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Questions

Volume 91: debated on Friday 15 March 1901

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South African War—Relief To Sufferers After The War

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he can inform the House whether there will be an organisation in South Africa with its machinery in such order that, upon peace being declared, it will be in a position to promptly give help to needy loyalists who have suffered owing to the war, and to needy Boers; and, if so, whether such help will be a charge to the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies; and whether he can state the basis upon which such help will be given.

The organisation of a suitable machinery is under consideration, but I am not in a position to make any further statement at present beyond saying that it is intended that the assistance should be a charge upon the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies.

Paardeberg—General Colvile's Report

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is willing to publish the I report sent by General Colvile to the Commander-in-Chief on the battle of Paardeberg, as he did the corresponding report of General Kelly-Kenny.

No report was received by Lord Roberts from General Colvile, who held only a divisional command at Paardeberg. By the King's Regulations reports describing the action taken by their respective commands are furnished to the senior officer present by officers commanding divisions or brigades, and by such other officers as he may specially call upon: these reports do not accompany the despatch, the senior officer being alone responsible for rendering to the Secretary of State for War an account of the operations. Under these circumstances this report cannot be laid.

NO, Sir; certainly no report was sent to the Commander-in-Chief. A report was sent to General Kelly-Kenny. It was not forwarded to the Commander-in-Chief.

General Colvile's Recall

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether Lord Roberts's despatch of the 19th July, 1900, was before Lord Lansdowne when he reinstated General Colvile in the command at Gibraltar; also if he can state why Lord Roberts's despatch was not issued before instead of after the debate on General Colvile's case; and whether he will lay upon the Table of the House the finding of the Court of Inquiry into the Lindley disaster, which was the reason given for the recall of General Colvile.

Lord Roberts is despatch was received at the War Office before Lord Wolseley recommended the reinstatement of General Colvile at Gibraltar. It is not customary to lay Reports upon individual officers on the Table of the House unless they are quoted or specially moved for, and in this case I should not have thought it fair to General Colvile to depart from the rule in order to justify my action. I quoted from the Paper on Monday last and laid it at once. There is no objection to laving the finding of the Court of Inquiry which investigated the circumstances of the surrender at Lindley.

On what ground, if this finding is laid on the Table, are the findings of other Courts not to be laid on the Table?

Ladysmlth Correspondence

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he will lay upon the Table of the House all the communications, whether by correspondence, messenger, or heliogram, that passed between Sir Redvers Buller and Sir George White relative to the siege of Ladysmith.

Yeomanry Training Conditions

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state what the conditions of training for Yeomanry regiments will be this yea?, whether specially under canvas or not, and of what duration it is likely to be, so that commanding officers may make their arrangements accordingly.

As I stated yesterday, an Army Order on this subject will shortly be issued.

Imperial Yeomanry—Fife And Forear Contingents

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the original Fife and Forfar Volunteer contingent of the Imperial Yeomanry, who went out 125 strong, have been reduced by death, disease, and physical weakness to under twenty men now in active service in South Africa; and whether there is a prospect of this remnant, who enlisted fifteen months ago, being enabled to return to their professions and occupations at an early date.

Some companies of the Yeomanry have, I know, been very much reduced, but we are not aware of the exact strength of the company referred to. It is not possible to state when the operations in South Africa will permit of the return home of these men, but Lord Kitchener is now endeavouring to spare the men whose eases are the hardest.

German-Made Field Guns

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state the nature of the defects in the German-made field guns; also how long will the repairs of the defects occupy; and if it is usual to find similar defects in guns made by British manufacturers.

I have already described to the House the nature of the defects found in the carriages of the field guns recently obtained from. Germany. The repairs are being carried out with all due, expedition. German firms are not unique in having trouble with the axles of gun carriages.

Is it not the fact that before these defects are remedied the total time occupied will have exceeded that which would have been taken had the orders been given to British firms?

[No answer was returned.]

Pay Of Civilian Doctors And Veterinary Surgeons At Home Stations

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, having regard to the fact that the civilian veterinary surgeons at home stations during the war emergency are drawing pay at the rate of £250 per annum and allowances, which brings their pay to over £30 per month, and receive a gratuity of two months pay after twelve months employment, and an extra month's salary for each additional six months service, can he state what increase of salary and gratuity the Government propose paying those civilian medical practitioners who have been engaged at Home stations for the last twelve months and upwards at a salary of only £270 per annum; and, can he explain why the gratuity of £100 for the first year of service with troops at home and £50 for the succeeding years award to civilian medical practitioners holding commissions as medical officers to Volunteer corps and Militia regiments has been refused to the civilian medical practitioners who offered their services during the war, seeing that the rate of pay to the civil surgeons proceeding to South Africa has been increased from one guinea to one and a-half guineas per diem with same allowances and gratuity.

*THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE
(Lord STANLEY, Lancashire, Westhoughton)

In regard to the first paragraph the civilian surgeons and veterinary surgeons employed at home stations are paid at army rates and there is no intention of making any alteration in their pay. In regard to the second paragraph, medical officers belonging to the Militia and Volunteers are treated as officers under Army rules, while private medical practitioners are treated according to the terms on which they engage.

Allowances To Civil Surgeons With The Field Force

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that civil surgeons attached to the Field Force in South Africa do not receive Colonial allowance; and, in view of the fact that the cost of living at the seat of war entails heavy expense, will he consider the expediency of increasing the allowances of these officers.

I have nothing to add to the full reply given by my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary to a ques- tion on this subject put by my friend the Member for the Clapham Division on the 7th August, 1900.†

Militia Non-Commissioned Officers And The Avar

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state whether non-commissioned officers of Militia on active service in South Africa retain their Militia rank and the pay attaching to that rank; and, if not, will he state why these non-commissioned officers are degraded after volunteering to go on active service.

Non-commissioned officers of Militia regiments which volunteer to proceed to South Africa or elsewhere retain their Militia rank. The Militia Reservist who is called up under the Reserve Forces Act joins the Army in the rank of private unless he held the rank of non-commissioned officer on discharge from the Regular forces.

London Scottish Volunteers

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state whether the detachment of London Scottish Volunteers who sailed from Liverpool for the seat of war in South Africa on the 12th instant were enrolled on the understanding that they would relieve the London Scottish Volunteer detachment which has been on service in South Africa for upwards of a year; and, will this detachment return home so soon as the men now going out reach their destination.

The detachment mentioned sailed on the 12th instant. The company of Gordon Highlanders now in South Africa is intended to return when the new company arrives, but as I told the hon. Member before, it is not possible to say exactly when Lord Kitchener will be able, to spare them.

I am not in a position to do so.

† See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series]. Vol. lxxxvii., p. 913.

Chairs For Military Hospitals

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will consider the advisability of replacing the barrack forms without backs now used in the wards of military hospitals by chairs, so that each patient may have one chair.

The question has been under consideration, but is not finally settled.

Purchases Of Munitions Of War Abroad

I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office if he can state how much has been spent during the present financial year in purchasing foreign-made guns and munitions of war.

Swiss Military System

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can furnish the House with such information as the War Office possesses with regard to the military system of Switzer land as is not of a confidential character

The handbook of the Swiss Army published by the Intelligence Division of the War Office will give my hon. friend all the information he requires. The book can be obtained through any bookseller, and the price is sixpence.

Will the War Office issue it in a cheaper form, so that the general public may be able to study it?

Soldiers Pensions—Case Of Henry Beatty, Late 102Nd Foot

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been directed to the case of a man named Henry Beatty, of the late 102nd Foot, who, after having been in the Army and Reserve for twenty-one years and six days, was discharged from the Reserve on 7th January, 1886, with a good conduct certificate; whether he is aware that the greater part of Beatty's period of service was spent in the East Indies, where he contracted fever and ague, the effect of which has been permanently to injure his health and render him incapable of any work requiring much physical exertion; and, will he state whether Beatty is entitled to a pension, and, if so, to what pension; and, if the man has not received it, will he explain on what ground it has been withheld.

This man served thirteen years 193 days with the colours, which, under the terms of his engagement, did not entitle him to a pension. As he was discharged on the termination of his period of engagement, and not on account of any disability contracted while in the service, there is no regulation under which any grant can be made to him.

Mark Iv Bullets

I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office for what reason 4,500,000 Mark IV. bullets were recently broken up.

As no more Mark IV. ammunition was to be made the bullets were useless, and were therefore broken up.

Hms "St Vincent" And Britannia"

I beg to ask the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that an outbreak of influenza followed by pneumonia occurred on board H.M.S. "St. Vincent," at Portsmouth, last year owing to the contamination of the site of her moorings, and that since the moorings have been dredged there has not been any similar outbreak on board the "St. Vincent"; can he state how long she was away from her moorings; and will he cause the "Britannia" to be removed to other moorings, and not to be again moored in the same position until the site has been thoroughly dredged and the accumulation of filth for years removed.

There was an outbreak of influenza, accompanied by lung and other affections, on board the "St. Vincent" in 1899. The ship was specially inspected at the time by the Medical Director General; the whole question of her sanitary condition was inquired into and the ship was thoroughly overhauled. There was no evidence that the outbreak was due to contamination at the site of the moorings, but the moorings were in fact dredged because it was found that the ship touched the ground at low water. There has been no outbreak of any importance since the date named. The "St. Vincent" left her moorings on the 6th July, 1900, and returned to them on the 20th October. A committee, composed of the following gentlemen: Sir Henry Norbury (Medical Director General), Professor Caulfield, Inspector General Fisher, Fleet Surgeon May, has been engaged during the last two days in examining H. M. S. "Britannia" and making inquiry into all the circumstances likely to affect the health of the cadets. The committee has now terminated its inquiry, and its report is expected immediately. Until that report is 7'eceived I should prefer to postpone answering the last part of the hon. Member's question; but I may say there is no reason to believe that there Is any accumulation of filth under the "Britannia."

Return Of Fleets

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he can say on what day he hopes that the Return of Fleets will be circulated to Members.

The Return is very voluminous, and I fear it will not be possible to circulate it for another week or so.

Ireland And Naval Construction

I beg TO ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can state how many of the twenty vessels which are in the course of construction for the Royal Navy are being built in Ireland; how many of the thirty-three new vessels that are to he built in the coming financial year will he built in Ireland; how much of the £30,875,500 which it is proposed to spend on the Navy in the coming year will be paid by the people of Ireland; and how much of this sum will be spent in Ireland; and can he say what reasons, if any, exist why the Government should not establish a dockyard at Cork or Dublin in which some of these vessels could be built, in order that some of the money raised in Ireland should be spent there.

None of the twenty vessels which are in course of construction for the Royal Navy are being built in Ireland, nor will any of the thirty-three new vessels, referred to in the question as being in course of construction in the coming financial year, be built in that country. No tender for the construction of ships for the Royal Navy has been received from any Irish firm. A tender has been received from an Irish firm for the construction of machinery. This tender has been accepted, and the engines are now being manufactured. It is impossible at present to state how much of the funds voted for the Navy will be spent in Ireland during the forthcoming year. The Admiralty are not aware what proportion of the sum which may be voted for the Navy will be paid by the people of Ireland. The interests of the Navy do not at present require the establishment of a dockyard at Cork or Dublin; but I may remind the hon. Member that there is a Government dockyard at I Haulbowline, and that the establishment of this dockyard, and the expenditure in connection with it, have both been greatly increased during the past year.

Any firm which sends a requisition to be placed on the list of Government contractors has the application considered on its merits, and, if found suitable, is invited to tender.

Gaya Bay, British North Borneo

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the First Lord of the Admiralty is aware that Gaya Bay, British North Borneo, affords excellent accommodation as a harbour and naval base; and, in view of the fact that coal is readily available, will he consider the expediency of having the district surveyed with a view to the establishment of a naval station.

The Admiralty are aware that Gaya Bay is a good anchorage, but it is not considered suitable as a naval base, and it is not proposed to utilise it for that purpose.

Greenwich Hospital And Travers' Foundation

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Board of Admiralty receives, in addition to the capital and -income account of Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation, annual reports on the administration of the hospital and foundation; and, if so, whether these can be published along with the statements of the Finances.

The affairs of the Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation are entirely under the management and control of the Admiralty, and an annual report on their administration is received. Such information as it is considered necessary to furnish is already published with the Estimates.

Rhodesia—Native Labour

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has received information, through the British South Africa Company, or from other sources, as to collisions at Salisbury last December between the British South Africa Police and natives imported from Somaliland for service in Rhodesia, and as to disturbances at Beira in January with other natives imported for similar service; and, if so, whether he will inform the House as to the facts; whether he will inform the House as to any arrangements now in progress for obtaining native labour for Rhodesia from outside areas, which are within the knowledge of His Majesty's Government, and have received or may be awaiting its approval; and whether any reports have been received by the High Commissioner for South Africa from the Resident Commissioner in Rhodesia as to the condition and treatment of natives in the British South Africa Company's territory; and, if so, whether they will be communicated to the House.

(1) I have seen an account of the collision at Salisbury on 31st December in the Rhodesia Herald, and I am expecting a reply from Sir A. Milner. As to the disturbance at Beira. I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Northampton yesterday. (2) The Administration of Southern Rhodesia have applied to His Majesty's Government to obtain a removal of the prohibition against native labour being introduced from Portuguese East Africa, and His Majesty's Government are in communication with the Portuguese Government on the subject. The question of obtaining labour from the Northern Transvaal, which is not possible for the moment in the disturbed state of the country, is under consideration. (3) Such a report has been received by Sir A. Milner, who will no doubt send it on as soon as the pressure of work leaves him time to consider and comment upon it.

West Coast Of Africa—Labour Laws

I bog to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will consent to a Return of the laws and regulations affecting labour in those parts of the West African dominions of His Majesty in which gold reefs are being worked.

The special laws affecting labour on the Gold Coast are the Master and Servant Ordinance, 1893, the Slave Dealing Abolition and the Emancipation Ordinance of 1874. A copy of the laws of the Gold Coast will be placed in the. Library. I cannot help thinking there must be some misconception of the answer I gave the other day, when I spoke of the ordinary law of the Gold Coast as seeming to me sufficient to deal with this case. I was not referring to any special law.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware there are a great number of miners up and down the country, specially in Cornwall, who being out of work in consequence of the war in South Africa, are looking to West Africa for a fresh sphere of employment, and are consequently anxious to know what are the conditions of labour obtaining there? Would not a fuller statement on these laws be of value to them?

I do not think it is possible to furnish any such statement as to the special laws on the Gold Coast.

China—Anglo-Russian Dispute At Tientsin

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the attention of the Government has been called to what took place in China recently when the Russians objected to the construction of a railway siding by the British; whether General Barrow, Chief of the Staff, met the Russian objection by ordering the construction of the siding to be completed, if necessary, by force of arms, and had troops placed along the line while the work was continued whether the Russian General protested against this action; and whether General Barrow acted under instructions received from His Majesty's Government.

I am informed that some land over which the North of China Administration have proprietary rights has been claimed by the Russian military authorities as belonging to them in virtue of a concession alleged to have been made to them by the Chinese Government when the disturbances commenced. I am informed that, consequently, some difficulties have arisen with regard to the construction of the sidings referred to in the question. The matter is being dealt with by the authorities on the spot, but not under any special instructions from His Majesty's Government.

Arising out of this matter, may I ask the noble Lord whether in cases of dispute between the allied Powers in China British officers are entitled to threaten to use force without consulting the Home Government?

In reply to that question, I may say that right throughout the Chinese operations British officers have shown conciliation in meeting every difficulty. I do not therefore consider it necessary to send any special instructions.

Will the noble Lord kindly answer the latter part of the question and say whether General Barrow did threaten to use force of arms, and whether in so doing he acted on his own authority or on the authority of the Home Government?

I do not know on what authority the hon. Member makes the statement.

I think if he looks at the telegram he will see that all General Barrow has done has been to ensure the protection of people working in territory belonging to a British company.

China—Cost Of Warlike Operations

I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can state the estimated total cost up to the present date of the recent military and naval operations in China.

I will do my best to answer this question, but I cannot be at all certain as to the accuracy of the answer. The estimated total cost of the military operations in China to the present date is three and a half millions in round figures. I am informed that at the present stage it is impossible to give an estimate of the total cost of the naval operations.

East India—Public Works Department

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will grant the Return entitled East India (Petitions of Officers of Public Works Department).

I have no objection to granting the Return, but a reference to India will be necessary to render it complete.

Indian Military Outposts

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will state what military outposts were maintained at the close of 1898 beyond the frontiers of His Majesty's Indian possessions; whether he can give the aggregate strength of the garrisons by which these posts were held and the class of troops occupying them, and what was the estimated annual cost of the occupation of these positions; and whether he will state what is the present position as to the number, cost, and disposition of troops holding these military outposts.

There were in 1898 no military outposts maintained on the North-West Frontier outside the boundary of the Durand delimitation, and since the ratification of that Agree- ment the line so defined is held to be the external frontier of British India.

Winter Crops In Bomhay And Madras

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he can give further information as to the condition of the winter crops in the Bombay Presidency and parts of Madras: and whether he will state what steps are being taken to deal with a renewal of the distress.

In Bombay the autumn harvest was poor, and the area sown below the average; the spring crop prospects are bad throughout a large portion of the Presidency. In Madras the harvest is below the average to the extent of about 20 per cent. In Burma, Bengal, and Upper India the prospects are such that these provinces will have surplus food with which to supply the wants of those localities where the crops are poor. It is only in the Bombay Presidency that the circumstances are such as to make special relief measures necessary. The Government have provided funds for this purpose, and are taking steps, according to the provisions of the Famine Codes, for carrying on and extending any relief operations which may be necessary.

Indian Memorial To Queen Victoria

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will state what amount has been subscribed in India for a memorial to Her late Majesty Queen Victoria; and whether he can suggest to the Viceroy that this memorial should be such as to confer some permanent benefit upon the suffering masses in India.

I have received no information as to the amount subscribed in India to celebrate by memorials the memory of Her late Majesty. The matter is not an official one, and I could not interfere with the discretion of the subscribers as to the purpose to which their subscriptions should be put.

Indian Famine—Provision For Orphans

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that, owing to the mortality in the Bombay Presidency from famine and disease, numbers of orphans have been left entirely dependent upon charity; and whether he will state what has been done to provide for these children, and what public funds have been allotted to the support of public and private orphanages.

Unhappily, orphans are left after every serious Indian famine. After the 1897 famine about six lakhs of rupees were set apart for the maintenance of orphans. Volumes I. and II. of the Charitable Relief Fund Report describe at more length what was done. Briefly, it may be said that a yearly sum was provided from Government or charitable funds for the support of every really destitute orphan, whether the child was in the keeping of co-religionists or of mission orphanages. I have no doubt similar arrangements will be made by the Government this year. But I have not received and have not asked for a special report upon the subject.

Surat District Land Revenues

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he is aware that in the Surat District, out of a total of 95 per cent. of land revenue collected last year, 85 per cent. was received from the money-lenders and only 10 per cent. from the cultivators; can he state under what authority the land revenue was received from money-lenders who are not in possession of the land, and what interest is exacted by the money-lenders from the cultivators for these advances; and whether, looking to the existing indebtedness of the cultivators, he will direct this practice to be abandoned.

The matters to which this question refers are being investigated by the Famine Commission. Until I receive the Report of the Commission and the opinion of the Government of India, I do not propose to take any action.

China And Earthenware Trades—New Riles

I bug to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the proposed new rules for the china and earthenware trades were adopted on the advice of Professors Oliver and Thorpe; and whether either of these gentlemen has had any practical experience of these trades, or have ever been personally engaged in the production of china or earthenware.

The rules were based on Reports made by Doctors Oliver and Thorpe. Dr. Thorpe has been specially consulted on the chemical questions which have arisen in drafting the rules. These gentlemen are not pottery manufacturers; but they are experts in the scientific questions on which they were consulted.

Factory And Workshop Acts Amendment Bill

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can state when he proposes to introduce the Bill to amend the Factory and Workshop Acts of which he has given notice.

New Code Of Railway Bye-Laws

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the New Code of Railway Bye-laws, which was submitted to the Board of Trade upwards of three years ago, and remitted to the railway companies with certain modifications and suggestions, has again been submitted to the Board for confirmation; and, if not, will he state the general tenor of the replies given by the railway companies to the Board's repeated requests for the adoption of a satisfactory code of railway bye-laws.

As the House is aware, railway bye-laws are submitted to the Board of Trade by individual companies desiring to adopt them, and any confirmation by the Board is a confirmation of a particular system of bye-laws so submitted. It is obviously desirable, however, that the bye-laws of the railway companies should be, as far as it is possible to make them, uniform; and the Board of Trade have been using their best efforts to procure that there shall be submitted to them a system of bye-laws, which may be discussed and accepted as a model code. Up to the present the Board of Trade have not succeeded in these negotiations. I am assured that there is no indisposition on the part of the companies to bring the matter to a conclusion, and I venture to hope that they will succeed in agreeing among themselves as to a system of bye-laws submitted either by an individual company or by the Railway Association, and which may be discussed with the representatives of the companies and other persons interested, with a view to their adoption as a model code.

Imports Of German-Made Brushes

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state what is the value of German-made brushes imported into this country during the year 1900: and whether he can say what quantity has been stopped or confiscated on the ground of being made by convict labour.

Brushes are included with brooms in the official trade accounts, and no separate particulars as to brushes are available. The total value of the imports of brooms and brushes from Germany in 1900 was £45,968. German-made brooms and brushes may reach this country via other countries, such as Holland and Belgium, and these would consequently be returned as importations from such countries. No imported German-made brushes appear to have been stopped or confiscated on the ground of being made by convict labour during the year 1900.

Engine Explosions On The Lancashire And Yorkshire Railway

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the engine 676, which exploded on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway on the 11th instant, was reported on 28th January last as being defective, with tubes badly leaking, and that in consequence the driver had to give up the train of coal he was then working, for which he has been degraded to a fireman's place, at a reduction of 1s. per day in wages; and will he direct an inquiry to be held in this case.

No, Sir. I am not aware of any such report. If the hon. Member refers to a report made to the company by one of its officers, it would not come under my notice. I will, however, see that the inspecting officer who holds the inquiry into the accident shall have his attention directed to the allegation contained in the hon. Member's question.

Constitution Of The Board Of Trade

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state who are the members of the Board of Trade, excluding the Advisory or Consultative Committee, and irrespective of permanent officials; whether those Members of the Board attend meetings, and how many such meetings have been held since he became president; and whether he can state what functions those Members are called upon to exercise.

The "Board of Trade" means the Lords of the Committee for the time being of the Privy Council appointed for the consideration of matters relating to trade and foreign plantations. Under an Order in Council of 1786 these Lords include:—The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the First Lord of the Treasury, the First Lord of the Admiralty, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and such Lords as hold the following offices, namely: the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and the Paymaster General of His Majesty's Forces. It is not customary to summon a meeting of all these members.

The Board of Trade does meet. The quorum consists of one—myself.*

Irish And Scottish Lighthouse Boards

I bog to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the annual meeting of Associated Chambers of Commerce yesterday passed a resolution unanimously resolving that the constitution of Lighthouse Boards, particularly those of Ireland and Scotland, is unsatisfactory; and whether he will support a private Bill or introduce a measure to reconstitute the Irish and Scotch Lighthouse Boards.

No copy of such a resolution has yet reached me. As I have more than once informed the hon. Member, His Majesty's Government do not, as at present advised, contemplate legislation dealing with the constitution of the Irish and Scottish Lighthouse authorities.

Vaccination—Local Government Board Circular

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, having regard to the declaration of his predecessor in this House on the 20th of July, 1898, that the administration of a compulsory vaccination law would be neither necessary nor desirable, and the tacit promise of the same Minister on the same date that the Local Government Board would not do anything to interfere

*Reference may be made to The Parliamentary History, Vol. xxi., page 233, for the discussions on Burke's abortive "Establishment Bill" of 1780. The clause for abolishing the old Board of Trade was vigorously opposed, and passed through Committee by a majority of only eight. On page 241 one of Burke's opponents traces the institution of councils or commissions of trade to very early times.
with the relations between vaccination officers and the guardians who employ and pay them, he will withdraw the circular issued by the Local Government Board.

As the question of the hon. Member contains two distinct statements referring to myself, perhaps before it is answered I may be allowed to make a personal explanation. The hon. Member is new to the House, and is probably not aware that I have repeatedly explained that the first statement alluded to refers solely to the concession made by the Government at that time. As to the second statement, I have repeatedly shown that both the statement and the inferences which are drawn from it are equally erroneous.

My right hon. friend has dealt with the allegations contained in the question, and it only remains for me to say that I must decline to withdraw the circular.

Post Office—Twine Contract

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he can say when the contract for twine supplied to the Post Office was last renewed, and the name of the present contractor; whether he is a manufacturer of twine; whether the contract is for hemp twine, and whether that article is being supplied; and when he again proposes to submit the contract for tender.

*THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
(Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, Worcestershire, E.)

There are ten kinds of twine, string, and cord used by the Post Office, and supplies are obtained partly from the Prison Commissioners and partly from two contractors, Messrs. Ullathorne and Co. and Mr. I. N. Lyons, the contracts with whom were made in 1895 and are terminable by six months notice. Both are manufacturers of twine. The materials specified for the various kinds of twine, &c., are hemp, flax, and jute, and the supplies are carefully tested on delivery to see that they con form to specification. It is not con sidered desirable to invite fresh tenders at present.

Are the contracts of any other Department subject to similar conditions as to termination?

Vale Of Clwyd Postal Slrvice

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware of the inconvenience long felt by the residents of Denbigh and Ruthin, and other places in the Vale of Clwyd, owing to the system by which the mail postal service is worked; whether he is aware that the town of Den big his served by a mail cart, which is drive, I all the way from Den bigh to Rhyl, carling en route at Trefnant, St. Asaph, and Rhuddlan, and travelling along a road which most of the distance runs alongside the line of the London and North. Western Kailway Company from Denbigh to Rhyl; whether he is further aware that letters from Ruthin are similarly driven in a mail cart from Ruthin over the mountain to Mold, and from Mold on to Flint, although there is a railway connection from Ruthin to Chester either via Rhyl or via Mold; whether he can state the reason why this system, in vogue previous to the opening of the railway connections between the London and North Western Railway main line and the Vale of Clwyd, is perpetuated; and whether, seeing that these railway facilities for the carrying of the mails from these towns are, and have long been, available, he will, in the public interest, take steps for securing a more expeditious transference of the mails in the district referred to.

The night mails for and from Ruthin and Denbigh are conveyed by mail cart in the manner described by the hon. Member ber. There are no trains at present running which could be used for that service, and when the railway company were last communicated with on the subject they were not willing to put on trains at suitable hours except for a payment considerably greater than the service warranted. As, however, some years have elapsed since the matter was last inquired into, the Postmaster General has given instructions for renewed inquiry to be made, and he will communicate the result to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Has the hon. Gentleman received information that since this question was put down there has, owing to an accident, been another delay of one and a half hours?

Yes, Sir. But it is not merely to mail carts that accidents happen.

But is not the hon. Gentleman aware that these accidents and delays frequently occur?

Assistants Of Customs

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the promise made by his predecessor on 31st July last, that the outdoor officers promoted to the grade of Assistants of Customs, who did practically the same work in their former posts, would have that fact recognised by being placed at a higher point in the scale of salary assigned to Assistants of Customs, has not been fulfilled, and that these officers have been informed that no further recognition must be looked for; and if he will state why this promise has not been fulfilled, and whether he will take measures to see that it is carried out.

Yes, Sir, I am aware of the promise made by my right hon. friend that the men who, before they were appointed to the new class of Assistants of Customs, had as outdoor officers been doing work equal to that of the new class, should count the time during which they had done such work and take their position in future in the scale of the new class accordingly. Steps were at once taken to carry out this promise. After careful consideration it was decided to allow them to count all time in excess of three years served as outdoor officers as if it were time spent on duties equal to that of the new class, and that to give effect to the promise made each of the officers affected should be placed at the point which he would have reached if he had become an assistant on the completion of three years service as outdoor officer. On applying this rule to the individual-cases it was found that owing to a special concession made to this class of officer in March, 1897, the benefit of the concession promised by my right hon. friend' was already enjoyed in practice by the whole of the staff concerned with some few very slight and temporary exceptions, not amounting in most cases to more than a few shillings. I have directed that in all these cases the difference, whatever it is, shall be paid to the officers concerned; and when this has been done the promise of my right hon. friend will, have been completely fulfilled.

Dismtssals—Case Of Mr Careless

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that Mr. Careless, a post office sorter, has recently been dismissed, after sixteen years good conduct service, on a charge of stealing and cashing a postal order value 8s. 6d.; that Mr. Careless denies the charge and demands to be prosecuted so that he may prove his innocence; that the post office, though they have deducted the 8s. 6d. from his pay, refuse to prosecute him; and whether it is in accordance with the rules of the public service to dismiss an old official for stealing, deduct the loss from his wages, and yet refuse to prosecute him when he demands to be tried to prove his innocence.

In reply to the hon. Member I have to state that Mr. Alfred Charles Careless, late a sorter attached to the Circulation Branch at the chief office was recently dismissed by the Postmaster General, as he was of opinion that Mr. Careless was not a fit person to be retained in the service. The Postmaster General is unable to admit the principle that he is bound to prosecute a post office servant for an alleged irregularity before dismissing him. The Postmaster General must in the interest of the public service exercise a discretion in such matters.

May I ask whether this sorter was dismissed not for irregularity and unsuitability, but for absolute stealing? Was not the money said to have been stolen deducted from his wages, and has he not asked to be prosecuted for stealing in order to be may have an opportunity of proving his innocence?

There was a deduction made as stated in the question. The reply given to me by the Postmaster General is that which I have read. It says that Mr. Careless was dismissed because the Postmaster General did not think him a fit person to be retained in the service. If Mr. Careless considers himself aggrieved he has his remedy against the Postmaster General, who cannot undertake to order a prosecution in every case in which he feels it necessary to dispense with anyone's service.

Will the Postmaster General defend the action if one is brought?

In view of precedents recently set by another Department, cannot this man, who is unfit for service at home, be sent to Gibraltar?

[No answer was returned.]

Compulsory Retirement From The Civil Service

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he can state the objections, if any, to assimilating the age fixed for the compulsory retirement of officials from the Post Office, and Inland Revenue, and Customs Departments respectively; and will he take steps for the assimilation in future of the practice of these Departments.

The Orders in Council while making retire- ment compulsory at the age of sixty-five, leave it to the discretion of heads of departments to call upon their officers to retire at sixty if they see fit. The Treasury think it important to maintain the discretion and responsibility thus vested in the heads of Departments, and they are not prepared to interfere with the existing practice.

Avoch Harbour

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether the Secretary for Scotland is aware that one side of the harbour of Avoch, Ross-shire, has been entirely swept away, and that apart from this the harbour is in a bad state of repair; is he aware that during a storm a year ago several boats inside the harbour belonging to fishermen of the district were completely wrecked; and will he state who is responsible for the maintenance of the harbour, and what steps he proposes to take in order to secure the repair of the harbour.

I am informed by the Fishery Board that the answer to the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question is in the negative, and to the second in the affirmative, and in reply to the third I may point out that the Secretary for Scotland has no source of information not equally open to the hon. Member himself, and no means of securing the repair of the harbour as seems to be suggested by the hon. Member.

Hospital Accommodation In The Highlands And Islands Of Scotland

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether, in view of the difficulty experienced in securing suitable hospital accommodation in the poorer districts of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, he will consider the expediency of introducing legislation such as will provide for the establishment and maintenance of hospitals in congested areas.

The Secretary for Scotland would not be disinclined, should a favourable opportunity present itself, to amend the Congested Districts (Scotland) Act, 1897, in one or two respects, and in this event he will consider whether the point mentioned in the hon. Member's question can be provided for.

Congestion In The Island Of Lewis

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether the Secretary for Scotland has received a petition from the Landward Committee of the Stornoway Parish Council calling attention to the congested condition of the Island of Lewis and the consequent evils arising therefrom; and will he state whether the Congested Districts Board have made any efforts to secure land in Lewis, at places other than in the Point District, suitable for new holdings; and if so, will he give particulars.

The answer to the first portion of the hon. Member's question is in the affirmative. The answer to the second portion is also in the affirmative, namely at Aignish, Cress and Croir.

Irish Local Government Rules And Orders

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can explain why the further Return of rides or orders made or issued under or in consequence of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, which was promised on the 20th July last year by his predecessor, has not since been laid upon the Table of the House.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can say when the rules and orders of the Local Government Board (in continuation of Parliamentary Paper, No. 360, of Session 1899), promised last year, will be issued.

The Return was laid on the Table and ordered to be printed in August last. The rules and orders are ready for press, but there has been unavoidable delay in the preparation of the index. This has now been completed, and the Return will be distributed at an early date.

Irish Dairy Industries

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Department of Agriculture is aware that all dairies must be registered, and that all preservatives except common salt are prohibited for butter in Denmark; and further that in the same country pasteurisation of milk has recently been made compulsory in all dairies with the objects of preventing the spread of contagious disease, of improving the flavour of butter, and of increasing keeping qualities of same; and whether he contemplates introducing legislation dealing with any of these matters in Ireland.

The facts are as stated in the question. In Ireland all dailies from which milk is sold to the public, as well as all co-operative dairies in which butter is manufactured, are registered. With regard to preservatives, the Department of Agriculture thinks it advisable to await the report of the Committee appointed by the English Local Government Board to inquire into the use of preservatives in food, before expressing an opinion on the question of special legislation on the subject. As regards the pasteurisation, the Department is prepared to make advances upon favourable terms to enable owners of dairies to erect pasteurising plant, but it does not, at present, consider that legislation making pasteurisation compulsory is required.

Labourers' Cottages At Birr

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that out of forty-five applications for labourers' cottages in the Birr No. 1 Rural District, and approved of by that District Council, only seven were passed by the Local Government Board; and whether, when the next inquiry for the erection of labourers' cottages in that union is held, some inspector other than that who has recently reported will be sent to take the evidence and report upon it.

The facts are correctly stated in the first paragraph. The rejection of so many applications was duo to the careless manner in which the scheme was prepared, the provisions of the Act in some respects having been wholly disregarded. The inspector who held the inquiry is one of the most experienced officers of the Board, and I cannot give the undertaking asked in the second paragraph.

Irish Congested Districts Return

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will grant the Return respecting Congested Districts (Ireland) which stands on to-day's Paper.*

It is not possible to give the information indicated under all the headings of this Return. But I have collected together as much as is procurable, and will forward it to the hon. Member privately, as soon as it has been tabulated.

Belfast Pauper Graveyards

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether complaints have been

*The following is the Return alluded to:—Congested Districts (Ireland).—Return showing (1) total rateable value of the Congested District portion of county Kerry; (2) total area and population of same; (3) total amount of money expended in Kerry by the Congested Districts Hoard since the passing of the Act of 1801; (4) how and when has such money been expended; (5) has the money available for the purposes of the Act been distributed in accordance with Section 36, subsection 3 of the Purchase of Land Act, 1891, which says that the money be apportioned between the Congested Districts Counties in proportion to their population; (6) total amount which under this section should since the passing of the Act be paid to Kerry; (7) how many estates in Kerry have been listed for sale under the 40th section of the Land Act of 1896; (8) how many of such estates have the Congested Districts Hoard endeavoured to purchase: (9) what is the cause of the delay in the sale of such estates to the tenants.
made to the Local Government Board as to the overcrowded condition of the pauper graveyard, Belfast; can he say what is its area; and has any record been kept of the number interred; is he aware that the medical officer of health condemns it as insanitary and that there are a number of working men's houses in close proximity to the graveyard, and, will he cause inquiry to be made into this matter.

The area of the workhouse cemetery is about two and a half acres, and a record is kept. The medical officer of health has not condemned the cemetery as insanitary; dwelling houses have been erected in the neighbourhood. The Local Government Board has been in correspondence with the guardians on the subject of providing additional accommodation, and the Board understands that the guardians are now taking steps to this end.

Phœnix Park, Dublin—Use For Military Purposes

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord I Lieutenant of Ireland whether the military authorities in Dublin have made any request that an extended area of Phoenix Park should be placed at their service for military training operations: if so, what further portions of the park were asked for and what further portions, if any, have been given for military purposes; and will he take care that no further encroachments are made upon the areas of the park used by the public for amusements.

The correspondence referred to dealt mainly with access by a shorter route to the fifteen acres, and to certain facilities for practising extended formations over wider areas. No encroachment will be made on areas used for games.

Omagh District Cemetery

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that a loan for the purpose of providing a cemetery for the district of Omagh was sanctioned in the year 1899, and an instalment of £1,000 for warded in September, 1899, to the Omagh Rural District Council, and that the amount expended by the council to the 1st April, 1900, was £2,077, on which date the control of the cemetery was transferred to the Omagh Urban Council, thus leaving a balance due to the rural district council of £1,077; and, having regard to the fact that the several applications to the Local Government Board for the payment of this £1,077 remain unanswered to the detriment of the rural council, which is responsible to the Ulster Bank for this sum with interest at the rate of four per cent., will he state the cause of delay, and when the money will be; forwarded.

The figures are correctly stated in the first paragraph. No applications to the Local Government Board for payment of the sum of £1,077 remain unanswered. The Board approved of the issue of a further instalment of £800 to the Urban Council in October last. The question of the adjustment of the liabilities of the Urban and Rural District Council is still unsettled. The authorities have agreed to refer the matters in dispute for settlement by an adjusting officer of the Local Government Board, and until the formal agreement to this effect is before the Board it cannot take any action in the matter.

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether, seeing that although the extended time allowed by the Local Government Board Order for closing the old burial ground at Omagh expired on 1st March, the new cemetery is not ready to receive interments nor is it likely to be ready for several months, ho will advise the Local Government Board to still further extend the time of closing the Drumragh burial ground.

If such an application be made to the Board by the local authority, the period will be extended.

Roxboro Road School

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieuten- ant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Roxboro Road School premises are let to Rev. Canon Greg as tenant from year to year, in contravention of the terms of the Act, vesting them in the trustees, in the several schemes drawn up by the Educational Endowment Commission and agreed to on the part of Roman Catholics and Protestants, that the value of these premises when realized should be devoted to the interests of education in Limerick; and does he intend to take any steps to secure this endowment for the people of Limerick.

The justices acted within their powers in letting these premises to Dean Greg, not in contravention of the statute, as stated in the question. The several schemes having fallen through, owing to the objection raised to them, nothing can now be done without legislation, as the powers of the Commissioners are spent.

So there is no law to prevent such trust funds being diverted from the purposes for which they were created? Are we in Ireland to be governed by no law founded on fair play and justice?

Shillelagh Union Troubles

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can give the names of the witnesses summoned by Dr. Flinn on behalf of Nurse Joyce in connection with the recent Local Government Board inquiry at Shillelagh; also the names of those witnesses who gave evidence for Nurse Joyce, and of those who did not give evidence.

I am communicating the information desired in the question to the hon. Member privately.

I do not want the information privately. This is a matter of great importance, concerning as it does a medical officer of the Local Government Board, so I will put the question on Monday.

It is not a long list. There are only eight names. I want them published.

Thomastown Petty Sessional Bench

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland what is the number of Protestant and the number of Roman Catholic magistrates in Thomastown petty sessions district; whether he is aware that for twenty years no Roman Catholic magistrate was appointed in this district, and that 95 per cent. of the population are Roman Catholics; and whether any steps will he taken to remedy this grievance.

The numbers are eight and none respectively. There is no information which would enable me to reply to the second and third paragraphs of the question. The Lieutenant of the county and the Lord Chancellor will be prepared to consider the names of any gentlemen recommended to them by the hon. Member.

Thomastown Sanitation

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if a resolution has been received from Thomastown Rural District Council, by the Local Government Board, asking them to send their medical and engineering inspectors to visit Thomastown and report on sanitation of same; whether he is aware that the medical officer of health reported twelve months ago some portions of Thomastown as dangerous to the public health; and whether he can give any assurance that Local Government Board inspectors will visit and report in the near future.

It forms no part of the duty of the Local Government Board's engineers to advise local authorities in the manner suggested; the Rural Council should employ a competent engineer. The medical officer of health reported some time ago in favour of an improved scheme of drainage. The Board will communicate with the Council shortly on the subject, and will I instruct one of their medical inspectors to attend and give the Council any assistance in his power.

Poisoning Salmon Spawning Grounds

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware of a practice in some parts of the west coast of Ireland of poisoning the spawning resorts with pounded makkinbwee, to the injury of the salmon industry; and that the fishermen and their families, some 300 souls, resident on the island of Rossmore in the Kenmare river, complain that by reason of this poisoning their chief soruce of living is reduced and imperiled; and whether, seeing that at petty sessions detected persons have been frequently fined without bringing redress, he will consider what other step can be taken to put a stop to the practice complained of.

Considerable damage is done to the salmon fisheries in some parts of Ireland by the poisoning of livers with the plant indicated in the question (Euphorbia Hibernica). The plant grows in great profusion, and it is very difficult to detect persons actually putting it in the water. The Irish Inland Fisheries Commissioners in their recent Report recommended some amendments in the law with a, view to dealing with this offence, and these recommendations are now engaging the attention of the Department of Agriculture.

Irish Board Of Works Chairmanship

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Chairman of the Board of Works, Ireland, has resigned and whether his resignation has been accepted; whether any appointment has yet been made to the office; and, if so, whether he can say who has been appointed, and what are his qualifications for the office.

Perhaps the hon. Member will repeat this question on Monday, and address it to my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury.

Stewartstown—St Patrick's Day Meeting

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether it has come to his knowledge that arrangements have been made to hold a public meeting on the 18th instant in the vicinity of Stewarts-town, County Tyrone, to commemorate the national festival of Ireland; is he aware that, notwithstanding the fact that a number of people would require to pass into and through the town to attend the meeting, the local magistrates have issued a proclamation forbidding excursionists to pass through Stewartstown on Monday next; and whether this action of the magistrates will be reviewed and cancelled.

The promoters of the meeting have been warned that it cannot be allowed in the town, because it would undoubtedly lead to a riot; but if it is held outside the town no interference with it will be permitted; nor will persons be prevented from passing through the town to take part in it, so long as nothing in the nature of a procession is formed within the town. The magistrates' action will be supported.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the local magistrates have issued a proclamation (I have it here) absolutely forbidding the meeting?

The meeting cannot be allowed in the town, but it may take place outside.

Why should the meeting be allowed immemediately outside the town but not in it?

It is a matter of police precautions. Meetings of this kind sometimes lead to trouble.

lf the meeting is held outside the town will the proclamation be withdrawn?

Will the Orangemen in the town be confined to barracks on the day?

[No answer was given.]

The Wexford Local Government Appeal

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in view of the decision of the Court of Appeal in the county Wexford case, in reference to the action of the Local Government Board, in increasing the salaries of certain county officials, he will instruct the Local Government Board to hold an inquiry in the county Fermanagh on the matter of such increases in said county.

The orders made in the case of the secretary and one assistant surveyor were brought into the Court of King's Bench. In the case of the secretary an agreement was arrived at with the county council. In the case of the assistant surveyor the conditional order was discharged, and that decision was not appealed against; consequently all the orders remain in force, and there appears to be no power to withdraw the orders or to re-open the question.

Greystones Pier And Harbour

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that a sum of over £20,000 was expended on the erection of a pier and harbour at Greystones, county Wicklow; that the county surveyor inspected the works in January, 1896, and reported several defects in the works; that the Board of Works issued a warrant in July, 1896, transferring the pier and harbour in an incomplete condition to the grand jury of the county Wicklow, and that the county surveyor reported to the grand jury again in March, 1897. that nothing had been done to the works since his report in January, 1896, and that he found them in a state of partial ruin and positively dangerous; and whether, seeing that the grand jury in the same year passed a resolution that owing to the condition of the Greystones Harbour they declined to accept any responsibility in connection with it or to appoint a harbour master, and that the ratepayers of the barony of Rathdown are charged with an annual payment of £68 for this work, and having regard to the expenditure of public money in this case, the Board of Works will take the necessary steps to put the pier and harbour into proper condition, and enable the county council to take charge of the harbour for the benefit of the locality.

The statements in the first paragraph are generally correct, except that I am unable to say whether the county surveyor in January, 1896, made a report to the late grand jury on the subject. With reference to the inquiry at the conclusion of the question, I can only say at present that the Irish Government is in communication with the Treasury in this and other similar matters.

Sale Of The Dillon Estate

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to the legal proceedings in connection with the sale of the Dillon estate by the Congested Districts Board to the tenants, in which a hitch has arisen in consequence of the reservation of sporting rights; in whose interest has this reservation been proposed; is he aware that one of the members of the Land Commission has refused to sanction the advance of public money on account of this reservation, and that further proceedings have been initiated by the Congested Districts Board for the purpose of insisting on the reservation against the wishes of the tenants; and whether it is intended by the Board to insist on the insertion of the reservation clause in the agreements, and so jeopardise the proposed sale.

The matters referred to in this question are down for hearing before the Land Commission Court. I am, therefore, Precluded from commenting on them.

Leslie V Justices Ok Monaghan

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that, at the October Sessions of last year, at Monaghan. Henry K. Leslie, agent for the Earl of Dartrey, applied for a transfer of a licence to sell spirituous liquors by retail, which was opposed by a parishioner and refused on the grounds of unfitness and inconvenience of the premises, unfitness of the applicant, and of his not being in bona fide occupation of the premises, and that the Queen's Bench Division upheld this decision; can he explain why the police did not officially object to the application, as the sergeant of the district, when called by the objector, swore that the premises were incapable of proper police supervision, and deposed to the unfitness and inconvenience of the premises; and in view of the fact that Mr. Leslie is again applying for a licence on 26th March, will instructions be given to the police to officially oppose the granting of the licence.

Before my right hon. friend answers the question will he let me ask if this Mr. Leslie is carrying on business as a publican although he was refused a licence by the licensing authorities? If so, will he tell the House under what authority he is doing so.

At the request of my right hon. friend I will reply to this question. The facts stated in the first paragraph are substantially correct. The house referred to has been licensed and managed for many years by a tenant of Lord Dartrey. On the death of this tenant Mr. Leslie, on behalf of his principal, paid the executors of the deceased tenant a sum of £400 for their interest in the premises and applied for a transfer of the licence to himself until he could procure another tenant. The alleged unfitness in the premises consisted in its distance from the police barrack, though that was the same as it had been for many years during the lifetime of the deceased publican. And the alleged unfitness of the applicant, who was a most respectable gentleman, consisted in the fact that he would not reside on the premises and could not personally superintend the business. These were technical legal questions not justifying police intervention. The reply to the last paragraph is in the negative. With regard to the supplementary question, Mr. Leslie would have been required to serve notice of twenty-one days before 12th January, and as the decision of the Court of the Queen's Bench was not given until the 21st December, time did not permit of the notice being given for hearing in January. Application for the new licence will be made on 26th March, and pending that the Excise authorities have granted a permit to Mr. Leslie to carry on the business.

I have in my hand a letter from the Excise authorities, in which they say they are acting on the recommendation of the Irish Government. Am I to understand that the Irish Government claim a right in licensing matters to override the decisions of the licensing authority confirmed by the Court of the Queen's Bench in cases in which the applicant is the agent of the Irish landlord?

No, Sir. The Irish Government claim no such authority, and it was hardly necessary for the hon. Gentleman to ask the question or for me answer it. The hon. Member is entirely in error in supposing that the Irish Executive have given any directions in the matter.

I have the authority of the Excise people for saying that they have.

Is there any statute enabling the Excise authorities to grant licences which have been refused both by the local Bench and the Court of Appeal?

For the information of the Chancellor of the Exchequer I give notice that on the Inland Revenue Vote I shall call attention to this illegal action of the Excise authorities.

IS it not the duty of the Attorney General to prosecute in these cases of illegality?

Irish Local Government—Road Length Limits

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland whether the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, or any of the Orders in Council made in connection therewith limit the length of a road which may be formulated in one proposal by a district council and accepted by a county council; and, if so, can he state the provisions of the Act, or the Order which so limits the length of the road.

I am not aware of any provision in the Act or Orders providing specifically for the length of a road, in reference to which a proposal may be formulated.

Irish Local Government Rules And Orders

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland whether he is aware that, under the Local Government Board Order of 9th May, 1899, a petition to the judge of assize, pursuant to Section 10 (3) of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, to be heard at the spring assizes cannot be lodged sooner than the 15th February, while under the rules of court, dated 13th May, 1899, the clerk of the Crown and peace cannot enter a petition for hearing at spring assizes held on 1st March unless lodged by 13th February; and whether he can state who is responsible for this blunder in drafting, and what steps will be taken to give effect to the Act of Parliament dealing with this matter.

There is a possibility of the hitch pointed out in the question in cases where the spring assizes open on the 1st March, but I am not aware that any inconvenience has as yet been experienced. The orders were made by the Local Government Board, the rules by the judges of the Superior Court. I have already taken steps to have the matter reconsidered by the authorities.

Did not a case of the kind actually occur at the recent assizes at Trim?

Occupiers Of Labourers' Cottages And Membership Of Public Boards

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland whether, considering the decision of the King's Bench with reference to occupiers of labourers' cottages being entitled to sit on public boards, steps will be taken to reinstate Johnson Magee, an occupier of a labourer's cottage, who was returned by a majority for Jerpoint electoral division, Thomas-town Union, and who was compelled to resign in consequence of a letter from the Local Government Board.

The person mentioned has resigned. His resignation has, I believe, been accepted. There is no power to reinstate him in his office.

Irish Railway Rates—Killarney's Complaint

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the inequality in railway charges on goods on the Great Southern and Western (of Ireland) Railway as far as the town of Killarney is concerned; whether he is aware that goods are conveyed by the said company from Dublin and Cork and intermediate stations to Tralee at a lower rate than to Killarney, though Tralee is twenty miles further from the points indicated; and whether, seeing that there is a through cross-channel rate to most other towns with which the said railway is connected, entitling traders to a free delivery of goods at their business premises, while a charge is made for cartage from the railway station to the place of business of the consignee at Killarney; and, having regard to the injury done to trade in Killarney by these arrangements, he will make inquiries into the matter, and take steps to have such railway charges arranged on an equitable basis.

I understand the hon. Member is not correct in his facts, and I refer him to Section 38 of the Great Southern and Western, &c, Act, 1900. I am also informed that none of the company's goods rates with Killarney include the service of delivery, and that it is not performed by the company who have no carting agent there.

Vice-President Of The Irish Agricultural Department

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Vice-President of the Irish Agricultural Department is to continue without a seat in this House?

Civil List Committee—Publication Of Confidential Documents

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General, with reference to the publication of the confidential draft of the Civil List in a, newspaper, if he will institute an inquiry into the circumstances with the view of determining whether the persons concerned have brought themselves within the penal provisions of Sections 2 and 3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1889, relating to the improper disclosure of official documents or information.

Any inquiry into the circumstances of the publication referred to in the question could be much more effectively conducted by the Committee itself. If any facts should be brought to my notice bearing on the question of prosecution they will be carefully considered, but it hardly falls within the province of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the first instance to initiate an inquiry into the circumstances attending the publication of a confidential document submitted to a Committee of this House.

I should like, arising out of this, to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer a question.

Order, order! The I hon. Member cannot ask a question of another Minister arising out of that question.

Then I will ask you, Sir, a question on the point of order. In reference to the Report which the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented, I beg to ask whether you will take into consideration the fact that this confidential document of the Civil List Committee was published not only in The Times, but, simultaneously, in the Birmingham Daily Post; and whether in any action that may be taken on the matter you, Sir, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take into consideration the fact that if The Times is to blame, the Birmingham Daily Post is equally to blame.

That is not a question of order. The hon. Member well knows that questions are not to be addressed to the Chair except on questions of order or procedure as they arise.

Has not an unusual course been taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this case, in referring the matter to the Chair and not to the House? On the point of order may I ask, you, Sir, whether we are not entitled at some stage to put the question why only one paper has been referred to, and why the Birmingham Daily Post has not been referred to?

The only paper to which our attention was called, or of which I had any knowledge at all, was The Times.

May I ask whether, now the right hon. Gentleman's attention has been called to the fact that this confidential document was simultaneously published in the Birmingham Daily Post as well as The Times, he will also include the Birmingham Daily Post in his Report?

The Report is out of my hands; it is the Report of the Committee of the House.

I must ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, under these circumstances, the Report having passed out of his hands, he will be good enough to call the attention of his Committee to the fact that the Birmingham Daily Post is in exactly the-same position as The Times in this matter?

If I may express my own opinion, it is that I am sure that if the Committee had known this they would have named the Birmingham Daily Post in their Report.

Are they aware that the Birmingham Daily Post is equally guilty with The Times?

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, after the improper publication of private and secret Papers, made in a certain daily journal on Thursday, 14th March, he will bring-in any Standing, Order to forbid the entrance into the precincts of the House of any official or reporter of any journal who publishes such private or secret Papers.

My hon. friend is probably aware of what took place in the Committee, and, of the Report which the Committee made, which has been laid before the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope that that will give him the answer he seeks.

Parliamentary Returns

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will grant the Return, entitled Parliamentary Constituencies (Elec- tions, etc.) (No. 2), which stands on today's Paper,† or consent to the addition of the particulars asked for to the Return under this title already ordered.