House Of Commons
Tuesday, 16th July, 1907.
Private Bill Business
Broadstairs and St. Peter's Urban District Water Bill [Lords].—Read a second time, and committed.
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No. 3) Bill [Lords]; Local Government (Ireland) Provisional Orders (No. 1) Bill [Lords]; Pier and Harbour Provisional Order (No. 1) Bill [Lords].—Read a second time, and committed.
Renfrewshire Upper District (Eastwood and Mearns) Water Bill [Lords].— Reported, with Amendments; Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed.
Public Accounts Committee.—Second Report brought up, and read.
Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 252,]
Killery's Divorce Bill [Lords].—Reported from the Select Committee on Divorce Bills, without Amendment; Report to lie upon the Table.
Bill to be read the third time.
Killery's Divorce Bill [Lords].—Ordered, That the Minutes of Evidence and Proceedings in the House of Lords on the Second Reading of Killery's Divorce Bill [Lords], together with the Documents deposited in the case, be returned to the House of Lords: And that the Clerk do carry the same.—(Mr. Attorney-General.)
Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Bill [Lords].—Read the first time; to be read a second time upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 280.]
Message From The Lords
That they have agreed to: Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No. 5) Bill; Bude Gas Bill; King's Norton and North-field Urban District Council Bill, with Amendments.
Amendments to: Wisbech Water Bill [Lords]; United Methodist Church Bill [Lords], without Amendments.
Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No. 5) Bill Lords.—Amendments to be considered To-morrow.
Petition from Manchester and other places, for legislation; to lie upon the Table.
Returns, Reports, Etc
Treaty Series (No 19, 1907)
Copy presented, of Agreement between the United Kingdom and Norway respecting the Mutual Surrender of Fugitive Criminals. Signed at Christiania, 18th February, 1907 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Trade Reports (Annual Series)
Copy presented, of Diplomatic and Consular Report, Annual Series, No. 3858 [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
Boiler Explosions Acts, 1882 And 1890
Copy presented, of Report to the Secretary of the Board of Trade upon the working of the Boiler Explosions Acts, 1882 and 1890, with Appendices [by Command]; to lie upon the Table.
East India (Examination's For The Civil Service)
Copy presented, of Regulations for Admission to the Indian Civil Service; alteration to paragraph 9 [by Act]: to lie upon the Table.
Crown Lands Act, 1906
Copy presented, of First Report by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, as a Commissioner of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, by virtue of the Crown Lands Act, 1906 [by Act]; to lie upon the Table,
Poor Law Relief (Ireland)
Return ordered, "showing for each Poor Law Union in Ireland—
Questions And Answers Circulated With The Votes
Publication Of Report Of Inquiry Into Bay Of Firth (Orkney) Oyster Order
To ask the Secretary for Scot- land when the Report of the Commissioner who held an inquiry upon the Oyster Order for the Bay of Firth, Orkney, may be expected. (Answered by) Mr. Sinclair.) The Report referred to by the hon. Member was prepared by an officer of the Fishery Board solely for their information and guidance. It has not been customary to publish such Reports, and therefore this Report will not be published.
Dock Accommodation For Battleships On The East Coast
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he will state the number of docks on the east coast, north of Dover, capable of accommodating ships of the "Dreadnought," "Lord Nelson," and the "Inflexible" classes; and whether the approaches to these docks are in each case such as to allow of the passage of ships of the classes named at all states of the tide without involving more than the ordinary risks. (Answered by Mr. Edmund Robertson.) The only dock on the east coast capable of taking the "Dreadnought," "Lord Nelson," and "Invincible" class is Stephenson's, on the Tyne, which will accommodate these vessels under favourable conditions, and at moderately light draught. No. 9 dock at Chatham will take the "Invincible" and "Lord Nelson" classes.
Labourers Acts—Application Of Michael Delaney
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that an agricultural labourer, named Michael Delaney, sent in a representation under the Labourers Acts to the Mountmellick Rural District Council; that the house in which he at present resides was condemned by the medical officer of health as being unfit for human habitation; and that the rural district council assigned as a reason for rejection that the house in which Delaney lives is a freehold; and will he state whether there is anything in the Labourers Acts barring out from their benefits a man who owns a freehold house which the medical officer condemns as unfit for habitation. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The reason assigned by the rural district council for the rejection of Delaney's application was that he is a freeholder. If the applicant is an agricultural labourer, and does not hold land in addition to the house, he would not be debarred from the benefits of the Labourers Acts. The Local Government Board propose to draw the attention of the rural district council to this question, and to inform them of their views on the matter for future guidance.
Post Office Servants' Committee Report
To ask the Under-Secretary of State for India, as Chairman of the Select Committee on Postal Servants, whether he is able to state when the Report of that Committee will be presented to the House. (Answered by Mr. Hobhouse.) It is impossible to suggest an exact day for the presentation to the House of this Report, but no time is being lost in its preparation, which is being proceeded with as rapidly as possible.
Payment For Use Of Bell Rock, Skerryvore, And Dhu Heartach Rock
To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether any sum was paid for or for the use of the Bell Rock, Skerryvore, or the Dhu Heartach Rock, on which lighthouses now stand; and, if so, what in each ease was the amount so paid, and when, to whom, and by what lighthouse or other authority was it paid. (Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) I am informed by the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses that no sum was paid for or for the use of the Bell Rock, Skerryvore, or the Dhu Heartach Rock.
Loans To Irish Local Bodies For Public Work
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury when it is proposed to take into consideration the case made out by public bodies in Ireland for obtaining loans at 3¼ per cent. for objects of public work; and whether any relief of taxation arising from these loans at their present high rates of interest may be expected next year. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) This subject will probably come up for discussion shortly on the Public Works Loans Bill, and I do not think it desirable to make any statement before then.
To ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, if he has recently received resolutions from the Kew Employees Union and the Kew Guild, protesting against the gardeners at Kew being called apprentices; and, if so, will he state whether in the form of application for a situation as gardener at Kew, there is any reference whatever to the term apprentice; and, if not, will he see that the men are called gardeners in future by the Department. (Answered by Sir Edward Strachey.) The reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative, and to the second in the negative. The question of the most appropriate designation of the grade is now under consideration. Perhaps I may take this opportunity of saying that my use of the term "apprentice" has apparently been misunderstood. I used it in no derogatory sense, but merely to convey to the House the idea that the young gardeners in question were afforded opportunities of instruction and self-culture in an advanced school of horticulture.
Sunday Delivery Of Letters In The Riverstown Postal District
To ask the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been called to the representations made to the late Postmaster on behalf of the residents of Brookhill, Butlers-town, Coolnacaha, Ballinrising, and Killydonoghue, situate in the Riverstown postal district, to the effect that it was essential and desirable that there should be a Sunday delivery of letters in these places; to the memorial in support of this claim; and to a resolution passed at the Cork Rural District Council in favour of a Sunday delivery in the districts mentioned; and will he state whether it is intended to comply with the wishes of the people in this matter. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) My attention has been called to the application referred to by the hon. Member. I find that the existing postal service on weekdays to the places mentioned is carried on at a considerable 10s; and, in these circumstances, I do not feel justified in incurring additional expenditure for the purpose of establishing a Sunday post
Messrs John Brown And Co And Vickers, Sons, And Maxim And The Fair Wages Resolution
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that the firms of John Brown and Company, Limited, and Vickers, Sons, and Maxim, of Sheffield, who contract for work with and supply material to the Admiralty, do not pay the standard rate of wages to the carpenters and joiners in their employ; and whether he will take steps to compel those firms to observe the Fair Wages Clause or otherwise to strike them off the list of Government contractors. (Answered by Mr. Edmund Robertson.) If the hon. Member will be good enough to furnish me with particulars of Admiralty contracts on which the firms named have not observed the Fair Wages Resolution I will have immediate inquiry made.
Police Note-Taker At Meeting At Newtownforbes
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland to state the reason which dictated the sending of a police note-taker to a peaceable and orderly meeting in Newtownforbes on Sunday, 7th July; and whether he was consulted on the adoption of this new departure in the case of Nationalist meetings in Ireland. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) A police note-taker was sent to this meeting because there was good reason to appre- hend that illegal language would be used at it. This course was taken with my approval.
Sale Of The Douglas Estate, Longford
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that there are 1,500 acres of grazing land let to four eleven months tenants on the Douglas estate, in the parish of Clonquish, and near the town of Longford; whether he is aware that 1,200 people were cleared off this property in 1844–9 to make way for a plantation of Scotch graziers; whether he is aware that most of these planters failed, and that this land is still let on the English tenant system by Mr. Douglas, who is at the same time offering for sale to the tenants the uneconomic portions of his property on which a large population live in a state of chronic poverty; and will he direct that the Estates Commissioners will refuse to sanction the purchase of that portion unless the large grazing tract is also sold. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners have no information as to the matters of fact alleged in the Question. No proceedings for the sale of the estate appear to be pending before the Commissioners at present, but if such proceedings should be instituted the Commissioners will fully consider the facts of the case.
Relief Of Distress In Ireland
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been called to the effect of the present weather upon crops in Ireland; whether he is aware that practically every crop is threatened with destruction owing to long continued wintry weather; and whether, in case of further losses in this direction, the Government will take some special steps to take special powers to relieve distress in the coming winter in Ireland. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) I refer to the full statement on this subject which I made yesterday in reply to a Question put by the hon. Member for the Connemara Division. †
†See page 345;
Return Of Irish Departments (Cost, ║Income, And Expenditure)
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he will grant the Return of Irish Departments (Cost, Income, and Expenditure), of which notice stands on the Order Paper, † (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) It would not be practicable to give a Return in the form in which it is asked for. I am, however, willing to give a Return on the subject, and will, in the course of a few days, communicate to the hon. Member the form of the Return which I am prepared to give, in order that he may move for it if he should be disposed to do so.
Evicted Tenants—Application Of A H Armstrong
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether A. H. Armstrong, now residing at Knock, Belfast, has applied to the Estates Commissioners to be restored to his late father's holding, situated at Billywood, Feagh Mullah, Kells, county Meath; and whether the Commissioners have approached the tenant at present in occupation of the farm with a view of purchasing his interest, and with what result. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners have received Mr. Armstrong's application, but have not yet taken any action in the case. The application will be considered in due course.
Great Western Railway And Conveyance Of Devonshire Volunteer Regiments To Camp
To ask the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that the Great Western Railway have refused to carry
the Devon Volunteer battalions to camp on 3rd August next, and that, as the Great Western Railway is the only railway running near the camp ground, many of the battalions are at a loss to know how to get to the camp on the day named; whether he has any power to compel the railway company to carry these men; and, if not, is it possible for him to grant the men extra pay if they march into camp from stations farther away on the London and South Western Railway. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) It appears on inquiry that the arrangements made by the Great Western Railway Company for conveyance of passengers during the holiday season at the commencement of August did not admit of their meeting the requirements of the 4th Volunteer Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. I am not aware that any other of the Volunteer battalions are similarly affected. I have no power to compel the company to carry these men at the reduced rates. An allowance will be made to the battalion mentioned for the march from Yeoford to Moreton Hampstead, a distance of twelve miles, where they will camp.† Irish Departments (Cost, Income, and Expenditure). Return showing, for the latest completed financial year, the Cost, Income from all sources, and Expenditure of each of all the Irish State Departments, Boards, and Bodies, and the total Cost, Income, and Expenditure; and the total Payments and Expenditure for and in connection with land by the Congested Districts Board, the Land Commission, and the Estates Commissioners, respectively, with monetary return or capital value of set off, if any.
Questions In The House
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether in Germany the life of a destroyer is officially reckoned at ten years; and whether he can state the number of destroyers laid down in Great Britain and Germany in the last ten years and the number projected for this year.
I am informed that the official German estimate of the life of a destroyer is twelve years. Taking this-period, 115 destroyers were laid down in Great Britain, and sixty-one in Germany. Great Britain has now 142 destroyers and Germany sixty-one.
Were not the bulk of these destroyers laid down during the earliest portion of this twelve years? The hon. Gentleman has not answered the Question on the Paper.
I have answered the Question in the light in which it appears on the Paper.
British And German Fleets
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what is the composition of the German High Sea Fleet and the British Channel Fleet in battleships, armoured cruisers, unarmoured cruisers, and destroyers, respectively.
asked whether such Questions were not objectionable, and might not possible harm be done by making these comparisons between our own naval strength and that of a friendly nation? Would not a reference to official Returns give the information asked for?
asked if the Civil Lord of the Admiralty was aware that such official comparisons were made every year and laid before the German Parliament in a document signed by the German Emperor.
I think I had better confine myself to answering the Question of which notice has been given. The present composition of the Fleets referred to is:—Channel Fleet: 14 Battleships, 4 Armoured Cruisers, 8 Unarmoured Cruisers, 1 Repair Ship, 1 Despatch vessel. German High Sea Fleet: 16 Battleships, 3 Armoured Cruisers, 8 Unarmoured Cruisers. As to destroyers, none are permanently attached to either Fleet.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the "Dreadnought" has at any time fired a complete broadside with full charges, namely, eight 12-inch guns firing simultaneously with full charges.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the twenty-seven 12-pounder guns carried by H.M.S. "Dreadnought," and the sixteen 12-pounder guns carried by ships of the "Minotaur" type, and the fifteen 12-pounder guns carried by ships of the "Lord Nelson" type, are intended for use against torpedo craft; and, if not, for what purpose are 12-pounder guns carried in such numbers.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the 12-pounder guns recently removed from twenty-one armoured ships were, previous to their removal, intended for use against torpedo craft or for what other purpose; and why these guns are no longer required on board these twenty-one armoured ships.
The guns in question were intended for use as boat and field guns. One gun remains in each ship for use as a field gun, but is not shown in the Return of Fleets, as it is not provided with a ship mounting, and cannot therefore be used as a ship gun. Arrangements have been made for substituting 3-pounders, for use as boat guns, and for replacing the second field gun by a more powerful weapon if required.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the 12-pounder guns on permanent mountings with which the river class of destroyers are now being armed are intended for use against torpedo craft, or for what other purpose.
As stated in the reply of my right hon. friend the Secretary to the Admiralty to a Question by the hon. Member for King's Lynn on the 18th June, it is not desirable in the public interest that information connected with re-armament should be made public.
Rye Bay Fishing
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that foreign fishing vessels are in the uninterrupted habit of fishing in Rye Bay; and whether he will take immediate steps to stop illegal fishing by foreign vessels in these waters.
The reports received from the Coastguard cruiser "Argus," which has recently visited these waters, do not confirm the hon. Member's suggestion; but if he will give a specific case I will have further inquiry made.
Inspection Of Contract Work
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether practical founders are employed as inspectors to examine the foundry work done by contractors for the Navy; whether any representations have been made to the Admiralty on the subject; and whether he will undertake that in future all castings and other foundry work intended for naval purposes shall be inspected by practical founders.
The inspectors employed by the Admiralty are not practical founders in the sense that they have ever been employed in a foundry; but they are practical officers with a great experience in examining foundry work. Representations on this subject have been made to the Admiralty by the founders working in one of the dockyards, but it is not proposed to make any change in the existing practice, which is that followed in the private trade.
How do they discover flaws?
asked for notice.
asked if the Admiralty would consider the question of appointing practical men.
In any new appointments that will be borne in mind.
Sales Of Obsolete War Vessels
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if it is the fixed determination of his Department not to sell any obsolete war vessels except with the breaking-up condition attached, even in view of the fact that this country is constantly exporting war vessels of the latest type. I beg also to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether it is intended to offer at public auction any others of the obsolete war vessels in the Holy Loch or Kyles of Bute; and, if so, will he offer to sell in the first instance at least one of the vessels without the breaking-up condition.
There is no immediate intention of selling any of the ships in the Kyles of Bute. The Admiralty do not consider it advisable to sell armoured vessels without the breaking up condition.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he can furnish any information as to the progress of the Government harbour work at Rosyth; what number of men are working there; and whether, seeing that there is no Government dockyard on the East Coast of Great Britain capable of accommodating a warship of the "Dreadnought" size at all tides, he will consider the advisability of expediting the work.
On the subject of Rosyth I have nothing to add to the statements already made.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether, seeing that many pensioners who are now paid quarterly are at present in workhouses, he can see his way to advising a system of weekly payments through the medium of postal orders post-dated according to the dates required for weekly issue, and so relieve the workhouses from the strain of housing pensioners.
This question was referred to a Committee under the chairmanship of the Paymaster-General, and the Report of this Committee is now under the consideration of the Army Council.
Are we likely to have the Report before the end of the session.
I hope so.
Has not the right hon. Gentleman had repeated applications from guardians of the poor on this point, to save the men from themselves?
Yes; but the question is one of great difficulty.
Cartridges For Morris Tubes
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he can state if cartridges for Morris tubes are available for use at the present time; and, if not, at what date are they likely to be ready.
I understand that the deliveries to which I referred in my Answer to the hon. and gallant Member on the 10th ult., are now being made by the contractors,†
Bonuses For The Special Contingent
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether any, and, if so, what bonus will be given to recruits and men serving in the Volunteers, respectively, as an inducement to join the nucleus third battalions or special contingent.
It is proposed to offer a bonus of £2 to men now serving in the Militia as an inducement to join the special contingent. No bonus will be offered to any other men joining the contingent, but all men serving in it in future will receive an annual bounty.
Indian Rupee Coinage
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India if he can state approximately the gain-to the Revenue in the last financial year due to the coinage of rupees and other silver pieces as token money.
The profit on the coinage of rupees is not treated as Revenue: it has hitherto been transferred to the Gold Standard Reserve; and in future one half will continue to be so transferred, the other half being used for capital expenditure on railways. The amount of the profit in 1906–7 was approximately £4,000,000. The profit on other coinage, which is treated as Revenue, amounted in 1906–7 to £254,000.
† See (4) Debates, clxxv, 1066-7.
Are there any signs of an extension of the currency of the rupee beyond their own border?
The Unrest In India
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India what steps have been taken in the Punjab to allay the unrest by concessions; whether the land tax has been abated in any part of the province; and, if so, by how much; and whether any reduction has been effected in the amount of water rates in the Lyallpur district, where there was lately so much agitation.
To speak of "concessions" in this connection is misleading and inappropriate, because it is the duty of the Government to see that its subjects have no legitimate grievance. So far as I am aware, the land tax was mentioned as a grievance only in the case of the Rawalpindi disturbance. The new assessments have been accepted without complaint by the agricultural population. The Local Government will deal considerately with any genuine instance of over-assessment which may come to light. In the Chenab irrigation colony, where the spring crop has been seriously damaged by rust, it is proposed to remit half the land revenue and half the water rate. In this colony, which forms the Lyallpur district, there has been no enhancement of the water rates, and agitation there did not concern these rates. The Bari-Doab Canal, on which the rates were to have been raised next September, does not enter the Lyallpur district. The levy of the proposed new rates on the Bari-Doab Canal was in April postponed until September, 1908, and pending further inquiry.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to the publication in Eastern Bengal of an inflammatory pamphlet, known as the red pamphlet, inciting the Mahomedans to violent measures against the Hindoos; whether one Ebrahim Munshi, the author of this pamphlet, has been prosecuted under Section 108 of the Criminal Procedure Code; whether the proceedings against him have been kept confidential by the magistrate; and whether he can state what the result of these proceedings has been.
My attention has been drawn to the publication of the pamphlet in question. I am informed that proceedings under the section mentioned were instituted against the author, but that, on his undertaking to publish no more copies, and to withdraw the pamphlet as far as possible from circulation, he was released on his own recognisances. The case was accordingly not brought to trial, and the proceedings, as far as they went, were confidential.
:asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he was not aware that the circulation of this pamphlet was one of the principal causes of the unfortunate riots and disturbances which had been so marked a feature of Eastern Bengal.
No, Sir, I am not aware of it, and I greatly doubt it.
Is there any unrest among the Mahomedans?
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to the proceedings of the Deputy Commissioner of Hazavibagh, in Bengal, proposing to give leases to several Europeans to build bungalows on the sacred hill of Parasnath, and to the feeling this proposal has excited among the Jain community in India, by whom the entire hill, which is their principal place of pilgrimage, is regarded as sacred; and whether he will inquire into the case, with a view of allaying disquiet among this influential community and protecting their rights and privileges which have hitherto been always recognised on the Parasnath Hill.
I have no official information on the subject, but from references in the newspapers I gather that, as a result of a conference between the Deputy Commissioner of Hazavibagh and representatives of the Jain community, it was arranged that the latter should submit a statement of their views within two months, for the consideration of the authorities concerned. I am advised that all parts of the hill are not regarded as sacred. A large area was actually occupied as a military sanitorium from 1862–8, and the building then erected is still standing. I see at present no reason why a settlement satisfactory to all parties should not be arrived at.
Owing to the extreme dissatisfaction caused to an influential and loyal section of the community will the right hon. Gentleman institute further inquiries?
said he could not promise to make further inquiries than those he had already made.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether, in view of the fact that prisoners of State, confined under the Indian Ordinance of 1818, have no means of making any defence, except under the provision of the Ordinance which expressly allows them at all times freely to bring to the notice of the Governor-General in Council any circumstances they may wish in connection with their deportation and confinement, he will take steps to have Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh informed of their rights, and ascertain whether either of them desires to make any defence or complaint in respect of matters alleged against them.
Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh have already been informed of their right to communicate with the Governor-General in Council. The former has done so; the latter has not.
asked if the defence of Lajpat Rai would be communicated to the House.
replied in the negative.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will place in the Library copies of the Wafadar of 28th January, and of the Punjabee of 27th March, in which newspapers Lajpat Rai is reported to have preached sedition in Lyallpur and Lahore; and whether he will state to the House on what other grounds the law of 1818 was resorted to in the matter of the arrest and deportation of Lajpat Rai.
My reply to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As for the second part, I can only refer my hon. friend to the Answers which I gave to the hon. Members for East Nottingham and East Clare on the 2nd instant,†
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the latter part of the Question simply asks for the grounds upon which the law was resorted to?
I am afraid I do not understand the Question. The hon. Member asks whether I will state to the House "on what grounds the law of 1818 was resorted to" in the matter of the arrest and deportation. I have already told the House that there were matters connected with this arrest and deportation which I did not think it would be in the public interest that I should state.
asked Mr. Speaker, in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, whether the Government of India were responsible to the House for its action in the administration of the law; and, if so, whether a Member of the House had not the right to demand that definite information should be supplied to him, publicly or privately, as to the ground for the arrest and deportation of any of His Majesty's subjects.
It is open to any hon. Member to put any Question that comes within the rules of order, and it is equally open to the Minister to decline to give a reply.
asked whether the hon. Member was entitled, to read a supplementary Question as he had just done. He himself had done so and had been declared out of order.
It depends upon the nature of the supplementary Question. There is no rule against reading.
†See (4) Debates, clxxvii., 522–3, 524–5.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India why it was that the Government of Eastern Bengal and Assam gave instructions for an appeal to be lodged against the acquittal of one Johar Mandel, charged with the petty crime of a theft of paddy; whether his attention has been called to the fact that the appeal was rejected by the High Court, and to the remark of Mr. Justice Mitter in the case that there is no safety of the subject if the Government appeal in such petty cases; and, in view of the fact that intervention by the Government in such cases amounts to a denial of justice, what steps, if any, he intends taking in the matter.
I have seen a newspaper report of the case referred to, from which it appears that the Government of Eastern Bengal and Assam, being of opinion that there had been a failure of justice, ordered an appeal to be filed. In dismissing the appeal Mr. Justice Mitter is reported to have used the language which the hon. Member quotes. I do not follow his suggestion that the intervention of the Government amounts to a denial of justice, and I have no doubt that the High Court in other cases, as in this, will see that justice is done.
asked if it came within the functions of the High Court to take notice of the petty cases of this character.
It is not for me to say what is the duty of the High Court. It administers justice and is guided therein by statutory authority.
Have not appeals of this nature become very much more common of late years than previously?
And does not the very rejection of this appeal by a Hindoo Judge of the High Court of Bengal conclusively prove that the intervention of the Government in such cases does not mean a denial of justice?
I should have thought so. I will inquire as to the number of appeals. I do not think it bears out the suggestion of the hon. Member for East Nottingham.
Deaths From Plague In India
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India what was the number of deaths from plague during June in the Punjab and in the whole of India; and what is the total for the six months in the Punjab and in India.
The figures for June are: Punjab, 58,821 deaths; Whole of India, 69,064. For six months ending June: Punjab, 632,953; Whole of India, 1,060,067.
Back Taxing In Rural India
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been called to an inflammatory pamphlet, known as Rack Taxing in Rural India, in which the acts of the British-Indian administration are so misrepresented as to be calculated to bring that Government into contempt and odium on the part of its subjects and to incite them to violent measures of opposition; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter.
The pamphlet, I believe, was circulated by a Member of this House for the instruction of other Members of this House. I am content to leave it to their judgment.
Arracan Capitation Tax
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether there is any effective supervision over the capitation tax levied on coolies from Chittagong on entering the province of Arracan; whether he is aware of the extra tax above the 1s. per head demanded from the coolies by the native official; and if steps can be taken to put an end to the system of taxing a man passing from one province to another, which restricts the supply of labour and is injurious to the province.
I have no information on the subject, but will ask the Government of India to give it their consideration and to report the facts.
Although the tax is only 1s., at least double that amount is squeezed by the official out of people crossing the border.
I will inquire.
German Steamships To Canada
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he has now any information concerning the proposed new line of steamships between Germany and Canada.
No, Sir, I have no information.
I beg to ask the Under-secretary of State for the Colonies why military men are appointed to governorships of Colonies; what are the duties which they perform in the Colonies which are suitable for that profession; and whether he will in future consider the necessity of appointing commercial or business men to these positions.
A considerable proportion of the governorships has been held and I hope always will be filled by civilians; when a military man is appointed to be governor the Secretary of State is satisfied that the particular individual is fully qualified to perform the general duties of government. If the hon. Member will be good enough to look into the subject he will find that in many instances the governor also holds a commission as commander-in-chief and also that in certain instances the governorship is of a distinctly military character, as in the cases of Malta, Gibraltar, and Bermuda, when the nominee is suggested by the Secretary of State for War. For further information I would refer my hon. friend to a detailed reply which I gave to the senior Member for Bath as recently as the 20th June last.†
New Hebrides Convention
I beg to ask the Under-secretary of State for the Colonies whether any licences have yet been issued under the New Hebrides Convention.
†See(4) Debates, clxxvi, 590
No licences can be issued until the Convention has been brought into operation.
Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been called to statements from reliable sources that British traders are placed under great disabilities owing to this delay?
I have seen the telegram in The Times this morning.
It is sure to be right, then.
The "Knight Commander"
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is the intention of the Government to abandon the claims against the Russian Government for the sinking of the British ship "Knight Commander."
The Answer is in the negative.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a year has elapsed since the matter was referred to the Russian Government? Cannot something be done to expedite a settlement?
We have proposed it shall go to arbitration, and I have no doubt that in the long run that course will be adopted.
Mr Abbott's Ransom
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has as yet received any reply from the Turkish Government with regard to the ransom paid for the release of Mr. Abbott from brigands.
The Answer is in the negative.
asked whether the Government would not take some steps to urge a settlement of this matter.
said that what was in the mind of the hon. and gallant Member had also been in his mind, and he had been looking back to precedents. In the two cases most nearly parallel the time was in one case one and a half year and in the other two and a half years. He intended to prosecute this case with the object of establishing, if possible, a better record; but at present he was well within time.
asked whether the money received in the past was not derived from the taxpayers of Cyprus.
said that in any case it was money which would otherwise have gone to the Porte.
asked whether he was to understand that the precedent would be followed.
No; because that precedent was established only after discussion had taken place as a last resort. Whether it will be necessary in this case to resort to any measure of that kind I cannot say until proceedings are further advanced.
British Trade Route In Persia
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can see his way to state, in connection with the pending negotiations with Russia, that it is not proposed to include within the Russian commercial sphere in Persia the old-established British trade route from Baghdad via Kermanshah to the interior, and also the British road from the Karun to Isfahan across the Bakhtiari Mountains.
I am unable to make any statement at the present stage of the negotiations.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the recent Egyptian census has been found to be imperfectly taken; whether, in consequence, it is proposed to take a fresh census; and, if so, when.
I understand that the final figures of the recent census have not yet been issued.
Khedivial School Of Law
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that M. Lambert, a Frenchman, resigned the rectorship of the Khedivial School of Law through differences with Mr. Dunlop, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Instruction, Egypt; whether he will explain the reason for the appointment of an Englishman to a Government post invariably held, since the establishment of the School of Law, by subjects of the French Republic, in view of the spirit of Article V. of the Anglo-French Declaration of 1904; and whether Mr. Dunlop will be requested to resign.
I understand that Monsieur Lambert, whose resignation was not desired, resigned his post as Principal of the Khedivial School of Law in consequence of a misunderstanding with the Ministry of Public Instruction on the subject of his leave. In view of the growing demand to enter the English side of the school the Egyptian Government decided to promote one of the existing English Professors to the vacancy thus created; there is no ground for the suggestion that such an appointment is in any way contrary to the spirit of the Anglo-French Agreement of 1904, and no reason whatever for the reflection upon Mr. Dunlop contained in the Question.
asked if M. Lambert's successor was qualified to give instruction in the French law?
That is a matter for the Egyptian Government, who had before them the requirements for the post and the qualifications of the gentleman appointed.
Has not the appointment received the assent and approval of the French Consul-General?
said he was unable to add anything to the information he had given the House.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British Adviser to the Egyptian Ministry of Education has refused to accede to the petition of a number of natives holding the secondary education certificates that the evening classes of the Khedivial School of Law should be re-established; and, if so, what is the reason for the refusal?
The Egyptian Ministry of Education has declined to re-establish these classes because the results derived from them previously were very unsatisfactory.
On what grounds have these evening classes been discontinued?
I believe because from an educational point of view the results were unsatisfactory.
They were too quick in learning the law.
In what way were the results unsatisfactory?
I will make-inquiry if the hon. Member wishes.
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can give any approximate estimate of the difference to the Revenue if the exemptions and abatements of Income Tax were based on incomes under one thousand sterling a year, instead of two thousand, in this year's Budget.
There are no official statistics of individual incomes exceeding £700 a year, and all estimates of the numbers, character and amount of such incomes are very largely conjectural. For the purposes of the Budget, I made the best estimates I could with respect to incomes from £700 to £2.000, but no attempt has been made to ascertain the proportion of those which fall between £700 and £1,000; and, in view of the very large number of incomes in the immediate neighbourhood of £1,000, any conjecture based on such data would probably be very wide of the mark.
Income-Tax And Sewers
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if his attention has been called to a decision given by the House of Lords on Wednesday, 26th June, in the case of the Ystradyfodwg and Pontypridd Board and Benstead, to the effect that sewers vested in local authorities and maintained by them pursuant to duties imposed upon them by the Public Health Acts are assessable to the income-tax; if he can give some idea as to the total annual value of all sewers in the United Kingdom and of the burden which will now be placed on all ratepayers in respect of the income-tax assessed upon their public sewers, irrespective of the amount of the incomes of such ratepayers; and whether he will consider the advisability of introducing legislation to relieve the ratepayers of this income-tax burden now placed upon them for the first time since the income-tax has existed in this country.
It would not be possible to give any estimate of the annual value of all sewers in the United Kingdom. There is, however, no reason to apprehend that the decision referred to will seriously affect the liability of sewers to assessment to income-tax. The sewer in question was not wholly an underground sewer. It was in part carried above ground, or along specially constructed embankments, and it had attached to it certain appurtenances in the shape of an outfall, with sluices and other apparatus. It had been held by a judgment of the Court of Appeal to be assessable to rates, and thereupon the Inland Revenue claimed that it was assessable also to income-tax on the principle that whatever is a proper subject of rates is also a proper subject of taxes. So far as sewers are concerned, the Board of Inland Revenue will be satisfied to treat the judgment of the House of Lords, as no more than an affirmation of that principle, and will not regard it as requiring them to depart from existing practice under which sewage works, pumping stations, and so on are assessed both to rates and to income-tax, but purely underground sewers to neither.
I beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can yet state the proposal he will make with regard to the terms for loans in Ireland, as promised by him last year during the discussion on the Labourers Bill.
The matter is being dealt with in the Public Works Loans Bill, which will shortly be introduced.
Case Of Albert Bach
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the case of Albert Bach, who was sentenced on 9th January, 1904, at Middlesex quarter sessions to seven years penal servitude for receiving stolen goods to the value of 75s.; whether he is aware that this was Bach's first offence, although fifty-six years of age, and that the jury in the first instance recommended him to mercy; whether the ends of justice have been met by four and-a-half years imprisonment; and, if so, will he intervene.
I fear I can only refer my hon. friend to the Answer which I gave to the hon. Member for South West Ham on 5th June, which was to the effect that after repeated and most careful consideration I have not found any sufficient grounds for recommending any interference on the convict's behalf; that articles forming part of the proceeds of three separate cases of house breaking were discovered in his shop, and that a receiver of stolen goods who has a good reputation is for that reason a more dangerous criminal. As my hon. friend is no doubt aware, the prisoner can by good conduct obtain his release on licence when he has served three-quarters of the sentence.
Employment Of Young People
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Order No. 680, making the employment of young persons under the age of sixteen years and children without a certificate of fitness illegal in certain scheduled industries, which came into force on 1st January, 1907, has yet been acted upon; and whether the forms necessary for putting this order into operation have yet been issued from the Home Office; and, if not, when this will be done.
The Answer to the hon. Member's Question is in the affirmative. The only form required for the purpose of the Order was a revised form of the workshop edition of the general register; this has been on sale for some time.
Training Of Nurses
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consider the advisability of establishing a Government system of certificates and registration of trained nurses.
This matter has been under consideration for some time, but serious objections and difficulties stand in the way of the establishment of any such system as is proposed. I am not prepared to take any action in the matter.
Private Burying Grounds
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what conditions the right to use private I burying grounds is granted to religious institutions; whether any record of such private burying grounds is kept; and, if so, how many have been applied for during the past five years.
As I stated in Answer to a very similar Question a year ago, no permission to use such burial grounds as are referred to is required except in the case of a proposed new ground in a place where, in pursuance of the Burial Acts and Orders in Council there under for the protection of public health, no new burial ground may be opened without the approval of the Local Government Board. For any further information on the matter I must refer the hon. Member to the President of that Board.
Is the right to use these grounds granted without any record of the conditions attached?
That question should be addressed to the Local Government Board.
Gloucester Port Dues
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that at the port of Gloucester it is the practice of the local pilotage authority, when collecting pilotage dues payable upon a ship's tonnage, to abstain from adding to the ship's register tonnage the tonnage of the space occupied by deck cargo; and whether he will direct such local pilotage authorities to charge pilotage dues upon the additional tonnage representing deck cargo, in pursuance of Section 85 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, in order that the pilots, on whose behalf such dues are collected, may receive an additional payment in respect of ships with deck cargoes, as directed by the said section.
I am informed by the Gloucester Pilotage Board that their practice is as described in the first part of the Question. As I explained to my hon. friend the Member for North Somerset on the 11th instant, the Board of Trade have no power to issue directions to a pilotage authority, but I will communicate with the Gloucester Pilotage Board, calling attention to the provisions of Section 85 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, as affecting pilotage rates.
County Court Fees
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will cause inquiries to be made as to fees at present charged by the county courts for plaints for the hearing of causes for administration matter; whether he is aware that the fees now charged are in many cases beyond the means of the poor for whose benefit county courts were, to a considerable extent, intended; and whether he will appoint a Departmental Committee to consider the matter.
As I intimated in my reply to my hon. friend the Member for Merionethshire on the 4th March last, I see no sufficient grounds for considering that county court fees in general are excessive, but if my hon. friend will indicate any particular fee which he regards as exorbitant, I will inquire into it.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether the recommendations of the 1890 Select Committee on the hop industry as to the compulsory declaration by brewers of all chemical hop substitutes used by them have been put into effect.
The declaration of hop substitutes has not been made compulsory on brewers. But in the Returns collected for inclusion in the "Brewers Licences Return" presented annually to Parliament, brewers are invited to state the quantities of hop substitutes used by them, and these are shown in a separate column in the Parliamentary Return.
Will the Government consider the desirability of making the Return compulsory?
The Government do not think it necessary.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, whether the annual Return of brewing materials includes all hop substitutes used by brewers.
The Return is believed to include all hop substitutes used by brewers. For although the disclosure of the quantities of such substitutes is not compulsory, the Board of Inland Revenue do not find on the part of brewers any reluctance to give the information.
Royal Gardens, Kew
I beg to ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, if he is aware that the gardeners employed in the Royal Gardens, Kew, do not at the present time attend lectures of any kind; and whether the Department is now paying the sum of £1 per lecture to certain officials of the Kew staff for lecturing to two men, neither of whom is in any way connected with the gardening section at Kew; and, if so, will he state what action, if any, he proposes to take in the matter.
The Answer to my hon. friend's Question is in the affirmative. The lectures in question are provided for the benefit of the young gardeners, who are expected to attend, but who have recently abstained from so doing. The matter is under consideration, but I am unable to make any statement on the subject at present.
The Public Trustee
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General whether the Lord Chancellor has yet made a rule constituting the office of Public Trustee, as required by Section 14 of the Public Trustee Act; if so, when such rule will be laid upon the Table of this House, in accordance with the provisions of the Act; and whether he can explain how Mr. C. J. Stewart came to be appointed to the office of Public Trustee prior to such rule having been made and laid upon the Table.
No such rule has yet been made. It is expected that the rule will be laid on the Table of the House by the end of the present month. The employment of Mr. Stewart has been provisional. He has not yet been officially appointed Public Trustee, and it is not anticipated that he will receive that appointment until September or October.
If the rule is not laid on the Table until the end of the present month, how will there be an opportunity for the House to move to annul the rule within thirty days; and how, as the office of Public Trustee has not yet been established, is it that Mr. Stewart has announced his acceptance, and has resigned his connection with the brewery company with which he has been associated?
I anticipate there will be ample time before the House rises to allow discussion of the rule. Mr. Stewart has been provisionally employed to organise the office and the machinery which must be put into operation before the Act comes into use. The appointment has not yet been made, and will not be made until the House has had an opportunity of discussing the rule. It is not expected that it will be necessary to appoint him until the date named.
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that at the present moment the office of Public Trustee has not been established and, if so, is there any precedent for appointing a gentleman provisionally to an office which does not exist?
I entirely agree that the office has not been established, and that there is no precedent for appointing a gentleman to an office which does not exist.
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General whether he can give the names of the other candidates for the post of Public Trustee which were before the Lord Chancellor when Mr. C. J. Stewart was selected for the office.
Applications for appointment to a public office are usually made in confidence, and I think that confidence ought to be respected. I have not seen a list of the applicants.
Will the Attorney-General tell us in confidence whether the hon. Gentleman is one of the applicants?
No, Sir; I am not seeking any Government appointment.
At a later stage,
asked Mr. Speaker whether it was competent for the hon. Member for South Donegal to impute to him a personal pecuniary motive in any Question he might address to Ministers.
said that if the hon. Member took exception to his observation he would at once frankly apologise. He interrupted the hon. Member on the spur of the moment, and he thought that no one but the hon. Gentle man himself would have imagined that he imputed any motive to him.
To ask the Secretary for Scotland whether the flag with the device Or, a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counterflory, gules, is the personal flag of the Sovereign in Scotland; and, if not, when it ceased to be so used.
The flag as described was the personal flag of the Sovereign in Scotland, and in a sense may be held to be so still, but it has ceased to be so used since the time of the Union.
Do I understand that the flag may be used now by anyone without qualification in Scotland?
I do not think the hon. Gentleman had better under-stand that.
Cost Of Police In County Clare
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the county council of Clare, having considered the claim of the Royal Irish Constabulary of £39 13s. 2d., costs of extra police in respect of the half-year ended 31st March, 1907, have refused payment of said claim as being an unjust taxation; and whether he will relieve the county from this charge.
It is the fact that the Clare County Council have expressed the intention of refusing to pay the charge referred to in the Question. The extra police for which the claim is made consisted of a portion of the Reserve Force chargeable to a specified area, and there is no power to relieve the county of the cost. The necessary statutory certificate is about to be issued in order that the charge may be recovered from the county council.
Golf Estate, Roscommon
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Estates Commissioners have in their possession a farm at Toneroe, county Roscommon, formerly portion of the Goff estate; whether a small portion of this was divided four years ago; whether the remainder is still in the possession of the Commissioners; and whether stops will be taken immediately to have the rest divided among the small tenants on the estate and in the locality.
The Estates Commissioners inform me that no land at Toneroe appears to be included in any estate purchased by them or in their possession.
Irish Education Grant
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland was the sum of £1,000,408 mentioned by him in introducing the Irish Council Bill the sum voted by Parliament for primary education in Ireland for the year ending 31st March, 1907; does the Report of the National Board for the year 1905–6 give the sum voted by Parliament for primary education in Ireland for that year as £1,390,833; was that sum voted by Parliament for primary education in Ireland for that year; and, if so, how has there been a difference of £390,425 between the sums voted by Parliament for the years 1905–6 and 1906–7.
The sum which I mentioned, or intended to mention, as the amount provided by the Votes for national education in Ireland was £1,408,000, that is to say, the amount in round numbers of the estimate for the current year. It has only recently come to my notice that I am reported to have said £1,000,408, instead of £1,408,000.
Earl Of Dunraven's Estate
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, can he say whether the case as between the Earl of Dunraven, of Adare Manor, county Limerick, and his tenant, Mr. George Spearing, of Baybus, Adare, for sale and purchase of Mr. Spearing's farm, has as yet been brought to an issue; and, if not, will the Estates Commissioners use their mediation in arranging the difference as to price consequent on the flooding of a portion of the holding as the result of hatcheries having been put down in the River Maigue flowing by, through the agency of the Earl of Dunraven.
The Estates Commissioners have purchased from Lord Dunraven certain property, including the holding of which Mr. Spearing is tenant. Spearing alleges that his holding has been injured by the diversion of a stream by Lord Dunraven. The Commissioners have fully inquired into the matter, and have come to the conclusion that mediation on their part would not be effective. Spearing urges his claim with the object of reducing, as against the Commissioners, the purchase money paid by them to Lord Dunraven for the holding, whereas his proper remedy is to assert his claim, if any, against Lord Dunraven, by legal proceedings for damages. Spearing has declined to purchase at the price paid by the Commissioners, and he is, therefore, simply a tenant to the Commissioners, who propose to take steps for the recovery of the rent which he is withholding.
Foreign Office Vote
I beg to ask the Prime Minister, in view of the numerous subjects which there is a desire to discuss on the Foreign Office Estimates including the Sugar Convention, Egypt, the recent Customs Agreement with Turkey, an opportunity for discussing which has been promised, and other subjects, whether he can see his way to devote more than one day to the discussion.
The following Questions were also on the Paper:—
To ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the number and importance of the subjects to be discussed on the Foreign Office Vote in Supply, he will extend the time allotted thereto.
To ask the Prime Minister, whether, in view of the wide interests dealt with by the Foreign Office Vote, he can see his way to devote two days to its discussion.
Perhaps I may answer the Questions of my hon. friends the Members for Tyneside and Montgomery Boroughs at the same time. I am afraid I cannot see my way to affording more than one day to the Foreign Office Vote. With regard to the Sugar Convention, that is a matter of fiscal policy which does not specially concern the Foreign Office Vote.
reminded the Prime Minister that there was a desire to discuss the question of the Congo, and asked him to reconsider his decision.
could not promise any more than one full day.
Worcester Election Petition
I beg to ask the Prime Minister if he is aware that the overseers of the city of Worcester have levied a rate of 3½d. in the pound on the municipal ratepayers to meet the cost of the election petition proceedings, and that women ratepayers are being called upon to pay this rate; and whether he will consider the desirability of introducing early next session legislation which will relieve women from having to pay for the consequences of male political corruption, or a measure by which women may have the rights as well as the duties of citizenship.
I am afraid I cannot make any promise on this subject.
Pacific Islanders Act Amendment Bill
I beg to ask the Prime Minister when it is proposed to introduce the Pacific Islanders Act Amendment Bill.
There are difficult legal questions involved in this matter which are under reference to the Law Officers, and I cannot give any reply to the Question.
I beg to ask the Prime Minister if it is the intention of the Government to give any extra days for discussion in Supply over and above the three days which still remain, in view of the restricted occasions which the House has enjoyed up to the present time for debate in Supply.
No, Sir, I am afraid this cannot be done. The ordinary opportunities will have been given. I may mention with regard to a somewhat cognate subject, namely the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, that although the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not amount to a pledge it involved an acknowledgment of expediency; and an opportunity for the discussion of the Report will be given, but I am afraid it will be in the expiring hours of the session.
Business Of The House
asked what would be the business for Monday, and whether any information could be given as to the business next week.
I do not think it would be safe to prophesy beyond Friday. On Friday the business will be the Criminal Appeal Bill and other Bills.
Honours And Party Funds
gave notice that at the earliest opportunity he would direct the attention of the House to the brokerage and sale of peerages under the late Administration, and would move a Resolution condemning peerage preference based on gross metallic corruption.
I desire to make a personal explanation to the House as regards what happened yesterday. An accusation was brought against me of having been guilty of a breach of privilege in publishing a letter in which I stated—first, that honours are bought and sold, and secondly, that out of that war-chest grants are made to candidates who, if elected, are looked upon as secured; and should the Member rebel, he is reproached by the Party whips for not having held to what they looked upon as a bargain. That letter was written because your statement, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister is not responsible to this House for any advice he may give to the Sovereign as to recommendations for honours seemed to preclude any power of calling attention in this House to the subject. If you, Sir, on consideration, adhere to that statement—
If the hon. Member is going to cross-examine me about statements made last week I am afraid I cannot allow him to intervene now. I understood from him that he was going to make some personal statement and apology. I cannot permit him to raise any question of order and cross-examine me on my ruling.
I am endeavouring under great difficulty to make a personal explanation. In view of the fact that I was precluded from attending the debate yesterday, and had to depend for learning what transpired on the reports in the papers this morning, I now desire to say that my explanation was made under a misapprehension. I conceived that the breach of privilege, if any, could not be in the second and minor allegation referred to by the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone, but in the far more serious allegation that honours are bought and sold. It was to that allegation, therefore, that I addressed the defence I made, without having heard the whole case against me. Upon referring to the reports in the papers, I find that the case made against me, and relied upon, was based on the second, and, as I think, relatively minor allegation I made. I find that upon that allegation alone the debate was conducted, and the House was advised by the Prime Minister not to proceed with the charge, while, with unusual readiness, the Leader of the Opposition was good enough to say that his Party did not intend to proceed against me. With that charge I need no longer concern myself, but the other charge, while kept out of the debate, was not kept out of the division on my conduct. The noble Lord who raised the question took the same view as I took, that the allegation required investigation.
Order, order! The hon. Member has misconceived the whole of the effect of the debate which took place yesterday. I think, if he had listened carefully to the speech made by the noble Lord, he would have seen that the only point in the letter which was charged with being a breach of privilege was that which conveyed an imputation upon his colleagues I am sure that, if, the hon. Member has anything to say upon that point, the House will hear him.
I bow to your ruling.
May I also make a personal explanation? In what I said yesterday I did not wish to impute the smallest dishonest motive to the Prime Minister or anyone on the Front Benches. The point I raised was purely a political and Party one, and was not intended to call in question the conduct of any right hon. Gentleman.
Selection (Standing Committees)
reported from the Committee of Selection; That they had discharged the following Members from Standing Committee C (added in respect of the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill): Mr. Hodge and Mr. Gill; and had reinstated on the Committee: Mr. Shackleton and Mr. John Taylor (previously discharged in respect of the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill).
further reported from the Committee; That they had discharged the following Member from Standing Committee C (added in respect of the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill): Mr. Jowett; and had appointed in substitution (in respect of the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill): Mr. George Roberts.
Reports to lie upon the Table.
"To amend The Larceny Act, 1861," presented by Mr. Courthope; supported by Sir John Dickson-Poynder, Mr. Warner, Mr. James Mason, Mr. Leif Jones, Mr. Hicks Beach, Mr. Lane-Fox, Mr. Everett, Mr. Gardner, Mr. Acland, Mr. Brace, and Mr. Verney; to be read a second time To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 279.]
As amended (in Committee and on re-committal), considered.
moved a new clause providing that notices of assessment of income-tax shall be issued as nearly as may be in the same terms on or after the first day of December in each year, and the same shall become payable and shall be collected in the same form and at the same time in the United Kingdom, and legal proceedings in the respective countries for recovery of income-tax shall also be taken as nearly as may be at the same time. So far, he said, nothing had been done to remedy the inequality which existed in the matter of the levying of the income-tax in England, Scotland and Ireland. Broadly speaking, the tax should be levied in the three countries in precisely the same way. It was a common and just principle that each country should be treated alike. In recent years there had been a great deal of resentment felt at the way in which the tax had been collected. The notices of assessment differed in the three countries. In Scotland the notice was printed with the words "Notice to pay" in bold type and underlined, whilst in England the demand was simply a polite intimation that the tax was due. In Scotland the notices. were issued in September, October and November, while in England they were not issued till the end of November or the beginning of December. He had in his hand a list of notices sent out in the two countries. In Scotland the first was issued on 22nd September and the last on 7th November; of these, thirteen were received. In England, the first was not sent out until 30th November and the last on 24th December, during which time nine were received. He failed to see why there should be this difference in the collection of the tax. It was not due until January, and there was no need at all why the notices in Scotland should be issued as early as September. Of all countries in the world, in Scotland this was the least necessary. Unless this new clause were accepted the Scottish income-tax returns would continue to be received into the Exchequer at an earlier date than was the case with England. Another point he wished to bring out was that of enforcing payment of the tax. A friend of his received a notice that the tax was due within seven days. Unfortunately he was ill in bed at the time and the matter escaped his attention until after the prescribed date. He sent a cheque immediately to the income-tax collector, but it was returned, and he was informed that it could now only be paid to the sheriff's officer. This he did, together with 10 per cent. added for the extra cost of collecting. That was the sort of thing which had been going on in Scotland for many years. Inasmuch as the tax is an Imperial one, he contended there should be no greater pressure in Scotland than in England or Ireland, and he sincerely trusted that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would accept his new clause. On 8th June, 1901, the Secretary to the Treasury stated that Scotland and England should be treated alike and that no pressure should be used in one country which was not also used in another. Since then the question had been brought before Parliament, but no difference whatever had been made in the collection of the tax. The pressure had been going on in Scotland while England had been allowed to lag behind. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that he was anxious to establish equality between the two countries, and all that this new clause asked was that there should be common justice in the matter. He begged to move.
seconded. He failed to see why there should be any difference between the collection of the tax in Scotland and the collection in England. For 200 years England had been joined to Scotland, and during the whole of that time instead of trying to assimilate the law of the country and its procedure Parliament had been engaged in passing separate laws in the two kingdoms. He saw no reason why the Scottish people should be pressed for their income-tax to a greater extent than the people of England. It seemed to him monstrous that in Scotland notices should be sent out in September reminding a man that he had got to pay a tax in January, whereas in England no such reminder was issued until December. Much of this pressure would seem to arise through the extra vigilance of the Scottish excise officer. The income-tax collectors in Scotland were much more stringent and arbitrary than was the case in England. In the latter country the method of collection was more gentle and reasonable. He urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give effect to his hon. friend's new clause so that the process of collection in the two countries might be the same.
"Notices of assessment of income-tax shall be issued as nearly as may be in the same terms on or after the first day of December in each year, and the same shall become payable and shall be collected in the came form and at thee same time in the United Kingdom, and legal proceedings in the respective countries for recovery of income-tax shall also be taken as nearly as may be at the same time."—(Mr. C. E. Price.)
Brought up, and read a first time.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."
assured his hon. friends that he was entirely in sympathy with them in their desire to remove any disabilities under which Scotland lay in regard to this or any other matter. He hoped, however, that the new clause would not be pressed. In the first place, the hon. Member proposed to prohibit the issue of notices before the first day of December, and he did not think that that was at all a desirable thing, He was aware that the system of collection in England and Scotland was not uniform. He thought the hon. Member would find that upon many estates in Scotland it was the practice to deduct the in come-tax from the November rent, and it would be very inconvenient to disturb that arrangement. With regard to the main purpose of the Amendment he entirely agreed with the hon. Member. He did not think the machinery for the collection of the tax should be more stringently enforced in one country than in the other, but what he was anxious to do was to bring England up to the level of Scotland. He had already expressed his opinion on this point, and he trusted that by rigorous and effective administrative action he would be able to get the income- tax in at an earlier date. Scotland had led the way in the matter. He could assure his hon. friend that everything was being done to bring about an assimilation of the dates of collection, and certainly, no preference would be shown to the southern side of the border.
hoped the fact that they had at present a Scottish Chancellor of the Exchequer would somewhat allay the anxiety of hon. Members opposite on this point. He agreed that it was desirable to expedite the collection of the income-tax, although he was inclined to believe that the grievance in Scotland was largely an imaginary one. Whilst he was at the Treasury attention was specially directed to what were called the threatening notices. It was not possible for all those notices to go out on the same day, but the collectors might all begin on the same day to send them out. He thought the pressure should be brought to bear equally in all the three kingdoms, and he wished success to the efforts the Chancellor of the Exchequer was making in that direction. He thought something more might be done to expedite the collection of the income-tax in England, although in his opinion the greivance alleged on behalf of Scotland was very largely exaggerated, and such foundation as existed for it was not a sufficient basis for the superstructure which some hon. Members had tried to place upon it.
said he could not agree with the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer that this was an imaginary grievance in Scotland. They had had a long fight in regard to it. He raised the same question five years ago, and successive Chancellors of the Exchequer had promised to do their best to bring about an equality. The two predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman had said they could not make the change while the war income-tax stood at 1s. 3d. in the £, but the late Chancellor of the Exchequer set himself to redress the grievance and accelerated the collection in England, with the result that within the financial year he got in an extra £800,000. That was the point he wished to impress upon the House. He had more faith in the regeneration of England than his hon. friend. He thought they ought to direct their attention to bringing up England to the standard of Scotland. Two legitimate grievances had resulted from the present system. One was that the large amount of income-tax outstanding for two months after it was due in England, amounting to £11,500,000, necessitated a great loss to the State in interest. He calculated that in this way there was a loss to the revenue of £30,000 every year. On 18th March they had a very definite pledge from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said—
They ought to accept that as a pledge given by the right hon. Gentleman. The second grievance resulted from the income-tax not being collected within the financial year, which was very detrimental to their financial system. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach put an extra 4d. on the income-tax in one year, and he expected to raise by that another £10,000,000, but owing to the loose system, instead of getting £10,000,000, he could only calculate on getting £8,000,000 within the financial year, and the State had to lose the benefit of the £2,000,000 for that year. Therefore, from the point of view of equality of treatment and making good this loss of interest, he asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to carry out the pledge he had given. They did not want Scotland dragged down to England's level, but they wanted England brought up to the Scottish standard. If they issued the notices in December the tenant would have to pay his landlord's tax, and at the very latest would have to pay it in the second week in February; consequently he would have to wait for his money for twelve weeks till the Whitsunday term. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer might consider whether the tax under Schedule A should not be levied directly upon the landlord. He could point to municipal administration where a system obtained under which the occupier had to pay the landlord's share and deduct it from his rent. That system had now been abolished and the collection had not suffered. He thought it was equitable that the landlord who owed the debt should pay it in the first instance. For these reasons he hoped his hon. friend would withdraw his Amendment, because in its present form it was a step backward. They were now within sight of port after five years fighting, and he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer's assurance would be accepted."I think any change ought to be made in the direction of increased stringency in England rather than increased laxity in Scotland."
hoped his hon. friend would press his Amendment to a division as a protest against the existing inequality. It was all very well for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell them that he was trying to bring England up to the Scottish standard. That was exactly what the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors had promised but had always failed to carry out. It was a very difficult task to bring England up to the level of Scotland, and he thought it would be better to drop Scotland down to the level of England. They also had a grievance in the tone of the notices sent out in Scotland, which was arbitrary and almost insolent. In the Scottish form the words were, "To the person on the back hereof. Take notice." He thought that tone indicated that the income-tax collector had the view that Scotland was a nation to be overridden easily. He would vote for the new clause if it was pressed to a division.
said he agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in desiring that England should be brought up to the standard of Scotland. The hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow had alluded to the manner and tone of the tax collectors. He himself thought that, at times, there was something left to be desired in that matter. He remembered bringing under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, a grievance of his own. He happened to pay taxes in various parts of the country, and he had always paid his income-tax before the end of January. In the particular year to which he referred he received a somewhat peremptory notice, and when the matter was looked into the right hon. Gentleman found that similar complaints had been received from other Members of the House, who had always paid their income-tax regularly. He hoped that such instructions would be given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to his subordinates of the Inland Revenue as would secure that, in the sending out of the notices, due regard would be had to what was reasonable and proper, so that people might not be harassed and troubled unnecessarily. He was quite willing to increase the stringency of the collection provided this was made uniform and the matter was conducted with reasonable courtesy.
said that the debate had fully justified the hon. Member for the Central Division of Edinburgh in moving the now clause. This was not an imaginary grievance. Some of his own constituents had been harshly treated in the matter. He received almost every year communications which had convinced him that the taxpayers of Scotland were treated in a different manner from those of England. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had delivered a speech which many hon. Members thought indicated that he had at last made up his mind to deal with the question, and that in the following year there would be no further ground of complaint. The grievances still existed, and his hon. friend's contention that the systems in England and Scotland should be assimilated was fair and reasonable. If that was really the aim of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he would advise his hon. friend to be content with that for this year, in order that the right hon. Gentleman might have an opportunity of seeing what could be done before bringing forward next year's Budget.
thought the income-tax payer who was placed at the greatest disadvantage in Scotland was the man in a country district; he got an additional notice-paper when the term came round in November, and he very often paid three months ahead of the corresponding taxpayer in England. So far from wishing that there should be any slackness in the system of collection, he thought the bringing up of the "predominant partner" to the level of Scotland would be the proper solution of the question.
said his hon. friend the Member for the College Division had referred to the tone of the income-tax notices. Manners were a matter of taste and opinion. He had known Ministers accused of ''slamming the door.'' The office of tax-collector was not a very happy one, and he could only say that he would either by example or precept endeavour to infuse a little more amenity into the manners and customs of the tax collectors in Scotland.
said the case to which the right hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division called his attention was one where through absence from home the right hon. Gentleman had been treated by the tax collector as if he were a person who might decamp and disappear. He thought the difficulty might be met if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would arrange for a little more intercommunication between the collectors. If that could be done a great deal of friction would be saved. He found that wherever he was living for the moment he received a demand to make a return of his income. If he appeared in a district for the first time and had never made a return before, that would be natural, but year after year he was asked to return his income in every place where he might possibly reside. He asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider whether some clearing-house system could be established which would enable the tax collectors to ascertain where a person who had a number of addresses paid the tax.
was understood to say that the suggestion would be considered.
said he gathered from what had been said that the tax-collectors in Scotland were lacking in the suaviter in modo which all desired. As the Scottish taxpayer was particularly sensitive, he would suggest that the Scottish collectors should be removed to England and the English collectors sent to Scotland.
said he was glad that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given an indication that the tax would be collected in the same way in Scotland as in England. On the understanding that the forms for both countries would be printed in precisely the same way and that the collection would be identical, he asked leave to withdraw the Amendment.
Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.
moved a new clause to provide "that as from the first day of January, nineteen hundred and eight, the duties imposed by Section 2 of the Finance Act, 1901, and by the First Schedule to that Act, shall each be reduced by one-half in respect of British and British Colonial grown sugar." He pointed out that proposals for the total repeal and for the reduction of the tax by one-half had already been considered and rejected, and expressed the hope that the House would favourably consider the proposal he now made. The conditions with respect to the sugar trade had been altered during the last few months by the announcement that the Government would not renew the Brussels Convention in its present form. There was some doubt as to the exact form which the Government action would take. He did not propose on the present occasion to go into all the arguments which could be stated for and against that Convention. The purpose of it, as he understood, was to do away with sugar bounties and cartels, and to equalise the price of sugar in the countries which were parties to the Convention. According to experts, the withdrawal of this country from the Convention would mean the revival of bounties and cartels, and that was not objected to by those persons in this country who had been advocating a change in the Brussels Convention. His proposal had the advantage that it would not increase the cost to the consumer in this country, whether he was a manufacturer or a householder. He admitted that the influence on the price of sugar would be small, but such as it was, it would be to reduce the price to the consumer. There had been a considerable revival in the sugar industry in the West Indies, and it was expected that the industry would be extinguished by the revival of bounties. It was therefore only just and right that they should take some measures by which an important industry in a struggling Colony, and one capable of vast expansion in many other parts of the Empire, should not be stamped out. He admitted that his proposal was, on the face of it, one of Colonial preference. That presented no terrors to him or to a large number of persons in the country. Colonial preference was a policy which had received the support of vast sections of the people and one which many of them desired to see make headway. At any rate, it was a policy worth discussion in that House. They were taunted the previous night by a right hon. Gentleman sitting on the Treasury Bench that they had no concrete proposal to make. That complaint could not be made to-day, because this was a definite and concrete proposal to give Colonial preference in a very important article of consumption in this country. The sugar industry on the Continent of Europe had been developed by a system of giving preference to the home growth. He knew that preference was called protection; but protection might be necessary in cases of this kind. It had certainly been a great drawback to the agricultural and many other industries that no serious effort had been possible hitherto to produce sugar in this country for the home consumer. Under the Brussels Convention, which was now in danger by the announcement of the change of policy of the Government, certain persons, gentlemen of great experience in agriculture, had made experiments in the neighbourhood of Sleaford in Lincolnshire, with a view to starting the cultivation of beet sugar. Experiments made with many different classes of beetroot on different soils, differently treated with manure, showed that beet sugar could be economically grown in this country. The experiments were carefully checked by competent experts, and there was no doubt that an industry of great value to agriculture might be established. The gentlemen who had made the experiments were of all shades of political opinion, many of them being ardent supporters of the present Ministry, so that there was no suspicion that they were made with any Party object. These gentlemen were prepared to establish a factory and to invest a sum of money in the industry, but in the present circumstances they decided on 25th June that the whole experiments must be abandoned and that they could make no further progress unless the Government made some change in their policy. The experiments were made by agricultural associations on subscriptions by their members, and the money for the factory which was to be erected would have been subscribed by tenant farmers and others, not landowners, interested in the cultivation of the land. Contracts had been made to grow beet on 1,500 acres, nearly all of which were small holdings. Not one large landholder had entered into any contract to supply beet. It was a spontaneous movement made by enterprising agriculturists in a large district, and it was free from any speculative character. It was made entirely for the benefit of the land and the cultivation of the soil. The cultivation of beet sugar had enormous advantages. It was very profitable, the least estimated profit being, he believed, £3 per acre; it was a crop which could be advantageously grown continuously without deterioration to the soil; the manurial effect was of great value to the field; and it tended to employ an increased number of people. The House were considering two Bills, one for England and one for Scotland, under which a vast amount of time and a large sum of money were to be spent in the endeavour to keep the agricultural labourer on the soil. Here was an industry by which they could find employment for many on the soil, and prevent land going out of cultivation. It was no use establishing small holdings except on an economical basis, and the cultivation of beet sugar was especially suitable for small holders, who wanted an occupation in which they could profitably employ themselves and be certain of paying their way.
said he had listened very carefully to what the hon. Gentleman had said, but he could not connect his remarks with the clause he proposed.
thought he could explain. If the tax was maintained as at present, the home grown sugar industry could not be started.
called the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that there were no Customs, and so far as he knew, no Excise duties upon home grown sugar, and therefore he thought his remarks were out of order.
inquired whether it was not admissible for his hon. friend to leave out the words "British and" so that the new clause would be limited to Colonial grown sugar.
also suggested that if his hon. friend left out the words "of British and" his Amendment would be in order.
I did not say that the Amendment was not in order. I said the speech was not in order.
said he was sorry if he had been speaking out of order, but he thought he was urging a view which ought to be put before the House. He would endeavour to confine himself to points which were strictly in order with regard to his proposal to give some discrimination in favour of Colonial production and of home products. On the previous evening the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, when speaking quite guardedly, made a remark which was received with cheers and approbation from the other side of the House. While he declared against discrimination generally he said that discrimination involved a reduction of tariff or a differentiation between the sum which involved a sound and that which involved an unsound operation. That was exactly what he had given his attention to, and his Motion was one to reduce taxation and not to increase the duties on the sugar consumed by any person in this country whether he was a householder or a lodger. He thought he had shown that there were some grounds for encouraging the production of sugar in our Colonies and at home, while the action of the Government would lead to a curtailment of the experiment in regard to the product, which must lead to the ruin of the industry in the Colonies. He begged to move.