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Commons Chamber

Volume 218: debated on Tuesday 31 March 1874

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 31st March, 1874.

MINUTES.]—SUPPLY— considered in CommitteeResolutions [March 30] reported.

RESOLUTION IN COMMITTEE—Harbour of Colombo (Loan).

PUBLIC BILL— Resolution in CommitteeOrdered—Isle of Man Harbour Dues * .

OrderedFirst Reading—Labourers Cottages (Scotland) * [63]; Metropolis Water Supply and Fire Prevention * [64]; Mutiny* ; Marine Mutiny * .

Second Reading—Local Government Provisional Orders* [62].


Public Works Loan Commissioners (Loans to School Boards) * [46]; Cattle Disease (Ireland) * [52].

Third Reading—Middlesex Sessions* [29], and passed.

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

Report Of The Select Committee

Power to the Select Committee on Privilege to report Observations, with Minutes of Evidence.

Report brought up, and read, as follows:—

"The Select Committee on Privilege, to whom was referred the Letter of the Lord Chief Justice of England to Mr. Speaker, informing the House of the Commitment of Mr. Whalley, a Member of this House, for Contempt of Court, 'for the purpose of considering and reporting whether any of the matters referred to therein demand the further attention of the House, have considered the matters to them referred, and have agreed to the following Report:—
  • "1. Your Committee have had before them two Orders made by the Court of Queen's Bench in The Queen versus Castro, with the affidavits and exhibits upon which such Orders were founded, the first dated the 21st of January 1871, and the second dated the 23rd of January in the same year.
  • "2. By the first of these Orders, Mr. George Hammond Whalley, then and now one of the Members for Peterborough, was ordered to attend the Court of Queen's Bench to answer for his Contempt in writing a certain Letter and Statement, which was printed and published in the newspaper called "The Daily News" of the 21st of January 1874.
  • "3. By the second of these Orders Mr. George Hammond Whalley was adjudged to be guilty of Contempt in having written such Letter and Statement, and it was thereupon ordered that he should for such Contempt pay a fine to the Queen of £250, and be imprisoned in Her Majesty's gaol at Holloway until such fine be paid. These Orders, and the affidavits and exhibits upon which they were founded, are printed in the Appendix.
  • "4. Your Committee, having had such Orders and affidavits proved before them, proceeded to afford to Mr. George Hammond Whalley an opportunity of making such observations on the matters referred to them as he might desire to offer.
  • "5. Mr. George Hammond Whalley has put in a written Statement, parts of which appear to your Committee to he irrelevant to the specific object of the present inquiry; but your Committee consider that it would not be expedient to omit any portion of what he deemed essential to lay before them.
  • "6. Under all the circumstances of the case, your Committee are of opinion that the matters referred to them do not demand the further attention of the House.
  • "7. And your Committee also desire to express their opinion that the Lord Chief Justice fulfilled his duty in informing the House of the fact that a Member of the Moose of Commons had been imprisoned by the Court of Queen's Bench.'"
  • Report, with Minutes of Evidence, to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 77.]

    Ireland—Dunmore Harbour


    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether he can give the House any information as to the condition and progress of the works for repairing a breach in the sea pavement of the pier of Dunmore Harbour, County Waterford, for which a sum of public money was granted about seven years ago; and, whether, if such does not appear to be satisfactory, he will take steps to have the necessary repairs carried out to ensure the preservation of a structure which was of incalculable value not only to the inhabitants of the district, but to a large number of fishermen who resort there in the season?

    The repair of piers in no way concerns the Irish Government—it belongs to the Board of Works, which is a Department under the control of the Treasury the Question, therefore, should be addressed to and answered by the Secretary to the Treasury In the Session of 1868–9 a sum of £964 was voted for the repair of considerable damage which had been done to the works of Dunmore Harbour by the unusually severe storms of the preceding winters. That sum was found insufficient for the complete repair of the injury done to the sea pavement, and further sums have since been voted to make good the damage done by storms during the progress of the works of repair. The works of the harbour are now in a satisfactory state, and the cost of making good the slight damage which the storms of the past winter have done has been provided for in the Estimates for the coming year, and the remaining repairs will be completed this summer. In 1872, a sum of £1,500 was voted for dredging out the harbour, which had silted up so as to leave a depth of only 5 feet to 7 feet of water at low water spring tides. This work has been carefully carried out and will be complete in two or three months, and there is now a depth of from 14 feet to 15 feet in the greater part of the harbour, and so far, therefore, the work is perfectly satisfactory.

    Science And Art—South Kensington Museum—Question

    asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, When it is likely that steps will be taken to complete the buildings of the South Kensington Museum?

    , in reply, said, he understood the matter had been disposed of to a certain extent by his predecessor; but it was likely to be brought under his consideration, although it had not yet been submitted to him. When it was it should receive his best attention.

    Post Office—Sayings Bank Department—Question

    asked the Postmaster-General, Whether any, and, if so what, steps are being taken to provide suitable premises for the Savings Bank Department of the Post Office, in lieu of the present unsafe and overcrowded offices?

    , in reply, said, that although the present premises might justly be described as overcrowded, inconvenient, and insalubrious, they were not unsafe. Steps were, he might add, being taken to secure additional premises in the neighbourhood, which he hoped would be sufficient for temporary occupation; he believed, however, if would ultimately be necessary to obtain a new building altogether for the accommodation of the Department.

    Ways And Means—Farmers' Carts, Shepherds' Dogs (Scotland)


    asked. Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, If it is his intention to remit the tax on farmers' carts and shepherds' dogs in Scotland?

    , in reply, said, the subject was one to which his attention had been directed, but he hoped the noble Lord would forgive him if he declined to anticipate the Financial Statement by giving a more explicit answer to his Question.

    India—Bengal Famine—Question

    asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether the Government will be prepared to meet the emergency of intense and wide-spread famine declaring itself in those Bengal districts, such as Hooghly and Burdwan, hitherto classed as seats of merely partial distress, and numbering a population of upwards of fourteen millions?

    , in reply, said, the preparations on the part of the Indian Government to meet the scarcity in Bengal were not based merely on the wants of exceptional districts, but on the total number of the population in Bengal likely to stand in need of relief. The districts mentioned in the Question were consequently included within the scope of the measures taken.

    Army—Ktlmainham Hospital


    asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If it is true that the Catholic inmates of the Royal Military Hospital at Kilmainham, Dublin, are obliged to leave the Hospital in all weathers and at all seasons to attend Divine Service though many of them are advanced in life and infirm, while their Protestant comrades, though little more than one-fifth of the whole number of pensioners have a chapel and resident chaplain of their own religion in the Hospital?

    , in reply, said, the Question related to an institution which was under the control of the War Department and not of the Irish Government. If the Question were repeated after Easter, he had no doubt his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War would be prepared to answer it.

    Singapore Emigration Act


    asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, Whether he will lay upon the Table of the House, a Copy of the Correspondence between the Governor of Singapore and others, with the Colonial Office, relative to the Singapore Emigration Act; and, whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to repeal or amend that Act?

    in reply, said, the whole question with respect to emigration to the Straits Settlements had for some time been occupying the attention of the Colonial Office. As to the ordinance relative to the emigration of Chinese labourers, some amendment of it was evidently required. The Correspondence on the subject was not yet complete, and until it assumed a complete shape, he could not say whether it could be produced, nor what were the intentions of Her Majesty's Government in the matter.

    Navy—Trial Of Anchors


    asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether, looking to the serious disasters which have happened to some of Her Majesty's ships from default of Navy ground-tackle, and to the manifest importance of providing the best and most trustworthy anchor for use in the Royal Navy, he will state what practical objection exists, if any, to carrying out the proposal indicated in Mr. Trotman's letter of 13th January 1873, seeing that a trial of three other competing anchors, viz. the "Admiralty," "Rodgers'," and the "Improved Martin's" anchors, is shortly to take place on board Her Majesty's ship "Devastation," now at Spithead?

    The trial by the Devastation is at present to be confined to Martin's anchor, for the reason that the construction of that anchor gives greater facilities for firing from turrets and for ramming than any other anchor. Should there be a trial of any other anchor than Martin's by the Devastation Trotman's shall be included.

    Civil Service Estimates—Public Offices Furniture—Question

    asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Why the detailed statement showing the cost of Furniture and the repair of Furniture provided for each public office is not given in the Estimates of Expenditure for the year ending March next year; and, if he will consent to supply the information by the issue of a separate Return?

    , in reply, said, that the detailed statement in question had been omitted from the Estimates by direction of his predecessor. Any information, however, which the hon. Gentleman wished to obtain on the subject he might procure at the Office of Works.

    Spain—British Subjects In Bilbao


    asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether the Government is in possession of any information respecting the number and position of British subjects in Bilbao; whether Her Majesty's Consul is shut in; and, whether any steps have been taken to communicate with him, and to insure duo respect to the British Flag from the Commanders of both the combatants?

    The only information which is to be found at the Foreign Office with regard to the British population at Bilbao is contained in Consular Reports, which I have had an opportunity of looking at since the previous night. From them I learn that the British population at Bilbao in ordinary times is supposed to be between two and three hundred. We know, however, that since the war broke out, a great number of British subjects have left that place; consequently, the number there at present is not known. Her Majesty's Consul at Bilbao has lately informed Mr. Bayard, our Minister at Madrid, that on the 10th February he had taken all the precautions he possibly could to provide for the protection of British subjects at Bilbao; that he informed both the General commanding the Carlists and the General commanding the Republicans that he had provided a house near his own, with a largo enclosure, where British subjects might take refuge, in case the city was besieged; and that both those Generals assured him that those places being under the British flag would be respected. The last accounts which the Government have received from Bilbao arrived two or three days ago. They are to the effect that the Consul is still at Bilbao, and that Her Majesty's ship Ariel has arrived off the coast, and has endeavoured to communicate with the Consul, but without effect. The conduct of the Consul has been approved by Her Majesty's Government; but they have learnt from Madrid, that the expression of that approval has not reached him, nor does it appear likely to do so under present circumstances.

    The Ashantee War—Question

    asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether any and what number of vessels loaded with arms and ammunition for the Ashantees were detained in British ports or captured off the Gold Coast by the British squadron?

    The Admiralty is not aware of any vessels so laden having been detained in British ports, and no vessels were captured off' the Gold Coast. Four vessels—two British and two foreign—were for a short time detained for irregular proceedings in connection with the blockade.

    Legislation—The Licensing Bill


    In reply to Sir WILFRID LAWSOX,

    said, he hoped to be able to bring on the Licensing Bill soon after Easter, in order that it might be discussed before Whitsuntide.

    Dr Livingstone

    MR. DISRAELI moved, "That this House, at its rising, do adjourn till Monday, the 13th April."

    Sir, I very much regret that I have not had an opportunity of communicating until a few minutes ago, either to the Government, or to the House, my intention of calling their attention to one subject to which I think it is important their attention should be directed at this time. My only excuse for bringing it forward now is that if anything at all is to be done in the matter to which I refer, it must be done before the date to which it is proposed the House should adjourn. The matter to which I allude is the expected arrival of the body of that great discoverer, Dr. Livingstone, in this country. A very general desire was expressed, when the news arrived of his unfortunate death, that his body should be buried in Westminster Abbey. The authorities of the Abbey expressed their willingness to afford every facility in their power for that purpose. I have, however, just now learned that there are no means whatever of carrying what is the general wish of the country into effect. The family of Dr. Livingstone, of course, have no means whatever by which they could do it; and application has been made to the Royal Geographical Society, where it was supposed some means might be obtained, but they have stated they have no funds whatever which they can apply to that purpose. I cannot help thinking that it will be a great disappointment to very many, not only in this country, but in other countries, if, when the body arrives, nothing whatever is done with a view to carry the general wishes of the public into effect. It would surely be a discredit to us if, after all the honour and glory which our nation has derived from the wonderful works performed by Dr. Livingstone, there should be anything like neglect or disrespect shown at the time the body arrives in this country. The expense will not be large; still I think that expense ought to be furnished from some public source, and I know not to whom to refer, except to the Government. I am quite sure that any expense which might be incurred would be hailed as a very welcome act-by large bodies in this country.

    Mr. Speaker, there is a certain inconvenience in questions of this nature being brought before the House without Notice, and I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend will not blame me if I do not give a very definite answer to his proposal. There can be but one feeling in the House of Commons with respect to the claims of Dr. Livingstone on this country, and the reverence due to his memory. At the same time, the House will perceive at once that matters of this kind require investigation and consideration. The body of this illustrious man is being brought to the country at the public expense. What are the circumstances immediately connected with the voyage? and, why the Government undertook the office?—these are questions which probably might be satisfactorily answered if Notice had been given of the question and inquiry made. At present, all I can say is, that what Government has done proves that on the part of the Government there is no deficiency of respect for the name or manes of Dr. Livingstone; and therefore I will ask my right hon. and learned Friend and the House to allow the Government to take note of the conversation of this evening, and give it their best consideration.

    Motion agreed to.

    Ireland—Derry Celebrations—Costs Of Colonel Hillier

    Motion For A Return

    MR. BUTT moved for a—

    "Return of all sums paid out of public moneys on account of damages or costs recovered, since the 1st day of January, in any action against Colonel Hillier, the Deputy Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary, or against any other Officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary: specifying in each case the name of the Plaintiff and Defendant, the amount paid for damages and costs, and the fund out of which the amount was paid."

    The hon. and learned Member said, there was reason to believe that a practice was growing up of paying, out of the public funds, damages or costs that were recovered in actions against officers of the Irish Constabulary. It had come within his own knowledge that this had been done in the case of Colonel Hillier. A matter of this kind ought not to be allowed to pass without being brought to the notice of the House.

    Motion made, and Question proposed,

    "That there be laid before this House, a Return of all sums paid out of public moneys on account of damages or costs recovered, since the 1st day of January 1870, in any action against Colonel Hillier, the Deputy Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary; specifying in each ease the name of the Plaintiff and Defendant, the amount paid for damages and costs, and the fund out of which the amount was paid."—(Mr. Butt.)

    The hon. and learned Member moved for this Return last Session. My noble predecessor (The Marquess of Hartington) opposed the Motion, and it was negatived without a division. Whatever reason existed then for refusing this Return, exists now with double force. My noble Friend came down to the House last night, at considerable inconvenience to himself, to oppose this Motion, which was then on the Paper, but the hon. and learned Member was not then in his place to propose it. He now proposes it in the absence of my noble Friend. The hon. and learned Member asks for a Return of all sums paid out of public moneys on account of damages or costs recovered in any action againt officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary. It would be injurious to the public service and to the peace of the country to grant such a Return. The matter to which the Motion refers happened so long as three years ago. It created no little ill feeling and excitement in the north of Ireland. That feeling is now quieting down, and I think it would be not only inconvenient, but wrong, to do anything which would excite it again. Moreover, this matter is not only entirely over, but, if anything wrong was done in it it was done by a Government which no longer exists. The hon. and learned Member placed before the House last Session the circumstances which he has detailed to-night, and the House then, without a division, negatived the Return. The hon. and learned Member seeks to ascertain out of what fund these sums were paid. I have not myself investigated the Estimates to sec out of what fund they have been paid. If the hon. and learned Member's contention is right, they were paid out of moneys into the application of which the House intends there should be no inquiry. It would therefore be contrary to the intention of the House to give this Return, and materials could not be found from which it could be given. I may say, with reference to this whole question, that it is absolutely necessary, in my opinion, that the subordinates or other officials of the Government should be protected and countenanced by the Government in the execution of their duties. The practice of the English Government is, I believe, not quite identical, but very similar, to that of the Irish Government. The practice of the Irish Government, at any rate, is this:—When an action is brought against a resident magistrate, or a member of the Constabulary Force, the person accused has to defend himself at his own risk and cost. At the conclusion, he is at liberty to apply to the Government for compensation for any damages which may have been awarded against him. The Government then take the whole matter into their consideration, with the advice of their Law Officers, and, if it appears to them that the officer has acted bonâ fide in the execution of his duty, they would compensate him for the loss incurred by him. I maintain that this is not only right, but that it is absolutely essential to the public service that officers should feel that they will be protected by the Government in the proper execution of their duties. I have no hesitation in stating my opinion that, by sanctioning the repayment to any officer of the damages awarded against him, the Government makes itself responsible for his conduct, and that that responsibility should be borne by the Government before Parliament. It is my intention that, as a rule, such re-payments should appear in the Estimates of the year in future. As this Motion relates to a subject which is over, which happened under a Government which no longer exists, I trust the hon. and learned Member will not put the House to the trouble of a division.

    said, he would not trouble the House to divide, solely because he believed it would be useless. He still thought this was a matter in which the right hon. Baronet should not refuse a Return. On the Motion which he made last year he asked for the items and the Estimates in which the sums would appear. The reply of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) was that they did not appear in the Estimates, and therefore the Motion was useless. It was consequently negatived; but he (Mr. Butt) gave Notice that he would renew it this Session he thought the right hon. Baronet was mistaken in supposing that there was any such practice in England as he had described. He remembered that in the case of Governor Eyre a division was taken. To teach, officers that the Government would keep them harmless in case of actions for damages against them was unconstitutional. To do so was to teach officers to look to the Government, and not to the law, for the guidance of their conduct. It might be said that such expenses were paid out of secret service money; but he believed they were inserted surreptitiously in the law costs of the Crown Solicitor by the directions of some Government official. [Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH: That is not so.] He was not satisfied with the reply, and should again bring the matter under the attention of the House.

    Question put, and negatived.

    Elementary Education (Emoluments Of Teachers)

    Motion For An Address

    Motion made, and Question proposed,

    "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will he graciously pleased to give directions that there he laid before this House, a Return of the average income received in the year 1873 from all professional sources by the Male Certificated Teachers in the Schools aided by animal Grants in England and Wales; also the total number of Male Certificated Teachers, and the number of these provided with official residences rent-free in England and Wales:
    "Similar Return of Female Teachers:
    "Similar Returns for Scotland:
    "Similar Return of the average total income at present derived from their Schools by the Male Teachers of Ireland; also the total number of such Teachers, and the number of these provided with official residences rent-free in Ireland:
    "And, Similar Return for Female Teachers."—(Captain Nolan.)

    Amendment proposed,

    To add, at the end thereof, the words "the Returns to show how far these Emoluments are derived from National Funds, from Local Rates, from School pence, and from Local Voluntary Contributions."—(Mr. M'Laren.)

    Question proposed, "That those words be there added."

    regretted that no Notice whatever had been given to him of the hon. and gallant Member's intention to move for this important Return, and he trusted the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not press his Motion under these circumstances. He should be happy to institute inquiries into the subject; and, if there were no objection to the Return, it should be produced.

    said, it appeared to him that the House was indebted to his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) for converting what would be a fallacious Return into a complete one which would enable hon. Members to understand the matter. He thought the proper course would be to adjourn the debate, so that the noble Lord (Viscount Sandon) might in the meantime make inquiries.

    MR. GATHORNE HARDY moved that the debate be adjourned till that day fortnight.

    Motion agreed to.

    Debate adjourned till Tuesday 14th April.

    Labourers Cottages (Scotland) Bill

    On Motion of Mr. FORDYCE, Bill to facilitate the erection of Labourers Cottages and Farm Buildings in Scotland, ordered to be brought in by Mr. FORDYCE, Mr. M'COMBIE, Mr. JAMES BARCLAY, Sir GEORCE BALFOUR, and Mr. KINNAIRD.

    Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 63.]

    Metropolis Water Supply And Fire Prevention Bill

    On Motion of Colonel BERESFORD, Bill for making more effectual provision for a constant supply of Water, and for the protection of life and property against Fire in the Metropolis, ordered to be brought in by Colonel BERESFORD, Sir CHARLES RUSSELL, Mr. FORSYTH, and Mr. RITCHIE.

    Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 64.]

    Isle Of Man Harbour Dues Bill

    Considered in Committee.

    (In the Committee.)

    Resolved, That the Chairman be directed to move the House, that leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the taking of Harbour Dues in the Isle of Man.

    Resolution reported:—Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. RAIKES, MR. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, and Sir HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON.

    Mutiny Bill

    On Motion of Mr. RAIKES, Bill" for punishing Mutiny and Desertion, and for the better payment of the Army and their quarters, ordered to be brought in by Mr. RAIKKS, Mr. Secretary HARDY, and The JUDGE ADVOCATE.

    Bill presented, and read the first time.

    Marine Mutiny Bill

    On Motion of Mr. RAIKES, Bill for the Regulation of Her Majesty's Royal Marine Forces while on shore, ordered to be brought in by Mr. RAIKES, Mr. HUNT, and Mr. ALGERNON EGERTON.

    Bill presented, and read the first time.

    House adjourned at half after Five o'clock till Monday, 13th April.