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Commons Chamber

Volume 218: debated on Thursday 26 March 1874

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 26th March, 1874.

MINUTES.]—NEW MEMBER SWORN—Thomas Henry Clifton, esquire, for, Lancaster (Northern Division).

SELECT COMMITTEE—Committee of Selection, Mr. Thomson Hankey added; Privileges, nominated.

Ordered—First Reading—Bills of Sale Act (1854) Amendment* [48]; Coroners (Ireland)* [49]; Inkeepers Liability * [50].

First Reading—Irish Land Act (1870) Extension* [47].

Second Reading—Middlesex Sessions [29].

Committee,— Report—(£7,000,000) Consolidated Fund* ; East India Loan * [28].

Third Reading—(£1,422,797 14 s. 6 d.) Consolidated Fund.*

India—East India Revenue Accounts—The Financial Statement—Question

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he will be able to arrange that the discussion upon the statement of the Financial Affairs of India shall take place before the month of July?

, in reply, said, it would no doubt be desirable that the statement should be made at an earlier period of the Session than it had been heretofore; but in the present undeveloped state of Public Business he could not enter into any engagement on the subject.

Egypt—The Suez Canal—The International Treay—Questions

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, To state the nature of the International Treaty recently made at Constantinople relative to the Suez Canal Dues on Merchant Shipping; also, what provision has been made, if any, for the use of the Canal by ships of war in the event of this or any other maritime Power having hostilities with the Turkish Government?

There has been no International Treaty of the nature alluded to. An International Commission of the Maritime Powers was convened by the Sublime Porte in 1873. Those Powers sent their Commissioners. Their deliberations commenced in October and ended in December last. The result of them is contained in a Report signed by all the Commissioners on the 18th of December. This Report will be laid before Parliament immediately, and the Porte has called upon the Khedive to see that the company carry out the recommendations of the Commission. The question relating to the use of the canal by ships of war did not come before the Commission, who were restricted to the consideration of canal dues and international tonnage.

asked. Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to bring the question of the navigation of the Suez Canal by ships of war before the Turkish Government?

Ocean Highways—Question

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If he is aware that the Cunard Steam Company have arranged for their own vessels on the Atlantic, separate sailing tracks eastward and westward in order to avoid collisions; if he is aware that the United States Government have it in view to endeavour to arrange a general system of Ocean Highways; and, if Her Majesty's Government is prepared to co-operate with the United States in this object, or to take any action of their own to bring it about?

The Cunard Company have some time since issued a notice for an ocean track for their steamers across the Atlantic, fixing a certain distance of latitude on a particular meridian for the outward and homeward bound to keep respectively. The United States Government have taken no steps for a general system; but a private Member of Congress has introduced a Bill for appointing a Commissioner for an International Conference, and that Bill has been referred to a Committee. It will be necessary for Her Majesty's Government to learn the opinion of the United States Government on this Motion, and of the various shipowners interested, before taking any steps in co-operation.

Ireland—Disturbance At Coalisland, Tyrone—Question

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, What course the Government intend to take in the case of certain parties returned for trial for attacking a procession of Sunday school children at Coalisland, County Tyrone, on the 24th of June last; and also in regard to the Protestants, three times brought up before the magistrates by order of the late Government, when, on each occasion, summonses were refused to be granted against them for a defence of the children, rendered necessary by the non-action of the constabulary?

, in reply, said, the prosecution of the parties referred to in the first part of the Question had been adjourned until the next assizes, and therefore the case was still pending. With regard to the whole matter to which the Question related, the informations were at present before the Attorney General for Ireland, and were under his careful consideration.

Benefit Building Societies


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he intends this Session to introduce a Bill to amend and codify the Laws regulating Benefit Building Societies; and, if so, whether such Bill will be independent of or comprise a part of that intended to be introduced for the regulation of Friendly Societies?

, in reply, said, that since that Question had been put upon the Paper, Notice had been given by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Torrens) that he would introduce a Bill on Monday next on that subject. The Government, as the House were aware, had undertaken to deal with Friendly Societies this year, and until their Bill was in a more mature state than it was at present, it was impossible for him to give a definite answer whether they would themselves take in hand the question of Building Societies this Session. But if they did it would be independent of the measure they would bring in with respect to Friendly Societies.

India-East India Finance—Appointment Of A Select Committee


asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to move for the appointment of a Committee on Indian Finance to continue the investigations of that which sat during the last Parliament?

said, he wished to put another Question of which he had given private Notice. In 1871 a Select Committee was appointed, consisting of 32 Members, of whom 13 had now ceased to be Members of the House. Under these circumstances he would ask whether Her Majesty's Government would consider the expediency of appointing a Royal Commission, under the direction of the Viceroy in Council, to inquire from Native witnesses in India into the present system of taxation and land-holding in that portion of the Empire?

, in reply, said, that the Committee alluded to by the hon. Member sat for three years, and was composed of 31 Members. Of those 31 Members three had, owing to recent Ministerial changes, accepted posts which would not enable them to give their personal attendance on the Committee, even assuming that it was possible to re-appoint it. Of the remaining 28 no fewer than 13 had unfortunately lost their scats at the General Election, among them being the well-known names of Mr. Ayrton, the Chairman of the former Committee, Mr. Fawcett, Mr. Eastwick, Mr. Crawford, and Sir Charles Wingfield. Under those circumstances it was not possible for the Government to re-appoint a Committee, a large number of whose Members were no longer Members of the House. At the same time, it was under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government whether or not it would be advisable to appoint a smaller Committee with a more limited reference, directing their attention to definite and tangible points connected with East Indian finance. In answer to the Question put to him by the hon. Member for Finsbury he had to say that Her Majesty's Government did not think it would be advisable to issue a Royal Commission to take Native evidence, as the hon. Gentleman had suggested.

Gas Companies—The Price Of Gas


asked the President of the Board of Trade, If he will lay upon the Table of the House, a Copy of the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, to the effect that the Board of Trade Commissioners, in settling the price of Gas to be paid by the public, are precluded from inquiring into the mode in which the Gas Companies have raised or expended their capital?

There is no such Opinion of the Law Officers as the Question implies. There is an Opinion given by Sir John Karslake, Sir Richard Bagallay, and Mr. Round, not as Law Officers, but as counsel, on a question referred to them as to the powers of the Commissioners appointed by the Board of Trade, on the application of the Imperial (Jas Company in 1869, to revise the scale of illuminating powers. I am about to present Papers giving the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Commissioners for 1873 and 1874, as soon as they are concluded, which will include the Opinion referred to.

Weights And Measures Acts—Inspection By The Police


asked the President of the Board of Trade, If he intends introducing a Bill this Session, making provision for the adjustment and verification of Weights and Measures by persons other than the Police, in accordance with the suggestions in the Standard Commissioners Report?

, in reply, said, the Report was under the consideration of the Government, and he would state if they had any intention of introducing a Bill on the subject after Easter.

Parliament—Business Of The House—Question

asked the right honourable Member for Chester, Whether he intends to re-introduce this year his proposed Resolutions of 1872, for the conduct of the Business of the House of Commons?

, in reply, said, the reform of private Business could be best dealt with by the Government, inasmuch as they possessed machinery and information which no individual Member could obtain. The House unanimously agreed to a Resolution to that effect in 1872. He was not without hope, after what fell from the Irish Secretary, on a former night, that the present Government would take up the question, and lie was disposed to wait to see if they would do so; but he could assure his hon. Friend that he was by no means disposed to lose sight of the matter.

Army—Easter Monday Review


asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is his intention, on the occasion of the Easter Monday field-day, to order out the Regular Troops of Engineers, Artillery, Cavalry, and Infantry comprised within the Home District Command; or, if he will state to the House what proportion, if any, of such Troops of all Arms will be employed with the Auxiliary Forces on that occasion? On the occasion of the last Easter Monday Review, Mr. Secretary Cardwell had permitted the attendance of part of the London garrison—namely, throe Battalions of Foot Guards, one regiment of Life Guards, the Blues, and the Hussar Regiment then quartered at Hounslow.

, in reply, said, that it was not the intention of the General Officer commanding the district to take any Regular Troops for the Easter Monday Review, as he thought the Volunteers would be quite sufficient to fill up the limited space of ground at their disposal.

Post Office—Charges For Telegraphic Messages—Question

asked the Postmaster General, Whether the rates of charges for delivery of telegraphic messages have been fixed by the Postmaster General and the Lords of the Treasury, pursuant to section 15 of "The Telegraph Act, 1868;" and, whether a Copy of the Regulations has teen laid before Parliament, pursuant to section 23 of that Act?

, in reply, said, that the charges for delivery of messages had been regulated by the Telegraph Act of 1868, and it was not necessary for the Postmaster General or the Lords of the Treasury to frame any regulations on the subject.

Middlesex Sessions Bill—Bill 29

( Mr. Raikes, Mr. Secretary Cross, Sir Henry Selwin Ibbctson.)

Second Reading

Order for Second Reading read.

, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, stated that in accordance with 7 & 8 Vict. c. 71, under which the Assistant Judge was appointed, a salary was paid to him out of the Consolidated Fund of £1,200 a-year. He was allowed, besides performing his duties as a Judge, to practise as a barrister, and by 14 & 15 Vict. c. 55, a second Chairman was allowed to be appointed, with the view of facilitating the transaction of the business. That second Chairman was also allowed to practise as a barrister; but under 22nd & 23rd Vict. e. 4, afresh arrangement was made, the County agreeing to pay a sum of £300 in addition to the £1,200 paid out of the Consolidated Fund, the Assistant Judge being required to give up his practice as Serjeant-at-law or as a barrister. But a proviso was added terminating the whole arrangement upon the termination of the appointment of the Judge then appointed. With the recent resignation of Sir William Bodkin, therefore, the question arose of providing a salary for his successor. The present Bill would give effect to an arrangement by which one moiety of the salary should be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, and the other moiety should be charged on and paid out of the county rate of the county of Middlesex. The Treasury had also agreed to pay to a Deputy a fixed sum of five guineas a day whenever the Assistant Judge became inca- pacitated by illness or other reasonable cause from attending to the discharge of his duties. The Bill had been most carefully considered by the Treasury and the Home Office, and it appeared to him to be a fair settlement of the question. He hoped, therefore, the House would assent to the second reading.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.

Municipal Privileges (Ireland) Bill—Bill 33

( Mr. Bill, sir John Gary, Mr. Bryan, Mr. P. J. Smyth.)

Second Reading

Order for Second Beading read.

proposed to adjourn the second reading of the Bill until Wednesday, the 15th of April. He was quite ready to move the second reading at once; but he understood that the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary wished for time to consider the Bill. It was, however, secretary fair to ask him to postpone the Bill until Jury, when he might lose it altogether.

said, he hoped that as the Irish Members opposing the Bill were Members of the Irish Church Synod, which would meet shortly in Dublin, the hon. and learned Member would postpone the Bill for another week.

said, he thought the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) a fair one, and he hoped the House would assent to it. The hon. and learned Member had treated him with courtesy, and the postponement he asked for was very reasonable.

Second Reading deferred till Wednesday, 15th April.

Privilege—Committal Of A Member By The Court Of Queen's Bench For Contempt

Nomination Of Select Committee

Moved, That the Select Committee appointed to consider and report whether any of the matters referred to in the Letter of the Lord Chief Justice to Mr. Speaker [March 19] demand the further consideration of the House do consist of the following Seventeen Members.—

Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Goschen, Mr. Solicitor General, Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen, Mr. Spencer Walpole, Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Stephen Cave, Sir Charles Forster, Sir Seymour Fitzgerald, Sir Henry James, Viscount Holmesdale, Sir Edward Cole-brooke, Sir Graham Montgomery, Mr. Massey, Viscount Crichton, Mr. Attorney General, and Mr. Roebuck.

said, he wished to bring under the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Disraeli) one or two points in connection with this subject, the more particularly as the Government was mainly responsible for the appointment of the Committee of Privilege. If that House was to appoint a Committee of Privilege for every case that arose it might find itself landed in great inconvenience and great difficulty; and he wished to suggest to the House, and especially to the Prime Minister, that, as the Government was responsible for the appointment of a Committee of Privileges at the beginning of every Session, they should before next Session consider whether it would not be better to appoint a Standing Committee of Privileges, which would be able to deal promptly with any case that might arise. It was evident that a question of Privilege might arise demanding the immediate attention of the House. It was not very seemly that so much delay should have occurred in the present instance, although, doubtless, it was unavoidable under the circumstances. But further questions of Privilege might arise in which party considerations were concerned, and then it might be extremely difficult for the right bon. Gentleman to name a special Committee which would give satisfaction. In his opinion, it would be much better that the Committee should be appointed at a time when there was no question before the House, for such a Committee would be more likely to inspire confidence than one nominated after a case had arisen for inquiry. He did not wish the right hon. Gentleman to give a definite answer now; but he thought himself entitled to ask the right bon. Gentleman to take his suggestion into consideration.

Motion agreed to; Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.

Bills Of Sale Act (1854) Amendment Bill

On Motion of Mr. LORDS, Bill to amend the Act of the seventeenth and eighteenth Victoria, chapter thirty-six, relating to lulls of Sale, ordered to be brought in by Mr. LOPES, Mr. WATKIN WILLIAMS, and Mr. CHARLES LEWIS.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 48.]

Coroners (Ireland) Bill

On Motion of Mr. VANCE, Bill to amend the Laws relating to the appointment, duties, and payment of County Coroners and Expenses of Inquests in Ireland, ordered to he brought in by Mr. VANCE, Sir JOHN CRAV, and Mr. DOWNING.

Bill preresented, and read the first time. [Bill 49.]

Inkeepers Liability Bill

On Motion of Mr. WHEELHOUSE, Bill to abolish certain liabilities now attaching to Innkeepers, ordered to he brought in by Mr. WHEELHOUSE Mr. LOCKE, and Colonel MAKINS.

Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 50.]

House adjourned at a quarter after Five o'clock.