House Of Commons
Friday, 22nd March, 1901.
Private Bill Business
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 1)
Bill to confirm two Provisional Orders made by the Board of Trade under the Electric lighting Acts, 1882 and 1888, relating to St. Marylebone, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Gerald Balfour and Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 1) Bill
"To confirm two Provisional Orders made by the Board of Trade under the Electric Lighting Acts, 1882 and 1888, relating to St. Marylebone," presented accordingly, and read the first time; to be referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills, and to be printed. [Bill 112.]
Heckmondwike Gas (Transfer) Bill
Reported [Preamble not proved]; Report to lie upon the Table.
Petitions in favour, from Stalham; Hadleigh; Linton; Billesdon; Gloucester-shire; Sudbury; and Sawston; to lie upon the Table.
Coal Mines (Employment) Bill
Petitions in favour, from Shieldhill; Hill of Beath; Oakley; Blairadam; Blairhall; Wemyss; Townhill; Wills-green; Fordell; Buckhaven; East Wemyss; Methil; and Ruth; to lie upon the Table.
Elementary Education (Higher Grade And Evening Continuation Schools)
Petitions for alteration of Law, from Littleborough; and Heworth; to lie upon the Table.
Mines (Eight Hours) Bill
Petitions in favour, from Shieldhill: Oakley; Methil; Blairadam; Hill of Beath; Condenbeath; East Wemyss; Blairhall; Fordell; Buckhaven; Wells-green; Townhill; and Wemyss; to lie upon the Table.
Officers Of The Indian Staff Corps
Petition of Lieutenant E. G. Sexton and Captain J. M. Tighe, for redress of grievances; to lie upon the Table.
Poor Law Officers' Superannuation Act, 1896
Petition from Guildford, for alteration of Law; to lie upon the Table.
Sale Of Intoxicating Liquors To Children Bill
Petitions in favour, from Redditch; Walworth; Stratford: South Woodford (three); Burnage; Edinburgh (three); Reading; Ince-in-Makerfield; Codicote; Ayr; Newcastle-on-Tyne (four); Kippax; Barnstaple; Four Elms; Glasgow (two) Govan; Cambridge: Peekham: Guildford; Leytonstone (six): Walthanistow (two); Leyton; Woodford; Bristol; Middlesbrough (three); Bedminster; Viewforth; Sedbergh; Littleborough: Ledbury (two); Newbury (three); Clitheroe; Sheffield (ten); Birmingham (five); Brixton (two); Kennington (two); Pemberton; Plymouth; Elland; Ripon; Carlisle (four); Allonby; Brynn (two); Longtown; Waverton; Holbeek; Wortley; Armley (three); Bramley; New Wortley; Leeds (twelve): Bradford (Yorks.); Bispham); Leith; Ash-ton-in-Makerfield; Sutton-upon-Hull; Egremont; Hyde (two); North Ormesby (two); Withington; Hereford; Paignton: Longsight; Burnham; Weston-super-Mare; Milton; Beverley; Kendal; Nailsea; Wade bridge: Port Isaac (three) Fulham (two); Aberdeen City; St. Andrews: Jarrow (fourteen): Durham; Norwood; South Norwood; Staly-bridge; Marylebone; Manchester (three) Square; Truro; West Hampstead; Ealing; Alford (two); Deeside; Poyn-ton; Openshaw; Hull (five); Dunferm-line; Burnham; Windsor: Spilsby; Horncastle (two); Barradon; Widdring-ton; Seghill; Lanivet; Penzance; Newlyn; Liverpool; Shanklin; Derby; Warrington; Hanworth; and High-bridge; to lie upon the Table.
Sale Of Intoxicating Liquors To Children (Scotland) Bill
Petitions in favour, from Methlick; Girvan; Govan; Snizort; Edinburgh (two); Bothwell; Riccarton; Dunnichen (two); Leith; Carnoustie; Lundie; Milngavie; Troon; Dunfermline: Stirling: Halbeath; Kelton; Brechin: Montrose (two); Leslie; and Arbroath; to lie upon the Table.
Returns, Reports, Etc
Copy presented, of Appendices to the Report of the Committee appointed by the Board of Trade to inquire into the working of the Patent Acts on certified specified suggestions [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Return presented, relative thereto [ordered 14th March; Mr. T. R. Dewar;]to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 93.]
Colonial Loans Act, 1899
Return presented, relative thereto (ordered 11th March; Mr. Austen Chamberlain); to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 94.]
Education (Elementary School Teachers)
Copy presented, of Accounts of the Elementary School Teachers' Deferred Annuity Funds. England and Scotland, for the year ended 31st March, 1900, together with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act;] to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 95.]
Trawl Vessels (Prosecutions)
Return presented, relative thereto [ordered 20th February; Mr. Cathcart Wason;] to lie upon the Table.
University Of Aberdeen
Copy presented, of Abstract of Accounts of the University of Aberdeen for the year ending 15th September, 1900 [by Act]; to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 96].
Emigration Statistics (Ireland)
Copy presented, of Emigration Statistics of Ireland for the year 1900 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Sunday Closing (Wales) Act (1881) Amendment Bill
Second Reading deferred from Monday next till Wednesday, 1st May.
Controverted Elections (Cockermouth)
Ordered, That the copy of the Judges' Report in the Cockermouth Election Trial be printed.—( Mr. Attorney General.) [No. 97.]
Oral Answers To Questions
South African War-Train Wrecking At Taaibosch
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the three men who were shot on the 19th instant by sentence of a Military Court, confirmed by Lord Kitchener, for alleged treason and murder in connection with the wrecking of a train near Taai-bosch, and the two men who were sentenced by the same Court to five years penal servitude for the same alleged offence, were all or any of them prisoners of war or local farmers. The hon. Member complained that certain portions of the question had been omitted by the Clerk at the Table.
Two extracts from a newspaper were omitted. There was no opportunity, I am told, of communicating with the hon. Member.
I was in the House continuously after handing in the question.
I have received the following telegram from Lord Kitchener—
"Pretoria, 20th March, 1901, 11.30 a.m.
I have no information as to the two men who were sentenced to penal servitude. His Majesty's Government, while regretting the necessity, entirely approve Lord Kitchener's action in this matter."In two eases tried by Court-Martial, Field General Court-Martial, recently, I have confirmed death sentence: both Courts were submitted to Sir A. Milner, who considered confirmation necessary. First case: Three Cape Colony rebels assisted in wrecking train in Cape Colony, causing death of five men, and subsequently murdered a native boy. Second case: A burgher, De Jaegers, near Harrismith, killed three natives; the last in most coldblooded manner. No military extenuating circumstances possible. Sentences have been carried out."
Hospitals—Proposed Committee Of Experts
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, with reference to the recommendation of the Royal Commission on South African Hospitals that a committee of experts should be appointed at some early and convenient time to inquire J into and report upon the steps needed to effect the objects indicated in Part IV. of the Royal Commission's Report, whether he will state when he intends to appoint this committee of experts and its composition.
I am not in a position to make a statement, but no time is being lost in the consideration of this matter.
Peace Negotiations With Boer Leaders
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the Boer Leaders have intimated recently to His Majesty's Government terms on which they are prepared to end the war; and, if so, what are these terms.
No, Sir, except so far as they are to be implied from General Botha's conversation with Lord Kitchener.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies a question of which I have given him private notice, namely, whether he can give any information to the House in regard to what does not appear from the Papers published—namely, the part, or parts, of the terms offered by the British Government which caused their rejection by the Boer negotiators.
No, Sir. I have no information whatever beyond what is given in the Papers.
Will he try to get this information from the authorities at the Cape?
No, Sir. There is no information.
Plague At Cape Town
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies if ho can give any information as to the spread of the plague at Cape Town; and what steps are being taken to check its further progress.
I have no further report beyond the bulletin published in yesterday's newspapers. The Cape Government are, I believe, doing everything in their power, under the advice of Professor Simpson, one of the best experts, and are. I know, having six medical men sent out specially for plague duty.
Land Settlement Commission
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now received the Report of the Commission to inquire into Land Settlement in the Transvaal, and will have it distributed at once.
I have now received the Report, and am forwarding it to Sir A. Milner for his observations. On receipt I will consider whether it will be desirable to publish.
Can we not have this Report before the Report of Supply on the Vote for the expenses of this Commission?
No, Sir. I cannot promise it before that.
Mark Iv Bullets
I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office can he say when the fifty million Mark IV. bullets which were broken up were manufactured, and what was the cost.
I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for War if he will state in what respect the forty-five and a half millions of Mark IV. bullets were defective, were they made to specification, who were the contractors, and how much was expended in their manufacture.
I am afraid that the hon. Members are under some misapprehension. It was found that the nickel envelopes of the Mark IV. bullets occasionally stuck in the barrels, and that then the lead core was squirted through the envelope—a process known as stripping. Ft was accordingly decided to discontinue the construction of the Mark IV. cartridges, and four and a half millions of unused bullets were broken up. The cartridges in stock are being gradually used up in practice. The Mark IV. bullets were made to specification by ordnance factories and by various contractors. The exact cost cannot be ascertained.
Will the noble Lord answer the latter part of my question, and give the names of the contractors, as well as state how much money was expended in the manufacture of these fifty millions of bullets?
They were made by various contractors, and the exact cost cannot be ascertained. I am afraid I can add nothing to my answer.
Were they made in Germany?
How many of the bullets were made by the Ordnance Department?
Order, order! The noble Lord has said he can add nothing to his answer.
Gordon Highlanders—Militia Battalion
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in view of the fact that a number of militiamen now serving in the 3rd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders is only 170 and that a full staff of regimental officers, many of whom are serving at great personal inconvenience, has to be maintained on full pay, he will consider the advisability of disembodying the battalion.
The hon. Member has understated the figures. The Returns of the 1st March show 373 men embodied, of whom 241 were at headquarters and the rest chiefly on furlough. The details, including the recruits, of the 1st Battalion, which is now in South Africa, are incorporated with the 3rd Battalion, thereby bringing up the strength of the combined unit to an effective fighting battalion. The full staff of regimental officers is therefore absolutely necessary.
I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether a member of a Yeomanry regiment residing beyond the borders of the county in which the headquarters of the regiment are situated who attended a camp of exercise last year is entitled under the special order of last year to marching allowance from his place of residence only or only from the borders of the county.
They are entitled to marching allowance from the border of the county or recruiting area of the regiment only.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he will consider the desirability of entitling the next-of-kin or widow of a militiaman dying during the embodiment of his unit to receive the full amount of furlough pay, allowances, and gratuity which the militiaman himself would have received if he had been invalided.
The point raised has already been very carefully considered. The furlough gratuity is intended for the man himself to help him to civil employment. The widow of the militiaman should only get the same gratuity as the widow of the regular soldier or reservist.
Arrears Of Soldiers' Pay
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether a soldier or volunteer serving with the colours in South Africa whose pay from any cause is several months in arrear will be allowed interest on the arrears, and, if so, what rate of interest.
No, Sir. Every effort is made both locally and at home to obtain an early settlement, and advances are made where there is any evidence of money being really due.
Turbine Machinery Tests
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can state what course of trials the Admiralty propose to make to test the merits of the Turbine machinery of the "Viper" and the "Cobra," and when such trials and tests are likely to be made.
Both the vessels named have completed their contract trials at high and low speeds. The "Cobra" has not yet been delivered by the builders. The "Viper" will shortly be commissioned for service and tried in comparison with other destroyers. No definite programme of trials has yet been arranged.
Training Ship Cruises
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether arrangements will be made for a training ship to visit Stornoway and Lochbroom this summer.
The second part of the summer cruise will include Stornoway and Ullapool; the latter is the nearest part of the Loch to which the "Northampton" can go. There is not water enough for her to get to Lochbroom.
Indian Currency Act—Gold Reserve
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India, whether he would state the total amount of gold reserve accumulated in India and in England under the provisions of the Indian Currency Act; and whether the reserve held here is included in the weekly statements of the Bank of England.
The gold in the Currency Reserve under the provisions of the Indian Currency Act was on the 7th of this month £6,957,000 in India and none in England. There is also £800,000 in the Cold Reserve Fund in India, which is not held under that Act. When gold is held in England under the Currency Act it is excluded from the weekly statements of the Bank of England.
China—Russia And Manchuria
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether, in view of the clause of the Anglo-German Agreement which declares for the maintenance of the integrity of the Chinese Empire, His Majesty's Government propose to ask the German Government to take any action in reference to Russia's action in Manchuria.
The Russian Government have repeatedly declared their intention to respect the integrity of China, and His Majesty's Government are not aware that they have infringed it.
What about Manchuria?
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can inform the House if the Anglo-German Agreement includes Manchuria within its scope.
I have nothing to add to the statement which I made on this subject in answer to the hon. Gentleman on Tuesday last.†
May I ask if the Government would regard as a breach of the Anglo-German Agreement the continued occupation of Manchuria by—
Order, order! That does not arise out of the question.
† See page 405.
Patent Acts—Committee's Report
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can state what steps will be taken to give effect to the recommendations of the Departmental Committee on the working of the Patent Acts.
I have only just received the Report, and cannot make any statement on the subject at present.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state when the Report and evidence of the Committee on the working of the Patent Acts will be printed and circulated.
The Report was circulated yesterday. The evidence will be presented in the course of a few days.
Brussels Conference On Patents, Etc
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether it is intended to present to Parliament Papers relating to the Conference of the International Union for the Protection of Industrial Property (Patents and Trade Marks), held at Brussels in December. 1900.
Great Eastern Railway Goods Rates
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the rates charged by the Great Eastern Railway Company between Harwich and London are as follows, less sea freight: Cabbages, foreign 5s. 10d., English 7s. 6d.; carrots, foreign 4s. 2d., English 7s. 6d.; potatoes, foreign 4s. 2d., English 7s. 6d.; onions, foreign 2s. 6d., English 7s. 6d.; apples, foreign nil. English 12s. 1d.; and whether he can bring pressure to bear on this company to equalise these preferential and differential charges.
I have communicated with the Great Eastern Company, and they inform me that they have carefully looked into the matter, and cannot find that they have any such rates in operation. The appropriate remedy laid down by law in cases of preferential rates for foreign produce will be found on reference to Section 27 (2) of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1888.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have taken these figures from the Great Eastern Railway Company's own list?
I am not aware of that fact, and if there is any cause of complaint it should be made either to the Board of Trade or to the Railway and Canal Commission.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will state the cause of the delay in opening the new railway to Mallaig; is there a penalty clause for failure to complete the railway within the specified time; and, if so, will he say why no penalty has been imposed; has the railway yet been inspected by the Government inspectors; and can he say when it will be opened.
The time limited by the Special Acts for the completion of the line referred to does not expire until 31st July, 1902. The line has within the past few days been inspected by an officer of the Board of Trade, and I am informed that, subject to the Board's sanction, the company propose to open the line on the 1st April next.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he will consider the desirability of establishing promological stations in convenient parts of the country for the purpose of making experiments in the growth of the apple and pear, so as to enable persons employed in the fruit industry to obtain reliable information.
Stations for agricultural and horticultural experiments have not hitherto been established directly by the State itself, and in the case of apples and pears, which depend so much upon the climate in which they are grown, no one central station would be of much use, and it is only by local agency that experiment stations could be established in so many varying districts. Both in the North and South of England there are institutions aided either by the local taxation grants or by direct grants from the Board of Agriculture, in which experiments are made in the growth of pears and apples, and this appears to be the proper system to be adopted in those districts such as Herefordshire, where there is a special interest in the growth of these fruits.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, having in view the trivial nature of some of the charges under the head of indictable offences brought before Courts of petty sessions, but which cannot be tried by such Courts without the consent of the defendant, he will consider the desirability of so amending the law that some limited power be placed in the discretion of the Court of petty sessions as to the cases which should be dealt with summarily by the Court without the consent of the defendant.
The Secretary of State does not see his way to introduce any such legislation, which would necessarily be of a controversial nature, and would involve questions of considerable difficulty.
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether the regulations issued by the Local Government Board for the guidance of sanitary officers in seizing meat from animals which have suffered from localised tuberculosis are intended as a model for adoption in bye-laws by sanitary authorities: and, if so, whether he will grant a Return of the sanitary authorities which have adopted them as bye-laws. I beg also to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been drawn to the portion of the Report of the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis, in which they state that they entertain no doubt that in certain places a great deal of meat is seized which is perfectly safe and wholesome food: whether any compensation was paid to the owners for such unlawful seizures; and what steps have been taken by the Local Government Board to prevent the continuance of such seizures of perfectly sound and wholesome food by officers of sanitary authorities; whether he is also aware that the Royal Commission adopted a number of recommendations for the prevention of such unlawful seizures in the case of meat from animals which had suffered from tuberculosis of a localised character; and whether the Local Government Board have issued regulations for the guidance of medical officers and inspectors of sanitary authorities.
I am aware of the statements and recommendations of the Royal Commission alluded to by the hon. Member, but I have no information as regards the payment of compensation. The Local Government Board have not prescribed regulations on the subject referred to. The Royal Commission laid down certain principles which, in their opinion, should be observed in the inspection of tuberculous carcases of cattle; and the Board in March, 1899, drew the attention of sanitary authorities to this matter, and stated that the authorities should direct those of their officers who were employed as meat inspectors to act in accordance with the principles laid down by the Commission.
Teachers' Disablement Allowances
I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education whether he can state how many teachers in Great Britain have received a disablement allowance during the year 1900 under the Elementary School Teachers (Superannuation) Act, 1898; and what has been the total amount paid by the Treasury for this purpose during the same period.
The answer for England and Wales is: 291 teachers, £4,568 12s. 2d.
Irish Drift Survey
I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education whether he can say when the Drift Survey, begun many years ago in England, will be finished, and when the survey of Ireland will be commenced.
It is impossible to say when the Drift Survey in England will be finished; about one-third is done. The Drift Survey of Ireland was completed some years ago, but it needs revision in certain particulars, and is, as I stated yesterday, now under the consideration of the Board of Education.
Legitimist Jacobite League
I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works if he can explain why the wreaths sent as usual, according to instructions, to the Office of Works, by the Legitimist Jacobite League of Great Britain and Ireland, for the decoration of the statue of King-Charles I. in Trafalgar Square, on the 30th January last, were not placed upon the statue; and why the decoration of the King's statue, after having been allowed for eight years, was this year prohibited.
(Mr. AKERS DOUGLAS, Kent, St. Augustine's): I would remind the hon. Member that on the 30th January I last our late revered Sovereign was lying dead, and the special circumstances of this case seemed to require that, for this! occasion, on grounds of good taste and feeling, the customary decoration should I not take place. I may mention that one of the associations which ordinarily send wreaths voluntarily expressed its intention of omitting the observance this year for that very reason. The usual intimation by the Office of Works, referred to by the hon. Member, was given before the Queen's death.
Then I take it that the exception is made for this year only.
[No answer was returned.]
Telephone Charges At Shields
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that a charge of threepence is made to subscribers of the National Telephone Company for telegraphing from North to South Shields and vice versa, whereas no charge whatever is made for telephoning from Newcastle-on-Tyne to Gateshead, and, seeing that the National Telephone Company are prepared to undertake the service between North and South Shields and to make no extra charge for communication, he will recommend that the extra charge be abolished or permission be given to the National Telephone Company to undertake the service between North and South Shields.
The cases are different. Newcastle-on-Tyne and Gateshead are included in the same Telephone Exchange area, while North Shields and South Shields are in different Exchange areas, which are connected by means of the Post Office trunk wires. The charge of threepence is the minimum charge for communication by trunk wires. The extent of the North Shields and South Shields areas, as well as of the Newcastle-on-Tyne area, was fixed by the Postmaster General, in conjunction with the National Telephone Company, and he is not prepared again to transfer the telephone business between North and South Shields to the Company.
Duchy Of Cornwall Royalties
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will state how much of the £2,161 5s. 10d., stated in the Duchy of Cornwall Return for the year 1900 to have been received from royalty on coal raised in Somerset, was received from the lessees of the Farrington Gurney Colliery and how much from the lessees of the Clandown Colliery.
I have no information beyond that contained in the Parliamentary Return.
Does the hon. Gentleman mean he is unwilling or unable to furnish the information?
I have no information, except that contained in the Parliamentary Return, and I do not think it reasonable to call for the detailed information.
Illegal Trawling In Scottish Waters
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if he will state how many convictions were obtained in the year 1900 against persons engaged in illegal trawling in Scottish waters, and in how many instances there was a repetition of the offence by the same master; will he state in how many cases the men elected to go to prison rather than pay the fines imposed; and whether, in all cases, the trawling gear of convicted trawlers was confiscated.
The information asked for in the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question is in course of preparation by the Fishery Board for Scotland, in answer to an Order of the House of Commons moved for by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. The information asked for in the second and third paragraphs will be given in the Board's forthcoming Annual Report.
And when will that Report be ready?
Next week, I hope. It is already in proof form.
Will it he in the hands of Members before the Estimate is taken?
I hope so.
Illegal Trawling In Broad Bay
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether the Secretary for Scotland is aware that the Northern Light- house Commissioners have agreed to allow their lightkeepers at Tiumpan Head, Island of Lewis, to report to the fishery officer at Stornoway any trawlers observed illegally trawling in Broad Bay; will the Fishery Board consider the expediency of allowing each of the two light-keepers the remuneration of 30s. per annum for his services as suggested by the Lighthouse Commissioners; and will arrangements be made for placing the lighthouse in telephonic communication with the post office at Portnaguran.
The matter has been fully considered by the Secretary for Scotland, and, as an experiment, it has been arranged with the Northern Light Commissioners that the keepers at Tiumpan Lighthouse shall keep a diary with particulars of any case of illegal trawling which may come under their notice during the day. The remuneration which should be given to the two light keepers for this extra duty is receiving consideration. It is not at present proposed to go to the expense of putting the lighthouse in telephonic communication with the telegraph office.
Illegal Trawling Off The Island Of Foula
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether, seeing that information has been given to the Procurator Fiscal, Lerwick, that Messrs. James Isbister, Robert Manson, James Henry, and Andrew Henry, of the Island of Foula, Shetland, saw a trawler. P D 364, working within the limits on 21st October, 1900, he can state when the offender will be prosecuted.
I am informed that this case will be brought to trial within a fortnight. I am satisfied that the delay, which appears long, may be attributed to the difficulties of travelling which the Procurator Fiscal had to encounter. In winter the access to the Isle of Foula is always difficult and the means infrequent. The delay may properly be attributed, not to the fault of the Procurator Fiscal, but to the geographical peculiarities of the situation.
Poultry Breeding In The Highlands
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if he will state whether the Congested Districts Board propose this year to distribute free sittings of eggs in the congested areas in each of the six Highland crofting counties, with a view to encourage and improve the breed of poultry: and will he say whether the experiments of last year have on the whole proved successful.
I am informed by the Congested Districts Board that the answer to the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question is yes to people who are really likely to help the Congested Districts Board to improve the breed of poultry. And to the second paragraph yes, on the whole, though the difficulties and delays attendant on transit in the remoter districts are against complete success.
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate, in view of the fact that the existing harbour at Avoch, Ross-shire, is in so dilapidated a condition that a number of fishing boats at anchor in the harbour have been destroyed, will he state whether the Fishery Board for Scotland can take action; and, if not, will he say what steps should be taken to require the proprietor of the harbour to put the harbour in a proper state of repair.
I am informed by the Fishery Board that they had taken action and negotiations were proceeding when the hon. Member stopped them by raising technical legal questions as to ownership. The Board have no power to require the proprietor of the harbour to put the harbour in a proper state of repair.
I shall draw attention to this matter on the Estimates.
Greenock Board Schools
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether he is aware that the prizes purchased out of the local rates for the Greenock Board Schools are given for religious knowledge according to the Presbyterian denomination, and that Roman Catholic children who are not sent to these schools are consequently deprived of a share in those prizes; and whether, seeing that the Roman Catholics have to contribute to the local rates for the education of the children of Presbyterians, and also have to build and maintain schools for themselves, he will provide a remedy for this grievance, either by allocating prizes to all Government-inspected schools, based on average attendance, or by abolishing the purchase of prizes out of the local rates, according to the course adopted at Paisley.
The Department has no power to interfere with the discretion of school boards in regard to the purchase of prizes out of the School Fund for pupils in public schools; nor has it funds at its disposal for allocating prizes to the pupils of all inspected schools. But the general question which the hon. Member perhaps wishes to raise on a particular case is not one which can be treated by question and answer in this House.
I should like to point out that this question has been very severely edited at the Table.
The question was shown to me, and I was informed that the hon. Member objected to some alterations that had been made in it. There has since been no opportunity of pointing out to the hon. Member that all that was cut out was irregular and dealt with questions of opinion. The gist of the question has not been altered in the least.
Scottish Sheriffs' Salaries
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the question of increasing the salaries of sheriff's in Scotland has yet been considered; and, if so, will he state the character of the decision.
The matter, which is one of much difficulty, is still under consideration.
Has not this matter already been under consideration two years?
The Report has only been under consideration a few weeks.
Limerick Lunatic Asylum
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the sum of £1,596 6s. 7d. due to the Committee of Management of the Limerick Lunatic Asylum for maintenance of patients in that institution from the 1st January to the 31st March, 1899, and certified by the Local Government Board Auditor as the amount due, will be paid out of the Irish Local Taxation Account; and, if so, when will the money be available.
I have nothing to add to my reply to the question previously addressed to me by the hon. Member on this subject.
As this is a matter which seriously affects my constituents, cannot the right hon. Gentleman give an answer?
It is not a question which can be dealt with by means of question and answer across the floor of the House.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the money is due or not?
I am quite sure it is not due.
Donegal Sub-Land Commission
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state when the Sub-Commission will sit at Stranorlar, county Donegal, to hear the sixty-nine land cases which have been listed for hearing since January last.
On the 2nd April.
Wexford Local Government Appeal
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the documents on which the Irish Court of Appeal based their judgment in the case of the Wexford County Council v. The Local Government Board for Ireland were circulars of the Board, copies of which were sent to every county council in Ireland; and whether, seeing that it was in accordance with those circulars that the salaries of certain local officers were fixed in most of the thirty-three administrative counties of Ireland, and in view of the fact that the Court of Appeal has declared the principles laid down in the documents referred to erroneous and illegal, it is intended to maintain the sealed orders which are based upon them.
I am unable to accept the hon. Member's representation of the precise grounds of the decision of the Irish Court of Appeal in the cases mentioned. It is impossible to describe in the form of an answer to a question the exact position in which matters now stand and the proceedings which it may be necessary to take in the future, and I think it would be better to defer all explanation until the whole question can be discussed on the Appropriation Bill.
Irish Workhouse Amalgamation
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state how many workhouses have been amalgamated in Ireland since 1888, and the rates for the two years preceding the amalgamation as well as the two years succeeding amalgamation, and, if a union has been divided when amalgamation took place, whether he can give the rates on the divided portions for two years before and after amalgamation.
Two unions have been dissolved since 1888—namely, Gortin and Glin. I will communicate the information desired on the incidence of the rates to the hon. Member; it could not be conveniently given in the form of a reply to a question.
Do the Government intend to put forward any general scheme of amalgamation for the unions of Ireland?
I am not aware of any such intention, but perhaps the hon. Member will put the question down.
Irish Board Of Agriculture— Horse Breeding
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in view of the dissatisfaction in Ireland amongst the stallion owners, in connection with the refusal and admission of thoroughbred stallions under the new Board of Agriculture, he will state on whom the responsibility rests regarding the decisions of the fitness or rejection of horses in connection with this scheme; and what are the qualifications necessary for the performance of such duties.
The responsibility rests in the Department of Agriculture. It was exercised, in respect of the general suitability of stallions, in accordance with certificates furnished by Captain Tuthill, Mr. A. R. Bourne, and Captain C. D. Featherstonhaugh, and, in respect of soundness, upon the certificates of, Messrs. Cleary, Rea, Winter, and Byrne, veterinary surgeons.
Trained Nurses In Irish Workhouses
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state if the sealed Order of the 4th March issued to the boards of guardians in reference to the appointment of trained nurses in workhouses gives the Local Government Board the power to appoint as many officers for the workhouses as they think fit without consulting the guardians; and if so, can he state what the guardians' duties will be if they have no power to refuse to make appointments which they consider unnecessary; and if it will be necessary for every board of guardians in Ireland to take legal steps to upset this sealed order, as the Armagh guardians are about doing.
The sealed Order of the 4th February confers no new power on the Board. The Order was made in pursuance of Section 31 of the Poor Relief Act, 1838. The powers of the guardians will be to select a proper person for filling any office deemed necessary for the well-being of the sick poor. The answer to the second paragraph is in the negative. The Board will be guided by the decision of the Lord Lieutenant in Council on the Armagh case, and, as I have already stated, any representations that may be made by local authorities against the Order will be carefully considered by the Hoard.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Local Government Board have refused to sanction the appointment of persons described as half-qualified, and thereby upset the action of the guardians?
The duty of the Local Government Board is to refuse to sanction the appointment of those they hold to be not qualified.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Local Government Board is in conflict with the boards of guardians because they refuse to sanction the appointment of persons the guardians deem to be qualified?
I am not aware of that. I deeply regret it, but I am glad to say that many boards have recognized that the Local Government Board have acted in their interests.
Labourers' Cottages At Stranorlar
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state when the representation was first made and approved of for building fifteen labourers' cottages in the Stranor-lar Rural District, county Donegal; whether he is aware that the Local Government Hoard inspector only held the inquiry regarding same on the 27th November, 1900; and can he state the cause of the delay of the Local Government Board in issuing the Provisional Order for same.
The Board has no information on the subject of the first paragraph. The Improvement Scheme was signed in July last; the documents in complete form were lodged with the Board in November, and the inquiry was held. There has been no delay on the part of the Board; a draft of the Provisional Order will be before the Council at its next meeting.
Innishowen Coast—Harbour Accommodation
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if the attention of the Irish Government has been directed to the request by the Congested Districts Board for Ireland some months ago to take into consideration the provision of adequate harbour accommodation on the north coast of Innishowen, and to the opinion of the Board that deep sea fishing at Malin Head and Glengad cannot be properly developed without such harbour; and, seeing that hundreds of families in these districts depend solely for support upon the deep-sea fishing which during the winter, owing to the, absence of a suitable harbour, could not be carried on with safety, and that some of the piers in these districts, which were built partly out of moneys locally supplied, but according to plans and sites selected by the Board of Works, which piers were designated on the cutting of the first sod of the Carndonagh Line of Railway by his predecessor as dry land piers, whether compensation will be made by the Government for the money thus expended by the Board of Works by a grant being given for the construction of a harbour, as recommended by the Congested Districts Board.
The Congested Districts Board has expressed the opinion that the fishing industry cannot be largely developed on coast of Donegal unless a harbour of refuge be constructed. The natural facilities for such a harbour are not great, and its cost would be in excess of any sum which the Board could provide. Under these circumstances, the project is one which can only be considered in connection with similar projects of considerable magnitude.
I asked if representations had been made by the Congested Districts Board to the Irish Government in favour of a grant from imperial funds for the construction of a harbour of refuge.
I have said that the Board have expressed an opinion that these fisheries cannot be much developed without such a harbour.
Will the right hon. Gentleman send down an engineer to inspect and report?
I see no objection to that, as a work of this magnitude could not be carried out with local means alone.
The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the latter part of my question.
With all respect, I have answered it as fully as I can.
Limavady Water Supply
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland will he explain why the Local Government Board have threatened the Limavady Rural District Council to take action under Section 15 of the Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1896, should the district council not proceed with a scheme for providing a water supply near the Ballykelly Railway Station, a rural district, not a town, although the existing water supply is satisfactory in quantity and quality to all parties in the district, including the sanitary officer of the district, who is also the medical officer, who has so certified that the water supply is fit for domestic use; was due inquiry made by the Board into the question whether the district council have been guilty of any default with reference to said water supply; and, if so, was an Order made by the said Board limiting the time for the performance of what the Local Government Board consider the duty of the district council; and will he state who held this inquiry, and upon whose complaint did the Local Government Board move in this matter.
A formal complaint under Section 15 of the Act of 1896 was made to the Board by residents of the district, including a rural district councillor, in October last. The rural council decline to take any steps towards improving the water supply, and the Board has intimated that it may he compelled to proceed under the enactment referred to. The Report of the Medical Officer of Health tended to show that the stream from which the water supply is taken is polluted. A public inquiry in pursuance of Section 15 has not yet been held.
Royal Canal Harbour, Longford
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any resolution on the subject of the unprotected and dangerous state of the Royal Canal Harbour at Longford has been received from the County Longford Agricultural and Technical Industries Committee, and will he arrange that the section of the Agriculture (Ireland) Act, 1899, therein referred to will he given effect to by the Railway and Canal Commission.
At the request of my right hon. friend I will reply to this question. The resolution referred to has been received by the Department of Agriculture, who have been advised that the matter is not one in which action can be taken under Section 17 of the Act of 1899.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any riders of coroners' juries at inquests held on the bodies of persons drowned in the Canal Harbour, Longford, have recently been received at his office, asking for a rail fence to be put round this harbour so as to protect human life; whether he is aware that within the past ten years seven persons have been drowned in it; and will he consider the advisability of extending the Canals Protection (London) Act to Ireland.
Six persons have been drowned in the Canal Harbour within the past ten years. No expressions of opinion on the part of the coroners' juries to the effect mentioned have been recently received by me. I have not had an opportunity of con- sidering whether it is desirable, or necessary, that the Act referred to should be applied to Ireland. I will look into the matter.
If a Bill is introduced, will the right hon. Gentleman facilitate its passage?
I cannot give an undertaking until I have considered the character and necessity of such legislation.
Longford Resident Magistrate
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state the date of Mr. Kilkelly's appointment as resident magistrate of Longford, what is his salary, and whether he is allowed any travelling expenses; and is there a rule that resident magistrates who are in charge of a district for seven years shall then be changed to another district.
Mr. Kilkelly was appointed resident magistrate for the Longford district on the 1st February, 1892. His salary is £550 a year, and he is allowed his travelling expenses outside a radius of fifteen miles from his station. The answer to the second paragraph is in the negative.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with regard to the inquiry which has been ordered to be held in the board room at Tipperary on Wednesday, the 27th instant, into the overcrowded state of the Bansha graveyard, at which many witnesses will necessarily have to be examined, whether, for the convenience of the many parties interested, he would have the inquiry held in Bansha, where the court house would be found most suitable for the purpose.
It will be open to the inspector to adjourn the inquiry to Bansha if he finds this course desirable, and I have caused the suggestion of the hon. Member to be communicated to him.
Dromard Petty Sessions
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state how many times a year Courts of petty sessions, including sessions held by the Chairman of the Town Commissioners under the operation of the Towns Improvement Act, are held in Dromard, and what are the reasons which District Inspector Clayton, of Banbridge, gives to the Inspector General for not attending these sessions; whether he is aware that this officer spends most of his time in his own recreations instead of discharging his duty, and during the greater part of last September and October was incapacitated through an injury incurred in such recreations;, and whether he will lay upon the Table copies of Monthly Return No. 8, as filled up by District Inspector Clayton and forwarded to the Inspector General.
The petty sessions are held monthly. I have already stated that this officer's absences from petty sessions have been accounted for to the satisfaction of the Inspector General, and that he is not required to attend the sessions if he has more urgent duty to discharge elsewhere. I have no information as to the second paragraph. The reply to the third paragraph is in the negative.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he is aware that a Nationalist procession was on St. Patrick's Day attacked in Lurgan; can he state how many people were injured and the nature of their wounds; and how many arrests have been made.
I am informed that when this procession was passing through Lurgan a few stones were thrown from both the Nationalist and Orange crowds. So far as the police have been able to ascertain, one person, a girl, was injured somewhat severely in the head. One arrest has been made, and the case will be investigated by the magistrates at petty sessions on the 16th April.
North Donegal Fisheries
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that a memorial was received some time ago by the Congested Districts Board from the fishermen and inhabitants of the Fannet peninsula of North Donegal requesting the Board to erect a boatslip at Araheera, a port frequented by fishermen, and pointing out that, owing to the absence of a boatslip, the fishermen could not take advantage of the herring fishing when plentiful in the waters about the headland; and, seeing that the said port was inspected some time ago by a member of the Congested Districts Board, whether he can state what his report to the Board was, and whether the Board will carry out the proposed work.
The site of the suggested work has been visited by a member of the Congested Districts Board, but I cannot disclose his Report. The matter will be further considered by the Board at an early meeting.
Irish Railway Guarantees
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General for Ireland whether ratepayers in Ireland are entitled under the Local Government Act, 1898, to deduct half the amount payable by them in respect of railway guarantees such as the guarantee for the Southern Railway from Clonmel to Thurles.
This is an abstract question as to the proper construction of certain sections of the Local Government Act, 1898, and other statutes affecting the respective liabilities of landlord and tenant, and not relating to the administration of the Criminal Law or the action of any Department of the Irish. Government. I must therefore respectfully decline to answer it.
Proposed Irish Department At The Board Of Trade
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether it is intended to establish an Irish Department at the Board of Trade.
County Down Postal Arrangements
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that English and Scotch letters posted in Ballyroney, Katesbridge, and neighbourhood, county Down, are collected about 5 o'clock in the afternoon, brought to Newry, and remain there until the next day before being forwarded, three days from time of collection to delivery being thus required; and if he will take steps to prevent such delay in future.
English and Scotch letters despatched from Ballyroney at 5.55 p.m. and from Katesbridge at 5 p.m. reach Newry at 9.10 p.m. and are forwarded thence early the following morning in time for despatch by the day mail from Dublin, reaching London and many other places in time for delivery the same evening. If posted at Ballyroney by 7.30 a.m. letters for England and Scotland would be delivered on the following morning. According to the latest returns the existing services to Ballyroney and Kates-bridge are maintained at a considerable loss, and the Postmaster General regrets that he would not be justified in incurring additional expense for the purpose of improving them.
Am I to understand it does not take three days from the time of posting to that of delivery?
I understand it does not.
I shall put another question, for I am not satisfied with the reply.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that English and Scotch letters take almost three days from the time that they are posted until they are delivered in Ballyroney and Katesbridge, county Down; and if he will take steps to have these mails sent on from Newry, which is the head office for the district, to Ballyroney and Katesbridge by either rail, car, or bicycle.
Letters sent from England and Scotland by night mail reach Ballyroney at 5.55 p.m. on the following evening, and can then be obtained on application at the post office. As there is no second post in the day to Katesbridge, such letters do not reach that place until the second day after posting. The question of establishing a second post to Katesbridge and an earlier arrival in the afternoon at Ballyroney was recently considered, but it was found that the circumstances did not warrant the cost.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is a ware that Thomas Madden, Portumna, county Galway, resigned his position as postman after twenty-four years service on a representation made to him by the local postal authorities that he was to receive a pension, and has since been notified that he is not entitled to one: and whether, seeing that this postman received four badges for good conduct during his service and previously during nineteen years service in the Army received five war medals with three clasps, together with four badges for good conduct, his claim for a pension will be reconsidered.
Of the twenty-four years service rendered by Thomas Madden sixteen years were in the employment, not of the Department, but of the sub-postmaster of Portumna, and it was only in 1891 that he was employed by the Postmaster General as an unestablished postman. As ho did not hold a Civil Service certificate he was ineligible for pension, but if he had completed fifteen years whole-time service as an unestablished postman he would have been eligible for the grant of a Compassionate Gratuity on retirement under the Superannuation Act. When his sick absences became such that he was no longer efficient he was given three months notice that it would be necessary to discontinue his employment, and no promise of either a pension or gratuity was made to him; but particulars of his entire service were called for in order that the case might be thoroughly examined. As, however, Madden had nine years service only as an unestablished postman, the Postmaster General was, he very much regrets, unable to obtain a gratuity for him on retirement. Madden is, it may be stated, in receipt of an Army pension.
But is it not the fact that this man served the Post Office for a considerable number of years?
That may be so, but the Postmaster General has no power to confer pensions for unestablished service in the Post Office.
Dublin Sorting Office— Defalcations
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether the present Controller of the Dublin Sorting Office is held responsible for defalcations which occurred under his control, and whether the Department has decided that he shall make good the amount of some £1,600 to the Revenue; whether this official more recently misstated the facts in connection with complaints made by certain employees of the Department; and whether the Postmaster General contemplates allowing this official to permanently occupy the position of control which he at present holds.
The Controller of the Dublin. Sorting Office has been informed that he is liable to be called upon to make good certain defalcations which have lately occurred, in consequence of frauds committed by one of the officers under his control. There is no ground whatever for suggesting that he has on any occasion been guilty of wilful misstatement; and there is no question of removing him from his present post.
Enniskillen Post Office
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether the new post office in Enniskillen has yet been opened for the transaction of public business; and, if not, will he state the date at which it will be opened and whether a sub-office will be opened for the accommodation of the west side of the town on the removal of the principal office to the new premises in the east end.
The new post office at Enniskillen has not yet been opened for the transaction of public business. It is expected that the buildings will be finished in about a month. The question of opening a sub-office for the accommodation of the west end of the town on the removal of the head post office will be taken into consideration when the removal has been carried out.
West Australia And Irish Home Rule
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been called to a meeting held last year in Perth. West Australia, at which a resolution was passed to the effect that, in view of the services rendered by Irishmen to the British Empire, the time is opportune for a further attempt to recognise the claims of the Irish nation to self-government, in a form similar to that enjoyed by the Australian subjects of the Empire; and whether he has received a copy of this resolution at the Colonial Office, and I whether any reply has been sent to it.
I received a copy of the resolution from the Governor of Western Australia last year, and acknowledged its receipt, informing the Governor that it had been laid before the Queen.
Ministerial Statements In The Two Houses—Suggested Telephonic Communication
I beg to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether he will arrange for telephonic communication between the Government Benches in the Houses of Lords and Commons, to facilitate Ministers in answering questions about which it may be necessary they should in emergencies consult, with the object of having the same information supplied to both Houses of Parliament.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman devise some means of communication so that we may have the information this House is entitled to?
[No answer was returned.]
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, seeing that an import ant statement was made yesterday at half-past four in the House of Lords, of which nothing was known by Ministers in this House at twenty minutes to six, he can arrange in future to afford this House the same information as is given in another place.
The Government are always anxious that this House should be at no disadvantage in comparison with the other House with regard to information. But the hon. Gentleman has put his question under some misconception as to what really took place yesterday. The language of the question almost indicates that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had volunteered a statement in the other House, and that no corresponding statement was volunteered here; in other words, that the Government took the initiative in the House of Lords. I agree that it would be most improper for the Government to volunteer to the House of Lords a more or less elaborate statement on a question of foreign policy while no parallel course was taken in this House. But that is not what happened-What happened was that when Lord Lansdowne reached the House of Lords at half-past four o'clock yesterday, private notice of a question was given by Lord Spencer. That question was answered by Lord Lansdowne at a time when, usually, this House has completed the business of the day as far as questions and answers are concerned. It is to be regretted, no doubt, that such an instance should occur; but so long as you leave to each House the privilege of putting questions without previous notice, some accident of this kind is almost certain to occur. On the whole, I should say that it is not this House so much as the other House which has suffered most by the system. It has constantly happened that the Secretary of State for War or for the Colonies has been met on coming here with private notice of a question which he was prepared to answer, and which he has answered, without having the opportunity of communicating with his colleagues in the other House. That is what occurred yesterday, and, unless you are never to answer a question without notice, I do not see how such an accident can be avoided. I can give the House a positive assurance that we shall do our very best to see that all information of public interest which is conveyed to the other House shall at the same time be conveyed to this House.
May I ask why, if Lord Lans-downe was prepared with the answer in the other House, the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared with an answer in this House?
LordLansdowne was asked when he came down whether he could answer the question. I was never given any notice of the putting of the Question at all.
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that Lord Spencer had not previously given notice of the question?
No. Sir, it was private notice. I had had no notice at all, or I should have done my best to give the House information.
My question was why, if Lord Lansdowne was prepared with an answer in the other House, the noble Lord was not prepared with similar information for this House.
That seems to be a most unreasonable question. It is impossible to expect anyone but the head of a Department to have, in the form which can at once be given to the public, the latest information on every matter. No doubt there was present to the mind of the Under Secretary the telegram on which Lord Lansdowne based his answer; but if my noble friend had received notice of the question he would have had to consult Lord Lansdowne as to the form of the answer.
The right hon. Gentleman does not appreciate the point of the complaint. The statement of the Foreign Secretary was made at half-past four in the House of Lords, and what I wanted to suggest was that when a statement of that kind has been made in the House of Lords the Foreign Secretary should see that the information is conveyed to the House of Commons.
Yes, Sir, I think it would be a very good plan if, when any statement has been made in one House, communication of the fact should be made to the other House. But according to all practice and precedent the Foreign Secretary had every reason to think that we in this House had long passed the stage when it is possible to deal with such a matter by way of question and answer.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Under Secretary had received private notice of the question from the hon. Member for West Waterford some hours before?
The hon. Member is mistaken. Private notice of a question was sent to my noble friend. That question was not in my noble friend's Department, but in that of the Secretary of State for India, and he answered it.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that for the future the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will put his representative in this House at once in possession of the important information which may come to him, so that that information may be conveyed simultaneously to both Houses?
[No answer was returned.]
Proposed Question Limitation
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if, in order to facilitate the business of the House, he will consider the advisability of amending the Standing Orders so that no Member shall be entitled to ask more than one question in any day, and that no Member be entitled to speak for more than twenty minutes on any Bill, Amendment, Resolution, or Motion unless the House consents to grant an extension of time.
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers will he kindly consider the resolution moved by me on this subject and carried by a majority of three to one, although we had to except the two Front Benches?
I do not carry in my memory the exact circumstances attending the debate to which my hon. and gallant friend refers. But he has more than once drawn the attention of the House to this question, and has suggested that there should be a time-limit to speeches. Although the proposal met with considerable sympathy from all parts of the House, it was also felt that it you be a new limitation upon the general flexibility of debate, which certainly the House ought not to adopt without much fuller consideration and without, perhaps, even more painful experiences than those which we have gone through.
Business Of The House—Easter Holidays
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he can now state when the House will rise for the Easter Recess and meet again for the despatch of business.
I had better defer any statement on this matter till next week. Perhaps the hon. Member will put down the question for Monday or Tuesday.
Housing Of The Working Classes Bill
Order for Second Reading upon Thursday, 18th April, read, and discharged.
Message From The Lords
DECLARATION AGAINST TRANSURSTANTIATION.—That they have come to the following Resolution, namely: "That it is desirable that a Joint Committee of both Houses be appointed to consider the Declaration required of the Sovereign, on His Accession, by the Bill of Rights (1 Will. III., cap. 2. s. 1); and to report whether its language can be modified advantageously, without diminishing its efficacy as a security for the maintenance of the Protestant Succession."
That they have passed a Bill intituled, "An Act to constitute the town of Duns to be the head burgh or county town of Berwickshire." Berwickshire County Town Bill. [Lords.]
Berwickshire County Town Bill Lords
Read the first time; and referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills.
Ministerial Statements In The Two Houses
[MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT.]
rose in his place, and asked leave to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the failure yesterday of His Majesty's Government to give to this House information on a critical situation in foreign affairs, while such communication was made to the other House of Parliament"; but the pleasure of the House not having been signified, Mr. SPEAKER called on those Members who supported the motion to rise in their places, and not less than forty Members having accordingly risen—
The brief conversation which took place a few minutes ago on the subject of question and answer has thrown additional light on this subject. It is hardly necessary for me to recite the actual facts of the case, because they are within the memory of those present. But it is a matter which can cause no surprise either to the House or to the Government that some notice should be taken of what has occurred, in order to vindicate what has always been regarded as the clear right of this House, and to prevent by lapse of attention a precedent from being established on the ground of anything that occurred yesterday. The fact is that a certain statement was made to the House of Lords on a matter regarding which the public, attention was stretched almost to its utmost limit, a matter which was exciting the greatest and most critical alarm throughout the country; and, on a question being addressed to the Government a short space of time afterwards in this House, they professed to have no information whatever to communicate upon a matter of public importance—namely, the events in China. That in itself is a question capable of two separate explanations. I do not know that if I give the Government the choice of these two explanations they will find themselves very well off, whichever of the two they accept. It may have been that they deliberately and of their own knowledge intended, and thought it a proper thing on their part to do, to conceal or refrain from communicating to this House information which a member of the Government was at the same time communicating to the other House. That is one interpretation of what happened. But there is another, and I am not sure that the second interpretation is not the more probable of the two. It may be that the representatives of the Government in this House were unaware of the facts which were being communicated in the other House. I wish to point out to the House that this is almost a more serious breach of the rights and privileges of this House than that which I have spoken of as the former alternative. We have neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister for Foreign Affairs present in this House. We have an Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs who, subject to very strict limitations, answers, and answers extremely well, all the questions addressed to him; but we have also here the Leader of the House, the First Lord of the Treasury; and I maintain that, in the absence of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and of the Prime Minister, we are entitled to look to the Leader of the House as the most important member of the Government in the House, and as the personage fully informed upon all questions of urgency in connection with Foreign Affairs. Here was an urgent matter if ever there was one. It was a matter, not of months, weeks, or days, but apparently of hours and almost of minutes. Two forces were arrayed almost in the face of each other, and at any moment a foolish act might have precipitated a conflict between two Great Powers. Am I to be told that while that is the condition of things the Leader of the House, to whom we are to look for full information, was not aware of the communications which had passed either from St. Petersburg to London or from London to St Petersburg? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us, what does not appear, I think, very clearly at present, when the despatch was received from St. Petersburg and when it was answered, because it seems to me that if that was done within a considerable interval of time before the meeting of the House yesterday, it was the bounden duty of those responsible to have informed the First Lord of the Treasury, in order that he might be able to answer any question which might be addressed to him on a matter upon which a question was almost certain to be put in such a state of public opinion as existed. It is on that condition alone that the House of Commons can maintain its hold over and power of influencing the conduct of foreign affairs. We receive from the Under Secretary, as I have already said, information on matters of detail; but when it comes to a question of great urgency and of a critical nature, under such circumstances we look for something more than that, and we do- not expect to be put aside with the usual technical excuse about want of notice, when, as we have now found, at the moment the Government were in possession of the full information. If they did not communicate it to the House it was either because in the opinion of the Government it was not necessary to pay the House of Commons the compliment of making that communication, or be- cause the members of the Government who sit here and represent the Government were not themselves aware of what had occurred. I have spoken of this as an alternative, but I cannot wish the right hon. Gentleman joy whichever of the, two options he accepts. I think at least that we are entitled to call upon the right hon. Gentleman to give some fuller explanation than has yet been given of these circumstances, which throw a strange light on the relations between the executive Government in this House, and which I think deserve the immediate attention which I have asked the House to give. I do not wish to say a word in derogation of the dignity and importance of the other House of Parliament, but this House, after all, has most to do with the conduct of the affairs of this country. It is here that we ought to have the first and fullest information upon all critical matters on which the mind of the country is greatly exercised; and I think the right hon. Gentleman will be glad to take the opportunity which this motion offers him of explaining more fully than he has yet been able to do the reasons why yesterday he appeared to depart from that which seemed to be due to the dignity and interests of the House of Commons.
Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."
I must say, with all respect to the right hon. Gentleman in his personal capacity and as leader of a great party, that I do not think I ever heard the adjournment of the House moved on a more frivolous pretext than that which he has just stated. After all, in the course of what the right hon. Gentleman called the question and the answer across the floor of the House the fullest information was given by me of all the circumstances connected with this affair, and the right hon. Gentleman has not remembered what those circumstances were, He seems to think that we were in the position in which Lord Lansdowne was in the other House; that is to say, that we had received, as he had received, private notice of a question on the subject. But we received no notice at all, and when the hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs asked whether we were going to make a statement similar to that made by Lord Lansdowne we had not the slightest idea what the statement was, and we could not have the information unless Lord Lansdowne had at once sent it down here, which no doubt would have been a desirable thing, but which, as I have pointed out, it is really absurd to attack Lord Lansdowne for not doing, inasmuch as he had good ground for supposing that question time was over in this House. Lord Spencer, acting in the other House as Leader of the Opposition, asked the question at half-past four o'clock. Why did not Lord Spencer send down here and say that he had asked the question, and that a similar question should be put to me or my noble friend from the bench opposite, in which case it would have been answered here as in another place?
Then you did know?
If the question had been put here it would have been answered.
When I asked the right hon. Gentleman about this subject yesterday, having just come from the House of Lords, the right hon. Gentleman said in reply that this was the first he had heard of the subject.
It was the first I had heard of the fact that the subject had been raised in the House of Lords itself. There was no specific question put to me on the fact itself yesterday. If there had been a question asked it must have been specific, and, at all events, the Minister who had to answer it must have been given a moderate amount of notice. But there was no notice given, public or private, and no question was put.
If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to The Times report which he has by him, I think it will be seen that I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not a fact that Lord Lansdowne had made a statement in the House of Lords at 4.30 in answer to Lord Spencer. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman would naturally wish to communicate similar facts to the House.
This is what appeared in The Times—
I think that settles the hon. Gentleman so far as that particular point is concerned. The questions put to us were as to what occurred in the other House. That we had no official means of knowing. As a matter of fact we did not know. If the hon. Gentleman chooses to say that Lord Lansdowne should have sent down to say, "Lord Spencer gave private notice of a question; I have answered it," I think that would have been a desirable thing to have said. Rut in twenty-nine cases out of thirty, as anybody sees who looks at the clock now, it would have been perfectly vain as far as this House is concerned, because at the moment when the question of Lord Spencer was answered by Lord Lansdowne we enter upon the Orders of the Day, and the opportunity of giving an answer is passed. I hope that puts the matter clearly. Of course we are not backward in answering questions, and what astonishes mo is, if the right hon. Gentleman was on the tenter-hooks of expectation, as he now describes himself, with regard to the incidents at Tientsin, that he did not imitate the example of his colleague in the other House, and did not send private notice either to my noble friend the Secretary of State for India, to myself, or to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Had he done so, had he shown or had any Member of this House shown this extraordinary anxiety which it appears they felt with regard to Tientsin, and given us notice, they would have received, of course, similar information in this House to that which we gave in another House. I do not understand why the hon. Gentleman opposite should make a complaint of not receiving an answer to a question which he never put, and which, if ho had put it with the ordinary notice given in such cases, would, I feel sure, have received the fullest and most careful consideration."Mr. Grant asked whether a full statement by the Foreign Secretary was not made in the other House at half-past four o'clock in answer to Earl Spencer. Mr. Balfour.—This is the first intimation I have received of it. I have no doubt that if the hon. Gentleman says, it is so it is true, but I am not aware of it."
The right hon. Gentleman has not addressed himself to the question that was put to him yesterday by the hon. Member for Carnarvon. I have the words he used here, and he said—
And the question is, why the Leader of the House did not answer the inquiry. That brings before the House a matter of the most vital importance, and that is the relation of the Leader of the House of Commons to this Assembly (for I do not enter upon any question of Under Secretaries here). I have sometimes had the honour and responsibility of occupying that position, and the first condition that I specially made on accepting that duty-was that when the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were in the other House, whatever office the Leader of the House of Commons might hold, he should be placed in relation to foreign affairs in as full and immediate knowledge of every matter of importance as was the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary. I put it specifically on this ground that unless that condition was fulfilled I could not discharge the duties that I owed to the House of Commons. Therefore, passing by Under Secretaries altogether, I maintain that the House of Commons has a right at every moment to expect that the Leader of this House shall give as full information to this House upon foreign affairs as could the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary if he were sitting here."May I ask whether an arrangement has been arrived at whereby both Russian and British troops are to retire from the disputed territory, that matters are to be referred to Count von Waldersee, and that] an apology is to be offered by the party found to be in the wrong."
Nobody denies that. All that is asked for is that when information is wanted some notice, private or public, should be given.
Sir, when there is a question of critical importance and the Leader of this House has that knowledge I should have thought that to relieve public anxiety in all parts of this country it would have been a I very proper thing to have volunteered the information or to have solicited some one to put a question in order that such an answer should be given. The right hon. Gentleman has not answered the question put to him by my right hon. friend near me. He has not said when the Russian despatch arrived; he has not told us when that despatch was answered; he has not stated when it came to his knowledge that those despatches had been received and answered; and he has not told us whether, when the question was put yesterday in the House of Commons, he knew the terms of that settlement. If that be so, J venture to say that the Leader of the House of Commons is not in the position we have a right to expect, upon matters of this importance, to give us information to which we are entitled. Here is a specific question put to him which contained, and accurately contained, the terms of settlement. Why did not he answer it? Did he know it? He has not told us whether he knew it or not. If he knew it, why at the end of this interrogation did not he give an answer? He has answered neither of these questions. He has not told us whether he knew, and why, if he knew, he did not give an answer. I venture to say that such a situation has never before in the House been occupied by any Leader. I say it is the bounden duty of the Leader of this House to be in a position to answer questions of that kind on critical foreign affairs, and it is for that reason that this question has been properly raised here. I have frequently put questions when I considered them of high and critical importance, not to the Under Secretary, but to the Leader of the House, because the Leader of the House being a principal, and for our purposes the principal, member of the Cabinet here, we have a right to expect that he knows everything not merely that the. Cabinet knows, because you cannot always call the Cabinet together in a moment, but everything that the Foreign Minister knows, everything that the Prime Minister knows—that it should be immediately communicated to him, not merely because he is a member of the Cabinet, but, above all, because he is the Leader of the House of Commons. The House of Commons is the body that has the first right to have information upon these questions that so vitally concern the interests of the nation. An Under Secretary may require notice of what answer to give, but the position of the right hon. Gentleman as a principal member of the Cabinet and as Leader of the House of Commons ought to require no notice at all. He cannot get up and say he knows nothing at all about it. He has not told us—
I never did say that.
He has not told us—he has been asked and he has not answered—when it was that this information came to his knowledge, when he saw the telegram that was sent from Russia, when he saw the despatch or telegram by which it was answered. If he had seen those telegrams why should he have refrained from stating to the House that which it would have been a great satisfaction to the House and the country to know? That is a thing on which we have received no information yet. I do not put it upon the question of notice or on the ground of the Under Secretary being prepared or not prepared, but simply and plainly upon the ground that we have a right to information from the member of the Government who is responsible to this House in such matters when a critical question of this kind arises. As to notice being required, what notice could be required that a question would be asked about the position of affairs between Russia and England at Tientsin? It was absolutely certain that a question would be asked, and if it was not possible at that time to give an answer, then no answer could have been given no doubt. But when there was a satisfactory answer, when a matter had been settled, when all danger was removed, why in the world that question was not answered has not been explained by the right hon. Gentleman in anything that he has said to-night.
It must be evident to the majority of this House that this motion for adjournment is a tempest in a teapot. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, in his opening statement, in answer to a question put, took the sting out of the complaint, and gave really to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition the opportunity of not moving the adjournment. The Leader of the House has told us in the clearest possible way that the Government have no intention and had no intention of refusing information to the House of Commons. Ho has promised, in addition to that, that he will make every effort to supply all the information which he possesses so as to keep the House up to date in regard to these important issues, ft is evident that a slight slip has occurred somewhere. Humanity is subject to slight slips, especially in cases of this importance, where negotiations are conducted by telegraph. It is perfectly clear to every hon. Member that the Foreign Secretary, the Minister responsible, may have received information, or may have sent a final telegram, within half an hour or quarter of an hour before coming down to the House of Lords, and it may have been impossible to communicate it to his colleagues in this House. If the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House had not taken the line he has done in promising all information to the House, and in regretting that any information had been withheld from the House owing to accident, there might have been some good reason for a motion for adjournment. I would point out to the Leader of the Opposition what a mistake he and his friends make in occupying the time of the House on questions like this when they absolutely neglect their duty on questions of far greater importance. They have absolutely failed to take any steps to bring any of these great issues in China before the House and the country. They might have raised debates in regard to Manchuria, the seizure of our railways in North China, the proposed evacuation of Peking, or the refusal of the Russian Minister in Peking to agree to the punishment of high-placed Chinese criminals. If the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had taken action on any of these subjects he would have been acting in a way worthy of his position; but after the explanations offered by the Leader of the House it is wholly unnecessary to take up the time of the House by this idle motion for adjournment.
We have reason to complain that the Government does not give to the House in regard to important foreign affairs all the information which, with due regard to the public interest, they might afford us. On Monday last I put a question to the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs—
Order, order! There is a definite case before the House, and the hon. Gentleman cannot go into other, eases.
I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I can only express my hope, that in the future, as promised by the First Lord of the Treasury, closer relations will be maintained between himself and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the House of Lords, in order that this House may have always early information in regard to matters of extreme importance to this country.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House has stated that he never knew of a more frivolous pretext for a motion for the adjournment of the House than that offered by the Leader of the Opposition, but the object of the motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is to protest against the frivolous manner in which the Government have treated the House of Commons in this matter. I asked the Leader of the House why, if Lord Lansdowne was prepared to give an answer in the House of Lords, he was not prepared to give an answer here. The right hon. Gentleman treated my question as one of a general character; but the special object of my question was to indicate that if Lord Lansdowne was informed about a matter of great national importance, one which must necessarily be settled by the Government as a whole, it was the duty of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House to be able to furnish the House of Commons at once with the information which Lord Lansdowne was prepared to give to the House of Lords. What was the question which the hon. Member for Carnarvon asked yesterday? It was whether the right hon. Gentleman had any announcement to make as to the negotiations between Russia and this country. Now, a settlement could not possibly have been arrived at without the knowledge of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman is a principal member; and yet the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was, "No, Sir; I have no statement to make." But Lord Lansdowne had a statement to make in the House of Lords, and was prepared to make it on short private notice, and without making any reference to official documents. Why was not the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House in a position to give the House of Commons the same information? Then, later on, the hon. Member for Carnarvon asked this question very pointedly; he said—
Now that is a question of the most specific character possible, and the right hon. Gentleman either knew or did not know what were the facts. If he knew the facts, what excuse has he for not communicating them to the House? If he did not know these facts, how came it that other people knew them hours before? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon asked for an answer to the specific question which he put and to that the right hon. Gentleman did not deign to give any reply whatever. This House, after all, is the representative Assembly of the country, and whatever respect we may have for the other House it has not the representative character which this Housepossesses. It is this House which disburses all the funds for carrying on foreign wars, and on a question of this kind—of a grave international question arising between this country and Russia—this House ought to have the first information. Now, I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman specifically, Did he know or did he not know the terms which had been arranged with Russia when he came down to the House yesterday?"May I ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether an arrangement has been arrived at whereby both Russian and British troops are to retire from the disputed territory, that matters are to be referred to Count Von Waldersee, and that an apology is to be offered by the party found to be in the wrong?"
said it seemed to him that the vital part of this discussion as he looked at it appeared to be that the Government did not appreciate the real feeling of the country. On the previous day the country had been very much concerned at the position which had arisen between this country and Russia in China. The Government hardly seemed to realise the extreme feeling which had arisen on this important matter, because, had they done so, directly the new communication had come to Lord Lansdowne he would have at once informed the Leader of the House, and the House would not have had to ask for information, because that information would have been volunteered. He had always thought that the formation of the Government was such, especially what was termed the internal Cabinet, that intercommunication between Ministers was rendered as easy as it was possible to be by domestic affairs. The House, seemingly, had lost the advantage of that intercommunication, because the Leader of the House did not know anything about this matter. If the right hon. Gentleman did know about it the position of things became more extraordinary than ever. If a matter of this importance was known to the right hon. Gentlemen, surely it was only right and proper that the information should have been put before the House at once. Having regard to the extreme tension of the country and its anxiety upon the matter it would have been only fair to volunteer the information.
asked did the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, when the question was put to him, know, or did he not, that the question had been answered in the House of Lords? The right hon. Gentleman had shown considerable heat in the matter when one of his supporters had taken it for granted that he did not know of the answer yesterday. He (Mr. Philipps) was one of those who on the previous day heard the question asked, and, lightly or wrongly, thought from the answer given the right hon. Gentleman knew nothing whatever about the subject. Would the right hon. Gentleman now say whether he did or did not know? The right hon. Gentleman was extremely angry when the House took it for granted that he did not know.
I am not angry at all. I do not care what you assume.
did not suppose the hon. Gentleman eared what assumption was made. He could only judge from his action, and the right hon. Gentleman certainly did show extreme annoyance when one of his supporters assumed that he did not know. Why could not the right hon. Gentleman answer the question? Why could not he volunteer the information? The noble Lord the Member for Rochester had stated that he was not allowed to answer extemporary questions, and no doubt there were good and wise reasons for that, but was the process to be carried further? Did the Government now assume that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury was not a fit and proper person to be trusted with information? Was it possible that the Government were telling him nothing? Either the right hon. Gentleman did not know, in which case it was a matter for the discretion of the Government, or he did know, and if he did, then he had cleverly concealed his knowledge on the previous day, and was continuing to conceal it. The House had become a good deal accustomed to wars and rumours of wars under the present Government, but many hon. Members not yet habituated to rumours might think a war with Russia at this time on the top of our other liabilities a sufficiently serious matter for the right hon. Gentleman to take an interest in. If the right hon. Gentleman did know the position on the previous day, he had been guilty of an act of great levity in not making a statement in regard to it. If the right hon. Gentleman did not know, it looked very much as if the inner circle of the Cabinet of which the House had heard so much had been restricted to a still narrower limit, and that not only the noble Lord but the right hon. Gentleman himself was not to be trusted to answer extemporary questions on foreign policy, which might account for the heat he had shown.
said a few words from, him might possibly put an end to a discussion which, so far as he could see, was really a sheer waste of time. Not one of the gentlemen who had spoken had shown the least appreciation of the facts. He thought he could in half a dozen words make perfectly clear what the situation was. The situation at Tientsin at one time was a very critical one, and if there had been a collision it would have been difficult to see what the end would be. Therefore, when negotiations were opened for the purpose of settling the Tientsin dispute in a satisfactory manner, it was essential that not a single word should be said until these negotiations had gone so far as to make it certain that the arrangement proposed had been finally accepted by both parties. Did not that explain the position? Yesterday the Government were in possession of a satisfactory proposal from the Russian Government, but they had to send an answer to that proposal. That answer was sent, and it was not until the Government knew that it was accepted that it was possible for anyone to make a statement in the House. The only person who could judge as to when a statement could be made was the man in charge of the negotiations. Although his right hon. friend and the noble Lord the Under Secretary and himself knew what was going on, not one of them could have ventured to open his mouth until he knew the transaction was closed. He believed Lord Lansdowne had no intention of making a statement on the subject, but he was conducting the negotiations, and just before he left his office he believed they had got to such a point that it was possible to make a statement without in any way endangering the success of the negotiations. When Lord Lansdowne got to the House of Lords, Lord Spencer, as he understood without notice, intimated that he wished to put a question, and he being in possession of all the facts, which, of course, none of the Ministers in the House of Commons knew—
Then the right hon. Gentleman did not know?
Lord Lansdowne, knowing exactly how far the negotiations had gone, and this nobody else could have known at that moment, for it was a question of minutes or, at least, half-hours—
Might I ask at what hour was the reply sent?
said it was a close shave between the time the answer was sent and the time the statement was made by the Foreign Secretary. Although Ministers in the House of Commons were in full possession of the proposals made, and although they believed that the acceptance of them would conclude the negotiations, there was not a single man in the House with any sense of responsibility who would have ventured to make a statement to the House on the actual information then in their possession. The only man to whom it was possible to make a statement was the Foreign Minister, who went to the House of Lords, he believed, without any intention of doing so, The India Office was next door to the Foreign Office, and he was in constant communication with his brother J official, who certainly would have informed him if he had any intention of making a statement.
May I ask the noble Lord whether Lord Lansdowne did or did not inform Lord Spencer that if a question were put he would be prepared with an answer?
All I can say is that while Lord Lansdowne was seised with full information, not one of us in the House of Commons was in a position to take the full responsibility, having a sense of what might have been entailed by the failure of the negotiations, to make a statement in the House, which must have been immature or premature. When certain gentlemen came back from the other place yesterday they said a statement had been made. I still think that if the Leader of the Opposition had put a definite question as to whether these negotiations were proceeding satisfactorily, we could have given the answer that they were; but we could not possibly have made the statement that they were concluded. So far from not taking the House into our confidence or wishing to deprive hon. Members of information to which they might be legitimately entitled, whatever reticence was shown yesterday was due to the fact that we knew what was going on, and, knowing what was going on, we felt it our duty not to say a single syllable which might prejudice the negotiations.
The right hon. Gentleman has made the case very much worse. He says that Lord Lansdowne was asked this question in the House of Lords without notice. Now, the right hon. Gentleman here had notice.
Without public notice.
I understand that Lord Spencer, when he came to the House of Lords, asked Lord Lansdowne whether he could make a statement or not. The noble Lord the Secretary for India had notice of a question to this effect when he came down to this House.
And I answered all the questions put to me.