Supply—Civil Service Estimates
SUPPLY— considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Class I—Public Works And Buildings
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £28,220, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."
said, there was one matter in connection with this Vote to which he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. He wished to point out to that right hon. Gentleman the smallness of the accommodation provided in the House as compared with the requirements of modern times, in so far as the accommodation for the general body of Members was concerned. With regard to Ministers a great improvement had been made. His experience of Parliament extended over a great many years, and he had not been displeased to see that in recent times, and particularly since the present Government came into Office, greater facilities for carrying on their work had been provided for the several Members of the Administration. he believed there was scarcely a Member of the Government who had not a suitable apartment at his disposal. As far as private Members were concerned they were without any accommodation of the kind to which he referred, with the exception of what was called the Conference Room. That, he ventured to say, was one of the most uncomfortable apartments in the whole House. In Bummer it was insufferably hot; in the colder months of the Parliamentary year—that was to say, in the first two months of the normal Session—it was cold and dirty, and, moreover, the chimnies were Bill-constructed that it was only necessary to light a fire in the grate in order to till the room with dense smoke. Only as lately as the day preceding that on which he was speaking that had occurred. He really thought it was time that something should be done in regard to this matter, and suggested that if no other course was open in order to give further accommodation to private Members, the Committee Room now appropriated to public Petitions might be placed at their disposal. The smoking accommodation was also another point of no inconsiderable importance. The right hon. Gentleman promised last year to give greater facilities to Members who wished to smoke, and he had done so to some extent; but the facilities in this direction were not what they ought to be. When the late Mr. Adam was First Commissioner of Works, it was suggested to him—and the suggestion came from a considerable number of Members—that the interior square in St. Stephen's Cloisters should be covered over with glass, so as to afford a sheltered promenade for Members who wished to enjoy a cigar or a pipe. Mr. Adam promised that inquiries should be made, in order to ascertain the cost of making the necessary structural alterations; but, as far as he knew, nothing had been done, or, at any rate, decided upon. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman who succeeded Mr. Adam, and now filled the Office of First Commissioner of Works, had had the subject under his consideration, and had stated either publicly or privately—he did not know which—that the estimated cost of making the alterations was so excessive that he did not think the Treasury would assent to it. As far as he was personally concerned, he did not think the cost would be so large as that it could be reasonably objected to. Leaving this point, and passing to another, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he remembered that last year he (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) applauded his resolution to hang three valuable pictures belonging to the nation in the new Smoking Room? Among these was one of the best works that had been produced in this country in modern times—he alluded to the picture illustrating a passage in the life of King Alfred, which was painted by Mr. Watts, R.A. Last year he called attention to the neglected condition of these pictures; and he now regretted to find that nothing had been done towards placing the pictures in a proper condition. They only required washing and varnishing, and all that was neces- sary could be done at a comparatively small cost. If the right hon. Gentleman had no official in his own Department who was equal to the task, there could be no doubt that he would have no difficulty in securing the services of some one of the officials in the National Gallery, who would do all that was necessary. Whether the pictures were or were not fine examples of Art was a matter of taste; but in any case it could not be denied that they had been left in a sadly neglected condition.
said, in the progress of the Questions that afternoon the right hon. Gentleman had been asked what he intended to do with regard to the exterior of Westminster Hall. He had noticed that a portion of the house occupied by the Deputy Sergeant at Arms, which was part of the buildings intended to be taken away, still remained. It was very difficult to form an estimate of what would be the effect of any changes made as long as that portion to which he referred remained standing. He quite admitted that, for many reasons, the Deputy Sergeant at Arms should reside within the precincts of the Palace; but he should imagine that there would be some mode of providing him with rooms without allowing the building to which he referred to stand. That, of course, would involve some expenditure; but he did not think the House would begrudge it, in view of the fact that, as the buildings now stood, it was not possible to form a fair and accurate idea of what would be the effect of any alterations that might be made. There was another point to which he wished to refer, and concerning which some hon. Members might be surprised that he was going to suggest a little extra expenditure. The amount would not be more than about £50; but he thought it would lead to an increase, perhaps to a doubling, of the working power of the Session. When hon. Members got up in their places, and said they were only going to detain the House for a few minutes, he always trembled; because he almost invariably found they wore so carried away by their own eloquence that they did not perceive the lapse of time, and their few minutes sometimes spun themselves out to half-an-hour or an hour. That was because they did not look at the clock, which was behind them, when they were addressing the Chair; and he would, therefore, suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should cause a clock to be placed at the Speaker's end of the House, in order that hon. Members might see how the time was going, in which case he believed the speeches would be reduced in length by an average of one-half. Hon. Members would be ashamed of themselves when they saw how the time was going, and would put a curb on their eloquence. It had, therefore, occurred to him that much good would be done by a small but useful increase in the expenditure of public money.
said, his right hon. and learned Friend who opened the debate had suggested a large and somewhat vague expenditure for the additional comfort of Members. He hoped the Committee would be slow to sanction such expenditure. Now that they were all anxious, as far as possible, to promote economy; now that the Estimates were criticized with great care, and that a considerable amount of criticism had been passed upon the amount of money spent even upon the maintenance of Royal Palaces, it certainly would not become them to incur a serious expenditure for no other purpose than that of securing their own comfort. He was not sure that promoting their comfort would materially increase their efficiency. The more comfortable they made the Smoking and other Rooms for the accommodation of Members the smaller would be the attendance in the House itself of Members who listened to arguments concerning measures under discussion before voting upon them. And so they would help to perpetuate that great scandal which had been so often commented on, of Gentlemen coming in to vote upon a question respecting which they had heard nothing. He hoped the ardour for economy which all Parties professed would prevent the expenditure of money for the making of more comfortable Smoking and other Rooms, in which Members might engage in more pleasant but not equally profitable occupations than that of listening to the debates within the House.
said, he was bound to admit, with regard to the Conference Room, that his attention had been called to it more than once. Everything had been done to cure the defects which were complained of; but there seemed to be some radical defect in the chimnies and flues, which defied all attempts at cure. With regard to what could be done to increase the accommodation for Members in other parts of the building, he had, since he had had the honour of filling the position of First Commissioner of Works, been able to do something. He had provided an additional Smoking Room, and he had contemplated providing another Tea Room; but further demands of a more pressing character came upon him, and the room which he intended to utilize for thi8 purpose had to be taken for another. He had been enabled to do much of what he had accomplished by reason of the liberalty of the House of Lords; and while the necessary works were being carried forward he had considered the possibility of covering over the interior square in St. Stephen's Cloisters; but he found that to do that would cost not less than £5,000, and, at the same time, the surveyor of the House did not at all recommend the operation as a mere matter of construction. There were very weighty reasons against it in that point of view, and also on account of the difficulty of ventilating that part of the House. Unfortunately, therefore, he could not hold out any prospect of the Treasury entertaining a proposal to cover the interior yard at the cost which he had mentioned, and in face of the structural difficulties to which he had alluded. Whether it would be possible hereafter to increase the accommodation for Members he could not at present say; but no doubt the shape which such increased accommodation would take would be a limiting of the number of private residences under the roof of the Palace. In that case, he thought the limitation would apply to the residences now occupied by officials employed in the other House of Parliament, whose duties were not nearly so laborious or onerous as those of officials employed in the House of Commons. Whether they would have the sanction of the House of Lords in so obtaining extra accommodation he did not know; but, at all events, that seemed to him to be the direction in which they must look for the purpose. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had alluded to a part of the block of buildings which re- mained standing after the removal of the old Law Courts. That was at present a source of difficulty to his Department. The house of the Deputy Serjeant at Arms extended out into that block of buildings to the extent of two or three of his rooms, without which his residence would be comparatively useless. It would be, no doubt, necessary to pull the block down; but he was unwilling to disturb the Deputy Serjeant, at all events until after the end of the present Session, and he hoped before then to be able to make some accommodation of the matter. If the Deputy Serjeant was to remain resident under the roof of the Palace, and it should be necessary to remodel his house for the purpose of obtaining further accommodation, this would be a rather costly operation. It would involve an expenditure of some £2,000 or £3,000, and it would, moreover, be an exceedingly difficult operation to remodel the interior of the house. Whether that might be the better mode of dealing with the question, or whether it might not be found advisable to give to the Deputy Serjeant an allowance wherewith to provide himself with a residence elsewhere, was a question which had not yet been determined; but before the end of the Session he would fully consider it. In the meantime, he did not think the House would wish that its official should be deprived of his residence. His hon. Friend had also made a suggestion that an additional clock should be placed in the House, in order that Members might, without turning their backs upon Mr. Speaker, note the passing of time, and the length at which they had been occupying the time of the House. His hon. Friend must be aware of the fact that not infrequently Members looked at the clock with a view not of limiting but of continuing their speeches; and he did not think that, on the whole, anything would be gained by adding a second clock to the furniture of the House. As far as the pictures in the Smoking Room were concerned, he had done last year all that he then thought necessary.
wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works a question in regard to Westminster Hall. He understood that, the whole question of the western front had been committed to an eminent architect; and what he wanted to know was, whether the northern front had also been placed under the supervision of the same gentleman? A considerable expense seemed lately to Lave been incurred in repairing the architectural or ornamental work outside, mainly, he supposed, because the stone was in a rotten state; but that had no reference to the two Towers, which had been allowed to remain standing, and which were most inconsistent, in an architectural point of view, with the rest of the building.
said, he had not entered upon the question raised by the right hon. Gentleman with the architect; but he thought it probable that lie should take that gentleman's advice upon the question and submit it again to the House. At present, he only asked for money for the restoration of the west front of the Hall. The total cost of this was estimated at about £6,000; and in the present year he asked for a third of that sum, as the works at present undertaken were of a tentative character.
said, he presumed the greatest care would be taken, in removing the foundations, to see what buildings had existed on the site in former times. This was the more important, because no one had the smallest idea as to the character of the ancient foundations.
said, as far as he knew of the buildings comprising the Palace of Westminster, the two Towers to which his right hon. Friend (Sir E. Assheton Cross) had referred were built in the year 1822 from the designs of an architect of evanescent fame. He would suggest that it would be well to suspend the work of reparation at the north end, and leave the whole business in the hands of the distinguished architect who now had charge of the restoration of the western front.
suggested the advisability of giving a speaking communication by telephone or speaking-tube from the Lobby of the House to the Attendants' Room adjoining the Ladies' Gallery.
, while agreeing that it was necessary to clear away the whole block of buildings, of which the old Law Courts formed by far the largest part, hoped that satisfactory arrangements would be made for the accommodation of the Deputy Sergeant at Arms. He desired to direct the attention of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) to the charge for the maintenance of buildings. He found that, including the £2,500 for external repairs to stone work, they were paying no less than upwards of £10,000 a-year. It struck him that was a very large sum for the purpose. Allowing for the £2,500, which he presumed was expended in consequence of the stone work giving way, then he should have thought there was sufficient left out of which the ingenuity and ability of his right hon. Friend would have enabled him to provide the necessary convenience for the Deputy Sergeant at Arms. Under the Sub-head C he intended to move a reduction, and he should do so in conformity with a principle which had been already recognized in Committee. The Sub-head C provided for the maintenance of the approaches to the House, and of the Gardens in the immediate neighbourhood of the House. The maintenance and repair of Abingdon Street, St. Margaret Street, Old and New Palace Yards, Parliament Square Gardens, St. Margaret Square Gardens, and Victoria Tower Gardens, was put down at £870; and he wished to point out to the Committee that the greatest part of this expenditure was of a character which ought to be borne by the parochial authorities. It so happened that a portion of the space which was covered by the Vote—the Victoria Tower Gardens—was formerly covered by a low description of buildings, and was purchased by the Government some years ago, in order that there might be for the Houses of Parliament greater protection from fire. Viscount Sherbrooke, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to erect on this plot of ground a very extensive series of public buildings; and he (Mr. Rylands) raised an objection to the Vote, on the ground that the Government had only put down a sum on account—he believed £10,000, or £20,000—and did not state what was the entire sum they contemplated expending upon the buildings. The result was the Government had to give way, the idea of erecting the buildings was abandoned, and a very large and useless expenditure was prevented. When the right hon. Gentlemen opposite came into power it occurred to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) that he could secure a great boon for the inhabitants of Westminister. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that the plot of land in question should be left as an open free space for the benefit and advantage of the people of Westminster, and said he would give £1,000 towards the expense of the suggested conversion. He (Mr. Rylands) had the best authority for saying that if the Government, instead of making this plot of land into an open space and devoting it to the purposes of the people of Westminster, had thought it right to sell the land, they could have got as much as £70,000 for it. He had no wish to complain of what the late Government did; he did not desire to raise any objection to the course which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster thought it right and proper to pursue; but what he did contend was that, practically, the people of the Kingdom had made a present to the inhabitants of Westminster of property of the value of £70,000. If any locality or Corporation in the country had wished to possess itself of a similar plot of land for the purpose of a garden or park, they would have been obliged to lay a rate upon the property of the ratepayers of the borough in order to raise the necessary funds. Certainly, the argument was a very strong one, indeed, that the ratepayers of Westminister ought to pay their fair share, at all events, of the maintainance of the open spaces which were intended for their special benefit. Old Palace Yard might be said to be of special service to Members of Parliament; that it ought to be maintained at the national expense; but clearly, in the case of Abingdon Street and St. Margaret Street, Parliament ought not to be called upon to pay anything. Those streets ought to be kept up by the local authorities; and therefore he objected to their becoming a charge upon the general taxpayer. The last item was a most singular one, and he hoped his right hon. Friend would afford the Committee some information respecting it. The item was—"Horticultural works for ditto, £550," and if they looked at the Estimate they saw immediately above the word "ditto," the words "lamps and supply of gas." He did not understand what the "horticultural works for ditto" were. They could not belong to any of the streets; and, therefore, he supposed they were connected with the Victoria Tower Gardens. Now, the item of £550 for horticultural works actually included the pay and emoluments of a constable. It was a most extraordinary thing to include the pay of a constable in horticultural works. It appeared the Vote altogether was one that ought to be recast. He considered more money was spent than there ought to be; and, therefore, he should move to reduce the Sub-head by £500.
said, he would not do that. He did not wish to run the thing too close, and he considered that Palace Yard must be kept up for the convenience of Members.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £27,720, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."—(Mr. Rylands.)
said, it would be wise to consider the advisability of facing the exposed part of Westminster Hall with Portland stone, instead of with the freestone from the West of England. He hoped the work would not be delayed until, as it was suggested, some suitable architect could be found who understood the work. Any ordinary intelligent stone mason—
I must remind the hon. Member that a proposition has been made to reduce the Vote by £500 in respect to Sub-head C, which relates to the maintenance of the approaches to the House, and Gardens. The hon. Member is discussing a former question.
asked if he was to understand that the subject could not be further discussed?
The hon. Gentleman will be able to refer to it later.
wished to say a word or two in answer to the observations made by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands). The Committee should not lose sight of one thing, and that was of the almost paramount necessity there was of retaining in their own hands the approaches to the Houses of Parliament. The amount that was put down for horticultural works he supposed related to the bedding-out which took place in Parliament Square Gardens, and in New Palace Yard, in the immediate precincts of the House. Parliament Square Gardens formed, he imagined, that portion of the ground in front of the Houses of Parliament on which the statues were erected. His hon. Friend had evidently lost sight of the advantage it was to them to retain in their hands the maintenance of the order and beauty of this particular piece of ground. That remark would apply also to the Victoria Tower Gardens. Now the space was laid out as a garden, he (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) hoped it would not meet the views of the Committee that they should be handed over to a body which changed from day to day. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would not press his Amendment.
said, he entirely agreed with what the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had said with respect to the maintenance of the streets. The subject had not escaped the attention of the Government, and it was one of the matters they proposed to deal with whenever the Bill respecting London Municipal Government was brought in. It was, however, very undesirable that the Government should give up the custody and care of the open spaces in the precincts of the House.
could not support his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) in the Motion he had made. It was only on Tuesday last they had a very long debate, at the time of Private Business, on the desirability of preserving open spaces, and a very large minority of the House opposed a Bill which was to do away with an open space. This seemed to be a similar case. The hon. Member for Burnley advocated building on the space he referred to; he told them they might have saved £70,000 by doing so. It was very important, on many grounds, that open spaces should be maintained. He could not agree with the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour), when he said they ought to deny themselves comforts. Hon. Members of the House gave up a great deal of time in the performance of their public duties, and the public ought not to begrudge them any of the conveniences they required.
said, he had no wish to prolong the discussion; but he considered some further explanation was required. In the first place, there was the item of £870 for the maintenance and repair of the streets and gardens, and then there was the mysterious sum of £550, which was said to be for horticultural works. The latter item had not yet been explained. If it was for bedding-out, what was meant by the Vote for the maintenance of the Gardens? And, besides, a charge of £83 for a constable appeared to be mixed up with the cost of geraniums and other bedding-out plants. The Vote appeared excessive, and, at any rate, should be more clearly explained.
said, there appeared to be a little misapprehension with regard to the Motion of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands). The hon. Gentleman the Member for the City (Mr. R. N. Fowler) said the hon. Gentleman wished to abolish the open spaces around the Houses of Parliament; but it did not appear to him (Mr. Biggar) that that was the object of the Motion. He imagined that the object of the hon. Member for Burnley was to secure that the cost of repairing the streets in question should be defrayed by the proper authorities—namely, the parochial authorities of Westminster. Such an object was perfectly legitimate and reasonable. He was clearly of opinion that the ratepayers of Westminster should pay for the repair of the streets in their parish; and he did not see that the contention of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works was of any value. He did not think there was any occasion to defer the settlement of the question until the London Municipal Reform Bill was brought in. That Bill might not be introduced for 10 years; and yet, in the meantime, the Committee would have to vote a sum annually towards defraying a charge which properly belonged to the locality. The Government ought to submit to the reduction which had been proposed, and allow the custody of the streets in question to pass into the hands of the proper authorities.
quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Rylands) in the remarks he had made in favour of a reduction of the Vote. At the same time, they had received some sort of assurance from the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, that the subject would form part of the new Municipal Bill for London, which, no doubt, would be brought in some time this Session. Under the circumstances, it would, perhaps, be well to rest satisfied with the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman.
asked leave to withdraw his Motion.
objected to the withdrawal of the Motion. Even admitting that a constable was a horticultural growth of a rare order, there were items in the Vote which required explanation; £870 was set down for the maintenance of the approaches and Gardens. Of course, some hundreds of that must go to the Gardens. In addition, there was £550 directly charged for horticultural works for ditto. Considering the limited extent of the garden space, and the limited amount of horticultural display that was ever perceptible, he would like to know would any private gentleman be able to expend £800 a-year upon a similar amount of garden space for a similar amount of horticultural return? It seemed to him they ought to get some explanation, or otherwise the country would be justified in considering that it was being charged at least twice as much as any private person would be charged for the same return. He certainly would not push his opposition to a division if he could get anything at all like an estimate of what were the works for which they were asked to pay so highly.
said, the £870 went towards the repair of the roads, repairing the railings, and so forth. The actual gardens were provided for out of the £550.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
asked who was the responsible architect in the case of alterations and improvements of the Parliament buildings?
observed, that under Sub-head E there was a charge of £2,500 for police. The charge was a large one, although he did not suppose too large. All he desired to ask was, why the charge was placed on the taxes, and not on the rates? He had the authority of the Home Secre- tary for saying that the protection of persons and buildings all over the country was absolutely, by law, laid on the rates. Why the inhabitants of London should be exempted from such a charge he could not understand. When any public servants went into the country they were protected out of the rates. Why were they not protected out of the rates when in Westminster?
said, he wished to ask a question with regard to the electric light in the Library and Dining and Smoking Rooms of the House. No doubt, the lighting of rooms in the Houses of Parliament was very valuable to the Lighting Company, because it was a splendid advertisement. He understood that it was the Edison Company who were lighting these rooms; but, without wishing to throw any discredit upon that Company, he must say that the lighting was not at present extremely well done. Those who used the Library knew that the light was excessively unsteady, and was very embarrassing; and nothing was more irritating to anyone who was reading or writing than a perpetual change in a bright light. He had been told that the contract for this lighting had been given to the Edison Company without anything like public competition. The Swan Company had lighted the new Law Courts extremely well, and nothing could be more satisfactory than that light. It was very good and very steady, and seemed to be free from all the evils of the light in the rooms of the House; and he should like to know whether the Swan Company were invited to tender for lighting these rooms, and if not, why not? Were any other Companies than this American Company invited—such as the Brush Company, which lighted the City, or any other of the many Companies in London, any one of which would have been only too glad to have the contract for lighting the rooms of the House of Commons? There was another reason why he thought great care should be taken in connection with the electric light. In no business in modern times had there been more corruption and gambling and intriguing on the Stock Exchange than in electric lighting; and if the same feeling was to be brought into the House of Commons it would be a great misfortune. He wished for an explanation as to why this contract had been given to the Edison Company without any communication with, or invitation to, other Companies to tender, if that was so; and also for a pledge that if the other parts of the House were to be lighted by electricity, the First Commissioner of Works would undertake, before any further arrangement was entered into, that there should be the usual invitations issued for tenders from the public, and that the work should be given to the Company which would do it most satisfactorily and at the least cost.
said, he understood the Committee were now upon the main Vote, and he wished to say that if any more money was spent on the ornamentation of Westminster Hall until something was decided as to what was to be done with it; it would be wasted. The Hall was now deserted and forlorn; the time would soon come when owls would hoot in the Palace, since the step of the lawyer no longer echoed there. The Hall would never be of any use again until it was made what it ought to be, the centre of the Houses of Parliament. It was wholly deserted, while the passages of the House were crowded in a most disgusting manner. It was scarcely possible for a Member to get to a Committee Room without going through an unseemly crowd for the want of accommodation. Matters would not be put in a proper condition until Westminster Hall was restored to its proper position as the centre of the House of Commons, and Committee Rooms were made by the side of it for the use of people concerned in Public and Private Bills. Money spent in ornamenting the outer side of the Hall would simply be wasted.
said, that, as a Director of an Electric Lighting Company, he was able to say that the introduction into that House of a foreign system of incandescent lighting had given a most serious blow to one of the most meritorious systems in the world—that of Joseph Swan, of Newcastle. His beautiful lamp had made itself a name in almost every capital in Europe, and the most serious check it had received was the fact that its most pressing rival had been apparently chosen for lighting the most important building in the United Kingdom. Certainly, if this foreign system, which was known to be not better than the Swan system, had been introduced into the House of Commons without such notice as would have enabled the Swan Company, or whatever Company was working their patent in London, to compete, it was a most unfair arrangement, and one which, if it was possible, should be gone back upon, so that a grievous wrong might be remedied.
said, with reference to the observations of the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), he understood that Mr. Pearce had been appointed architect for a special object. That being so, and the right hon. Gentleman having said that the first work was to be only tentative, was it intended to case-in the buttressess, in order to protect them from the weather? The observations of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had come a little too late; his arguments ought to have been put forward earlier in the year. He would suggest that smokers should be transferred to the Conference Room, and the Smoking Room given up for he general use of Members.
said, that what was greatly wanted in the Smoking Room was an electric communication with the House, to tell these who were there what was going on in the House. At present they were more distant than the Clubs; and it was absolutely necessary that they should have some means of knowing what Business was proceeding in the House.
said, with respect to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), he had answered that a few nights ago.
You did not answer it at all.
said, his answer was this. A proposal was made to him, some time ago, by the Edison Company to light the Library and other rooms experimentally, till the end of the Session, for a small sum. He thought it desirable that Members should have an opportunity of seeing what the effect would be, and he therefore accepted the offer. At that time the Company had a working station within easy reach of the House, and it appeared to him reasonable to employ them. Subsequently, they ceased to supply the light from their own depôt, and made use of an engine in the House. He did not invite competition—first, because the lighting was only to last for a few months; and, secondly, because it did not appear to him that, in the present state of electric lighting, it was a proper subject for competition. When, some months ago, he had to consider the question of lighting the Law Courts, he came to the conclusion that it was a matter upon which he could not invite competition. There was considerable difference between the systems; and it appeared to him better to select that which he thought most satisfactory, and invite the Company to tender. After careful consideration, and the exhibition of the various systems at Paris and at Sydenham, he decided that the Swan Light was the best adapted for the Law Courts, and he invited the Swan Company to tender for the work. He gave them the work; and if there was any Company which ought not to raise objections to his having followed the same course with regard to the House of Commons, it was the Swan Company, because he had given them the preference in the Law Courts. Between the two systems he saw very little difference. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Oh, oh!] Perhaps the noble Lord was connected with the Swan Electric Lighting Company? [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHIL: Not even a shareholder; I wish I was.] He saw very little difference between the two lights. He gave the work at the Law Courts to the Swan Company, and he thought it only reasonable to give the work at the House to the Edison Company. He should consult hon. Members as to whether, on the whole, they wished the lighting to be continued; and if they did, then it would be a question whether it should be extended to the Chamber or not.
said, the right hon. Gentleman, in replying to his hon. Friend, had thought fit to insinuate that he was a Director of the Swan Company. He thought that was as improper as it was inaccurate. As, however, the right hon. Gentleman had ventured on that ground, he would follow him, and tell the Committee what information he had as to the Edison Company getting the work in the House. The Swan Company had lighted the Law Courts in a manner which had satisfied everybody; and not only had they done that, but they had made superhuman efforts to get ready for the opening of the Law Courts; so that if anybody ought to be taken into consideration in regard to lighting that House, it was the Company who had thus acted so well towards the public. But what they complained of, and what other Companies complained of—and he was no more interested in one than the other—was, that without a word to any of them the right hon. Gentleman concluded an arrangement with this Yankee adventurer, who was suspected of having stolen the Swan patent, and had let him into the House of Commons. That was no small matter, for it was without question the greatest advertisement that could possibly be given to an Electric Lighting Company. It was now known all over the world, wherever there was a Parliamentary Assembly, that the Edison Company were lighting the English House of Commons. The First Commissioner of Works knew that these Electric Lighting Companies had been the subject of most disreputable cheating and gambling on the Stock Exchange; and he ought, therefore, to have exercised particular care in the matter; and, at all events, he knew that the Swan Company had done good work, and he had no right, without letting them know, to let the Edison Company in. He was not connected with the Edison Company; but the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) was a Director, and the Right Hon. Mr. Bouverie, a faithful supporter of the Whig Party, was a principal proprietor in that Company. It was also a notorious fact that Mr. Preece, the Electrician to the Post Office, was a very large shareholder in the Edison Company. He stated that on very good authority; but, if it was not true, the sooner the statement was contradicted the better. Was it not, above all things, desirable, in a matter of this kind, which had been the subject of so much gambling, that when a Government official thought it right to introduce the electric light into a public building, there should be no unfair advantage of the least kind given to one Company over another? But the case was stronger still. The right hon. Gentleman had given the House to understand that he wanted the Edison Company to be allowed to have a trial, in order to let the House and the public see what they could do; but he had not stated that the Edison Company had been lighting the Post Office for some time; and, therefore, so far as a trial was concerned, that Company had had all they could desire. The right hon. Gentleman had no right to give to an American adventurer, whose patent was obtained in a most extraordinary way, and not until after the Swan patent had been disclosed, all the advantage, and so send up the value of the Edison Company, and become unwittingly the victim of great Stock Exchange speculation. He hoped, before the right hon. Gentleman concluded any further arrangement with this adventurer's Company, he would put everything out to tender with respect to this House, or any other public building—of course reserving to himself the right to choose any tender he thought best—and so let everything in connection with this lighting be fair and above board.
said, he was sorry if he had done the noble Lord an injustice by supposing that he was connected with an Electric Lighting Company. Certainly, the noble Lord's speeches and questions appeared to him to be directed, not to the interest of the public, but to the interest of some rival Company to that which had been lighting the House. But there was not a word in the argument which the noble Lord had used against the action he had taken which did not equally apply to the lighting of the Law Courts. If he had done wrong in giving the Edison Company the right provisionally to light the House of Commons rooms at a cost of £100, how much worse must his conduct have been in permitting the Swan Company to light the Law Courts at a cost of £7,000 or £8,000, without inviting any other Company to tender? [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: They did tender.] He had told the noble Lord the other day that he invited a tender merely from the Swan Company after the most careful consideration, and after satisfying himself that theirs was the best system for the Law Courts. There were a great many different Companies with various systems, and he thought it better to choose the light which he considered the best, and invite a tender for the work. He thought that in that respect he had done some service to the Swan Company; but when it became a question with regard to this House, he had other matters to consider. The Edison Company laid before him reasons which led him to think, as he still thought, that, on the whole, their system was best adapted for that House—namely, that they had noiseless dynamo-engines, and he thought they were the only Company that had them. As to Mr. Edison being an American adventurer, he thought that was a misrepresentation. He was one of the most respected and distinguished scientific men of the day, and the Company which was working this patent was one of the most respectable character. The noble Lord had insinuated that the contract was given to the Edison Company on account of Mr. Bouverie's political support; but there was no ground for such a suggestion. He had already given one great work to the Swan Company; and, under the circumstances, he thought it well to try the Edison Company for a short time. Whether that Company's light would ultimately be adopted was not yet decided, and he would consult Members upon the subject.
said, he felt sure that the right hon. Gentleman's exposition of the economic principles which had guided him would be instructive. He had told the Committee that, as between the foreigner and the Englishman, the Liberal Government would always give the foreigner a fair chance; but as the right hon. Gentleman proceeded he thought he cut the ground from under his feet, because he said he had chosen the Swan Company to light the Palace of Justice because he considered their light the best. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: At that time.] And having given that proof of his conviction as to the excellence of the Swan Company's light, it was very strange that he did not, at any rate, let the Swan Company know that he intended also to try the electric light in the House of Commons. When public works had been well done by a particular contractor or body, one would fancy that it would be only reasonable to give these who had served the State well once, at least a chance a second time. He was quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman was only actuated by a desire to give fair play all round; but, at the same time, it was to be observed that in his reply to the noble Lord, he entirely passed over all notice of the fact that besides Mr. Bouverie, a much more trusted and more influential Liberal was connected with the Edison Company, which had got this preference in so remarkable a way in the House. It was hardly meeting the case to refer to Mr Bouverie, when a much stronger argument was left untouched. He was sure that the impression that would be left in the minds of independent Members who were neither Directors nor shareholders, by the cropping up of this question from time to time, would lead to a strong conviction that the more care they could expend in watching the influence of Directors in that House, the better it would be for the country at large; and from that point of view he was extremely sorry, without casting any slur upon the hon. Members concerned, but simply in view of the public interest, that the House had recently not shown enough jealousy of the interference of Directors of powerful Companies in the legislation of Parliament—legislation which might mean good to the public, but which certainly meant a largo pecuniary profit to the Companies in which these Directors were interested. Like every other Member he, of course, accepted the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman; but he hoped that an opportunity would be given to hon. Members to try the effect of the rival system of electric lighting in the House before any long time had elapsed. He could bear his own personal testimony to the discomfort experienced in trying to read by the hard and crude light now in the Library.
stated, in reply to an earlier question, that the buildings of the Palace of Westminster were in charge of the principal clerk in the Office of Works.
said, the salary of that officer was £250 a-year, rising by £5 per annum to £300. Could it be the fact that that House, with all its important buildings, was in charge of a clerk of the Works at a salary of £5 a week. If that was not so, in whose charge were the buildings? In order to have the matter thoroughly explained, he should move the reduction of the Vote by the amount of the clerk's salary.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £27,880, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Buildings of the Houses of Parliament."—(Sir Edward Watkin.)
said, the building was in the charge of Mr. Taylor, the principal surveyor to the Board of Works, who was a most competent man. He had, of course, a clerk of the Works under him. The salaries being paid by the Board of Works Department, they did not appear in the present Vote.
expressed his surprise at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that this important building was under the supervision of no architect whatever. It was, he thought, well that the public should know that the entire responsibility rested upon a surveyor and a clerk of the Works.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had not replied to the question of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) as to whether the Government had any definite design or destination in view for Westminster Hall? He asked whether the works there were intended to carry out any special purpose for the convenience of hon. Members, or for the convenience of persons having business at the Houses of Parliament? It appeared to him that at present Westminster Hall was simply a huge annex, for which there was no particular use, except so far as it might be preserved under the designation of an ancient monument.
said, it would be well to receive some assurance from the First Commissioner of Works that some arrangement would be made with regard to the stone used in public buildings in future, so that they might not again witness the extraordinary spectacle, presented by the exterior of the Houses of Parliament, of the stone crumbling away almost immediately after the work was finished. The hon. Member opposite suggested that a competent architect should be employed, and that Portland stone should be used as being more durable; but he would point out that it was not a question of architects, either competent or incompetent. An architect would not be able or willing probably to give that attention to the selection of the stone which was required. It was the opinion of some persons that the stone selected for the Houses of Parliament was more durable than Portland stone, and that the fact of its not wearing well was due to some remissness in its selection; and he had heard it stated that, owing to false economy, when the building was half completed, several competent officers had been dismissed whose business it was to select the blocks of stone at the quarries before they were carved. It was a well-known scientific fact that both very good and very bad stone would come out of the same quarry of Magnesian limestone; and if there was not some competent officer charged with the selection of the stone before carving, it was only to be expected that it would wear badly. With the lesson afforded by the Houses of Parliament before them, he thought it would be a satisfaction to the Committee to be assured that there was to be some official, either the surveyor of the Board of Trade, or his clerk of works, charged with the selection of the stone to be used in future, or someone who was capable, at all events, of distinguishing good Magnesian limestone from inferior qualities of the same material.
said, it was not the intention of the Government to erect any building on the west front of Westminster Hall, the restoration of which had been undertaken by the eminent architect, Mr. Pearson. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin), he would repeat that the principal surveyor to the Board of Works (Mr. Taylor) was a thoroughly competent architect, who had already for the Government executed some most important works, and was capable of doing everything demanded from him in connection with the Houses of Parliament. He could assure the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Mayne) that every possible care was taken to select the best stone for the purpose of the repairs to the Houses of Parliament.
said, it was a great satisfaction to him that the First Commissioner of Works had not employed a permanent architect on the building. So long as they had permanent architects they would have permanent expenses, and new buildings in continual course of erection. On the other hand, he hoped his right hon. Friend would always continue his policy of having a thoroughly practical man to look after works of the kind in question.
said, with the permission of the House, he would, having received an explanation from the First Commissioner of Works, withdraw his Motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
asked whether, in the case of the charge for the restoration of the west front of Westminster Hall, the sum they would be ultimately asked for was the difference between the sum of £7,900, the whole sum stated to be spent, and the amount to be realized by the sale of the old materials of the Law Courts?
said, the sum estimated as the value of the old materials had been more than realized, the total sum received being over £3,000. The cost of the restoration of the west front of the Hall would be, approximately, £6,000.
asked for information on what appeared to be the extraordinary item of £3,650 for the Supply and Repairs of Furniture. He found that £10,000 had already been charged for repairs to the Houses of Parliament. So that this was purely a question of chairs and tables—not of building. He would like to know the position occupied in the building by this large amount of furniture that required to be repaired. The whole thing appeared to him to be very much in the nature of a serious overcharge.
said, the charge referred to did at first sight appear to be a large one; but he thought if the hon. Member were to see the details of it, he would admit that it was not unreasonable. It included a vast number of items—amongst others, the sum of £800 for supplies of glass, plate, linen, &c, for the Refreshment Rooms. This was a charge that passed through the Refreshment Committee of the House, and it must, therefore, be regarded as having met with their approval. The charge also related to the Refreshment Department of the House of Lords, and other rooms in the building—especially the Speaker's house—some of the fittings of which were very costly. The silk curtains in that house had last year to be replaced, and the charge under this head was thereby increased.
pointed out that the plate could not be included in this Estimate, because there was a separate charge for it of £830. He repeated that this charge of £3,650 was purely and simply for the supply and repair of chairs and tables. He gathered, from the statement of the First Commissioner of Works, that the curtains for the Speaker's house were in the Estimates of last year; that point had, therefore, no bearing upon his argument.
said, that under the head of Furniture was included plate, linen, and glass for the Refreshment Rooms. No doubt the other item was a further sum required in consequence of the addition to the Refreshment Rooms.
asked if he was to understand that £830 was necessary for the plate in one Refreshment Room?
said, that was the sum asked for by the contractor. As it had passed through the Refreshment Committee, he concluded that the item had met with their approval.
said, he hoped that something would be done to make the seats in the Library of the House more comfortable for Members. Some of them were as hard as boards; and as he had drawn attention last year to the condition they were in, he trusted the Whitsuntide Recess would be made use of to render them more comfortable.
said, that the item of £3,650 was for two years. If the £850 for plate was in addition to that referred to by the right hon. Gentleman as for last year, it would seem that the Government were asking for double the sum required.
said, while they were upon this subject he thought it only fair to call attention to the deficiency of accommodation supplied to persons who had business at the House. The arrangements for dining, for instance, were very imperfect. He did not wish to press the point at that moment, as an opportunity would doubtless present itself later on; but he thought an early opportunity ought to be taken for reviewing the whole question as to that which fell under the domain of the Kitchen Committee. Certainly, in view of the amount set down for providing utensils and accommodation of all kinds for the Kitchen department, he did not think Members had any reason to congratulate themselves on the result, either in respect of comfort or the excellence of the arrangements.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) £550, to complete the sum for the Monument to the Earl of Beaconsfield.
said, he had heard it stated, and seen it in the newspapers, that a very large sum of money would be necessary for the purpose of putting Westminster Abbey in an efficient state of repair. As the statue to the Earl of Beaconsfield was to be placed in the Abbey, he trusted the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to state that no sort of arrangement would be made for charging the country with the money required without the distinct understanding that the consent of Parliament should be previously obtained.
Vote agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £117,762, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Public Buildings in Great Britain and the Isle of Man, including various special Works; for providing the necessary supply of Water; for Rents of Houses hired for the accommodation of Public Departments, and Charges attendant thereon."
said, he intended to move the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £5,000, and he believed that the proposed reduction was one to which the Government would be willing to agree. The Charge was stated as follows:—"£5,000, National Gallery; improvement and accommodation; on account; total cost uncertain." He wished to point out that the first business of these who came to the House for money was to state the works for which the money was wanted, and to present an account of the cost. On a former occasion some sanitary alterations were requisite with reference to a Public Office, and the same proceeding took place as that which he now complained of. The First Commissioner came down and asked for a Vote on Account for certain alterations, without letting the House know what was the amount that would be required. On that occasion strong objection was made on both sides of the House, and he believed a Motion was made to reduce the Vote by the amount asked for. It was only on the representations of the right hon. Gentleman that the proposed sanitary arrangements were most urgently required, that the lives of public servants were in danger, and that unless the money were granted it would be impossible to set about the alterations which were indispensably necessary, that the House was very reluctantly induced to consent to the Government taking the Vote in the objectionable form in which it was presented. He (Mr. Gorst) well remembered the protestations of the Secretary to the Treasury on that occasion, that the proceeding should never occur again; and that credit should be taken in the Estimates of the future in such a manner as would show the nature of the work, and the total expenditure that would be incurred. He was astonished to see that a Government who valued their pledges should have forgotten their protestations, and again committed the same financial sin as that for which, on the occasion he had mentioned, they had expressed so much contrition. Here was a Vote proposed for the improvement of the accommodation of the National Gallery; the large sum of £5,000 was asked for on account, no information being given to the Committee, and no information apparently being in the possession of the Government as to the total cost which would have to be voted by the House after the sum of £5,000 now asked for was granted. It could not be pleaded, as it was on the last occasion, that the matter was of the greatest possible urgency; the requirements of the National Gallery were not so pressing that they could not wait another year; and, therefore, he thought that as soon as the Government recognized the mistake they had made in putting this sum on the Estimates, they would consent to the reduction he was about to move, and postpone the improvements until, in the Supplementary Estimates, proper information could be given to the Committee. He did not know whether he should be in Order in moving to strike out this sum of £5,000; his wish was not to stand in the way of any Gentleman who might wish to move the reduction of the Vote by a larger sum.
asked if it would be afterwards competent to him to move the reduction of the Vote by the larger sum of £7,000?
said, the hon. Member would be in Order in moving that reduction after the Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham was disposed of.
said, he would then move the reduction of the Vote by the specific item of £5,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the Item of £5,000, being the sum required for the National Gallery (Improvement of Accommodation), be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Gorst.)
said, he should certainly be open to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham if he were to ask for a Vote of £5,000 on account for improvements and alterations in the National Gallery, without giving the Committee full information as to what was to be done with the money. In this case, when the Estimates were framed, no actual arrangement had been made as to the nature of the contemplated improvements; and it was, therefore, impossible to put the whole cost in the present Estimates. A few days ago he had placed in the Library of the House a plan showing, in detail, the work intended to be executed at the National Gallery. He thought the hon. and learned Member would have been aware, from the statements in the public Press, what the nature of the work was; but, at all events, he would inform him what was contemplated by the Government in this matter. Before doing so, however, he might be permitted to remind the hon. and learned Member and the Committee of the demands which had been made, from time to time, in connection with the National Gallery for further accommodation than at present existed there. Every Member of the House would know that these had been extremely pressing. In 1881 the Trustees brought the subject before the Government, and said that the pictures there were increasing so rapidly in number that the space at their disposal was totally inadequate for the purpose of hanging them. Last year the Trustees again memorialized the Government on the subject, saying that the larger Galleries were so blocked as to cause great inconvenience. Many of the pictures had to be hung on screens; and at length these screens, owing to the increase in the number of pictures acquired by purchase or donation, had caused a block in the Galleries. He might also remind the Committee that that question had been raised from time to time in the House, and that considerable pressure had been brought to bear upon the Government in connection with it. So long as the Government had in progress the important works of the National History Museum and the Law Courts, they were unwilling to take the work of the National Gallery in hand; but when these were finished, they came to the conclusion that they could no longer refuse the demands of the Trustees; and, accordingly, a plan was prepared with the view of affording the increased accommodation that was required. Hon. Members would see, by the plans placed in the Library, that they proposed the addition of two long Galleries—one 90 feet by 40 feet, and the other 70 feet by 40 feet, and two smaller rooms, each 30 feet by 20 feet. The accommodation asked for by the Trustees was a hanging-room of 700 lineal feet; at the same time, they pointed out that this was absolutely required for the pictures they then had, and that by the time this addition was made they would probably have further pictures to place; and that, therefore, the number of feet stated did not represent quite the limit of their demand. The proposed alteration would give 958 lineal feet, equal to two-thirds of the last addition made by Mr. Barry, and about one-third of the existing space in the building. The total cost of the two Galleries and the two smaller Rooms would be about £50,000. They would be erected immediately behind the Gallery, and would extend in the direction of the Barrack Yard, a small portion of which would be taken; and he thought hon. Members would see that they would be extremely well placed in view of the circulation of the visitors to the Gallery. He had stated to the Committee the actual cost of the additional Galleries; but it was further contemplated, when these were completed, to convert the present Turner Gallery, now objected to on account of the deficient light there, into a grand staircase, and to convert the present staircases into two rooms for pictures. This would cost an additional sum of £15,000; but that expense was not at present to be incurred, because it was not thought advisable to proceed with the last-mentioned alterations until the two new Galleries were completed. It was not desirable that the Turner Gallery should be undertaken at once, because it would involve the displacement of the pictures which were hung there, and accordingly it would be postponed. All that the Committee would pledge itself to now was the sum of £50,000 for the erection of the two Galleries and Rooms he had described. The application for £15,000 for the conversion of the Turner Gallery into a grand staircase would form the subject of a separate application some two or three years hence. The completion of the works to be proceeded with at once would probably require a period of three years. The whole work would probably be completed in about four or five years. He trusted the Committee would be of opinion that, on the whole, the proposed addition was the best that could be made to the National Gallery. It had received the entire approval of the Trustees, and he hoped it would supply their wants for some time to come. In concluding the remarks he had to make, he would also express the hope that, having gone over all the points of objection which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham had stated with so much moderation, the hon. and learned Member would be willing to withdraw his Amendment, and allow the sum of £5,000 now asked for on account to be taken.
said, he did not think the First Commissioner of Works had met the objection which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham had brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman had explained, it was true, that the total cost of the alterations, described in the Estimates as uncertain, was £50,000. But what he and other hon. Members found fault with was that the Estimate should have been put forward when the cost was uncertain. It was admitted that at the time the Estimates were framed the total cost was unknown. While he approved fully of the alterations to be made at the National Gallery, he thought the right hon. Gentleman, in view of the fact that no work had to be done there on a sudden, might have left out this item to which they objected from the Estimates, and then, when the cost had been ascertained, come forward with it on a Supplementary Estimate. The objection which the right hon. Gentleman had, in his opinion, not met was, that he was infringing a very important financial principle, by asking for a sum on account of an undertaking the total cost of which was uncertain. He hoped it was clearly understood that they approved the alteration to be made at the National Gallery, their objection being to the mode of putting it in the Estimates.
said, he did not consider the course adopted in this case was unusual. If he had not been able to give full details of the cost and the works to be undertaken, he would not have thought it right to ask for the money. He trusted, however, that the Committee would forgive him if he had infringed any financial rule in not putting the total cost in the Estimates.
said, he thought his right hon. Friend was mistaken in supposing that it had been customary for Ministers to place amounts upon the Estimates on account of works the cost of which was unknown. It was possible to find bad precedents for everything. He had known cases, year after year, in which attempts of the kind had been made, but which had been objected to by the Committee. When Mr. Lowe was Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was proposed to place a number of buildings for public purposes on the space near the Victoria Tower, and a small sum of money—£10,000 or £20,000—was entered on the Estimates without any statement of the total cost, the effect of agreeing to which would have been that the House, without any sufficient explanation, would have committed itself to an altogether unknown cost. He (Mr. Rylands) opposed that Vote from the seat he now occupied, and he remembered that when the Prime Minister came down next day the Vote was not proceeded with; it was, in point of fact, practically withdrawn. Again, there had been cases where the Government had come down with an Estimate without giving the full cost, and where, objection having been taken to the proceeding, the Votes had been postponed, with the view of placing on the Table of the House at a future time the full particulars which were demanded. Therefore, although he could not dispute that demands of the kind in question had been made, yet the practice of the Committee had been to look with great jealousy upon the House being committed to an unknown amount by a Vote on Account being placed on the Estimates. He was by no means opposed to the extension of the National Gallery, and he should be sorry if it were imagined that he was raising any objection to that proposal; but he hoped, before the Committee passed the Vote, they would receive a definite statement from the First Commissioner as to the amount to be expended, so that if that amount were exceeded they would be able to call the right hon. Gentleman to account. His recommendation was, therefore, that the Vote for this £5,000 should be withdrawn; that the exact plans should be settled, and the total expenditure stated; and when these were laid upon the Table of the House he felt sure the Committee would support his right hon. Friend in supplying what was, no doubt, a public requirement.
said, he was, no doubt, responsible for the form in which this Estimate was presented. Originally, it was not known what sum would be required for the completion of the work; but the sum was ascertained before the Estimate was presented to the House. It was desirable that, as far as possible, the total expenditure to be incurred in works of the kind under consideration should be stated; but it frequently happened that, although they knew that money would be required for certain purposes, they were unable to say what would be the total sum required for the completion of the work to be done, although they were sure that before the matter came on for discussion they would be able to give the Committee all the information required. That was what had occurred in the present case. Some days ago his right hon. Friend placed in the Library plans of the proposed alterations, and during the last half hour his right hon. Friend had made a statement, of which the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had not heard a word, showing the total amount of expenditure involved, and the probable time that would be occu- pied in the completion of the alterations.
said, he thought the Committee would do well to accept the explanation of the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. They were indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) for having called attention to what was, undoubtedly, an unsatisfactory point in the Estimates. After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that £50,000, and possibly a further sum of £15,000, would be required for alterations at the National Gallery, he thought the Committee would agree that they had before them all the information which, in regard to Votes of the kind, they were bound to require. Under the circumstances, he trusted his hon. and learned Friend would not press his Amendment.
said, he could not imagine there would be any objection, on the part of the Committee, to agree to this sum. There was nothing he desired more than that there should be an adequate national expenditure upon Art and kindred objects. So far as he was concerned, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would take the opportunity of withdrawing the Vote, for the purpose of doubling or even trebling it. He would be glad to know if the right hon. Gentleman saw his way to removing or modifying these objectionable structures on the top of the National Gallery which were known as the "pepper boxes." The Committee must know that, in its present form, the inhabitants of London had no cause to be altogether proud of the National Gallery as a building.
asked if, in the event of the Motion before the Committee being withdrawn, the First Commissioner of Works would undertake to place upon the Table before the end of the Session an Estimate of the total cost of the alterations. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE assented.] In that case, he thought, on behalf of his hon. and learned Friend, he should be justified in asking leave to withdraw the Motion for the reduction of the Vote.
It is not competent to the noble Lord to withdraw the Motion before the Committee.
Question put, and negatived.
Original Question again proposed.
said, there were several points in the Estimates on which he wished to obtain information before he made his Motion for the reduction of the Vote; and whether that Motion would be for a reduction of £5,000, £7,000, or £10,000 would depend upon the answer given to one of the questions to which he was about to call attention. In the first place, there was the item—probably the most extraordinary in the whole of the Estimates—of £5,000, for "Sanitary Improvements in the Public Offices (Further on Account); probable total cost, £30,000; probable expenditure up to 31st of March, 1883, £10,550." Now, these sanitary improvements meant the communications between the lavatories and water closets of the Public Offices with the main drains. These Offices were erected at an enormous cost, and if there had been proper supervision on the part of the Architect, and on the part of the Board of Works, the sanitary arrangements would have been properly carried out when the buildings were being erected. It had, however, been stated, with regard to the drainage at the Home Office, that "instead of going into the main sewer it drained back into the Home Office," which showed an amount of ignorance on the part of these which were responsible that would disgrace any builder. But, admitting the necessity for improvements, he could not conceive how £30,000 could possibly be spent in connecting the lavatories and other offices of the buildings with the main sewer at Whitehall. It seemed evident to him that the persons who had this matter in charge would derive a very comfortable annuity from the work of restoring the communications between the Offices and the sewer. This was the first question upon which he desired to have information. The next question related to the Royal Courts of Justice—"Works and Alterations that may become necessary" (they had not become necessary yet) "and other Alterations in the Refreshment Department." Now, if the Committee would turn to page 38 of the Estimates they would find a separate Vote for the Royal Courts of Justice, the House being asked to vote this year the sum of £51,013 under that head. He thought that if the £30,000 for alterations which might become necessary at the Royal Courts of Justice was to be voted at all, it should have been included under the Vote to which he had just directed the attention of the Committee. But it was in this way that these expenses were increased; they were put down partly under one Vote and partly under another, and, in the present instance, two items were taken out of the Vote for the Law Courts and included in the Vote for Public Buildings. Again, he wished to know why the Consolidated Fund had to bear the expense of £60 for the Maintenance and Repair of the Chapter House of the Dean of Westminster? He thought the Chapter at Westminster was sufficiently wealthy to pay for their own repairs. Then there was a charge of £50, the cost of repairing Whitehall Chapel, which he would like to be explained, as also the item of £400 for "Rent, &c, Bridge Street, Westminster Palace Chambers; Ecclesiastical Courts Commission." This latter sum, for the rent of the room in which the Commission met, appeared to him to be far in excess of the necessities of the case. Then there were items for rents in connection with the Law Courts—"Rent in Lincoln's Inn, Appellate Court, including Land Tax redeemed £99; rent of Mr. Justice Fry's Retiring Room, £50." He wished to know why these items were still to be paid, and with regard to them he had no doubt an explanation would be forthcoming. Finally, there was the item on which he had not only to make a Motion, but also to divide the Committee, whatever explanation his right hon. Friend might give. This was the sum of £4,700 under letter G—"Westminster Bridge; maintaining, watering, cleaning, and lighting the Bridge, and for Police and periodical painting." He anticipated the answer that would be given. There were a certain number of houses belonging to the Bridge Trust, the rents of which were received by the Government, and went in reduction of cost to the country. But he ventured to say that these rents did not represent to the country 2 per cent of the amount spent in building the Bridge; and, therefore, if they were to enter into accounts with the City of Westminster, the Government would have to claim from the City of Westminster a very large sum for the cost of the Bridge. But the Government had no more right to put upon the Consolidated Fund the cost of repairing, cleaning, and painting the Bridge than they had to charge that fund with similar expenses on account of bridges in Manchester, Liverpool, and other cities. His contention was that matters of this kind, relating to the Metropolis, should be paid for in the same manner and to the same extent by the ratepayers of London, as the ratepayers of other cities had to pay in respect of their bridges. Whatever promises were made about the Municipal Government (London) Bill, he intended to take a division on the question as to whether an expense, which ought to be borne by the London ratepayers, should be thrown in this unjustifiable manner upon the Consolidated Fund.
said, before the right hon. Gentleman replied to the questions of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he wished to ask for some information upon the item in respect of the Royal Mint. He observed that for this year the total cost of the operations at that Establishment was £12,750, of which £9,000 was voted last year. His object was simply to ascertain from the right hon. Gentleman in what position the building was at that time, and what was proposed to be done with it this year?
said, he observed that the Government took exactly the same sum last year; and, no doubt, if he looked at the Estimate for 1881–2, he would find another similar sum. It was clear the Office of Works had got into the way of putting down the round sum of £5,000 a-year, not for any particular work, but in case they might want to spend so much on little improvements of their own. He was also told that the Government Departments had lately acquired an extremely objectionable practice. The rule was that they did not specify works costing less than £100, but only those costing more. He was told, by an hon. and learned Friend who had been on the Committee of Public Accounts, and had watched the accounts very carefully, that the Government had a way of getting a number of works, really of an important character, executed without spending large sums on them at a time —by putting against them sums of under £100 every year. By this means works could be undertaken without the House of Commons becoming at all enlightened as to their cost. In order to get the money from the House of Commons, a number of small beginnings were made on various works, the individual amounts of which did not come to £100, and then they lumped them together, and put the total down at £5,000. That, he thought, was probably the secret of the £5,000, and he could not conceive anything more objectionable. They had no right to let the Committee vote sums of £100 for works that they knew were going to cost much more. That was not the way to ask money from the Committee of Supply; and if he should not be interposing between the Committee and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), he would move to reduce the Vote by leaving out the item at the end of Sub-head A—"New Works and Alterations of a minor character not particularly specified above." He wished to draw attention to another matter which raised a question to which he had attracted notice the other night in Committee of Supply, and that was the item for Maintenance and Repairs of Public Buildings. He wished the Committee to give attention to this item, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works would be able to give them some explanation with regard to it; but, before he proceeded to deal with it, he desired to say that they allowed the right hon. Gentleman to take the Vote for Maintenance and Repairs six weeks ago, on condition that he laid on the Table the detailed accounts of three separate items. The right hon. Gentleman would correct him if he was wrong; but he believed that as yet no such statement had been produced. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: It will be produced.] He was glad to hear it. £37,000 was charged for bricks and mortar—surely there was a great deal of extravagance there. There was a large item for Burlington House, and for the London University there was an increase of £230. If they went to Chelsea Hospital they would find an increase of £810; and he should like to know why this place was not treated like Greenwich Hospital, which was repaired out of its own funds? This £810 did not include new works, as he was always endeavouring to impress on the Committee. Then they went to the Tower of London and the Royal Military Asylum, and there were other items making £1,695 increase. He could not think the Office of Works were exercising a proper control over these Estimates unless they kept down this item for Maintenance and Repairs. It was clear that these payments, instead of decreasing every year, went on increasing, and that the items were enormous and beyond all reason, and far beyond what an ordinary private individual would pay. There was no reason why the Department should not exercise economy, as a private individual would; and he would, therefore, press on the right hon. Gentleman to give them some explanation, and to promise that these matters would receive his personal supervision and attention, which, there could be no doubt, they had not done hitherto. He moved the omission of the last item under Subhead A.
said, he wished to call attention to the Vote for Works and Restorations of the Tower of London. He desired to move the omission of the item of £3,500.
That is an earlier part of the Vote. The Committee is about to consider the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, and if we go on to that, we shall not be able to go back afterwards to the item for the Tower of London.
said, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had put a number of questions to the First Commissioner of Works, and, pending the answer he received to them, he had reserved his right to move the reduction of the Vote. Also pending the answer given to a question, he (Captain Aylmer) reserved his right of moving a reduction. If they could not go back after moving a reduction, he wished to ask what they were going to do? He was waiting to hear the right hon. Gentleman's answer.
said, he would move to leave out the whole of the item for Works and Restorations at the Tower of London.
My duty will be to put the Questions as they arise.
It will be more to the convenience of the Committee if I do not propose my reduction now.
The noble Lord has not moved it. The hon. Member (Mr. Percy Wyndham) moves a reduction.
I move the reduction of the Vote by £3,500 for Works and Restorations at the Tower of London.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the Item of £3,500 for the Tower of London (Works of Restoration) be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Percy Wyndham.)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would give them some assurance as to how far these restorations had gone on? The subject was of considerable interest to people out-of-doors, who had been considerably alarmed by a statement made last night, to the effect that a portion of the Tower was to be restored to the condition it was in in the time of Henry III. It was difficult to tell what its condition in the time of Henry III. was, and even if it was known it would not be possible to reproduce it. There had been several unfortunate restorations during the last 25 years, one of them having been to entirely scrape away the plaster from the walls, so as to show the rubble-work, which was never intended to be shown since mediæval times. The effect was quite ridiculous. He did not mean to say that there had not been a great deal of improvement effected at the Tower. Some 25 or 30 years ago an addition had been made, which resulted in hiding the main Tower from the River. This addition had been taken away, which was a great advantage; but there were a large number of people out-of-doors who were anxious that these restorations should not be carried any further, and especially that the Record Keeper's Office, which had existed since the time of Edward III., and which was mentioned in Strype's History of the Tower, should be preserved. The building had been twice restored, no doubt; but it was a lineal descendant of the old mediæval office. Would the right hon. Gentleman assure them that in any new building put up there would be no attempt to masquerade the architecture of previous periods traceable in the Tower; but that the building would be constructed solely with a view to the purposes for which they are required?
said, he would deal with this Question before he went to the wider one to which his attention had been directed. The item alluded to was part of one agreed to last year. Last Session he informed the House that it was the intention of the Government to effect considerable alteration in the Tower of London. They had determined to pull down some enormous warehouses which hid the Tower from the River—they proposed to demolish them altogether and rebuild the old ballium wall. Exception had been taken to a restoration of that character; but he might inform the Committee that he had obtained the sanction of the War Office to the demolition of the warehouses, on the express understanding that accommodation would be found elsewhere for some of the officers of the garrison who would be displaced. Then arose the question, in what particular style should the buildings they would have to put up be erected? Were they to be modern buildings? Should they pull down these ugly old buildings in order to put up, in their place, ugly modern buildings, which would be equally objectionable? He did not think so. It had appeared to the Department with which he was connected that it would be desirable to build on the plans of the old ballium wall. This could be done at very little expense—at an expenditure of not more than £6,000, for which sum, they believed, they would get an exact counterpart of the old building. In doing this they would really be continuing the restorations they had now been carrying on for some years. As to the Record Building, he must altogether dispute its claim to antiquity. The general opinion was that it was no older than the time of Sir Christopher Wren.
You can see it in a print of the Tower of 1598.
said, he disputed that. He had examined the print referred to, and had come to a totally different conclusion. He believed the building was no older than the time of Sir Christopher Wren. It was proposed to build in the stones of the old wall—they did not intend to destroy the stones of the building, but to replace them in the wall they would rebuild. The hon. Member need not be under any alarm in regard to the works of restoration, for the Department were contenting themselves with the demolition of the warehouses and the rebuilding of the ballium wall. They would see, from the old foundations, whether the walls should be continued through the Record Keeper's House, or whether it would be possible to save that building. He hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion, but would allow the work to be completed.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
said, he was interested in that miserable failure, the Land Registry; and he wished to ask his right hon. Friend how it happened this year, apparently for the first time, there was a charge of £1,000 in regard to the Registry in Staple's Inn? It seemed to him that this year, of all years, when the failure of the Office was most complete, only 14 estates having been registered in the whole year, it was most remarkable that there should be this charge.
said, that one question had been asked by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) and another by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill); and he (Captain Aylmer) had intended, before they rose, to ask the two together, because they appeared to bear on each other. They were the last two items under Sub-head A, and the first was—"New Works and Alterations of a minor kind not particularly specified above, £5,000." That had been referred to by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, and then there was the other item—"Works and Alterations which may become necessary." It seemed to him that about "works not specified above," and "works which may become necessary," there was much of a muchness. He wished to have some explanation of these items, or he should be inclined to move that one or the other of them be reduced. He wished, also, to ask a question on Sub-head "F," "Supply of Water to the Houses of Parliament." The right hon. Gentleman would, perhaps, explain how it was that there was an extraordinary charge for this supply of water this year.
To what Vote does the hon. and gallant Member refer—Vote 7?
said, he was alluding to Sub-head "F." He had asked some questions on the point last year; but this year, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give more certain information than he was last. With regard to new works, they were going to have a new War Office and other buildings erected at great cost on land which it would require a great deal of money to purchase. He wanted to know what the right hon. Gentleman intended to do with the land belonging to the Government adjoining the new Government Offices and facing Parliament Street, which he believed he was correct in saying had cost £2,000,000. This question would, perhaps, more properly arise under the head of Public Offices, and not Public Buildings. There was a house, now occupied by Lady Clifton, belonging to the Government by the side of the Horse Guards, the lease of which would fall in this year. What did the Government intend to do with it?
said, the House referred to—Dover House—was not under his Department. It was under the charge of the Department of Woods and Forests; and he believed the hon. Member was right in saying that the lease would fall in this year. It would be in the discretion of the Government to hire the house from the Department of Woods and Forests, and in some future arrangement of the Public Offices it might be desirable that the Government should become possessed of the house, as it might be found a convenient site for the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury. As to the Mint, about which the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) had put a question, the hon. Baronet would be glad to hear that the works had been completed at a total cost of £14,000, £9,000 of which was spent last year; therefore no item occurred this year. It was, no doubt, most satisfactory that this work, which would cause a great saving to the public, should have been carried out. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill) asked a question as to an item of £5,000 for minor works. That sum was always put in the Estimates for small works which unexpectedly be- came necessary, and it was due to the great extent of the Public Offices. To this sum was charged small works, which amounted each to less than £100, and which they would not be justified in putting in the Estimates—works which were, for the most part, unforeseen. At one time the item was always included in "Works and Maintenance;" but for the last three or four years it had been shown separately, as it was, in fact, an item for new works. It was considered better to lump all these small works in one large item. As to the £2,000 for the New Courts of Justice, for financial reasons it had been necessary, as soon as the work of constructing the Courts was completed, that all expenditure under the Vote for Construction should cease, and that all expenditure for alterations, or on account of fresh additions found necessary in the practical working of the Courts, should fall under the general Vote for Public Buildings. The item of £2,000 had, therefore, been inserted to meet these possible claims; and he was sorry to say that already many claims had come in which had had to be met out of this money. For instance, no sooner were the Courts completed and the Judges in occupation of them than it was discovered that innumerable small works were required in them. Many complained of draughts, and it was found necessary to put up screens and doors in all directions. He had now before him demands from the Judges and the Bar which would involve an expenditure of at least £1,800. It was always found, when a new building was erected, that a great many little things wanted doing which were not originally foreseen and provided for; and, no doubt, hon. Members had experienced that when themselves building new houses. Unexpected demands were made for small alterations and for fittings in the building which had not been allowed for in the contract. Some alterations demanded were almost fanciful; still, it was not possible for the Department he represented to altogether disregard them. The persons who made the demands for additions and alterations had been persuaded that some of the things they wanted doing were unnecessary, but other things had to be carried out; and he should be thoroughly satisfied if, in connection with such an extensive new building, no more than £2,000 was required to meet works of this kind. As to repairs and maintenance, the noble Lord had referred to several buildings, in regard to which it must be observed that in some years a larger expenditure was required on some of them than in other years. As an illustration, let them take the case of Chelsea Hospital. The Vote for the Repairs and Maintenance of that Building was £2,600, as against £1,800 last year; but the increase had been brought about by the necessity for painting the building, which was of considerable extent. Again, there was Burlington House, the expenditure on which had been £1,600, as against £1,400 last year, in consequence of its being necessary to effect certain alterations in the sanitary condition of the interior. He could only say he had gone carefully over the items of this large sum for repairs, and believed that if hon. Members had a specific account rendered, and knew the work done, they would agree with him that the item was not a large one. No doubt, in the aggregate, it was large; but the number of buildings over which it was spread was very great. The item was increasing; but in regard to that no fault was to be found with these who were concerned, as several buildings had been thrown on the Department during the past two or three years which had nothing to do with it previously. The whole of the costs of the repairs of the Admiralty were now paid out of this Vote; whereas, two or three years ago, they were paid out of the Admiralty Vote. He now came to the item mentioned by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler). The hon. Member had specially dilated on the largeness of the Vote for Sanitary Works. No doubt, the total sum of £30,000, including what had already been spent, was very large. £14,000, or nearly half the amount, had been expended up to the end of the present financial year. He regretted the expenditure; but the demands made by the Public Departments in this matter were so serious, and the responsibility of leaving the Public Offices without proper attention, and neglecting to do the utmost to improve their sanitary condition was so great, that he would not have felt himself justified in asking for a smaller sum. The hon. Member appeared to think it a large item; but if he knew what the cost of making these changes in any one Department was, he would not consider the aggregate a large one. Let them take the case of the new Public Offices. It had there been found necessary to replace every one of the iron pipes with lead pipes. Every soil pipe had been of iron, and had had to be replaced with lead, and the alteration had been one which necessarily occupied a long time to carry out, and occasioned considerable expenditure of money. It was, no doubt, too bad that a large expenditure should be necessary in respect of a building recently erected. The architect who designed them was, he believed, President of the Society of Architects when the work was carried out. [An hon. MEMBER: Who was he?] The architect was Sir Gilbert Scott, and at the time the building was in course of construction the Office of Works had for one of its principal officers a gentleman—namely, Mr. Galton—than whom there was not a higher sanitary authority in England. But if this was the case with the newest of our Public Buildings, what must be the state of the older buildings? Many of them were in such a defective state that the only question was whether he should not have included a larger sum to carry out these important works on a larger scale than they were being carried out or would be carried out. He might say that if it had been possible to proceed with the work quicker, even if the expense had been much greater, he should have done so, and have incurred the larger expense. But he could not proceed with a greater rapidity; it was not possible to do all the works at the same time, as it was necessary to avoid interfering with the work of the Departments. He should not have inserted the large item in the Vote if he had not had the fullest conviction that it was necessary for the Public Service, and the health and safety of the public servants. The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had alluded to the question of Westminster Bridge. That was only one of the many questions affecting Metropolitan rather than Imperial Expenditure which had been raised. The question of Westminster Bridge had been complicated by a fact alluded to by the hon. Member—namely, that the Government had had to take possession of an estate commonly called the Westminster Bridge Estate—which represented a con- siderable rental of £5,000 or £6,000 a-year, or more than enough to pay the cost of painting, repairing, and otherwise maintaining the Bridge. But, as the hon. Member had pointed out, this estate might be said to represent the capital spent on the Bridge itself. The Government had spent a larger sum than was represented by the value of the estate; it might be said, therefore, that the income of this property represented the interest on the capital already expended, and ought not to be set against the repairs of the Bridge. As to who should bear the expense of the maintenance, that was a question upon which the Government might take a different view to that they held now, when the scheme for the Municipal Government of London was carried into effect. He could only say to the hon. Member that this was one of the questions which must be dealt with, and would be dealt with, whenever the Bill for reforming the Municipal Government of the Metropolis was brought in. With regard to Whitehall Chapter House, it was the property of the Government, and did not belong to the Dean and Chapter. The Chapel Royal, which was not a consecrated place of worship, but really the old Banqueting Hall of Whitehall, also belonged to the Government. As to the increase in the item for the supply of water to the Houses of Parliament, the explanation was this. The water supplied was from an artesian well, which belonged to the Government; and he was sorry to say that a portion of it had broken in, rendering necessary repairs which had been carried out at a cost of about £400. As to the Land Registry, it was intended this year to amalgamate it with the Middlesex Registry of Deeds, and for that purpose larger premises had been required, to enable the two Departments to be worked together comfortably. The Ecclesiastical Courts Commission—one of the largest Commissions ever appointed—were not occupying the whole of the house appointed for their use. It was necessary to hire for them a house at a rather larger rate than usual, owing to the size of the Commission; and endeavours would be made to devote that part of the building which they did not use to the service of some other Commission.
said, he rose not for the purpose of opposing the Vote, or of moving an Amendment, but in order to urge on the First Commissioners of Works the desirability and propriety of pushing on these sanitary works in the Government Offices as rapidly as possible. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was aware of it; but at the beginning of the last decade there was an enormous amount of low fever and sickness amongst the clerks at the War Office. An enormous amount of suffering and loss of life was occasioned by the bad sanitary condition of the Offices in Pall Mall. That state of things went on for years; and it was not until two General Officers were affected, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was taken ill, that any serious attempt was made to deal with this state of things. When a proper investigation took place it was found that Marlborough House, and the principal buildings outside of Pall Mall, drained not into the main drains, but partly into cesspools, and partly into the ornamental water in St. James's Park. Something was done at once; but it was done in an imperfect and insufficient manner, and for a long time there was a great deal of illness in Pall Mall. The state of things now, however, was more satisfactory there; but in many other public buildings there was a great amount of illness and suffering on account of their bad sanitary condition. The Government at last recognized the fact that it was necessary to deal with the matter on a large scale, and proposed to spend £30,000; but he could not understand why they proposed to go leisurely to work. Do not let them do the work piecemeal—let them spend the whole of the £30,000 at once, if necessary, and remedy the evils, and get rid of the complaints at once. The Government might say that they had a plan of proceeding drawn up; but if, in following that plan, they were obliged to proceed at a leisurely rate, it might be an unfortunate thing for the clerks concerned, some of whom might lose their lives through the delay. Many of these clerks occupied over-crowded premises, where the ventilation was as bad as it could be. If the Government had a plan drawn up, the best thing they could do would be to throw it overboard, and adopt a new one founded on the suggestion he was now making, which was to get all the sanitary work they had to do carried out without delay during the present financial year.
complained of the defective manner in which the Civil Service Estimates were prepared. When he contrasted the way in which the Civil Service Estimates were made up with the exactitude in which the Treasury required the Army and Navy Estimates to be introduced, he could not help thinking that the result was discreditable to the Treasury. The set of Treasury Minutes, presented to the House in 1856, ought to be applicable to the Estimates of the Civil Service, as well as to these of the Army and Navy. The excuse made for not putting forward correct Estimates was that they were liable to be altered. That was no valid excuse at all. These Votes on Account were a great evil, and he objected to funds being so obtained, because he knew them to be the cause of great abuse in delaying the public discussion of the Votes. Then the mode of mixing up Votes for rents, insurance tithes, &c, set down at £34,363, was calculated to prevent that knowledge of the separate items so necessary to facilitate proper check. In many instances, rent was put down without any explanation, without even any indication as to the Office for which it was charged. These rents, necessarily large in amount, required that a strict inquiry should be made as to whether the Offices were properly rented, and whether the accommodation was more or less sufficient for the duties transacted in the rooms; and also whether buildings belonging to the Government could be made available. He was sorry to say he did not believe the Financial Secretary to the Treasury had leisure to enable him to so make such very requisite inquiries.
LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL moved the omission of the item Sub-head A—namely, "£5,000, for New Works and Alterations of a minor character not particularly specified above." The explanation given by the First Commissioner of Works ought not to satisfy the Committee. When £24,900 was taken for the maintenance and repair generally of Public Offices, the Committee of Supply ought to make a protest against a lump sum of £5,000 being put down, and no genuine account being rendered of what the purposes were for which it was required.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That the Item of £5,000, for New Works and alterations of a minor character, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Lord Randolph Churchill.)
said, he thought Her Majesty's Government ought to make some observations upon the present occasion.
said, he had already made the fullest explanation. The noble Lord made a strong attack, and then left the House to refresh himself. He did not think it necessary to remain while he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) made his explanation, but came back afterwards and moved to omit the item.
said, he was present when the right hon. Gentleman made his explanation, and he thought he never heard a more unsatisfactory explanation. The only explanation afforded was that the sum was put in the Vote because it always had been. He understand this was an economical Government, a Government which was going to make great reductions in the Public Expenditure. Where were they going to begin? What item could, with more propriety, be cut out than the one now under consideration? It was only put in the Estimates in order that the Office of Works might have a sum of money in hand to play with, and that they might be able to gratify the demands for money made by all sorts of people. The right hon. Gentleman told them that, as regarded the Courts of Justice, he was open to all sorts of demands from the Bench and the Bar. He knew they would ask for alterations and improvements, and therefore he thought he would ask Parliament for £2,000, in order to meet the demands. And so he now said he knew that, in the case of other Public Buildings and Offices, there would be a number of people who would ask for all kinds of alterations and improvements, and if he had not this sum of money he would not be able to gratify their laudable desires. He (Mr. Gorst) did not think Parliament could do a more useful thing than to refuse the Office of Works power to give way to all the applications made upon it. If they had not got the money the people would have to go without their alterations until next year. This was a most dangerous item. In the Appropriation Account there was no indication of what the item was. If they now voted this sum of money it would be gone, and they would hear no more of it. How it was spent or squandered Parliament would never know. Next year the right hon. Gentleman would come down to the Committee, and say—"This sum has always been put in the Estimates, and let me have it again." The Committee knew well enough that the Office of Works was surrounded by architects, and surveyors, and valuers, and all kinds of people, who liked to make something out of the work of a Public Department. The only way in which Parliament could check this extravagant expenditure of public money was by refusing to give the Office of Works any money to play with.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that £5,000 was necessary to have in hand to carry out anything that might occur or might be required during the year. It appeared, however, that since the New Law Courts had been completed it had been found necessary to increase the sum to £7,000. If an increase was to be made for every new building there was no knowing where the Vote would stop. Although he should support his noble Friend, he was sorry he had not proposed to reduce the Vote by £2,000, the amount taken for the New Law Courts.
said, the item of £2,000 was totally different to the one of £5,000. It was an item provided in anticipation of demands which were certain to be made in the Courts of Law. These demands had been made on the Government, and were being carried out. They were of a nature that, in ordinary years, they would be specified in the Votes; but, inasmuch as these Votes were prepared before the Courts were occupied, it was totally impossible to say what they would be.
The Committee divided;—Ayes 29; Noes 79: Majority 50.—(Div. List, No. 90.)
Original Question again proposed.
said, he now intended to move a reduction of the Vote and to take a division. The question he was about to ask the Committee to decide was—Are the ratepayers of London to pay for their own bridges and their own roads in the same manner, and to the same extent, as the ratepayers of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, and other places? He would not repeat the arguments he used at an earlier period of the evening, but simply move that the Vote be reduced by £4,700, which was the cost of painting and repairing Westminster Bridge, a charge which, in his opinion, ought to be borne by the ratepayers of Westminster and the Metropolis, and not by the Consolidated Fund.
Motion made, and Question put,
"That a sum, not exceeding £113,062, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1884, for the Maintenance and Repair of Public Buildings in Great Britain and the Isle of Man, including various special Works; for providing the necessary supply of Water; for Rents of Houses hired for the accommodation of Public Departments, and Charges attendant thereon."—(Mr. Henry H. Fowler.)
The Committee divided:—'Ayes 40; Noes 69: Majority 29.—(Div. List, No. 91.)
Original Question again proposed.
said, he wished to ask his right hon. Friend for some information as to the item of £4,200 for additional alterations at Southampton connected with the Ordnance Survey. The Ordnance Survey was a subject in which the public took a very considerable interest, and he would, therefore, inquire in what position the Survey was at the present moment? A considerably increased expenditure was estimated for under this head; and it would be satisfactory if the First Commissioner would inform the Committee what progress had been made, and to what purposes it was proposed to apply the additional amount proposed in the Estimates for the work of the coming year?
said, he hoped the hon. Baronet would defer his question until they reached the Ordnance Vote.
said, he had to call attention to three items in this Vote which involved three most pernicious principles—namely, £3,300 for Ordinary Repairs and Maintenance of Public Ecclesiastical and Collegiate Buildings, Scotland; £200 for Aberdeen University, Marischal College, Improvements in Heating Arrangements; and £370 for persons in charge of premises taken for Public Offices, occasional caretakers, including wages to Warders of Glasgow Cathedral. These were the first items on which he desired information. He was quite unable to understand why the Consolidated Fund should have to pay for the maintenance and care of Ecclesiastical edifices in Scotland. The next item that required explanation was Gwydyr House, Whitehall, Offices of the Charity Commission, £1,350. Surely that ought to be paid for by the Charity Commissioners, and not charged upon the Consolidated Fund. Then there was a charge of £1,000 for the Chambers of the Land Registry in Staple's Inn. He understood the General Land Registry was about to be amalgamated with the Middlesex Registry; but was the Committee aware that a noble Lord received £5,000 or £6,000 a-year for the latter sinecure? He thought that a gentleman receiving that amount yearly ought to keep out of the way of everything connected with the Land Registry.
said, that no amalgamation between the two Land Registries was intended, although there was a proposal to that effect. Next, Glasgow Cathedral was a national edifice. It did not belong to the Church of Scotland, and ought, therefore, to be paid for out of the Consolidated Fund. This and the other Ecclesiastical Buildings referred to might be regarded as ancient monuments, which it was a national obligation to preserve. The third question of the hon. Member involved the larger question of the Charity Commission generally, and upon that he could not then enter.
said, he wished for information as to three items on page 24. First, there was the charge under Sub-head M for Ordinary Repairs and Maintenance of the Survey Buildings at Southampton, &c, £2,120. Upon this he had only to remark that the amount was £200 more than for last year; but as all the Estimates were bloated and increased, he should not have asked for an explanation simply on that ground. The next item was for Additions and Alterations to Buildings at Southampton, £4,200; and then there was the charge of £1,500 for the Erection of New Buildings at Southampton, containing the Engraving Department and other works, total Estimate £3,000. He wished to learn what were these extraordinary additions to the buildings at Southampton, and why it was that, having already paid £3,000 for new buildings, they were now called upon to meet the additional charge of £3,000 in the present year?
said, there had been a general increase in the cost of the Ordnance Survey in order to accelerate the work, which it was supposed would be finished in 1890. The staff had been raised from 170 to 240 persons for this year, and that, of course, necessitated larger buildings; hence the increased charge under that head.
said, he wished to call attention to the charge for salary of the Surveyor for the Royal Court House, Douglas, Isle of Man. He believed the Isle of Man was in the enjoyment of Home Rule, and it was only reasonable that a country so situated should pay for the cost of surveying its public buildings. That would certainly be the case when Ireland obtained Home Rule, an event that he thought was not so far in the future as some hon. Members supposed. Unless he was told that the money in question, after being paid out of the Consolidated Fund, was repaid by the authorities of the Isle of Man, he should be bound to object to the item.
said, this amount was paid on account of property belonging to the Crown in the Isle of Man.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—( Mr. Shaw Lefevre,)—put, and agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
Committee to, sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
Customs And Inland Revenue Bill—Bill 140
( Sir Arthur Otway, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Courtney.)
Committee Progress 30Th April
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Part I—Customs And Excise
Clause 7 (Extension of term carriage in provision (6) of s. 19 of 32 & 33 Vict. c. 14 to carriage moved by mechanical power).
Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
said, it was not his intention to move the omission of this clause, Notice of which Motion stood in his name upon the Paper. He wished to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if this clause did not, for the first time, place tramways in a separate category as distinguished from railways, and thus propose to extend taxation of the traffic facilities of the public? He also asked whether the clause applied to tramways with carriages propelled by steam or electricity, and to bicycles?
said, he was glad to reply to the hon. Member who had just spoken, and to remove the doubt which appeared to exist in the minds of some as to the object of this clause. As every carriage drawn by horses or mules paid an annual tax of two guineas, it had been suggested that if an ordinary carriage was propelled by electricity or steam on a road it might escape the tax. To avoid all possible misconception, it had been thought better to put into the Bill a clause imposing a tax upon such carriages. A bicycle would not be included in the clause; it would be propelled by manual or pedal, and not by mechanical power.
Clause agreed to.
Part Ii—Income Tax
Clause 8 (Grant of duties of income tax).
said, that last year a discussion had taken place upon a question somewhat similar to that raised by the Amendment he was about to move; but it referred to a different branch of the subject, and dealt only with the case of Companies which, trading in foreign countries, had their headquarters in London. The law was that they were liable for Income Tax, even upon income which never came into the United Kingdom. A case, in which this question was involved, came before one of the Courts a short time ago; and the Judge who tried it had ex- pressed his opinion that, although the law was as he had stated, it was a very undesirable and very unjust law. Although the Income Tax was 40 years old, no Chancellor of the Exchequer had ever attempted to do what was now being tried. He expected, and hoped, the right hon. Gentleman would repudiate the action of some of his lieutenants, who had been going about town calling upon persons to make returns of income received not in England, but left abroad, for the purpose of assessment, and telling them that they were liable if they did not immediately make a compromise with the Commissioners to three times the ordinary tax. He believed there was no authority for that in the Act; but it was a form of intimidation used by the Commissioners to obtain information. It was well known that many persons had a great objection to come into collision with the Commissioners and undergo an examination in public on the subject of their incomes. He held that the Rules issued by the Commissioners for the guidance of persons filling up returns conceded the point for which he was contending. Then there was another objectionable regulation, which related to the receipt of profits from abroad in the shape of imports. It was provided that those imports should be recorded in several different towns—Glasgow, Liverpool, and one or two others. But if the persons who made the importations were liable for the whole of their incomes arising abroad he could not see upon what ground the Government kept a watch upon their imports. It was stated that if a person invested money in foreign securities He was only liable for Income Tax on that part of the interest of those securities which came into the United Kingdom. If that were so, on what principle was it that a person who invested some of his money in trade in India, for instance, was liable to pay on the whole of his profits? The Government claimed to tax a person so placed for the amount which he was employing in the development of the resources of India. He did not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would contend that this was right, or that it should be done. Supposing an Australian gentleman came over to this country, leaving property behind him of the value of £50,000 a-year, and that, for his own private use, he had £10,000 a-year remitted to him here. Did the Chancellor of the Exchequer think that, in a case of that kind, Income Tax should be paid on the £40,000 as well as on the £10,000? Then, supposing the Chancellor of the Exchequer made good his claim to charge 20 years' Income Tax on this £40,000, but the Australian died hero, leaving an accumulation of £1,000,000 in Australia, and that he willed this money away to a local stranger. In that case, would the Chancellor of the Exchequer claim Probate Duty on the £1,000,000 of accumulation? If not, what right had he to make the Australian pay Income Tax on the money which had gone to make up the £1,000,000? He (Mr. Macfarlane) would be very much surprised if the right hon. Gentleman defended the question at all; but, if he did, he should be very glad to hear on what ground he made the one charge and did not attempt to make the other. He would take one other imaginary case. Supposing an American came over to live in this country. Supposing, for instance, Mackay, the Silver King, came to England, and became subject to the Income Tax. Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer claim Income Tax on his $1,000,000 a-week in America? He did not think the right hon. Gentleman would ever make such a claim; and, if he did, he was quite sure he would not realize it, because the American Minister would probably intervene, and would place himself between the Silver King and the Income Tax Commissioners, who would be acting for, and under the direction of, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As he had said before, the Income Tax was so vague that there was no possession in the world in respect of which a claim might not he made under it; and the only method there was of testing its real meaning was by observing how it had been put in force for the last 30 years. There was one other point he wished to mention. He should like the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say what amount of income would be chargeable if he was able to charge Income Tax on money that never came into this country. It would certainly be a very high estimate if he put it at about £4,000,000. Taking it, however, at that sum, the amount realized from this demand, which caused so much annoyance and irritation, would be something considerably under £100,000. He asked the right hon. Gentleman, even if the letter of the law was on his side, whether it was wise, or expedient, or reasonable, to tax visitors to this country in this way, especially when the amount obtained by the tax was so comparatively small? A great many of those who would be subject to this tax were visitors, strictly speaking; and probably large numbers of them would return to their own country if the right hon. Gentleman attempted to enforce this charge. They would leave England, not entirely on account of the actual amount they would have to pay, but because they would feel a sense of wrong and injustice. Everyone would admit that whatever money came into this country, from wherever it came, was justly liable to be taxed; but the money which a visitor left behind him was liable to the taxation of the country in which it remained. He would give the Chancellor of the Exchequer another illustration of how this system would work. The Australian he had spoken of came over to England, leaving a large amount of money behind him. He took a house in London, and purchased a couple of carriages. Of course, he would have to pay the duty on those carriages. But he left a dozen carriages at home in Australia. Would the right hon. Gentleman claim Carriage Duty on the 12 carriages in Australia as well as upon the two in London? The same thing would apply to dogs. The man might have two dogs here and 20 in Australia. He (Mr. Macfarlane) could see no difference whatever between the cases of the Dog and the Carriage Tax and the Income Tax in this matter, except that the amount to be obtained by the last-named tax would be much better worth having than that which would be realized by either of the others; and this might influence the Chancellor of the Exchequer to some extent. The right hon. Gentleman said that if a man came into this country he must pay not only for what he brought with him, but also for what he left behind. That reminded him of the old story of the showman, who was in the habit of informing visitors to his booth—"You cannot go in without paying; but you can pay without going in." But the right hon. Gentleman went really much further than this, for the right hon. Gentleman said—"You must pay whether you come in or not; and if you do come in yourself, you must pay for everything belonging to you which you leave behind." With these remarks, he begged to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
In page 2, line 41, after the words "five pence," to insert the words—"Provided, That the tax payable under Schedule D in the case of persons residing in the United Kingdom, but haying no place of business therein, and not carrying on any trade therein, but deriving their income from the profit upon trade in places outside of the United Kingdom, shall be upon the amount of such profits transmitted to and received by them within the United Kingdom."—(Mr. Macfarlane.)
Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said, the question raised by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Carlow was an exceedingly important one. It was important not only in its bearing on English interests, but also in its bearing on international rights. Going back some distance, he should like to call the attention of the Committee to the principle which was adopted by the establishment of the Income Tax. It superseded the principle of indirect taxation; and the consequence was that the principle was laid down that all property which arose in this country under the protection of the law, and all money which was expended in the country, were liable to be taxed. If they taxed all the property created in this country, thay taxed everything which really constituted the income of the people, and they need not, also, tax the expenditure. If the other countries of Europe and the world followed the rule of England, and taxed all the property created in their several jurisdictions, it was plain that, supposing we taxed foreign property on its arrival here, it was taxed twice over. He did not pretend that this was always an evil to be avoided, because many people who resided in this country, and had property created abroad, had in England the advantage of expending it under the protection and shelter of the English Government, and, therefore, might fairly be said to be under an obligation to contribute to the expenses of the English Government. Looking at it in that light, the whole subject divided itself under four heads. The Government might tax incomes created in this country and expended in this country; they might tax incomes which were created abroad and expended in this country; they might tax properties created abroad and introduced into this country for expenditure; and, lastly, they might—and this was the point now at issue—attempt to tax incomes created abroad and not brought into this country. He admitted that, with regard to the three first of these categories, it was reasonable to place them within the grasp of the tax-collector; but he held, most clearly and distinctly, that neither in law nor in equity had they the slightest claim to tax property created abroad and not brought into this country. The Government claimed to call upon everybody who came to this country on pleasure, or who resided here, to make a return of all the income they possessed in any part of the world. As the hon. Member for Carlow had just pointed out, people might spend their thousands a-year here, and have tens of thousands accumulated in some other country, and the Government could ask them to make a return of all the property they possessed, both here and elsewhere, for the purpose of taxation. He looked upon this as a monstrous injustice, as an infraction of International Law and right, and he said it was a process for which the Government could find no justification in the Statute Book. He called the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to this last fact as one which might, perhaps, weigh more with him than any other. If the right hon. Gentleman would examine the Statutes on this subject, he would find that in describing property, whether it arose from securities, trade, or manufactures, or insurance, it was always brought to this test—that it was to be charged at the place of entry. Not a single exception to that rule was to be found. He had some extracts from the Statutes bearing on the subject; and he found that in Section 108 of the original Income Tax Act it was provided that profits or gains arising from foreign sources were chargeable at the place where they had been first entered. Section 29 of the same Act was to a similar effect. Again, in the 16 & 19 Vict., it was provided that nothing in the first-named Act was to except any person resident in any part of the United Kingdom with reference to the profits or gains received from or out of any possessions or securities in any other of Her Majesty's Dominions. These were the ruling enactments, and there was not a single word in them which gave the slightest authority for the action now attempted by the Inland Revenue Commissioners—namely, that of taxing properties which did not come to this country at all. The authorities, by this "fad" of administration, called on men to do something which under the law they had no right to do, and which was an infraction of the law. It had never been the practice, until recently, to charge with Income Tax profits of this kind. The other day he put a Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the Inland Revenue Commissioners were justified in calling on people to themselves assess properties which they did not bring into this country, and the right hon. Gentleman's reply was that they were. Then, if they considered themselves justified in doing that, the Committee would be justified in affirming the principle of the hon. Member for Carlow's Amendment, and in saying that such a gross infringement of international rights and of the law of justice to individuals ought no longer to be tolerated. He had very great confidence, indeed, in supporting the proposition of the hon. Member.
said, that a few nights ago he had to defend the existing arrangements with respect to Free Trade against the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Ecroyd). One of that hon. Member's great complaints was that there was a tendency to make large investments in foreign countries rather than at home, and the answer was that the persons making those investments abroad were liable to pay Income Tax on them. To-night he had to meet the opposite charge, for the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macfarlane), and his right hon. Friend (Mr. Hubbard), complained that persons carrying on trade here were not allowed to make foreign investments, in cases where the proceeds of those investments did not come home, but were reinvested in foreign countries, without paying a tax upon them. He (Mr. Childers) differed equally from the hon. Member for Preston, who condemned these investments, and his right hon. Friend, who would have them untaxed. The right hon. Gentleman had used very hard words about this law, both with respect to its principle and its administration, and had quoted rather copiously from a Paper referring to various Statutes on the subject. He would respectfully state that he was acquainted with the extracts from the Statutes to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred; but they had no bearing whatever on the law as it had been laid down during the whole of the present century. Since the Income Tax was introduced during the French War, the principle had always been that annual profits or gains coming to persons residing in the United Kingdom, and accruing from trade, whether the same should be carried on in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, were subject to the Income Tax. Two cases which had been decided in this century proved that this was the state of the law. Of these, one was settled in 1808, and was the case of a man living at Hemel Hempsted, in Hertfordshire; and the other, which related to a merchant in the town of Hull, was settled in 1810. In both these cases the contention was that the profits made out of the Kingdom, if they did not come into the Kingdom, were not, and should not be, subject to Income Tax. In both cases, also, the decisions of the authorities were to the effect that those profits were subject to Income Tax, and this had been the universal decision of the authorities ever since. All subsequent decisions had followed these decisions, as forming a distinct rule; and such a rule had been universally observed and acted upon ever since as the law. If persons making profits in business carried on abroad had not returned them, we might be sorry they had not observed the law; but the law was very plain, and, as a rule, such profits were returned, and the taxes were paid upon them. He wished to say a few words as to one contention of his right hon. Friend and his hon. Friend the Member for Carlow. They said that the question of expenditure ought to be considered in connection with the subject when one came to deal with the equity of the case; and they urged that money derived from investments abroad, and which was not brought into this country, did not represent any expenditure in this country, and therefore should not be subject to Income Tax. He would, however, remind the Committee that the Income Tax had not anything to do with expenditure. It was levied upon income, and not upon expenditure; and if they laid down such a rule as that which the right hon. Gentleman suggested, people who might have large incomes, but who spent very little, would claim exemption from a tax levied in such a way. The principle of the Income Tax was that a certain tax should be levied on income, and he was not now going to question whether that principle was good or bad. They had to deal with it as they found it; and if they introduced this element of expenditure they would land themselves in endless trouble. There was one other point to whether he would call the attention of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that it would be perfectly fair for a man trading abroad to pay Income Tax on the profits thus made if those profits were remitted to this country; but he had contended that if they were not so remitted, and were re-invested abroad, he should not pay Income Tax on them. Well, what would be the result of adopting a system of this kind? They would have, undoubtedly, one law for the rich and another for the poor. The merchant of small means, who brought home for his own benefit the profits he made abroad, would be subject to the payment of Income Tax on them; but the more wealthy merchant, who re-invested abroad, would escape Income Tax on such re-investments. Thus, the wealthy houses would escape a large amount of Income Tax; whereas the poorer houses would be compelled to pay the tax upon the whole amount of their profits. The plain and simple rule which now existed was the best—namely, that the Income Tax was payable on the profits made by persons who resided in this country, wherever those profits were made. If they once made any exception to this rule they landed themselves in inconsistency and difficulty; and he hoped the Committee would not approve of the principle of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Carlow.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had dealt with a case which was not touched by his Amendment at all—namely, the case of persons trading in England. His Amendment referred to persons residing in this country, and not trading at all. Again, the Amendment did not touch upon the question of expenditure. He admitted that the Income Tax was chargeable on income.
That is quite true; but I had to answer both the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hubbard), who did not follow the same line of argument.
said, the Amendment under discussion did not stand on the ground of levying the tax on expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to the case of a merchant trading in Hull in 1810, who was declared liable to be taxed on the income he made from trading in other countries. But that was not the kind of case he proposed to except from the payment of Income Tax. The case his Amendment referred to was that of persons not trading in this country, or doing any business in this country. The right hon. Gentleman had not really touched the point of the Amendment at all.
remarked, that one of the cases he had quoted had been that of a person carrying on business in Hull; but the other had been that of a person who was not carrying on business in this country.
said, he should be glad to know if the second case to which the right hon. Gentleman referred had been a ruling case; and if persons in a similar position had been charged with Income Tax from that day to this?
said, that when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer accused him of introducing a new element into the question, he begged to observe that he was making a concession to the Inland Revenue Commissioners, by placing under their grasp properties coming from abroad and ex- pended in this country. He would draw the attention of the Committee to an imaginary case. He would assume that there was a wine merchant here with large establishments in Oporto. He had a house in London and one in Portugal, and made £20,000 a-year by his business. Whether he spent all this or not, and whether he was an individual or the representative of a Company, he was bound to make a return of the whole of the £20,000 for taxation. But supposing the same individual had a share in a mine in Mexico, and was called on to return the profits of that mine, which had not brought a farthing into this country for years, he was under no obligation to do so. It was not at all a question of rich or poor, large or small houses. Every person established in business here, with a foreign trade, was bound to make a return of every farthing he made by that business at home and abroad; but in the case of a foreign business in which he had a share, or of a foreign property, and the profits of which were accruing abroad, in that case the Government had no right to demand a return, except for so much as might be received in this country. All the Amendment sought was to prevent the Government pursuing a course which would be equally futile and unjust.
observed, that the discussion had turned entirely on persons in trade; but he wished to hear from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in the case of a personal investment of a large sum in securities, he claimed a return for Income Tax of the income arising from the whole of those investments, or whether he contented himself with a charge on what came into the United Kingdom? The rule was that, as regarded interest arising from securities out of the United Kingdom, the duty was to be assessed on the amount which had been, or would be, received in the United Kingdom in the course of the year.
said, that if the profits came as trade profits into Schedule D they would be chargeable; but if they did not so come into that Schedule they would not be chargeable.
said, that in the case he had mentioned the profits did come within Schedule D.
said, it seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had endeavoured to lay down the law clearly and fairly; but, at the same time, he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Carlow (Mr. Macfarlane) had been thoroughly justified in bringing forward the question, and that the arguments were entirely in his favour. It was quite impossible, in practice, for the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) to carry the law as it stood into practical operation. He would illustrate what he said by citing one or two cases that might, and would probably, arise. Suppose an Australian had made a large sum of money in sheep farming, and came to London and took a house, did anyone think it would be fair to ask him to pay the full amount of Income Tax here on his whole property in Australia, in addition to Income Tax on the money sent to London to him? Take a German—the late Prince Batthyany, for instance—who had a large amount of property in Germany, or Austria, or Hungary. Suppose he had property in the funds, on which the dividends were paid in the country in which the funds existed, was it to be considered that he should pay Income Tax on the coupons in that foreign country and in this country as well? It was clear the contention of the right hon. Gentleman could not hold water, and that, in practice, the scheme he proposed must break down. If a person held a small amount of foreign bonds, he could very well have the coupons paid through an English banker and pay Income Tax on them; but where there was a large sum in question the law would be sure to be evaded, and the Income Tax would be sure not to be paid. Seeing how certain it was that the law would be evaded, he thought the right hon. Gentleman would do well to agree to the Amendment.
said, that, according to the doctrine of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Income Tax must be paid twice over. Let them take the case of a man domiciled in this country who derived the whole of his income from Italian funds, and had only part of the profits remitted to him in this country. According to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was hound to pay Income Tax not only on the amount he received here, and had protection for under English laws, but upon the whole of his profits. A member of an Italian Company domiciled in England would not only have to pay Income Tax on his profits in Italy, but, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the whole of those profits in England also. Take the case of an English subject domiciled in Italy, and the Italian Government demanding a second tax on the income he might derive from funds invested in England which already paid Income Tax in England. An attempt of that kind had been recently made in Italy, and our Foreign Office had intervened on behalf of the British subject domiciled in Italy, and had taken pains to point out to the Italian Government the extreme injustice of their demand. It was fair enough, said the British Government, to charge the British subject domiciled in their country on the whole of the income he derived under the protection of their laws; but it was a monstrous thing to attempt to make the British subject resident in their country pay Income Tax on funds which were not derived under the protection of their laws. No one saw the injustice of the demand more clearly than the British Government.
said, he was not aware of the case referred to by the hon. and learned Member. The simple principle on which they proceeded was that the whole trade income should be taxed. If they adopted any other they would have to inquire in each case whether, in fact, the Income Tax had been paid in the foreign country or not.
said, it did not seem to him that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had even yet answered the question. The question was this—if a man who had a certain amount of capital invested in foreign securities, and did not receive profits from those securities in this country, should he be liable to pay Income Tax? To his mind, the answer should be, clearly not. The profits received in the foreign country might be left in the hands of a partner and treated as capital, and in such a case it would be most unjust to tax them in England. Was there no difference between money invested in Foreign Loans and money invested in a business in a foreign country?
considered the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not given a sufficient answer to the question put to him by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst). The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think it was very material whether the Income Tax was paid on dividends or on the profits of a business carried on in a foreign country; but he (Mr. Biggar) did not look upon it as an important matter at all, for if a person did not pay Income Tax on the profits he received out of a business in a foreign country he would be sure to pay some other tax in regard to those profits. What was complained of was that they should be taxed twice over. It seemed to him very clear that profits made in a foreign country should not pay Income Tax, unless those profits were really brought into this country. If they were brought to England and spent here, no doubt they ought to be taxed.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 99; Noes 158: Majority 59.—(Div. List, No. 92.)
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Provisions of Income Tax Acts to apply to duties hereby granted) agreed to.
Clause 10 (Provisions as to duty on dividends, &c. paid prior to passing of this Act) agreed to.
Clause 11 (Assessment of income under Schedules (A.) and (B.) and of the inhabited house duties for the year 1883–4. 32 & 33 Vict. c. 67.)
said, he very much objected to the clause, which appeared to him to be at the root of the objection to the Bill. It introduced an entirely novel principle and practice into the way in which the Income Tax was collected and assessed.
I can assure the hon. Member this is the customary clause which is inserted in every Bill of this character. There is nothing novel in it.
said, he was very sorry if he had misunderstood the clause; but he wished to know what "assessors and surveyors" of the Income Tax were? He understood what the assessors were—they were officers appointed by the local authorities of the country; but, as he read the clause, the surveyors were officials appointed by the Government. If he had misread the clause, he could only say that he was sorry for having taken up the time of the Committee unnecessarily. If it was not intended to interfere with the present system there was no objection to the clause; but if the present system was to be altered the Committee had a right to call on the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state distinctly what the alterations were.
said, he was sorry to interrupt the hon. Member just now; but the object of his interruption had been to point out that this was the customary clause in the second and third year of the assessment. The first year was the local assessment; but during the second and third years there was nothing but formal work to be done, as provided for under the clause.
Am I to understand that there is to be no alteration in the present system?
In that case I will not go on with my objection.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 (Provisions of Income Tax Acts to apply to duties to be granted for succeeding year) agreed to.
Part Iii—Collection Of Income Tax
Clause 13 (Extension and construction of this part of Act. 43 & 44 Vict. c. 19.)
On this clause, as it is the first clause in Part III. of the Bill, the Committee will expect to hear from me some explanation of the change which it is proposed to make in the collection of the Income Tax under Schedules D and E. Under the present system in Scotland, in Ireland, and in about one-eighth of the towns of England, while the collection and assessment under Schedules A and B, and the assessment under Schedules D and E are made by the local officers, the collection under Schedules D and E are effected by the officers of the Inland Revenue. But in the other districts—in Ireland, Scotland, and about one-eighth of the English towns—the collections under Schedules D and E are effected by the officers appointed by the local Commissioners of Income Tax. We propose by this clause, as I have amended it, that as vacancies occur in those collectorships the collection shall be transferred to the officers of Inland Revenue, on the condition that the Treasury is satisfied in each case that the change will produce an economy. The Committee will observe that the provision is in Section 14. What is proposed is, that where it will be found advantageous to the Public Service, and an economy, that the collection under Schedules D and E should be transferred to officers of Inland Revenue; that transfer shall take place, not as against existing collectors, but on the voidance of office by them. I will state the reasons for the proposed change. The collection of Income Tax under Schedules D and E is a very delicate matter. The collection under Schedules A and B is similar to the receipt of rates. There is no secrecy as to the amount at which houses and property are assessed, and that collection may well go on in the hands to which it is now entrusted. But the Income Tax under Schedule D relates to the profits in trade. The system of employing locally-appointed collectors is open to the objection that by the process of collection a man gets to know the income of his neighbours. For these reasons the system of transfer from the local to the Imperial officer has been steadily going on. Whenever such a thing takes place as the failure of the local authorities to appoint an officer, or an officer's unwillingness to give security, from that day the collection of Income Tax under Schedule D is transferred to a responsible collector on salary, from an irresponsible official on poundage. Parliament has thus, in Scotland and Ireland altogether, and step by step in England, decided to transfer this collection from the irresponsible collector on poundage to a responsible collector on salary—that is, a public officer. In support of this view I may state that for three years the Associated Chambers of Commerce recommended us to make this change, and in each year I think unanimously; and in the last year not only was a recommendation arrived at by the Chambers of Commerce, who may be understood to represent in the main the trade of the country, but Mr. Sampson Lloyd, who used to sit in this House, and was then President of the Chamber, was requested to address a letter in August, 1876, on the subject to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which, in describing the objections to the present practice, he, on behalf of the whole of the Chambers of Commerce, used these words—
These words, I think, sum up very simply the objections which are felt by a very large proportion of traders to the continuance of the present system. But I have another reason which I think will have some weight with the Committee, and that is the extravagance of the present system, and the very decided economy which will result from the change. The present charge for the collection under Schedule D is £52,000; and, after very careful inquiry, we compute the charge under the system we propose, when the whole of England is brought under it, at £21,100; so that there will be in the end a saving of £30,900 a-year. I may take particular districts which we have carefully inquired into. I will take, for instance, the collection in London. The whole amount of poundage received at the present time by collectors in London is about £41,000 a-year. Of this amount, £26,000 is in connection with Schedules A and B, and therefore would not be affected by the change; but the poundage under Schedules D and E in London is £15,438. There is no doubt that the whole of the Tax could be collected through the Inland Revenue at a cost of £4,500, so that in London alone there would be a saving of nearly £11,000. I may say that I allow in that calculation for the possibility of having, in some cases, to increase the poundage on account of other Schedules. There have been two arguments set up as practical reasons why this change should not be made. The first is, that if we make it the collection of the Income Tax will be slower than it now is; and that in that way the Government would be the losers. We have carefully considered that argument, and I will give one or two facts as the result. I have taken the collection of last year. I find that in Birmingham, from which there has come a strong request on the part of certain persons that the collection should not be interfered with, the amount of tax under D and E collected before the end of March was 50 per cent, or one-half of the whole amount. In the same way, the amount collected in Southwark was 63 per cent; in Marylebone, 73 per cent; in Manchester, 64 per cent; but when we turn to the towns where the collection has been already transferred to the public officers we find a very different result. In Bristol the amount collected at the end of March, instead of being 50 and 60 per cent, is 96 per cent; in Bradford, 83 per cent; in Bolton, 91 per cent; and in Warrington, 92 per cent; and the fact is, that whereas, under the present system, the collection is extraordinarily unequal, and in many large towns extremely slow, where the collection has been transferred it is tolerably equal, and the collection is considerably more rapid. But there is one other argument which I have heard lately, and as to which I should like to give some facts to the Committee. It has been stated by hon. Gentlemen on the other side that the result of the present system is that, from the collectors knowing the habits and circumstances of those from whom they collect, they are able to apply to them at the right time; and that, therefore, the amount of bad debts is much less than it will be if the collection is transferred to Government officials. As to that, I have also made careful inquiry; and the result is that, so far from the amount of collection in respect to bad debts being larger under the old system than under the new system, the bad debts under the old system are about 2 per cent, whereas, under the new system, they are only about 1 per cent, so that on that point—which, when I first heard it, strongly impressed me—the result is exactly the opposite of that stated. The tax is more equably levied and better brought in under the new system than under the old; and from Liverpool downwards, where the new system is in force, I have not received a single complaint; whereas my box is full of complaints from taxpayers, under the old system, that their neighbours have not paid their tax, all of which points to the inexpediency of entrusting this collection to persons who are not responsible public officers; and the expediency of transferring it to those who are responsible to the Government. These are the main reasons why we propose the change. I hope the Committee will adopt this plan, which not only is proposed by me, but was proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1879; and that, this done, we shall, at any rate, carry out steadily and slowly the principle which has been adopted by Parliament during the last few years—namely, wherever the opportunity occurs, gradually transfer the collection under Schedule D to salaried officers of the Government. Clause 13 is merely formal; the actual clause is the 14th. Clause 13 says that the Bill shall only apply to England; but, as a matter of fact, the system we propose already applies to Scotland and Ireland; and, therefore, we can only apply it to England. I hope the proposal will receive the approval of the Committee."The system is, further, objectionable to the taxpayer, inasmuch as it reveals the amount of tax paid, and, consequently, of income enjoyed by him, to a neighbour who may possibly be his rival in trade."
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
said, he was most unwilling to stand in the way of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said would be a great public advantage; but he must ask for an assurance on one or two points before he could assent to this striking change, which really aimed at the alteration of what might be considered the Constitutional collection of the Income Tax, and which was a serious step in the direction of compulsory centralization. The Chancellor of the Exchequer based his plea for this alteration on three grounds—public demands, great economy, and celerity in the collection of taxes. He did not wish to stand in the way of progress; but he must represent to the Committee opinions which had reached him of such irresistible force that it would be a dereliction of duty not to place them before the Committee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that there was a strong popular feeling in favour of this alteration, which was expressed by a number of letters in his possession. But since it became a matter of public notoriety that he (Mr. Slagg) was taking an interest in this matter, he had received a vast number of letters, and amongst them those in favour of the change were infinitesimally small in number; while those expressing a strong desire to adhere to the present system were exceedingly numerous. Of course, the system of Petitions was received with more or less cynicism by the House; but he thought Petitions might be weighed as well as counted. There were over 100 Petitions from influential ratepayers praying that the present state of things might be continued; and with regard to a Petition he had presented from Manchester, if he were to collect all the names to which he attached the greatest weight on any matter he could hardly collect a more influential list than those on that Petition. The same might be said in regard to a Petition from the City of London. The names of the leading merchants and bankers and Chairmen of great public Companies had been appended to Petitions to the same effect. What would this alteration do? It provided for the dismissal of one set of officials in order to appoint another set to do precisely the same thing. He gratefully acknowledged the concession made by the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the continuance of the present collectors, although he was not specially concerned in their class grievances. It was said that this change was proposed on the ground of economy, and the right hon. Gentleman stated that this plan had worked well in Ireland; but he should like to call attention to the expense of its operation in Ireland. The receipts in that country for Property and Income Tax last year were £462,930, while the poundage paid to Government officers amounted to £10,500, or 2½ per cent. In England the net receipts were £8,653,364, while the poundage amounted to £122,500, or 1½ per cent. Of course, he would be told that the circumstances of Ireland were somewhat different, and that the cost was proportionately greater; yet this disparity was very remarkable. But this plan had been tried in Liverpool, and he had strong reason to believe that there was no great economy under the new system in Liverpool; and the right hon. Gentleman had not stated, and probably could not state, what the cost had been. But other experiments had been made, and although they were on a small scale they would serve for illustration. At Enfield the officers' salaries last year amounted to £1,010, whereas the poundage under the old system was only £223. At Tooting the poundage was £40, whereas the now collector's salary came to £145. The cost of collecting the taxes under the old system, it should be remembered, included offices, furniture, stationery, and all other charges. As to the inefficiency of the present collectors, he should like more proof. The evidence in his possession was entirely in favour of the present collectors, and he had not met with any objections on the ground of a want of reticence on the part of the collectors with regard to their neighbours, which seemed to create so great an impression on the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There was, indeed, strong evidence of general satisfaction with the present state of affairs; and he would refer, in support of that statement, to the Petition from the City of London. There were on that Petition some names which must appeal in great force to the Committee—for instance, Mr. Thomson Hankey, the Eight Hon. J. G. Hubbard, Sir Thomas Chambers, the Chairman of the London and St. Catherine's Dock Company, Alderman Waterlow, Mr. W. H. Heath, and many others of great influence. In that Petition they said they were perfectly satisfied with the present state of things, and they further complimented the collectors in their speedy collection of the tax. But his strongest objection to the change was that it was not being done in a thorough manner. He should have no objection to discussing a complete change; but here, instead of the whole of the Schedules being transferred to the Excise officers, they were split up in a manner which would cause great public inconvenience and annoyance. He had read a letter from a collector in Hulme, in his own constituency, where this experiment had been tried, and he stated that in nearly all cases the taxpayers under Schedules A & B also paid under Schedules D and E, so that the whole of the taxes could be collected with the greatest convenience by the same persons. As to complaints with regard to disclosures by collectors, what was to prevent the Excise officers also making disclosures? Instead of one person able to make disclosures there would, in future, be two, because the present collectors would still act as assessors; and he knew of nothing in regard to ordinary Excise officers which would serve as a safeguard for reticence. The Committee must bear in mind that it was now open to any community to alter the present system, and adopt the one which the right hon. Gentleman had proposed. Taxpayers might also select a number of methods of paying Income Tax which would avoid the possibility of disclosures to their neighbours; but very few availed themselves of these opportunities. He ventured to bring these facts before the Committee, because they had been brought under his notice by influential authorities, and because he thought they were entitled to the consideration of the Committee.
said, he was anxious to say a few words, because his name, and that of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, had been brought before the Committee in consequence of a clause having been introduced into the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill when he had the honour of being Secretary to the Treasury, under the late Government. When they introduced that clause they believed—as he had no doubt the present Chancellor of the Exchequer now believed—that there were a vast number of complaints throughout the country as to the present mode of collecting the Income Tax; and the facts the right hon. Gentleman had stated to-night as to the disclosures, and the delicate nature of the matter to be dealt with by the collectors, as reasons for an alteration of the system, were so pressed upon the late Government by the Inland Revenue authorities that a clause similar to that now proposed was introduced into the Bill. But what did they find? They found almost immediately the same storm as had arisen round the right hon. Gentleman now; and they were so satisfied by the evidence produced that the proposal would not be beneficial that they withdrew the clause, and substituted for it a clause giving the option which was now law. They introduced a clause making it optional for a locality to go to the Inland Revenue and place themselves in the hands of the Government collectors if they thought the existing mode of collection was objectionable. Since that time there had not been such a large number of people who had availed themselves of that option as to show that the grievance was of such force as to necessitate a reversion to what was at first proposed. He would remind the Committee that besides the option being in the Bill, every taxpayer had the option called to his mind every time the papers were sent out. He was asked under which head he would be taxed, and he had only to notify that he desired to be taxed by the Excise officers to be freed from all inconvenience, such as was suggested. As to the advantages of this scheme, the right hon. Gentleman stated, in the first place, that all objections would be got rid of; but he thought he had shown that the complaints had not been of such a character as to render the alteration necessary. In the next place, the right hon. Gentleman told them they were to have a saving effected by this proposal. Well, he (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) would not set up his knowledge against the power of acquiring knowledge which the right hon. Gentleman possessed in regard to such a subject; but the cases which had been submitted to him showed that in consequence of the change a larger amount would have to be paid for collection than was now paid to the local collectors. The hon. Member who last addressed the House (Mr. Slagg) had mentioned one or two cases—one, no doubt, dated some time back; but there were several others in which it appeared that the amount paid to the Inland Revenue collectors since the transfer took place was in excess of the amount paid to the local collectors. And they ought not to lose sight of this fact—which formed one of the most important features of the case—that if they handed over the collection of these taxes to the officers of the Inland Revenue, there would not be the same guarantee which existed at present that the feelings of the people would be respected as far as possible, and a knowledge of their circumstances considered in the manner in which it ought to be considered. A hard-and-fast line would have to be drawn, and the demands of the collectors would be made without any consideration for the feelings or the means of the people, all of which circumstances were taken into consideration by the local collectors, who knew the people's circumstances under the present system, and that was a fact which now made the Income Tax more popular than it otherwise would be. By the change of system now proposed, much would be done to increase the unpopularity of a tax which was certainly not very popular in this country. These were reasons which convinced the late Government, in 1879, that they made a mistake in proposing this very system, and which obliged them to withdraw the proposal, and substitute for it one which left it optional with the taxpayers themselves to say whether the tax should be collected by the Inland Revenue officials or by the local collectors. He believed that that would be found now, as the late Government found it in 1879, the better course to adopt; and he trusted that the Government would see their way not to insist on the proposal they had made. He felt convinced that if they did insist on it it would result in a great deal of harm to the collection of the tax; and not only would that be the case, but it would never realize the sanguine expectations of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to a saving in the collection.
said, his hon. Friend who had just sat down had reminded them of the fact that the late Government made a proposal of this kind which was afterwards withdrawn; and no doubt his hon. Friend, who was then Secretary to the Treasury, had given the correct reason for that withdrawal. Of course, it was impossible to make any change, however much ultimate benefit it might promise, without giving to the class who might be interfered with by the change a very strong motive to use whatever power they possessed in stimulating opposition to it, even though it might be a public improvement. No doubt, the opposition, as his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg) had said, came from all parts of the Kingdom. It came from those who, when they found that under this Bill they would suddenly be removed from Office, naturally felt very much aggrieved, and they could make their voices heard, and applied to all their friends and neighbours to assist them in preventing the carrying out of such proposals. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer had met his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester in a perfectly fair manner, and had recognized the feelings of that class whose mouthpiece the hon. Member for Manchester had been that night, because the right hon. Gentleman had now put the matter in this position—that no existing Income Tax collector would be displaced, and that only as vacancies occurred in the existing body of collectors would the collection be placed in the hands of the officials of the Government. This was a matter which would commend itself to the Committee, not only on the ground of economy, but also because it would, he was satisfied, bring about a great improvement in the efficiency of the collection of the tax. When hon. Gentlemen talked of centralization, he knew that centralization had been increasing, and he was as much opposed to it as any hon. Member could be; but it certainly did appear to him that the Government taxation ought to be collected by the Government officers, and that was a kind of centralization which he could not object to. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, the new method of collection had been tried in the borough which he (Mr. Rylands) did not now represent, but with which he was connected—the borough of Warrington. In that borough they had now had an experience of both systems; and the result was that the old system had proved to be a most unsatisfactory system, while, so far as he could learn, the new system, under which the tax was collected by the Excise officers, had given perfect satisfaction. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, the money was collected promptly under the new system; and, so far as could be ascertained, there were no complaints. He (Mr. Rylands) wished to remind the Committee that in all their towns they had these Excise officers, who were paid by the Government, and engaged in the duty of collecting the taxes; and they could certainly be charged with the duty of receiving the Income Tax without the necessity of adding very largely to the number of officers. In fact, in many cases, he had no doubt, there would be no necessity for the appointment of additional officers at all—those who received the assessed taxes now could easily receive the Income Tax as well. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer had offered a compromise, he (Mr. Rylands) hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Manchester would be satisfied, and that the result would he to effect a considerable economy in the Public Service.
said, he thought the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had furnished some arguments against the proposal of the Government, for if the question of economy ought to be chiefly considered, surely the present system ought to be adhered to. He (Mr. Smith) did not stand there as the advocate, in the least degree, of the interests of a class. He thought it most undesirable that Members of Parliament should at any time appear there to represent individuals or classes. His objection to the proposals of the Government was an objection founded upon principle; for he thought it most enexpedient, and most undesirable, that what seemed to him to be a fundamental alteration should be made in the law relating to the Income Tax, and that the functions of the Government should be unnecessarily extended. He had for some time watched the course of events with regard to the functions of Government, and he had come to the conclusion that they were discharged in a manner which was more costly and less efficient on the I whole than work done for the Government by private means, and by means independent of the Government, when that work could be accomplished without the aid of public servants. In saying that, he made no aspersion whatever upon the officers, or upon the Commissioners of the Inland Revenue. He believed his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been convinced by the arguments addressed to him that the change which was now proposed was for the public advantage; and, on the other hand, he had not the least doubt that the Commissioners of Inland Revenue, in urging this matter on the Government, were perfectly convinced that it would be accompanied by all the advantages which they so strongly urged; but it certainty was opposed to the principle on which the Income Tax was originally established. ["No, no!"] Well, he would quote some words which would, he thought, show that he was right. He maintained that the principle on which the Income Tax was originally established was this—that there should be Commissioners representing the people who should appoint their own clerk, their own assessors, and their own collectors; and that, on the other hand, the Crown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Com- missioners of Inland Revenue should have their surveyor and their inspector, to see that the Crown received no damage, and that the duties, as charged, were realized. That was the principle of the Act originally, and it remained the principle of the Act still. Now, what was it that was proposed by the change now before the Committee? It was proposed that one of the ancient safeguards which were thought to be necessary in raising the tax originally should be done away with. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had properly designated the tax as a very delicate tax, which required to be dealt with with very great care and consideration. It was proposed to withdraw one of the original safeguards; and, undoubtedly, the officers of the Inland Revenue, in the discharge of their duty, would show zeal and activity, and would press for the recovery and realization of the tax, probably at an earlier period in some cases than the ordinary collector would do, when acting under the directions of the Commissioners. He was not sure that that would be an advantage. The right hon. Gentleman had said that in the result there would be a considerable saving. He (Mr. Smith) had never heard any change proposed in the way of an extension of public duties which was not recommended as an economy. That was always the case; and the Inland Revenue, no doubt, believed that an economy would result from the adoption of the present proposal. But what was their experience at that moment? Why, that the cost of the collection of the Revenue was far greater now than it was only five, six, or seven years ago, when there were similar duties to collect. The charge for the collection of the Revenue by the Inland Revenue was greater now by some £100,000 or more than it was seven years ago, and the amount collected, £1,000,000 a-year less. That, he was sure, was a fact known to the right hon. Gentleman; and, if that was the case, they had better leave things as they were with those who were responsible for the collection of the Income Tax. If, as the right hon. Gentleman said was the case, there were people who complained bitterly of the present system, and who preferred to have the officer of the Excise, they could, under the law made in 1879, have him at once. The door was open for them. There was no difficulty whatever in their way. But he (Mr. Smith) did object—and he objected on principle to a change which he believed to be fraught with mischief, and which, he maintained, would endanger the tax itself. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer shook his head when he (Mr. Smith) said that the change was opposed in principle to the doctrine laid down by Sir Robert Peel. He (Mr. Smith) went into the Library that evening to look at the speech made by Sir Robert Peel in introducing the Income Tax in the year 1842, and he found that Sir Robert Peel used these words—
There was a sound principle of human nature embodied in the views thus expressed by Sir Robert Peel. That great statesman said it was necessary that the collection of the tax should be left to the people themselves; and he (Mr. Smith) believed it to be essential that the tax should be so collected, so long as the people were willing to collect it; and he, therefore, trusted that the Committee would accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg), and that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself would give way upon the subject, when the matter had been so strongly urged upon his attention. The right hon. Gentleman had said that a great advantage would be gained by getting rid of certain individuals—the neighbour, the tradesman in the same street, who became acquainted with the affairs of his fellow-tradesman, and was cognizant of the amount that he paid; but he (Mr. Smith) could see no provision in the Bill which would relieve that tradesman, that neighbour, in the same street, from the duty of making the assessment. He understood that the assessment was to remain with the officers appointed by the Commissioners; and they would, therefore, have the tradesman, the neighbour resident in the same street, making the assessment, while there would be the addition of a good many Excise officers to make the collection. That, he thought, was clear as the Bill now stood; and if it were intended that Excise officers, or other persons not appointed by the Commissioners, were to make the assessment, then new provisions of a very grave and serious character would have to be introduced into the Bill in order to effect that object, and he believed they would make the raising of this tax at all a very difficult and a very serious work."I hope that I shall he able to retain that provision, because the policy of the law hitherto has been with respect to the assessed taxes, and it was the principle with respect to the property tax, not to make the collection depend upon the will of the Government, because it was thought more consistent with Constitutional Law to entrust the amount to local parties, and that those who may have the confidence of their neighbours shall be employed for this purpose."—(3 Hansard,  912.)
said, he did not desire to trouble the Committee at any length; but, as an Income Tax Commissioner in the City of London for 10 years, he felt bound to say a few words. He could say, without hesitation, that there would be no economy in the change now proposed; and he was sure that any prediction to the contrary would not be fulfilled. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer should, in addition to giving them his own opinion—which they were all bound to listen to with the greatest respect—have favoured them with some substantial statistics showing that where the change had been in operation there had been a considerable saving of expenditure. What was the principle followed in the present law of collection? The collectors now received 1½d. in the pound, or 1–160th per cent, on the amount collected; and what he wished to ask was, whether it was not the fact that in numerous districts where the tax was not collected by collectors appointed by the Commissioners the Government were paying 6d., 8d., 10d., and even 1s. in the pound? But the whole thing, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ought to depend upon the celerity with which the tax could be collected. Well, the right hon. Gentleman had taken the most favourable case he could—because if he did not take the most favourable case he was not doing justice to himself or to his own proposal—and what was the result? The right hon. Gentleman quoted the case of Warrington, where, he stated, 92 per cent of the tax was collected before the end of March—that was to say, that of the duties due in January 92 per cent was collected before the end of March. But he (Sir Sydney Waterlow) would ask the right hon. Gentleman to take the case of London, where the largest collection had to be made under great difficulties, and where they had had to ascertain the profits on all kinds of trades and all sorts of processes of manufacture. In that great City, up to the 31st of March in the present year, 86 per cent was collected, amounting to £933,421; and the whole of the collection closed a very short time afterwards. It was now proposed to appoint as collectors a number of persons who had no knowledge of the taxpayers, and no knowledge of the circumstances under which they were able to pay the tax in the easiest manner; and these men were to be appointed in the place of persons who had had long experience. It was said—"We do not propose to make the change until vacancies occur in the existing body of collectors; and when that happens you yourselves would have to appoint new men." But who were the new men appointed to fill vacancies under the present system? Why, they were men who had had experience in the collection of local taxes, who knew the taxpayers familiarly, and the taxpayers were more than satisfied with the manner in which the collection was conducted. His hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Slagg) had referred to one Petition; he (Sir Sydney Waterlow) would refer to another. It was a Petition presented in favour of the present system, and it was signed by C. J. Morgan and Co., Frühling, Goschen and Co., and a number of firms of that character holding the very highest standing before that House and the country. He would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give the Committee the relative cost of collecting the Income Tax in Liverpool under the old system and under the new. That would be a fair comparison. Liverpool was a large town—not so large as London; but large enough to afford a fair test in comparing the two systems. He would venture to put this to the House—was it likely that where two persons were to be employed in future instead of one it could be done for less money than was paid now? Was it likely that, under such circumstances, a cost which now amounted to £52,000 a-year would be reduced to £21,000, and that £30,000 a-year would be saved? He would ask those hon. Gentlemen who had any business experience to remember this—that it was proposed to give up paying for piece work, and to pay for day work instead. Did anybody ever know a man to earn as much when on day work as when on piece work? No. The work was to be done by the ordinary officers of the Excise, and he understood that about 500 of these officers were to take the places of the several thousands now employed by the Commissioners. Those who were now employed gave six weeks of their time at the beginning of the year to the collection of the tax, and they went to other employments afterwards; but what would have to be done with the extra number of Excise officers who would have to be employed under the new system? They could not be employed for anything else; there would be no need for thorn; but they would have to be paid all the year through, and that would increase the cost to a very much larger sum of money than it amounted to now. He asked the Committee to hesitate before making a change which was a breach of the original condition under which the Income Tax was originally imposed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. Smith) had quoted the words of Sir Robert Peel in putting forward the conditions arranged for the imposition of the tax; and one of those conditions was that the tax was to be collected by people who were known to the taxpayers, and who could collect it with the least amount of irritation, and with the least amount of disclosure of the private affairs of those who had to pay the tax. But what was now proposed was to double the extent of the disclosure, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not propose to take away the duties of the present assessors; and, therefore, there would be one class of men to assess, and another class of men going round afterwards to collect the tax, and this other class must learn all that the assessors knew. He would ask whether the man who made the assessment, and who knew all the circumstances under which it was made, could not collect it better, and be in a more favourable position to answer questions which the taxpayer might wish to put, than a man who knew nothing whatever about the business? It should be remembered that a large number of people made no Returns at all, and the assessor went on putting up the amount until they did make Re- turns. When the collector was the assessor, he knew all about it; but what was the collector to do under the new system? He could only act on the principle—"Your money or your life! I know nothing whatever about it; but pay this money, or I will put in a bailiff!" The new collector, it must be remembered, would have no experience at all to go upon. The present Government ought to do what they could to lessen the irritation of the tax, for it was a tax which had always been unpopular, and they should not take a course which would only increase its unpopularity.
said, in his opinion the concession made by the Government in this matter was a proof that they were aware that the collection of the Income Tax was an affair of confidence. The question was, whether the taxpayer would have more confidence in the local collector whom he knew, than in the Government collector who was a stranger to him? He (Mr. Newdegate) had been in communication with the Mayor of Birmingham, and on this subject Birmingham needed an independent Representative, owing to the close connection of her Members with the Government. He represented Birmingham, and those whom he represented preferred local collectors. He did not believe that the concession made by the Government would, in the least degree, remove the objection to the change proposed, which existed amongst the taxpayers. He was assured by the best authorities on the subject that the traders of Birmingham much preferred the present system of collecting the Income Tax to that proposed by the Government, by means of a system of central police.
said, he should be extremely sorry to disturb the existing arrangements with regard to the Income Tax Commissioners; but the matter was quite different as to the persons who actually received the money. Those persons, although they were called assessors, were not so in reality, because, as was well known, the assessment, in the true sense of the word, was made by the Commissioners. He was able to say that a considerable economy had resulted from the changes that had been already effected. The entire expense of the arrangement, at the highest calculation, was put down at £20,000, although he did not believe it would amount to as much as that. At any rate, there would be a distinct saving of the cost of collection to the extent of £30,000 a-year.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 161; Noes 168: Majority 7.
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Edwards, H.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Egerton, Adm. hon. F.|
|Amory, Sir J. H.||Farquharson, Dr. R.|
|Anderson, G.||Fitzmaurice, Lord E.|
|Armitage, B.||Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.|
|Arnold, A.||Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Flower, C.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Fort, R.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Fowler, H. H.|
|Barran, J.||Fowler, W.|
|Biddell, W.||Gabbett, D. F.|
|Biddulph, M.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Borlase, W. C.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Brand, H. R.||Grafton, F. W.|
|Brassey, Sir T.||Grant, A.|
|Briggs, W. E.||Grey, A. H. G.|
|Brinton, J.||Gurdon, R. T.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Hamilton, J. G. C.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Hayter, Sir A. D.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Henderson, F.|
|Buszard, M. C.||Heneage, E.|
|Buxton, F. W.||Herschell, Sir F.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Campbell, R. E. F.||Holden, I.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, H.||Hollond, J. R.|
|Carington, hon. R.||Hopwood, C. H.|
|Causton, R. K.||Howard, E. S.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Howard, G. J.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Howard, J.|
|Cheetham, J. F.||Inderwick, E. A.|
|Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.||James, Sir H.|
|Clarke, J. C.||James, C.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Jenkins, D. J.|
|Cohen, A.||Jerningham, H. E. H.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Kingscote, Col. R. N. F.|
|Cotes, C. C.||Lea, T.|
|Courtney, L. H.||Leake, R.|
|Creyke, R.||Leatham, W. H.|
|Cropper, J.||Leeman, J. J.|
|Cross, J. K.||Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.|
|Crum, A.||Lloyd, M.|
|Currie, Sir D.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Davey, H.||M'Clure, Sir T.|
|Davies, R.||M'Intyre, Æneas J.|
|Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W.||Mackie, R. B.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||M'Laren, C. B. B.|
|Dodds, J.||Mappin, F. T.|
|Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.||Marjoribanks, E.|
|Duckham, T.||Martin, R. B.|
|Duff, R. W.||Maskelyne, M. H. Story-|
|Dundas, hon. J. C.||Maxwell-Heron, Capt. J.|
|Mellor, J. W.||Smith, S.|
|Monk, C. J.||Stanley, hon. E. L.|
|Moore, A.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Moreton, Lord||Tavistock, Marquess of|
|Morgan, rt. hn. G. O.||Thomasson, J. P.|
|Nicholson, W.||Thompson, T. C.|
|Noel, E.||Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-|
|Paget, T. T.||Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.|
|Parker, C. S.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Pease, A.||Walter, J.|
|Peel, A. W.||Waugh, E.|
|Pennington, F.||Whitbread, S.|
|Powell, W. R. H.||Whitworth, B.|
|Power, J. O'C.||Wiggin, H.|
|Reed, Sir E. J.||Williams, S. C. E.|
|Reid, R. T.||Williamson, S.|
|Richardson, J. N.||Willis, W.|
|Richardson, T.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Robertson, H.||Wilson, I.|
|Rogers, J. E. T.||Woodall, W.|
|Rylands, P.||Woolf, S.|
|St. Aubyn, Sir J.||TELLERS.|
|Shaw, T.||Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.|
|Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Smith, E.||Kensington, right hon. Lord|
|Smith, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Alexander, Colonel C.||Elcho, Lord|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Elliot, G. W.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Ennis, Sir J.|
|Aylmer, J. E. F.||Fellowes, W. H.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Balfour, A. J.||Floyer, J.|
|Barne, Col. F. St. J. N.||Foster, W. H.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Fremantle, hon. T. F.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||French-Brewster, R. A. B.|
|Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Garnier, J. C.|
|Bective, Earl of||Gibson, rt. hon. E.|
|Bellingham, A. H.||Giles, A.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Goldney, Sir G.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Gore-Langton, W. S.|
|Bourke, rt. hon. R.||Gorst, J. E.|
|Brise, Colonel R.||Grant, D.|
|Brogden, A.||Grantham, W.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.||Greene, E.|
|Bulwer, J. R.||Greer, T.|
|Callan, P.||Gregory, G. B.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Chambers, Sir T.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.|
|Christie, W. L.||Hamilton, I. T.|
|Clarke, E.||Harrington, T.|
|Cole, Viscount||Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.|
|Coope, O. E.|
|Cotton, W. J. R.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Crichton, Viscount||Hicks, E.|
|Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.||Hill, Lord A. W.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Hill, A. S.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Holland, Sir H. T.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.|
|Dawnay, Col. hn. L. P.||Hope, rt. hn. A. J. B. B.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Hubbard, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Digby, Col. hon. E.||Kennard, Col. E. H.|
|Dixon-Hartland, F. D.||Kennard, C. J.|
|Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.||Kenny, M. J.|
|Ecroyd, W. F.||King-Harman, Colonel E. R.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Rankin, J.|
|Lawrence, Sir T.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Leighton, Sir B.||Ritchie, C. T.|
|Leighton, S.||Rolls, J. A.|
|Lennox, rt. hon. Lord H. G. C. G.||Ross, A. H.|
|Ross, C. C.|
|Lever, J. O.||Round, J.|
|Levett, T. J.||St. Aubyn, W. M.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Salt, T.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Lowther, rt. hon. J.||Scott, Lord H.|
|M'Arthur, Sir W.||Scott, M. D.|
|M'Carthy, J.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.|
|Mac Iver, D.||Severne, J. E.|
|Macliver, P. S.||Sexton, T.|
|Makins, Colonel W. T.||Sheil, E.|
|March, Earl of||Slagg, J.|
|Marriott, W. T.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Master, T. W. C.||Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Mayne, T.||Sykes, C.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Molloy, B. C.||Thornhill, T.|
|Monckton, F.||Tollemache, hn. W. F.|
|Moss, R.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Murray, C. J.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Newport, Viscount||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Nicholson, W. N.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.||Warburton, P. E.|
|Warton, C. N.|
|Northcote, H. S.||Whitley, E.|
|O'Brien, W.||Williams, Gen. O.|
|O'Connor, A.||Wills, W. H.|
|O'Connor, T. P.||Wilmot, Sir H.|
|O'Kelly, J.||Winn, R.|
|Onslow, D. R.||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Pell, A.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Pemberton, E. L.||Wroughton, P.|
|Percy, Lord A.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Price, Captain G. E.||TELLERS.|
|Pugh, L. P.||Fowler, R. N.|
|Puleston, J. H.||Waterlow, Sir S. H.|
said, he should not proceed with Clauses 14 and 15.
Clauses 14 and 15 negatived.
Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
Parliament—Business Of The House—South Africa—The Transvaal—Policy Of Her Majesty's Government
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If he could hold out some hope that he would be able to afford a day for the conclusion of the debate upon the affairs of the Transvaal? He had understood the right hon. Gentleman to say, on a former occasion, that he did not consider that the Amendment of which he had originally given Notice was one for the discussion of which he could set apart a day, because it raised a new issue. He had, therefore, sacrificed his own wishes in this matter, and had endeavoured to frame an Amendment which raised the same issue as that which had been already discussed. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to say whether it was not possible to give a day for the resumption of the discussion, either on the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), or his own Resolution, or on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman himself; or whether, in any form whatever, he would enable the House to pronounce judgment on the question?
said, he had already pointed out that if any arrangement could be arrived at which would simplify the issue before the House he would do his best to give a Government day for the discussion; but the state of the case was that there were a variety of Motions and Amendments on the Paper raising questions so complicated that, instead of progress being made on the last occasion, when a whole Morning Sitting was devoted to the subject, they had actually receded. He had then said that if arrangements could be made for simplifying the issue and taking the debate on the question in relation to the Transvaal, which the right hon. Gentleman was desirous to bring under the consideration of the House, he would then do his best to secure a Government day for its discussion, but that there was no chance of that in the then state of the Notice Paper. He had no desire to press the Amendment of which he had given Notice. He was perfectly willing to consent either to an immediate decision being taken on the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), and a subsequent discussion upon the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman, or the entire withdrawal of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member, and the adoption of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman as a substantive Motion. That he was perfectly willing to do; but as long as the Motions and Amendments were complicated one with another, as they were then, it was impossible for him to relieve Gentlemen themselves and their Motions from the state of entanglement into which they had fallen.
Parliament—Business Of The House—East India (Expenditure)
said, it would be in Mr. Speaker's recollection that last Tuesday they had a discussion on this Motion. In the "Votes and Proceedings" of the House he saw—
And subsequently—"Motion made, and Question proposed, 'That, in the opinion of this House, it is necessary that early steps be taken to reduce the expenditure of India.'"
"Amendment proposed, 'To leave out all the words after the word 'House' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'every effort should be made to effect economy in the Government of India,'—instead thereof.
He wished to call attention to the fact that when Mr. Speaker left the Chair the Question before the House was, "That those words be there inserted." The Main Question was, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question;" and it was stated in the "Votes and Proceedings" of Wednesday, the 9th of May, 1883, that "Question put, and agreed to." He thought he was right in saying that this referred to the Main Question—that of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope)—which was put from the Chair. He wished to ask Mr. Speaker whether what was done on the occasion referred to was correctly stated in the Votes of the House. He believed he was within the recollection of many hon. Gentlemen present who would agree with him when he said that the Motion of his hon. Friend was carried; and that after the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State was negatived, he (Mr. Onslow) rose to ask whether he could not move his Amendment as an addendum. According to his recollection, and that of other hon. Members, the "Votes" were not consistent with what had taken place. Finally, he asked whether his Amendment stood as a substantive one; because, if not, any hon. Gentleman might move an Amendment, just as the Under Secretary of State for India had done, at any word of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire."Question proposed, 'That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.'"
said, that, according to his recollection of the circumstances, the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire was put from the Chair after the Amendment of the Under Secretary of State for India had been negatived. The Speaker hung on the point whether the "Ayes" or the "Noes" had it, and the "Noes" did not in any way challenge the "Ayes;" and, after waiting for a second or two, the Speaker declared that the "Ayes" had it, and sat down. Thereupon the hon. Member for Guildford rose to Order, and asked whether he could move his Amendment. The Speaker at first said that the hon. Member was too late to move his Amendment, and the hon. Member then explained that his Motion was not an Amendment, but an addition. As he recollected the matter, the Resolution of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire was carried; and he certainly understood that that remained on the Books of the House as the Resolution of the House.
said, he was present on the occasion, and his recollection of the circumstances agreed with that of his right hon. Friend. He was astonished to see how totally different the record on the Books was from the facts.
The hon. Member for Guildford and the right hon. Gentlemen who have addressed the House appear to me to lie under a mistake in supposing that the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire was fully carried. The only point fully carried was—"That the words proposed to be left out of the Motion stand part of the Question." If the Main Question had been put to the House as a whole, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Guildford would have been perfectly inadmissible, because, the whole matter being then before the House, no Amendment could be put.
asked, as a point of Order, whether, after that ruling, it was competent for any Member to move an Amendment to the Original Motion as it now stood?
The Amendment of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire is now before the House, and until that is disposed of no other Amendment can be put.
Spain—Expulsion Of Certain Cuban Refugees From Gibraltar
stated that as he could not bring on the Motion of which he had given Notice on this subject at that time, he would avail himself of the offer of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and raise the question on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House at 2 o'clock tomorrow.
Agricultural Holdings (England) Bill
Motion For Leave
, in moving for leave to bring in a Bill for amending the Law relating to Agricultural Holdings in England, said: At this late period of the night I shall endeavour to compress what I have to say in asking leave to introduce this Bill into the shortest possible space. The Bill will provide that a tenant who has made on his holding any of the improvements enumerated in the Schedule of the Bill shall be entitled, after the commencement of this Act, on quitting his holding, at the termination of his tenancy, to obtain from the landlord, under this Act, compensation for such improvements. The measure of such compensation is to be the value of the improvement to the incoming tenant. That is laid down as the general principle and basis for compensation. It is not limited by any rule as to number of years, or the amount of the tenant's outlay, or by any of the other conditions attaching a limited measure of value under the Agricultural Holdings Act. We thought the measure of value, taking value simply, would be the most just and equitable measure of compensation as a general rule, because the value of similar improvements differs widely in different parts of the country, and according to the circumstances in which they are made. Value, measured by years, constitutes a Procrustean rule. Value, measured by the amount of the tenant's outlay, we do not take; we think the simple value is a more equitable basis, and for this reason. Supposing a tenant has laid out money unwisely, or even unfortunately, he ought not to be ex- pect to be compensated for that. On the other hand, if he has laid out money wisely and successfully, he is fairly entitled to the value of the improvement to the in-coming tenant. This compensation by the value of the improvement to the in-coming tenant is termed in the Bill—"Compensation under the Act." The machinery for ascertaining the value is that of the Agricultural Holdings Act, for which purpose we preserve the Procedure Clauses of that Act. The improvements to which the Bill applies are enumerated in the Schedule. I will first speak of permanent improvements, executed after the commencement of the Act, which will be the 1st of January, 1884. The permanent improvements are these—(1) The erection or enlargement of buildings; (2) the laying down of permanent pasture; (3) making and planting of osier beds; (4) making of water meadows or works of irrigation; (5) making of gardens; (6) making or improving of roads or bridges; (7) making or improving of water courses, ponds, wells, reservoirs, or of works for supply of water for agricultural or domestic purposes; (8) making of fences; (9) planting of hops; (10) planting of orchards; (11) reclaiming of wasteland; (12) warping of land. In order to entitle the tenant to compensation under the Act the consent of the landlord must have been obtained for these improvements. That consent may be given unconditionally, or upon such terms as to compensation or otherwise as may be agreed upon between the landlord and tenant; and in the event of an agreement between the landlord and the tenant, any compensation there under shall be deemed to be substituted for compensation under the Act. Now I speak of another set of improvements, those that may be called temporary improvements. These are boning of land with undissolved bones; chalking of land; clay burning; claying of land; liming of land; marling of land; application to land of purchased artificial or other purchased manure; consumption on the holding by cattle, sheep, or pigs, of cake or other feeding stuff not produced on the holding. The tenant will be entitled to execute these improvements and claim compensation for them without being called upon to obtain the consent of, or to give notice to, the landlord. But under any new contract of tenancy beginning after the commencement of the Act, where any particular agreement in writing secures to the tenant for any of these temporary improvements which I have enumerated, executed after the commencement of the Act, fair and reasonable compensation, such compensation shall be deemed to be substituted for compensation under the Act. There remains another very important improvement which, perhaps, the House will observe is not included in the category of permanent or temporary improvements, and that is drainage. Drainage is an improvement of a durable character, of a very important character to both parties, a very general one, and one which it is desirable to promote. We make a special provision for that in the Bill. The tenant may execute drainage; but he is not entitled to compensation under the Act unless he gives notice to the landlord before, and the landlord on receiving notice has an option. He may either drain the land himself, and charge not more than 5 per cent to the tenant, or he may agree with the tenant on the terms upon which the drainage shall be executed. They may enter into any arrangement as to the terms upon which the work shall be done—as, for instance, dividing the expense, the landlord to find the pipes and the tenant the labour, or otherwise. But if the landlord will neither drain the land himself nor agree upon terms with the tenant for the drainage, then the tenant will be entitled to do it himself and claim compensation under the Act. Thus far I have spoken of improvements to be executed after the commencement of the Act. Now I will say a few words as to improvements executed before the commencement of the Act, and as to existing contracts of tenancy. The Bill applies to existing contracts of tenancy, but with a Proviso as to temporary improvements. Where an agreement in writing, or the custom of the country, or the Agricultural Holdings Act, 1875, provides specific compensation for any such improvement, compensation shall be paid as so provided, and not under the Act. Where no compensation is thus provided for, the tenant will be entitled to claim compensation under the Act. The enactment of the Bill as to compensation for permanent improvements and to drainage applies also to existing con- tracts; but in this case it applies only to improvements executed after the commencement of the Act. The requirements of the Act as to the consent of, and notice to, the landlord cannot, it is evident, apply to improvements executed before the Act. The landlord is to be entitled to obtain a charge upon the estate either for compensation under the Act or for compensation substituted under any agreement authorized by the Act. There is a provision that when the owner of an estate is not the absolute owner the charge shall not be spread over an unduly long period of time. I have already stated that the Act is to come into operation on January 1, 1884. Now as to new tenancies. A year to year tenancy, current at the commencement of the Act, is to run on till the first day after the commencement of the Act on which either the landlord or tenant might by notice to the other have brought it to an end, and from that date it shall be deemed to be a now tenancy. The section as to notice to quit will substitute a year's notice for six months in all cases where six months is now only required, but with this Proviso—unless, the landlord and tenant agree in writing that they wish to retain the six months. This Proviso has been inserted mainly because we believe that many tenants like to be at liberty to quit at short notice. There is a provision that every agreement, covenant, or contract which deprives the tenant of compensation under the Act, except arrangement providing substituted compensation as authorized by the Act, is void in law and in equity. Therefore, the Bill is compulsory to this extent—that the tenant will always be entitled to receive compensation under the Act, except where he agrees to take substituted compensation or what he prefers or considers equivalent, in some other form. There is only one other part of the Bill to which I will refer, and that very briefly. That is the part dealing with the Law of Distress. The Bill substantially adopts the recommendations of the Committee presided over by the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen). I may say here that the framers of the Bill are very much indebted to the hon. Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland), and that we have taken considerable liberties with his Bill. The Bill, I say, carries out substantially the recommendations of the Committee over which the right hon. Member for Ripon presided—that is to say, distress is to be limited to one year's rent. Agisted stock and hired machinery are protected in the manner recommended by the Committee; and the Bill goes on to alleviate distress in certain minor ways—that is to say, with regard to the statutory table of costs under the Act of 57 Geo. III., the limit of £20 in which is to be raised and taken to be £50. The time for redeeming things distrained is extended from five days to 15, and appraisements may be dispensed with. I hope that in trying to be brief I have not been unintelligible to the House. It was my intention to avoid entering into any controversial or argumentative matter, and I only wished, so far as I could, to put the House in possession of our proposals.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That leave tie given to bring in a Bill for amending the Law relating to Agricultural Holdings in England."—(Mr. Dodson.)
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. DODSON, Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE, and Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL.
Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill
Leave First Reading
Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That leave be given to bring in a Bill for amending the Law relating to Agricultural Holdings in Scotland."—(The lord Advocate.)
asked whether the proposed Bill dealt with the Law of Hypothec in Scotland, and whether its provisions were at all similar to those of the English Bill?
said, he had spent a good many years in bringing this question to the front, and he was very deeply disappointed with the statement which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman upon the English Bill, and—
The Question before the House is that leave be given to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate to bring in a Bill for amending the Law relating to Agricultural Holdings in Scotland.
At this late hour of the evening I do not propose to go into any de- tailed explanation of the Bill which I now ask leave to bring in. The object of the measure is to apply to Scotland the principles of the measure relating to compensation for tenants' improvements which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has just now explained. It is essentially the application to Scotland of the principles of that Bill. As we have not had an Agricultural Holdings Act for Scotland similar to the English Act of 1875, there has been a necessity to expand some of the provisions of the Bill in that respect, inasmuch as we require to state the machinery by which we propose to work out the provisions of the Bill if it becomes law. In regard to those other questions which my hon. Friend the Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay) has indicated, I must point out to him that those Amendments which are proposed to be introduced into the Law of Distraint by the English Bill do not in that matter place the agricultural tenant in England in as favourable a position as that of the Scotch tenant under the existing law in Scotland. Under these circumstances, I do not know that my hon. Friend expects that we should deal with the matter to which he refers—namely, the question of Hypothec, which has been so recently under the cognizance of Parliament as 1880, there having been in that year a Bill which substantially abolished the Law of Hypothec, except in regard to existing leases. No doubt there were certain provisions contained in that Bill of a compensatory nature; but, undoubtedly, the Law of Hypothec was abolished so lately as 1880; and, therefore, in the two countries the matter is in no way in the same position. We are very much in advance of what is proposed to be introduced in England by the English Bill. I think I may sufficiently explain the nature of the Scotch Bill by saying that it is substantially the application to Scotland of the principles of the Bill explained by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Motion agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by The LORD ADVOCATE and Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for SCOTLAND.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 190.]
asked when the Bill would be in the hands of Members?
said, he hoped both the Scotch Bills would be in the hands of Members on Saturday morning. There might be a few copies in the Vote Office tomorrow.
Harbours Of Refuge
Nomination Of Select Committee
Ordered, That the Select Committee on Harbours of Refuge do consist of Twenty-three Members:—Mr. MARJORIBANKS, Mr. STEVENSON, Sir THOMAS BRASSEY, Viscount BARING, Mr. ARTHUR ARNOLD, Sir DONALD CURRIE, Mr. HANBURY-TRACY, Mr. HASTINGS, Mr. HENEAGE, Sir GEORGE BALFOUR, Colonel NOLAN, Mr. BLAKE, Mr. CHARLES ROSS, Mr. SALT, Sir EARDLEY WILMOT, Sir EDWARD WATKIN, Colonel WALROND, Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS, Lord ARTHUR HILL, Sir CHARLES MILLS, Colonel MILNE HOME, Lord RENDLESIIAM, and Mr. GUY DAWNAY were nominated Members of the Committee, with power to send for persons, papers, and records.
Ordered, That Five be the quorum.
said, the nominators of the Committee had, somehow or other, overlooked the Representatives of the Irish maritime districts affected by the scope of the Committee. Looking to the nature of the Irish coasts and their extent, and to the important Irish interests involved, he could not but think that at least another Irish Member ought to be added. If it was possible he would have great pleasure in proposing that Mr. Leamy, the hon. Member for the City of Waterford, should be added to the Committee.
said, the House had already agreed to the Motion that the Committee should consist of 23 Members, and therefore it would be necessary for the hon. Gentleman to give Notice of any addition he might think wise. In the meantime, he might point out that there were already three Irish Members who had been appointed on the Committee, and that was the usual proportion of Irish Members on Committees of this kind; in fact, he believed it was rather above the usual proportion.
The hon. Gentleman cannot move the addition of a name without Notice.
Agricultural Holdings (England) Bill
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 186.]
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read a second time upon Monday 28th May."
said, he did not want to be too severe upon a Bill which he had not had an opportunity of reading; but judging from the outline of the measure as sketched by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy—
A discussion on this Motion would be quite irregular.
begged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
It is not competent for the hon. Gentleman to make that Motion. The Question is that the second reading be taken on Monday the 28th of May. The hon. Member must give Notice.
begged to give Notice that he would move, when the second reading was proposed to be taken, that it should be taken that day six months.
Motion agreed to.
Poor Law Conferences Bill
On Motion of Mr. PELL, Bill to provide for expenses incurred by Guardians of the Poor in relation to Poor Law Conferences, ordered to be brought in by Mr. PELL, Mr. STANSFELD, Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL, and Mr. HOLLOND.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 187.]
On Motion of Mr. COURTNEY, Bill for preventing the Sale of Medals resembling Current Coin, ordered to be brought in by Mr. COURTNEY, Secretary Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, and Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 188.]
Burgh Police And Health (Scotland) Bill
On Motion of The LORD ADVOCATE, Bill for regulating the Police and administration of towns and populous places in Scotland, and for lighting, cleansing, paving, draining, supplying water to, and improving the same; and also for promoting the public health thereof, ordered to be brought in by The LORD ADVOCATE and Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for SCOTLAND.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 191.]
Land Improvement And Arterial Drainage (Ireland) Bill
On Motion of Mr. COURTNEY, Bill to consolidate and amend the Acts for facilitating the improvements of landed property, and for the drainage and improvement of lands in Ireland, ordered to he brought in by Mr. COURTNEY and Mr. HERBERT GLADSTONE.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 189.]
Parochial Charities (London) Salaries And Expenses
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Resolved, That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament in the first instance, of the Salaries of Commissioners and Officers who may be appointed, and of Expenses incurred, under the provisions of any Act of the present Session to provide for the better application and management of the Parochial Charities of the City of London.
Resolution to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock.