Supply—Civil Service Estimates
SUPPLY— considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Class Ii—Salaries And Expenses Of Civil Departments
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £15,432, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments."
said, he wished to ask the Prime Minister a question with regard to this Vote. His object was to ascertain whether sonic means could not be devised to bring the whole Department of Woods and Forests under the cognizance of that House? Prior to the year 1862 the Department was attached to the Office of the Commissioners of Works, the First Commissioner of Works being the Commissioner of Woods and Forests. He pointed out that the present administration of the Office seemed to be in an anomalous condition, because the officers attached to it were paid out of the Public Revenue; whereas it was well known that the Department had a large revenue of its own which was entirely unaccounted for to Parliament. While this charge was going on year after year there was absolutely no control whatever over the administration of the Department, which was in no way represented in that House; and the First Commissioner of Works, having been divorced from it for the last 30 years, there was, practically, no means of getting any information as to its working. He had had considerable reason to know the difficulties resulting from the present arrangement in the case of the New Forest; and his contention was, that if Parliament was called upon to pay for the administration of a Department, which had large revenues of its own, the House of Commons ought to have some voice in that administration. He hoped the Government would give their attention to this matter during the Recess; and in that expectation he should not, on the present occasion, make any Motion for the reduction of the Vote.
said, he was not then in a position to reply on the question raised by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, but would take the opinion of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject.
said, he was anxious to address a few words to the Committee on the subject of this Vote, and to ask Her Majesty's Government to consider, during the Recess, the question of establishing a School of Forestry in this country, and the utilizing of the National Forests for the purpose of forest education. So much, indeed, had forestry been neglected that in Scotland the word suggested deer, but no trees; while the idea in England was generally associated with an excellent provident Institution. Of course, the Crown Forests formed but a small part of the subject. There were altogether, in round numbers, 2,500,000 acres of woods and plantations in the country, so that the subject was one of vast importance. Moreover, it was calculated that in Scotland and Wales there were 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 acres at present almost valueless, and which, if judiciously planted, would give large results. In the science of Forestry they were, he believed, far behind most foreign countries, especially France and Germany; and he was very anxious that their landed proprietors should benefit by the experience which other nations had acquired. But he would ask where was a country gentleman who owned woodlands to obtain information as to their management or to procure trained assistants? They had no School of Forestry in this country, and they had no class of persons specially trained and instructed in the formation and management of woods. It was, he feared, still true that, as the House of Commons Committee of 1854 reported, timber was everywhere worse managed than any other species of property; and it was desirable that this state of things should not continue. On the other hand, the highest authorities had expressed a very strong opinion that we might make our woodlands much more profitable; but there was one preliminary step necessary. The highest English authorities were strongly in favour of the establishment of a School of Forestry, and had forcibly pointed out the loss which our present system of management, or rather mismanagement, entailed on landowners. Mr. Brown, in his standard work on Forests, observed that—
We wore the only important nation in Europe without a School of Forestry, and yet, if we included our Colonies, our forests were the largest and most valuable in the world. It appeared to be a very strong argument in favour of the establishment of a School of Forestry that at present the young men who were going out to manage our Indian Forests had to be sent for instruction to the great French Forest School at Nancy. No doubt, that was a most excellent Institution, and we were indebted to the French Government for the courtesy with which they had received our English students; but the system of education given there naturally contained some branches—as, for instance, the study of the French law—which were not adapted to English students; while there were many other considerations, such as climate, which rendered a Continental school less suitable for English requirements. He might add that no young Englishmen, as a matter of fact, went there, excepting those intended for the Indian Service. For our Colonies, again, the establishment of a good School of Forestry would be of vast importance, inasmuch as a judicious management of their woods would add considerably to their revenues. French foresters had recently been sent to the Cape of Good Hope and to Cyprus, it having been found impossible to obtain any Englishmen with the necessary knowledge. Perhaps, however, he should be asked why the establishment of a School of Forestry, if it were so urgently needed, should not be the work of private enterprize? The reason was clear. A properly equipped Forest School must have attached to it a large extent of forest in various stages, and having a variety of climate and soil; and this, it was obvious, no private institution could supply; but he did not say that the proposal necessarily involved the establishment of a Government School. He understood that the Government contemplated an arrangement with the Cooper's Hill College; but he trusted they would, before instituting a Government School, inquire whether such Colleges as Cirencester could be made available for the purpose; and, possibly, some arrange- ments might be entered into by which, under careful regulations, the Professors and students attached might periodically visit our national forests. He might mention, as an illustration of the importance of this subject to our Possessions abroad, that lately the Government of the Cape of Good Hope determined to appoint a Forest Commissioner, with an income of £800 a year; they could not, however, find any Englishman qualified for the post, and were obliged to appoint a French gentleman, even though he could not speak English. The Society of Arts had memorialized Her Majesty's Government on this subject; and the presence in this country of Dr. Brandis and Colonel Pearson rendered the present time especially fitting for the consideration of his proposal. In these circumstances, he trusted Her Majesty's Government would not think him unreasonable in bringing it under their notice."If our forests had been judiciously managed, we should not find so great a part of the woodlands of Great Britain in the unprofitable state in which they are."
said, he thought the Committee were much beholden to the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London for calling attention to this subject. The timber question all over the world was one of growing importance, for the simple reason that the natural forests were everywhere diminishing, and that it would be necessary to supplement them by forests planted by the hand of man. Moreover, England, through her Colonies and through India, was the largest possessor of forests of any country in the world; notwithstanding which Englishmen had less opportunity of learning, and actually did learn, less forestry efficiently than any other people. He perfectly recollected, with regard to Cyprus, the impossibility of finding any competent Englishman to deal with the forests in that Island, and that, accordingly, they were obliged to go to France for the men they wanted. As a Scotchman, he was proud to say that Scotland, through the Highland Society, had done something in the direction aimed at by his hon. Friend; and he would ask the attention of the Committee to a resolution passed by that Society, to the effect that it would hail with pleasure the organization of a Society in Great Britain, which would establish a system of instruction in forestry, as they believed the question to be one of vast importance both to this country and her Colo- nies. For years past the Highland Society had encouraged the study by the institution of prizes, examinations, and certificates; they had introduced a system by which the efficiency of foresters could be tested, and who, in proportion to their efficiency, were enabled to get good appointments either at home or abroad. But it was evident that the efforts of a single Society, confined as it was, and must necessarily be, to one quarter of the Island, were totally inadequate to meet with the necessities of the case. Scotland possessed large forests which, however, had not been well managed; and not only was there with respect to them the greatest room for improvement, but their existence presented an actual school for instruction in forestry. The science of forestry could not be learned from books; it could not be taught by books, nor tested by examinations in the ordinary sense of the term; there must be large or considerable forests available in which the pupils could learn, and upon which they might exorcise their skill. He trusted the Government would take into their favourable consideration the suggestion of his hon. Friend, and would conclude his remarks by again acknowledging their indebtedness to his hon. Friend for calling attention to this important and interesting subject.
said, he rose for the purpose of moving the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £1,200, the amount of the salary of the Commissioner who signed the contract for the sale to Her Majesty of the manorial rights of Esher and Milbourne. He need hardly say he had no personal feeling towards the gentleman in question, of whom he had no personal knowledge; his contention being simply that, by the act of sale referred to, he had taken a step detrimental to the interests of the people. Hon. Members would find the contract described on page 45 in the last of the Metropolitan Land Reports laid upon the Table of the House a year ago; it was a contract for the sale of the manorial rights of Esher and Milbourne for the sum of £1,000 to Sir Henry Ponsonby, trustee for Her Majesty. He had no complaint to make of the sale of the property; on the contrary, he considered it right that the landed property of the Crown should be sold; his remarks referred only to the sale of the manorial rights of Esher and Milbourne. Now, Her Majesty was tenant for life of the Manor of Esher and Milbourne, under the Crown Lands Act of 1866; and this contract, which he believed had since been carried out by the completion of a conveyance, was a contract of the sale of the reversion, the sale being made to Her Majesty personally, or rather to Sir Henry Ponsonby. The effect of this would be that Her Majesty, having had the enjoyment of these manors during her life, and having purchased the reversion, had a claim to all the manorial rights, and was in a position to enclose the manors in question. The Committee would perceive that the commonable rights of the people were greatly in danger by this transfer, because the rights in question might be passed on to other persons who might complete the enclosure of the manors. The commons of Esher and Bagshot had an area of about 700 acres; they were the most beautiful of all the commons left near London, from which they were distant about 13 miles. They were beautified by woodland, and it was difficult to believe that so near London a spot could be found distinguished by such rural scenery. These extensive tracts of heath and woodland were easily accessible to the people of London by the South-Eastern Railway, and would be still more so when the new line was completed. The Committee would ask how it was possible that commons so near to London should be in danger of enclosure, seeing that a Bill had been brought in for the purpose of preventing the enclosure of commons within a certain distance from London; but the Bill had been blocked, and it was for that reason that he took this opportunity of appealing to the Committee on the subject of preserving the commons he had mentioned. He understood that already some of the paths had been closed, and that wayfarers had been turned back; and, although some doubt had been cast upon that allegation, he believed it had a foundation in fact. He did not suppose there was any chance of the common being enclosed by Her Majesty, whom they knew to be desirous of preserving for the people the open spaces in the country; and he was satisfied that the last thing which Her Majesty would do would be to shut out the public from these commons. Neither did he fear the exercise of the right by the Duke of Albany during his residence at Claremont; but, as the sale had been made to Her Majesty personally, the property might pass to others who would have less regard to the interests of the public. He submitted that the course which should be taken by the Commissioners was to sell Crown lands on such conditions as would prevent their being enclosed. He would refer the Committee to the Act of the 16th of Victoria, page 62, section 10, which provided that the sale of land or hereditaments should be made subject to such conditions as might be deemed expedient by the Commissioners. That provision he considered expressly designed to meet cases of the kind he was referring to; and he thought the Commissioners should have acted upon it, in which case these open spaces would have been saved. In a matter like this the Treasury would, of course, say the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were bound to get a good price for the land; but he submitted that that was a false view to take of the matter. The price of the manorial rights in this case was only £1,000, a sum which he contended bore no comparison with the value of the land to the inhabitants of London. That value could not be measured by money at all, and if £10,000 had been offered it would, in his opinion, have been better to keep the land than sell it on such conditions as he had described. He should take the earliest opportunity of moving a Resolution on the subject, with the object of obtaining from the House an expression of opinion that this sale ought not to have been made. He was aware that all the Departments, with the honourable exception of the Board of Trade, were in the habit of looking solely at the money price in such matters; but that was not the whole consideration involved, and he contended that the question should be regarded from the point of view of the happiness and welfare of the people. For these reasons, he asked the Committee to mark its sense of the mistake made by the Commissioner by rejecting the charge for the amount of his salary. Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £14,232, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolnaents."—(Mr. Bryce.)
said, he felt sure the Committee and the country would feel grateful to the hon. Member who had brought forward this Motion. He believed that the question of the alienation of Crown property was one that required to be thoroughly threshed out in that House. He did not blame the Commissioners for the line they had taken with reference to the manors of Esher and Milbourne, because it was their business, as Trustees for the Crown, to make as much as they could of the property; but he contended that it was the duty of the Government, in the first place, and ultimately of this House, as guardian of the interests of the people, to stand between them and the purchaser when the interests of the people were being invaded. He would call the attention of the Committee to the Crown Lands Bill, which had been put forward by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and helped forward by the Government. It was the intention of the Commissioners to reduce Crown property to the condition of private property, and he would ask the attention of the Committee to the object of the Bill he had mentioned.
said, the hon. Member must not enter into a discussion of the Crown Lands Bill.
said, he had gone a little too far in saying he would discuss this Bill, when his intention was simply to discuss the action of the Commissioners with regard to it, as an illustration of the mode in which these rights were habitually dealt with. He did not blame the Commissioners for the action they had taken; but he did blame the Government for standing by, night after night, and endeavouring to run that particular Bill through the House at a time when discussion was impossible, so as to preclude the House from the only opportunity they would have of defending the rights of the poor commoners. He said it was their duty to defend those rights against the assaults of the Government; and, under the circumstances, they had no means of doing so except by raising the question in the present somewhat irregular manner. He did not wish to detain the Committee at greater length on that occasion; but would simply observe that no fact could better support the argument of his hon. Friend than that which was derived from the case of the New Forest, in which there was a large expanse of beautiful woods that it was extremely desirable should be preserved for the enjoyment of the people. He believed it was owing to the want of true knowledge of the art of forestry that they were now met by the ridiculous argument that in that large forest there could not be found annually, without injury to the ancient woods, the 200 trees necessary to maintain a right of the commoners, which was as ancient as the New Forest itself. In making these observations he had no desire to trespass against the Rules of the Committee; but simply to point out what, in his opinion, was the true position of the Commissioners, who acted in the interest, or supposed interest, of the Crown, and what ought to be the ground taken up by the Government in conserving the rights of Her Majesty's subjects.
said, he did not, for one moment, disapprove of the sale of Claremont Estate; on the contrary, he thought it beneficial to all concerned, and, having sold the property to Her Majesty, he considered that the Office of Woods and Forests had thereby served the interests of the people. At the same time, lie agreed with his hon. Friend in saying that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests should have a settled policy in dealing with manorial rights. He was an earnest advocate for the sale of Crown lands, except those which it was necessary and desirable to retain for purposes of Royal dignity and public recreation; but he and his hon. Friends were strongly of opinion that the rights in question should not be parted with without duo regard being paid to the interests of the people.
said, he was struck by the fact that they were not in a position to take any practical steps with a view to remedying what appeared to be an unfortunate transaction on the part of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests; but he was bound to say that what they had just heard from his hon. Friend entirely supported the view expressed at an earlier period of the discussion by the hon. Member for Ports- mouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), that it was most important to have the Office of Woods and Forests represented by a Member of the Government. [Mr. COURTNEY: The Treasury is responsible.] Here was an important matter affecting, in a variety of ways, the health, happiness, and welfare of the people, and yet there was no one in that House to whom, as Representative of the Department, an appeal on the subject could be made. His hon. Friend said the Treasury could be appealed to; but, without detracting from the respect which they all entertained for the Secretary to the Treasury and the Department represented by him, he was bound to say that some other Representative the Office of Woods and Forests was desirable in that House. They wanted someone who would be responsible for the administration of the Office—someone who would represent officially the officers whose salaries were paid under this Vote. If his hon. Friend could suggest any mode of dealing with this matter other than by refusing the salary of one of the Commissioners, he would vote for his proposal; but he would like first to see some pressure brought to bear in the proper quarter that would prevent the recurrence of what they now complained of. He was bound to say that the description given by his hon. Friend had created some alarm in his mind; and he should not be surprised to hear that some steps had been taken to enclose the commons in question, and thereby deprive the public of those rights which they hitherto enjoyed.
said, he wished to add one word to what had fallen from the hon. Member who had just addressed the Committee. The hon. Member had been interrupted in the course of his observations by the Secretary to the Treasury, who said that the Treasury was responsible for the Department of Woods and Forests; but he did not think the hon. Gentleman was as much responsible for that Department as he was for some others—for instance, the Customs and Inland Revenue Department. In fact, the Commissioner of Woods and Forests asserted a kind of equality with Ministers of the Crown; and he doubted whether any appointments and changes made in the Department were submitted to the Treasury in the same way as wore the appointments in the Customs and Inland Re- venue and other Departments. He thought they had reason to complain of the conduct of the Commissioners, although, no doubt, they did what was right in the abstract in making as much money as possible out of the public. With regard to the New Forest, he pointed out that there was a contest always going on between the Commissioners on the one hand and the commoners on the other. Some years ago he was a Member of a Committee which sat to inquire into the way in which the Commissioners administered that Forest; and at that time the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Homo Secretary, then Member for Oxford, took an active part in proceedings, the object of which was to protect the interest of the public in opposition to the decision of the Commissioners. As these forests were the great recreation grounds of the people, he thought their administration should be more under the control of that House than it was at present. He entirely sympathized with the Motion of his hon. Friend, and trusted that the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to make some satisfactory statement upon the subject to which his attention had been directed.
said, there was one point with regard to these Crown lands on which he craved a little information from the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury. The expense of keeping up Windsor Park was thrown upon the country, he believed, on the plea that the the forest was productive; he did not know what it produced, but he thought it must be very little. That, however, was not his point. The public were allowed to wander about a certain portion of the Park, but they were not allowed to go into the enormous tract of forest adjoining it because of the large amount of game that was preserved there, the keepers of which, he understood, were paid at the expense of the taxpayers of the country. Now, as his hon. Friend had pointed out in moving the Amendment before the Committee, these forests were the pleasure grounds of the people; and, that being so, he was at a loss to understand why the people were not allowed to go into them. As the matter was under the control of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, lie thought the present a proper opportunity for asking the authorities to take into consideration whether the amount of game preserved in Windsor Forest was not excessive; because, not only were the public prohibited from entering the forest on account of the game, but the game itself caused great damage to the crops of the neighbouring farmers. That question was often raised by the inhabitants of the district; and lie trusted that the Committee would be furnished by the Secretary to the Treasury with some clear information, both as to the amount of game, and the reason why the public were prevented from entering the Forest at Windsor.
said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would inform the Committee on what principle the Government proposed to administer the Crown lands in future. Were the Commissioners to look to the interest of the people, or were they to have the power to sell manorial rights without restriction, looking merely to profit as landlords? If the Committee did not receive an assurance that the property would be administered as national property in the interest of the people, he trusted his hon. Friend would go to a Division on his Amendment, which he should feel it his duty to support.
remarked, that the discussion which had taken place on the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) was a perfectly fair and proper one; but before he proceeded further, he wished to acknowledge the extreme value of the suggestions put forward by his hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock). The Treasury, however, had not seen their way to do anything in the matter; indeed, there were very great difficulties in the way of doing any thing. It must be borne in mind that the forests of the country were certainly not very large, and that there was not that large opening for a School of Forestry which the hon. Baronet hoped to set on foot. The observations of his hon. Friend would not, however, be thrown away, and he might rest assured that the subject would not be lost sight of. In regard to the question opened out by his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), he had to say that the Department of Woods and Forests was under the Treasury as much as the Departments of Customs and Inland Revenue; indeed, the Commissioners of Woods and Forests could do nothing substantially without referring to the Treasury—they could neither sell, nor buy, nor lease, nor farm, nor make improvements without coming to the Treasury for its approval. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had asked whether in future the woods and forests were to be treated as national property? As a matter of fact, it was only at the accession of the Queen to the Throne that this property was handed over to the Executive. The property itself was an appanage of the Crown. The present arrangements by which it was handed over would only last for the lifetime of Her Majesty, and at her death would be subjected to reconsideration. Technically, the Executive was not seized with the property as national property. He did not wish, however, to lay much stress upon that fact, as he had no doubt that the property would remain for generations under the control of the Executive Government. He did not understand what his hon. Friend meant about treating private property like public property. The first principle adopted in regard to property was to treat it in such a way as to enable it to produce as much revenue to the nation as could be acquired, consistently with due regard to the interests of the people, who might be the occupiers, or who might be on the property. As to the special property which had been referred to, these were the facts. Claremont was in the possession of Her Majesty, who was life tenant there, and the reversion of the property had now been sold to Her Majesty; but it must not be forgotten that the Queen was the absolute possessor for the term of her life of all the rights of the property, just as much as she was now. [General Sir GEORGE BALFOUR: For her life.] He had stated that it was for Her Majesty's life, and during that time she could exercise any right over it whatever; but he did not think that there was any danger, even under the present circumstances, that anything would be done to interfere with the rational enjoyment of Her Majesty's subjects. He must, however, point out that hon. Members who had spoken on this subject had lost sight of the material circumstances to be considered. They seemed to regard the matter as a contest between a Department of the Government and the nation—between the Treasury and the nation. Now, the real issue to be determined lay between the nation itself and the inhabitants of special districts. The money that might be got for the sale of Claremont properly became part of the receipts of the Exchequer, and contributed towards the Expenditure of the country and of the taxpayers at large, who were interested in the realization of the property. The people interested on the other side were, in this case, he admitted, the inhabitants of London; but it might, in another case, be the inhabitants of some small town, or a very limited locality. What had been put by more than one speaker amounted to this—that the inhabitants of a particular locality were, as against the nation at large, to receive boons which they could not hope to receive from private owners; that the nation at large was really, from a money point of view, to contribute recreation grounds in different special localities. He could not see how such a proposition could be seriously entertained, or how it could be alleged that the chance distribution of the manorial rights of the Crown over England should be used to secure for the inhabitants of one locality here, and another locality there, recreation grounds at the expense of the general population. At the same time, there was no desire to preclude any reasonable arrangement being entered into which would secure to the inhabitants, at a reasonable rate, that which they desired to obtain. He could not think that it would be at all fair to the taxpayers at large to lay down the principle that the representatives of the Crown should give up to the inhabitants of a special locality that which belonged to the nation as a whole. The case, in this instance, was one between the people of the country as against the people of London; and it was precisely the same principle as was involved in a transaction which occurred some years ago, for which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) was responsible—namely, the taking away of a portion of the land of the Thames Embankment, which belonged to the Crown, and handing it over to the inhabitants of the Metropolis. He (Mr. Courtney) could not regard what was then done by the right hon. Gentleman as other than a dubious proceeding; and he did not think that hon. Members would seriously contend, for a moment, that the principle should be accepted of making use of the property which belonged to the Crown for a mere chance distribution of that property throughout the Kingdom, in order to supply recreation grounds for special localities. He did not suppose that his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) intended to press his Motion to a Division. He understood that the Motion had been made entirely for the purpose of calling attention to the subject, and, if possible, of eliciting an expression of opinion upon it. His hon. Friend had gained that object, and probably would not feel inclined to press the Amendment to a Division.
said, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had given some fair reasons why this property should not be considered as belonging to London, or to any other place; but with regard to the Thames Embankment, he (Mr. Collins) was a Member of the House at the time that great question came on for discussion, and he remembered that that transaction was commented on with some severity. There was, however, this great distinction—that the Thames Embankment was made at the cost of the ratepayers of the Metropolis, and the land which was reclaimed was previously worth nothing at all. Therefore, there was no analogy between land reclaimed at the expense of the ratepayers of London by having a drainage rate levied on the whole of the Metropolis, and land which was not required to be converted into land at the cost of the ratepayers. The land reclaimed on the Thames Embankment technically, no doubt, belonged to the Crown, and the Crown had rights over it; but it was of no value whatever to the Crown until the ratepayers of London made it of value. The Crown was in no way seriously affected by the formation of the Victoria Gardens, because prior to the construction of the Embankment the land was of no value; and, therefore, there could be no analogy between that case and the claim now set up, that any land near London upon which the people of the Metropolis had spent no money at all should be appro- priated to the benefit of a particular class.
remarked, that the Secretary to the Treasury had already missed the real point. The hon. Gentleman seemed to put down as of no value whatever those advantages which the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) maintained to be of the greatest value—namely, the advantage of the enjoyment of fresh air, and so on. The hon. Gentleman appeared to treat the matter entirely as a question of pounds, shillings, and pence, and that was the position generally maintained among all the Departments of the Government. He thought it was a position which ought to be attacked and destroyed if possible. There was no price which could be put upon recreation and the power of enjoyment, so far as the fresh air and the open country went, within three or four miles, to the people of London. He would go further, and say the property which belonged to the people ought to be yielded, as far as its rights were concerned, to that portion of the English people who happened to live in the neighbourhood, wherever that neighbourhood might be. He therefore hoped, despite the views of the Secretary to the Treasury, that this principle would be adopted, whether applied to the Thames Embankment, or the people of London, or of Birmingham, or Salisbury, or anywhere else, or to any portion of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom whatever. He hoped that whatever rights might be found to exist would be exercised practically for the advantage of the people of the United Kingdom, but specially for those of that portion of the people who alone, from the locality they occupied, could enjoy them. To sell those rights in order to make so many pounds, shillings, and pence, and place the money in the National Treasury, was certainly one of the most monstrous propositions he had ever heard, and was calculated more than anything to interfere with and to endanger the welfare of the community. He did not remember the particulars of the case in regard to the Thames Embankment; but the Thames Embankment certainly belonged to the people of London, as far as the enjoyment of it went. The fact that it belonged to the people of the United Kingdom virtually did not interfere with the rights of the people on the spot, who were alone capable of enjoying it. An hon. Member opposite had mentioned the question of foreshores. He (Mr. Jesse Collings) regretted to say that many of the foreshores were being sold by the Crown and by the Duchy of Lancaster in various parts of the country in order to make money by them. He knew a case in which those rights had been sold on one part of the coast, and the people of the neighbourhood had, in consequence, been deprived of the right of going upon the shore even to pick up shells, although they had always hitherto been allowed access to the shore with perfect freedom. In other cases persons were forbidden from bathing in the sea, and so forth; and he thought, if that was the principle upon which his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury intended to act in distributing the soil of this country, there ought to be a Division, in order to show the sense of the Committee and to show that they entertained au entirely different opinion from that of the hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Jesse Collings) thought that his hon. Friend took a very narrow view, indeed, of the duties of the Treasury on this subject. In point of fact, it ought not to be treated as a pounds, shillings, and pence question at all, because the real rights of the people, when those rights involved benefits to them, could not be estimated by any sum of money.
wished to say one word in reply to the arguments of the Secretary to the Treasury. He entirely agreed that neither at Esher nor in any other part of the country could the Crown be required to give an advantage to one portion of the population at the expense of all other parts of the country, and he had never said that the people of Esher, or of anywhere else, should have the rights of the Crown, as lords of the manor, surrendered for their special benefit. But what he contended for—and he should certainly support his hon. Friend if he went to a Division—was that the Office of Woods and Forests, in dealing with the widely-extended rights of the Crown as lord of manors, should deal with them on one principle, and adhere to it. The rights, both of the Crown and of the commoners, should be duly distinguished; but they should be dealt with upon one and the same principle. In supporting the Motion of his hon. Friend he desired to raise no other contention in the matter.
said, he thought the Secretary to the Treasury had laid down a very proper principle—namely, that the Woods and Forests Commissioners in dealing with Crown property were bound to make the best bargain for the nation that they could. The question in this case, however, was whether they had made the best bargain or not; because, as far as he understood the matter, they had only raised a sum of £1,000 for the manorial rights. He should like to have some more information in reference to the rights of enclosure. He wanted to know whether a right of enclosure had been conferred in regard to the land which had been disposed of; because, certainly, if the sale involved the power of enclosing any part of this land, £1,000 was a very small sum to receive for it? He thought the Committee ought to know the principle which guided the Government when they fixed that small price.
said, that, after the remarkable speech which had been made by the Secretary to the Treasury, it was now his intention to vote for the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce). He remembered the case of the Thames Embankment, and the censure passed upon the course pursued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) very well; but he did not see that any blame attached to the right hon. Member for the course which upon that occasion he had pursued. The people of London gladly subscribed the money necessary to make the Embankment, and he did not think the Crown had any claim whatever to the land that was reclaimed, seeing that it was the money of the people of London that reclaimed it. When he recollected the way in which Crown lands were frequently made away with, he did not think the health and enjoyment of the people of England should be so constantly disregarded by the Treasury. He must say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) had shown far more regard for the interests of the people when they were in Office than their Successors had done. He hoped the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) would go to a Division, and, if he did, he (Sir George Balfour) should certainly support him.
remarked, that the course taken by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite afforded a somewhat curious mode of dealing with the case. In point of fact, the hon. and gallant Member proposed to deprive one of the Commissioners of his salary, because the hon. and gallant Member objected to some of the observations which had been made by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It was not a pleasant thing to be made whipping-boy to the Secretary to the Treasury; but that was the position in which this particular Commissioner was placed. In regard to the propositions laid down by the Secretary to the Treasury, he did not imagine that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) would dispute the principle of them, though he might dispute the application of them to this case. In reference to the observations which had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory), he believed there had been no further bargain in regard to the enclosure of land than had existed formerly. Whether the sum of £1,000 which had been paid was the exact and proper value of the rights handed over was another matter; but he presumed that it had been duly considered by the Treasury, and he thought it would be wrong for the Committee to deprive this Commissioner of his salary because he happened to have signed his name to the contract. It was quite possible that when he did so he had no special knowledge of the case, and was acting altogether upon a mere matter of routine duty.
wished to ask for an explanation in regard to another portion of the Vote.
said, he thought that it would be better for the Committee to divide on the subject now before it first.
said, the subject upon which he wished to speak was intimately connected with this proposal. The Motion before the Committee was the reduction of the Vote by a sum which represented the salary of one of the Commissioners; and he wished to point out that if the Commissioners in London had not sufficient occupation, there were ample means of supplying them with it by extending their operations to Ireland. He had been glad to hear the spirit in which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had referred to the suggestions made by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), and he hoped on an early opportunity to have the advantage of receiving similar kindly assurances in regard to Ireland. The subject was one of great importance, and it was well known that there was great feeling upon it in Ireland. If, as he said, the Commissioners in London had not ample occupation for their time in this country, there was undoubtedly full means of supplying them with occupation in Ireland, if they would extend their operations to that country; and, having in view the possibility of such an extension, he should certainly vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), and support Her Majesty's Government.
wished to make one remark upon what had fallen from the hon. Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland), in order to justify his vote. He proposed to support the Amendment, because there was no other means of showing his dissatisfaction with the statement which had been made by the Secretary to the Treasury. If there were any other way of doing it he would certainly prefer it; and if the hon. Baronet would show him any means by which he could otherwise show his dissatisfaction at the course taken by the hon. Gentleman, he would gladly avail himself of it.
said, he should not have gone to a Division if he could have obtained anything like a satisfactory assurance from the Secretary to the Treasury; but, after the harsh and uncompromising statement of the hon. Gentleman in regard to principles to which he (Mr. Bryce) entirely objected, he felt bound to go to a Division. He admitted that it was an unfortunate way of moving a protest, and he had no wish to deprive this gentleman of his salary; but he felt there were no other means open to him. In point of fact, the arguments put forward by the hon. Gentleman would justify the sale of Hyde Park. Why should the Treasury not sell the estate? He regarded it as an extraordinary good fortune that the existence of these manorial rights had hitherto kept certain lands open for the benefit of the people; and he did not think that the nation ought to be deprived of them for the sake of a small sum of money. He would ask how it was possible to compare the sum of £1,000 with the advantage of the people of London in general? Question put. The Committee divided: — Ayes 38; Noes 74: Majority 36. — (Div. List, No. 256.) Original Question again proposed.
said, he had not yet had the privilege of a reply from the Secretary to the Treasury with regard to the closing of Windsor Forest against the public. The hon. Gentleman told the Committee, in laying down his views in regard to the Crown lands, that they practically belonged to the nation, and that the nation ought to derive pleasure and profit from thorn. Now, with respect to the profit derived from Windsor Forest, it was exceedingly small, although the expenditure was very large. He thought the people would derive more profit and pleasure if they were enabled to walk in the Forest, instead of the Forest being used as a game preserve. He thought they ought to protest altogether against the principle of game preserving—which was a most obnoxious and objectionable principle—being carried on, as it was in Windsor Forest, for the benefit of private individuals. He wanted to know how it was that the public were not allowed to go into Windsor Forest? They were allowed to go into Windsor Park; and the only reason, he was told, why they were refused admission into the Forest was on account of the very large amount of game kept up there, and kept up out of the public funds. As was well known, the cost of the Forest was thrown upon the Crown lands, and all the keepers employed there were maintained by the nation. Was the Secretary to the Treasury aware that there was a kennel for buckhounds maintained there? Not only was there a large quantity of game kept up in Windsor Forest, but a kennel of buck-hounds was kept up also, to run after the animals when they were out of the Forest. What he wanted the Secretary to the Treasury to tell the Committee was why this Forest was kept up for the purposes of game, and not for purposes of public pleasure?
said, the hon. Member must be aware that Windsor Forest had always been treated specially. It was close to the Royal residence, and provision had to be made on that account respecting it. In point of fact, it was quite impossible to treat Windsor Forest upon commercial principles. He would, however, if the hon. Member required it, inquire into the subject.
said, he would not ask the Committee to divide upon the question if he wore to understand that the Secretary to the Treasury would look into the matter. He was perfectly aware that the public were allowed into Windsor Park; but they were not permitted to make use of Windsor Forest.
said, he had no desire to impugn the use of the Parks by the Royal Family; but what lie did dislike was the withdrawal of the management of Regent's Park from the Chief Commissioner of Works, in order to be placed under the management of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, in the same way that was done in respect of Great Windsor Park. He strongly objected to Great Windsor Park being put under agents for the purpose of making a profit. It ought to be, like St. James' and all the other Royal demesnes, placed under the Chief Commissioner of Works. He was afraid the present system was a means by which the expense incurred in connection with Windsor Park were hidden from the public. He did not grudge what Her Majesty might have, or what was necessary for Her Royal demesne; but every year they ought to have the expenditure connected with the maintenance of the demesne and of Windsor Park submitted to the House, in exactly the same way as the expenditure upon Richmond, St. James', and the other Royal Parks. There was an enormous expenditure incurred in maintaining Windsor Park and Forest. He believed it amounted to something like £25,000 or £30,000 a-year, while the receipts from it only amounted to £6,000 a-year. He did not mean to urge that this was wrong, or that any change could be brought about; but it was a very large expenditure, and the Com- mittee ought to know what this appanage of the Crown really did cost the country. At present, they did not know how the money was expended; and it ought to be brought into an account, just like the expenditure upon the other Parks.
complained of the manner in which the accounts were made up. Some information was supplied by the late Government; but since the present Government came into power there had been no statement whatever, but hon. Members were allowed to find out all the details themselves. The Treasury gave no information at all; and as long as they were allowed to trust to the ignorance and inability of Parliament in finding out the information for itself, they would be induced to go on in the same manner. He strongly protested against this mode of carrying on the Business of the country. Information in regard to the expenditure in 1881–2 had never yet been supplied.
said, he thought the complaint a somewhat strange one, and ought to have been made at least two years ago. The Committee were not asked now to pass that Vote for the year 1881–2, but for the year 1883–4. It was somewhat unreasonable to ask for an explanation of that increase of expenditure which occurred two years ago; and he was certainly not responsible for it, because he was not in Office at that time.
remarked, that the expenditure in 1881–2 was £1,500 less than it was estimated to be in 1883–4. He thought he had a right to maintain that the increase in the Vote was wholly uncalled-for, and it ought not to have been made without the House having been informed why the increase had taken place.
asked what the functions of the officers connected with the Crown property in Ireland were, and what was the extent of the duties they performed?
replied, that the Crown property in Ireland was not very large.
asked if there was anything in the nature of plantations charged for in Ireland?
replied in the negative. Original Question put, and agreed to. (2.) £30,000, to complete the sum for the Mercantile Marine Fund (Grant in Aid).
asked for some explanation of the increased cost of this Vote? He was aware that the sum was payable under an Act of Parliament by the Treasury or the Board of Trade, or whoever had charge of the matter; but, at the same time, he thought it was only right that some explanation should be given, seeing that the amount charged in the Estimates was much in excess of the sum calculated at the time the matter was before the House. He could not say that his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to explain the matter at all. The point he wished to call attention to was that this Mercantile Marine Fund existed in all shipping towns. He understood that the duties performed in connection with it were a mere matter of form. When the Merchant Shipping Act was before the House in 1875 there were distinct promises made in regard to the services which were to be performed in connection with shipping; but those promises had never been fulfilled; and, although the engagement entered into had not been complied with, the charges they were asked to contribute were far in excess of the original calculations. At this time of the Session he had no desire to enter into a discussion of the subject; but he thought he might fairly ask the Government for an explanation.
explained that the increased amount became payable under the Act of Parliament passed last year, which dealt with the old fund.
asked what these charges in aid of the Mercantile Marine Fund were for?
said, they were made in accordance with an Act of Parliament.
said, it was all very well to take a sum of £40,000, and say that it was taken under the provisions of an Act of Parliament; but he wanted to know where the money went? What was done with it, and how it was accounted for? He wanted to know some of the reasons why the Committee were asked to vote this sum of £40,000?
said, he was able to say, in answer to the question of his hon. Friend, that the money was fairly expended, and that the country got fair value for it. It was expended in accordance with the provisions of an Act of Parliament; and his only object in calling attention to the Vote was to point out that the balance was now larger than it formerly was. There was one point, however, upon which he should also like to have some explanation—namely, why sailors upon this Mercantile Marine Board did not have a better representation? They discharged duties in which sailors as well as shipowners were largely interested, and yet they were not represented upon it at all.
said, that was a question which was far too large and important to be entered upon then.
complained that this was another instance in which the accounts had been rendered in a most imperfect form.
said, he was satisfied that the money could be accounted for; but he thought, as a rule, the Government should afford full information as to where the money went. So far, the only reply made by the Treasury, when they were asked for information, was that the charges were rendered necessary by some new Bill which had been brought in for the reform of shipping. He thought they had had enough of shipping reforms; and if the money of the country was to be frittered away in this manner they had better stop where they were. He thought that in every instance a full explanation should be given as to where the money went.
said, there would be no difficulty in this case in discovering what became of the money.
said, he had no doubt that the money was actually expended; but upon page 23 of the Estimates he found an item of £48,000, against which there were extra receipts amounting to £28,750 now paid into the Mercantile Marine Fund, from which it would appear that the balance was only about £20,000. He wished to know whether there was any other Mercantile Marine Account?
replied in the affirmative.
said, it would appear, in that case, that one account amounted to £20,000 and the other to £4,000.
said, his hon. Friend would find all the explanation he required of the Vote at the foot of last year's Vote. It did not appear in the present Vote at all. Vote agreed to. (3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £4,658, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer in Exchequer, Scotland, of certain Officers in Scotland, and other Charges formerly on the Hereditary Revenue."
said, this Vote seemed to provide Scotland with Bibles, Races, Regalia, and a Lyon King-at-Arms. He was quite willing to allow the Scotch people to have their Bibles, Races, and their Regalia; but what, in the name of common sense, was a Lyon King-at-Arms? He found that this Lyon King-at-Arms received £500 a-year, and that he had six gentlemen under him who also received salaries. The reason why this officer was required he understood to be this—a person took it into his head that he wanted ancestors, or a coat-of-arms, and he went to one of the Heralds connected with this Office, who undertook to provide him with ancestors and a coat-of-arms. Now, he did not object to the "fads" of private individuals; but he did object to the country being called upon to pay £700 or £800 a-year in order to keep up a staff of officials for the performance of this unnecessary work. He hoped the Government would be able to give the Committee a full explanation of the Vote. He could not find out that the Lyon King-at-Arms did anything of the least practical use; but he saw that he had been paid, and that other people had been paid also, for tracing out genealogies because they received fees for doing so. He should move the reduction of the Vote by £625. Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £4,033, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer in Exchequer, Scotland, of certain Officers in Scotland, and other Charges formerly on the Hereditary Revenue."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
said, the hon. Member spared nobody, not even the Lyon King-at-Arms; but he must explain that this Office did bring in, if not quite the amount asked for, still a sum approximating to it. It realized in fees an average of more than £400 a-year.
said, if they could not get the Government to reduce a salary when it was shown to be for a sinecure, he did not know when they would do so. The hon. Gentleman said this Office brought in something; but he thought it had better be abolished altogether. Whenever Members made a bonâ fide attempt to check expenditure by abolishing a sinecure, they were always told that there was some special reason for retaining it; but they were bound to urge a Liberal Government to make every effort to check expenditure. He hoped his hon. Friend would persist in this matter, and that those who came into Office on the faith of reducing expenditure would take any opportunity of doing so, whether the amount was large or small. This was a small reduction of which they ought to avail them selves.
said, he hoped the Vote would not be disturbed.
said, he wished to suggest to the Secretary to the Treasury a mode by which this Lyon King-at-Arms could be made to pay itself. If the fees only produced a small sum, there was no reason why they should not be increased. A very small increase would be sufficient; and he thought that if gentlemen were anxious to know about their family rights they should be prepared to pay the fees.
said, he thought that as there was a King-at-Arms in England, Scotland might have one; but those who liked to have "fads" ought to pay for them.
agreed very much with the hon. Gentleman (Sir Andrew Lusk). If they were to get rid of all these officials who were useless, they must get rid not only of those in Scotland, but of those in England. There was a Garter King-at-Arms in England, and a Blue Mantle, and a Rouge Dragon, and many others.
said, he would withdraw his Motion, as the Scotch Gentlemen seemed to be so exceedingly anxious to keep their "Lyon," and he should be sorry to deprive them of him. Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Original Question again proposed.
said, it would give great satisfaction, and tend to reduce the discussion on this Vote, if the Government would state that they intended to abolish the Vote for Queen's Plates in Scotland and in Ireland.
said, he heartily wished these Plates were abolished; but some respect must be paid to the wishes of Members upon what was a national question. At one time the Vote was cut down by a reformed and Liberal Parliament; but in the following year, and on the appeal of the Scotch Members, it had to be restored to its previous figure.
said, he was aware that one year this Vote was reduced, and afterwards restored; but that was done in an irregular way, without giving the Scotch Members a sufficient opportunity of considering the matter. He cordially supported the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) in his objection to these Plates; and if the hon. Member would move to reduce the Vote he would support the Motion. Racing was not conducive to public morality, and it was a most contemptible way of spending money.
said, he could not agree with the Secretary to the Treasury that this was a national question, for he could not see how it could be a national object to encourage gambling. Racing was one of the most demoralizing institutions that could exist. He should leave it to the Scotch Members to move the reduction of the Vote; but if they did so, he should have the greatest pleasure in going with them, and would also promise to move the reduction of the Irish Vote for Queen's Plates.
moved to reduce the Vote by the sum of £288. Motion made, and Question,
—put, and negatived. Original Question put, and agreed to. (4.) £12,040, to complete the sum for the Fishery Board, Scotland."That a sum not exceeding £4,470, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer in Exchequer, Scotland, of certain Officers in Scotland, and other Charges formerly on the Hereditary Revenue,"—(Mr. Dick-Peddie,)
said, it would be very satisfactory to the Committee if the learned Solicitor General for Scotland, or the Secretary to the Treasury, or one of the Junior Lords of the Treasury, could give some information as to the working of the new Fishery Board for Scotland. This Board was established last year with a flourish of trumpets; and there was considerable anxiety expressed with regard to the names of the members of the Board. For some time the names were kept secret, and then it was stated that the Board would consist, in the first instance, of three Sheriffs. In Scotland Sheriffs were appointed on every Board; and if persons in Scotland could be credited with omniscience, it was the Sheriffs. He should have thought they would know uncommonly little about fishing. Then he found on the Board Sir Thomas Boyd, who was formerly Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and a member of an eminent firm of publishers. He might know a great deal about books, but very little about fishing. Another member of the Board was the hon. Member for St. Andrew's (Mr. Williamson). There was nothing said as to the duties to be performed by these gentlemen; and the only definition given of the powers of the Board was an explanation as to the nature of the rights of certain parties to fish for oysters and mussels. Another member was Professor Ewart, who had some scientific knowledge, and who, no doubt, in the course of his lectures on Natural History, would have occasion to refer to fish, just as he would to animals; but even if that gentleman knew something on the subject, he had not much time to spare for the Fishery Board, because he was engaged in giving lectures to classes in Edinburgh, summer and winter. He had been informed that the attendance of the members of this Board was by no means what it should be. These gentlemen were appointed for five years, and they ought to give constant attention to their duties, and regularly attend the meetings of the Board. In other countries men of scientific attainments were placed upon such Boards as this; but, with one or two exceptions, that was not so in this case. There were many questions to be dealt with—such as preserving fish, re-stocking rivers, and so on; and he should like to know the extent of the powers of this Board, and whether the attendance of the members was satisfactory?
said, this Board was originally appointed on the recommendation of a Committee over which he presided; and he could, therefore, give some slight information respecting it. When the Board was first appointed the first duty of the Government was to get a good man of business as Chairman; and Sir Thomas Boyd, who had shown considerable business capacity, was selected. Other requirements were scientific and general knowledge, and Professor Ewart, and other members of the Board, were men of considerable scientific attainments. With regard to the Sheriffs, Sheriff Guthrie Smith, who was appointed, took immense interest in all the practical local questions which arose among the fishermen. The Board was only appointed after much consideration; and with regard to the hon. Member for St. Andrew's, he believed that hon. Member was selected because there was nobody else in that part of the country to select. As to the duties of the Board, they had recently issued a Report which contained much valuable information, after making considerable inquiries. The Board had not been very long in office, it was true; but he thought there was a vast deal for them to do, if they would apply themselves to it. At the present moment, two of the members of the Board were in London; and he believed the Government had consented to give the Board the use of a gunboat for making investigations along some parts of the coast. Altogether he thought the Board had been very useful.
regretted that the duties of the Board had not been more clearly defined, because then hon. Members could come down and ascertain whether they had performed them or not.
said, he was afraid this Board was very much of a sham, and that the people of Scotland were not going to get what they had a right to expect. It would have been very satisfactory if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duff) could have given some intimation as to the intentions of the Board with regard to salmon fisheries. They had been making inquiries on the East Coast of Scotland on various matters which had given rise to suspicion on the part of the proprietors of the fisheries; and it seemed to many that the attention of the Board should be directed to obtain information of value and interest to seamen. The Chairman, he thought, ought to be able to devote all his time to the duties of the Board; but Sir Thomas Boyd carried on an extensive publishing business; and, although it was very desirable to have him on the Board, he thought it might have been possible to get someone who was more acquainted with fishing than with printing. He was glad that some of the members of the Board were in London, and would be able to see the Fisheries Exhibition; and he hoped they would learn something from that. He further thought the appointment of these Commissioners without salaries was not satisfactory, for they were largely engaged elsewhere, and could not be expected to attend the meetings of the Board. This was one of the Boards which he should hope would be taken under the charge of the new Minister for Scotland; and he looked upon that scheme as likely to be of the greatest possible advantage, for the present state of the Scotch Boards was very unsatisfactory, and he hoped they would all be put in a more satisfactory condition.
said, in reply to the hon. Member, he had to state that the Chairman had £800 a-year.
said, he was aware the Chairman received a salary; but his contention was that it should be such a sum as would secure his whole time.
said, he had every reason to believe that the Chairman did devote the whole of his time to the Board. He (Mr. Duff) would remind his hon. Friend that when the Board was first instituted a great deal of work was done. The Board had to be organized under the rules and regulations laid down by the Civil Service Commissioners; and it required a considerable amount of time and attention, and a man of business habits, to do the work. It was for that reason that Sir Thomas Boyd was elected. As to the salmon fisheries, they were added to the other fisheries, on the recommendation of the Commissioners, the amalgamation being effected by the Bill which passed the House last Session. Until that Bill passed the habit was to have Salmon Inspectors employed by the Home Office. They were employed, so to speak, by the job; and everyone knew when the Salmon Inspector was coming down, so that there was no obstruction of the weirs, and everything was correct. Now, however, the Inspectors had been appointed as in England and Ireland. They had a roving commission to go where they liked; but their only power was to enforce the present law — they had no power to alter it. His hon. Friend need not be afraid of the present Board, as they had no power to do anything more than enforce the existing law.
said, he wished to make a few observations, in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay). He could not understand the complaints made about the Chairman of the Board. It was very desirable to have a good business man; but the hon. Member had said they should have one professionally acquainted with the work. He had always imagined that the rule in modern days was to have a man without professional bias. Well, they had one without professional bias on fishery matters at the head of the Board; and in those respects he thought Sir Thomas Boyd would make a very excellent Chairman. They did not have an Admiral at the head of the Admiralty, or a General for Secretary of State for War. The Secretary of the Board, who was a ship captain, was a man who might be considered to have biassed views in regard to fishery matters; but no such charge could be made against the Chairman. He protested against what was said by the Home Secretary that afternoon—that one of the first works of the new Minister for Scotland was to endeavour to amalgamate these Boards, so as to screw money out of them to pay the expense of the new Office. If that was the object the Government had in view, to pare down expenses at the cost of efficiency, he did not think their action would be favourably received in Scotland.
wished to say, in justice to Sir Thomas Boyd, that he was examined at some length before the Harbour Accommodation Committee, and he was very much impressed with him. He was inclined to give the new Chairman a fair trial; and he hoped the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay) would wait for another year, to see the result of the labours of the Fishery Board. He should like to know whether the instructions issued by the Treasury were to be laid before the House?
said, he would ask the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Duff) to give them some further explanation of his statement. He had said that the Admiralty had placed at the command of the Board another gunboat. He saw that already the cost of the employment of the Vigilant Revenue cutter and the Jackal was £3,000—pay of officers and crew, and so on. He could assure the Committee that in many parts of Scotland there was no hankering for the employment of cutters and gunboats in this way. What did they want so many cutters and gunboats for?
said, the vessels had been employed for the purpose of carrying out the usual objects. Last year, at the request of an hon. Member of the House, a vessel was sent down to make a more close survey of the coast of Kincardineshire. He did not know whether the hon. Member had looked at the chart or not; but if he did he would find most minute details given with regard to the soundings 10 miles out at sea on certain parts of the coast; and when they went out further they did not know anything about them. It was necessary that the fishermen should know, as accurately as possible, the depth of water; and unless facts of this kind were ascertained it was impossible for the Commissioners to discharge their functions. In some parts the fishermen knew absolutely nothing of the soundings within 10 miles of their own coast, and that notwithstanding that money had been laid out in surveying coasts and islands at a distance. The Admiralty had carried out that survey in the interests of the fishermen, and he was sure the Scotch Members would agree that the work was efficiently done, and was very valuable.
said, he had simply asked for an explanation. He knew that the Jackal had been engaged in some operations which were not connected with the soundings. One of the boats had, no doubt, been engaged in taking soundings; but it appeared to him that the Jackal had been more connected with the administration of martial law than anything else.
said, the vessel had been employed for the purpose of scientific investigation.
said, he was anxious to see everything done that was calculated to advance the interest of the fisheries. He did not at all find fault with the Board, as he thought there was a great field for it. The sea was an almost inexhaustible source of labour and food. It contained an enormous amount of wealth; but he might almost say it was allowed to go to waste. He should like to see the Government give greater encouragement to this industry of fishing; because, at present, not only was the fish lost, and the people deprived of this kind of food which they very much wanted, but a means of employment was denied to the people who were very much in need of profitable work. He believed there were many acres of sea which were as wealthy as acres of land. Why did they not develop the fishing industry—why did they not take as much care of this marine industry as they did of the land industries, and send down Inspectors to the fisheries, just as they sent Inspectors to cotton mills? Here was an industry which had been very much neglected. What they had seen and heard during the last month or two, in regard to fishing and fisheries, ought to have had the effect of opening their eyes and ears. They heard the cottiers calling out for small patches of land, in order to enable them to live—they saw people struggling almost in vain for a livelihood on shore; why not enable these people to obtain a living at the fisheries? Here was a great mine of wealth where these poor people could earn something. The Fisheries Board in Scotland was not a sham Board, and it was not a bad one; he was acquainted with some of the men who composed it. One of them he knew was a book-seller; some of them may have been soldiers, and some City men; but he should not find fault with them for that reason, because their businesses had, no doubt, given them an aptitude for dealing with the questions which would come before the Board. He trusted the Government would see the necessity of doing what they could to encourage the fishing industry.
said, he might be allowed to assure the Committee that Sir Thomas Boyd did devote his whole time exclusively to public business. The hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. Barclay) might rest satisfied that no man who had performed the duties of Lord Provost of Edinburgh, as his friend Sir Thomas Boyd had done for some years, could possibly give such attention to his own business as would not interfere with his attention to his public duties. He felt sure that Sir Thomas Boyd, who was bred as a business man—and he did not care to what business—had knowledge and ability which might be of great advantage in the development of the fisheries of Scotland. There might be persons possessing more scientific knowledge than Sir Thomas Boyd; but he (Mr. Ramsay) had no doubt that since Sir Thomas Boyd had accepted that Office he had acquired a great deal of information which would be of use to him hereafter.
said, he did not think that his hon. Friend (Mr. Duff) had answered the most important question that had been raised—namely, what was the object of the Fishery Board with regard to the salmon fisheries? The hon. Member must be aware of the meetings of the proprietors of sea fishings which had been taking place in consequence of certain action on the part of the Board. He did not suppose the Chairman of the Board was responsible for the action to which he referred; but it was plain, from what had taken place, that what they had done had not given universal satisfaction, and particularly that it failed to satisfy the fishery proprietors on the East Coast, amongst whom there had been a great deal of excitement. When the Board was appointed there was a suspicion that it was instituted for the purpose of enabling the proprietors of the upper parts of the rivers, or rather the proprietors of salmon fishings in the upper parts of the rivers, to get a larger amount of satisfactory fishing than they had heretofore done. He supposed the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) hinted at that when he said the present Chairman was a man of impartiality, who would hold an even balance between the upper proprietors and the lower proprietors. He (Mr. Barclay) took it that Sir Thomas Boyd would be as well able to do that as anyone else; but, as the hon. Member (Mr. Duff) knew perfectly well, considerable anxiety had been occasioned in Scotland about this question, and it would appear to him that this would be a favourable opportunity for giving an explanation. Hon. Members had been very ready to defend the Chairman of the Board; but he would remind the Committee that he (Mr. Barclay) had never attacked him. If it were necessary that an exclusively business man should be at the head of the Board, he was quite ready to admit that the present Chairman was as good a man as could be found for the Office. He thought that someone with a practical experience of fishery matters might have been found to preside over the Board. There were a great many technical questions involved in the work of the Board, such as the branding and curing of herrings; and it was obvious, therefore, that a practical man would have a great many advantages over a non-practical man in discharging the functions of the head of the Board. It seemed to him a very strong remark to say that no one could be found more adapted to this work than Sir Thomas Boyd. He was fully aware that this gentleman had not asked for the post, but had been desired to accept it; and he (Mr. Barclay) did not wish to say a word against him. The remarks of some hon. Members, therefore, were uncalled for. Probably the hon. Member (Mr. Duff) would give him the information he asked for with regard to the salmon fishings, in order to allay the anxiety that existed upon the matter.
said, that, in reply to the hon. Member for Forfarshire, he had to say that when Mr. Archibald Young was appointed Inspector of Salmon Fisheries he was requested by the Board to go down and make a Report, and in order to furnish that Report complete he was obliged to make very careful investigations. He had certain powers given to him by the Board. He (Mr. Duff) had not himself seen the Report; but he thought it very likely that the new Board on assuming office made a complete and searching investigation as to whether the existing law was carried out or not. As he had already stated, neither Mr. Young nor the Board had any power to interfere with the rights of the upper and lower proprietors. The hon. Member need be under no apprehension on that score, because he had been long enough a Member of the House to know that nothing had been more keenly contested than the Salmon Bill. The hon. Member need be under no apprehension as to the interests of the sea fisheries, because nothing could be done without an Act of Parliament. The only object Mr. Young had in going down was to make an inspection, and supply the information which he wanted to enable him to make his Report. He believed that Mr. Young's Report would soon be issued, and he was sure it would be found very interesting, and that by its aid his hon. Friend would be able to judge of the relative interests of the upper and lower proprietors. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire (General Sir George Balfour), it was not, he believed, the intention of the Home Office to give any definite instructions to the Fishery Board. The Board was appointed with general references, and it had instituted inquiries, and made a very exhaustive and general Report, which he had no doubt his hon. and gallant Friend had seen. It was quite possible that it would be necessary very soon to have further legislation on fishery matters, and to give the Board further powers; and the Board pointed out, in their Report, what those powers ought to be. He thought it would be better to wait for further legislation before they took any step with regard to this Board.
said, he should like his hon. Friend to say what the Board had done with the object of establishing telegraphic communication between the mainland and the Islands of Scotland, to which purpose they had power to divide £1,000. A considerable amount of interest was taken on this subject, particularly so far as the Hebrides were concerned; and he should, therefore, like to know what was to be done in the matter?
regretted his inability to give his hon. Friend any detailed and definite information on the subject; but, so far as his memory served him, £1,000 had been set aside for the purpose of increasing telegraphic communication on the West Coast. He could assure the hon. Member that he was well aware of the immense importance of telegraphic communication, more especially on the West Coast, and that was a subject that was engaging the attention of the Board.
desired to know what telegraphic communication had been established with the £1,000 which the Board had at their disposal? Now was the time for the Government to give information as to what had been done during the current year. The fishing was about to commence; and this was a time when telegraphic communication would be most useful. If the work was to be done this year, now was the best time to carry it out.
said, he would communicate with the Postmaster General on this matter. He was not acquainted with all the details; but he would ask the Postmaster General. He knew that the Fishery Board were exerting themselves to establish communication. After making inquiry, he would communicate with his hon. Friend.
said, that this difficulty about the communication arose from the fact that a guarantee was required from parties locally interested, in order to induce the Post Office authorities to sanction the establishment of communication where the Department was afraid that the receipts might not meet the cost of the work. He thought it was a reproach to the Post Office that this guarantee should be required. The object of the Post Office was to make the Postal and Telegraph Service available for the whole Kingdom. It was available in most parts, but not in isolated places like Long Island, Barra, and Benbecula, telegraphic communication with which had been refused. He believed that it must be with reference to the supply of postal and telegraphic communication with this part of the coast, where fishing was carried on so extensively, that this grant was given, and he thought wisely given, to the Fishery Board. When they were making such a large profit out of the Postal Depart- ment, he thought it was only right that Postal and Telegraph Service for all parts of the Kingdom should be provided, even though small portions of the Service might not be profitable. Vote agreed to. (5.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £4,244, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Lunacy in Scotland."
said, he rose to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice in connection with this Vote; and he would explain to the Committee, as shortly as he could, the ground on which he proposed to take that course. He recognized, in the fullest degree, the duty of Parliament and the Government to provide for the care and proper custody, and the humane treatment of the insane; and the question was not at all as to that, but how the duty, which he recognized, was to be best discharged. He considered that the House of Commons was only acting with due regard to its highest purpose when it sought to ascertain, by investigation into the management of these Boards which were entrusted with the fulfilment of these duties, how those duties were discharged with due regard to economy as well as efficiency. He had, on a previous occasion, undertaken to bring before the attention of Parliament the expense of this Board, and he was now present to fulfil that promise. There was an increasing feeling in Scotland that the continued existence of this Board, at all events upon its present scale, and with its present persistence in wasteful expenditure, could not be justified, and that the duties which were at present administered by it should devolve upon another Board—namely, the Board of Supervision for the relief of the poor in Scotland, which was also the Board of Health, and which discharged the duties in connection with vaccination. The Board of Supervision had the control of every one of the Parochial Boards in Scotland, under which Boards the paupers were placed. These pauper lunatics, he should be able presently to show, were no less than five-sixths and upwards of the whole lunatics of Scot- land. The feeling of Scotland had been expressed in several important Petitions, which, he thought, were entitled to the consideration of that House. Before he asked the Committee to look at the question of cost, and at the extent of what had been done by the Lunacy Board, he would just briefly remind the Committee that the body was created in 1857 by an Act passed in that year. It was created in order to provide for the care and treatment of lunatics, and for the providing, maintaining, and regulation of lunatic asylums. The Board was not created as a permanent one, but only temporarily. The object was—in fact, it was expressly provided in the Act—that the Board should exist for five years, and at the expiration of that time the two paid Commissioners were to become Inspectors General in Lunacy for Scotland, subject to the orders of the Home Secretary. Then, as to the expenses, the salaries of the staff alone amounted to £4,950. There was a Senior Commissioner with £1,100, a Junior Commissioner with £1,000, a Senior Deputy Commissioner with £600, and a Junior Deputy Commissioner with £500. All these wore medical men; whereas in England there were only three Medical Commissioners attached to the Lunacy Board, the other three members of the English Commission being legal members. The travelling expenses of the Scotch Commission were £1,050, only £100 less than those of the Board of Supervision, with its far larger work. The travelling expenses of the English Board were only £1,860, though the whole lunatics of Scotland numbered only 10,300, while there were in England 75,000 lunatics, being more than seven times more, and the amount and complexity of the work of the English Commission appeared to be at least as great in proportion. He would mention a comparatively small item in the expense of the Scotch Commission which would serve as an illustration of the tendency of all such Boards to become encrusted with sinecures. They found in the Estimate for the Lunacy Commission fees to counsel £70, and fees to medical men £30. The same sums had appeared for some years past, being apparently paid to the same persons. He desired to know whether any work was done at all for these payments, or whether the payments were not, as they seemed, sinecures? He did not apprehend that the Commission had any suits in Court, or had to obtain any opinions from counsel; and it must be remembered that on the Commission itself there were eminent lawyers. With regard to the medical men to whom those fees were paid, it passed the bounds of one's imagination to conceive what could be required from them by a Commission on which there were already no fewer than four medical members. It was a fair matter for inquiry whether the cost of this Commission was not wasteful, looking at the work done. The total number of lunatics in Scotland was 10,293, and of these no fewer than 8,655, or five-sixths, were paupers. These were maintained by rates which were raised by the Parochial Boards. It would thus be seen that the Board of Supervision, which had the control of the Parochial Boards in Scotland, was already largely concerned in the management of pauper lunatics. The private patients—namely, those not paid out of the rates, numbered only 1,638. Therefore, of the total number of insane—about 10,300—there were no fewer than 8,600 paupers, and of these 7,000 were confined either in public or parochial asylums, or in lunatic wards of poorhouses; and he wished to notice the fact, because those patients who were chiefly in the public asylums included all the cases of dangerous and severe mania. There were 5,000 of these pauper lunatics in the public asylums. Those who were acquainted with the admirable management of those asylums in Scotland knew that the labours of the Lunacy Commission in respect of them were almost nothing. These public institutions were all under the control, in the first place, of a Board of Management; then under the control of a Sheriff, who was bound to visit and report upon them, and also under the control of properly educated and skilled medical men. In the parochial asylums there were 1,350 pauper lunatics, and in the lunatic wards of poorhouses 718, most of these being incurable and inoffensive. The Lunacy Commissioners themselves, in their Report, gave these institutions also the very highest character. It was beyond all doubt that the pauper lunatics in Scotland were properly attended to, and that the duty of visiting them was really of a routine kind. In looking to his proposal that the functions which at present attached to this Commission should be transferred to the Board of Supervision, he asked the Committee to notice that the parochial asylums and the poorhouses referred to were already under the charge of the Parochial Boards; and with regard to the poorhouses it might also be observed that it was the business of the Board of Supervision to send their Inspectors to visit them regularly, so that in their case there was a double inspection. In his opinion, there was no difficulty whatever in the Board of Supervision inspecting the lunacy wards in the poorhouses, and thus save the unnecessary process of a double inspection. The third-class of pauper lunatics, mostly harmless and imbecile, were those residing with relatives and others in private houses, and they numbered 1,568. He contended there was nothing to prevent the Board of Supervision visiting the private as well as the public patients. With regard to the high character of the treatment and management of patients in lunatic asylums, he might quote the words of the Lunacy Commissioners themselves. The Lunacy Board had to certify, with reference to the grant in aid, that the patients were necessarily detained and properly cared for; and they said—
That was just what was done. It seemed to him that after the first few years of the life of the Board the duties became routine and easy, and in no degree whatever required the continued existence of such a costly Board. There was no good, but rather evil, done by the existence of two Boards; and he contended that so nearly connected were the functions of the one with those of the other, that they necessarily worked in the same field, and that one would suffice. It would, no doubt, be necessary that there should be annexed to the Board of Supervision one, or perhaps two, of the Medical Commissioners on the present Board of Lunacy. If that were done, he believed the whole work would be better carried out than under the present arrangement, and a wasteful expenditure would be avoided. With regard to the private patients, there would be no difficulty whatever. Even of these patients, who were not paid for out of the rates, no fewer than 1,404 were in Royal, district, and private asylums, and 118 wore children attending imbecile training schools, while only 116 resided in private dwellings. As to these patients in private houses, it was not required by the Statute that all of them should be under the supervision of the Commission. Surely it could not be said that that small number of patients, who were not paupers, justified the continuance of the present Board. In case it should be said that the functions which he proposed to attach to the Board of Supervision were foreign to their business, he would point out that in 1863 all the duties connected with vaccination in Scotland were committed to this Board; and since 1867 the important and difficult duties of matters of public health had been also handed over to the Board, which was now the Board of Health, and which had medical officers for each. This domain of lunacy had boon already marked out for the Board of Supervision, the grant in aid of pauper lunatics having been entrusted to its charge. The more the matter was considered, the more it would be seen that the additional duty of taking charge of the lunatics in Scotland would be nothing foreign to its functions. Such an arrangement as he had shown would save needless and harmful expense, and would prevent two sets of Boards clashing in the same field. He would move to reduce the Vote by £2,800. Motion made, and Question proposed,"In granting these certificates when they relate to pauper lunatics in asylums, the Board must necessarily rely almost entirely on the views of the Medical Superintendents of the asylums."
"That a sum, not exceeding £1,444, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Lunacy in Scotland."—(Mr. Webster.)
said, he thought it unfortunate that his hon. Friend who preceded him had been led into error in the remarks which he had addressed to the Committee by want of knowledge of the facts. He instituted a comparison between the cost of the Lunacy Board in Scotland and the Lunacy Commission in England; but he forgot that the state of the Lunacy Laws in the two countries was radically different. The cost of maintaining lunatics in private dwellings in England did not come within the control of the Lunacy Commissioners; but in Scotland the whole charge of all classes of lunatics was under the exclusive control of the Lunacy Board; and, therefore, he thought it might be said that, taking the whole of the circumstances into consideration, the cost was less in Scotland than in England, while the management of the asylums was equally efficient. Therefore it was that he did not know why his hon. Friend had taken up this matter in the particular way which he had adopted. This subject had been very fully examined by Select Committees in 1869 and 1870; and valuable evidence was given in support of the view which he was now expressing by the late Chairman of the Board of Supervision, and also by the present Chairman (Sir John M'Neill). He did not think it would be possible, to promote economy, or advisable, on any ground, to merge the Board of Lunacy in the Board of Supervision. He did not, therefore, think it necessary to take up much time in dealing with the matter; but he would call attention to one fact which he thought might explain one of the statements which his hon. Friend had made in reference to this business, and would show why the people in the district which he represented felt more strongly the action of the Board of Lunacy in reference to it than those in any other part of Scotland. There was a larger proportion of the lunatics largely paid for by the State resident in the lunatic wards of poorhouses in the county of Aberdeen than in any other county; and, especially in the City of Aberdeen, the proportion of pauper lunatics resident in the poorhouse was greater than in any other part of Scotland. It was, therefore, possible—indeed, it must be — that the charge for lunatics there compared unduly with the other local charges in the taxation. The number of pauper lunatics generally was also much greater in Aberdeen than in any other part of Scotland. As an illustration of this, he might mention that the percentage of pauper lunatics in Aberdeen was 32, as against 10 in Mid Lothian. It was not unnatural, therefore, that the ratepayers would wish to so manage the whole system as that they would get the largest possible proportion of the expense from the State and pay the smallest amount themselves. He hoped that his hon. Friend would withdraw his Amendment.
said, that, in his view, the argument of the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Webster) did not warrant the statement which he had made; because everyone who was acquainted with the working of the Lunacy Laws in Scotland must know that the result fully justified the expenditure of the money which was laid out. His hon. Friend made, or attempted to make, a great point out of the fact that the travelling expenses of the Lunacy Board were greater than those of the Board of Supervision; but he overlooked the fact that the work of the two bodies was of a very different character, and that the expenses of the Lunacy Board must, of necessity, be much the heavier of the two. He could not agree with his hon. Friend in saying that two Boards would not be better than one in dealing with matters so dissimilar; and he hoped it would not be thought necessary to ask the Committee to go to a Division. The expenditure was one upon a matter of the highest national importance, and was, therefore, in his view, so far justifiable as that it ought to receive the sanction of the Committee.
said, this question had been argued by his hon. Friend on the ground of cost, and on the ground of efficiency. Now, there could be no doubt that the Scottish system, although a costly one, was an efficient one. With regard to expense, it came to this—that the cost might be reduced by giving up the system of boarding out pauper lunatics; but the system itself was undoubtedly known as the most efficient lunacy administration in existence; and if any attempt were made to re-model the lunacy system in England, he hoped it would be in the direction of assimilating it to the Scottish system, and not vice versâ. His hon. Friend also argued that, because Parliament had entrusted certain powers to the Board of Supervision, they would be justified in amalgamating that Board with the Board of Lunacy. He thought his hon. Friend had answered his own arguments, in so far as the question of grants in aid were concerned. There had been a most thorough examination by the Board of Lunacy into the opera- tion of the grant in aid of pauper lunatics paid out of Imperial funds. The last Report of the Board of Lunacy showed a most unsatisfactory result—namely, that there was only relief of local taxation to the amount of 6s. for every pound contributed by the Consolidated Fund; and if the present rate of increase in the cost of pauper lunacy continued, in six years' time there would be a pound added to local taxation for every pound contributed from Imperial funds. The maintenance of private lunatics in the public asylums of Scotland really made them going concerns; and he would ask those who wished to amalgamate the Board of Lunacy with the Board of Supervision whether they were prepared to hand over also the inspection of private lunatics to the Poor Law authorities? He did not think the public would agree to that. The kernel of the whole question was, that the duties which the two Boards in question had to discharge were logically distinct, the duties of the one being medical, and those of the other being economical. The Board of Supervision had to administer funds in relief of the poor in the most economical way consistent with the existing law; the object of the Board of Lunacy was to endeavour to secure proper treatment for those who suffered from an unhappy malady. It seemed to him that those who stood in need of most care were the private lunatics of limited moans in asylums. For these reasons, he considered that a case for amalgamation had not been made out.
said, he would not take up the time of the Committee by discussing the merits of the proposal of his hon. Friend, but would simply suggest that the purpose of his hon. Friend, in making this Motion, had been served by the interesting discussion which had taken place. No doubt a great deal could be said on both sides of this question; many plausible reasons could be given for the amalgamation of the two Boards, and as many could, doubtless, be urged against it. But there was one matter, in his opinion, conclusive of the propriety of not pressing this Motion to a Division—namely, that there was before the House a Bill dealing with Local Government in Scotland, and if that Bill passed, and a Board were constituted, the question of the amalgamation or consolidation of the two Boards would probably be considered, so as to secure efficiency on the one hand and increased economy on the other. For this reason, he trusted the Committee would allow the Vote to be taken without further discussion.
said, if, as he had understood the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) to say, the Board of Lunacy was a marvel of cheapness—[Mr. BUCHANAN: I said it was expensive.]—there was less reason why any investigation should be instituted with reference to the officials whom the Local Government Board might name. His own belief was that the management of the Board was most careful and economical, a fact that had been clearly brought out before the Camperdown Commission appointed some years ago in the expectation that an exactly opposite result would be shown.
said, he wished to draw the attention of the Committee to the excessive expenses charged in connection with the preliminaries to the detention of criminal lunatics. Some time ago he had asked a Question in that House with reference to the treatment of a man who, in a fit of temporary insanity, had done an act for which he was arrested and fined £15, and who was afterwards sent to a lunatic asylum. He was in position to state to the Committee that the fees exacted by the authorities in connection with that arrest amounted to twice the sum which the man was fined. In the case of another person, who had taken a whip out of a cart, and who, being of unsound mind, was also sent to an asylum, there was a charge against him of £76, which the taxing master afterwards reduced to £26, and which again was further reduced on appeal to the Sheriff. It seemed to him to be very hard that a man who recovered from the malady of lunacy should find himself ruined by the expenses heaped upon him by the authorities. He trusted that the Solicitor General for Scotland would consider this matter, in order to see if something could not be done, by communication with the Lunacy Commissioners, in behalf of these unfortunates.
said, that, notwithstanding the enthusiastic description given by some Scotch Members of the Scotch lunacy system as the most effective in Europe, he regarded it as unduly expensive and wasteful. There appeared to him nothing to justify the extraordinary charge for salaries and travelling expenses, as compared with the corresponding expenses of the English Commission; and he trusted that when a vacancy occurred Her Majesty's Government would seriously consider whether it was advisable that it should be filled up. Trusting to the assurance given by the Solicitor General for Scotland, and seeing that the end he had in view had been, to a certain extent, gained by the discussion that had taken place, he would not put the Committee to the trouble of a Division. Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Original Question put, and agreed to. (6.) £5,521, to complete the sum for the Registrar General's Office, Scotland.
said, he had some time ago asked a Question of the Lord Advocate as to the fact that only one volume of the Report of the Scotch Census had been published. On that occasion his right hon. and learned Friend replied that the concluding volume would probably be completed by the end of July; but, notwithstanding that expectation, the volume in question had not made its appearance. He understood his right hon. and learned Friend to say that the delay was in some respect due to the fact that the Office would not accommodate a larger Staff; but that he could not regard as a good defence, and he trusted that the complete Report would be forthcoming without further delay. He pointed out that, whereas the Estimates contained an account in detail of the cost of the English and Irish Census, they gave no such account on the Scotch side. The total expense of the Census for England, Wales, and Ireland, was at the rate of £1 for every 200 persons enumerated; whereas in Scotland it was only £1 for every 501 persons enumerated. The Scotch Census was conducted much more cheaply; but it was evident that that cheapness was obtained at the sacrifice of speed in the completion of the work. He asked, with a view to the matter being considered before the next Census period came round, whether the Government would lay upon the Table of the House a Return showing the cost of each Cen- sus, the time in which it was completed, and the staff engaged thereon? He hoped that the Reports of the Census of 1891 would be completed more nearly at the same time for each of the Three Kingdoms.
said, he would inquire as to the delay in the publication of the remaining statistics, which he believed had been caused by the illness and death of Dr. Robertson, who took an active part in their compilation.
complained of the absence of details in the Vote. The slovenly way in which the account was stated rendered useful criticism impossible; it was nothing less than a waste of time to attempt to unravel the Estimate. He asked the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury for information as to the difference between the Estimate of this year and that of 1881–2?
said, he was not prepared to go back, upon so short a notice, to the accounts of two years ago; but he would inquire into the difference pointed out by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. In reply to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan), he saw no objection to placing the Return asked for upon the Table of the House.
reminded the Secretary to the Treasury that the matter he had referred to—namely, the unsatisfactory way in which the Estimate was made up—was no new subject of complaint. He had, over and over again, called attention to the want of the necessary detail in the statement of the Estimates. Vote agreed to. (7.) £22,143, to complete the sum for the Board of Supervision for Relief of the Poor, and for Public Health, Scotland.
said, when the English Vaccination Estimate was before the Committee he had pointed out that the pay of the public vaccinators in England and Scotland was disproportionate. On that occasion the President of the Local Government Board had promised that the matter should be looked into, and that something should be done in the direction of equalizing the remuneration of the officers in question as between the two countries. He believed the proposal was to effect that equalization by cutting down the pay; but he did not think it could be done in that way so far as Scotland was concerned. A large amount of vaccination was done in Glasgow, for instance; but he understood that in that city the public vaccinator got no fees at all; he was obliged to take whatever remuneration he received from the sale of lymph. There could be no doubt that vaccination was efficiently carried out in Scotland; but he did not approve the system of remuneration, which was, so to speak, gratuitous; and, therefore, he trusted that steps would be taken to introduce equality into this matter of payment to public vaccinators. He observed in the Estimate a charge of £100 for lymph. As the President of the Local Government Board was aware, a station had been recently established in London for vaccination direct from the calf; and it was, he believed, working very successfully. The system obviated the objection which many persons entertained to the general system, and, at the same time, resulted in a better form of vaccination. He suggested that, in fairness, the same system should be extended to the other parts of the Kingdom. The cost of the arrangement would be not more than £100 in each case; and he ventured to say that the benefit resulting from a fresh supply of lymph would be very great.
asked for an explanation of the fact that the Vote was very much larger this year than last.
said, the increase was due to the increased amount of medical relief given. With regard to the mode of remunerating the public vaccination officers, he confessed that the hon. Member for Glasgow had pointed out an anomaly which it was not easy for him to explain without inquiry, and he would take care that the matter should be looked into.
said, that in many of the cases to which he had referred there was no payment at all; the system of paying fees for vaccination, as it existed, was a bad system, and should be put an end to.
said, the hon. Member the Secretary to the Treasury did not seem to be aware of the fact that the whole of the Poor Law system in Scotland was far less highly organized than it was in England. It would be impossible for many of the arrangements for the relief of the poor in Scotland to be assimilated to those of England, unless the Scotch people were minded to submit to a very exhaustive revision of their system; and to that, as yet, they had never shown a disposition to agree. He did not understand how the Local Government Board, to which the hon. Gentleman had just now referred, could make any difference, unless the system was on the same plan as the system of this country.
said, the fees might be modified, if not abolished. There were not only extraordinary fees in Scotland, but in some cases no fees at all; and as to the system generally pursued in many towns—in Glasgow, for instance—a very large proportion of the vaccination was done, not by the medical officers, but by the medical officer appointed by the Faculty of Surgeons, and the medical officer appointed by the Infirmary, and so on. There was a great deal of work done, and a number of certificates given. He thought the matter should be recognized as one of public medicine, and should be paid for as such, if not by premiums, at all events by some fair salary. Vote agreed to.
CLASS III.—LAW AND JUSTICE.
(8.) £49,006, to complete the sum for Law Charges.
Go on, go on! Put the Vote.
said, he did not know who said "Go on;" but it seemed to him to be a very improper observation. It was certainly not the way to do Business to cry out "Go on"—if it was the Attorney General who had made use of the observation, all he could say was that he was sorry for him. There were a great number of things connected with the Department that the hon. and learned Gentleman had to do with that should be mentioned, and with regard to which it would be extremely undesirable to "go on" without discussion. He (Mr. Warton) wished to mention some of these matters without "going on" any more than appeared to him to be necessary. One item under this head- ing was very peculiar—namely, that in regard to the intervention of the Queen's Proctor in divorce cases—in cases in which husbands and wives sought to get rid of each other in that most abominable Court, the Court of Divorce. What was called "the intervention of the Queen's Proctor" was necessary, it seemed, in cases which were too gross even to be tolerated by those who upheld this abominable institution. When it was an evident case of collusion the Queen's Proctor intervened, and he was sorry to say that that intervention led to great expense. As the Committee would see, the cost of the "intervention of the Queen's Proctor" during the year had been £1,700; but the actual costs which had been awarded in the case of these interventions had only been £200. Now, it seemed to him (Mr. Warton) that if it was necessary for "the Queen's Proctor to intervene" there should be something more than £200 received to cover his expenses. £1,700 was a large sum to spend on matters of this kind, and £200 was certainly a very insignificant amount to be received on the other side. It appeared to him that there ought to be some explanation given of this item; and he really did trust that hon. Members would take greater interest in the expenditure of public money, than, by cries of "go on," to endeavour to rush through such Business as rapidly as possible.
said, he had thought the hon. and learned Gentleman was about to make some serious charge against the Estimates in this particular; but, apparently, the only suggestion he made was that £1,700 was too large a sum to be paid to the Queen's Proctor for all the inquiries he had to institute. He (the Attorney General) might point out that the sum in regard to the intervention of the Queen's Proctor had been very largely reduced of late. The Office was now most economically conducted, as hon. Members would understand when he stated that the Vote some time ago was between £4,000 and £5,000. The item in the Estimates was rendered necessary by the fact that the Queen's Proctor had to investigate circumstances and make inquiries of a very difficult and delicate nature, in regard to which it was very often impossible to charge the parties with costs. Since the Office of Queen's Proctor, as a separate Office, had been abolished, the functions had been discharged with great economy. He believed he was correct in his statement as to what the Vote used to amount to; but, at any rate, his opinion was the sum had been reduced to a minimum. Vote agreed to. (9.) £2,427, to complete the sum for the Public Prosecutor's Office.
said, he did not propose to proceed with the Motion of which he had given Notice on this Vote, because he understood that Her Majesty's Government had come to the conclusion that some change was necessary in this Office of Public Prosecutor, and had appointed a Departmental Committee, which was now sitting, for the purpose of considering what the new arrangement should be. At such a period it would, of course, be extremely inconvenient to attempt to criticize the arrangement made by the Government; and it would therefore, perhaps, be better, on the whole, that the House should wait until Her Majesty's Government had come to some definite conclusion, and made some definite proposal to the House with regard to this Office. At the outset, he would observe that what he was about to say referred only to this Kingdom, and had no reference to either Scotland or Ireland. Well, this country was almost the only civilized country in the world in which such an unsatisfactory arrangement was made for the public prosecution of an offender. In every civilized country in Europe, including Scotland and Ireland, it was recognized as a part of the duty of a Government to see that persons who broke the laws of the land were prosecuted and brought to justice for their offences. In England alone, of all the civilized countries, the prosecution of offenders was left to haphazard—to some person interested in the case, or to someone choosing to incur all the cost and trouble of setting the law in motion; and it was only in sensational cases that the Government appeared to consider it to be their duty to interfere. He entertained the idea—and he thought the Committee would probably agree with him—that it was one of the most important duties of a Government to make some provision for the prosecution of people who broke the laws, so as to in- sure their being punished; and he did not think that any proposition that the Government might make would satisfy the reasonable demands of the country, unless some authority were given that this end should be attained in England. The system which at present prevailed in this country had the merit, no doubt, of economy. There was no place in which so little was spent by the State in vindicating the observance of the law; and, so far as cheapness was concerned, he could congratulate the Government on having such a very economical system; but cheapness did not always mean economy. The system practised in England was, in reality, a great deal less economical than more costly, but more effective, systems that obtained in other nations of the Continent, and in the Sister Kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland. But he would not waste the time of the Committee at this period of the Session by discussing the Vote at any great length. He would content himself by merely drawing attention to the subject, and would reserve what he wished to say on the matter until next year, when the Government would have some definite scheme to propose.
said, he was glad that the Government had appointed a Departmental Committee to inquire into this matter. When the Public Prosecutor was first appointed, in 1875, by the late Government—one of the first acts they did, the matter having been fully discussed by themselves and the Government who preceded them in Office—the late Lord Chief Justice of England propounded a most elaborate scheme, one of the most perfect schemes which could have been adopted—quite as perfect as that existing in Scotland. Though he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) did not approve of the Criminal Law of Scotland, believing it to be absolutely barbarous in many respects, yet it seemed to him that the fact of the Lord Advocate taking prosecutions into his own hands in every case, just as the Law Officers did in Ireland, was a much better system than that adopted in this country. In England they were very much behind other countries in this regard; and when they came to examine the whole question it really resolved itself into a question of expense. There could be no doubt that if anyone would take the trouble to look into the amount spent in prosecutions in this county, they would see that what his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gorst) had said upon this point was perfectly right, and that in no other country was the work done so cheaply. Whether or not it was done as well was quite another matter. The adoption of the scheme propounded by the late Lord Chief Justice of England would have entailed an enormous increase of expense—if that scheme had been carried out in its integrity. In any scheme that was prepared for the establishment of a Public Prosecutor in every town in the country, or in every Petty Sessional Division, they must not run the risk of allowing that official to be a person merely taking the place of the existing magistrate's clerk. When the late Government came to consider this question they thought the first thing to be done—and, no doubt, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General would agree with him in that respect—was to establish the fact that there should be a Public Prosecutor. That was a great step gained. It had been done as an experiment no doubt, and the system was to be developed according to experience. He did not know whether the Law Officers of the Crown had availed themselves, under the large powers of the Act, of the Public Prosecutor in very many cases. It was right that there should be an experiment made over a certain number of years, and that great caution should characterize the action of the Law Officers of the Crown; but, still, there was no doubt that the Act which at present existed did give those officers—with, of course, the consent of the Treasury—power to increase the functions of the Public Prosecutor. What course the hon. and learned Gentleman would take after the examination that was being made into the whole Office he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) could not say; and upon that point he would defer what observations he had to make, as his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gorst) had done, until they saw the plan the Government proposed definitely brought forward. No doubt there was some little difficulty in the relations between the Public Prosecutor and the Solicitor to the Treasury; and, to his mind, the question was one which would have to be decided one way or the other. It was clear that the two Offices could not go on side by side with- out considerable friction, unless rules were made by which it could be avoided. As to the Solicitor to the Treasury—and he spoke with all respect of the present holder of that Office, because he believed him to be an admirable public servant, and he had great pleasure in offering this testimony to his great abilities and exertions—his functions would, no doubt, have to be modified and re-arranged, so as to prevent any friction between them and the functions of the Public Prosecutor. He did not wish to detain the Committee at the present moment; therefore, all he should say was that he should watch with the greatest interest the result of the work of the Departmental Committee that had been appointed. He trusted that that Committee would carefully consider the whole question before it made its Report; and he, for one, should be extremely glad to render every assistance he could in the development of that system which the late Government started as an experiment, and which was never intended to be final in its operation. Such development he should do everything in his power to further.
said, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had exercised a wise discretion in not moving the rejection of this Vote; he was by no means convinced that an increase to this Vote might not be necessary, in order to enable the Public Prosecutor to have assistance in carrying out the most important functions that were committed to him under the Act passed by the late Government. As he had given Notice of a Motion which stood in his name on the Paper, with regard to a case of some importance in which the Public Prosecutor's name came rather prominently before the public, he thought it was not right that he should allow this Vote to pass without making some observations on the subject. It would give an opportunity to the hon. and learned Gentleman to state his view with regard to the conduct of the Public Prosecutor on that occasion. It would be in the recollection of the Committee that a case of some importance—namely, "The Queen v. Taylor and Boys," was one in which the services of the Public Prosecutor were requested by a well-known firm of solicitors — Messrs. Lewis and Son. The case was this. A poor girl was defrauded of a considerable sum of money in a most abominable manner by parties who had since been convicted. Mr. Lewis took up the case, and applied to the Public Prosecutor to prosecute, as the party principally interested was utterly unable to find sufficient funds to do so. The Grand Jury made a presentment in regard to this case, and in that presentment they called in question the action of the Public Prosecutor. Well, the result was that the Public Prosecutor stated—
I must say I do not think the hon. Gentleman is in Order in going into this case, seeing that he has a Notice on the Paper to call attention to it.
said, he should be sorry to move the rejection of the present Vote; but if the Chairman ruled he was out of Order in alluding to the Motion of which he had given Notice in reference to this Vote, it would be his duty to move a reduction. He did not wish to do that; but he should be obliged, unless sufficient latitude were allowed him. He should be perfectly in Order in moving the reduction of the Vote; and if the Chairman compelled him, he should have to do it. He could not allow the Vote to be taken without calling attention to this matter. He should, however, be guided by the hon. Gentleman's ruling. If the Chairman said he was out of Order in continuing this discussion, he should move to reduce the Vote.
I think that, with the permission of the Committee, there will be no objection to the hon. Member's referring to the case; but I would remind him that he has given Notice of a specific Motion on the matter, and that he is now going into all its details. Even if he moves the reduction of the Vote, he will not be able to go into these details without the permission of the Committee.
said, he would refrain from moving the reduction of the Vote, while, in referring to the case, he would content himself with merely calling attention to the fact that a Public Prosecutor was under a statutory obligation, limited by certain rules and orders, which had the force of law, to prosecute when lawfully called upon to do so. Under these rules and orders, which were presented a short time ago to this House, it would be seen that the Director of Public Prosecutions might assist prosecutors by authorizing them to incur special costs for the purpose of the preparation of scientific evidence, the remuneration of scientific witnesses, the payment of certain fees to counsel, for the preparation of plans, and in respect of any special matters in such cases as the Attorney General might sanction. Well, the Attorney General thought proper, and no doubt rightly so, in the exercise of his discretion, to desire the particular attention of the Public Prosecutor to the case in question, which was at that time before the Law Courts. The Public Prosecutor replied that he had no authority to interfere in the case; and he (Mr. Monk) desired to know what, then, were the functions of the Public Prosecutor? He wished to know whether, in a case where the parties to a prosecution had no funds, and no possibility of raising funds, to prosecute those who had defrauded them — who had behaved in an exceptionally cruel manner towards them—the assistance of the Public Prosecutor ought not to be granted? Without alluding further to the particular case in question, he might say he thought the Public Prosecutor ought to have further assistance, if he was unable single-handed to perform those duties which had been imposed upon him by law. He (Mr. Monk) must own that he thought the Public Prosecutor wanting in a proper sense of duty if he neglected to take part in a prosecution when called upon by the Attorney General, who was the only person who could call his attention to a case of this nature. The Public Prosecutor said he had no power or authority to interfere; but that he (Mr. Monk) entirely denied. That functionary had authority to interfere in any case of this nature, when his interference was sanctioned by the Attorney General. The words of the rule as to prosecutions, under 42 &43 Vict. c. 22, s. 8, were that he should assist prosecutors in respect of any special matters in such cases as the Attorney General might sanction. The Attorney General might say, and no doubt would say, that he had not received the depositions which enabled him to desire the assistance of the Public Prosecutor in that case; but the hon. and learned Gentleman, although he did not desire the Public Prosecutor to interfere, at any rate directed his special attention to the presentment of the Grand Jury; and certainly, when the Grand Jury expressed its view with regard to the duty of the Public Prosecutor, that it was a case in which he ought to have interfered, the Attorney General's advice should have been taken. The Attorney General, very properly, had drawn the attention of the Public Prosecutor to the case, and surely it then became the duty of that official to interfere. Having called attention so far to the duties of the Public Prosecutor, he (Mr. Monk) begged to express a hope that the Departmental Committee, which was inquiring into the duties of the Public Prosecutor, would recommend in their Report that this functionary should be enabled to interfere in all cases where an unfortunate prosecutor might, through insufficiency of funds, be unable to prosecute those who had grossly misused their power, and had behaved in a manner which, as in the case to which he had alluded, had resulted in their being declared criminals, and punished under the laws of the land.
begged the Committee would accept the suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross), and would not at that moment enter into a discussion as to the position of the Director of Public Prosecutions. His position was a tentative one, and by no means final. They must either go backwards or forwards; and, under the circumstances, the Government had determined to inquire into the whole matter by means of a Committee which was now sitting, and which would enable them to legislate on the subject. They had arrived at the conclusion that the present state of things should not continue, and that the powers should either be increased or withdrawn. No greater power would be given to the Solicitor to the Treasury. Until the Report of the Committee was presented, they could not do anything; and he did not think a long discussion should take place on the matter now. Having expressed that opinion, he could not help differing from the view taken by the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), nor for one moment assent to the charge made against the Public Prosecutor. That gentleman was absent from that House, and the charges made against him would be reported to the public, and those charges ought to be answered. If the Rules under which he acted were wrong, they should be altered, instead of attacks being made upon the Public Prosecutor.
said, he had not only moved for Papers, but had noticed the matter in order to give his hon. and learned Friend an opportunity of replying.
said, that while attacks were made upon the Public Prosecutor, the question really was, whether the Rules under which he was appointed should be revised? They existed for his guidance. In his view, he had no right to take up a case unless there were circumstances which suggested that justice would otherwise not be done. The hon. Member said the matter was one for the decision of the Grand Jury. But how was that obtained? By the gentleman who appeared as attorney for the prosecution going before the Grand Jury and stating his own case. The Grand Jury were not informed of the Rules by which the Public Prosecutor was guided. Only one side of the case was stated to the Grand Jury; and the hon. Gentleman complained of the conduct of the Public Prosecutor. The hon. Member also said he (the Attorney General) called attention to the matter. He did so by letter, directing the notice of the Director of Prosecutions to the presentment of the Grand Jury. He did not ask that gentleman to do anything, but simply asked whether that presentment altered his opinion. When the Public Prosecutor explained the matter, and showed him the whole correspondence, and stated that he had been threatened that the matter would be brought before the House of Commons, he thought he ought not, under those circumstances, to pass any censure upon that gentleman. He supposed the incident this evening was the result of that threat, and that the hon. Member was carrying out what it was then said would be done, because the Public Prosecutor had, in his discretion, carried out the duties imposed upon him. He was sorry this question had been entered into. There were always two sides to a question. It was easy to state one side; but it was due to the Public Prosecutor that censure should not be passed upon him, for he was an officer fettered entirely by statutory Rules. He had inquired into the matter at the time, and, after receiving an explanation, he did not think there had been such a departure from proper duty as to call for censure from that House.
said, he did not think the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) had intended to pass any censure upon the Public Prosecutor. The contention of the hon. Gentleman was that the Director of Public Prosecutions, as the law now stood, was fettered by Rules which operated in such a way that his position was not that which the House of Commons had intended him to be placed in when the Act was passed. The desire of hon. Members, he believed, was that the position of the Public Prosecutor should be so far altered that he should, subject to the control of the Attorney General, be able to take part in a public prosecution where private individuals were unable to proceed against offenders. A particular case had been referred to in which a third party chose to take up a prosecution; and in that case, no doubt, justice was done to the offending parties, which would not have been the case but for the intervention of that third party, without the assistance of the Attorney General. What he understood to be meant by the hon. Member's observations and Motion was that such an alteration should be made in the law that the Public Prosecutor should be an effective public servant, instead of one hampered by the present restrictions, under which he could not exercise that discretion which should be confided to him as a public officer.
said, he did not think any attack upon the Public Prosecutor was justified by the case which had been brought forward, for he believed that that officer had done his duty according to the statutory Rules, and he did not know that he could have done more. Under the Act, it was clearly intended that this Office should be tentative, and that the provisions of the Act should he extended; and he was glad that a Departmental Committee had been appointed to consider the matter. It was not the practice to make public the proceedings of such a Committee; but he understood from the Attorney General that the Report of this Committee was to be presented to Parliament.
said, he would not discuss this matter at any length; but he had taken great interest in the subject. The system of criminal prosecutions was experimental; but a Departmental Committee was rather a close affair; it was not clear that Parliament would have the benefit of the Report of that Committee; and he thought it was very desirable the House should have some means of knowing what had been going on in the Public Prosecutor's Office. With regard to the particular ease mentioned, he must say that, looking at the correspondence, he did not like the tone and temper of the Public Prosecutor, who seemed to express some feeling of injury at anybody taking exception to his action. He had had an able defence from the Attorney General, who had stood up for his subordinate; but he thought there had been a straining of the law. This Office had been in existence for four years; were there any Reports by which Members might know what that officer had been about; what were the principles by which he was guided, and what prosecutions he had taken up, or refused to take up? He should be sorry if any discredit were thrown upon the system, or there were any unjust apprehensions respecting it; and he should very much like the Public Prosecutor to make some kind of Report, showing what he had done and what he had not done. The system of criminal prosecutions was, no doubt, cheap in England; but why? Because they did not pay for it, but left private persons to pay for it. He hoped that another year some reforms might be made; and, in the meantime, he should like to know what the Public Prosecutor had been about?
said, he was exceedingly glad that this question had come up again, because year after year he had been patiently urging this matter upon the attention of the Attorney General. No notice had, however, been taken of the matter; but he supposed the Government were now beginning to see that they had neglected it for many years. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had directed attention to the matter, and had pointed out what a sham this system of public prosecution was, as at present conducted, and supported by the Attorney General. It was stated by the Attorney General that the Public Prosecutor was fettered by Rules; that showed the result of legislating by Rules. That was too much the fashion of the present time, when devolution in its worst form was adopted. In sheltering the Public Prosecutor the Attorney General was sheltering himself; because it was his duty, as well as the Public Prosecutor, to make Rules. This Office had been a perfect sham; but it was not for him to say of another professional man whether he was efficient, or whether his assistant was efficient. But the Government had faltered and hesitated, and could not make up their minds what theory they would run upon; and to-night, for the first time, the system had been praised. He had asked, over and over again, whether the Government approved of the system or not, but he had never got a straightforward answer; and he supposed that the reason why the system had been praised to-night was the Criminal Code Bill, into a portion of which the Public Prosecutor had been introduced. He supposed the Attorney General had not considered what the effect of this Public Prosecutor system would be; but here were salaries amounting to £3,852, while the expenses were £15. Was there another Office in the whole range of all the classes of these Estimates in which the money at the disposal of an official was so contemptibly small, compared with the immense salaries? What sane men would carry on an Office in which the salaries were £3,852, and the expenses £15? Moreover, the expenses were decreasing. They were £20 last year; but because the duties of the Public Prosecutor were increased by the Parliamentary Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Bill) the expenses were reduced by £5. He challenged any hon. Member to point to a single case in all these Estimates where there was the ridiculous sum of £15 or £20 for the expenses of an Office in which the salaries amounted to thousands of pounds. The Office was simply a sham; and if there were these Rules fettering the Public Prosecutor, more shame to the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chief Justice, and the Attorney General that they did not get the Rules altered. It was quite right for the late Government to proceed tentatively in establishing this Office; but there was no reason why the present Government should not make up their minds. They had not advanced a step, and had only diminished the expenses while increasing the salaries. The fact was, that the Government had not honestly stated their view before. They had never stated whether they approved of the Office or not. They had made the Office a sham, and had never given the Public Prosecutor the slightest assistance by altering Rules which crippled him. That was not the way in which to carry out a great reform. They had much better have had a Special Committee of the House than a Departmental Committee; and he hoped this would be the last year in which this excuse about Rules, which need no longer exist, would be put forward. Because, in the case referred to, a high-spirited solicitor, rather than see injustice done, had taken the matter up himself, that was no excuse for the Public Prosecutor, or for the Attorney General, in defending him. The whole case was scandalous, and he hoped that if the Departmental Committee did not do something, there would be another Committee next year to put an end to this sham of a Public Prosecutor.
said, he understood that the Attorney General would make the Committee's Report public; but he wished to make one practical suggestion. In Scotland there were Procurators Fiscal, whose duty it was to carry out the law, and who, as he understood, also discharged the duties of Coroners. He thought it was well worth consideration whether, if they were to go to this large expense for a Public Prosecutor, they might not get rid of the expense in connection with Coroners, as was done in Scotland. Vote agreed to. (10.) £116,880, to complete the sum for Criminal Prosecutions, Sheriffs' Expenses, &c.
said, the Committee had now got to the most important Vote in the whole of these Estimates, involving a sum approaching £200,000; and he hoped this would not be passed without some consideration. He wished to call attention to a matter which he had frequently mentioned. Some years ago the South-Eastern Circuit was split into two. There was still a double expenditure for going on that Circuit, and it was put in the Estimates in this artful way—"Part of South-Eastern Circuit." He desired to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General whether the Examiners of Criminal Prosecution Accounts were really worth their salt? He (Mr. Warton) used to practise at the Bar, and he remembered perfectly well that just and proper expenses—expenses audited by the Judge and sanctioned by the Clerk of the Assizes—had been cut off without the slightest rhyme or reason by the Examiners. He supposed that this was done, in many instances, simply for the purpose of justifying their existence. Now, those persons who were at the trial, such as the Judge, and the Clerk of Assize, knew the nature of the cases in respect of which the expenses were charged. The Examiner of Accounts, however, knew nothing about the cases, yet he was empowered to overrule the decision of the Judge and Clerks of Assize. Now, that he (Mr. Warton) maintained was wrong; and he asked some Member on the Treasury Bench to give the Committee an idea of the annual saving in the matter of charges effected in consequence of the action of the Examiners.
said, the hon. and learned Member for Bridport had spoken of the scandalous waste of public money. There was, however, such a thing as a scandalous waste of another commodity, and that was public time. The hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken at great length on the last Vote, and also on this Vote. He had mentioned the South-Eastern Circuit. Now, the South-Eastern Circuit was really two Circuits, for it combined portions of the Norfolk Circuit and the Home Circuit; and, there being two Circuits, there were two staffs of officials. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said he knew nothing of what the Examiners did. That was very probable. In consequence of the great expense incurred in criminal prosecutions, it was found necessary, in 1857, to have Examiners of Accounts, whose duty it was to see that the amounts charged were not excessive. The result of the action of the Examiners was that the cost of criminal prosecutions had been greatly diminished—in some cases by as much as one-half. If there were no Examiners, it was quite easy to imagine that the expenditure incurred would be very great indeed in many instances.
noticed that there was a charge of £150,000 for the re-payment to counties and boroughs in respect of expenses of prosecutions at Assizes and Sessions. Now, he wished to make a practical suggestion. He thought much of this money might be saved if the Government would give more power to magistrates sitting in Petty Sessions. At the present day there were at Petty Sessions magistrates who were quite capable of trying some cases now brought before Judges. Justice would be administered quite as well by Petty Sessions magistrates; indeed, in some cases, judicial work would be more efficiently and more speedily done by magistrates in Petty Sessions than by Judges at Assizes.
noticed, on page 190, an item for the salaries of the officers of the Central Criminal Court. He was desirous of knowing who had the power of arranging the salaries of these officers?
said, that, after what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had said, he (Mr. Warton), in common justice to himself, ought to say a few words. The hon. and learned Gentleman was very clever in the use of phrases; and when he said that he (Mr. Warton) knew nothing about what the Examiners did, he naturally drew forth a cheer from hon. Members. He (Mr. Warton), however, did know something about the Examiners. He knew, as he had previously stated, of cases where the Judges and Clerks of Assizes had allowed expenses which were subsequently disallowed by the Examiners. What he did not know, and what he wanted the hon. and learned Gentleman to tell him, was, what was the amount of expenses disallowed by the Examiners? It was all very well for the hon. and learned Attorney General to say that the cost of criminal prosecutions had been decreased by one-half. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman mean to say gravely that the cost was reduced one-half?—because that seemed to him (Mr. Warton) to be a most astounding statement. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said that the South-Eastern Circuit combined two Circuits—the Norfolk and the Home Circuit, and that it was necessary that there should be two staffs of officials. He (Mr. Warton) was of opinion that one officer could do for the two Circuits all the work required of him, and he would not fail next year to bring the matter under the notice of the House.
said, that, in answer to the question put to him by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. R. N. Fowler), he had to say that power was given by Act of Parliament to the Judges sitting in the Central Criminal Court to increase the salaries of the officers of that Court. Vote agreed to. (11.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £103,237, 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 such of the Salaries and Expenses of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, of the Court of Appeal, and of the Supreme Court of Judicature (exclusive of the Central Office), as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund."
desired to say a word or two on this Vote, with reference to the subject to which he drew the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General a few days ago. He referred to the serious arrears which now existed in the Chancery Division of the High Court. The hon. and learned Gentleman had admitted that those arrears did actually exist at the present moment. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) was not desirous to impute any blame to the Judges, or to the officers of the High Court, but was imply desirous of calling attention to the condition of affairs, which was a very serious one, so far as suitors in the Chancery Court were concerned, and which required some attempt to remedy on the part of the Government. It was a question which deserved and required the Government's most grave consideration. They had all been accustomed to hear of the delays in Chancery; in fact, delays in Chancery proceedings were now proverbial. Hon. Members had reason to believe that great reform would be accomplished by the Judicature Acts; that the reform would be the means of abolishing delay, and of insuring to the suitor speedier justice. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) was one of those persons who believed that a suitor—it might be that a man might be a suitor against his will, and through no fault of his own—was entitled to a speedy settlement of the question at issue; that he had a right to demand from the Government that they should supply a machinery which would be sufficient to bring about a speedy decision in all cases. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) was now in a position to state to the Committee what was the state of business in the Chancery Courts on the 17th of July. A learned friend of his had been good enough to take the trouble to make out a list of the causes which were ready for hearing in the Chancery Division of the High Court on the 17th of July last. In one Court—that of Vice Chancellor Bacon—there were 31 causes in arrear; 31 causes set down for trial in January, February, May, August, November, and December of last year, which were not yet tried. There were 110 causes which had been set down during the course of the present year, and which remained to be tried, so that in that Court alone there were 141 causes in arrear. In the Court of Mr. Justice North there were four causes set down in 1881 in arrear, 25 causes belonging to 1882, and a large number belonging to 1883. But in the case of Mr. Justice Chitty's Court matters were still more serious—there were 38 adjourned summonses of 1882, which were not yet heard. There were 58 actions set down in 1882, which were not yet brought forward. In Mr. Justice Kay's Court there were six causes set down in 1881 which were not yet tried, 45 in 1882, and 165 in the present year. In Mr. Justice Denman's Court, to which a number of cases had been transferred from Mr. Justice North's Court, there was one cause set down in 1881 still untried; 17 in 1882, and 78 in 1883. They were told that a great relief was to be afforded by the transfer of causes from one Court to another, but the arrears remained; and the result was that there were now 407 witness actions, 265 non-witness actions, and 107 adjourned summonses, making a total of 842 cases set down for trial and not yet heard. Now, that constituted a most grave arrear, and a most grievous delay of justice. It would be a waste of time of the Committee if he were to state the many hard cases which this delay pro- duced. He had received very many letters from suitors themselves; but he would not read them to the Committee, because he had no doubt there might be some explanation that could be given. There were hon. and learned Gentlemen now in the House who would, he was sure, bear him out in saying that those cases were, in many instances, very grievous misfortunes to individuals who were so unfortunate as to find themselves in Court. There might be a case in which £2,000, or £3,000, or less, was involved, in which some three or four persons might have an interest. It very often happened that those people were old, yet they had to wait week after week, month after month, year after year, suffering great poverty possibly in the meanwhile before they could obtain the use of the money to which they were justly entitled. People had a belief that the effect of delay was to heap up the costs; he (Mr. W. H. Smith) did not know whether that was the case or not. He did not mean to impute anything to anybody except Her Majesty's Government, and only to them in this sense—that as a Government they were bound to provide machinery that would be adequate for the administration of justice, and which would be efficient for that purpose. No machinery was efficient under which such a serious and grievous delay as the present could occur. He had one case in his mind. It was that of a person dying in 1879 and leaving a small property, the income of which was to be equally divided amongst his representatives. Up to the present time this property had not been divided, because the Court of Chancery had not been able to decide as to the proper allocation of the fund. A respectable firm of solicitors, whom, perhaps, it would hardly be right that he should name, had written to him to say that they were interested in a summons brought against a Company in liquidation. The summons was set down for hearing in November last, it had not been reached, and there was no likelihood of its being reached on this side of the Long Vacation; and he understood from the letter that the summons was the only matter which prevented the liquidation being closed. He believed the case was well known to several hon. Members of the House, and he had simply mentioned it as an illustration of the most unsatisfactory condition of the Court at the present time. That, however, was not an isolated case. There were cases of this kind—application for leave to sign judgment made on the 24th of March, 1882, summons adjourned from time to time until the 21st of April, when the Chief Clerk declined to make the Order, and on the 11th of May the Judge adjourned the summons again into Court, and it was not until the 5th of July that the case was disposed of. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) had not ventured upon any technical points; he appeared simply on behalf of the unfortunate suitors in the Court of Chancery. He imputed no blame to anyone except Her Majesty's Government, because he held that the Government were bound, if they were satisfied that an evil existed, to find a remedy for the evil. It was notorious that the business of the Chancery Division of the High Court had very largely increased, and that the means of disposing of it was not adequate. Under the circumstances, he had a right to ask his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General to say what course the Government proposed to take to remedy an evil which the hon. and learned Gentleman himself had admitted to be a very grave and serious one.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee an old, old tale. He had told the Committee of the delay in Chancery suits; but the right hon. Gentleman could not attribute the origin of the evil to the present Government, for if they went back before the time of Lord Eldon they would find that arrears existed in the Chancery Court. There was no doubt that for many reasons the business of the Court of Chancery had very much increased of late. But he (the Attorney General) thought there had been a little exaggeration and misunderstanding as to the extent of the block in the Courts. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of cases standing for hearing which were entered in 1881. It did not follow that the Court had not reached those cases. As a matter of fact, the cases stood for settlement or for reference; but they still remained in the list until the final settlement was arrived at. He did not mean to suggest for a moment that there was not delay in hearing many actions; but the Committee must recollect that the Court of Chancery had very onerous duties imposed upon it. It had to administer estates representing millions of money, and sometimes there was great pressure upon the different Courts, in consequence of unexpected matters arising involving great inquiry, and inquiry which had to be conducted with the very greatest care. That really was only a matter of degree. Of course, the block occurred because there were so many more cases entered than previously. Perhaps the Committee would like to know the reason why this was so. The real practical truth was that, for some reason or other, the costs in the Court of Chancery were 30 per cent more than were imposed on any of the other Courts of Queen's Bench. He declined to say whose fault that was; but a remedy was about to be found, because in the new Rules, which were now on the Table of the House, and which the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) was endeavouring to prevent coming into operation, no difference was made between the class of costs in the Chancery Division and the other Divisions of the High Court. He (the Attorney General) believed that such an arrangement would have a leavening tendency upon the business. The Committee was aware that in many cases it was advantageous to go to the Court of Chancery; there were many cases which must, of necessity, go to the Court of Chancery; but there were other cases which could equally well be tried in the Court of Queen's Bench. The Committee was also aware that power was given to remove a number of cases from the Court of Chancery to the Divisional Court of Queen's Bench; and the consequence of that would be, he hoped, that there would be a greater levelling, and better distribution of cases amongst all the Judges than had previously existed. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) asked him what was the remedy. Of course, it would be answered that the remedy consisted in the appointment of more Judges. He wished, however, to avoid that if it were possible. He did not think more Judges ought to be appointed. They ought not to increase the demand on the Bar to find Judges in a greater number than at present. He was sure that the Lord Chancellor would be fully alive to the neces- sities of the case, and that an increase of the staff would be made directly the necessity for it had been proved.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster had brought a terrible indictment against the Court of Chancery. The hon. and learned Attorney General, in his reply, had stated that these delays took place after the suits referred to by the right hon. Gentleman had been decided. But he (Mr. Macfarlane) understood that great delay was due to the taxation of accounts. He was told that it was quite common for accounts of small amount to have, say, one day appointed for their taxation in May, and another in June or July, and that continued obstacles were thrown in the way of settlements by adjournments. The result of this was that the taxation of costs occupied more time than the hearing of the case itself. The hon. and learned Attorney General would know that this was a substantial grievance and a denial of justice. It was the public that paid for the staff of the Court of Chancery; and he would be glad to know whether the Government would not take some steps to increase the staff for the benefit of those wretched and unhappy suitors in Chancery? He was quite sure that the public would be ready to pay for a sufficient staff to do the work of the Court.
said, he wished to draw the attention of the Commitee to the delay which arose in the Court of Admiralty. He was quite aware that the business of the Court of Admiralty was different from that of the Chancery Court.
said, the hon. and learned Member was not in Order in referring to the Court of Admiralty on this Vote. The question he proposed to raise would be appropriate to Vote 7.
said, he was about to refer to the Judge being sent away from the business of the Admiralty Court. He would, however, take another opportunity of raising this question.
said, he thought the Committee were indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster for having taken up the subject of arrears in the Law Courts, because he considered it always better that matters of this kind should be handled by laymen, and because he entirely concurred with all that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the delays in the Court of Chancery. The hon. and learned Attorney General had met the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with the argument that a good deal of the delay arose from the flow of causes into the Chancery Court which would otherwise he disposed of in the Common Law Courts, were it not for the increased scale of charges allowed in the former. He had also remarked that, under the new Rules, there would be no difference between the two scales of costs, and that he hoped the business would be more fairly distributed between the two Divisions. Now, the effect of that would be all very well if there were no block of business in the other Divisions; but he saw that in Middlesex alone there wore no less than 645 causes for hearing and in arrear in the middle of July last before the Circuits began, which arrears had, in all probability, considerably increased since that time. He thought that this disposed, to a considerable extent, of the anticipation raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman, because it showed that in both Divisions a very considerable amount of arrears existed. This had, no doubt, given rise to much dissatisfaction; and it was desirable and necessary that some remedy should be found for the existing state of things. There was one matter, with reference to the Court of Chancery, which had not been adverted to by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and to which, perhaps, he might be allowed to refer—namely, the necessity for the Judges devoting more time than they were now able to devote to the business in Chambers. The Chamber business of the Judges was as important as any business transacted in the Courts, inasmuch as it included the administration of property, and involved questions of intricacy, as well as matters of great delicacy and interest to families. There was always a ready reference from the Chief Clerk to the Judge in Chambers—that was to say, if a suitor were not satisfied with the decision of the Chief Clerk, it could be referred to the Judge in Chambers, and adjudicated upon by him without ceremony, without expense, and without elaborate pleadings. This procedure was most advantageous to the parties interested; but, unfortunately, the only time that could be allotted to this purpose was that which the Judge could spare from his business in Court, generally after 4 o'clock, when he was wearied with his work, and almost obliged to hurry over the important business which came forward in Chambers. He thought the Judge should have an opportunity of transacting that business calmly and deliberately, and that, in order to obtain this result, it was necessary to devote to it exclusively one day in the week; but this, at present, was impossible, and he believed would remain so, unless some addition were made to the staff of the Court. The old system of taking evidence by affidavit he considered injurious and inexpedient, and not tending to the administration of justice; and, therefore, he thought the custom of taking evidence before the Judge vivâ voce had greatly added to the efficiency of the Court. But it was the cause of great delay, inasmuch as it involved a considerable expenditure of time on the part of the Judge. This, again, had, no doubt, given rise to considerable dissatisfaction, and various remedies for the delay had been proposed from time to time. There were Bills before the House for continuous sittings in the country districts, and for the establishing of local tribunals. He did not, however, approve the system of local Courts, because he thought the Judges might, to a certain extent, imbibe local feelings, and become possessed of narrow and confined ideas, and because he thought it much better to have a system of jurisprudence carried out by a central Court, the Judges having power to go on Circuit. But it was a cause of complaint that causes at the Assizes were not fully heard; therefore, he said that more time should be given to them, so that they might not be hurried through. That matter, however, might he safely left to the Judges. He suggested that sittings of two or three weeks held in the towns would give opportunities for clearing off existing arrears; but for that purpose, also, some addition must be made to the staff of the Court. He believed that the people concerned would readily pay the expenses of this arrangement if they found that the proceedings were hastened and brought to a conclusion, and that there would be no objection to an extension of the Court and procedure fees if necessary for such a purpose. The effect of delay was not only prejudicial to the parties interested, but it was also an incentive to further litigation; because the greater the delay the more the suitors relied on the chance of wearying out their opponents. He believed that the Judges, and all the officers of the Courts, were most anxious to get through their work. There was no body of men in the world harder worked than the Taxing Officers and Clerks of the Judges of the Court of Chancery. They devoted every hour of their time, and something more, to the work they had to do; for not only were they employed during office hours, but they were also engaged during the night in reading papers and settling decisions. The Government had to face a large amount of arrears, complaints on the part of the public, overtaxed Courts, and hard-worked officers; and for this unsatisfactory state of affairs some remedy must be found. The cost of that remedy need not constitute a burden on the State, inasmuch as the parties interested would be willing to pay for it; and, therefore, he said, it remained with the Government to make the necessary arrangements.
said, he should be glad to hear from the Attorney General whether the Lord Chancellor had considered the object of the deputation which waited on him in the early part of the Session with reference to an extension of time for the trial of causes at the Assizes? In his opinion, there was room for a great saving of judicial power; he believed that the present staff of Judges was sufficient for the work that had to be done, supposing that work were apportioned with judgment. He trusted that some practical scheme was under consideration, by which the hearing and determining of causes in the Provinces might be expedited, so as to avoid in future the hurry which frequently took place at the end of the Assizes. The present state of things, especially in Lancashire and Yorkshire, was little short of scandalous.
said, he entirely concurred with the right hon. Gentleman in the opinion that the mode of conducting the legal business in Lancashire and Yorkshire amounted to a scandal. In his opinion, it was the duty of the Government and of the Judges to find, without any delay, a remedy for the existing state of affairs. There had been various plans suggested to meet the difficulty; he had himself propounded one some years ago. He believed the object they had in view would never be effectually achieved until there were resident Judges appointed in those counties; he did not mean permanent Judges necessarily; but he said there ought to be Judges in Lancashire and Yorkshire who should secure to the population of those counties as complete an administration of justice as was accorded in London. He did not see why there should not be as frequent deliveries of prisons and as frequent opportunities of trying civil causes in those counties as in London; there ought to be no necessity for incurring expense and bringing witnesses up to London, and keeping them there for a week or more. He was glad to have this opportunity of expressing his concurrence with the views of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, as well as his sense of the duty which devolved on the Government of finding a solution of the existing difficulty.
said, it would have been more satisfactory if the Committee had been informed what it was that the right hon. and learned Gentleman intended to do in this matter. He had been disappointed with the two last speeches which had followed upon the discussion commenced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith). The hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory) had suggested that, somehow or other, judicial time might be economized, a suggestion which it was very easy to make; but what they wanted was something practical that would meet the block which was admitted to exist in the Law Courts. The important question raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster was apparently to go off by agreement between the two Front Benches that it would be well if someone else would suggest a remedy. If they took the Chancery and Common Law Courts together, they would begin next Vacation with something like 1,200 causes to be dealt with. The Committee would be aware that there was no expense in a cause comparable to that occasioned by the postponement of the hearing; the addition to the number of witnesses, the enormous expense of keeping things together, the opportunities which were afforded for bringing in little issues between parties, all constituted a terrible burden upon the public. He did not wish to see the number of Judges increased if some practical scheme could be found for making the services of the present Judges more available. He did not think that much good would result from the establishment of local Courts, as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, the serious disadvantages of which it would be very easy to point out. At present the difficulties in the Assize system were apparent to everyone; they could not expect a large number of cases to be entered for the Assizes, seeing the manner in which causes were sometimes dealt with in the Assize towns. He desired to enter his protest against a statement made, more than once, by the Attorney General, and which, to his surprise, had been echoed that evening from the Front Opposition Bench —namely, that it was difficult to get Judges from the Bar. Those who knew the Bar knew well that if a Judgeship were vacant there were at least a dozen men competent to fill it; and, so long as that could be said, there could be no danger of pressing heavily on the Bar for Judges, and, consequently, there could be no reason for perpetuating those delays, which now amounted to a public scandal.
said, he could assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department that the observations he had made would give great satisfaction in the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire. There had been very great complaints from both those counties, because it was felt that nearly one-third of the causes originated in them; and that, therefore, it was only right that the same facilities should be given for trying those causes as existed in the Metropolis. He thought it was the duty of the Government to take this matter, without delay, into their serious consideration. He did not think that a system of local Courts would satisfy the requirements of the case, because the causes in Lancashire and Yorkshire were such as ought to be dealt with by the highest legal authorities; and he was glad to understand the Attorney General to say that those causes would be tried by the same Judges as those before whom they would come in London. It was monstrous that witnesses should be brought up at an enormous expense from seaport towns to the Metropolis. The question was, whether the convenience of suitors or the convenience of the Judges was to be consulted? Without bringing any charge of neglect of duty against the Judges, he would remark that the manner in which causes were hurried through at the Assizes was nothing short of scandalous. In view of the evil which was admitted on all hands to exist, he said it was the duty of the Government, and the duty of the House of Commons, to find a remedy for it; and he could assure the hon. and learned Attorney General that any endeavour to meet the difficulty would receive from every Member connected with the two counties in question the most cordial assistance.
said, that though he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke) when he said he was disappointed with the statement that the Attorney General had made, yet, on the other hand, he thought it could not be said that the Attorney General had left the matter entirely without some practical conclusion. He confessed himself that he was, to a certain extent, also disappointed with the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement. He was disappointed with the way in which the hon. and learned Gentleman had dealt with the causes which had led to the block of business in the Chancery Division, to which reference had just been made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir R. Assheton Cross). It seemed to him (Mr. Ince) that the causes which were suggested, of an ingenious attempt on the part of one of the branches of the Profession to increase their remuneration, had little or nothing to do with the block. He must say that the vast bulk of actions tried in the Chancery Division were actions to which the mode of procedure and forces of the Common Law Division were wholly inapplicable. But he would tell his hon. and learned Friend what it was that had been done, and to what it was that this block of business was owing. In the first place, it was due to an alteration in procedure. Of course, under the old system, when all their evidence was taken by affidavit, they got through their business a great deal more quickly than they could when they had to hear evidence; and the alteration of procedure in that respect had, to a certain extent, been the cause of delay. Another cause had been the increase in population, and in the business resources of the country. The country did not stand still; and, of course, the Courts, and the business of the Courts, advanced with the development of the population, and the increase of the resources. These were two things which they could not get over. But he would point to a cause which had not yet been adverted to, to which the present state of the Court of Chancery was due; and that was the practice—as he thought, the pernicious practice—of sending away the Judges to do the business of Common Law Judges on Circuit, just at the time when their own business became excessive. Under the existing practice, they took from the administration of justice in the Chancery Division a man who was perfectly familiar with every phase of this jurisdiction, and sent him away, in some instances, to try prisoners. He (Mr. Ince) knew cases in which the first time a learned Judge had ever seen a prisoner in the dock was when he was sent down to try him. No doubt the reply would be made to him—"Oh, but when we take your Judge away we send you another in his place." Yes; they capped the farce of sending a Chancery Judge to do Common Law work by sending a Common Law Judge to do Chancery work. Then his hon. and learned Friend knew perfectly well that a great portion of the business, he might say the bulk of the business, of the Court of Chancery, was of an administrative character. The Judge, as had already been pointed out, was in constant communication with his Chief Clerk in regard to such matters as the care of minors who were wards of Court. Under the existing system they took a Judge away and sent him into the country, though he had, perhaps, had the bringing up of a young man, or a young woman, for several years. Questions arose in regard to this guardianship which the Judge, who was familiar with every part of the case, would, if he were at home, be able to deal with; but a Common Law Judge would be sitting in his place who was unfamiliar with the state of things, knowing literally nothing of what had been going on. This, of course, led to delay, to postponement, and, of course, all these things, which his hon. and learned Friend knew perfectly well, meant not only loss of time, but also greatly increased expense to the parties. That was one of the causes which led to the present unsatisfactory state of things in the Court of Chancery. His hon. and learned Friend had suggested there should be some economy, or some re-arrangement of the Judges' time. The hon. and learned Member knew something, no doubt, of the Court of Chancery—probably just about as much as he (Mr. Ince) knew about the Criminal Bar; but he could inform the hon. and learned Gentleman that the time occupied by the Judge in judicial duties was apportioned in this way — the Judge sat from 10 o'clock until 4 o'clock; but on two days a-week he took Chamber business, and when on Chamber business he sat in Court until 3, after which he went to Chambers. Therefore, the Judge went to Chambers at a time when he might be said to have had almost enough of work for the day. Nevertheless, the Judge sometimes sat until 7 o'clock in the evening, which had often been the case in the Court with which he was most familiar—that of Mr. Justice Chitty. He (Mr. Ince) was glad to be able to supplement the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir R. Assheton Cross) with respect to the progress that had lately been made with business in the Chancery Division, and particularly in the Court with which he was most intimately connected. Since Mr. Justice Chitty obtained his Statistical Return, up to the present time, they had succeeded in disposing of very nearly every case that was set down in 1882. So far they had made a great effort, and there were only a few cases standing over, and these were standing over at the desire of the parties. There was only one other matter he would refer to before sitting down, and it was this—it would be seen that he, as well as other hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite, admitted the present unsatisfactory state of things. He admitted that it was one that called earnestly for a remedy; but here was his answer to his hon. and learned Friend opposite; was not this just the time when they should hesitate from taking any decided step, such as calling upon the Government to increase the number of Judges, when it was admitted on all hands that a new system was to be inaugurated in October, and that there was to be a re-arrangement then, so far as was practicable, of the business of the two Divisions? He thought in that respect, although in regard to other matters he was not satisfied with what the Attorney General had stated, the hon. and learned Gentleman had done well in asking them to wait to see the result of the re-arrangement before they took any step in this matter; and if that rearrangement was unsatisfactory, he (Mr. Ince) confessed he saw no other way of meeting it save by an increase in the number of Judges.
wished to refer to the Chancery Pay Office, and to move that the sum put down in regard to this Vote be reduced by £50. The promises which the Attorney General made to him on the 9th of March were, seemingly, not likely to be carried out in regard to this Office. On that occasion the hon. and learned Gentleman promised the House that the next publication of the fund should be in September, 1883; but he (Mr. Leighton) understood that that promise would not be carried out. The hon. and learned Gentleman had assured him, also, that every respectable person making a claim would have every facility offered him for the establishment of his right. The present method of publishing the fund was such as to confuse the claimants. He understood that the amount standing to each estate would be given in the new list. ["No, no!"] Well, he had entirely misunderstood the hon. and learned Gentleman if that were not so; he had understood him to say that he would not give the items in each case, but that the total amount should be stated, and he regretted to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman's denial. He (Mr. Leighton) should be able to show that such statement ought to be made. There were £700,000 of dormant funds in Chancery, and the lists furnished at present were such that suitors Who lived all over the Kingdom were rendered unable to establish their claims, because the lists simply gave the names of the suits. These suits went back over 100 years—quite 150 years, he should think—and in some cases the amount lying dormant to the credit of a single suit was £10,000. Of course, it was not worth anyone's while to take much care or trouble in the investigation of the circumstances of estates only worth about £50; but it was worth while for those who were the relatives of claimants to investigate matters where large amounts of money were involved. The Chancery Pay Office, therefore, should give every facility to enable them, not only to establish their claim, but also to know beforehand whether their claims were worth establishing. What did the other Offices do? Take the War Office, for example. His hon. and gallant Friend asleep near him (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had succeeded in inducing the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) to publish the precise amounts of money remaining unclaimed in the hands of the Department in such a manner that the relatives of deceased soldiers could ascertain, without difficulty, what was due to them. Why, in this matter, should the War Office be more honest than the Chancery Office, which was a legal Office, and ought, therefore, to set an example of honesty and fair dealing to other Departments? The India Office did the same—gave every possible facility to enable people to make good their claims. The Chancery Office did just the contrary; they did not give the amount, nor any information beyond the names of the parties to the suits; and it was impossible, with that meagre information, to trace out the persons entitled to the money. After bringing this question forward time after time for three years the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had at last promised him that the next list should contain an index to the titles of the accounts, and the year in which the account was opened. He was anxious that the list should also contain a column showing the amount of the accounts—that was the great thing. Why was not the amount specified? The reason given by the Paymaster was that the publication of the amounts would induce people to make false claims, particularly in those cases where the sums were large. But surely it was better that full information should be given for the benefit of genuine claimants than that the money should be allowed to remain dead for fear of fraudulent claims being started. As the promise given to him seemed likely to be insufficiently fulfilled, he begged leave to move the reduction of the Vote by the salary of the Assistant Paymaster General in Chancery—£50. Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £103,187, 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 such of the Salaries and Expenses of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, of the Court of Appeal, and of the Supreme Court of Judicature (exclusive of the Central Office), as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund." —(Mr. Stanley Leighton.)
said, he begged to support the Motion of the hon. Member. Two years ago he had called attention to this matter in reference to a case in the Irish Court of Chancery, in which, in consequence of some information said to have been innocently given by a clerk in the Office to a solicitor, the latter found out the persons entitled, and said that if they would give him £2,000 he would put them in the way of getting £8,000. The case came before the Master of the Rolls in Ireland, who rather strongly commented upon it. Since that time a list had been published in the Court of Chancery in Ireland; but it was not one likely to enable a person to discover anything which might be duo to him.
I would direct the hon. Member's attention to the fact that this Vote refers to England, and not to Ireland.
said, he was aware of that; but what he had been quoting was only by way of illustration. He wished to point out that if an index were prepared at all—such a one as would be a guide to people entitled to property of this kind—further information than the bare title of the case or names of the suitors should be given. For instance, it might very well be that the relatives of John Noakes might be entitled to the money lying in the Office in the name of "John Styles v. Someone else."
said, that to-night was the third time the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Leighton) had made the same speech. A promise had been made to him to the effect that he should have a list which would contain an index and the titles of the accounts, with cross references and the dates of the transactions; but the hon. Member desired more than this. He wanted the amounts stated in the suits; but the objection to that was that there were a class of gentlemen, who had nothing at all to do with the suits, who made a living by tracing out the people to whom the money belonged, and charging them a large percentage for so doing. These people would not take the trouble to go for small sums, but confined their attention to large ones. The hon. Gentleman wished to leave these large prizes open, so that these industrious gentlemen might know what it was worth their while, and what it was not worth their while, to inquire into. This matter had been very fully and carefully considered.
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think it was sufficient to say that he (Mr. Leighton) had made the same speech three times. So he had; but he had never once been properly answered. The hon. and learned Gentleman still maintained that the Chancery Office was acting legitimately by keeping hidden in its grasp the large amounts of money which had come to it through suitors. What did it matter who it was who drew the money out, so that it got into living hands—into the hands of those who were entitled to it? It was better that persons who were not entitled to the money should receive a percentage, and the rightful heirs receive the bulk, than that the whole of the funds should remain for ever in the hands of the Court of Chancery. The answer the hon. and learned Gentleman gave, however, was that he was anxious to keep these funds out of the hands of those who were merely speculating with them. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not said anything as to when the list was to be published—would it be on the 13th of September? He knew what delay was in connection with such Departments as these. If he could get anyone to follow him into the Division Lobby—
Will the list be published as soon as possible?
Yes; as soon as practicable. Question put, and negatived. Original Question again proposed.
said, he was sorry to have to detain the Committee at this time; but for the last two hours he had been waiting to ask a question of the Attorney General. He wished to know what the officials of the Petty Bag Office did? He saw there was a charge of £1,350 a-year in respect of this Department; but he had made inquiries of several legal Gentlemen in the House as to what these officials did, and had never been able to obtain any satisfactory reply. It appeared that there was once an Office of the Petty Bag, which was in the habit of issuing writs in the revocation of patents; but an application had been made to the chief official in the Department, not long ago, for the revocation of a patent, and his reply had been that that part of the Office had been abolished long ago. So far, therefore, as he could make out, this Office, which absorbed £1,350 per annum, was an absolute and total sinecure. He did not wish to move the omission of the Vote, as, possibly, the Attorney General would be able to give them some satisfactory explanation of what these wonderful officials were, and what they did.
said, there were a great many duties connected with this Office. [Laughter.] Probably the hon. Member who had put the question had no wish to have it answered, judging from the levity of some hon. Members. Writs relating to patents, Writs relating to the elections of Members of the House of Commons, Commissions of Lunacy, and other documents, were all filed here. The Office was by no means a sinecure, in the sense of having no work. By the 13th Vict. power was given to raise the salaries of these officials when their duties were increased. Their duties had been increased, and the salary of the chief official had been raised from £600 to £800 a-year. The Legal Department Commissioners thought that the Office should be abolished; and, in consequence of their recommendation, it was provided, under the Judicature Act of 1879, that as soon as the present Chief Clerk ceased to be Chief Clerk, there would be no re-appointment, the duties being apportioned amongst other officials.
considered the end of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech much more satisfactory than the beginning. At the commencement he told them that the officials had a great deal to do; but at the end he said they had so little to do that it was intended to abolish the Office. He thanked the hon. and learned Gentleman for the information that they would soon be able to do away with Petty Bag.
said, that for 1,000 lunatics they were paying the Lord Chancellor's Visitors between £4,000 and £5,000, whilst for the remainder of the lunatics in the country, some 70,000 in number, they only paid about £10,000. One of the reforms continually pressed upon the country was that these two sets of offices should be amalgamated—that there should be no distinction between the Lord Chancellor's Visitors and the Commissioners in Lunacy. At present a great deal of money was being wasted in this matter. A Committee of the House of Commons had reported against the maintenance of the existing distinction, and the subject deserved the attention of the Government. He would also remind the Committee that they were asked to vote that Estimate before the Report of the Lord Chancellor's Visitors had been presented to the House.
said, he thought the hon. Member had abundantly answered the statement of the Attorney General as to the 30 per cent costs which solicitors in Chancery got more than those in Common Law; but there was another observation which the Attorney General made in reference to himself. The Rules which were laid on the Table in July were kept back for 16 clays, and in a few days they would come into force. With regard to the practice of sending Equity Judges on Circuit, he protested against the system, and should protest, until some change was made. Some years ago a pretence was made of amalgamating things which could not be amalgamated—namely, Law and Equity. They were distinctly different, and could not be amalgamated. They might build big buildings and put the Judges together; but they could not amalgamate these things.
The hon. and learned Member is travelling very wide of the Question. This Vote does not concern the fusion of Law and Equity.
said, he was now speaking of the Chancery Judges and what was done with them. They were sent to perform duties which were not proper to them, and which they were not qualified to perform. There was nothing more horrible and ghastly than that Equity Judges should be sent to try men for their lives, they being as utterly unfit for that duty as any Member of that House. The system was horrible and revolting; and the responsibility must rest on the shoulders of those who had, in deference to a stupid cry, given the Equity Judges duties which they were unfit to perform. They had displayed most stupid ignorance of the principles of Common Law; and yet they were taken away from the duties they could perform. That was the reason of the present block in the Courts. He wished to hear from the Government whether they adhered to the system of sending men to perform duties they could not perform, or whether they would change that system? Then there was a question with regard to the imprisonment of lunatics. It had come out, in connection with the Lord Chancellor's lunatics, that a profit of something like £6,000 a-year was made out of the estates of those unhappy men; and he wished to know whether that sum ought not to be accounted for —what was done with that money, and how it appeared in the Estimates? He was told now that the amount was £5,800; but he held that a profit ought not to be made out of these people without its being accounted for.
said, this was a question he had taken up with some vehemence some time ago; and he would appeal to the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert), who understood the question, to corroborate what he should say. There were not a sufficient number of these Commissioners or Visitors. One Commissioner had to visit many thousand lunatics in a year, and they could not possibly perform the work adequately. By a false economy the number of Commissioners had been reduced, although there was something like £4,800 a-year profit made out of the Lord Chancellor's lunatics; and the result was that the visits were a perfect farce. Having this profit of £4,800 a-year which was unaccounted for, he thought the number of Commissioners might be increased, and the visits made more effective. What was done with this money? It was a disgrace to this country that money should be made out of these lunatics; but if it was made it ought to be laid out for their benefit in the appointment of more Commissioners.
said, it was no doubt true that for some years more money had been received in fees than had been spent on salaries to Visitors; but he must inform the Committee that the money received was a varying sum from year to year. The balance was always paid over to the Exchequer; and if the amount received was more than the amount expended, that might be a reason why the Lord Chancellor might be more liberal; but, although there might be a balance some years, there were occasions when there was no balance at all.
asked what the balance this year was?
said, he was not in a position to state the amount. Original Question put, and agreed to. (12.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £74,459, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Central Office of the Supreme Court of Judicature; the Salaries and Expenses of the Judges' Clerks and other Officers; of the District Registrars of the High Court; the remuneration of the Judges' Marshals; and certain Circuit Expenses."
said, he proposed to move the reduction of this Vote by £3,000. When the Judicature Act was before that House in 1879 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and the late Sir John Holker assured him that the Act would effect economies, one item to be got rid of being the Vote for the Petty Bag Office. What had been the fact? So far from there being economy there had been an increasing expenditure. In 1880 the staff was far too large for the work of the Central Office; and, although that work had been reduced the expenditure had gone on increasing. In 1880–1, the year after the establishment of that Office, the salaries amounted to £65,556; but this year they amounted to £71,337. The total expenditure in 1880–1 was £102,496; this year it was £115,450. In 1881 the House was informed that a scheme for future economy in this Office had been submitted to the Treasury for sanction, and that economy would be effected, both in the number of the Staff and in the salaries. He wished to know how soon that scheme was to come into operation? In the Writs Office, he was told, there were six first-class clerks, with salaries varying from £500 to £700 a-year; and the total amount voted this year for those six persons was £3,511. Each of those six first-class clerks was at the head of a room, controlling three under-clerks; but he was told that in three of those rooms there had been nothing done, and that two of the clerks had been absent for six months, besides the usual Vacation. He should like to know what steps had been taken to reduce the number of clerks in a Department where there was so much excess of strength? Then there was another Department—the Bills of Sale Office. That was a Department in which the business was materially reduced by the recent Bills of Sale Act, and would be reduced still further by the new Rules under the Judicature Act. According to his information, the three senior clerks did not attend more than two or three hours a-day; and the Office had, besides those three senior clerks, 30 ordinary clerks and three juniors. All the clerks in this Department belonged to the higher division of clerks. In this Department there was a large amount of merely mechanical work, and yet no lower division clerks were employed; and he was informed that 30 of these clerks, with salaries varying from £200 to £500 a-year, were doing the work of lower division clerks. Unless he got some satisfactory explanation of these facts, or they were disputed, he should assert that in the Central Office, which was to have been accompanied by economy, there were, at the present moment, at least double the number of clerks that could be properly employed. They were not half employed; and the whole arrangements of the Office were of such a character as to demoralize the Public Service. He should move the reduction of the Vote, in order to give the Solicitor General an opportunity of explaining these matters, or of giving an assurance that he would deal with the subject. Motion made, and Question proposed,
"That a sum, not exceeding £71,459, 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 Salaries and Expenses of the Central Office of the Supreme Court of Judicature; the Salaries and Expenses of the Judges' Clerks and other Officers; of the District Registrars of the High Court; the remuneration of the Judges' Marshals; and certain Circuit Exponses."—(Mr. Rylands.)
asked what the Clerk of the Rolls, who got £1,200, was?
said, he would make one or two observations on what the hon. Member for Burnley had said, because he was on the Committee appointed by the late Government to examine into the question of these Offices. He was satisfied that there would be great economy; but the hon. Member must remember the difficulty that arose in working a new system with an old system. The existing officers had to be utilized; some of them could not be dispensed with without being in some way compensated, and it was thought better to bring them all into the Central Office. Economy would be effected as this difficulty diminished; but he admitted that the time would shortly come when it would be desirable to appoint another Committee to investigate the subject. Until there had been some practical experience of amalgamation it was impossible to see how economy could be effected, and how the work could be done more cheaply.
stated, in reply to the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Rogers), that the Clerk of the Rolls was an Office which would be abolished on the next vacancy, and then the salary would be saved. The Clerk had to look after the enrolment of deeds in Chancery.
said, he admitted the fairness of the statement of the Solicitor General; but if there were a number of persons who were not required it would be better economy to retire them at once, as while they remained they were piling up their right to a pension; and, of course, an additional number of years in Office would entitle them to higher pensions. As the hon. and learned Gentleman had intimated that there would be a disposition to revise the whole matter again—and he must admit that the experience of the last year might have been very valuable—he should not divide the Committee; but, unless some very material change for the better was made, before next Session he should be inclined to draw very strong attention to the matter. Motion, by leave, withdrawn. Original Question put, and agreed to. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Warton.)
said, he hoped the hon. and learned Member would not persist with the Motion.
asked the Government to agree not to take the Scotch Education Vote that night.
said, he hoped the Government would not take any Scotch Vote that night. Question put.
stated that he thought the Noes had it, and, his decision being challenged, he directed the Ayes to stand up in their places, and Two Members only having stood up, he declared that the Noes had it. (13.) £57,696, to complete the sum for Probate, &c. Registries of the High Court of Justice. (14.) £6,818, to complete the sum for the Admiralty Registry of the High Court of Justice. (15.) £7,675, to complete the sum for the Wreck Commission. Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock. Committee to sit again To-morrow.
Diseases Prevention (Metropolis) Bill
MOTION FOR LEAVE.
asked leave to introduce a Bill
In 1855 there was passed an Act of Parliament called the Diseases Prevention Act. That Act was passed in consequence of the cholera epidemic in that year, and it was followed by similar Acts with regard to Ireland and Scotland. Under that Act, and similar Acts for Ireland and Scotland, the powers of the local authorities for dealing with cholera epidemic in the United Kingdom were amply sufficient, and they were powers which needed no supplement at the hands of Parliament at the present day. But as regarded the means of putting the powers in force in the Metropolis, there was a certain amount of difficulty. There had been one great cholera epidemic in London since the days in which the Act was passed. That epidemic occurred in 1866. The work was thrown upon the Sanitary Authorities, and in the Metropolis there were no less than 38 separate Sanitary Authorities. In 1866 some of those Authorities had more work than others, and some of them performed the work extremely well, and others less well. The purpose of the Bill which he asked the House to allow him to introduce was, to give an option as to two different sets of Authorities in dealing with cholera in London; so that if the law threw the duty upon any Body unable to cope with an outbreak, there should be some other Body in the Metropolis to fall back upon. At the present time, the Metropolitan Asylum Board, which was elected by various Boards of Guardians, had the power to deal with fever and small-pox cases, and contained amongst its ranks men who had shown great ability in dealing with epidemic disease. It would be almost necessary—in fact, absolutely necessary—in London, in the event of a cholera epidemic, that they should be able to fall back upon a second Sanitary Body, in addition to the 38 Sanitary Authorities, for the purpose of the suppression of the disease. The object of the Bill was really expressed in its 2nd clause, which said that—"to make better provision, as regards the Metropolis, for the isolation and treatment of persons suffering from cholera and other infectious diseases."
It would be seen that this clause constituted the Asylum Board an authority, not a sole authority. The next most important clause in the Bill was the 4th, which related to the expense. At the present moment, each of the parishes and districts under the 38 Vestries and District Boards would have to bear separately the expense incurred in connection with an outbreak of cholera in that parish or district. Supposing there were immense pressure on any one parish, as was the case in 1866, the whole of the costs of dealing with the epidemic in that parish would have to be borne by the parish, which might be, as was then the case, a very small one. It had been thought desirable to equalize the expense of coping with an epidemic by throwing it upon the whole Metropolis. The 4th clause, therefore, provided that—"The managers of the Metropolitan Asylum District shall be within that district a local authority under the Diseases Prevention Act, 1855, for such purposes of the said Act, and with such powers and duties as may from time to time be specified by regulations of the Local Government Board. Subject to such regulations the managers may from time to time utilize any of their buildings, ambulances, and other property and their staff, for the execution of any powers or duties conferred or imposed on them under the said Act and this Act."
Those were the main clauses in the Bill. There was one clause with regard to the Sanitary Authority of the Port of London, which was intended to remove a legal doubt; but the 2nd and 4th clauses were, as he had said, the most important in the Bill. He was happy to be able to repeat to the House the assurance which he gave the other week—namely, that up to the present time there had been no outbreak of cholera in this country; and that, taking the country throughout, the condition of public health was very satisfactory. But there was a certain amount of anxiety with regard to London. There had been, during the last three or four weeks, a large mortality from diarrhœa amongst children under one year of age. Although the mortality from that cause amongst the adult population was small, the atmospheric conditions were such as to excite a certain amount of alarm; and as they were not safe against cholera epidemic even during the course of the present year, until more than six weeks had passed by, it had been thought desirable that powers, such as this Bill contained, should be obtained as quickly as pos- sible. The Bill might be printed during the course of the present night, so that he hoped he might be allowed to take the second reading to-morrow night. He hardly anticipated there would be any opposition to the second reading of the Bill. The consideration in Committee he would put off for a few days, so that Members might have every opportunity of examining the details of the clauses. He was not wedded to the language of the Bill, and he should be very glad to do whatever he could to meet the views of any hon. Members who might see fit to take exception to any of the details. Motion made, and Question proposed,"The amount expended by any local authority in the Metropolis under the Diseases Prevention Act, 1855, other than the managers, in providing any building for the reception of patients or other persons under that Act, shall, to such extent as may be determined by the Local Government Board, together with two-thirds of the salaries or remuneration of any officers or servants employed in any such building under that Act, be repaid to them from the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund by the receiver of that fund, out of any moneys for the time being in his hands, upon the precept of the said Board, to be issued by thorn after the production of such evidence in support of the expenditure as they may deem satisfactory, and the Board may require contributions for the purpose of raising the sums so payable."
"That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make betters provision, as regards the Metropolis, for the isolation and treatment of persons suffering from cholera and other infectious diseases; and for other purposes."—(Sir Charles W.Dilke.)
observed, that his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board spoke of cholera, yet his Notice referred to other infectious diseases. That was one endeavour to obtain special powers in respect of what he hoped was only a panic. If it was meant to give the Metropolitan Asylum Board controlling power over all the Sanitary Authorities of London, he (Mr. Hopwood) was bound to say he should feel it his duty to resist the Bill. He would like to know, in the first place, whether the right hon. Gentleman proposed the Bill as a temporary measure; and, secondly, whether this was an attempt to obtain, at the hands of the people of London, a central control over their individual managements and their local concerns?
said, there was nothing in the Bill at which even the hon. and learned Member need be alarmed. As regarded the temporary nature of the measure, he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) was so anxious to obtain the alternative power that the Bill gave, that he would not be disposed to resist a clause providing that the Bill should be only temporary in its application.
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he had any intention of bringing in a Bill for the protection of seaports, especially with regard to the delivery of rags?
said, he issued yesterday the Order which several days ago he said he had under consideration. The Order was issued yesterday to the only port at which rags had been landed; and to-morrow it would be sent to the whole of the remaining ports.
said, it appeared to be intended to make the Metropolitan Asylum Board only a Local Authority. He ventured to suggest that it would be better to give the Board some control over the different Local Authorities.
said, in introducing the Bill so late in the Session, his object had been only to propose clauses which would raise as little opposition as possible; and he had not considered it right to make the Asylum Managers in any way supreme over the existing authorities. If he were to attempt anything of the kind, he would be certain to raise opposition to the Bill.
said, there had been strong complaints in Dublin with regard to the means there of protecting the health of the inhabitants at all times, and especially in times of epidemic; and his right hon. Friend the Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) had introduced a Bill on the question. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) supposed that this Bill would be strictly confined to the Metropolis, and that it would be impossible to insert any clauses dealing with Dublin?
said, it would be possible to introduce in the Bill, consistently with its form, provisions relating to Local Authorities in England other than those in the Metropolis. He feared, however, it would be difficult to introduce any provisions relating to Ireland, because in Ireland there was a different Local Government Board. In order to include Ireland in the matter, it would be necessary to introduce a separate Bill.
assumed that that would be so. Of course, the anxiety arising from the threatened danger was common to all nationalities; and he would ask whether, in case the Bill of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Dawson) was, in his (Sir Charles W. Dilke's) judgment, fairly calculated to meet the evil, it would receive his support?
said, he would be very happy to confer with his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the subject. Of course, the English authorities would be very glad to place all the information in their possession at the disposal of the Irish Government. Motion agreed to. Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir CHARLES W. DILKE and Secretary Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT. Bill presented, and read the first time [Bill 279.]
Egypt—Cholera Amongst The British Troops
said, that before the House adjourned, he should like to know whether the Financial Secretary to the War Office had any fresh news to give the House with reference to the cholera epidemic in Egypt?
said, the War Office had received to-day a telegram from General Stephenson, commanding in Egypt, to the following effect:—
Perhaps he (Sir Arthur Hayter) might be allowed to add that there was internal evidence in the telegram that the virulence of the disease was abating; and, though they must not be too sanguine, yet there was room to hope that they had arrived at the penultimate stage of this terrible epidemic."General health good. Disease more amenable to treatment. Personal inspection to-day of fresh camp at Wardan; great improvement. Twelve cases there still under treatment, nine of which promise favourably."
Isle Of Wight Highways Bill
Order for Committee read, and discharged.
Bill committed to a Committee of Five Members, Three to be nominated by the House, and Two by the Committee of Selection.
House adjourned at Two o'clock.