House Of Commons
Monday, 29th June, 1874.
MINUTES.]—SUPPLY— considered in Committee Resolutions [June 25] reported.
PUBLIC BILLS— Ordered— First Reading—Irish Reproductive Loan Fund * .
First Reading—Supreme Court of Judicature Act (1873) Amendment * ; Tramways Provisional Orders Confirmation * .
Second Reading—Statute Law Revision * ; Evidence Law Amendment (Scotland) * ; Pier and Harbour Orders Confirmation.* ; Land Drainage Provisional Order * ; Local Government Board's Provisional Orders Confirmation (No. 3) * ; Herring Fishery (Close Time) (Scotland)* .
Referred to Select Committee—Shannon Navigation * .
Committee—Report—Valuation of Property * [98–180]; Friendly Societies * [140–181].
Third Reading—Factories (Health of Women, &c.) * , and passed.
Palace Of Westminster—Frescoes In The House Of Lords
asked the First Commissioner of Works, If there is any reason why the eight frescoes in the passage leading to the House of Lords should not be covered with glass, in the same way as the eight frescoes in the corresponding passage leading to the House of Commons, by which glazing the latter frescoes appear to have been considerably preserved; and, if there is no objection, whether he will give directions to have both sets of frescoes placed in the same position?
, in reply, said, that he had taken the opportunity of communicating with Mr. Cope, R.A., with reference to the covering with glass the eight frescoes in the passage leading from the House of Lords, who expressed his conviction that the glazing of the frescoes might be desirable. There would be no objection to the course proposed by his hon. Friend, provided Mr. Cope would consent to re-touch the pictures in the parts which had become deteriorated by exposure. He felt sure Mr. Cope would be happy to undertake that, and as soon as it was done he (Lord Henry Lennox) would give orders for the frescoes to be covered with glass.
India—Kirwee Prize Accounts
asked the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether he can state when the Kirwee prize accounts, which have been for so many years in preparation, will be produced; and, whether he has had under his consideration the great weight of legal authority by which the further prize claims of the late Sir G. C. Whitlock's force are supported?
Sir, the Government of India were requested in July last year to prepare what it is hoped will be a final account of the Banda and Kirwee Prize Fund. Some questions raised by the prize agents with reference to the accounts were sent to India for report last March, and the consideration of these has probably delayed the preparation of the accounts. The Secretary of State, before giving his decision on the various claims which from time to time have been brought to his notice with reference to this prize, has carefully considered all evidence, including, of course, legal opinions, which has been submitted to him. The claims of the force under the late Sir G. C. Whitlock are consequently included.
Dominion Of Canada—The Canadian Ministry
Sir, seeing the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury in his place, I wish to ask him a Question of which I have given him private Notice. I wish to call his attention to an article which appeared in The Standard this morning impugning the loyalty of the present Canadian Ministry, and to ask whether the following paragraph expresses the views of Her Majesty's Government:—
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether the Government have any ground for considering that the Canadian Ministry have any of the designs indicated in this paragraph?"Shall we do the Brown-Mackenzie Ministry any injustice in supposing that this prospect was held out deliberately as a bait to the American Government—that they have with fore-knowledge bargained away the independence of their country—that they have designed the Reciprocity Treaty as the instrument for 'cutting the painter?' Taken in connection with their policy in regard to the Pacific Railway, it is hard to resist the conviction that the present Canadian Ministry have conceived the idea of separating from the Empire and of attaching the Dominion to the United States. The money they have grudged to the construction of the Pacific Railway we find them willing to contribute towards the extension of the canals intended for the convenience of the American trade. When it is an Imperial scheme they are called upon to support we perceive them to be cold and niggardly. When it is a project for the immediate aggrandisement of the provinces which support their policy, involving prospective benefits to the States, we discover them to be liberal to prodigality. It is impossible that there can be any other than one conclusion from all this. The policy of the present so-called Liberal Government of Canada aims at the speedy solution of the ties which bind that country to Great Britain."
Sir, the hon. Gentleman has referred to a leading article in The Standard newspaper, and wishes to know whether it expresses the views of Her Majesty's Government. Sir, I have only to say that when Her Majesty's Government wish to express their views, they will express them in the two Houses of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman also inquires whether Her Majesty's Government are aware of any ground for attributing to the Canadian Ministry the designs indicated in the article he has read. I need only say, Sir, that I do not think it the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers to supply grounds for allegations contained in anonymous articles. However, Sir, as I am on my legs, I am glad to he permitted to add that nothing can be more cordial and friendly than the relations between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the Dominion of Canada.
Resolutions [June 25] reported.
(1.) "That a sum, not exceeding £85,442, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment dining the year ending on the 31st day of March 1875, for the Salaries and Expenses of the British Museum, including the amount required for Furniture, Fittings, &c."
(2.) "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £35,000, he granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment dining the year ending on the 31st day of March 1875, in aid of Colonial Local Revenue, and for the Salaries and Allowances of Governors, &c, and for other Expenses in certain Colonies."
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Resolutions be now read a second time."
Slavery On The Gold Coast
, in rising to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words—
said, an evening organ of party opinion had within the last few days made the observation that in bringing this matter forward, he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) was prompted by mere selfish ambition. If the ambition to be the instrument of placing on record a Resolution which might elicit from the Government some decided expression of opinion, and some plan which the House could understand and lay hold of to put a stop to slavery on the Gold Coast of Africa, was a mere selfish ambition, he pleaded guilty to the charge. This was his only object, and he therefore hoped that Her Majesty's Government would, either by explaining their plan to the House or by frankly accepting his Resolution, afford him the satisfaction of attaining his object. It had also been said that he was guilty of gross inconsistency in bringing his Motion forward after having voted with the Government on the Amendment of the hon. Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien). He could see no inconsistency in that. He supported Her Majesty's Government, because he agreed with them in thinking that the country would be faithless to her obligations if she precipitately retired from the Gold Coast; but he supported the Government, with the hope that they would remain for the present on the Coast to do their duty, and not to shirk it; to discharge all their responsibilities, and not merely to claim their rights; to maintain the honour of their flag, and not to tarnish it by tampering with the system of slavery which existed on the Coast. He hoped to be able to show that, whether they looked to the merits of the case, or to the tone adopted by the Government in the enunciations made on the subject, there was ample cause for passing such a Resolution as the one he now proposed. The hon. Member for the City of York (Mr. J. Lowther), who represented the Colonial Office in that House, had on two occasions spoken upon this subject with brevity, but at the same time with great ability; and he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) might remark, in passing, that he could have been satisfied with a little less ability if there had been more distinctness of purpose about the utterances. On the first occasion the hon. Gentleman, when alluding to those hon. Members of the House, and persons outside it who expressed themselves strongly to the effect, that some marked step ought to be taken for the abolition of slavery, applied to them the phrase "mawkish philanthropists." The hon. Member was, no doubt, speaking for himself, and if he regretted the expression soon after it was used, it was the more incumbent upon him to take the first opportunity, which offered, in order to give a distinct intimation that what he had previously said was a slip of the tongue, and was neither his own conviction, nor the conviction of the Government. But he appealed to the House to say whether the hon. Member had given them any such consolation. In the few words the hon. Member addressed to the House, he dealt with the question in an evasive manner, and drew almost all his weapons of defence from the armoury of non possumus—non possumus for a strong Government!—non possumus which had been, rightly or wrongly, often supposed to communicate by a secret door with nolumus. One of his objects in putting his Motion on the Paper was, that foreign countries might hear from the Treasury Bench something to lead them to suppose that when Her Majesty's Government said—"We are not able" they did not really mean—"We are not willing." The Resolution was an abstract Resolution, and he knew the objection entertained by the House to Motions of the kind; but he had always understood that the objection was based on the opinion that those who supported them were bound to a course of conduct which when the time for action came, might be found inexpedient or, at any rate, difficult to carry out. With regard to this Resolution, would any hon. Member object to being committed to the declaration, that no government for the territories of the Gold Coast would be satisfactory which involved the recognition of slavery in any form? There was not only no danger in pledging themselves to that, but everything demanded that they should do so; so that surely nothing of the kind could be alleged against that Resolution. The Under Secretary for the Colonies had said there was no recognition of slavery in the administrative scheme which the Government were about to carry out. If that were the case, then that Resolution would not hamper them, but would only declare to the whole world, that they were determined to have nothing to do with the institution of slavery. He wished to point out that whatever had been the state of things in the past, they were now taking an entirely new departure in regard to the question, and in doing so he would briefly describe the position under which the Government lay. After emerging from a most successful war, we were about to re-organize the whole of that country, to define and extend its territorial jurisdiction, to unite to the dominion of Cape Coast Castle, Lagos, a Crown colony, where slavery was not tolerated. Therefore, they were about to introduce into a hybrid Protectorate a territory where slavery was not tolerated, and place it side by side with a territory where slavery was tolerated. Since the late Ashantee War, England on the Gold Coast was in a very analogous position to that of a new Ministry returned with a powerful majority after an appeal to the country, and on whom it was incumbent to have a decided policy. By our successful campaign we had so established our prestige on that Coast, that we could do what we liked; we might now abolish slavery if we chose, but next year, or the year after, we might not be able to do so. And when the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary told them he was for gradual emancipation, he heartily agreed with him; but he did not believe in the gradual without gradation; he did not believe in the gradual, unless he knew what the first step was. The speech made in "another place" by the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office (the Earl of Carnarvon) was admirable in tone and right in sentiment; but the House must not be satisfied with mere expressions of sentiment and right feeling. Let the Government clearly state what their first step was to be. Were they to forbid the bringing of slaves from Ashantee to the Gold Coast? Were the slaves to be free henceforth, or was some date to be fixed for the purpose; or were the Judges no longer to be employed to enforce the Slave Laws backed by the power of England? Upon these points, the House was utterly in the dark, and it would not be satisfied with any expression of sentiment which did not shadow forth some stop to be taken. He did not deny that there had been forms of slavery far worse than that existing at present on the Gold Coast. The influence of the "judicial assessors" had greatly modified the cruelty and severity of the earlier forms of slavery; but he unhesitatingly asserted that slavery did exist at present on the Gold Coast to all intents and purposes, as far as principle was concerned, as liable to condemnation as that which we spent £20,000,000 in 1833 to get rid of in the West Indies. The reports from those who had visited that country showed that there was open barter and sale, recapture under English authority, and that although there was no slave trade by sea to those stations on the West African Coast, there was a large trade of that kind from the interior; and there was no distinction in principle between such a traffic carried on by water and one carried on by land, nor did he believe there was much difference in the sufferings entailed. Slavery degraded the whole social system of African life, and rendered the introduction of civilized influences more difficult than it otherwise would be. When those statements were laid before the Earl of Carnarvon, by the Aboriginal Protection Society, he refused to believe them, and replied that there must be some misapprehension of fact in the matter. It was, however, confirmed by a despatch of Sir Richard Macdonnell. He did not wish when treating of this matter to indulge in anything of a sensational character; but he might mention, that when the Houssas were leaving Cape Coast some women, who had been slaves, accompanied them, but were reclaimed by their mistresses, and he was sorry to say that the judicial assessor acknowledged the validity of the claim, and sent them back to slavery. It was true that they were not claimed as slaves, but upon the charge of having stolen the clothes which they wore. As they could not well escape in a state of nakedness, there was no easier charge to bring against them than that of stealing wearing apparel, and thus their chances of escape from bondage were considerably lessened. He might add that it was stated that the women went back of their own accord, upon the persuasion of the judicial assessor; but whether that were so or not, they had this fact—that an English Judge had been employed in restoring to slavery two women who had escaped. By tolerating that system of slavery on the Gold Coast we were raising up for ourselves very great practical difficulty, and independently of the feeling of humanity, it involved other considerations. Captain Glover, in one of his despatches to Sir Garnet Wolseley, said, that finding slavery a recognized institution in the Protectorate, he had been obliged to pay £5 for every Houssa he enlisted when raising troops to defend the Settlement from the attacks of the Ashantees where any claim was made by the master. In one case, too, one of his recruits came in with a staple on his leg, and with the marks of irons on his arms and wrists. He also said he considered it a subject for future consideration and settlement by Her Majesty's Government. That was his own (Mr. Ashley's) opinion; and he wanted to know whether Her Majesty's Government had considered it and resolved on some settlement of the question. In reply to Captain Glover's despatch, Lord Kimberley said that while making every allowance for the difficulty of the situation, he could not authorize any further payments. He would be glad to learn from the hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther) whether the Government intended to pay £5 for each of the 1,100 Houssas they intended to keep on the Coast. Why, the Gold Coast Corps which existed some years ago was abandoned, because the Duke of Newcastle would not consent to recognize slavery by buying the men from their masters. The circumstances of the case showed that there was not a moment to be lost in taking advantage of the existing state of things with the view of terminating slavery on the Gold Coast, whether on the ground of humanity, reason, or common sense. The internal traffic in slaves brought from the Ashantee country which had ceased during the war, had been renewed and directly encouraged by the action of our arms; and he could not impress too strongly on the House that the present was a new point of departure, and that we were in an exceptionally favourable position for bringing the traffic to an end. The present Government, too, were for another reason better able to deal effectively with this question than their Predecessors. Until the late war, the people of this country knew little about the affairs of the Coast; but with the knowledge they had now obtained, they would willingly applaud and support any efforts which the Government might make for the rescue of these slaves. There was no question in this matter about spending a million sterling, for the population was only 250,000, and when they remembered that the best slaves cost only £5, they might be sure that the extreme sum required would not exceed £100,000. But there was in reality no necessity for spending any money at all. All that was required was, that no English Judge should be permitted to enforce the law for the recovery of slaves, and that no slaves should be allowed to be brought from the interior and to be sold at Cape Coast. When that was done, slavery would soon cease without any disturbance of social arrangements; but let that course be delayed, or let us trust to a gradual decay of the traffic, and we should soon find that the work of liberation would not be so easy, as the slaves would, under the increasing prosperity of the country, become fifty times more valuable, being employed to a large extent in making of roads, and in the cultivation of the land, and their emancipation could not then be accomplished, as it could now, without social disturbance. Let us take time by the forelock, and get rid once for all of this detestable incubus. The Chiefs had, meanwhile, forfeited their claims to consideration, and we were free to deal with them as we liked. Lord Kimberley, in a despatch to Sir Garnet Wolsoley, said that the native Kings had conducted themselves so badly, that Her Majesty's Government would not feel themselves bound to consult them in future arrangements, and would place the affairs of the Gold Coast on such a footing as they might deem best. He ventured to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that that footing should comprise the abolition of slavery. When the hon. Member for the City of York told the House that there were great difficulties in the way, it should be remembered that even in connection with affairs on the Gold Coast, we had overcome greater difficulties still, for when we first went to the Gold Coast, human sacrifices were as frequent and general as they now were at Coomassie. Those sacrifices we abolished by a single stroke of the pen. He had been taunted good-hu-mouredly by some of his hon. Friends on the other side, with having abandoned the principles of the great statesman with whom he had been so long associated, and with having allied himself to those whom his hon. Friends called "anarchical revolutionists." But he would ask in reply, whether there was any doubt on which side Lord Palmerston would have recorded his vote, if this Resolution had been proposed in his presence? In some eloquent words which he used on that subject, that statesman said there were no people so unfortunate or so forlorn that they did not turn a look of hope towards England; and that he knew no other nation ready to take our place—what he asked was, whether we were now about to abandon our place in the world? What he desired was, that the Government on the Gold Coast should be real and substantial. In reality, however, we had a Crown Colony there in everything but the name, and it was only called a Protectorate in order that slavery might not cease. The general character of this country depended upon the course which we pursued in relation to this question; and Russia, whom we had been in the habit of considering inferior to ourselves in civilization, had within the last few months set us an example for imitation. The first thing the Emperor of Russia did after the capture of Khiva was to call upon the Khan to emancipate every slave in his dominions. He did not trust to the influence of time and of increasing civilization, but declared at once that slavery would not be tolerated in any place where his power was known. The result was, a decree in which the Khan emancipated every slave of whatever description. With regard to Egypt, there had not till this time been any official announcement of the freedom of the slaves in that country; but he held in his hand a project for their emancipation, which though not strictly an official paper, had been published in an Alexandrian journal, Le Nil, and it was known that nothing was allowed in Egypt to appear without official leave. With these two examples before them, were they to hold back their hand, and wait and think, and not act at once? How should we answer the Sultan of Zanzibar if, on our putting pressure upon him for the purpose of having slavery suppressed, he said to us, "It is all very well to ask me to do this, because I am on the East Coast; but you yourselves have slavery on the West Coast, and your Judges sit there restoring the slaves to their masters." He challenged Her Majesty's Government to name a single dependency of the British Crown in which slavery in any form was tolerated. Now, however, it was proposed to make one exception, but he saw no reason for such a course of procedure. Having gone so far up the hill, were we to begin now to retrace our steps? The course which they proposed to pursue with regard to the Gold Coast amounted to a distinct recognition of the continuance of slavery by this country. It was a case in which the credit of England was involved, and for his own part he had sooner we abandoned the Gold Coast altogether, than continue to recognize the slave trade within the territory under our protection. So long ago as the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Judges of the land came to a solemn decision that the air of England was too pure for a slave to breathe, and if we could not clear the physical atmosphere of the Gold Coast and make it as pure as our own, we might, at all events, in respect of slavery, clear the moral atmosphere. He trusted Her Majesty's Government would bring forward some distinct plan whereby we should get rid in that territory of an institution which was both injurious to man and foreign to our religion, and which had been condemned by our fathers.—The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution."In the opinion of this House, no arrangements for the government of the territories on the Gold Coast will be satisfactory which involve the recognition of slavery in any form,"
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, no arrangements for the government of the territories on the Gold Coast will be satisfactory which involve the recognition of slavery in any form,"—(Mr. Ashley,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, he desired at once to refer to a particular part of the speech of the hon. and learned Member. Two speeches which, with the indulgence of the House, he had delivered, had been discussed by the hon. and learned Gentleman, who had remarked, with regard to them, that they possessed one characteristic in common—namely, great brevity. Now, brevity was the soul of wit, and in listening to the hon. and learned Member he really began to hope that he had himself been brief; but he was sorry to be reminded of the fact that his first speech occupied no less than 35 minutes. [Mr. EVELYN ASHLEY remarked that he had referred only to the remarks about slavery.] He had understood the observation in a more general sense. There was another word which the hon. and learned Member had used with regard to the second speech. He had spoken of it as evasive. This was a more serious charge than that of brevity, and he thought the House would grant him some indulgence, while he ventured to recall to their minds what he really had said on the occasion in question with respect to slavery. He fully acquitted the hon. and learned Gentleman of the slightest wish to misrepresent him, and did so all the more readily because the hon. and learned Member was among those who had been fortunate enough to escape the infliction of hearing either of the speeches delivered. He had taken the precaution of refreshing his memory as to what he had said, by a reference to a remarkably accurate report of the debate of last Thursday, which appeared in a journal to which they were constantly in the habit of referring for authentic records of their proceedings. In the course of his speech on that occasion, he said—in the words of that report—
He appealed to the House to say whether these observations could fairly be characterized as either brief or evasive? Now, what were the comments passed upon that speech by hon. Gentlemen who, less fortunate than the hon. and learned Member for Poole, sat there for the three-quarters of an hour during which it was his painful duty to inflict his remarks upon the House? He would classify those hon. Gentlemen under two categories—namely, the official and the non-official, including in the former those who had been Members of the late Government. Dealing first with the non-official, he would point out that his hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Mr. Hanbury) had in no way misunderstood what he said on the subject of slavery. The same remark applied to the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Holms), who criticized, at once with great fairness and freedom, many portions of the scheme which was submitted to the House. The hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) represented the Vote, no doubt, as one to enable Her Majesty's Government to establish slavery in Africa; but in fairness, it must be added that the hon. Baronet declared almost in the same breath that champagne and civilization were convertible terms, and he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) joined in the merriment which these announcements very naturally called forth. The hon. Member further said that it was all very well to speak of "domestic slavery," but that the character of slavery could not be changed by the selection of an adjective for the purpose of qualifying it. To this point he (Mr. Lowther) would have occasion to refer at a later period. Meanwhile, he desired only to point out that the hon. Baronet had not put the same construc- tion upon his observations with regard to slavery as hon. Gentlemen who, like the hon. and learned Member for Poole, had not heard him. The right hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman), on the same occasion, discussed the policy of the Government, and referred to his (Mr. Lowther's) own humble exertions to place the matter properly before the House, in terms for which he took this opportunity of sincerely thanking him. No misconception crossed the mind of the right hon. Gentleman as to the policy of the Government with regard to slavery. The hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. M'Arthur), who was well known as a leading and most respected member of the Anti-Slavery Society and the Aborigines Protection Society, and of many others which aimed at philanthropic objects, not only expressed the opinion that the communication which had been made to the House on the part of the Government was eminently satisfactory—an opinion which, coming from such an authority, must be heard with respect—but read passages which he had received from friends who, equally with himself, took a prominent interest in such subjects, and who distinctly expressed approval of the proposed gradual suppression of slavery. As to the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. T. E. Smith), who like the hon. and learned Member for Poole, had been fortunate enough to be engaged elsewhere at the time he (Mr. Lowther) was addressing the House, all that need be said was, that, like others who followed him, he did not understand a speech he had not heard. He would not detain the House with further references to what had fallen from non-official Members. Coming to the other category, he would allude to the remarks which had proceeded from the front bench opposite. The right hon. Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen), in a very candid speech, expressed on behalf of the late Administration, approval of the policy which it was proposed to pursue on the Gold Coast. What followed the speech of the right hon. Gentleman? There then occurred a scene of a kind which till the present Session had been unprecedented. During the course of this Session, however, whenever a right hon. Gentleman had risen in his place on the front bench opposite, and expressed a strong opinion in favour of one course of action, he was followed, as a natural consequence, by another right hon. Gentleman on the same bench, who, in the exercise of his liberty of thought, expressed an opinion directly opposite. Under the circumstances, it was, perhaps, not surprising that on the occasion to which he was referring, a right hon. Gentleman, although sitting beside the late Under Secretary for the Colonies, found it impossible to agree with him. But there were peculiar circumstances, of which it was right to remind the House, with regard to the speech of the late Under Secretary. The House would recollect that while the speech it had been his (Mr. Lowther's) duty to make the other night, was to a great extent, in its essential features, a reproduction of a statement that had been made in "another place" by his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the approbation expressed by the right hon. Member for Sandwich of the policy of the Government, was a reproduction to an equal extent of a speech delivered in "another place" by the noble Earl the late Secretary of State for the Colonies. The speech of the late Under Secretary was, in fact, a re-echo of the approbation accorded to the policy of Government by Lord Kimberley. Well, what followed upon this? Why, up rose the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), in his capacity as one of the Commissioners for executing the office of Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, and without a word of apology, or a word of explanation, he proceeded to throw over his brother Commissioner and to throw over his late Colleague, Lord Kimberley. [Mr. GOSCHEN: Nothing of the kind.] Although the right hon. Gentleman had not heard his (Mr. Lowther's) speech, he had heard that of his hon. Colleague, in which he expressed general approval of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, reserving to himself the right of subsequent criticism. [Mr. GOSCHEN: Read mine.] He had not been able to avail himself of any authentic record of the right hon. Gentleman's speech; but this he knew, that the right hon. Gentleman took him to task for having used the term "domestic slavery," and he added that the subject was one which he thought had not been fully considered by Her Majesty's Government. His right hon. Friend the Member for Sand- wich distinctly referred to domestic slavery, and did not disapprove the statement referred to. [Mr. KNATCH-BULL-HUGESSEN: I did not hoar that part of the speech.] The right hon. Gentleman was apparently one of the fortunate ones. However, his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City charged him with inventing the term, and with having applied it as a convenient adjective to describe a system which he did not sufficiently condemn. That fact rendered it necessary for him to briefly call attention to the past history of the question. There appeared, he should first say, to be some confusion throughout the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Poole and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City, between the system which prevailed in ports under the British flag and in the adjacent districts. The distinction could not be too definitely drawn. In their Report the Committee which sat in 1842 on the West African Settlements said—"Unhappily, domestic slavery was an institution on the Gold Coast. Some hon. Members would say it was the easiest thing in the world to put down that or any other institution. He regretted that many who on other subjects were rational and reasonable, apparently lost all self-possession and practical sagacity on the subject of slavery, and diminished the value of their counsels by laying down crude theories which would not stand the test of experience. If we were to insist on the total and immediate abolition of slavery on the Gold Coast, the Government must ask, not for £35,000, but for a sum in excess of the cost of the war against the King of Ashantee—they must ask for something like a million either to compensate the owners of the slaves or to maintain troops for carrying on another war. It would be perfectly impossible to put down an institution like this, which had taken so firm a hold upon the minds and habits of the people, without a largo occupying force and comprehensive measures of repression. In reply to those who said we should not consider any of these questions in dealing with a matter of principle, he would say he would not advocate any attempt to repeat in West Africa an experiment which had been tried not many thousand miles from the House, in governing one country according to the ideas of that country when they ran counter, not only to the ideas of the majority of the people of the United Kingdom, but also to the first and elementary prince- ples of right and justice. He would not advocate the government of the Gold Coast according to Ashantee ideas; but it must he manifest no statesman would be justified in attempting to carry out preconceived ideas and theories, however just and sound, when they ran counter to every conceivable idea which had entered into the minds of the natives they were called upon to rule. Therefore, the Government proposed to seek the gradual—he hoped he should not be understood to mean the tardy—abolition of domestic slavery. It must be understood that this was a question in reference to which time and the officers proposed to be sent out must have the opportunity of making an impression upon the feelings, prejudices, and ideas of the natives, and the House must not expect that it could be settled in a day."—[The Times, June 26.]
They went on to say—"It is to be remembered that our compulsory authority is strictly limited, both by our title and by the instructions of the Colonial Office to the British Forts, within which no one but the Governor, his suite, and the garrison reside, and that the magistrates are strictly prohibited from exercising jurisdiction even over the natives and districts immediately under the influence and protection of the forts. All jurisdiction over the natives beyond that point must, therefore, be considered as optional."
And again—"Their relation to the English Crown should be not the allegiance of subjects, to which we have no right to pretend and which it would entail an inconvenient responsibility to possess, but the deference of weaker Powers to a stronger and more enlightened neighbour, whose protection and counsel they seek, and to whom they are bound by certain definite obligations."
That was written in 1842, when he was about a year and a half old, and he was therefore a little astonished to find the hon. Gentleman the Member for Carlisle and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City had so little studied the subject as to think that he was entitled to claim the authorship of the phrase in question."In this arrangement we should find the solution of our difficulty in regard to domestic slavery."
I never suggested it. I did suggest that the hon. Member did not distinguish between the two points.
I never charged the hon. Gentleman with being the author of the phrase. I only charged him with using an adjective to explain the system.
only desired to show that he was not the author of the phrase and was not responsible for describing the system as domestic slavery. He would now call attention to a despatch written in July of the year 1841 by a noble Lord, whose opinion was always received with the utmost respect at both sides of the House, and whose authority naturally had great weight with hon. Gentlemen opposite. Lord John Russell, in a Despatch dated the 14th of July, 1841, to Governor Maclean, said—
Such was the opinion of Lord John Russell. He now came to a more recent period, as to which he could claim to have personal knowledge, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite could assist him by verifying what he was about to say. On the 3rd of February, 1866, Lord Cardwell, who was then Secretary for the Colonies—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) occupying the position of Under Secretary, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London being then a Member of the Cabinet—wrote a Despatch to Governor Blackall, in which he said—"Her Majesty's dominion on the Coast is, as I understand, of very narrow local range. If I am correctly informed, it extends only to the forts themselves. Whatever influence Great Britain may exercise beyond those precincts, my supposition is that beyond the very walls of the forts there is no sovereignty, properly speaking, vested in the British Crown, but that the whole adjacent country is subject to the dominion of the native Powers. My information on this subject may be defective or erroneous; but if I am rightly informed respecting it, it follows that within the fort of Cape Coast Castle a different rule of law regarding slavery may prevail from that which exists beyond those limits. Within them the Statute 3 and 4 William IV., cap. 73, is unquestionably in force. Beyond them it is not so.…. With regard to persons living in the vicinity but not within the British dominion, the same rule does not apply. If the laws or usages of those countries tolerate slavery, we have no right to set aside those laws or usages except by persuasion, negotiation, and other peaceful means."
"But there is a serious question which has been pending since our occupation of Lagos, which your appointment as Governor and Com- mander-in-Chief over the West African Settlements will, I hope, enable you to bring to a close—namely, the existence of domestic slavery in British territory, and the grant of compensation for the liberation of slaves. I need scarcely remark that this state of things is inconsistent with the provisions of the Imperial Act, which has made all the Queen's dominions free soil; and I am fully aware of the extreme difficulty which a Governor must encounter in having to assume the control of a territory under British jurisdiction in which domestic slavery, as in every part of Africa, is a constituent clement in the fabric of society."
said, he would remind the hon. Gentleman that he had left out an important line in the middle of a passage in the Despatch.
said, he did not pretend to read the whole Despatch, but he was ready to do so if the right hon. Gentleman so desired.
said, that it would be sufficient if the hon. Gentleman would read the passage to the House completely, to which he had referred.
then read the passage referred to, supplementing his previous omission thus—
He had complied with the request of the right hon. Gentleman, and was willing to read more Despatches, if the right hon. Gentleman desired it. He had read for the sake of brevity, and had only troubled the House with what he deemed essential. Passing over some eight or ten paragraphs in the Despatch, he came now to the concluding portion of it. Lord Cardwell then said—"The Imperial Act of the 3rd and 4th William IV., c. 73, which has made all the Queen's dominions free soil, and by which every person in Lagos has been free since the occupation."
Those were the views of Lord Cardwell at that time; and before he (Mr. J. Lowther) left the subject of the opinion of former Governments, he would like to draw the attention of the House to a very brief extract from a Despatch of the Earl of Kimberley. In a Despatch dated the 12th of January, 1872, Lord Kimberley said—"But the readiest and most effectual way of escaping from all these embarrassments is to confine British territory within the smallest compass which may be practicable; and if it should be found that British law cannot be fully established in the island of Lagos, and in the towns occupied by us, we must confine the area of British territory, as at the Gold Coast, to the land occupied by the Government buildings, constituting the rest of the territory acquired from Docemo, a Protectorate where our influence could be used to soften and gradually destroy slavery, without our authority being called on to abolish it."
He (Mr. J. Lowther) hoped he had made clear to the House that the distinction which Her Majesty's Government had drawn between bonâ fide British territory, where slavery never had and never would be allowed to exist, and territory which was commonly called the Protectorate, was simply that which had been fully recognized by the late Government, and he must say that if any other course ought to be adopted with regard to our relations with West Africa, the time for making suggestions on the subject might well be said to have passed. He should like also to remind the House that at the termination of the late War, there were four courses which presented themselves to the Government with reference to this territory. The first course was the abandonment both of the Coast towns and the Protectorate. The second was the retention of possessions on the Coast, combined with the abandonment of the Protectorate. The third was the extension of what he might call bonâ fide territory, through what had hitherto been known as the Protectorate. That was a policy which had been described as the establishment of an African empire. The fourth was the course which Her Majesty's Government had continued to follow—namely, the retention of the Coast towns as bonâ fide British territory, tempered with the exercise of a Protectorate over certain portions of the interior. As to the first course, it was very fairly and ably advocated by the hon. Member for Hackney and the hon. Member for Carlisle, but that proposition did not elicit approbation from any considerable section of the House, and there was no division upon it. As to the second course—namely, the retention of the Coast towns, but an abandonment of the Protectorate—that would be found to be equally as impossible as the first course, because its adoption would involve us in a direct breach of faith with the tribes with whom we had entered into relations during the late war. As to the third course—namely, the establishment of the British Empire throughout the whole of the Protectorate—that plan was never seriously discussed by any public writer, or by anybody inside or outside the Houses of Parliament, and he thought it was entirely visionary. What remained was simply the plan which Her Majesty's Government had adopted and recommended to Parliament—namely, the continuance of the Protectorate, with the introduction of such reforms, alterations, and modifications as recent experience dictated. As to the criticism of the hon. and learned Member for Poole upon one of his (Mr. J. Lowther's) speeches, which the hon. and learned Gentleman admitted he did not hear, and in which he complained of the use of the words "mawkish philanthropy" as applied to those who were opposed to the continuance of slavery, the remarks in question were not applied to those who wished to put down the institution of slavery, but were made in consequence of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle saying that the Government would be soon coming down to ask for a Vote to enable them to penetrate all the strongholds of Satan on the African Continent. He had replied that the Government had no intention of asking for a Vote for any such purpose, and would not be guided by any sentiments of mawkish philanthropy. As to a further criticism with regard to the Assessors' Courts, he would not attempt to justify the system which had been in force in respect to those Courts, and for which the late Government must be held to be responsible. He had said, on the contrary, that one of their first endeavours would be the reform of the judicial arrangements in the Settlements, among which the reform of the Assessors' Courts would take a foremost place. They intended, however, that the reform of an intricate system should be preceded by a judicious inquiry, and without pledging himself to the form which the new judicial system would assume, he could assure the House that this subject had not been overlooked, and that it was the intention of the Government, as soon as they could obtain the necessary Report on which to found their action, to establish such a new system for the administration of the law, as should afford protection from a recurrence of the abuse which had been pointed out in that debate. In conclusion, he had only to say, that in those statements with regard to domestic slavery, which was the question more particularly before the House on that occasion, Her Majesty's Government had been, still was, and still would be, most anxious to determine how this great question would be met; and that it was impossible for any hon. Member of that House to be more impressed than were the Secretary of State and himself with the necessity of providing an early remedy that would remove so great a curse from the African Settlements."The position of the British Government in the Protectorate is that of influence over people who are not British subjects; and while every means should be taken to induce the natives to desist from such practices as those reported by the Acting Administrator, it does not appear to me that it is advisable to interfere by direct legislation."
said, the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had addressed the House in a most able, amusing, and good-tempered speech, had alluded to the debate or last Thursday, and it was, therefore, necessary briefly to follow him into that part of the question. He hoped, however, the House would not lose sight of the very important nature of the Amendment before it, by discussing the relative conduct of hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House. With regard to himself, he entirely denied—and he hoped the hon. Member would accept his denial—that there was any difference of opinion between his right hon. Friend the Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) and himself. They both approved the policy of the Government in remaining on the Gold Coast, and he (Mr. Goschen) had a right to complain that the hon. Member did not quote any part of his speech. [Mr. J. LOWTHER said he was unable to obtain a copy of the speech.] The newspapers were at the disposal of the hon. Member, and in every one of them both himself and his right hon. Friend were reported to have expressed a general approval of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in reference to the question. It was, therefore, unfair to say that any difference of opinion existed between himself and his right hon. Friend, who both warned the Government in almost the same terms with regard to the question of slavery. The hon. Gentleman had also stated that when the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. M'Arthur) spoke on the question of slavery, he ought to be heard with respect; but it was matter of fact that on Thursday evening the hon. Member was refused a hearing by Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. It was on account of the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite and of the mode in which the question of slavery was regarded by the House generally, that he warned the Government that the question was too important to be slurred over. He thought the Government, instead of being offended, ought to be glad that another opportunity had been afforded them of ascertaining the views of the House upon the question; and the House ought also to be glad that on the present occasion they had heard more with regard to the administration of the Gold Coast than had previously been laid before Parliament. They had learnt for the first time that Her Majesty's Government intended to continue the Protectorate upon the same footing as hitherto, our possessions being limited to the Forts. He did not entirely endorse the emphatic statement of his hon. and learned friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Ashley) that the existence of the Protectorate enabled domestic slavery to be continued, and that it would cease under a different form of government; but on this he wished to say that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary was reading from a Despatch of Lord Card well's and omitted a line, no doubt unintentionally, but which stated the effect of the annexation of Lagos—namely, that every slave had ipso facto become free; and that had an important bearing on the question they were discussing. When the Government of Lagos was assumed, that occurred which the hon. and learned Member for Poole now desired should happen, the cessation of slavery there. The House would see, therefore, that the closest and most exact distinction must be drawn between the relations of England with parts of the country which had become her "possessions," and what was called the Protectorate; and it must also be remembered that Lagos was a British possession and was not in the position of a Protectorate. Taken as a whole, then, the changes to be effected seemed to be separation from Sierra Leone, union between the Gold Coast Settlement and Lagos, a transfer of the capital to another place, the substitution of Houssa police for the present force, and certain judicial reforms. With regard to the latter point, he should like to know whether the Government intended to accept in its integrity, a memorandum made in 1857, with reference to Cape Coast Castle, which stated that no Judicial Assessors should, on any account whatever, compel or order a slave to return to his master; that on cruelty being proved against a master, the slave should become free; and that in other cases the Court should decline to adjudicate. It was important that this debate should have taken place, if for no other reason, at least for this—that Her Majesty's Government should disavow the argument which had been put forward by their Representatives both in that House and "another place," that the question of slavery could not be dealt with on account of the millions of money which would be involved in its abolition. If it was made a question of money, any Government which took the line of argument to which he had alluded would be distinctly falsifying all that had ever been said or done by England in reference to this question. The question was no doubt a difficult one, but greater difficulties had been overcome in connection with the question of slavery in other quarters, and England would be unable, with any hope of success, to continue her campaign against slavery, if her Government argued the question of slavery on the Gold Coast on monetary grounds. What would our Mahometan subjects say, who had been taught that slavery could not be continued, if we shrunk from applying to this part of the Gold Coast the doctrine which we had held elsewhere? Despatches had been quoted, written in 1842, 1856, and in 1862; but he would ask the House, whether there was not a great difference between our position then and that in which we stood after the conclusion of the Ashantee War? Was not that a time for us to make a new start? When the Government came down with a new policy and laid it before Parliament and the country, was not this precisely the time to look the question in the face? Domestic slavery was, after all, only a modified form of that hateful traffic which was repugnant to the feeling of this country; and however hard it might be to deal with the difficulties involved, he considered that the Government were now placed in such a position that they could suppress the slave trade effectually. If they intended to do so, he thought that they should give the House some more definite information as to their policy than had yet been given. To say that that modification deprived it of a great portion of the horrors and atrocities accompanying that traffic, and that we might do more harm than good by its abolition, was an argument that it was impossible to urge in that House. Such an argument could not be used, because it was inconsistent with the doctrines we had been urging on other Powers for so many years past. Foreign countries were not always disposed to believe in the philanthropic sincerity of Great Britain, and you could not converse with any one on the Continent who did not believe there was an immense amount of insincerity and humbug in the views England had taken upon this question. In fact, the opinion prevailed in many parts of the world, that it was only when our own interests were involved that we called upon other countries to make great sacrifices, and to place themselves in the most inconvenient positions in order to do away with slavery. What, then, would those countries say when they saw that the Colonial Minister talked of the gradual abolition of slavery and said that it would cost a great deal of money? Now, we had a new start, and he thought the House might assist the Government in coming to a right decision. If the course proposed by the hon. Gentleman opposite were adopted, and if the local officers were consulted, the answers would be to the effect that the difficulties were so insuperable that the thing could not be done; but if the House of Commons backed up the Government and said that the question ought to be dealt with at the present time, the task of the Government would be enormously lightened. It was not for hon. Members on that side of the House to state the precise line which her Majesty's Government should take, but they were entitled to ask for an assurance from Her Majesty's Government that no steps would be taken which, in the words of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Poole, involved a recognition of slavery in any form. If the Government did not mean to make such recognition, let them accept the Resolution. If they did, they ought to let the House understand clearly, under what forms and conditions slavery was to continue to exist in the Protectorate. Whatever course, however, the Government might adopt, the House ought first to know what change of arrangements the Government proposed, and then hon. Members would be able to come to a decision upon it. The Government would strengthen its own hands if it adopted the Motion proposed by his hon. and learned Friend, for in what he had said there was no hostility whatever to the Government, which had a most difficult task to perform. He believed, however, they would secure the support of the country in carrying out their proposals on the Gold Coast if they frankly recognized the great importance of this subject,—if they did not endeavour to slur it over by indistinct utterances, and if they placed before the country a policy which was sound and straightforward.
said, if the Government complained at all of the course taken by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite it was not on the ground of their acting in a spirit of hostility towards the Government. In the first place the Government had no reason to believe that that was the case, and in the second, they fully recognized that in a matter of this importance the question of hostility to the Government ought to be as nothing in the eyes of those who came forward to support a cause in which—as the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat clown said, and said truly—the honour and character of England were so deeply interested. But what the Government did complain of, and what they thought they had reason to complain of, was that, considering the importance of the case and how much there was at stake, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City and the hon. and learned Member for Poole made proposals which indicated that they had taken but a cursory and imperfect view of the real state of affairs. As for the hon. and learned Member for Poole, he had but recently entered the House, and therefore he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) should not so much complain of him; but he was supported and followed by a right hon. Gentleman—and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would forgive him for saying so—who ought to have known better the real state of the case. When the discussion was raised, the first question one asked oneself was "What is pre- cisely the object with which this Amendment is brought forward?" If the hon. and learned Member for Poole, bearing an honoured name, and having every right to take an interest in such a matter, had been told by those who had been attending to the subject, that the question of the policy of England in relation to slavery was raised, and that it seemed as though England were going back a step in the great career in which she had achieved so much honour, anyone could understand why the hon. and learned Gentleman should state in indignant terms that the House of Commons and the country were opposed to any such backward step. Although he was surprised to find that the hon. and learned Gentleman thought it necessary to come forward on this occasion, yet, when he listened to his speech and noticed what were his ideas, he perceived how it was that the hon. and learned Gentleman imagined this question was one of importance. One of the earliest expressions he used was with reference to bringing Lagos into what he called "this hybrid Protectorate." The hon. and learned Gentleman pointed out that at that present moment Lagos was British territory, and that every man there was a freeman; and he seemed to think that by the new constitution, Lagos was about to be brought into a system in which they would be deprived of that freedom.
said, what he intended to express was that it would be a parti-coloured Protectorate—half-free and half-slave.
remarked that that was exactly the point on which the hon. and learned Gentleman entirely misunderstood the situation. No portion whatever of British territory formed or would form part of the Protectorate. The hon. and learned Gentleman had mixed up two things which ought to be kept distinct. There was, in the first place, the British territory—Cape Coast Castle, Lagos, and other Settlements on the Coast. In these freedom had prevailed since the passing of the Emancipation Act, and there it must by the law of England continue to prevail. There was no danger of that freedom being at all lessened. But what were we going to do in regard to the Protectorate? This was a difficult and delicate ques- tion. We had had to deal with it for a great number of years, and as his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies had pointed out, we had all along had great difficulties to contend with. Something had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City in qualification of his hon. Friend's remarks in regard to the Judicial Assessor, and certain instructions dating back to the year 1857 had been cited. He would refer the right hon. Gentleman to a later document, which he ought to be aware of, as it bore the date of 1873, when he himself was in office. The following extract was from a communication made to Sir Garnet Wolseley by Mr. James Marshall, Chief Magistrate and Judicial Assessor, in December, 1873:—
That was a state of the case which overrode the quotations of 1857; and what was the occasion of this statement being made? It was the occasion of a slave being taken away out of, he thought, a British ship, and taken back under the authority of the Judicial Assessor."One of the most important duties of the Judicial Assessor's Court since its foundation, and which has been constantly recognized in Committees of the House of Commons on West African affairs, has been the regulation, as far as has been possible, of the system of what is called domestic slavery, which exists among all the tribes which compose the British Protectorate. This duty involves the recognition and regulation of the rights of the masters as well as the protection of the servants."
explained that he did not allude to the Memorandum of 1857 as governing the relations between this country and the Gold Coast. What he asked was, whether the Government accepted the spirit embodied in that document.
said, that was the spirit in which Her Majesty's Government intended to deal with the question, and in which they announced that they intended to deal with it. If those who brought forward the Motion had said that the Government ought to take the Protectorate under their immediate control, turn it into a Crown Colony, and establish an African Empire, he could have understood their demand that slavery should be at once put down in the same way as it was effected in Trinidad, Jamaica, and the West Indies generally. But that was not the course which they recommended the Government to take. They said, "Do something with regard to this matter," but they did not venture to suggest what should be done. They said that the Government were neglecting the subject, but he could assure the House that there was no foundation for such an assertion, and he could not understand how it could have been made after the statement that had been made by his noble Friend the other night in "another place." A few evenings ago the Under Secretary for the Colonies, in the debate which took place in an exceedingly thin House, in referring to this subject, had pointed out that it was unnecessary for him to travel over all the ground which had been gone over by Lord Carnarvon, because the statement of the noble Lord had been very widely circulated, and therefore those who took an interest in the question must be thoroughly acquainted with it. He should have thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City, who had taken so distinguished a part in this discussion, would really have thought it worth his while to read in some form or other the speech which had been delivered by the Secretary for the Colonies. [Mr. GOSCHEN said, that he had quoted a passage from that speech.] In that case, if the right hon. Gentleman had read the speech of the noble Lord at all, he must have done so with exceedingly little profit, because he had said that it had been announced for the first time in the debate of that evening that the Government thought that the old state of things as between the British Government and the Protectorate was to be continued. But the statement of Lord Carnarvon was as follows:—
The noble Lord expressed his views on the subject of slavery thus:—"Your Lordships will see that Her Majesty's Government propose to retain, as far as territorial jurisdiction goes, the Protectorate pretty much as it stands. Committees of the House of Commons at different times have held different language as to the extent of territorial power which we exercise—and the Colonial Office, perhaps, has not been more consistent, but, on the whole, it seems to mc that though some increase is inevitable in order to carry out a more effective administration, the present limits of our territorial power should not be enlarged more than is absolutely necessary."—[3 Hansard, ccxix., 166–7.]
"Nor is it possible in the consideration of this branch of the question to forget that domestic slavery exists. Slavery in any form is so utterly repugnant to all our principles that it must be the object of a Minister as soon as he can to extinguish it. It is also a constant source of embarrassment; but though difficulties are brought about by native slavery, on the other hand, the difficulties involved in an immediate and compulsory emancipation of slaves would be still greater. Unless Parliament is prepared in such case to do that which is fair, to look upon the slave as property and vote a compensation—which probably would not be far short of £1,000,000 sterling—I hardly see how you can deal effectually and honestly with that subject; but if slavery were immediately abolished, the necessary results would be an increase of our obligations, our expenditure, and of the complications in these territories. I am bound to add that I believe the hardship to the slave has been largely and happily reduced. When Dr. Madden was sent out in 1841 by Lord John Russell, who was then Colonial Secretary, he reported that the slaves absolutely refused to be liberated unless the Government would undertake to provide food. This, of course, is not conclusive, but it shows at least how full of difficulties this question is. I would gladly lay down such rules as would pave the way to the ultimate, and, indeed, to the early extinction of slavery, but anything sweeping in the way of compulsory emancipation seems to me at this moment more calculated to enhance the difficulties with which we have to deal, and even to worsen the lot of the slave, than a gradual and cautious way of dealing with it."—[Ibid., 166.]
The question was not one of money; it was whether England should undertake a task which would tax her utmost energies to accomplish—a task in attempting to accomplish which she might very materially worsen the position of the slave and bring about great complications and difficulties, merely for the purpose of accomplishing that at a later date which the Government hoped to accomplish earlier by other means. The hon. and learned Member for Poole had referred to the great influence which England had exercised in putting an end to the atrocious human sacrifices and other inhuman customs on the Gold Coast, and it was by the exercise of similar influences that the Government hoped to extinguish slavery there. The subject was not one which Her Majesty's Government were neglecting, and those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House were not willing to concede to the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends opposite the monopoly which they claimed of hatred to slavery.
was of opinion that there was but little to choose between the policies adopted by the two great parties in the House relative to those West African proceedings. Successive Committees of that House had reported upon the subject; but neither party took action upon the Report of the Committee of 1864, presided over as it was by a Member of the present Government (Sir Charles Adderley). He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) agreed with the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. J. Lowther) that the British public were not sufficiently instructed in the proceedings which had taken place for years past on the Gold Coast. Were the pigeon-holes of the Colonial Office emptied, and their contents disclosed to the people, a very different feeling would prevail regarding the course adopted by the Government. Through the courtesy of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Lowther), he was permitted to look over several documents in the Record Office connected with the Gold Coast, and, with the permission of the House, he would read an extract from a remarkable Paper written in 1843 by the then hon. Member for Weymouth (Mr. Hope), and then Under Secretary for the Colonies, upon this matter, in reply to Mr. Steven, an employé of the Colonial Office. He wrote—
This was the opinion of one of our ablest Colonial Secretaries—that opinion had been upheld by subsequent Committees, all reporting against any intervention upon our part. The only administration which ever appeared to have succeeded was that of the British Merchant Committee, with Maclean as their Administrator. At a cost of some £4,000 a year, they preserved peace and concord upon the Coast, whereas some years before, under the Governmental administration, the cost amounted to £27,000 per annum. For his part, he should have preferred having recourse to that factory system of the merchants which had proved to be calculated to preserve peace and order in Africa."The Committee of Merchants, being established by despatch, may be abrogated by despatch. …. The judicial officer having to execute beyond the Queen's dominions justice not law, his jurisdiction does not require a legal basis—an Act of Parliament might render it legal within its local range of authority; but how to frame such an Act is, I suppose, an insoluble problem. We are about to make an usurpation which the goodness of our motives and the necessity of the case are to justify, and I suppose that such a justification would not be improved by an abortive attempt to give a semblance of law to that which is lawless. If the white Judge is fit for his employment, he will not be critical about his com mission. …. It would answer no good purpose to trouble Lord Stanley with an argument to prove that the recommendations of the Committee are wrong, not in details, but in their essence. …. Put to what end trouble you with a discussion of the nature of those African settlements to our commerce, or that their utility in preventing the slave trade is enormously exaggerated—that, in fact, they are nothing else than factories kept up at the expense of the nation at large for the profit of half-a-dozen inconsiderable merchants." &c.
said, he wished to make a few observations on the speech of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Any question relating to slavery was one which came home to the honour of this country, and he believed there was on the present occasion a general desire on both sides of the House to be in perfect agreement with reference to it. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that he very much wondered that hon. Members sitting on the Opposition benches could in any way sanction the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Poole. The right hon. Gentleman himself, however, must, he thought, be rather glad that the Amendment had been moved, inasmuch as it had led the Under Secretary for the Colonies more clearly to describe the views entertained by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman could hardly be aware of the extent to which the House and the country were interested in the subject, and why, he would ask, under the circumstances, did the Government object to the Amendment? They might protest against such an Amendment being pressed upon them; but then, they could at once remove any difficulty wich might exist on that ground, by stating that in consequence of the fresh start which the late war had given us, there would for the future be no recognition of slavery in our West African Settlements under any form. He was aware of the difficulties which were connected with the question—difficulties which he was willing to admit the present had inherited from previous Governments. We had, however, gained great experience by the events of the late war, and all that the House now invited the Government to do was to take advantage of that experience, and not to think they were doing sufficient if they proceeded upon the old footing. There was one lesson, at all events, which we ought by this time to have learnt, and that was that we should prevent any recognition of slavery. Of course, he was not unmindful of the difficulties which were connected with the question of the fugitive slave. Cases had come before the judicial assessor in which the question of property in the slave was involved, and with regard to the point, there was a regulation once made by an official on the Gold Coast, to the effect that in cases where cruelty existed slavery should be at once abolished; but where it was not exercised, things should remain as they were. It had, however, been found by almost every administrator of the Colony nearly impossible to carry out that regulation. That clearly showed, he thought, that we must now take bolder and higher ground, and declare positively that we should not recognize slavery in any country over which we exercised direct or indirect jurisdiction. Beyond that the Amendment did not go; and he believed Lord Carnarvon was as anxious to act upon the policy which it expressed as any hon. Member in that House. Why, then, should the Government hesitate to give his hon. Friend the assurances for which he asked? The Under Secretary for the Colonies, he might add, had alluded to a Despatch of Mr. Cardwell with respect to the state of affairs at Lagos. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) was a Member of the Committee which sat on the subject, and facts were laid before it which showed that there was a large number of slaves not only in the territory annexed to it, but in Lagos itself. Well, the Committee strongly recommended to the Government that an end should be put to that state of things, and Mr. Cardwell sent out a Despatch in which he stated that it was contrary to British Law that there should be any slaves in Lagos, and it was distinctly pointed out that we would give up no fugitive slave. Great difficulties were experienced in carrying out that policy, but there were now no slaves in Lagos. But our position on the Gold Coast was much stronger than it had ever been in that Colony, for we had entirely defeated our opponent on the Coast, and we had the fall right to make our own conditions. Nothing, therefore, could, in his opinion, be more reasonable, or, in an economical point of view, better for the country than that we should take advantage of the position in which we had been placed by the late war, make a new start in the direction indicated by the Amendment, and loudly declare that under no conditions whatever would this country recognize or permit slavery, be it domestic or otherwise.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken says the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Poole is one with respect to which both sides of the House are agreed. If he means by that, that throughout the House generally there is an unanimity of opinion that it is not only the duty, but the pride of this country to discourage slavery in every way and form possible, then I admit the right hon. Gentleman is right, and that there is an unanimity of opinion on both sides of the House. But when we are asked to accept a Resolution, it becomes necessary that we should examine its terms with somewhat of criticism. Now, I confess, when I read this Amendment, I am at a loss to find in it that precision of meaning which it is so desirable should exist when a Resolution is to be unanimously adopted. We are asked to declare—
Well, I should very much like to know what the word "recognition" means, and what it is upon which we are really asked to pronounce a decision. "Re-cognition" is a word so vague, so large, and so loose that it may mean anything or everything. And what are the circumstances under which the Amendment is moved? The House of Commons has by an overwhelming majority approved the policy of the Government with respect to the Gold Coast. It has voted the means of carrying that policy into effect. What is the state of the business at present? We are on the Report of that Vote, and now the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down asks what on earth is the reason why we object to the Amendment. Why, independent of my objection to the vagueness and indefiniteness of the language of it, the unsatisfactory engagements in which it would involve the country—if really the country has at heart, as I believe it has, the wish that slavery should be abolished even in those territories which are not included in the Gold Coast, but where we necessarily exercise an influence—irrespective, I say, of those reasons, I have this objection to the Amendment—that if the House were to accept it, it would be assuming that the Government are not going to do that which the Amendment recommends. I object to it, because it is an obstacle to our receiving the Report of a Vote which has already been agreed to, and which we obtained for the purpose of carrying our policy into effect. If the Amendment be accepted, it will be an indication on the part of the House that it cannot trust us to pursue a course of policy which is in conformity with the general opinion of hon. Members on both sides. We have been told throughout this debate, that some critical circumstances have now occurred in regard to our position on the Gold Coast to give us a new starting point to put down slavery. But when the country has been just agitated by a war, and great excitement prevails, it does not seem to me to be a moment peculiarly fitted to inaugurate a new policy on the Gold Coast. The time when the late Government inaugurated their new policy, when they entered into those Treaties with the Dutch Government, when they accepted the Dutch Forts—that was the time when the late Government might have come forward and reviewed their position. The country was then at peace, and the Government might have facilitated and advanced their views. But to pretend now that we are in a new position appears to me to be a view which is not justified by the circumstances. The changes in our position are adverse to the policy which the House is asked to accept. No doubt, the state in which the country is now placed requires the most cautious and careful handling, but that was not the case when the late Government purchased, and took over those Forts and Settlements, and when they had an opportunity of introducing changes. I cannot do otherwise than advise the House to act with great caution at this moment. The suppression of slavery must be a common object on both sides of the House, and the question is, whether we shall proceed with caution, and by the means already pursued, or whether we shall have recourse to an act of violence. It comes to that. Let me read the House a passage from a Despatch which is upon the Table. It is dated November 3, 1870, and is from Sir Arthur Kennedy, the Governor of Sierra Leone, and is addressed to Lord Kimberley. It was written at the time when we were taking over these Forts and Settlements from the Dutch. Sir Arthur Kennedy said—"That very mild institution, slavery, is curing itself daily, and any violent interference with it would be most disastrous." That was the advice of Sir Arthur Kennedy, an experienced and intelligent man, and it was advice upon which Lord Kimberley acted when the Government took over the Dutch Settlements and had the opportunity of introducing a new course of policy. The late Government being assured that slavery was curing itself daily, resolved that they would not have recourse to any violence. I trust that the House will not cancel that policy of the late Government, and that it will view this question as one requiring the utmost caution and management, and I also hope that the House will give to the present Government in their attempt to establish a new system of administration on the Gold Coast, that fair play and that fair chance to which they are entitled. I can say that the Government have given to this question many anxious hours. We have engaged the services of persons eminently qualified to carry our arrangements into effect, and we believe that there is a chance, with prudence, of rendering these Settlements advantageous and not dishonourable to this country. We also believe that it is possible to terminate that institution which Sir Arthur Kennedy says is daily dying out. Of this, however, we are confident—that unless the House supports us at this moment, and if this should be turned into a party question, it will offer an obstacle to our plans of the most serious character, and that speedy abolition of slavery—not, it is true, carried on in territories belonging to our Sovereign, but which are still more or less under our influence—which we all desire, will not be accomplished; but the consequence will be that the institution will be long protracted and ultimately strengthened."That, in the opinion of this House, no arrangements for the government of the territories on the Gold Coast will he satisfactory which involve the recognition of slavery in any form."
wished that his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Ashley) would ask himself what would be the result if he pressed his Amendment to a division. That was a question upon which any division in the British Par- liament would be watched very closely and carefully in other countries, and if he could believe for a moment that the feelings and opinions of the two opposite sides of the House on the question of slavery at all differed, it might be necessary to maintain the views held on that—the Opposition—side of the House as distinct from the other. But hon. Gentlemen on the opposite benches were quite as anxious to promote the abolition of slavery as themselves; if they were not, the Government would not deserve or retain the confidence of the country for an hour. Until the Prime Minister took part in this debate he did not think the language of the Government had been as precise and definite as could be wished. The right hon. Gentleman, however, in saying that his objection to the Resolution was, that if it passed, it would imply that the Government were unwilling to do the very thing the Resolution itself proposed, used language clearly implying that the Government intended to do what the Amendment called upon them to do. He believed that he had not misinterpreted the right hon. Gentleman; if so, he could rise and tell him so. It would be a sad thing to show the world outside that there could be any division on this point. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Amendment was vague; but he understood it to mean that it recognized the position which this country had hitherto held in regard to slavery on the West Coast. There had been a possibility of a charge being brought against us that, while forcing other countries to abolish slavery, we were not so careful ourselves as we ought to be. What was wanted, therefore, was that no stone should be cast at this country, and that so far as our judicial officers were concerned, they should not adjudicate upon these questions. The House would shortly see what the Government did in the matter, and if it did not come up to their professions and to the language held that night, there would be time to make some Motion on the subject. For those reasons, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Poole would be well advised if he abstained from dividing the House. If he went to a division and found a large majority against him, it would act mischievously, and very much increase the difficulty of dealing with the question of slavery on the West Coast of Africa.
said, he did not wish to do any mischief. As the right hon. Gentleman had held forth the hope of a speedy abolition of slavery on the Coast, he should be sorry to press his Amendment to a division.
Question put, and agreed to.
Main Question, "That the said Resolutions be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.
Resolutions read a second time, and agreed to.
Valuation Of Property Bill
( Mr. Sclater-Booth, Mr. Clare Head.)
Bill 98 Committee
[ Progress 19th June.]
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clause 3 (Abolition of certain exemptions from rating).
Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 20, after the word "to," to insert the word "all."—( Sir George Jenkinson.)
Question proposed, "That the word 'all' be there inserted."
, who had another Amendment on the Paper, consequent to, and depending upon, the Question before the Committee, asked the Chairman if at that stage he was at liberty to propose it?
said, that when a similar question had been raised at the last sitting, he had entertained some doubt whether the hon. Baronet could put such an Amendment without an express notification of the consent of the Crown. In the last century it had been the practice to signify the consent of the Crown to such an Amendment when reported to the House. And it was now not unusual to postpone such a notification—without which a Bill thus amended could not pass—until even a later stage. He did not, therefore, think—although the point was not altogether clear—that he should be warranted in stopping the discussion of such an Amendment in the Committee.
said, the subsequent Amendment referred to, was in page 1, line 20, after "land," to insert "including Crown property." He was glad to hear the ruling just laid down. The Bill purported to amend the Act of Elizabeth and extend its provisions to hereditaments other than those mentioned in that Act. He could not, however, understand why it should not extend to property belonging to the Crown, although it was said the assent of the Crown would be required. The Treasury Minute which had been issued, it was said, would answer the purpose he had in view; but the assent of the Crown must have been obtained before that Minute was issued, and by embodying the principle of the Treasury Minute in the Bill, they would make it imperative on all future Governments to act upon it. Otherwise, if a Treasury Minute only were acted upon, there would be nothing to prevent any future Government from issuing another Treasury Minute in an opposite direction.
said, there was a strong feeling in Lancashire in favour of taxing all property indifferently for local expenses, and he believed the time had now arrived when Crown property should no longer be exempt. He should therefore support the Amendment.
said, his objection to the Amendment was, that it touched a part of a great question without touching the whole. It must be remembered that, when he introduced the Bill, he said it was necessary for him to take the Bill as it passed through the late Parliament, with the omission of the clause relating to Government property, which he had not had time to consider, and on that account he proposed an alternative arrangement which seemed to be acceptable to the House at that time. The woodlands in the occupation of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests would pay the rate, and, under those circumstances, it would be better for the hon. Baronet to wait and see whether the arrangements worked satisfactorily. Wisely or unwisely, the Government had deliberately excluded from the Bill all mention of Crown property; they had confined it to three classes of property—mines, woods, and game; and he therefore objected to introducing into the Bill in this way something with which it had nothing to do. A sufficient protest had been already made against the exclusion of Crown lands, which would include a vast amount of property beyond the scope of this Bill, and he intreated the hon. Member to be satisfied with that protest, and to consider the limited proposal which the Government thought it their duty to make.
said, that when the Bill was last in Committee there was a long discussion on this subject, and great dissatisfaction was expressed, principally on the Ministerial side of the House, with the proposal, or rather the want of proposal, on the part of the Government. He suggested that clauses of last year's Bill, possibly with some modifications, should be introduced; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained at length his scheme for relieving places that contained Government property by moans of a Vote in the Estimates. The scheme seemed to commend itself to the judgment of the House; but, personally, he still held a strong opinion, that the rating of Government property in an irregular way would be only a temporary expedient, and he would far rather the right hon. Gentleman had left the matter alone for a year or longer, until a well-digested plan could be brought up. It was erroneous in principle that any Government should ask for a certain sum of money to be placed in their hands to be distributed, upon certain rough rules it was true, but still on their responsibility; but, in the absence of any alternative scheme, the Committee could only acquiesce for the present in the proposal of the Government. He believed the hon. Baronet had the sympathy of the House with his Amendment; but at that late period of the Session he would advise him to postpone it.
thought Crown property ought to be put on the same footing as other property. He, however, saw the difficulty of the position in which the Government was placed. If the rating of Crown property was to be introduced into the Bill, it could not be done by way of Amendment. The Government appealed with great force to the Committee to allow the matter to stand on its present footing for a year, when, as he understood, they would again deal with it; and he therefore hoped the hon. Baronet would not take up a position of antagonism to the Government by pressing his Amendment at that time.
must express his regret that the Government did not see their way to bring in a Bill to settle the question this year. Matters of this kind were not to be disposed of by Treasury Minutes, which really did not settle anything, for what had been established by one Treasury Minute might be upset by another. He considered that a strong Government ought not to have recourse to the device of postponing a difficult question; and therefore he hoped the Amendment would only be withdrawn upon the distinct understanding that the Government would bring in a Bill next year to rate Crown property, in order that the matter might be discussed and determined as a whole, and not left to be dealt with by Treasury Minutes.
said, that the real question was, whether the Government should advise Her Majesty to give her Assent to this proposal with reference to Crown property? and with regard to that, he thought it would be an unsatisfactory course for the House to proceed with the discussion of the subject, with the prospect that upon the third reading the Government might step in and stop the progress of the Bill, if the Amendment should be adopted, by refusing to advise Her Majesty to sanction the provisions in question. The policy which the Government had announced was, that they should, by Act of Parliament, deal with exemptions of certain classes of private property, but not to introduce into the measure any provision for doing away with the exemption of Crown property. They did not say that was a subject which ought not to be dealt with. On the contrary, they were of opinion that there was a fair and reasonable claim for bringing such property under contribution. It was already clone to a certain extent, and they thought it ought to be done to a greater extent. But they felt that was a difficult question involving a large number of important considerations, and they were not prepared to deal with it in an Act of Parliament of the present year. The Government had before them the experience of the Bill of last year, which undoubtedly passed this House, but which, on reflection, they were not prepared to accept, and they thought it advisable that the matter should stand over for further consideration; at the same time, not wishing to delay granting to the country and the localities chiefly interested that relief to which they had for some time been looking. They did propose to deal with the question by means of a confessedly temporary expedient. When he said "temporary expedient," he would remind the Committee that it was not anything like the introduction of a new principle,—it was the extension of a principle recognized by the House for many years. Grants had been taken already to the amount of £63,000 a-year in aid of Government property, to be dispensed according to such regulations as Government might think fit to adopt; and what was now proposed was to increase the amount to something like fourfold what it was now, but to continue the distribution on principles somewhat analogous to those which had hitherto been acted on, with this addition, that a list of the parishes so aided should be laid before the House, their rateable value, the amount of Government property in them, and so on. Though the Government did not think that a permanent or satisfactory way of dealing with the question, they held that it would meet the exigencies of the case at present, and it would render it impossible for the Government to do what it had been kindly suggested they would do during the vacation—namely, job the money. If one locality found that an unfair proportion was given to its neighbour, it was quite certain the Government would hear of it in the House and elsewhere; and they could not maintain their position, unless they administered the grant fairly. In point of fact, all grants made by the House were made on the assumption that Government would distribute them fairly; and, indeed, much larger grants than these were already distributed by the Government—as, for instance, the grant in aid of Education and others. The scheme of the Government was this—to deal with the exemptions of mines, woods, and game by Act of Parliament, but with respect to the Government property, not to deal with it this year by Act of Parliament, and not to pledge themselves whether they would or would not in a future year. The position in which the Government stood with regard to the Amendment was this—They would have to discuss the principle of proceeding by Vote in the matter, and if his hon. Friend should persevere, and the Committee should support him, the Government would feel that though the Amendment was small, the Committee had in fact declined to sanction the policy which the Government had adopted after due deliberation. Of course, the Government could not complain; at the same time, they would be under the necessity of reporting Progress, in order that time might be taken to consider whether they would proceed with the Bill under such altered circumstances, and also whether they should proceed with their policy generally.
said, after what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, it was evident the Committee should either reject the Amendment, or they would lose the Bill. He did not want to lose the Bill, as it would bring under taxation a good deal of property which was now exempt, and he would therefore urge his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment.
said, it would be more convenient for the House and the Government to have the principle of rating Crown property embodied in an Act of Parliament; but he agreed with those who recommended the hon. Baronet to withdraw his Amendment, because the proposal of the Government might fairly be accepted as a tentative measure.
said, though it was highly objectionable to bring in Bills which dealt only with the fringe of the subject, still, in their present position, the suggestion that the Amendment should not be accepted was the only course open to the Committee, if they desired to pass the Bill. For his own part, he would much rather that the Bill were postponed, and that the question, which had been debated for many weeks last Session, should not be dealt with now, than that a matter of such great magnitude and importance as the fair rating of property should be treated as it had been treated by the late and as it was being treated by the present Government, who were accepting and fathering the child they opposed on every occasion last Session.
said, he felt bound to join in the appeal to the hon. Baronet not to press his Amendment, which addressed itself only to a part of the subject—namely, Crown property under the control of the Commissioners of "Woods and Forests and did not deal with property under the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Civil Departments of the State. Since that question was last dis- cussed, it had advanced a stage. When the subject was last discussed there were two proposals before the House—one with respect to the rating of Government property by law, and the other for continuing, but enlarging, the scope of the existing system of voluntary contributions from the Imperial Revenue. There were certain advantages on both sides, and the position which he took up with regard to the two proposals was, that he (Mr. Stansfeld) should be willing to defer to the opinion of the House in Committee. On the whole, the balance of argument was rather on the side of assessment as against voluntary contributions, and so the matter stood when the debate was adjourned. He was, however, desirous that the Bill should pass, and if the present proposal with regard to Government property was not satisfactory, no doubt it would be amended in some future Session. Moreover, the Government, since the debate was last adjourned, had explained that the arrangement with respect to those voluntary contributions was intended to be merely temporary, although, at the same time, they could not now pledge the Crown, in regard to the compulsory rating of Government property, to any action in a future Session. Both the Government and the House would be free, however, to reconsider the subject in another year, and, considering the advanced period of the Session, together with the complexity of the question, the appeal now made to the Committee by the Government was one to which they would do well to accede, and not to assume the responsibility of rejecting the Bill, even though it omitted the clauses contained in the measure of their Predecessors.
said, he was willing, after the general expression of opinion which had been elicited, to withdraw his Amendment, but must enter his protest against the line of legislation which had been adopted in reference to this subject by the Government, as being too much in accordance with that of their Predecessors. The whole course of legislation in the matter from the time of Queen Elizabeth had been in the direction of extending the liabilities of real property. Unfortunately, there were not now so many hon. Members behind him to back him up on this question as there were last year. They were otherwise disposed of, and he had been led to attach more importance than he had at first done to the warning of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, to be careful how this question was stirred lest the result should be to increase the charges on real property.
said, he did not admit that the effect of the Bill would be to impose fresh burdens on real property, and did not see how the Government could have done otherwise than they had done in the matter. The Bill would simply do what the occupiers of land had long asked the Government to do—namely, make certain land contribute to the poor rates which had hitherto been exempted. He trusted that the Government would adhere to their proposal.
said, he did not object to the contributions in themselves, provided that everybody contributed his fair share, which would not be the case under the present Bill. Without requiring the Government to give any impossible pledge, he trusted that they would give some assurance that they would reconsider the question before another Session.
, with reference to the remarks of the hon. Baronet the Member for North Wilts, denied that either the rating Bill of last year, or the one under discussion, imposed fresh burdens on real property. They only dealt with certain property hitherto exempt from rating. The contributions in respect of Government property, as now proposed, would be a considerable casement in the localities where they applied. Neither of the Bills increased the charges on land, but only redistributed them more fairly.
said, that if no more money was to be collected under the Bill in the shape of contributions from land, he could not see what was the use of the Bill at all. If the effect of the Bill had been to rate mines and Government property only, he should have said nothing against it; but the gist of it was to throw the burden on the shoulders of those owners who lived on their estates.
pointed out that in the case of a parish which had to contribute, say, £100 a-year in rates, and one-half of which was agricultural, whilst the other half consisted of mines, the agricultural half at present had to contribute the whole, whereas under the Bill it would contribute equally with the mines.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made a magnificent offer of a large sum of money; but he (Mr. Henley) desired to have some clearer light than had yet been thrown upon the subject of the distribution of these charges, as in some districts the relief to be got from the contributions from Government property must be very small. Those where the dockyards were situated would get the lion's share. There could be no objection to rating property hitherto exempt, provided it were done on a fair and uniform principle. The Bill, however, did nothing of the kind. It was not a Bill assessing property not assessed before, but a Bill assessing some kinds unfairly, and leaving others of the same value unassessed. All should be taken fairly; but the Bill did anything but that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
, in moving as an Amendment, to leave out sub-sections 1 and 2, said, he did so with the view of eliciting from the Government a more satisfactory explanation with respect to the rating of plantations and game, on which it appeared to him that the measure would press unfairly.
said, that his hon. Friend's Amendment had the advantage of being straightforward, the object which the hon. Member had in view being to strike out from the Bill all mention of plantations and game. It was rather late then to raise such an objection, which wont to the principle of the Bill. It should have been raised on the second reading. It was not intended to enable the assessment committee to go on a man's estate and ascertain the annual value of the timber he had sold, nor was it intended that an occupier should be rated for game that was practically of no value at all. He believed the Amendments he intended to propose would meet the objections of his hon. Friend, and therefore he hoped he would not put the Committee to the trouble of dividing.
trusted that if the right hon. Gentleman meant that saleable underwood should not be increased in rateable value on account of timber growing thereon, he would make the Bill clear upon that point.
said, his right hon. Friend was mistaken in supposing that saleable underwood would be increased in rateable value by reason of timber growing thereon.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
then proposed, in line 21, the omission of the words, "or for both such purposes," at the end of sub-section 1, the effect of which Amendment would be to exempt from rating any land used for a plantation or a wood and for the growth of saleable underwood.
complained that no Notice had been given of the Amendment and that it ought not to be adopted. He contended that when land was used for the two purposes before mentioned it should be rated in respect of both of such uses.
concurred in the objection of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld).
said, there were cases in which a wood was almost valueless because the underwood had been taken away, and the trees were not full grown.
said, it seemed to be forgotten that timber was paid for by succession duty. It had been stated on high authority, in evidence given before the Committee of this House, which he could not quote as it had not yet been laid on the Table, that it was highly impolitic to rate timber at all. The difficulty of rating it seemed to be a great one, which no one could solve. If timber was not to be rated by the Bill, there was no use discussing the way in which it was to be rated.
said, he believed it would be good policy to do nothing which would stimulate the re-mature destruction of growing timber. It was a question of degree, and it was impossible for the House to lay down the exact point at which saleable underwood ceased to be such, but the assessment committees would easily do it. What the parishioners desired, was to have the land rated. The great mass of saleable underwoods were thoroughly understood to be worth so much per acre per annum, and they were assessed accordingly without taking into account the timber.
said, that assessment committees had found no difficulty in dealing with saleable underwoods. Old trees and ornamental timber ought not to be rated, because the value of them could be realized only twice in
said, he did not understand that the Government had come to the conclusion not to rate land, for according to sub-section (a) of Clause 4 land used only for a plantation or a wood was to be valued as if the land were let and occupied in its natural and unimproved state; but the proposal that in case of joint occupation for wood and underwood, the land should cease to be assessed, except in respect of underwood, would not hold water. There were great plantations of well-grown timber sufficiently sparse to admit of the growth of copse. The best solution of the difficulty was that a piece of land occupied solely by timber should be rated in respect of its improved value, that saleable underwood should be rated as such, and that land conjointly occupied should be assessed in respect of both elements of its value by the assessment committee. The result of the discussion of last year was that it was best to leave the matter to the assessment committees, who were beginning to collate their growing experience, and, if this were clone, no practical difficulty would occur.
said, he understood it to be the intention of the Government that in the case of land growing brushwood below the timber, it was to be assessed as land used solely for the growth of underwood. There would then be a manifest injustice done in the same Union to those proprietors who chose to devote their land solely to the sale of underwood. He preferred the Bill as originally drawn, for it appeared to him that the Amendment would leave a large quantity of land in England devoted partly to timber and partly to underwood, either wholly exempted or very lightly taxed. He hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn.
said, it seemed to him that they were agreed upon two important points—namely, that if land was used for growing timber, it was to be rated as land in its natural condition; and if the land was used for growing saleable underwood, in was to be so rated. He thought it would be better if the matter were left to the assessment committee, as there would be no clear principle to go upon where timber and underwood were grown together.
thought that if land were used for timber and also grow underwood, the assessment committee should have the opportunity of determining that the taxation should follow the rate, either as to saleable underwood or of land in its natural state.
said, his belief was, that if the words had not been inserted in the Bill, no one would have ever missed them, or suggested their insertion. If the Amendment were agreed to, it could be made clear when they came to Clause 4 that all lands used for the growth of timber and underwood were to be rated.
Amendment agreed to; words struck out accordingly.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 1, line 21, to insert after "purposes" the words "and not subject to any rights of common."
said, he could not understand the necessity for that Amendment. If land with underwood upon it was increased in value on account of the timber on it, why the necessity of the exemption? Common land could not be assessed at all, as it was in nobody's occupation; and if there was not to be a separate assessment on account of the timber upon it, what was the necessity for exempting it?
said, that in his part of the country there were large tracts of land belonging to different copyholders. The underwood on them was the property of the copyholder and was rated to the poor, but the timber was not rated. He was not anxious to see this timber rated, though it was the property of the lord of the manor; but when his right hon. Friend touched commons, he thought he should go a little further, and say whether timber on copyhold estates should not be subject to rates so far as the land on which it stood was concerned.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
, who had an Amendment on the Paper, in page 1, line 23, to leave out sub-section 2, said, it always appeared to Mm that they could not get at the right of sporting itself, but they could get at the value of crops; and in the Amendment he had introduced his object was that the gross estimated value of land should include the value of right of sporting. Land was usually let subject to whatever rights were exercised over it; the land was assessed on that basis, and in that way the exact value or rights of sporting might be got at. Otherwise it was perfectly possible that great injustice might be done, not only in the assessment, but through the land being unlet or let only for the purposes of mere pleasure. The land might be in pasture instead of corn. It might be held on account of a particular stock of game being kept on it, but rather than give an assessment committee the right to assess this, his object was to assess the estimated value of land, including the right of sporting. As, however, he saw on the Paper other words that would meet his object, he would, with the permission of Committee, withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 1, sub-section 2, line 23, after "when," to insert "separately rented and." Hard things had been said as to the objection of hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House to game being rated; but if the land was rated at the full agricultural value, no matter what the produce was, whether corn, game, or whatever it was, there could be no doubt that in such a valuation, the game was rated as well. If, then, the land was rated at the full value, by what right or justice could they rate a man for sporting? It was a piece of gross injustice. What would be the effect? It would subject a man who lived in a grass country, where the right of shooting was nil, to the action of an assessment committee. Take a man who lived in a dairy country, with 5,000 acres of grass land, where the value of the right of sporting was nil. Suppose the assessment committee put 1,9, an acre on his land—that would be £250 a-year at which he would be rated. That would be for a man to have the right to walk over his own grass land and carry a gun. It was a monstrous thing. Why not rate a man for hunting? Why rate him for right of walking over his own land? It was not reasonable or just to rate a man for the right of walking over his own land. If a man let his shooting, rate him to the mast-head; but why rate a gentleman whoso game was absolutely valueless, except for his own enjoyment? If a man let a moor in Yorkshire or in Scotland, let them rate it to any extent they pleased, but not rate his own enjoyment. The effect of his Amendment would be to allow a man to walk over his own estate without being rated. If the shooting was let to a third party other than the owner or the occupier, let them rate him, but not rate people who exercised no other right than that of their own enjoyment. It should be remembered that all those who did shoot paid a certain amount of rating in their game certificates. Why they should pay any other rate for walking over their own land was a matter of surprise, and he could not understand it. The rating of land on the agricultural value, except where the sporting was separately rented, would cover everything that was just and reasonable.
said, that the noble Lord (Lord Henry Scott) and the hon. Baronet (Sir George Jenkinson) must have had some communication with the Government on the clause. Neither he nor any hon. Gentleman near him had hoard the Government express an opinion on the subject.
said, it was not with regard to the clause, but he had a verbal Amendment on Clause 6 which would show what the intentions of Government were.
Will those Amendments prevent a man being rated for his own shooting?
They do not go so far as that.
thought that the Committee could not possibly assent to the Amendment. He was not one of those who let shooting, and he did not see any harm in rating game, and he had no right on that account to be exempt from any fair rate which an assessment committee might assess. It was not for carrying a gun over his land that a man was rated, but it was a rate levied for the use and enjoyment which the land carried with it, and for the increased value which the land would in cones- quence fetch in the market. Of course, if a man owned grass land the game would be rated at what it was worth, and if it were worth nothing, it would be rated at nothing. But there was generally a certain value of the shooting which the land carried with it, and whatever might be the actual value of the manor over which the landlord chose to shoot, he had no right to complain if he were rated accordingly. If the principle contended for by the hon. Baronet (Sir George Jenkinson) were good, he did not see why a landlord should not be exempt from other rates if he farmed his own land. Whether a man preserved highly, or not at all, he would only be assessed at the fair market rate, and in that there would be no hardship.
said, he was sorry to differ from the remarks of the hon. Member for Berkshire, but he thought it an excessive hardship that an owner should be assessed on what anyone would give for the sporting. That would be an enormous injustice, for he knew numerous instances in which some absurd and fancy price would be given for the right to shoot near London. It would be absurd to fix the rate on that rent. He knew a case, not many miles from Windsor, where an eight-acre plot was let to a doctor, who paid for the right of shooting £100 a-year. The property had lately been sold to a neighbouring proprietor; but if that was to be taken as a test of its value, it would be very hard. As fishing was included, he would ask the Government for some details on that part of the question. He had served on assessment committees, and he found they were generally in the dark, and that, like juries appealing to a Judge, they always required to be told what to do. If they could assess the value of the fishing in the Serpentine, it would guide him in his neighbourhood, where the fishing was of the same kind and of about the same value. He knew that there were certain doctors who would pay a fabulous price for the chance of catching a gudgeon. He objected to the principle of the rate being calculated on whatever the thing would fetch in the market. He did not think that was a fair test.
said, if the Amendment of the hon. Baronet was carried there would be very little of the right of sporting to be assessed, for the pur- pose of being rated, in his part of the country, or in the country generally. The hon. Baronet would have it that where the owner exercised his right of sporting, there should be no rating at all. [Sir GEORGE JENKINSON: If the land is rated at its full value.] That was not so. Excessive game depreciated the value of the land, and the consequence was, that in some cases the land was not rated at more than three-fourths of its agricultural value. There were some tracts of land where the shooting was of considerable value, where the agricultural value was not lower in consequence. The other day he heard of an instance where the agricultural value of land was £900, and the shooting let to the tenant for £100. If the landlord kept the right of shooting in his own hand that £100 a-year would escape assessment, whereas under the Bill the farm would be rated at £1,000.
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken looked no farther than Norfolk and Suffolk, and entirely forgot the rest of this large country. Taking the value of shooting throughout the whole of England, from one end to the other, they would find, with few exceptions of over-preservation of game, that shooting was of no great value to anyone. That was not the right way to assess shooting. Was the land to be rated in more than one way? If they were to put in shooting, they might put in other rights beside. Why did they not rate it upon what it was really worth, rate it upon that and nothing more? If the shooting was let, they knew what the value was, and it might be rated. If an owner depreciated the land by having an excessive amount of game upon it, then it ought to be rated in proportion to what it would have produced. But to lay down an arbitrary law that people might rate shooting at what it was worth, would be impracticable; because, as had been said, shooting let in the neighbourhood of London at fabulous prices. Such shooting might be worth £200 a-year on land that without it would be worth only £100. Owners were now supposed to be rated on all the land they held in their own hands, woods and everything else; and now it was proposed to rate them for the shooting over the farms which they let by receiving the right of shooting. There were hundreds and thousands of acres absolutely worth nothing but to walk across, and it would be very hard, he thought, to put a rate upon that. No doubt they might value those moorlands which were worth more for shooting than any other purpose. A tenant in this country was wide enough awake to see that he did not pay more than the real value of land to him. Was it wise, then, to put on an additional rate, and to give an excuse for letting shooting? There was nothing more mischievous than letting land for sporting purposes. It created more ill-will than anything else. It was not between landlord and tenant, but between the stranger and the tenant, that ill-blood arose. He therefore said that rating was a mischievous thing to do. If they wanted to keep a landlord in his county, it was well that he should be able harmlessly to amuse himself. All right-thinking landlords not only enjoyed the sport, but gave the tenant the right also. Where the landlord gave the tenant the right to catch rabbits and the right to course, was the land to be rated as if no rights were given at all? Bate the land at the full value of what it was worth, but not on an exceptional state of things.
said, if there was one thing which appeared to him in this case in a stranger light than another, it was that there was no foundation for the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member, and that if there was any class of men who wanted the clause, it was the proprietors of land and the friends of sporting. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had said that it was not advisable that they should encourage the letting of the right of sporting. Well, but in that very clause there was a clear distinction drawn. The assessment would be upon the value of sporting, which he had no doubt would be judged in reference to the average custom and right of the neighbourhood. ["No, no!"] Yes, by an assessment committee, consisting of occupying farmers in the neighbourhood. He would lay down this broad proposition, that it was in the interest of those who desired to enjoy these rights—and who believed upon the whole it was for the benefit of the country that those rights should continue to be enjoyed—it was in their interest that the rights of sporting should come under assessment. Would not the hon. and gallant Gentleman agree with him that it was a wise thing in the Bill to assess the right of sporting? He would address himself to the 6th clause, and would show that it was not open to any of the objections the hon. and gallant Member had raised, and he would meet the objections he had raised precisely in the spirit he wished them to be met. If the right of sporting were in the occupier of land, the land would not be separately rated, but the assessment committee would judge of the value of the land with the sporting. The hon. and gallant Gentleman could have no objection to that, because it was in accord with his own view. If the right of sporting were let, then the hon. and gallant Gentleman had no objection that such right should be rated. He had no objection to the doctor going down to the neighbourhood of Windsor and paying £100 a-year for the shooting, and being rated on it. The remaining clause was, where the owner of the soil preserved the right of shooting. Well, the clause was even tender of the rights of the owner; it said that if the owner rented the right, it should not be separately valued, but the gross value should be estimated as if the occupier would be entitled to exercise the right; therefore the assessment committee, consisting for the greater part of occupying farmers, would assess occupying farmers, on the hypothesis that they had the right of sporting and would not unduly assess the right of sporting. When that was done if the assessment was inclusive of the right of shooting he would have the right to deduct the excess from his landlord. He maintained, therefore, that the clause as drawn and presented to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth), must be a clause in support of the views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Barttelot), when the right of sporting was not severed it was not to be separately rated, but where it was severed from the occupation of land it was to be separately rated. When the landlord enjoyed the right it was to be assessed on the tenant, the tenant having a right for excess as against the landlord, and therefore it was impossible to conceive anything more equitable.
said, he would remind the Committee that they had a little wandered from the subject of the Amendment, and were really discussing the detailed plan contained in Clause 6.
The question before them now was, whether the House would say that a landlord reserving the right to shoot over the tenant in occupation should in no case be rated for the value of the enjoyment. The difficulty of the case was this—in one parish there might be two tenant-farmers having farms of equal value, but varying as to the right of shooting. As a matter of fact, the assessment committee would rate one higher, because he had the right of shooting, than they would rate the other. This was an injustice against which the assessment committee would have to contend. If the landlord reserved that which in the hands of a tenant would be subject to rates, he ought to pay something for it. If the Committee would pass by the Amendment, he thought, when they came to Clause 6, he should show that if there was no real practical value, there would be nothing assessed by the committee and nothing deducted from the landlord, and therefore nothing in dispute between landlord and tenant. Moreover, by Clause 9, power of appeal was given to the landlord to quarter sessions, where of course he would be heard. Under those circumstances, it might be fairly expected that these rights of shooting would be satisfactorily adjusted.
considered game a luxury that should be paid for. He should not have the least objection to pay for his game, and it would be very satisfactory to the people of his parish to know that he had paid. No doubt, there was a deal of pleasure in the exercise, pleasure in the shooting, and the pleasure of giving game a way. There should be a special reservation to prevent the tenant being injured by the person who took the game. They ought also to be careful about rabbits. There they were, 650 men trying to turn rabbits out of the country; and before the rabbits had turned a man out of Parliament, they should pay this little rate, whatever it was, for a great pleasure and great luxury.
said, it appeared to him that many regarded that as an additional tax on the land. That was a fallacy, for it was merely an additional subject of rating. If the game let for £100 a-year, the rating on that was no additional burden on the land. As respected the particular Amendment before the Committee, he quite agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Mid Cheshire, and was only too glad that landlords should be subject to rates for shooting.
said, that nobody had said anything against anyone who occupied the land beneficially being rated. All he said was that, supposing a tenant was rated at the full agricultural value, he saw no right to rate the land twice over, no matter how it was occupied. He did not know what amount of gratification the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. S. Hardy) derived from game, or with what burden he was prepared to saddle himself; but it was a very hard thing that a man should be rated on a right which in some cases was absolutely valueless. If a man had land rated at the full value, they had no right to rate him over again for anything. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stansfeld) maintained that Clause 6 was almost entirely in favour of what he had been advocating, and that the rights of sporting were most tenderly dealt with. It was all the more important, then, to pass the Amendment, in order that the Bill might go on all fours. His Amendment was, that the rating should be extended to shooting and fishing when separated from the letting of land. If the landlord reserved the right of walking over his own land and the land of the tenants, and carrying a gun with him, was he to be rated for that? He was told Clause 6 would undo that. Therefore, the two clauses ought to be taken together.
said, the Bill would have one effect, and that was to increase the assessable value of rural land, as contra-distinguished from town land. That was the great advantage farmers would get. This was certain—that whether they paid a halfpenny, a penny, twopence, or sixpence an acre, the aggregate would come to something, and would be an increase of value of the rural districts as against the urban districts. The hon. Member for South Norfolk would appreciate that extremely. The next weighty question was, who would pay it? It was very trifling. The whole concern was trifling; but when people came to find that there was a little deduction, what would be the natural consequence? There would be a general revision of letting. Whether that would be an advantage to the farmers he did not know; but he had considerable doubt about it himself, because of the inconsistency of the thing. He did not think it would be a great benefit to the farmers in England. He was astonished that the hon. Member for South Norfolk thought it would. Those who were pressing on these little matters—for they were really very little and trifling—would, it seemed to him, produce an effect quite contrary to the expectation they entertained. He believed that considerable injustice would be done. They would put a fanciful value on what did not exist. No doubt the hon. Gentleman would say it was the value of the game, and the sport after these birds; but he felt quite sure it would not be for the benefit of those parties who were most anxious to bring it forward. It would lead to much litigation, and to many six-and-eightpences and thirteen-and-fourpences going to the lawyers.
, speaking for the Midland counties, said, the experience of the last 20 years had not been favourable to any revision of rents by the landlord. It was too difficult to get the land let on moderate and reasonable terms to make any such revision as the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire had spoken of. Was the burden likely to be so great as had been imagined? Suppose 2,000 acres of land were let at half-a-crown an acre for the right of shooting. ["Oh, oh!"] He could tell hon. Gentlemen opposite that he not only paid that rate himself, but could got that for it. At the same time he was putting an extreme case. Take a moderate estate of 2,500 acres, at half-a-crown per acre, it was only £312 that the owner would be rated upon, amounting to £15 on the average, and to those who knew what the expense of shooting was, it must be evident that the extra amount caused by such rating would be very little, certainly not such as to make it worth the while of Gentlemen interested to continue the discussion.
said, the hon. Gentleman might be willing to pay half-a-crown an acre for his shooting, but to him (Mr. Halsey), as a landlord, his estate might not be worth anything like that money. But because he might get half-a-crown an acre from some one else, if he were to let the shooting, it would be very unjust that he should be rated whether he let or not. This Bill, if passed as it stood, would give rise to endless confusion.
said, he would really put it to hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House whether it was worth while to persist in this opposition, to what was, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire had just told them, a very trifling matter. Everybody know that if there was one subject more than another which led to heart-burnings and ill-feeling in the country, between landlords, tenants, and labourers, it was the subject of shooting and game. He quite agreed with what the hon. and gallant Member for Mid-Cheshire had said, that although there was the pleasure and amusement of shooting game, there was also the still greater pleasure of giving it away; and if he might offer a suggestion upon that, it would be that all landed proprietors should follow the example of the hon. and gallant Member, and indulge more freely in the latter luxury. If they would be content to preserve a little less, and would give away a little more, he could promise them that they would hear very little about the game laws. As to the question of rating, if the owner of land were also the occupier, he would be rateable not only for the land, but for the game also; and that whether he let the right of shooting to another or retained it himself; and he (Mr. Bulwer) could not see any reason or justice why, if the owner let the land but retained the right of shooting, he should not continue to pay rates for what he so retained. As he read the Bill, it was proposed to rate the tenant of the land for the game in the first instance, and to give him the power to deduct from his rent the value of the right of shooting when severed from his occupation—that was, if the assessment committee put any value upon it. He ventured to think it was not politic for hon. Gentlemen to object to this. A tenant who now occupied a farm and paid heavily in rates, might often see his landlord carry away from it cartloads of game, send it to market as valuable property, and get the money for it; and he (Mr. Bulwer) could not help saying that it was not judicious for the landlord in such a case to object to contribute to the rates. He appealed to the hon. Baronet the Member for North Wilts as to whether it was wise to press the Amendment on the House.
hoped his hon. Friend would not divide, and for this reason—he did not think anybody objected to being assessed for game; but in his (Lord Henry Scott's) view, it would be best included in the gross estimated value of land. But as that was not exactly the view of the hon. Gentleman, they would have an opportunity of testing it on Clause 6, wherein an Amendment of his own stood on that point. He should be sorry to be a member of an assessment committee if the game were not included in the gross estimated value of land.
said, he failed to see the justice of the Amendment before the Committee. If a man retained his own shooting, why ought he not to be rated? Everyone who had fishing or shooting ought to be rated on what it might be reasonably supposed to be let for. If the landlord went over his own estate with his gun in his hand, although there was no game liable to assessment, he failed to see the force of objection, because if there was no game it would not let for anything, and therefore would not be rateable. There should be no property whatever, whether shooting or fishing or any other real property, that should refuse to pay rates, but he did not think the Bill was at present in the best shape for that purpose.
said, the Amendment was too narrow. He wished to draw attention to the arrangements often made in his county between landlord and tenant, whereby the former went two or three times a-year to shoot partridges, and the rest of the year the tenant had the option of going over the land. It was not fair to assess the tenant in that case, and it was not fair to assess the landlord. That was one of the difficulties with which they had to deal. The general principle of the Bill was the right one. He did not think, as a general rule, game was at all considered in the assessment of a farm when held by tenants having at the same time the right of shooting. That was not the custom of the country. If it were, the case would be quite conclusive. If tenants were assessed whenever they had the right of shooting, and, in other cases, the landlords, whenever they had the right of shooting, he quite granted there could be no reason why the landlord ought not to pay. But he disputed the fact. He did not think the tenant did pay whenever he had the right of shooting. Therefore, the ground for the clause was not a certain one. At that stage of the proceedings, he could not vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Wilts. They ought, however, to go so far as to assess the landlord whenever game was kept up to a large extent.
said, there could be no doubt on the point of law, that whenever the right of sporting was let to the tenant, or was held by the landlord, the right was assessable, and was generally assessed.
said, that after the strong expression of opinion from both sides of the House, he felt he was bound hand and foot in the hands of the Philistines, and must make the best of it. He believed the Bill would work against the farmers' interest, and against the agricultural interest. Men who did not preserve game much, if they were rated by the assessment committee for that which was of little money value to them, would take care to have something for it. Men would preserve more if they were to be rated, would take care to have their money's worth; and he did not think it was politic or just to rate men for that which was of no value to them. The hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) said men should pay for the right of sporting, if they only walked over the land. There were people in towns who would pay anything to walk over the land. Those who were landlords were rated to the mast-head. It was a gross injustice. He should ask leave to withdraw his Amendment, but at the same time he entered his strong protest against the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
, in moving to add the following words at the end of the clause:—
said, they were intended to include oyster beds in some parts of Essex and in other counties. He believed that large incomes were derived from that source, and he thought it only right that a proper clause should be drawn to apply to that kind of property."Provided that the rights of fishing mentioned in this Act shall extend to all rights of fishing other than public rights, whether the same be held, used, or enjoyed cither exclusively or in common with any other person or persons, or whether they he general or limited to any particular kind or kinds of fish, and also to all rights incidental to the taking, culture, or propaga- tion of fish not rateable according to the present law,"
said, he was sorry he could not consent to the addition of the words proposed. He did not think them necessary for the purpose the hon. Gentleman had in view. If the fisheries were rateable, they would be rateable without the words proposed. If the oyster culture were attached to the soil of the parish, it would be rateable, and if not, he did not think the words proposed would make it so.
protested against the way in which Bills were passed through Committee. Having taken counsel's opinion on the clause, he was in a position to say that as it stood, oyster fisheries would not be rateable under it, and when he proposed to insert words which would make them rateable, the Government declined to accept his Amendment. It was idle, therefore, to press the matter against the Government, but he believed that if the matter was left as it was, it would lead to endless litigation to the benefit of the lawyers.
complained of the diversity of assessment with respect to mines, and suggested that in any future legislation on the subject of rating, a more fair and palateable mode of assessment should be adopted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 (Valuation of land used as plantations, &c.)
moved, as an Amendment in page 2, line 2, after "estimated," to leave out to end of sub-section (a), and insert, "According to the average annual amount which may reasonably be expected to be realized there-from."
said, he could not accept the Amendment. The section as now framed was less harsh as against wood owners than the provisions of the Bill of last Session.
, in moving, as an Amendment, to omit sub-section (c), which provided for the assessment of land used both for a plantation or wood, and for the growth of saleable underwood, said, he would bring up on the Report a sub-section which would deal more effectively with the property affected by the clause than would be the case if the sub-section were allowed to remain as it stood in the Bill. The course proposed would also meet the objections of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), who had given Notice of an Amendment as to the assessment of woods and plantations.
approved the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman.
said, he wished to point out that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth), if he did not take care, would find himself in a technical difficulty. If he struck out the sub-section now, and afterwards failed to find a satisfactory substitute, he would not be able to re-insert the sub-section on the Report, because it would be in effect a rating clause, and it would, therefore, be necessary to re-commit the Bill.
said, that he felt bound by the pledge he had given at an earlier period of the evening, and he must therefore press upon the Committee to strike out the sub-section.
wished the words to be kept as they stood, as being the best solution arrived at as the result of two Sessions of experience.
hoped the sub-section would not be withdrawn, unless they had some equivalent provision.
also suggested that the sub-section should be retained, at least provisionally, until some better proposal should be found to take its place.
said, there was evidently a strong feeling on both sides of the House in favour of retaining the sub-section, and as the right hon. Gentleman opposite had pledged himself to omit it, they could easily extricate him from his difficulty by going to a division and voting for the words as they stood. The right hon. Gentleman would then keep his word to the House, and the House would be doing what both sides required.
said, if the right hon. Gentleman could find other words better than those in sub-section (c), he could strike those now under consideration out, but he doubted that he could find better.
Amendment agreed to; sub-section struck out accordingly.
in moving, as an Amendment, to add the following Proviso at end of clause:—
said, he wished to leave the matter as it was already settled by Act of Parliament, under which, in several counties, beech wood had been specially assessed."Provided that when the occupier of a plantation or a wood is, at the passing of this Act, liable to he rated to the county or highway rate in respect of such plantation or wood, the value shall he estimated in like manner as it would at the passing of this Act he estimated for such county or highway rate,"
said, he did not see any objection to the Amendment, considering the peculiarity of beech wood.
could see no necessity whatever for the Proviso.
also contended that it was not necessary, and that if agreed to, the assessment committee would be placed in a difficulty, and be bound by what other county boards might determine should be the rateable value.
pointed out that the Proviso was so framed that it would be most perplexing to assessment committees.
said, his reason for assenting to the Proviso was, that it would bring the woods in at a much higher valuation, to which they already submitted, than the valuation laid down by this Bill, but he did not think the matter one worth much discussion, and he would recommend his hon. Friend to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, agreed, to.
Clause 5 (Deduction of rate by tenant of plantation, &c.)
On the Motion of Mr. HENLEY, Amendment made in page 2, line 19, after "Act," by striking out the words, "whereby the timber is reserved to the landlord."
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 (Valuation and rating of rights of shooting, &c.)
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 25, before the clause, to insert the words—
The noble Lord said, the object of the Amendment was to make it quite clear that the estimated gross value of the land should include the right of sporting. That would be the only way to avoid perpetual wrangles between landlord and tenant."(1.) The gross rateable value of the land shall he estimated so as to include the value of the right of fowling or shooting, or of taking or killing game or rabbits, or of fishing (hereinafter referred to as the right of sporting)."
thought the noble Lord would do well not to press the Amendment, because the words would not cover what was required. But even if there were no objection to the language, it was already the duty of the assessment committee to take everything into account in the gross estimated value, except, of course, the right of shooting. The language of the clause he was going to propose would really have the effect the noble Lord desired. It was the duty of the assessment committee to estimate the land at its gross value, and if they did not, they would not be doing their duty.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved, as an Amendment, in line 27, to insert after the word "rabbits" the words "or of fishing."
remarked that there were a great many rights of fishing held by persons who were not owners or occupiers of the soil. He was in that case himself, and he thought it would be well to leave the word "fishing" out.
said, he did not see any harm in the insertion of the word "fishing."
Amendment agreed to; words inserted.
proposed, as an Amendment, that the assessment should be based on the value of the land for agricultural purposes. The assessment committee should not take into account the amount the shooting would realize if actually put into the market.
said, he could not agree with the insertion of the words, and did not believe they were necessary. It was quite impossible to blink the fact that the right of shooting was rated on some farms, and there were others where it ought to be rated. If there really was no shooting of value, it ought not to be taken into account.
would be sorry to see the Amendment withdrawn. There would be little change made in the assessment, if it were taken all through the country. He could not conceive that in places where the occupier merely walked over his land with his gun on his arm, any change was required. In some cases, the game would not be worth more than 4d. an acre, and the rate would not be worth taking. No provision was made for separate assessment, nor did he think separate assessment of game was required. A fresh assessment might increase the rateable value of the farm, which the tenant might attribute to game being now included, and he might go to the agent to have his conditions made accordingly. The landlord would then be placed at a disadvantage. He would, therefore, leave the thing alone where the occupier of the land was content to leave it alone.
objected to the alteration of the clause. The Amendment would only increase the difficulty in case of any difference between landlord and tenant, rather than the reverse.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 34, after the word "estimated" there should be inserted the words "but not otherwise," the object of the Amendment being to prevent a fancy valuation being placed upon sporting ground.
Amendment agreed to; words inserted.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 33, after "right;" to insert "unless such occupier shall, by notice to the assessment committee, require them to assess such right as a separate hereditament, and to rate him separately as the occupier thereof."
objected to the Amendment. It was not the occupier, but the owner who should be rated. He believed the proposed alteration instead of working beneficially, would only cause differences to arise between landlords and tenants.
moved, as an Amendment, in page 2, line 35, the omission of the words "subject to any contract to the contrary," which were inserted parenthetically in that part of the clause which gave a right to the tenant of the land to deduct from his rent such portion of any poor or other local rate as was paid by him in respect of any increase in the assessment by reason of the right of sporting not being severed from the occupation of the land.
remarked that there was nothing to prevent the landlord contracting with the tenant to pay all rates.
said, the clause was not intended to refer to future contracts, which were reserved by common sense and common right. He had no objection to the words being omitted, and to insert instead in the terms of the mining clause, "unless he has specifically contracted to pay such rate."
Amendment agreed to; words substituted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 (Gross and rateable value of the and copper mines).
moved, as an Amendment, in page 3, line 15, after "tin" to insert "lead."
moved to report Progress.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—( Sir Charles Russell.)
said, the House had been for 15 years trying to settle this question, and he hoped they would go on a little longer.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
said, that if it were just to depart from the principle in the case of tin and copper mines, it was equally just to depart from it in the case of lead mines.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remaining clauses agreed to.
moved, after Clause 9, to insert the following clause:—
(Assessment of tithe.)
"In the assessment of tithe (not being tithe the property of a lay improprietor) there shall he deducted from the gross value (for the purpose of calculating the rateable value) such sum as shall represent the average salary of one curate (the amount of such salary being certified by the bishop of the diocese in which the assessable property is situate), in addition to such other deductions as may be, on the passing of this Act, legally made in reduction of the gross value."
said, he had no objection to the clause if it met with the approval of the Committee, but he thought it rather beyond the scope of the Bill, as it would introduce quite a new principle. It would more properly-come within the scope of a valuation Bill than of a rating Bill, and such a Bill he hoped to introduce next year.
recommended the withdrawal of the clause, which he agreed was fitter for an assessment than a rating Bill.
said, if it was thoroughly understood that the Government adopted the principle of the clause, he would agree to withdraw it.
hoped the Government would not adopt the principle, which was contrary to the general principle of the Bill.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
moved the following clause:—
(Repeal of 6 and 7 Vict. c. 36.)
The hon. Member said, it was only a just and reasonable proposal that these societies should be exempted."The Act of the Session of the sixth and seventh years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter thirty-six, intituled 'An Act to exempt from County, Borough, Parochial, and other Local Hates, Land and Buildings occupied by Scientific or Literary Societies,' so far as relates to England, is hereby repealed as from the commencement of this Act."
opposed the clause. There would be an opportunity on another occasion of dealing with the question.
said, that though he hoped his hon. Friend would not press the Motion to a division, he wished to add that last year he proposed to repeal all exemptions.
thought it better that the whole subject should be allowed to remain over for the present.
hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division.
trusted the clause would not be pressed, as it would be a breach of good faith if the Government should agree to it.
Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
moved the following clause:—
(Exemptions hitherto enjoyed by certain institutions.)
"And whereas it is expedient to declare and give effect in law to the exemption hitherto enjoyed by the institutions hereinafter mentioned from liability to poor rates. Be it further enacted and declared, That no land, houses or buildings, or parts of houses or buildings in the United Kingdom used exclusively as a hospital or infirmary for the relief of the sick poor, or for the transaction of the business relating to such hospital or infirmary, and yielding no pecuniary profit to the governors, administrators, or other trustees thereof, shall be deemed to be rateable to poor rates or to any local rates whatsoever."
New Clause brought up, and read the first time.
Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
said, he could not agree with the clause, because he believed it would be taking a step in a wrong direction. Many of these buildings to which the clause referred were most valuable property, and it would not be just to the parishes in which they were situated to exempt them from rating.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 162: Majority 121.
Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Thursday, and to be printed. [Bill 180.]
Factories (Health Of Women, &C) Bill—Bill 115
( Mr. Secretary Cross, Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson, Viscount Sandon.)
On the Motion of Mr. ASSHETON CROSS, the Bill was read a third time.
On Question, "That the Bill do pass,"
said, I should not have risen at this stage of the Bill, if it were not for the purpose of removing a misapprehension respecting something which fell from the hon. Member for Manchester (Sir Thomas Bazley) with regard to the Commissioners who were appointed by the late Government to inquire into this subject. I am glad to be able to state on his part, that in his remarks on the second reading, he had not any intention to cast any personal reflections or imputations upon the two Commissioners. Bill read the third time, and passed.
Friendly Societies Bill—Bill 140
( Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Secretary Cross, Mr. William Henry Smith.)
Order for Committee read.
, in moving that the House go into Committee in order that the Bill be reprinted, said, it was not intended to proceed further with it during the present Session.
Motion agreed to.
Bill considered in Committee, and reported; to be printed, as amended [Bill 181]; re-committed for Monday next.
Evidence Law Amendment (Scotland) Bill—Bill 165
( The Lord Advocate, Mr. Secretary Cross.)
Order for Second Reading read.
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, one of its objects was to assimilate the law of evidence which should be admissible in cases of divorce in Scotland to what it was in England. The other object was to allow evidence in Sheriff Courts taken by shorthand writers; but, as to the mode in which this should be done, he had some doubts, and it could be discussed in Committee.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.
Shannon Navigation Bill
( Mr. William Henry Smith, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)
Bill 157 Committee Discharged
moved that the Order for going into Committee on the Bill be discharged, in order that the Bill might be referred to a Select Committee.
expressed an opinion that the Bill was not quite satisfactory, and that a Select Committee was the best way of dealing with it.
wished to remind the House that that was an important Bill, because it proposed to apply £150,000 out of the Consolidated Fund, and £200,000 had already gone in the same direction.
acquiesced in the Motion; but drew attention that it was a breach of the rule to take no Opposed Business after 1 o'clock.
ruled that a reference to a Select Committee could not, unless Notice of opposition was given, be considered Opposed Business, within the meaning of the Resolution of the House.
Motion agreed to.
Select Committee to consist of Five Members, Two to be nominated by the House, and Three to be added by the Committee of Selection:—Lord FREDERICK CAVENDISH and Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH nominated Members of the said Committee:—Bower to send for persons, papers, and records; Three to be the quorum.
Irish Reproductive Loan Fund Bill
On Motion of Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, Bill to amend the Law relating to the Irish lie-productive Loan Fund, ordered to be brought in by Mr. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH and Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 183.]
House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.