postage stamps or notes to be registered, except in cases where they were so badly folded, or fastened that their contents were exposed, in which case they would be liable to a double registration fee of 8d. Since he gave Notice of his Motion, he had received a large number of letters on the subject. Some of his correspondents were in the habit of receiving 30 or 40 letters a-day, each containing postage stamps, and one gentleman stated that the average number of letters he received each day covering postage stamps was over 100. Great inconvenience would be caused by the Order in question, and it would occasion considerable losses to many poor persons and charities. The regulation upon the subject said nothing about compulsory registration, unless the letter or package was insufficiently fastened, or the bank notes or postage stamps obtruded. How did the right hon. Gentleman proposeto carry out the Order? Was it intended that the Post Office employés should become detectives, in order to determine whether there were postage or draft stamps in letters? If the law was to apply to postage stamps, surely it should be extended to draft stamps or cheques payable to bearer. The person who would be punished by it would not be the careless sender, but the unfortunate receiver, who would oftentimes suffer a considerable loss. He believed there were very few dishonest servants in the Post Office, and yet, for the sake of protecting those few, it was proposed to pass a law which would be one of extreme hardship to the public. Why, they might just as well pass a law with regard to the exposure of articles in shop windows. He believed that, however carefully a letter was folded and sealed, if it contained more than a dozen postage stamps, its contents would be obvious to many of the skilled men employed in the Post Office. There were, he had heard, many of the sorters who could tell in a moment whether postage stamps or bank notes were contained in a letter. He trusted that after the strong opinion expressed by the public Press, and that would, he had no doubt, be expressed by hon. Members, the right hon. Gentleman would declare his readiness to rescind his Order so far as bank notes and postage stamps were concerned. The Post Office was, he believed, the most popular Department connected with the Government, and he hoped the Postmaster General would not find it necessary to interfere with the facilities which his predecessor had given to the public, of sending small sums of money in postage stamps, which the Post Office afterwards cashed at a small commission. That boon ought not to be lessened by what he could not help considering an unnecessary interference with the rights and privileges of the people.
also urged the right hon. Gentleman to rescind the regulation in question. In many of the poorer districts, and especially rural ones, people were in the habit of remitting small sums in stamps, and were not very well skilled in the folding of letters, and the carrying out of the Order would practically be a heavy tax upon persons who could ill afford to pay it.
said, he could assure his hon. Friend that the interpretation which he desired to be put upon the Order was that contained in the regulation, and he had already expressed his disapprobation of the form in which the public Notice had been couched. He believed that had it not been for that, probably the difficulty which had now occurred would never have arisen, and it would have been possible to carry out the Order, which he believed was an important one, because it dealt with a temptation which seriously contributed to promote dishonesty among the letter-carriers. The number who could be charged with such an offence was very few; but the temptations were much greater than the hon. Gentleman supposed. In the Chief Office in London there were from 300 to 400 letters per day, the contents of which, consisting principally of stamps and jewellery, were found scattered about the room in which the letters were sorted, and he thought the hon. Member would agree with him that there was a sufficient cause for making an effort in that direction. He entirely agreed with him that the Post Office and the Post Office regulations, in order to be successful, must rest upon public opinion; and he therefore thought it was far better to give up regulations, even though, if properly carried out, they might have been useful, than to force them upon an unwilling people. He, therefore, proposed to withdraw the regulation in question, so far as regarded postage stamps and bank notes, maintaining it in other respects. Perhaps, in some other years, if the regulations were better framed, the House might take a different view of the subject.
said, he was sure that the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman in withdrawing the regulation would commend itself to public opinion. He wished now to bring under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman Memorials recently sent to the Postmaster General from the officers of the minor Post Office establishments in London. These Memorials were adopted at meetings held with the cognizance of the Postmaster General, who, in his Report just circulated, said the men generally had acted in a very proper and praiseworthy manner. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) thought the men deserved the greatest possible consideration, on the ground that they had abstained from every act which could imperil the public service, or endanger the discipline of the service with which they were connected. They asked for consideration because nothing had been done for them for the last 10 years; their pay was exceedingly low, their responsibility was very great; and they were engaged in all weathers, and at all hours, in the discharge of a duty which demanded a very considerable amount of intelligence. The maximum salary of the letter-sorters was 45s. The salary of a letter-carrier rose by ls. a-week to 25s., and stopped at that point for eight years, when he received another rise of ls. till he reached a maximum of 30s. The Treasury had refused to listen to the appeal, just as the metropolitan police had been refused any increase of pay, but had obtained it when circumstances became serious. He condemned that line of policy as unwise and as extravagant. To repudiate reasonable claims, and refuse to meet representations properly made, was bad management in every sense of the word, and after what had occurred it was in effect saying—"You do not make this demand in such a form as that we are afraid of you." Speaking as a large employer of labour, he should never put his men in the position of coming to threaten him. Although it might be possible to fill up a few of those places as cheaply as at present, it was the duty of an employer to consider the circumstances of the whole body, and it was his interest to make them attached servants rather than discontented ones. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give the Committee some assurance that a favourable reply would be given to a body of men who were paid so little, who discharged such responsible duties, whose claims had been so temperately advanced, and might be met at such comparatively small cost to the public.
congratulated the right hon. Gentleman upon the wisdom of the course he had adopted with regard to the new Order. He wished to inquire why the offer of the Corn Exchange, on very advantageous terms, as a post office for Leith had not been accepted?
supported the statement of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith), The men whose case was under consideration were actuated by the best feeling, and anxious to do everything in the most proper manner; but they were driven almost to despair by the way in which they were treated, their respectful petitions to the Department not being attended to. He was waited upon, in common with other Members of Parliament, by the letter-carriers, and he was bound to say he never saw a more respectable body of men. It was, he believed, 15 or 16 months since they sent in a Memorial to the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster General asking for an increase of salary, but no attention had been paid to it. That, in his opinion, was not a proper way to treat them, and if they "struck" let the House remember what serious consequences would be the result. The country was with them, and he hoped the Government would accede to their reasonable demand.
also expressed concurrence in what had been said by the hon. Member for Westminster, and wished to call attention to the case of the letter-carriers in the country. In the districts with which he was familiar, they were paid less at that moment than agricultural labourers, although their work had increased .50 per cent. The rounds they made daily amounted on an average to some 16 miles. From the greater number of houses the 'letter-carriers had to go to, and the changes that had been made in the postal arrangements, they had much more work to do than formerly, and yet they had got no rise of wages, although the gains of the Department had, through their labours, increased 100 per cent. These letter-carriers in the country had got no advance in the rate of pay for 20 years. He trusted that the Postmaster General would consider the matter fairly, as any other employer of labour would do, and, looking at the increased cost of living, the additional work that had to be done by these men, and the gain that had accrued to the Post Office from their labours, see whether they were not entitled to better terms.
concurred entirely with his hon. Friend the Member for Westminster as to the reasonableness of the demand made by the letter-carriers, and he believed that to refuse their demand was an inexcusable economy. He hoped his right hon. Friend the Postmaster General would take their demand into his immediate consideration. There had been very undesirable economy with regard to country letter-carriers, those in Perthshire walking considerable distances and receiving paltry wages.
hoped the wish expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, on behalf of the letter-carriers would be acceded to. He believed they were as honest a body of men as could be found in the public service, and he hoped that in granting the demand of the London letter-carriers he would not forget those of the great commercial towns and cities in the United Kingdom.
said, he had had an opportunity of meeting a deputation of these men within the precincts of the House, and was bound to say that nothing could be more straightforward than their conduct, and nothing was more certain than that they received inferior and inadequate salaries, and he was sure their case would meet with due consideration. His right hon. Friend the Postmaster General must be aware that 30s. a-week was not a sufficient remuneration for men with long hours of work, and from whom a knowledge of reading, writing, and ciphering was required. Skilled mechanics were much better paid. He hoped a fair inquiry would be made, and that a new scheme would be adopted, the result of which might be a considerable addition to the pay of those who were employed in the Post Office.
said, that as an employer of labour he should consider it exceedingly bad economy to delay the consideration of a claim of this kind which had any element of justice in it. An increase had been made in every Department of the public service, and his right hon. Friend the Postmaster General could not expect to form an exception. He reminded him that an increase was made to the pay of the Dublin police only when they threatened to "turn out," which was in his opinion a most unworthy and unsatisfactory way for a Government to settle a reasonable and just demand.
said, he had been repeatedly conferred with by the representatives of the Post Office service, and his advice to them had always been that they should not do anything to incon- venience the public, but present their Memorials in a respectful manner, and trust their cause to the justice of the House of Commons and the consideration of the Department. There had been no disposition on their part to give the slightest inconvenience to the public. They could not—it was right that they should not—hold mass meetings as was done in other cases, and it was the more incumbent on the Government, on that account, to consider their case and anticipate somewhat their reasonable demands. For 10 years these men had got no advance of wages, although in other employments wages had during that period risen 25 to 30 per cent. Parsimony in the public Departments in such cases was worse than profusion. Having meritorious servants, the public Departments, like other employers, should always seek to encourage them and to give them fair play. He would also remind the right hon. Gentleman of the serious consequences that would ensue, if one fine morning all the letters which arrived in this great metropolis were not delivered in consequence of a sudden strike among the letter-carriers. The example set by the Dublin police might be followed, but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would at once remove the dissatisfaction which prevailed.
said, he did not think it creditable to the Representatives of the people to be urging the Government to increase the salaries and wages of those whom they employed. He did not mean to say that those wages did not require revision; but it should not be forgotten that the position of men in Government employ was superior to that of men in other employments. In addition to their wages, the letter-carrriers had their clothing found them, and they were also permitted to receive Christmas boxes, which often amounted to a considerable sum of money. It should also be remembered that they had great opportunities of doing other work between intervals.
said, he was not one of those who would pay more than was just and right, but he had had for some time urged upon him by the constituents he had the honour to represent, that the work the Post Office employés had to perform was enormous, and that their pay was altogether inadequate. That having been brought before him, he in- quired minutely into the matter, and he found that in the City of Edinburgh, a city not easily gone through by Post Office officers, that the work was perfectly enormous, the hours long, and the pay quite inadequate to support the men and their families. He had brought the question several times before his right hon. Friend the Postmaster General, and he was quite sure unless something wore done towards raising the pay, there would be no satisfaction among the officers themselves, or among the inhabitants, for the latter would consider that if the officers were not adequately paid the service would not be well done. The work of the Post Office officers was not remunerated as it ought to be. The hon. and learned Member for Frome had brought on the inadequate pay of the rural messengers. Some of these only received 14s. a-week, though they had to walk 16 miles a-day, and to deliver letters in the villages through which they passed. These men without other means could not support themselves. No doubt they could go round with the hat and pick up a sort of alms on their way; but it seemed to him (Mr. Miller) very extraordinary that officers bearing the livery of Her Majesty should be required to go about in that sort of way. It would be far better for Government to pay them the full value of their services. Another question which he must bring forward was the position of the General Post Office in Edinburgh. He understood that the secretary of that office was abolished and another post given to the holder, which rendered it impossible for him to fulfil the duties. He would ask if that change were to be carried out to the full extent? It had given great dissatisfaction to the district around Edinburgh. It forced all communication to be made with London instead of being done in Edinburgh. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would explain these subjects.
said, he for one could submit patiently to the castigation given to hon. Members of the House by the hon. Gentleman opposite the Member for North Hants (Mr. Sclater Booth). An important part of the public service—the Army—had lately received an increase of pay. The Post Office employed a valuable body of men, who were well worthy of their hire. A large amount of property was constantly passing through their hands, and but a very small proportion of it was ever lost or mislaid. The whole tone of the men in that agitation showed that they had considerable intelligence, and that they approached that matter in no unbecoming spirit. Although it was impossible at that period of the Session to obtain an increase of the Estimates, he asked the right hon. Gentleman to consider the claims both of the metropolitan and the rural and provincial letter-carriers, whose remuneration was inadequate; and he trusted that before next Session the Postmaster General and the Treasury would have agreed on a new scale of wages which would be satisfactory to the men and also to the House.
thought the remarks of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Sclater-Booth) were very seasonable and required. It was easy to declare that no Ministry was worthy of support that could not govern without spending so many millions a-year; and yet those who said that, were apt to press the Government, when a practical question was raised, for an increase of expenditure. He did not deny that the case of these applicants might deserve favourable consideration; but there he would leave it, without putting undue pressure on the Government. While the House leant towards liberality, it should remember that it was out of the pockets of the taxpayers that any additional expenditure must come.
said, he did not know what hon. Members sat there for if they were not to express an opinion on a question of that sort without being called to Order for it. The wages of messengers and clerks in some of the rural post offices were extremely small and insufficient for the services rendered; and he hoped the Postmaster General, after that discussion, would look narrowly into the case of those persons, and see whether something might not be clone in their favour. He held that it was a very false economy to underpay men for their services.
said, that he observed the letter-carriers in Dublin and Edinburgh were equally ill-paid. They began at 18s. a-week, and advanced to 24s. 18s. a-week, for men of the class required to carry letters, was far too little to induce respectable men to take the duty. He had been personally cognizant of the kind of men employed as letter-carriers for more than half-a-century, and he could state that they were not nearly the same class of men in point of steadiness and knowledge as they were. At that time joiners had 18s. a-week, and masons about the same. Now all these classes had 30s. or more. Letter-carriers had 18s. still. It was impossible to get steady, trustworthy, active, painstaking men for 18s. a-week. That led him to remark upon the enormous amount of labour of letter-carriers. He found there were 142 of them in Dublin and 95 in Edinburgh. He did not know why that difference in numbers should be, more especially when it was considered that the population of Edinburgh and Leith together was exactly equal to that of Dublin, according to the last Census. Then, as they had been told by his hon. Colleague, a process of cutting down the superior officers in the Edinburgh establishment was going on. The Dublin expenditure was £50,895; Edinburgh, £36,355. One would have thought if there was to be any cutting off, they would be more likely to cut off from the £50,000 than from the £36,000, more especially as the town he was connected with must have much the larger number of letters. The business should be managed on principle, and if any cutting down was required, they should begin where there was room for lopping off, and not cause inconvenience by taking away the secretary from the establishment in Edinburgh, and necessitating the sending of official correspondence to London. Altogether, he thought the thing might be better managed. At the same time, he concurred in the general impolicy of making a rush at a Department of the Government. Exceptional cases, such as those of the letter-carriers and the clerks, required remedies, and he thought if some of the large salaries could be cut down, considerable addition might be made to the lower.
said, his hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Macfie) might be quite satisfied that the claims of his constituents with regard to a Post Office were being fairly considered. The question was in the hands of the First Commissioner of Works, who would very soon decide on a fitting place for one. It was true that a very beneficial change had been made in the Edinburgh Post Office, and one which he should very much like to see introduced into Ireland. In place of the secretary an officer called the surveyor general had been appointed, who discharged the duties of secretary and also those of surveyor for all Scotland, except Glasgow, which had a surveyor of its own, and had ample time for the discharge of the duties of both offices. The result was to prevent the delay which formerly arose in the communications between the Post Office authorities in Edinburgh and London, and a great benefit was conferred on the people of Scotland. He heard with considerable astonishment many of the remarks made as to the rate of wages of the letter-carriers in the great towns and also in the rural districts. Anyone unacquainted with the subject would have believed that nothing had been done in the way of raising those wages, whereas the fact was, that every week the wages of letter-carriers in rural districts were being raised. They were not raised all in a lump, because the circumstances of different parts of the country were different; but where representations were made, they were very carefully considered, and in a very large number of instances greatly increased pay had been given to those rural messengers. With regard to the large towns, Liverpool, Manchester, Dublin. Glasgow, Edinburgh, and many others, the wages of the letter-carriers had also been raised. In some cases, those who had their wages raised last year very naturally desired that they should be raised again this year; but the Department could not go on at that rate. What the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) said with regard to the metropolitan letter-carriers was perfectly true. The present scale was 21s. a-week, rising by 1s. a-week annually to 25s., and after 12 years' service to 30s. But it must be recollected that a mere statement of the rate of wages did not represent all that the letter-carriers received. Besides those wages, every letter-carrier received two suits of uniform, which he (Mr. Monsell) was informed could not be put at less than 1s. 6d. a-week. Then he had medicine and attendance when ill; if laid up by ordinary sickness he received two-thirds, if by accident, the whole of his wages. That rendered it unnecessary for him to belong to a benefit society, and at least 1s. a-week was thus saved. Every letter-carrier was also entitled to a pension if his conduct was good, and he had served a certain number of years. In the case of a boy who began at 16, as they often did now, when he arrived at 56 he might retire on a pension of £50 a-year. Allusion had been made to Christmas boxes. What the London letter-carriers received in Christmas boxes amounted, it was said, on an average, to something about 4s. a-week. It was not fair, therefore, to represent the wages of the letter-carriers of London at merely the nominal sum. But he would be perfectly candid. It was for the Treasury to decide as to the pay of the different Departments. That was the duty of one Department, and it was right it should be so; otherwise you would have one Department raising the salaries of those employed by it, and other Departments following the example, the result being the greatest extravagance. But, as the Secretary of State for War and the Vice President of the Council said the other day, if hon. Members would join with him (Mr. Monsell) in trying to soften the heart of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, so that some slight improvement might be made, he would be very happy. He had no doubt that any well-grounded claim for concession to the letter-carriers would be carefully considered by the Treasury, and granted, if found to be in accordance with principles of justice. But he could not avoid expressing his opinion that the bringing up of questions like that in the course of a debate in Parliament was to be deprecated, for it could only end in creating discontent among the officers of the Post Office. They might rest assured that any real grievance would be fairly considered with a view to a remedy; but he must say, that such a course was not facilitated by pressure being put on him by Parliament.
wished to know whether the new and improved terms to be paid to letter-carriers were to be extended to the men employed in rural districts, whose pay at the present time was wretchedly bad? In the district in which he lived, the letter-carriers had to depend a good deal on the earnings of their wives for the support of themselves and their families.
said, however much lie might admit the justice of the claim, it was a pity that such discussions should be raised in that House, especially as the authorities of the Post Office Department were always willing to listen to and consider any representations made to them with reference to particular cases. It would be better that such matters should be brought before the Government privately, rather than in the House of Commons, as public discussion upon them was certainly calculated to excite discontent.
wished to know how long the French railway companies were to continue in their present system of blocking up the high road to Italy? Letters posted in Rome on Sunday ought to be delivered in London on the Wednesday evening, instead of being delayed as was the case at present. He wished also to know whether arrangements were being made whereby letters could be posted in travelling post-office vans on the lines of railway, in order to the saving of time and the convenience of the public.
in reply, said, there was no fixed scale for the letter-carriers in the rural districts, but that their remuneration differed in different parts of the country. With respect to the Mont Cenis tunnel, he admitted that the present system of conveying the letters was unsatisfactory; but he hoped that before long, the letters would be sent through the Mont Cenis tunnel instead of being sent all the way round. As to the grievances of the employés in the Dublin office, he was happy to state that the wages of the letter-carriers had, already been raised, and the question of following the same course in the case of the sorters was now under consideration.
Vote agreed to.
(4.) £679,000, Post Office Telegraphic Service.
(5.) £15,000, Metropolitan Police Courts.
(6.) £8,500, New Palace at Westminster and further Embankment of the River Thames.
said, the Government ought to explain why these Supplementary Estimates were not brought forward at an early period of the Session. He protested against the Committee pledging the House by the adoption of that Vote to a very large expenditure of money. The sum of £8,500 was a portion of an expenditure of £35,000, that would be required to complete the work of embankment. and would lead to the expenditure of £138,000 for the completion of the buildings to be erected thereon. The Government ought to show the Committee that they could not bring on the Vote at an earlier period of the Session; and if they could not satisfactorily explain it, the Vote ought to stand over until next year. He was led to insist upon that course, the more especially as neither plans nor estimates had been furnished showing the need of the outlay. Before the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works acceded to office he often insisted that piecemeal Votes of this sort should not be agreed to before the Government explained what was the total amount of the expenditure contemplated.
said, it was quite true that when he sat in the place now occupied by his hon. Friend, he always contended for the principle, with regard to the administration of the Office of Works, that no Estimate should be proposed unless at the same time the whole expenditure to which that Vote would lead was fully brought under the consideration of the Committee, because he had repeatedly observed that Estimates which appeared to sanction but a small expenditure at first were but the beginning of a very much larger outlay. He was sorry he was not able to vindicate that view with reference to the present Estimate. It was an Estimate with which, though in a certain form prepared by himself as First Commissioner of Works, he was not in reality responsible. It was prepared in its present form by the Treasury, and proposed on their own responsibility, and he had first seen it, like other hon. Members of the House, when it was distributed as a Parliamentary Paper. That, therefore, entirely acquitted the Department over which he presided. He could not tell the Committee what the nature or the extent of the expenditure was to be, because he was not in possession of information on the subject. All he could say was that this Embankment was for the purpose of obtaining land on the bank of the river Thames, embanking it to form a terrace in continuation of the terrace in front of the Houses of Parliament, he understood with the purpose of erecting public offices on some portion of the land. What those public office were to be, or what they would cost, he did not in the smallest degree know. As to the question of the hon. Gentleman—namely, what urgent necessity was there for bringing these Estimates before the House of Commons at that period of the Session—he could not give him the least information on that point. If it was urgent that this Embankment should be made, and that the erection of these public offices should be commenced, of course, it was urgent that the Committee should vote the money. If there was no urgency in the matter he thought it might be postponed till next Session.
protested against Estimates being brought forward in the last few days of the Session. The Government ought to inform the Committee why these Estimates had not been brought forward at an earlier period of the Session, and also show why they could not now be postponed till next year. A very bad system had been pursued lately. At an early period of the Session the Government got certain sums "on account" which they required, but they consulted their own convenience, and not that of the House, as to when they got the remainder; and the consequence was, that the Estimates were put off till near the close of the Session.
hoped the Secretary to the Treasury was able to give the Committee the explanation which was due from the Government, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commisioner having declared his ignorance of the subject.
protested against one Department of the Government being made responsible by another Department with reference to expenditure, without any information being given to the Department thus made responsible of the reasons for that expenditure. This matter of Ministerial responsibility was becoming serious. The First Commissioner of Works was fully imbued with the principles of economy, and he was ready at all times to carry them out at all risks. He had a great respect for the right hon. Gentleman; but it appeared he was totally ignorant why, and for what this expenditure was required. It was right the Committee should know if the Treasury could impose on the Board of Works, for which he (Mr. Ayrton) was not responsible, the carrying out a scheme of expenditure of which he knew nothing. He, therefore, trusted the House would set its face against that scheme of expenditure.
said, the Vote was headed "Acquisition of land and Embankment;" but during last year and the two previous years the principle had been strongly laid down by Her Majesty's Government, that all works for the embankment of the Thames should be executed at the expense of the metropolitan ratepayers, and not at the expense of the country. He wished to know why that principle was not adhered to in the present instance; and, whether it was absolutely necessary, in reference to the Palace of Westminster, that that additional piece of embankment should be constructed? If the hon. Member pressed his Amendment to a division, he should give him his support unless these questions were answered satisfactorily.
proceeded to explain the matter by stating that there formerly existed beyond the Victoria Tower, and in dangerous proximity to the Houses of Parliament, a large stack of old buildings, which, together with the land on which they stood, were purchased by the Government under an Act of Parliament, and the houses were then pulled down in order to prevent the danger of their taking fire, which might be communicated to the Palace, and it was now proposed to embank the land which had thus become the property of the Government. It was deemed desirable that a building should be erected fronting the Victoria Tower, one of its flanks resting on the river, and the other on Abingdon Street, and of a sufficient height to screen the buildings beyond from the Houses of Parliament; but before such a building was erected, it would be necessary that the land should be embanked, in order to provide the necessary extent of ground for it to stand upon. Taking into consideration the very advantageous situation of the property, it was intended that the building to be erected upon it should be appropriated to public purposes—probably it would be used for the purposes of Royal and other Commissions, the lodgings for such Bodies at present entailing considerable expense on the country. The cause of the delay had arisen from the doubts and difficulties that had existed how the land should be laid out. Seeing what had already been done in the way of embanking the Thames by the Metropolitan Board of Works, it was only fair that the Government should do their own share of the work, and the Committee, he hoped, would not object to that course. He trusted that the hon. Member would not press his Amendment.
regarded that discussion as a striking proof of the inconvenience occasioned by the Government postponing Votes until the end of the Session when they could not be properly discussed.
in view of the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the proposed new building was to be appropriated for Royal and other Commissions, wished to know from the First Commissioner of Works, whether there were not a large number of unoccupied rooms in the Palace which were well fitted for the purposes of such Commissions?
said, he had no objection to the Embankment scheme, but he wished to know, if the Committee sanctioned the Vote, whether it would pledge them to the erection of any new public offices? When the ground in question was purchased, they were told it was to be cleared so as to guard against the possibility of fire from the adjoining houses; but now they were going to put up new buildings upon it, which would be exposed to fire from the houses which lay beyond it. Were they to buy up those houses, too? If so, he did not see where the process would end.
explained that by agreeing to the Vote the House would in no way be pledged to provide funds for the erection of any building whatever. The Vote was for embankment only. It was intended that the interval between the new building and the Houses of Parliament should be more than the 150 feet prescribed by the Act of Parliament, in order to protect the Houses of Parliament against fire. It was desirable that the proposed building should be erected in order to shut out the view of the low class of property which lay beyond.
complained that the Vote had been put upon the Paper in so am- biguous a form that it was impossible for an uninitiated person not connected with a Government Department to imagine that it was intended for the purposes which had been explained. It had led him to believe that the Embankment was to be constructed between the Palace and the river, and not in continuation of the Palace river terrace. He thought it very desirable there should be an Embankment in the direction proposed, and he should have been prepared to vote for a larger sum, and for a further continuation of the Embankment.
also expressed his approval of the plan, which was the proper complement to the original purchase of the property. As the House had bought the property, they ought to put it into a proper condition and make it useful.
in answer to the question put by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) said, it was quite true that there were numerous rooms in the Palace which had not been used for many years, but which at one time he had thought might be used for the purposes of Commissions. When, however, he thought thus, he was not aware that the Treasury contemplated erecting a block of buildings for that purpose. If the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. White) had adverted to an opinion which he formerly expressed in the House; he must now be pleased to consider that opinion as obsolete. With regard to this particular Vote, there was, perhaps, thus much to be said in favour of it. The land in question was of considerable extent, and it was necessary that part of it should be left unoccupied for the purpose of protecting the Palace from fire, by not allowing other buildings to be in close contact with it. The land gained from the river by embanking in front of the land to be left vacant would be a part of that protection; but the expense of making the Embankment for that land would not amount to anything like the sum stated in the Vote. The rest of the Embankment would be an improvement of the remaining land for any purpose whatever. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) had challenged him with having brought forward a proposal which was contrary to the views lie had expressed, and he wished to explain that he had done nothing of the kind. So far as related to the construction of the Embankment, that was a part of the question which stood entirely on its own merits, and the House was perfectly able to pronounce a judgment on the matter. For himself, he thought that it would be necessary. The erection of buildings for the accommodation of Commissions, or any other purpose, was, however, a totally different matter, and one on which he would rather not express an opinion until after a full investigation of what was proposed, and of the necessity for it, and the expense that might have to be incurred. As he had no information on the subject, beyond what he had heard in the House, he was no wiser than any other Member of the Committee.
thought that among the numerous virtues which his right hon. Friend possessed, there was one which hon. Members had scarcely given him credit for before that evening—he meant diffidence. It was quite clear he was most anxious to impress upon the Committee that he knew nothing about the erection of the buildings in question, and that he was seized with a strong desire to obtain all the information which he could from the Government to which he belonged. As the Committee appeared to be equally in the same state of dense ignorance and helplessness as his right hon. Friend, on their part, and on behalf of his right hon. Friend, he should like to hear the reason why it was proposed to embark upon an expenditure to which he could see no limit. It was the duty of the Committee to refuse to grant money unless they were made aware hoc it was to be laid out, and he was glad to think that five years on the Treasury Bench had not debauched that virtue for which his right hon. Friend was distinguished as an advocate of economy when he sat below the gangway. Governments might come and go, but virtue, like the river, "ran on for ever."
wished to know, whether the new club-house being erected at the end of Westminster Bridge was not being built in violation of the rule that no building should be raised within 150 feet of the Houses of Parliament?
asked the Committee to resist the Vote. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had not assigned any reason why, even if it were ultimately required, the Vote could not be post- poned till next year. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be ignorant of the fact, that in the large building in which they were then assembled, there were rooms that were utterly unused, and no steps were ever taken to utilize them; yet they were now asked to embark on a large expenditure for buildings, without its being shown for what purpose they were wanted. He hoped the Vote would be withdrawn until next year.
pointed out that the scheme which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had explained, would be proposed to the House at some future time; but that the Committee were simply asked on the present occasion to grant the sum necessary for the construction of the Embankment, which was a work it was necessary to have done whether buildings were erected on the property or not. The Estimate had not been brought forward earlier because it was not until the beginning of June that the arrangement mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been made. The Embankment, he might add, would be proceeded with as soon as possible.
pointed out that the money asked for was, in accordance with the statement of the First Commissioner of Works, more than sufficient for the construction of the Embankment. If there was to be some other work beyond that undertaking, plans ought, he maintained, to have been laid before Parliament.
said, that the money was intended for the Embankment only.
pointed out that, if that were so, the money should have been asked for as an Ordinary and not in the shape of a Supplementary Estimate.
remarked that the length of the proposed Embankment would be greater than the 150 feet which was said to be necessary for the protection of the Houses of Parliament.
Vote agreed to.
(7.) £28,740, Embassy Houses at Vienna and Washington.
said, that that Vote should not have been brought on now. If the Government were not prepared to include it in the Ordinary Estimates, they might have postponed it altogether. He now asked the Committee to reject it, because looking at the cost of the Embassy houses of Great Britain at Paris and Constantinople, they had been exposed to so heavy an expenditure, as not to feel any encouragement to enter upon any increase of it. In 28 years, according to Returns before Parliament, the Embassy house at Paris had cost the country £158,799; while the Embassy house at Constantinople had cost £378,203, or together, nearly £500,000. The reason which had induced the Foreign Office to own a house at Constantinople was, that it could take means to protect it from fire, it having been burnt down 30 or 40 years ago; and yet, when it was burnt down a year or two ago, it appeared that the neglect of all ordinary precautions against fire had been disgraceful, that the water tanks were empty, and that the fine-engines were unworkable. A great disadvantage in having a large palace was, that it involved all Ambassadors alike in the necessity of maintaining large establishments, whether they wished to do so or not. These large sums were far from representing what those establishments cost the country, and though it was used as an argument in their favour, when their erection was proposed, that they would be a great saving to the country, there could be no question that it would be much cheaper to hire a suitable residence for an Ambassador. The fact was, that these gentlemen put a strong pressure on the Government, and the Government yielded to it. An Ambassador went out to his post, and found the house occupied by his predecessor too large or too small, and then complaints were made, and it was represented that it would be better and cheaper to provide a house, and the consequence was, that it was determined to provide, furnish, and maintain houses large enough for all. The house at Paris cost £1,000 a-year to light and warm; there were similar charges at Constantinople, and some of these payments were made to the servants on the establishment. The present Vote included £14,000 for Vienna and £14,700 for Washington; and the total sums it was proposed to spend were £42,000 at Vienna and £31,000 at Washington. He hoped the Committee would support him in resisting this expenditure by refusing the Vote.
remarked that the situation with regard to the signing of the Treaty of Vienna was being repeated now in the case of the new Commercial Treaty with Paris. The Revenues of the country were about to be pledged, without the House having an opportunity of expressing itself.
rose to Order.
said, the hon. Member must be aware that he was not addressing himself to the subject-matter of the Vote.
said, he should make his remarks the subject of a Question to the Government.
said, that our ownership of Embassy houses had been twice recommended by Committees of the House of Commons on economical grounds. The recommendation had been insufficiently attended to, owing to the prevalence of an unwise parsimony; and it was well worth the attention of the Committee, now that they were dealing with the cases of Vienna and Washington to take into their consideration the Embassy houses at Rome and Berlin, which were very inadequate as regarded accommodation. In the latter place, they had rented a house on a short lease at £1,000 a-year; but on the expiration of the lease, they would not be able to replace it, under at least £1,500 a-year. There was no more economical Government than that of Prussia, which had bought Embassy houses, he believed, not only in all the principal capitals of Europe, but also in the smaller capitals, and such a course had been found most advantageous. He felt perfectly convinced that if the Committee refused to endorse the Vote, or if Parliament set itself against purchasing sites for our Embassy houses, the expenditure of the country, so far from being diminished, would be very much increased.
said, it was not at the largeness, but at the smallness of the sum asked for in the Vote that he was surprised. He rejoiced that the Government had taken the matter in hand; but he wished to obtain from the Government some assurance that £42,000 in the one case and £31,000 in the other represented the whole amount which would be required.
begged, in the first place, to remind hon. Gentlemen of the Resolution agreed to by the Select Committee on the Consular and Diplomatic Services, of which both himself and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Warrington were Members, to the effect that though it would be attended with some increase of charge on the Exchequer, the Committee agreed in the opinion expressed by the Committee of 1861, that it would be of advantage to the public service that there should be permanent official residences in all the large capitals for the heads of Missions. The allowance for the Embassy house at Vienna had up to the 31st of March of last year been £1,200 a-year. Since then it had been £1,500. The facts were as follow:—The lease of the present Embassy house expired on the 1st of November of the" present year, and could not be renewed. The allowance for house rent made to the Ambassador was £1,200 a-year, for which sum he found it utterly impossible to find a house in any way suited for an Embassy. Under these circumstances, he entered into negotiations with the Ban Verein, a Vienna building society, who seemed at first disposed to build a house and let it to the Embassy on a long lease for a sum not exceeding the allowance. As the negotiations proceeded, however, it became evident that the company would not give a long lease at all, being made cautious by the steady rise in value of house property; they would only consent either to sell outright, or to let on a short lease at a high rate of interest for their money. The offer was then put in this shape—For sale, a sum of about £26,000 was required; for that sum the company would make over land and build the house. For a lease they would not take less than £2,200 for a term of 15 years; or £1,520 (after considerable bargaining) for a term of six years. Upon these propositions Her Majesty's Government had to decide. The Embassy must be housed, and the Ambassador had with great difficulty found temporary accommodation for a year from the 1st of November next for £1,700 a-year, this accommodation being in many ways very unsuitable for the purpose. There could be no doubt that the most economical course was to buy; the price eventually agreed upon for sale was about £27,000, representing, at 30 years' purchase, an annual sum of about £1,100. If at any time the house built had to be sold, it could hardly fail to prove a good investment. With regard to Washington the case was this—The building of a Legation house at Washington had long been contemplated, having been advocated by Sir Frederick Bruce. The present house was obtained with great difficulty, was inconvenient, and had only a very short lease. The choice lay between purchasing land and building upon it, purchasing a house, or obtaining one on a long lease. No house of a proper size could be found with a long lease; when one was offered for sale in August last, which, with necessary additions and furniture, would have cost about £21,150, Sir Edward Thornton was allowed to buy it, whereupon the proprietor increased the price, and the offer was declined with the approval of the Government. This year the question became urgent, as he was to vacate his present abode, and nothing was obtainable except at an extravagant price, increased by the knowledge that the house was wanted for Her Majesty's Legation. Sir Edward Thornton was there upon allowed to purchase a site on his own responsibility. One containing 29,055 square feet was found in a fairly favourable situation for £2,741, which, for fear of losing, he agreed to purchase and pay down the money on the 25th of April. On the 22nd of April he received the necessary sanction, and plans and descriptions of the house which is to be built, have since been sent home, which have been adopted after some alteration by the Board of Works. His hon. Friend had no idea how enormously house rents had increased in the capitals of Europe, and he (Viscount Enfield) agreed with the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Cartwright), that if, following the example of the German Government, they had purchased land and built houses some years ago, they would have found it a most economical arrangement for the country. In Berlin the lease of the Embassy house would expire in 1876, and the landlord would not renew the lease except at double the present rent. Offers had been made by other parties, but the amounts demanded were most extravagant, and far higher than in Vienna. For one house, and that of an inferior character, £45,000 was asked. Another house was offered for £112,500. But those were all de- clined. Another person offered his house for £300,000. That was not accepted either. The house of Prince Adelbert was in the field for sale, and the price asked for it was from £50,000 to £60,000. He trusted, after the explanation he had given, the Committee would not think that very disadvantageous terms had been made.
said, as he had been in Washington last year, he wished to state that if the thing could be done for £31,000 it would be an excellent bargain. If we could get an Embassy house in Washington, in which the Embassy could be properly lodged for such a sum, he believed the arrangement would he one which would do credit to the most economical Government that ever existed.
also approved the arrangement as being economical.
recommended the Government to build or buy an Embassy house at Rome, where the price of land and houses was rising enormously.
Vote agreed to.
(8.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £5,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge winch will conic in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1874, for the Superintendence of Convict Establishments, and for the Maintenance of Convicts in Convict Establishments in England and the Colonies."
In answer to Mr. F. S. POWELL,
said, that Millbank, which was built in the beginning of the present century, was a cluster of six or seven prisons, and so ill-adapted to its present purpose that it was intended to replace it by a new prison at Wormwood Scrubs. Millbank was an exceedingly expensive prison, in consequence of the large proportion of warders required, and the number of warders who, for want of accommodation, were obliged to live outside the prison. In exchange for the £10,300 required for the site at Wormwood Scrubs, the Government would gain 24 acres in the middle of Westminster, and of much greater value. The new prison would be built by convict labour at a cheap rate, and the whole building would cost less than the sum sacrificed by the present costly establishment. There was, therefore, good reason to believe that the exchange would be highly economical and advantageous.
said, it was commonly reported that Millbank Prison was to be turned into a cavalry barrack. It was said to be an unhealthy place for prisoners, and it did not seem therefore very fit for a cavalry barrack.
said, he was not aware to what purpose Millbank was to be turned by the Government.
asked how many prisoners the new gaol at Wormwood Scrubs would contain?
said, that the number at Mill bank at present was 1,277, and there was no reason to suppose that the number would be less hereafter.
said, he rose at the same time with the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Colonel Barttelot) to put the same question. He did not think the Home Secretary had answered the question, whether the convict prison at Millbank was to be turned into a cavalry barrack? If the Embankment were continued upwards from Westminster Bridge, it would be desirable that Milbank should be occupied by buildings more ornamental than either a prison or a barrack. Perhaps, if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary were not in a position to give the House an assurance on the subject, the Secretary of State for War could tell the Committee whether Millbank was to be turned into a cavalry barrack.
said, it could never be supposed for a moment that the prison would be turned into a barrack. It had been long intended to remove the cavalry barracks from Knightsbridge, and among the places contemplated for the site of a new barrack was Millbank. That, however, was not the ground on which the present Vote was asked.
said, that as the right hon. Gentleman declined to pledge himself that the Milbank site would not be adopted for the barracks, he should like to know where the saving was to be effected?
said, the value of the Crown land upon which Knightsbridge Barracks now stood was very considerable. But he was not committing himself, or asking the House to commit itself, to any definite opinion as to the place to which these barracks would be removed.
said, he should like to know if it was intended to build private houses on the site of the Kensington Barracks?
said, the subject referred to was not in his Department, and suggested that the question should not be discussed in the present Session.
said, he was compelled to move the omission of the Vote, with the view of eliciting from the Government some expression of their determination with reference to the erection of cavalry barracks on the site of Milbank Prison.
said, he was quite unable to give a definite answer when a definite proposition had not been arrived at.
supported the Amendment. That was not a mere question of erecting a new prison, but part of a general scheme with all the details of which they ought to be made acquainted.
suggested that further time should not be wasted in discussing a question which had already been fully considered.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 45: Majority 84.
(9.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £26,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1874, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners of Police, of the Police Courts, and of the Metropolitan Police Establishment of Dublin."
in moving the Supplementary Vote of £26,000 for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners of Police, the Police Courts, and Metropolitan Police Establishment of Dublin, said, the question of the pay of the Metropolitan Police and the Irish Constabulary had been inquired into by a Commission, which reported in favour of a considerable increase of pay to both Forces, and he thought that every hon. Member who had read the Report, and the grounds on which it was based—namely, the increased facilities which men eligible for that Force had of obtaining employment and good pay in England—would come to the conclusion that the increased pay which was recommended was fully warranted by the circumstances. An additional amount of £12,600 had already been voted in the ordinary Estimates, and the sum now asked would make the total increase for the year £38,600. This sum would include four months' extra pay before the commencement of this present financial year, in accordance with the recommendation of the Commission, and the total annual increase for future years would be £28,700. Of the entire annual charge for the police service a considerable sum was drawn from local resources. The Consolidated Fund contributed 51½per cent, and local taxation 48½ per cent. If, of the additional sum now moved for, the City of Dublin contributed the former proportion, it would be a tax of 4d. in the pound. Having regard, however, to the high taxation of the City of Dublin, the Government were willing to fix the tax, not at 4d., but at 2d. in the pound; but, as the question of local taxation was being considered by Parliament, it was thought that for the present the Imperial taxation ought to bear the entire increase. It was not, however, to be understood that that state of things was to continue beyond the present year, and he therefore hoped to be able to propose to Parliament next Session a measure for the purpose of dividing on some equitable basis that additional expenditure between the Dublin police district and the Imperial Exchequer.
said, a fortnight ago he gave Notice of his intention to move a Resolution to the effect that the people of Dublin should be called upon to pay a further portion of the expenses of their police, instead of the Consolidated Fund being called upon to pay the amount it was. He found, however, that the Forms of the House would not allow him to move that Resolution, and he should now move the reduction of the Vote by £25,000. [Laughter.] The Committee might appear startled, but the facts of the case were startling. In the Miscellaneous Estimates for the present year the increased cost of the Dublin police was put at £13,000, and now they had an Estimate for an additional £26,000, making the increase for this year alone £39,000. He found that the Dublin police force cost the Government no less than £106,784; indeed, as other sums, amounting together to over £11,000, obtained from the taxes on carriages and pawnbrokers' licences, were paid for the same purpose, it might be said the Dublin police force cost the national Exchequer over £118,000. That was a most extravagant expenditure. In all England outside the metropolitan area, the police cost the Government £290,000, and in all Scotland the cost was £45,000. The Dublin police cost, therefore, two-and-a-half times as much as those in all Scotland, and taking England and Scotland together, the Dublin police cost the country one-third more. The population of England and Scotland, outside the metropolitan area, was 22,000,000, and the population of Dublin was about 300,000. That large expenditure was going on from bad to worse, and it seemed that the more peaceful Ireland became the greater was the police force required in Dublin. By-and-by Parliament would be asked to pay the house-rent of the people of Dublin. By that Supplementary Vote the amount which the Committee was now asked to vote for the Irish Constabulary was raised to £1,137,000, and if the Dublin police force were added the amount was increased to £1,277,000. A penny in the pound might be taken off the income tax in England and Scotland, if the Irish people would pay their own police expenses.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1874, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners of Police, of the Police Courts, and of the Metropolitan Police Establishment of Dublin."—(Mr. M'Laren.)
said, he wished to remind the Committee that it was an arrangement made by Sir Robert Peel that the expenses of the Irish Constabulary should fall upon the Consolidated Fund. In Dublin, however, only one-half was paid out of the Consolidated Fund, the remaining moiety being defrayed by the inhabitants. The hon. Member for Edinburgh must remember that the situations of Dublin and Edinburgh were widely different. Dublin was a seat of government, whilst Edinburgh was not. Dublin contained double the number of inhabitants that Edinburgh did; and it was a real metropolis, which Edinburgh was not. The finan- cial arrangements of the City having been concluded before the increase was granted, the Government had wisely borne the whole this year, intending that hereafter the Dublin people should pay a proportion, to which they did not object. Unless the hon. Member for Edinburgh was jealous of Dublin, he ought not to oppose the Vote.
while supporting the Vote, said, that the hon. Member for Edinburgh had fallen into error in regard to the population of Dublin; but, taking everything into the account, the cost of the police in Dublin appeared to be very high compared with the cost in Edinburgh. The amount available for the payment of the police might, however, be considerably increased by the removal of exemptions of Government and other classes of property from the police rate, and by the enlargement of the Dublin police area. He would ask the Government whether there were no means of diminishing the number of the police?
recommended the withdrawal of the Amendment, on the ground that a strong police Force, coupled with the Peace Preservation Act, formed part of the policy of the present Government.
regretted that a question of such magnitude should have been brought forward at so late a period of the Session. Last year the maintenance of police in Ireland cost £978,000. The cost this year, including these Supplementary Votes, would be £1,277,000, or an increase of £299,000. This charge was becoming so serious as to call for the gravest consideration on the part of the Government and of Parliament. The increased pay to the men was inevitable; but, considering the peaceful state of Ireland and the loyalty of the people, a force of 12,000 was too large. Another alternative was to make the Irish people themselves pay for the maintenance of their own police, as the English people paid for theirs. He hoped his hon. Friend (Mr. M'Laren) would take the sense of the House on his Amendment.
said, if that increase of 25 per cent to the pay of the Dublin metropolitan police was justifiable, what a comment it was upon the policy of the Government that they should be obliged to accept en bloc the recommendations of their Commissioners in that manner. Such a proposal could never have been seriously made to the House except in the last week in July. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland said that next year he would propose that the City of Dublin itself should pay an increase of 2d. in the pound for the additional pay of the police. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) had no great hope that that proposal would be carried out; but in order to stimulate the Government to make it, he would suggest that the hon. Member for Edinburgh should propose to reduce the Vote by £10,000, which would be the amount yielded by a 2d. rate. If the hon. Member would agree to that alteration, he should be happy to support him in his Amendment. While the Government resisted the Motion of the hon. Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), they were in this case proposing a large grant from the Imperial Exchequer in aid of local rates. Some explanation was required from the Treasury as to why they accepted the recommendations of their Commissioners so implicitly in that matter, and yet declined to accept their recommendations in regard to the Civil Servants in Dublin, into whose position and remuneration they were also authorized to inquire. Before adding 25 per cent to the pay of the Dublin police, surely the Government ought to have seen whether the whole Force might not have been reconstructed.
thought when a comparison was drawn between the cases of Dublin and Edinburgh, it should be remembered that the Edinburgh police were under the control of the municipality of that city, whereas the Dublin police were exclusively controlled by two Commissioners appointed by the Lord Lieutenant. In Ireland they had a system of government based on distrust of the people, while in England they had a system of government based on trust of the people. He should be glad to see the police of Dublin placed under the control of the municipality, and employed for the purpose of keeping the peace, and then the inhabitants of Dublin would be willing to pay for them. But at present the police of Dublin were used for political purposes, and to prevent peaceable meetings of the citizens, and that spoilt them for the purpose of keeping the peace. While that system was continued justice required that the whole cost of police in Dublin should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer.
said, he had often been astonished by speeches which he had heard in that House, but he was never more surprised than that night. His Scotch Friends—who now said "Ireland is peaceable, therefore reduce the Irish police"—were, at least some of them, the same party who not long ago said "Double and treble the police force in Ireland." Why was that change? It was "money"—nothing but "money." His hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh said the police of the City were under the municipality; and, that being so, he (Sir Dominic Corrigan) had no doubt their duties did not extend beyond the municipality; but the duties of the Dublin police extended nine miles beyond the city, and many miles along the coast with the foreshore and river and some distance out to sea. In London, if he was rightly informed, they had a river police. In Dublin their police must do both land and sea service. When they compared the Dublin with the London police, the difference in the conduct of the two was great. What did the London police do recently when there was wanted an increase of salary? They marched to Trafalgar Square, and said, addressing the authorities—"Pay us properly; if you will not, we will leave you." The Irish police bore their sufferings, and did not threaten. He hoped the Committee would pass the Vote as proposed, without any reduction, and that more especially when they considered the fidelity the Force had evinced throughout the Fenian disturbances. He attributed much of the costliness of the Dublin police to the practice in that City of keeping the public-houses open all day on Sunday and to a late hour on Saturdays.
regarded that as an important question, but thought the hon. Member for Edinburgh had asked them to reduce the Vote too much. They paid not long ago a little more than half of the cost of this Force, and now they were called upon to pay the whole of this increase. He thought they ought to keep on the lines which had been already laid down, and if the hon. Member for Edinburgh would move to reduce the amount by £12,000, he thought a good many hon. Members would be inclined to vote with him.
was surprised to hear the speech of his hon. and gallant Friend. Every country ought to pay according to its resources; but although Ireland was a poorer country than either England or Scotland, she was called upon to pay more than her just proportion to the Imperial Exchequer. That Vote, then, would only tend in some small measure to adjust the disproportion which at present existed, and he would therefore support it. If the public Exchequer did not bear the expense, the Fenians and Home Rulers who kept up a state of disquietude in the country ought to do so, and therefore he would have no objection to Government placing a poll-tax upon those gentlemen.
said, there were two faults in the proposal made by the Government. One was, the time when it was brought forward, and the other, the merits of the proposition itself. No explanation had been given why that addition to the charge for the Dublin Police Force had not been brought forward in the Original Estimates which were in the hands of hon. Members at the end of February. As the Report of the Commission was presented before the close of last year, the Government had ample time before now to decide whether they would grant the increase to the police or not. For his own part, he entertained a strong objection to the proposition on its merits. The question as to the proportion of payment by local authorities for police purposes had been repeatedly raised in that House, especially by his hon. Friend the Member for South Devon (Sir Massey Lopes), in a discussion which resulted in a majority of 100 against the Government; but, notwithstanding that circumstance, the Government had since refused to give any assistance to the local authorities for the payment of the police throughout the kingdom. It was now proposed, however, to make an alteration in the proportion paid by the Imperial Exchequer and the local authorities respectively in the case of Dublin. It was proposed, indeed, that the whole of the addition should come out of the Imperial Exchequer. He objected to the question being dealt with in that piecemeal way, on the ground that if any change were made, it ought to be made with regard generally to the whole of the United Kingdom. It appeared to him that the right proportion of the addition would be for the local rates to bear £12,000, and the Imperial Exchequer £14,000, and he would support the Amendment if it were altered to that sum.
asked the House to hesitate before they adopted the Amendment of the hon. ember for Edinburgh. The increase of pay to the Dublin police was but an act of justice, and the money was asked for in order to carry out the recommendation of the Commissioners, who reported that when there were strikes of the police in London and great excitement, the Dublin police maintained an attitude of the most stoical and loyal calmness. For that very reason the Commissioners pressed on the Government not to delay doing what was right in the matter. It was true the apprehension of further delay caused something like a threat of a strike on the part of the Dublin police, since all the men declared they would give as a body a week's notice, which individually they were entitled to do; but Colonel Lake, who had secured their confidence, made an appeal to their loyalty and forbearance, and a strike was prevented. If, however, the present measure of justice were longer delayed, hon. Members might regret the consequences. He hoped it would not go forth to the public of Ireland that this so long-delayed act of justice was still to be postponed. All he could say was that the consequences would be that the House would probably hoar of the matter again.
thought that if Ireland desired legislation separate and distinct from that of England as she had in respect to the Church and as regarded landed property, she ought to pay for it. At the same time, Irish Members should make allowance for the interference of English Members, whose constituents otherwise would have to bear the pinch of that kind of legislation.
said, the proposition of the Government was an exceedingly fair one—that hereafter the proportion of increase should be paid by the City of Dublin. It was but a simple act of justice to the police to give them the increase; but at present, there were no means of making the City of Dublin pay it. It was impossible to reduce the num- ber of the Force, and the effect of the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick that the police should be placed in the hands of the Corporation would be that it would become necessary to send over a military Force to take care of them.
said, in answer to the remark of the hon. Member for North Hants (Mr. Sclater-Booth), that the Report of the Commission was received in December, and, although the Estimates were laid on the Table in February, they were, as a matter of fact, prepared long before—too long before to admit of the Government having fully considered the Report. They, therefore, inserted in the ordinary Estimates an item for provisional increase, seeing, whatever might be their decision on the general recommendations, a considerable increase would be necessary. Since that time they had gone into all the recommendations, and, not seeing that any modification could be made, they had nothing to do but to propose them en bloc. No one acquainted with Dublin could suppose that the constabulary there was in excess of the ordinary police duties, and it was a matter of fact that the officer in command would be glad to have the Force increased for purely police purposes. Why Dublin should require a larger police Force than Edinburgh he left it to the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) to explain. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) had maintained that the Irish constabulary was a political Force; but, whatever might be said in regard to the Royal Irish Constabulary, he thought nobody could contend that the Dublin police was not a success for police purposes, or that it was a political Force in any sense of the word. A reduction of the Vote would have a most unfortunate effect on the Force, and he trusted the Committee would not assent to it.
said, it was, perhaps, unavoidable that the Government at the fag-end of the Session should have to propose such a large increase in the pay of the constabulary of Ireland; but still it was neither just nor politic to alter the proportion of Imperial aid given in one case without reference to others. One would have thought that that was a question which the Government ought to have carefully avoided; and, what- ever happened that night, the fact would not be easily disposed of. The pay of the police had been increased in most counties; but the Government had not increased their contribution; and why should the Government do for Dublin what it had not done for any other part of the country? The proportions ought to be kept the same in all places; and, if any alterations were to be made, the claims of the United Kingdom should be fairly weighed. That was a wholly separate question from increase of pay, and he did not see why the Government had mixed up the two.
said, the first vote he gave in the House was against the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland; he was then in a minority of 5 against 300, and he had since warmly supported all measures which Irish Members believed to be for the benefit of Ireland. The question now was, not whether the increase of pay should be given, but who should pay it. In compliance with the suggestions made, he would, if permitted, withdraw his Amendment and move another.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
Motion made, and Question put,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £14,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1874, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Commissioners of Police, of the Police Courts, and of the Metropolitan Police Establishment of Dublin."—(Mr. M'Laren.)
The Committee divided:—Ayes 71; Noes 124: Majority 53.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(10.) £153,750, Constabulary Force (Ireland).
said, it was the intention of the Government to revise the whole of the expenditure under this head, and, if possible, not only reduce the Force during the Recess, but devise some scheme by which the Irish counties should contribute a reasonable proportion of the expense.
complained that the Government had not made up their minds upon the subject long before this. It was most extraordinary that they should have waited until the last days of July to increase the Vote for the Irish con- stabulary to the extent now proposed. He protested against that course.
Vote agreed to.
(11.) £23,725, Supplementary sum, Miscellaneous Legal Charges in Ireland.
said, there was an impression in Ireland that the Vote was applied to corrupt purposes. He protested against such a Vote being brought forward at the fag-end of the Session.
said. he had listened with patience to what the hon. Gentleman had said, believing that he would have given some reason for saying that the Vote was for corrupt purposes.
explained what he had said was, that the feeling in Ireland was that it was intended for corrupt purposes.
asked the hon. Gentleman to say what were the corrupt purposes to which he had alluded? If the hon. Gentleman objected to the Vote, he should have opposed the 63rd clause of the Irish Land Act, which provided that remuneration should be given to certain parties, and it was to carry out that object this Vote was proposed. The hon. Gentleman ought to have given some grounds for making such an extraordinary statement, and stated against whom, or to what it referred.
asked if the charge was in consequence of the Irish Land Act?
Yes; the 63rd section of the Act was, that additional remuneration for duties cast upon the Chairmen of Quarter Sessions should be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer.
said, that if the 63rd section was what the noble Marquess stated, then the Act was not what he thought.
asked, why the case of the officers of the Civil Bill Courts was not considered as well as that of the Chairmen of Sessions?
said, it was under consideration; but a difficulty had arisen with respect to them as they were paid by fees, and not by salaries.
Vote agreed to.
(12.) £27,000, Supplementary sum, British Museum.
said, he must draw attention to the increased duties which would be thrown upon the officers of the Museum by the purchase of the Castellani and other Collections. The noble Lord was proceeding to urge the propriety of increasing the salaries of these officials, in consequence—when
called the noble Lord to Order. The Vote now before the Committee was of a definite sum for a specific purpose—the purchase of the Castellani Collection. The grant of salaries having already been voted, it was not competent to the noble Lord to revert to that question.
submitted that if he was out of Order, the Chairman was still more out of Order in proposing to the Committee a Vote for the "Salaries and Expenses of the British Museum," when it was in reality a Vote for purchasing a Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities. It was, he ventured to suggest, still more out of Order for the Treasury, through the Chairman of Ways and Means, to ask the Committee to vote £27,000 towards the salaries and expenses of the British Museum, when that sum was not to pay such salaries and expenses. If he was out of Order, it was because the Treasury had not correctly described the Estimate.
explained that the heading of the Estimate was prescribed by the Exchequer and Audit Act, but the Vote put from the Chair did not bring in the words of the Estimate.
said, he had given Notice to the right hon. Member for Cambridge University of a Question which the right hon. Gentleman had consented to answer. He wished to ask if there were not upon the shelves of the British Museum a large number of duplicate copies of books, which—["Order!" "Question!"]
said, the Question before the Committee was a Vote for the purchase of the Castellani Collection, and it was very desirable that hon. Gentlemen should keep to that question.
said, he thought the whole matter of the Vote might be brought under discussion upon a Supplementary Vote, as he understood this Vote was for a sum required to supplement the sum already voted for the salaries and expenses of the British Museum. He submitted that his noble Friend was perfectly in Order, when it was proposed to add to the duties of the officers of the British Museum by entrusting to them the care of certain acquisitions, to discuss the question whether they were adequately paid for their duties.
said, he did not interrupt the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) whilst he confined his remarks to the question of the additional duties which would be imposed upon the officials by the purchase of the Collection; but when he departed from that to discuss the general questions of duties and salaries, he thought it his duty to interfere.
thought the noble Lord had a perfect right to move the omission of the Vote, and, as an argument for the Motion, to refer to the inadequacy of the present salaries.
said, he would repeat his Question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge to-morrow.
expressed his regret if what he had said should be deemed to imply any discourtesy towards the Chairman—he had merely desired to call the hon. Gentleman's attention to what he considered a mistake in his ruling. As the Chairman ruled that he was out of Order, he would not pursue the observations which he had intended to make, but would simply ask the Secretary of the Treasury, whether the Government would reconsider the scheme or memorial which was forwarded to them in March last?
After a pause—
moved to omit the Vote.
On Question? Vote agreed to.
(13.) £1,500, Supplementary sum, National Gallery.
(14.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £3,711, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1874, for the Expenses of Her Majesty's Embassies and Missions Abroad."
complained that the discussion of the Vote had been postponed to one of the last days of July. He objected to the Vote on a principle of public policy—namely, that no presents should be made to Judges, and Judges these Arbitrators were to all intents and purposes. A few days ago the Prime Minister, in answer to a Question he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) put to him on this subject, referred to five cases which he called precedents in support of that proceeding; but not one of them applied to this case. All of them were cases in which gifts were presented to agents of Foreign Governments for services rendered to British subjects. Nobody could doubt that if a present were offered to the Lord Chief Justice of England for having taken part in that Arbitration, he would refuse it. If presents were to be made to the Foreign Members of the Geneva Arbitration, why was it not proposed to offer a present to the Emperor of Germany who had discharged judicial duties of, perhaps, more importance to this country than had those Arbitrators? In 1824 a sum of £533 was voted to the Danish Minister; a Vote of £1,000 was passed for a present to the Emperor of Morocco on his accession; and in 1829, £2,000 was voted as a present to the Grand Seignor. Arbitration, it seemed, was to be the guiding principle for the future. But was it not right to stop the practice of giving presents in such cases? In foreign countries it was true the giving of presents to Ministers was of common occurrence; but he altogether objected to such payments as this, and should therefore move the rejection of the Vote.
explained that under the 8th Article of the Treaty of Washington the two Governments proposed to pay the personal and travelling expenses of the Arbitrators appointed by the Brazilian, the Italian, and the Swiss Governments. The Italian and Swiss Arbitrators accepted the payment of those expenses, the Brazilian Arbitrator declining to accept them. Near the close of the Arbitration, the American Counsel proposed that he should consult the English Agent as to what should be the remuneration to he given to the three Arbitrators. The English Agent declared that he was not empowered to make any proposal of that nature, but that he would refer home for instructions. He did so, and the instructions he received from Her Majesty's Government were to the effect that, in their opinion, it would not be seemly to offer a sum of money to the Arbitrators, considering their judicial capacity and the functions they had performed; but that, in accordance with diplomatic usage, they thought it might be perhaps advisable to present them with some complimentary testimonial in the shape of a piece of plate. To that the American Government agreed, and they had themselves provided three pieces of plate for the Arbitrators. It became the duty of Her Majesty's Government to provide the same; the sum asked for was about equal; and he trusted that after that explanation the Vote would be agreed to.
The Committee divided: Ayes 138; Noes 16; Majority 122.
(15.) £51,706, Supplementary sum, Colonial Local Revenue, &c.
(16.) £15,000, Supplementary sum, Tonnage Bounties, &c.
(17.) £14,000, Supplementary sum, Temporary Commissions.
objected to the Vote, and asked whether it was the intention of the Government to send out a Royal Commission to Vienna?
said, there was no intention to do anything of the kind.
complained of the late period at which the large Supplemental Vote for the Vienna Exhibition Commission had been applied for. Owing to the niggardly Vote taken in the first instance, to the small amount of which he had before called attention, the Commissioners had actually been compelled to defray many of the expenses out of their own pockets.
Vote agreed to.
(18.) £7,000, Supplementary sum, Miscellaneous Expenses.
objected to the manner in which the Vote was put in, inasmuch as the House might be called on hereafter to pay a further sum. He thought the whole charge ought to have been placed on the Civil List.
said, that, as he understood, £7,000 would be the whole expenditure charged to the public. Her Majesty undertook one portion of this expenditure and the Treasury the other, and he believed the public would have the best of the bargain.
Vote agreed to.
(19.) £5,760, Repayment of Moneys under the Kensington Station and North and South Junction Railway Act 1859 (Repayment of Moneys) Act 1872.
(20) £10,000 Dover Harbour.
explained that the Vote was intended to be applied towards the completion of these works, according to a plan which had been sanctioned by high engineering authority.
said, if the Vote were agreed to, the House would be committed to an expenditure of £850,000, or perhaps £1,000,000.
said, £500,000 would be lent by the Public Works Loan Commissioners on security of the harbour dues.
Vote agreed to.
(21.) £43,000, Supplementary sum, Telegraph Extension Works.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Mr. Miller.)
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
(22.) £847,462, Half-Pay, Reserved Half-Pay, &c., Navy and Royal Marines,
(23.) £167,740, Freight of Ships, &c.
(24.) £12,000, Supplementary sum, Navy (Scientific Branch).
(25.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £15,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of the increased Rate of Retired Pay to certain Classes of Officers now on the Active List."
in moving to omit the item of £15,000, said: Mr. Bonham-Carter—At this period of the night, I shall detain the Committee as short a time as possible on the subject of the Vote which has just now been proposed. The Committee will remember that not long ago, by the indulgence of the House, I took an opportunity of moving for a Committee to inquire into the discontent which at present exists in the Navy, owing partly to the scheme of retirement, and partly to the great absence of promotion which at present exists. I, on that occasion, had an opportunity allowed me by the House of pointing out the stagnation of promotion, mainly due, in my opinion, to the Retirement Scheme of 1870, and that the public charge which it had been anticipated would be reduced in the course of the past three years had not been so reduced, but remained at the same figure at which it was before with reference to the retired pay, the half-pay, and the reserve pay of the Navy. I had hoped that the inquiry by the Committee for which I moved would, if the House had granted it, have given further information to this House, and would have enabled the Government to make proposals with the view of modifying the present arrangements, and of restoring in some degree that contentment to the officers of the Navy, which at present is so sadly wanting. But my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. T. Brassey) thought it bettor to move as an Amendment to my proposal, for a Committee which should inquire into only part of that subject; and the House agreed with my hon. Friend in that course. If that Committee had been appointed—I attribute no blame to my hon. Friend, who explained to the House the reasons why it was not appointed—I believe we should have had an opportunity of inquiring partially into this matter; and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, in proposing on the last day of Supply a further grant of £15,000, would perhaps have been able, as I think, to apply it in a better manner than he now proposes. Even supposing the Committee were ready to grant this sum, it might have been rendered unnecessary by making certain changes which I think would be advisable to have proposed to the House, instead of voting a sum of money at this period of the Session after the Estimates have all been considered. Now, the House must remember that when the scheme of Naval Retirement was proposed in 1870, it was stated, in proposing it to the House, that at the end of three years that increased charge would be diminished to the sum at which it then existed. But a Return which is on the Table of the House shows that there is no diminution, and therefore we may assume that this £15,000 will also be a continuous charge for the future upon the Naval Votes. I wish to point out to the House why I think it is unadvisable that they should at the present time grant this additional £15,000 for this purpose. Let me say, first of all, that there are one or two kinds of naval retirement which the House will always sanction. There is, for instance, the retirement of those officers who are too old to serve, and whom it is wise, no doubt, to retire upon pensions for the services which they have previously rendered, but which they are not able to render any more. But the object of retiring these officers is that younger men may be appointed in their place. Now, this scheme is not made with that view. The object of this proposition, as I understand it, is to reduce the Lists to the given number which is supposed to be the number which is right and proper for this House to maintain as officers on the Active List of the Navy. Now, I wish to point out to the House that the number so proposed is far too small for the purpose. It must be remembered by the Committee that it is quite the same to the country whether the pay of the officers is on the Retired List, or on the Active List, so far as the public charge goes; excepting that they cost a little more upon the Retired than upon the Active List, and that, singularly enough, we of all nations in Europe—it is very difficult to explain what we do—we buy men, who are active and efficient, out of the Navy, on condition not that they should serve, but that they will not serve. That is to say, active and efficient persons who have been trained in that profession are given considerable sums of money not to trouble the First Lord of the Admiralty to give them commands or employment. That is the sole object of this proposition. If it were that these men were inefficient, or that they were too old, then one would understand that it would be wise to give them sums of money to go away; but if they were simply inefficient they might be got rid of in a cheaper manner—and that is by court-martial, which would turn them out of the service. If, however, they are too old, it is quite right to pension them; but in the place of those so retired others should be promoted, so as to keep up a proper flow of promotion. Now, I have with considerable trouble—and thanks to a gentleman, whose name I mentioned before—Mr. Hickman—a most competent authority—had carefully prepared the present condition of the Active List, both of its ships and the offi- cers upon it. I am not now going into the question of the Flag List, because I understand this proposition is not for retiring flag officers. Be that as it may, all I am now going to do is to see whether it is wise to reduce the Active List of the Navy as low as it is proposed to reduce it, and whether it is wise to buy out of the Navy efficient officers whose places you will have to fill—I do not say in the event of a naval war, but in the event of any disturbance which obliges you to commission the ships which you have. Now, you have at this moment 88 post ships in commission, and of captains 88 employed; and you have of ships 66—ships which with some repair might be commissioned. (I have carefully excluded wooden line-of-battle ships, which I think ought not to be considered efficient men-of-war.) I have taken ships, which without any considerable repairing or expense are at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, and which he would be required to commission in the case of the slightest naval disturbance. The names of these ships which I have taken are entirely at his service—I hold them in my hand—but at so late a period in the evening I will not trouble the Committee by going into that detail. I hope they will believe that this Return is accurate. Well, there are 88 captains in ships in commission. There are of ships in the Reserve a very small number fit for service—namely, 66. These together make 154 captains who would be required if these ships were commissioned. It is proposed to reduce the number of captains to 150. Now, that is to say, that we should have four captains less than the ships in which we require to put them. But surely it is necessary to have a margin for, men who may be ineffective—for men who will require leave; and therefore it cannot possibly be right to reduce the number below the number of ships which in three months time it may be necessary from political exigences to find captains for. I have no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will answer—"I will promote commanders;" but what will be the effect of that? There are at present 110 commanders' commands, and there are 49 commanders employed in the Coastguard, making 159. There are 76 commanders' ships in the Reserve, which would make the total required for ships and the Coastguard, 235. The proposal is to reduce the commanders' list to 200. We should therefore—unless we took all the commanders out of the Coastguard, which under the circumstances would have to be done—be 35 commanders short. What we should be required to do would no doubt be to take commanders out of the Coastguard. In that case you would have a surplus of 14 commanders. But then you would have no commanders in the Coastguard, and no Reserve commanders, and would have to fall back upon the lieutenants' list. Let us see how the lieutenants' list stands. There are now afloat 485 lieutenants employed actively, and there are required for these 66 captains' commands and 76 commanders' commands, 369 lieutenants. The ordinary complement—I am not speaking of the extraordinary complement for war, but only the complement for these ships as at present regulated—so that the number of lieutenants actually required would be 854, if we were to commission the very small number of ships which we at present have, and without looking to the necessity for hiring ships in the event of a great naval war, or the thousand and one duties which lieutenants have to be employed in, in the event of actual hostilities. It is proposed to reduce the lieutenants' list to 600, leaving 254 lieutenants short in the event of a naval disturbance. Now, it is no discovery, for hon. Gentlemen who have taken the trouble to read the Reports of Royal Commissions or of Committees of this House which have inquired into this subject, will have found that the lowest number of lieutenants ever put by any First Lord was 900. Some First Lords put the numbers as high as 1,200, and 1,000, and there were then 900. Some naval officers examined before a Committee of this House, presided over by the right hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Spencer Walpole), put the number at 800 and 700; but the Duke of Somerset, who was then First Lord, said he would not be responsible for the Navy with less than 900 lieutenants. Now, that is a calculation which I confess I have never made so carefully before, but I have had it carefully made for me by Mr. Hickman, who gives the names of the ships in commission and reserve, with the number of officers actually in them and their different ranks, showing that if you reduce your captains' list as you propose to reduce it, you will be four short; that if you reduce your commanders to 200, the establishment proposed, you will have 35 commanders short, and that if you reduce your lieutenants to 600, you will be 254 lieutenants short. Now, I do not propose to go through the other ranks, nor to delay the Committee by a long discussion upon this point; but it does seem to me that it will be very disadvantageous to the Navy if we grant this money for the purpose of persuading active men to go out of the Service; and I think it is a most wasteful expenditure of the public money to buy efficient men out of the profession, and not keep them in some reserve where you could call upon them to serve in case their services were required. It may be said that there are a considerable number of junior officers whom it is desirable to promote into these ranks. Well, I confess I look with some alarm on the very large number of junior officers. The Return which was laid on the Table very lately has shown that there are between 900 and 1,000 officers below the rank of lieutenant, and at the present rate of promotion they may be 50 years in that rank; but if the lists were made up to the number required, if new promotions were made so that you should have at least 200 captains, at least 250 commanders, and at least 900 lieutenants, you would have a due and proper flow of promotion at once in the Navy, and relieve the right hon. Gentleman from the difficulty under which he labours with regard to these junior officers who have been admitted to the Navy, and for whom at present in these reduced Lists there seems to be no prospect of advancement. Now I say this also, that if the Committee intends to give grants to the First Lord of the Admiralty for this purpose, and to the Government, it would be desirable that the half-pay of the Navy should be increased and not the retired pay. Either you are going to buy out the best men and to give them an increased salary for going away from your service, or you are going to reward worse men by giving them higher pay for leaving, than the good men whom you wish to retain on the half-pay list. The course I have suggested would certainly ensure the most prudent application of the public money. The numbers of the Navy ought at least to be adjusted so that ships if commissioned may have fit and proper officers put in them; and if the House is generous and about to grant this money to the Admiralty, it should be applied in raising the half-pay of the good officers of the Navy whose services you desire to retain, and not in buying out those who either do not wish to serve or whom you do not wish to retain in your service. I therefore, Sir, move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £15,000.
said, he was glad to hear the admission that there were 66 ships in command of captains fit to go to sea in three months. The fact was that there were 21 captains in command of peace or non-fighting ships, and the same remark applied in proportion to the number of commanders and fighting lieutenants. There were a large number of junior officers coming up, and thus a constant supply of lieutenants would be maintained. What was wanted was to ensure more constant employment of captains and commanders than at present, and the Admiralty had made one or two alterations in the scheme proposed by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), in order to meet the views of officers of different ranks if they would retire at once. The captains above seven years' seniority would receive a minimum retired pay of £450, or £100 in addition to the retired pay to which they were now entitled, but not to exceed in all £600. The captains under seven years' seniority would receive £400, or £100 in addition; but also not to exceed £600. The commanders above three years' seniority were to receive £300, and under three years' seniority £260, or £100 in addition to retired pay, but not to exceed in all £400. The lieutenants were to receive £75 per annum in addition to retired pay to which they were now entitled, but not to exceed in all £300. The sub-lieutenants would receive 5s. a-day. The scheme would be a temporary one. The opportunity of retirement would only be left open for a given time, and only 70 captains, 100 commanders, and 80 lieutenants would be allowed to retire. The object was to reduce the list in order to give more frequent and constant employment to those who remained—a point to which, the Government attached the greatest importance, both as regarded the position of the officers and the efficiency of the Navy.
expressed his strong disapproval of the plan. In a financial point of view the scheme was preposterous, and would in no way satisfactorily remedy the extreme disproportion which existed between the senior and junior officers.
thanked the First Lord of the Admiralty for his concessions. He differed with his hon. and gallant Friend, and cordially approved of the plan proposed by the Admiralty. It was most important to have at all times a sufficient number of officers to meet any emergency that might arise, and he considered it a great advantage to keep them employed, and give them an increased chance of promotion.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 69; Noes 30: Majority 39.
(26.) £142,901, Greenwich Hospital and School.
Resolutions to be reported To-morrow at Two of the clock.
Ways And Means
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Resolved, That towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty for the Service of the year ending on the 31st day of March 1874, the sum of £26,470.716, be granted out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.
Resolution to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
House adjourned at Three o'clock.