South African War—Jameson Raid—Position Of The Chartered Company
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the assets of the late Transvaal Government which he is advised do not pass to His Majesty's Government, for example, the claim against the Chartered Company in respect of the Jameson Raid, will be made available to meet pro tanto the just and lawful liabilities of the late Transvaal Government incurred before the outbreak of hostilities; and how His Majesty's Government propose to deal with the proportion of these liabilities which may not be met out of such assets.
I have already pointed out that such assets cannot be made available. With regard to the just and lawful liabilities of the late Transvaal Government, in so far as they are just and legal liabilities against his Majesty's Government, they will be recognised to the extent to which they can be fulfilled out of the revenue of the Transvaal.
Does the answer to the first paragraph apply equally to such assets as arrears of taxation and arrears of royalties?
That point does not arise out of the question.
Mr Merriman's Letter Of 14Th November, 1899
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the Hon. J. X. Merriman, who has been a Cabinet Minister in several Governments at the Cape, from his place in the Legislative Assembly of Cape Colony moved on 17th September for information as to the methods by which his private letter, dated 14th November, 1899, came into the hands of the British authorities and was published in a Parliamentary Paper issued by the Colonial Office on 23rd August, and that Sir Gordon Sprigg, the Prime Minister of Cape Colony, promised a post office inquiry; and what was the result of that inquiry.
The manner in which the letter came into the hands of Sir Alfred Milner is described as follows in a Parliamentary Paper presented to the Cape Parliament—
This statement was made at a later date than the promise of a post office inquiry, and the information it contains appears to have rendered that inquiry unnecessary."All that the Governor knows about the matter is that this letter fell into the hands of the military authorities after the second occupation of Dordrecht, and was sent to him in the same way as other correspondence captured from the enemy…. The idea that the letter was intercepted in the post is entirely erroneous."
Did the right hon. Gentleman himself suggest to Sir Gordon Sprigg that it should be merely a post office inquiry?
Cost Of The War
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether the approximate war cost of £1,500,000 per week is in addition to the ordinary expenditure on the military services.
Lord Roberts's Telegrams
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether there would be any and if so what objection to laying upon the Table of the House of Commons a reprint of the various telegrams, not primarily designed for publication, which Lord Roberts sent to the late Secretary of State for War in the course of the campaign, having regard to the difficulty incidental to the comprehension of the despatches without the aid of the telegrams.
I cannot undertake to publish telegrams which have passed, nor am I aware of any telegrams despatched by Lord Roberts to the late Secretary of State for War, not primarily designed for publication, which would facilitate the comprehension of despatches as suggested by the hon. Member.
IS the right hon. Gentleman aware that Lord Roberts's despatch about Paardeberg consists of twelve lines only?
[No answer was given.]
I beg to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the advice of the Law Officers of the Crown was taken with reference to the action of the South African Cold Storage Company in supplying troops in the field with 2,250,000 lb. of frozen meat instead of freshly-killed meat, under the terms of the contract entered into on the 27th October, 1899. I beg also to ask the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether the contract with the South African Cold Storage Company, dated the 27th October, 1900, was entered into in this country or in South Africa.
The reply to the first question is in the negative. The reply to the second is that the contract was made in South Africa.
Aid For Discharged Soldiers
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that Private S. Groves, 5,046, 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, who contracted enteric at Lombard Kopt and was discharged from Netley in November last as unfit for further service, has up to the present been in receipt of only 1s. per day, although still unable to walk without the aid of a stick and altogether incapacitated for employment, and if there is any special reason in this case why the 2s. 6d. per day to which he is entitled on the authority of the Paymaster-General has not been paid.
The man is reported by the medical authorities as partially able to earn a livelihood. At the time of his discharge 1s. a day was the maximum rate provided by the Royal Warrant, but under a new regulation he is now eligible for a rate of 1s. 6d. His case is one of a large number which are being considered as rapidly as possible.
Return Of Troops
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can hold out any hopes of immediately relieving the Militia regiments now serving and who have been serving in South Africa for more than twelve months.
In view of the arrival of four fresh battalions of Militia who volunteered for service in South Africa, Lord Kitchener has intimated to us that he is sending home 6th Battalion Warwickshire, 4th Battalion Derbyshire, 3rd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, which were the first three battalions to embark, and the 4th Battalion Scottish Rifles, which is relieved by the 3rd Battalion of the same regiment.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can hold out any hopes of immediately relieving the different companies of the Imperial Yeomanry now serving and who have been serving in South Africa for more than twelve months.
I am not at present in a position to state when the Imperial Yeomanry companies can be relieved. Special consideration has been shown in cases of hardship reported by commanding officers.
Military Courts Of Inquiry
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to the fact that non-commissioned officers and men punished for offences and dissatisfied with the award of the commanding officer are entitled to demand trial by court-martial, whereas officers aggrieved by the action of the authorities, taken after the consideration of the proceedings of a court of inquiry, are not entitled to trial by court-martial if they should desire it; and whether, having regard to the fact that courts of inquiry can be and are held in the absence of the accused, who are at times not informed of the evidence brought before them or of the gravamen of the charge of which they have been found guilty and condemned, the privilege of open trial by court-martial will be accorded to officers who demand it.
I must refer the hon. Member to my reply to a very similar question put by my hon. friend the Member for Chester on the 28th February.†
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether in the Government scheme of reorganisation the system of linked battalions, one battalion in each regiment being liable to be sent abroad, will be adhered to.
Yes, Sir, so far as two-battalion regiments are concerned.
was understood to ask if the answer applied to army corps designed for purely home defence.
That would not affect the linked battalions.
Army Reorganisation—Highland Regiments
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, in the Government scheme of army reorganisation, the Highland regiments will all be attached to the army corps having its headquarters in Edinburgh.
No pledge can be given, but the desirability of quartering Scotch regiments in Scotland will not be lost sight of.
China—Command Of Allied Forces—Correspondence
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will he state when the Correspondence embodying the negotiations between Great Britain and the Bowers with reference to the affairs of the Generalissimo of the Allied forces in China will be published; and whether he can state the reasons on which the objections of the Powers to an English Officer as Generalissimo were based.
spondence on this subject will be found in China No. 1, 1901, pages 60 to 74. No question of a British Commander-in-Chief was ever brought forward.† See Debates, Vol. xc, page 27.
Fighting In Central Arabia
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information to the effect that a battle has been fought between the followers of Mubarek, the Sheikh of Koweit, and Ibu Raschid, the original ruler of Nejd, in Central Arabia, and that about 5,000 men were killed; and can he state whether Ibu Raschid has recovered his kingdom of Nejd; and whether he has any information regarding the fate of Mubarek.
According to the information which has reached His Majesty's Government, a fight is reported to have taken place on the 17th of March last between the forces of Mubarek, the Sheik of Koweit, and those of Ibu Raschid, the Ameer of Nejd. The losses are said to have been heavy on both sides, but no details have transpired. Mubarek, who is now at Koweit, is said to have been defeated. The Ameer of Nejd is at Boreyda, a place in Nejd near which the battle was fought.
Khorat Railway Contract
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if compensation has been obtained from the Siamese Government for Messrs. Jardine, Matheson, and Co., who were forcibly ejected in August, 1896, by that Government from their contract known as the Khorat Railway Contract; and if he will state the total amount obtained and also the amount offered in full settlement by the Siamese Government and refused by Messrs. Jardine, Matheson, and Co.
The contractor for the Bangkok-Khorat Railway was Mr. G. Murray Campbell, and the dispute between him and the Siamese Government in regard to the execution and cancellation of the contract was referred to the arbitration of Sir Edward Clarke, whose decision was announced on the 28th ultimo. I will inquire whether there is any objection to publishing the terms of the award. We have no information of any previous offer being made by the Siamese Government and refused by the contractor.
The New Sugar Duty
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will state how his new taxation would apply in the case of a merchant who has sold to a brewer sugar for delivery weekly during 1901, and can he state who will have to pay the duty; and how will his proposed new duty apply in the case of a merchant who has sold to a brewers' sugar maker raw sugar for forward delivery; will the brewers' sugar maker be obliged to accept delivery notwithstanding the fact that raw sugar will no longer be available for brewers' use, owing to the duty which puts it at a disadvantage in comparison with malt and flaked maize.
In the case referred to in paragraph one the merchant who imports the sugar will pay the duty, but will be entitled to increase his contract price with the brewer by the amount of the duty. The imposition of the duty will not entitle the brewers' sugar maker to break his contract. I cannot admit the assumption that the result of the duty will be to render raw sugar no longer available for brewing.
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether with a view to avoid the further dislocation of many trades now occasioned by the Customs delaying delivery of consignments pending analysis for duty purposes, he will consider the possibility of accepting declarations by the producers in the country of origin as to the amount of added sugar, subject to occasional checking by the Customs Laboratory. I beg also to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether be is aware that the Customs are assessing and collecting duty on condensed milk upon the assumption that the full bulk weight comprises sugar, whereas the quantity contained is far less than half the amount charged, and whether he will take immediate action to prevent the continuance of this action.
So far as the Customs is concerned, no delay is taking place in the delivery of imported articles subject to the new sugar duties. In regard to the sugar not cleared at the highest rate, the foreign certificate of polarisation is accepted, subject to no question arising as to authenticity. In regard to articles partly composed of sugar, I do not think such declarations could be accepted; duty is at present being charged, in accordance with the law, on their full weight—among them is condensed milk. But samples of such articles are being taken in order that the amount of duty on them may in such a case be ultimately adjusted as far as may be possible with reference to the amount of sugar, under powers which will be inserted in the Finance Bill.
Cannot the right hon. Gentleman make it a little more clear?
We have to act under the Customs Tariff Act, 1876. We cannot fix the duty until the amount of sugar in the articles has been ascertained. Samples are now being taken, and we shall soon be in a position to come to a decision.
Am I to understand that every article which comes into the country will be charged the full sugar duty on its total bulk?
When the matter has been properly adjusted, any over duty will be returned. We are obliged, in accordance with the law, to charge articles on their full weight.
Is it in accordance with the law? Does the Act of 1876 not prescribe that as to an article containing spirit the duty shall be levied on the spirit? Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the schedule of the Act?
Shall I read it for him?
On this point I think I know as much as the hon. Member. The schedule of the Act of 1876 has two provisions—one relating to spirit and one relating to all other articles. The duty with regard to spirit is charged on the amount of spirit, and the duty on all other articles is charged on the weight. I assure the hon. Member that the delay will not be as great as he imagines.
May I ask—
Order, order! This matter cannot be discussed in the form of questions across the floor of the House.
The New Coal Duty—Agricultural Land Rating Act
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the objections to the proposed duty on exported coal, the Government will withdraw that proposal in favour of an equivalent gain to the Exchequer by the non-renewal of the Agricultural Land Rating Act.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the operation of the Customs Order, G. O. 32, 1901, 18th instant, will in effect injure the business of steamers engaged in bringing into port catches from the fishing fleet, by causing delay in entering and clearing on account of shipping two or three tons of bunker coal; and whether, having regard to the element of time being of importance in such transactions, he will cause the matter to be investigated with a view to ascertaining whether arrangements should be made to enable entry omnibus forms to be given, say, weekly or fortnightly.
No delay will be caused to steam fishing vessels on entering the fishing ports in connection with the duty on coal, and no delay need occur on their departure, inasmuch as the entry for shipment of such bunker coal as they require may be passed in anticipation. There will be no objection to the entries being passed weekly or fortnightly, as may be most convenient, and steps will be taken for giving effect to this.
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can state the total weight of all goods exported from the United Kingdom in 1900.
I am afraid that the information for which the hon. Member asks cannot be given.
Food Adulteration Prosecutions
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that a person charged with selling articles of food in contravention of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts must be informed to the exact nature of his alleged offence, and of the alleged adulteration, as stated in the analyst's certificates, while persons charged with selling diseased meat under the Public Health Act, 1875, are not informed of the exact nature of the disease, but are vaguely charged with selling meat which is diseased or unsound or unfit for food; and, as under these circumstances the defendant cannot prepare his defence, whether he will take steps to oblige sanitary authorities to state the exact nature of all such charges, and medical officers of health to furnish to the person whose meat is seized a certificate of the exact nature of the disease affecting the meat seized.
I am aware of the different requirements of the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts and of the Public Health Act with regard to the matters referred to. I may point out that the adulteration of food and drugs can ordinarily be discovered only by the application of chemical tests. This is not so as regards meat which is diseased or unsound or unfit for food. The two classes of cases do not therefore seem to be parallel. I cannot say I think there is any sufficient ground for proposing such a change in the law as that suggested in the question.
Medical Officers Of Health
I beg to ask the President of the local Government Board whether he will grant a Return showing how many medical officers of health there are in England and Wales, and distinguishing those part of whose salary is paid by Parliament, and showing how many have diplomas in public health.
I do not think it necessary that there should be a Parliamentary Return on this subject, but I shall be happy to give the hon. Member the information which he desires. It will take some little time to prepare, but I hope to be able to send it to him in the course of a week or ten days.
London County Council's Tottenham Housing Scheme
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been directed to the proposed scheme of the London County Council for the erection of workmen's cottages on a site in Tottenham for the purpose of housing about 35,000 persons, at a cost of £1,500,000; and whether, as this will necessitate an outlay for the erection of new board schools, and also an expenditure for sewerage and other necessary works, any and what relief can be afforded out of public funds to the ratepayers of the district; and what steps should be taken for this purpose.
I am aware of the proposed scheme. Assistance of the kind referred to in the second paragraph of the question could not be given, but I may point out that the erection of dwelling houses on vacant land largely increases the rateable value of a district, and from investigations which I have caused to be made elsewhere, I do not think it should be assumed that the result of the scheme would necessarily be to increase the burdens on the ratepayers.
Will the local authorities be given an extension of borrowing powers?
I am not quite sure I follow the hon. Member. Does he mean an extension of the time for repayment of the loan they may have to contract in order to carry out the works? Of course any such application will be considered, but I do not think there are any special grounds in this case for differentiating it from similar cases.
Penrhyn Quarry Dispute
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any endeavour has been made by the Board of Trade to settle the Penrhyn Quarry dispute, and whether any steps will be taken to bring about an amicable settlement.
The Board of Trade have received no application from the parties to take any action with reference to the Penrhyn Quarry dispute, and they have no reason to believe that such action would lead to any useful result.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by Section 2, Sub-section (a), of the Conciliation Act, 1896, he has inquired into the causes and circumstances of the dispute existing between Lord Penrhyn and his workmen; and, if so, will he present a Report to the House.
It is not the practice of the Board of Trade to institute a formal inquiry with regard to a dispute unless they consider that such an inquiry is likely to promote a settlement. In the dispute referred to in the question they have no reason to think that this is the case.
Would it not conduce to a settlement if the fight hon. Gentleman were to send some one down to ascertain the real facts?
I have paid close attention to the progress of the dispute, and I do not think any intervention on the part of the Board of Trade, at any rate at present, would he effectual.
Belfast Orders For American Steel
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Messrs. Harland and Wolff. Belfast, have placed an order to the value of £156,000 sterling with Messrs. Carnegie, Pittsburgh, from the importation of which manufactured steel under our free import system no revenue will be derived; and whether he can state how much duty would be levied by the American Government upon a similar order placed in Great Britain.
No, Sir, I have no information as to the dealings of Messrs. Harland and Wolff, and in the absence of particulars of the nature of the goods referred to in the question it is impossible for me to make any statement with regard to the duty leviable thereon by any foreign country.
Locomotive Explosion On Lancashire And Yorkshire Railway
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet received the report of the inspecting officer who held the inquiry into the cause of the explosion of locomotive 676 on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, and if so, when will it be published.
No, Sir, and the necessity of making some chemical inquiries will probably delay the preparation of the report.
Instruction In Forestry
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture whether he can state what provision has been made by the Government for instruction in forestry in the United Kingdom.
In England provision is made for instruction in forestry at the Durham College of Science, at the South-Eastern Agricultural College at Wye, at the Yorkshire College at Leeds, and by the Board of Agricultural Studies at Cambridge University, to all of which institutions grants are made by the Board of Agriculture. Lectures in forestry are also given at the colleges at Cirencester and Downton and other institutions not in receipt of grants from the Department. Examinations in forestry are conducted by the Surveyors' Institution. Perhaps the hon. Member would be so good as to address inquiries with regard to the analogous grants in Scotland to my right hon. friend the Lord Advocate, and with regard to instruction in forestry in Ireland to my right hon. friend the Chief Secretary.
Bruce Grove Post Office—Provfsion Of Change
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether his attention has been called to the refusal to supply postal orders at Bruce Grove Sub-Post Office, when a £5 and a £10 Bank of England note were offered in payment, on the ground that there was not sufficient change in the office; whether he has satisfied himself that this is the case; and, if so, what means are being taken to prevent inconvenience to the public by such offices having insufficient money to cash postal orders when presented if they exceed in the aggregate £10, or to enable the public to secure postal orders or money orders when bank notes are tendered.
Yes, Sir. A representation was received at the post office, dated the 6th instant, to the effect that an application had been made on the 4th instant at the Bruce Grove Post Office for a postal order for five shillings and for three stamps, and a Bank of England note for £10 tendered in payment; and that the sub-postmistress had been unable to change the note. It appeared on inquiry that the sub-postmistress could not give change of a £10 note at the time without inconvenience and risk of leaving herself without sufficient cash for other customers, and she asked the person who tendered the note for something smaller. On a recent occasion change for a £5 note had to be refused under similar circumstances. There was nothing irregular in the matter, so far as the sub-postmistress is concerned, as, according to the rules of the Department, postmasters are not bound to give change, although they may do so when no inconvenience is likely to be caused. The circumstances were all fully explained to the person who wrote to complain.
Postal Accommodation At Thorpe Hesley
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, if he is aware that the post office at Thorpe Hesley has been closed since 15th April, to the inconvenience of a population of about 3,000, who are compelled to walk nearly two miles in order to obtain stamps or postal orders; and if he can state what steps are intended to be taken to provide proper postal facilities for the place.
The closing of the post office at Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham, is due to the fact that the late sub-postmaster has resigned his appointment, and that no eligible candidate for the sub-postmastership has as yet come forward. All possible efforts shall be made to avoid inconvenience to the public and to fill the appointment as soon as possible.
Ireland—Mortality Amongst Calves
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that much mortality has taken place for some time past among calves in Ireland, which has caused losses to the farming classes in Ireland, and whether he can recommend any remedy.
The Department of Agriculture is now investigating the causes of the serious mortality amongst calves, and for this purpose has secured the services of the eminent bacteriologist, Professor Nocard. The principal of the Royal Veterinary College of Ireland will assist him in his researches.
Will Irish farmers be invited to give evidence in the course of the investigation?
That I cannot say.
I will put down a question.
Will a copy of the Report, when presented, be furnished to the Irish county and district councils?
I am quite alive to the importance of this question, and will do my best to communicate the results of the investigation to all concerned.
Grazing Land Tenancies
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is now in a position to state the decision arrived at by the Congested Districts Board as to the status of eleven months tenants in the occupation of grazing lands about to be purchased by the Board.
The Board purchases directly from the owner of estates in the congested districts, and consequently steps into the position of a landlord. This introduces no modification into the status of tenants on estates so purchased.
Land Purchase In Co Wexford
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he will state what are the intentions of the Government with regard to land purchase in the county of Wexford, in view of the fact that in that county a large number of tenants have arranged to purchase their holdings, but that the purchase of these holdings cannot be proceeded with owing to lack of funds.
In view of the fact that time will not, in all probability, admit of any comprehensive land legislation during the present session, the Government has prepared an interim Bill to deal with the difficulty in county Wexford and with similar difficulties which may arise elsewhere. Such a Bill cannot, however, be introduced and passed unless some assurance be given that it will be discussed as an interim measure to meet an emergency.
When will the Bill be printed and circulated so that we may see its provisions?
If I can receive any assurance—I do not wish to press it too far—there will be no objection to circulate it on an early day.
The right hon. Gentleman must see that we cannot give any assurance about a Bill which we have not seen. Is the Chief Secretary's statement to be taken as a declaration of the Government's abandonment of the promise contained in the King's Speech to deal with the question of voluntary land purchase?
No, Sir. It is premature to make any statement as to the business of the House.
It has just been made.
I asked the Chief Secretary, arising out of his answer to the question on the Paper, whether the Government abandon their promise to introduce a Voluntary Land Purchase Bill.
I made no declaration. I merely alluded to a possibility.
Land Disturbances In County Longford
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any report has been received from the Edgworthstown Police Station as to a disturbance created in the townland of Lisnanagh, county Longford, by the two emergency men guarding the evicted farms there; is he aware that one of them bombarded the house for several hours with stones, and was only prevented from committing further excesses by the arrival of the police; and will any steps be taken to bring these disturbers of the public peace to justice for such conduct.
The hon. Member has been misinformed. The occurrences referred to in the first and second paragraphs did not take place.
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I have not been misinformed, but he has by his subordinates.
Longford Guardians' Surcharge
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Local Government Board have issued a sealed order confirming a surcharge of 8s. upon three members of the Longford Board of Guardians, the price of a coffin granted in which to inter the remains of a poor man who had died near Ardagh; whether, seeing that this poor man was on outdoor relief and had no friends or relatives to see to the interment of his remains, he can explain on what grounds the auditor made the surcharge; and did he know that the man was virtually a pauper, and as such entitled to be buried at the expense of the union; and, will he call his attention to the fact that no surcharge should have been made in such a case.
The provisions of Article 4 (4) of the Union Accounts Order were not complied with, and in the evidence adduced the auditor could not find that the expense was incurred in the burial of the deceased. I am making further inquiries. It is not a very large matter.
But there is a principle involved.
Labourers' Cottages In The Granard Union
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that at the recent inquiry into representations under the Labourers (Ireland) Acts in Granard Union two evicted tenants named John Farrell and John Heslin, both of Lisnanagh, county Longford, were refused cottages mainly because they were evicted tenants; whether he is aware that there is a scarcity of labourers in the portion of the county in which they applied, and that for nearly seven miles the country round Lisnanagh is a grazing plain on which there are but few dwellings; and will he call for an explanation from the inspector of his reasons for advising the rejection of these men's representations.
The inspector who held the inquiry reported that three cottages had already been erected under the Labourers' Acts in the townland of Lisnanagh, and that there were also in the locality six or seven other houses, two of which were unoccupied and fit for human habitation. Under these circumstances there was no case for erecting these cottages.
Did the inspector tell the right hon. Gentleman that the two houses in question were houses from which men had been evicted?
I do not think that is material to the question.
Butler Estate, Co Galway
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he can state the reasons for the delay in the sale of the Butler estate in county Galway.
A request for an inspection of this estate under the 40th section of the Act of 1890 was received by the Land Commissioners in January last, and an assistant commissioner was deputed for the purpose of carrying out the inspection. I have drawn the attention of the Land Commission to the matter.
How many years have these negotiations been going on?
We have no knowledge of the negotiations until the matter comes before the Land Commission and an agreement has been arrived at.
Poor Law Officers' (Ireland) Superannuation
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Irish Poor Law Officers' Association has made itself responsible for a statement to the effect that the passage into law of the Poor Law Officers' Superannuation (Ireland) Bill would mean a saving to local rates, and that solely on the strength of this representation certain boards of guardians are giving sanction to the Bill; whether the Government will obtain a report from a competent actuary as to the probable effect of the Bill on local rates, having regard to the experience of the working of the English Act of 1896, and to the fact that the Bill proposes to include those giving only a portion of time to the service; and whether the information so obtained will be placed in the hands of Members before the Second Reading of the Bill.
The Bill is down for Second Reading on Friday, 3rd May. The Government will be prepared to accept the Second Reading on the understanding that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, with a view to ascertaining the ultimate actuarial effect of the measure on local rates. For this purpose it is proposed to employ a competent; actuary.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that before the English Bill became law the cost was £6,200 annually, whereas it is now £74,000?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider it his duty as the representative of the Irish Government in this House to place in the hands of hon. Members a statement as to the probable effect of this Bill on the rates of Ireland?
Yes, and I propose to accomplish that object by placing the information at the disposal of the Select Committee.
But we want it before the Second Reading.
I cannot give it before the Second Reading, but if hon. Members will allow the Bill to be read a second time—
This is a matter of the utmost importance.
Considering the importance of this measure to the ratepayers of Ireland—
The hon. Member is not entitled to preface a question by arguments and comments.
Cannot we have the information before the Second Reading?
The right hon. Gentleman has twice answered that question.
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the Government are prepared to take the time of the House to promote the interests of a certain organisation in Ireland. Why will he not also take time for necessary legislation?
I must ask the hon. Member to resume his seat.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state on what grounds the Local Government Board propose, in opposition to the wishes of the Rural District Council, to make a union charge of the cost of the French-park Waterworks, which will serve only a few hundred people.
The action of the Board in this matter has been in accordance with their general policy as to chargeability of rural sanitary expenses since May, 1899. The area of charge in this case has not yet been fixed. The district council wish to fix an area of so limited an extent that the annual charge thereon in respect of the loan would be about 10d. in the £, whereas if the dispensary district were adopted it would be only 4d., and if the whole rural district were adopted it would be about ·09d. This was fully explained in a letter addressed to the council on the 1st instant.
Carrick-On-Shannon Petty Sessions Clerk
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether any objection has been received to the election of Mr. Devenish by a majority of one vote as clerk of Carrick-on-Shannon Petty Sessions district on the 12th instant; whether he is aware that Mr. Devenish resides in the county Roscommon, and is already a petty sessions clerk in that county; and whether, as he has no residence in the county Leitrim, his appointment under these circumstances to an important centre like the county town of Leitrim will be sanctioned by the Lord Lieutenant.
The reply to the first and second paragraphs is in the affirmative. Mr. Devenish resides four miles from Carrick-on-Shannon. A petty sessions clerk is not required to reside in the district of which he is clerk. The appointment of Mr. Devenish has been sanctioned by the Lord Lieutenant.
Irish Railways-State Purchase —German State Railways
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the German State railways realised a profit of £23,200,000 last year; and whether he will consider the advisability of introducing the system of State ownership in Ireland, with a view to decrease the burden of taxation, and to increase transit facilities by cheaper rates for goods and passengers.
This question is similar to one put by the hon. Member and answered by me on Friday last.* As soon as I obtain information on the first paragraph I will communicate with the hon. Member.
Road Labour In Ireland
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether, before laying upon the Table of the House the draft Provisional Order regarding direct labour, he will communicate to the Irish Members the decision of the Government as to the Amendments suggested by them and forwarded to him.
Yes. Sir; but I must not exclude from myself the right to insert or object to any amendment of the provisions of the Bill on the Committee stage.
David Finlay's Estate, Co Cavan
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland can he state on what date the tenants on the estate of the late David Finlay and others, situate in the county of Cavan, signed agreements to purchase their holdings through the Irish Land Commission; on what date were these agreements lodged with the Irish Land Commission; and what were the reasons that these agreements had not been lodged at an earlier date.
No agreements have been lodged between the landlord and tenants of this estate, and consequently I have no cognisance of any proceedings in respect of its sale.
The King's Accession—Proclamation At Limerick
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that on the proclamation of King Edward the Seventh as King the high sheriff for the county of Limerick requisitioned the Dublin Castle authorities for a guard of honour composed of a half battery of artillery, a half squadron of cavalry, and a half battalion of infantry
for the proclamation in the towns of Bruff, Rathkeale, and Newcastle: whether the Castle authorities refused on the grounds that they could furnish no expenses unless the high sheriff would in person defray expenses from his own private purse; and whet her he will lay upon the Table of the House the correspondence connected therewith.* See page 789.
The high sheriff, in February last, communicated to the Executive Government a copy of a correspondence that had passed between him and the military authorities, who felt unable to comply with his requisition for troops for the purpose mentioned. The high sheriff was informed that the matter was not one calling for the intervention of the Executive. The answer to the last paragraph is in the negative.
Culloville (Ireland) Postal Arrangements
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he will inquire into the inconvenience caused to the people of Culloville by not having a Sunday delivery of letters, as is the case in the surrounding post office districts; and whether he will arrange a collection of letters, for this district each evening later than that now existing, and also erect a pillar box at Culloville.
The Postmaster General has caused inquiry to be instituted, and the result shall be communicated to the hon. Member as soon as possible.
How soon? The people of this district are greatly inconvenienced.
I cannot say, but the result shall be communicated as soon as the Postmaster General has had time to form an opinion on the inquiry.
Cork Post Office Revision
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he can explain why, although the revision of the Cork Post Office staff took place on the 4th July, 1899, under which the clerks' class was increased with the authority of the Treasury given on that date, the sorting clerics and telegraphists promoted on the 16th February, 1900, only received the increased pay from the latter date, notwithstanding that in the case of the superintendent of telegraphs and the female supervising officer at Cork the increased pay was allowed from the date of the Treasury latter; and seeing that in the case of the revision of the Dublin telegraph staff the promoted officers' promotions were eventually antedated to the date of the Treasury sanction, and that this is the practice at large offices, whether it will now be arranged that the officers in Cork are paid from that date.
In regard to the superintendent for telegraph duty, the revision merely authorised an improvement in his scale of salary, and as regards the woman supervisor the revision merely converted the assistant supervisorship into a supervisorship, so in these two cases the revision could be carried out at once. As regards the promotions to new appointments arising from the revision considerable difficulties were experienced in making the selections, and it was not until the 16th of February that the recommendations received the Postmaster General's approval. It is the practice to date all promotions from the day on which they receive the Postmaster General's approval unless there are any special circumstances in the case which justify a different course, and the Postmaster General sees no reason to depart from the practice in this case.
Higher Elementary Schools
I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education what steps, if any, it is proposed to take to place beyond challenge as to legality the right of school boards to assist the maintenance out of the school board rates of schools recognised under the Higher Elementary Minute now incorporated in the Education Code for 1901.
I have nothing to add to the statement I made a day or two ago, that the Hoard of Education are advised that higher elementary schools under the conditions of the Code may be maintained by school boards out of the School Fund.
Rex V Cockerton
I beg to ask the First Ford of the Treasury whether, in the event of the School Board proceeding no further with the appeal against the Cockerton judgment, the Government will undertake to deal with the matter in the present session.
I cannot give any pledges at the present time with regard to the legislation of the session, as I informed the hon. Gentleman a few days ago.
Royal Declaration Against Roman Catholicism
I beg to ask the First Ford of the Treasury whether he can state the present intentions of the Government with regard to repealing that portion of the Royal Accession. Declaration, which describes Roman Catholic beliefs as idolatrous.
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask him if the Royal declaration by which King Edward VII. sits upon the Throne is not part of the Bill of Rights and of the Art of Settlement?
Order, order! That is a comment, and not a question.
I understand that the present position of the matter is as follows:—There was originally a proposal in the House of Fords to appoint; a Committee to investigate the terms of the Oath. It appeared to me that if the subject was to be, investigated it had better be by a Joint Committee, and I threw that suggestion out in the House. The Opposition have intimated that they do not propose to serve on the Committee, and therefore that proposal falls through. I presume that the Committee appointed by the House of Lords will investigate the subject on their own account, as was originally proposed.
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can arrange to have the House meet on Saturdays for Government business, with a view to preserve the rights of private Members on Tuesday.
No, Sir: I cannot imagine that any arrangement for Saturday sittings would meet with the approval of hon. Members.
Decimal System Of Coinage
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Government propose to take the necessary steps to substitute the decimal system of coinage for the system at present in use.
Royal Commission On Irish University Education
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is yet in a position to name the members of the Royal Commission on Irish University Education and to give the terms of reference.
No, Sir, we are not in a position as yet to state the names of the Members of this Commission. It will be in the recollection of the hon. Gentleman that an appeal was made to us not to settle finally either the members of the Commission or the terms of reference until the debate which took place last night had been concluded. We hope to proceed very rapidly now with the business of appointing the members of the Commission, and finally settling the terms of reference.
Royal Commission On Local Taxation
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he can state when the Royal Commission on Local Taxation is expected to report; and whether that Report will be in the hands of Members before the Agricultural Rating Bill is renewed.
I understand that no date can yet be fixed, but every effort is being made to press on the Report. It is impossible to give the pledge asked for in the second paragraph.
Business Of The House
I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will postpone the discussion on the Report of the coal tax resolution until next week. On Thursday there is to be a meeting of the Federation of Miners from all parts of the kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman will see that the miners are not able at once to place their views before him as the coalowners and merchants can do; and yet it is highly desirable that they should have an opportunity of placing their objections to the tax before the Government. That cannot be done if the Report is taken on Thursday.
Of course I shall be very happy to receive and consider any views which the minors may present to me on this subject. I may say that I have already undertaken to receive deputations from other interests affected; and of course I shall consider anything which may be said. But I confess I do not quite see why the Report of the resolution should be postponed. The invariable course has been—and both I and the right hon. Gentleman remember the opposed Budget of 1885—to allow the Report of the resolution to be adopted by the House and to be embodied in the Finance Bill, before the House is really asked to express a decision on the subject. There will be ample time before the Second Reading of the Finance Bill for any representations to be made and considered; and therefore I hope I shall not be pressed to postpone the Report of the resolution, which is treated invariably as a formal stage binding the House to nothing. The postponement would make a very inconvenient delay in the introduction of the Bill.
It is quite true that there have been occasions on which this resolution has been passed without discussion; but that has not been the usual course. There are very special reasons in this case why the right hon. Gentleman should have an opportunity of knowing the feelings of the miners on this subject, and that there should be a full discussion on the resolution. That being so. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to make arrangements for postponing the resolution, because the opportunity of which he speaks may not occur for a considerable time.
Of course I will consider the suggestion, and I will communicate with the right hon. Gentleman on the subject; but I may add that I am not convinced by what he has said.
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, who no doubt is aware of the communication which you, Mr. Speaker, read to the Mouse at the commencement of business, whether he will put down Irish Supply and the Attorney General's Vote on the earliest possible day, to give to Irish Members an opportunity of discussing the prosecution of the lion. Member for North Leitrim.
I will do my best to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen; but though I cannot at present give an absolute pledge without consultation, as at present advised, I see no obstacle to putting down the Vote on Friday week. As I understand, hon. Members will not be able to discuss in Committee of Supply the sentence passed on a Member of this House or the action of the judge in passing it. The only subject of discussion would be the conduct of the Irish Executive in ordering the prosecution.
As to the point of order, that may be dealt with when it arises. All we ask is that the Vote for the Attorney General's salary shall be put down at the earliest possible day. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say be cannot put it down before Friday week.
I have already announced that Votes in Class III. will be put down on Friday next, and there is considerable objection to upsetting an arrangement already made.
Inasmuch as we have had Irish debates during almost the whole time of the session, could not the right hon. Gentleman allow Friday week to be given to something connected with England?
I do not quite see the point of that request. Next Friday will be devoted to English questions, and there must be a certain number of days in the session devoted to Irish Supply. I do not know that it is more inconvenient to discuss Irish Supply on Friday week than on any other Friday If any special inconvenience could be shown either for English or Irish Members, alterations might be made.
When will the Army resolutions be taken?
I am anxious to bring them on as soon as possible, for it is inconvenient to the War Office that the final decision should not be quickly taken. But progress must be made with the Budget and the Civil List proposals before those resolutions can be brought on.
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of providing English Members with a Parliament for themselves?
The New Sugar Duty—Motion For Adjournment
I beg to ask leave to move the adjournment of the House to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely, the levying by the Customs authorities of duty on the bulk weight of articles containing sugar, instead of on the sugar itself.
That can hardly be said to be a matter of urgency. It has already been stated that the Report of the sugar tax resolution is to be taken very shortly, and is to be followed by the Finance Bill. Therefore the question can hardly be said to be urgent.
It is a matter of extreme urgency. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew that he was going to levy the duty, my complaint is that he did not make his investigations beforehand. The matter is urgent in this way. Unless we get an assurance that this will be rectified, it is impossible that the trade can be carried on. The whole trade is demoralised.
That is not a point of order. The hon. Member is making a speech on the question.
I am as anxious as the hon. Member can be that the matter should be settled, and I will do my best to settle it.
Why did you not make your inquiries beforehand?
Water Companies (Liability For Storage Of Water) Bill
Ordered, That the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills do examine the Water Companies (Liability for Storage of Water) Bill, with respect to compliance with the Standing Orders relative to Private Bills.—( Mr. Louis Sinclair.)