Loch Long Torpedo Range
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, as the proposed torpedo range in Loch Long would be 7,000 yards long, with a breadth at the target end of only 200 yards on each side of the central line, whether the Admiralty can under take that torpedoes would never diverge from the central line sufficiently to pass from the range into the fairway.
I must refer my hon. friend to the printed reply to this Question on Tuesday last.†
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether his attention has been called to the fact that, in the event of the radius of action of torpedoes being increased to six miles and of the proposed torpedo range in Loch Long being correspondingly lengthened, that range would extend down the loch from shore to shore; and whether, in the event of Loch Long being adopted as the site for the proposed torpedo range, the Admiralty would give an undertaking that neither the length nor the breadth of the torpedo range would be increased beyond the limits at present proposed.
My hon. friend will, I hope, excuse me from dealing with hypothetical problems as to what would happen in the event of the radius of torpedo action being increased. Such problems can be dealt with when occasion arises. I may add that Loch Long has been selected as the best site, with the most convenient facilities, for a torpedo
†See (4) Debates, clxxx., 1046.
range in the whole of the United Kingdom.
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty for what reason there was such a lengthy delay in repairing the recent injury to the propeller shaft of H.M.S. "Terrible."
As the vessel requires heavy repairs to boilers in addition to the replacing of the screw shaft, it was decided to take all the defects in hand at one time. Up to the present it has not been convenient to do this, as it would have entailed postponement in the dates of completion of the repairs of more important vessels. Preparatory work is in progress, and the ship will be taken in Land at an early date.
West Tarring Volunteer Camp
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been directed to the fact that, owing to the recent Volunteer camps at West Tarring, Worthing, having been planned from an obsolete Ordnance Survey map, ground allocated for military purposes was discovered to be covered with houses and gardens, and great inconvenience was occasioned; and whether in future he will give instructions either that an up-to-date map be used or the ground be surveyed prior to being allocated for camp purposes.
The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief will be called upon to make a report on this subject which has not been yet brought to the notice of the Army Council.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War what is the present deficiency of officers in the Volunteer force; how many resigned their commissions; and how many were appointed between 1st January and 31st July of the present year.
The present deficiency of officers amounts to 2,875. The number of resignations in the period mentioned was 473, and the number of appointments was 439.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War if, having regard to the fact that some 50,000 engagements of Volunteers expire on the 31st October next, when the Volunteer year closes, and the men require time to consider as to whether they will renew them under the altered conditions of the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, he can state what decision has been arrived at as to putting the Act into force.
I beg also to ask the Secretary of State for War, if officers or men joining the Volunteer forces after the 1st November will be requited to engage for a fixed period under penalties for default; if not, when this requirement will be enforced; and if officers and men already serving in the Volunteer forces will be required to reengage under new conditions if they continue to serve as Volunteers.
Until the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act comes into operation, it is not intended to alter existing conditions under which Volunteers enrol It is not anticipated that the Act will come into operation by 1st November next. Officers and Volunteers who may be serving when the Act becomes operative will be given the option of engaging under the new conditions under Section 29 (3) (a) of that Act.
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would undertake to give as long notice as he could of his intention to bring the Act into force.
Yes. It is essential that it should be well known.
asked whether it is not the case that under present conditions, except on reaching the age limit, the engagement of a Volunteer does not expire unless by voluntary resignation.
I understand that is the case.
Defective Cartridges At Bisley
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that George Bishop, quartermaster-sergeant of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Royal Fusiliers, has been offered by the War Office compensation of £41 8s. for an injury received at class-firing at Bisley from a defective cartridge, which exploded in the chamber, carrying away the locking-piece and part of the shoulder of the rifle, lacerating three of Quartermaster-Sergeant Bishop's fingers, and destroying the drum of the right ear, permanently injuring the hearing; is he aware that Quartermaster-Sergeant Bishop has been paying for medical attendance since 25th May, and that at the present time he is paying 2s. a week as an outpatient of the Ear Hospital, Golden Square; and whether he will consider the advisability of increasing the compensation, representing 28 days at 3s. 6d. per day, given to this non-commissioned officer of twenty-five years service in the Volunteers, who through an injury inflicted by defective ammunition is now unable to perform properly his duties in the shop where he is employed.
I am not aware of this matter, but an inquiry shall be made into the case.
Railways In Yunnan Province
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether the survey party under Mr. Lilley, of the Indian Public Works Department, despatched by the Government of India from Bhamo in January last to report on the practicability or otherwise of the construction of a railway between Téng Yüeh and Tali Fu, in Yunnan province, has returned to Burma; whether they have reported favourably to the construction of a railway or not; and whether, in view of the interest taken by the mercantile community in this country in the question, their Report or an abstract of their Report will be made accessible to the public.
The Secretary of State has received a copy of Mr. Lilley's Reports of his investigations of the country between Téng Yüeh and Tali Fu; but in the present state of the question of railway construction in these regions, it would not be in the public interest to publish these Reports.
Asiatics In Natal
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for India whether his attention has been drawn to a recent resolution of the Natal Parliament to the effect that the time had arrived when the Government should take steps effectually to restrict and ultimately abolish Asiatic immigration to Natal, and that all Indians or other Asiatics who may arrive in Natal under indenture from 31st December, 1907, should, after the expiration of their indentures, be repatriated; and whether steps will be taken, by the Government of India to prevent indenturing under such conditions.
In order to carry the resolution, if such a resolution has been passed, into effect, it would be necessary for the Natal Government to induce the Government of India to consent to a revision of the terms of the contract with intending emigrants. Should any such application be made, my hon. friend may be sure that the question will be carefully considered. What precise steps ought to be taken needs a good deal of examination.
South African Constabulary
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what arrangement the Colonial Office is making to provide for the passage home, and for the future employment, of the members of the South African Constabulary who resigned good positions and prospects in His Majesty's services, and otherwise, to assist the State in the Government force in question, and now find themselves stranded upon the reduction of the constabulary to a minimum by the new Transvaal Government in a country where, owing to the labour difficulty and the repatriation, of Chinese miners, the Englishman can find no opening.
Men who enlisted in the South African Constabulary before the 4th January, 1904, are entitled to free passage home on the completion of five years service, and, if they have served with a good character, to a gratuity of one month's pay for every year of service. These advantages will of course continue to be given to men who are entitled to them, but the Secretary of State fears it is out of his power to provide employment for ex-members of the rank and file constabulary. With regard to officers, it has been found necessary from time to time during several years past to dispense with the services of those who become supernumerary to the gradually decreasing establishment. Efforts have been made to find further employment for these officers wherever possible, and such efforts will continue to be made, but the opportunities are necessarily limited.
May I ask if any facilities are to be given to members of the South African Constabulary who are not officers and are now dismissed owing to the reduction of the force to return home; whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that a considerable number of them are likely to be stranded for want of means; and whether their names cannot be noted for employment in connection with Colonial forces in East Africa or elsewhere?
All that is a matter which requires very careful consideration. I should not like, in answer to a Question, to give a pledge which it would not be in the power of the Secretary of State to fulfil.
Panama Canal Labourers
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what steps the British authorities take to satisfy themselves that the labourers engaged in the British West Indies to work on the Panama Isthmian Canal thoroughly understand the terms of their engagement before leaving.
The majority of the labourers from the West Indian Colonies working on the Panama Canal have gone to the Isthmus voluntarily in search of work, and without the cognizance of the Governments. As regards those who have been recruited under contract, the Secretary of State has no doubt that the local Governments assure themselves that the terms of any contract offered are fully understood.
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can state what are the regular hours of work for labourers engaged in the British West Indies for employment on the Panama Isthmian Canal; and what system is in force to ascertain that these hours are not exceeded.
The matters to which the hon. Member refers come within the purview of the Canal Commission. The British Minister at Panama will be asked to obtain particulars.
Pacific Cable Route
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the decision to take the Pacific Cable via Fanning Island instead of via Honolulu was made on strategic grounds; and, if so, whether any Report was at any time received from the Admiralty to the effect that a cable via Fanning Island would be easier to defend than a cable via Honolulu; and, if so, whether he will lay that Report upon the Table.
If the hon. Member will refer to paragraph 7 of the Report of the Pacific Cable Committee, which was presented to Parliament in Command Paper No. 9,247, in April, 1899, he will see that the Committee recommended the Fanning Island route on the ground that the Honolulu route would involve a departure from the principle of using only British territory for landing stations, a principle which had been formally endorsed by the Canadian and Australasian Governments.
said the right hon. Gentleman had not stated whether any Report had been received from the Admiralty to the effect that a cable by way of Fanning Island would be easier to defend than a cable by way of Honolulu.
Obviously that part of the Question should be addressed to the Civil Lord of the Admiralty.
Transvaal Immigration Restriction Bill
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether Clause 13 of the Transvaal Immigration Restriction Bill, to the effect that the burden of proving that a person has not entered or remained in the Colony in contravention of this Act or any regulation shall, in any prosecution for such contravention, lie upon the ac cased person, would apply to coloured subjects of His Majesty who are unrepresented in the Transvaal Legislature; and what steps His Majesty's Government propose to take in the matter.
The Secretary of State apprehends that the Answer 10 the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. On the question of the position of His Majesty's Government regarding the Act, the Secretary of State has nothing to add to the statement made in answer to a Question by the hon. Member for East Leeds on the 12th instant.†
Liverpool School Of Tropical Medicine
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the work already accomplished by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in combating tropical diseases, he can arrange for an increased grant to be made in order that the work may be further extended.
A further grant will be made of which the Secretary of St ate will be able to specify the amount after consultation with the Treasury.
Tax On Asiatics In The Transvaal
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, while under the Government of the Transvaal Republic, the £3 fee payable by Asiatics under Law 3 of 1885, as amended in 1886, was very generally not enforced, several thousand British-Indians, being I pre war residents, were, shortly after our annexation, compelled to pay £3 each for the privilege of remaining in the new Colony.
I am informed that the provision referred to was not
† See (4) Debates, clxxx., 796.
enforced in its full strictness by the Executive Government of the South African Republic. The failure to enforce the special laws affecting Indians caused great dissatisfaction among the white community, and formed the subject of repeated resolutions of the Volksraad calling upon it to enforce them. Eventually in November, 1898, the Executive Council by resolution declared that from 1st January, 1899, local authorities were to compel compliance with the provisions of the law, subject to such concessions as to time—with the extreme limit of six months—as circumstances might demand, and this resolution was being acted upon when the war broke out. I understand that the law has been enforced for the last four years.
Transvaal Immigration Restrictions
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn to Clause 6 of the Immigration Restriction Bill recently enacted by the Transvaal Government, under which any person who may be deemed by the Minister, on reasonable grounds, to be dangerous to the peace, order, and good government of this Colony if he remain therein, may be arrested and removed from the Colony by warrant under the hand of the Minister, and, pending removal, may be detained in such custody as may be prescribed by regulation; and whether, when the measure is submitted for Imperial sanction, His Majesty's Government will represent to the Government of the Transvaal the advisability of withdrawing any clause which empowers Ministers to imprison and deport at their discretion and without trial in time of peace.
I have seen the clause referred to, but I have already indicated that no statement can be made as to the action which will be taken by His Majesty's Government until the Bill is received in its final form, reserved as it will be for the signification of His Majesty's pleasure.
Mortality Among Chinese Labourers In South Africa
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies how many indentured Chinese labourers in South Africa died during the month of July, 1907; how many were discharged for repatriation during that month; and what was the total number available for the mines on the 1st August, 1907.
I have no official information, but according to a Reuter telegram thirty-three died during the month of July, and one was struck off the strength, leaving 51,441 available for the mines on 1st August.
Crime Among The Chinese In South Africa
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will state the total number of crimes committed in South Africa by Chinese coolies up to 31st July, 1907, and the number of convictions for such crimes.
The total number of convictions (for all classes of offences) up to 31st January, 1907, was 24,223. No later figures are available.
Repatriation Of Chinese
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if the cost of returning the time-expired Chinese labourers to their own country is being borne by the mine owners, or by whom.
By the mine-owners.
Orange River Colony Regalia
Can the Under-Secretary for the Colonies make arrangements for hon. Members to inspect the new regalia for the Orange River Colony?
said he had arranged, thanks to the courtesy of the Goldsmiths' Company, that the new Orange River Colony mace and regalia should be placed in the tea-room to-morrow for the inspection of hon. Members who desired to see them.
As the Crown jewels were stolen from Dublin Castle, will the right hon. Gentleman take care that the same fate will not overtake the Orange River regalia?
The regalia will be adequately guarded.
White Labour In The Rand Mines
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the ratio of white to coloured men now employed at the Transvaal mines; what was the number of whites employed for every thousand tons of ore raised in July, 1907; and how does this compare with the number employed before the introduction of Chinese labourers.
The official figures for June and July are not yet available. For the month of May, the proportion of whites to coloured employed in the Transvaal gold mines was 1 to 10·5, as compared with 1 to 5·9 for the month of May, 1904, immediately before the introduction of the Chinese. The number of whites per thousand tons of ore hoisted was, for May, 1907, 10·1; and for May, 1904, 15·9.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Chinese Government have yet accepted the demarcation of that part of the Sino-Burmese frontier known as Scott's line.
The Answer is in the negative, and the matter is still under discussion.
Egyptian Military Service
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the sums paid in Egypt for exemptions from military service in the first four months of 1907 have amounted to £E124,520, as against £E62,580 for the same period of last year; and whether, in view of this drain upon the resources of the poorest inhabitants, any, and what, reform is contemplated in the law of conscription.
I have nothing to add to the Answer returned to the Question asked on this subject by the hon. Member on 21st February last.†
† See (4) Debates, clxix., 1035–6.
Cairo Girls' School Teachers' Resignations
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether Miss Board and Miss Broderick, of the Sanieh Girls' School, Cairo, and Miss Bingham, of the Abbas Girls' School, Cairo, have sent in their resignations to the Egyptian Ministry of Education; if so, whether he can state the grounds of the resignations; whether they are to be replaced by three lady teachers from England; and, if so, whether the latter possess any knowledge of Arabic.
This is a detail of administration which must be left to the Egyptian Government, and in which I cannot interfere. The question of a knowledge of Arabic is always taken into account when possible.
Egyptian School Of Agriculture
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether, by an arrangement between the Egyptian Ministries of Public Works and Finance, it has been decided to offer a monthly allowance of £E10 per month to students entering the School of Agriculture who have obtained primary certificates, and £E12 to those who have obtained the secondary certificate, in order to encourage entries into the school; and whether this subsidising of students is resorted to because the fact that all instruction in the School of Agriculture is given in English has the effect of deterring those who would otherwise enter.
I will inquire as to the facts referred to, but with regard to the assumption in the last part of the Question I must point out that it is quite contrary to the general policy of the Egyptian Government, which has been to give instruction in English where it satisfies a demand, not where it would do the contrary.
Turco-Persian Frontier Commission
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has yet received any Reports as to the proceedings of the Turco-Persian Joint Commission for the purpose of delimiting the frontier between Turkey and Persia; and whether, in view of the fact that more than a year has now elapsed since the arrival on the spot of the first Commission, and that the delay has been attended by serious border warfare, he will now endeavour, in pursuance of the policy followed in this question since 1843, to bring about a speedy settlement of the dispute in conjunction with the Russian Government.
I have no further information. I understand that the Turkish members of the Commission are still at Mosul, and it is stated, though not officially, that they are to proceed to the scene of the recent disturbances to make a joint inquiry with the Persians. With regard to the second part of the hon. Member's Question, His Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople has been acting in the matter in consultation with his Russian colleague.
Turkish Raid Into Persia
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can state the result of representations to the Porte with reference to the incursion of troops on the Persian frontier.
I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer which I returned yesterday to the hon. Member for West Nottingham.†
Brussels Sugar Convention—New General Act
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is in a position to communicate the terms of the new general Act adopted by the Permanent Committee of the Brussels Sugar Convention: and whether this Act will have to be ratified by Parliament.
The Answer is in the negative in both cases.
Kaid Sir Harry Maclean
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs-whether he has official information of the release of Kaid Sir Harry Maclean.
May I also ask the Secretary of State for
† See (4) Debates, clxxx., 1224.
Foreign Affairs, if he can state whether Kaid Maclean has been released, or what prospects there are of his early release; and if any steps to this end are being taken by the Government.
The Answer is in the negative. As stated in my Answer of the 12th instant, His Majesty's Minister at Tangier is doing all he can to obtain Sir H. Maclean's release. But we have not yet heard that it has been accomplished.
Is our Minister in direct communication with the chief who is holding the Kaid, or are the negotiations being made through the Moorish authorities?
He is taking whatever steps he can to secure the release of the Kaid.
Mr Abbott's Ransom
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if the ransom paid to the Turkish brigands for the release of Mr. Abbott has been repaid by the Turkish Government; and, if not, when it is expected it will be repaid.
The culprits have been arrested, and a considerable part of the ransom recovered, and I have every reason to hope that a satisfactory settlement of the question will be reached. But I am unable to say more than this at present.
Employment Of Crippled Girls
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his attention has been directed to the fact that a concern called Platinum Substitutes, Limited, has started a factory at East Road, Hoxton, in which 30 crippled girls supplied by the Ragged School Union and paid at the rate of 3s. to 5s. a week, plus an allowance for meals, are employed in a process of enamelling copper strips with a coating of glass; whether he can state if those cripples are employed for normal factory hours, whether the certifying surgeon has certified the girls to be fit for such employment; and what steps he proposes to take to prevent the exploitation of cripples in the interests of a joint stock company.
The Medical Inspector of Factories has furnished me with a report upon the place mentioned in the question. 31 crippled girls and young women are employed in fusing thin pieces of glass on copper strips by means of a blow-pipe flame. The rate of wages paid is, I understand, as stated in the question, except that no allowances are made for meals. Some irregularities in the hours worked occurred when the place was first opened, but the hours, prescribed by the Act are now being observed, and all the girls have been certified by the certifying surgeon. Further inquiries are being made by the Lady Inspectors.
Motor Bus Breakdowns
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the inconvenience and annoyance caused to passengers using motor omnibuses by the frequent breaking down of such vehicles; whether the remedy for such inconvenience and annoyance is for the passengers to demand the return of the fares they have paid, or to insist upon being conveyed to their destination by another omnibus belonging to the same company; and whether the police, if appealed to by such passengers, are in a position to insist, upon either of these alternatives being given effect to.
Only one complaint has reached the police of the conductor of an omnibus which had broken down refusing to return the fare. The complainant was referred to a solicitor. The police have no power to decide disputes of this character, or to require either the return of the fare or the continuance of the journey in another omnibus.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the inconvenience caused to traffic by the number of motor omnibuses, continually breaking down, especially in the more crowded thoroughfares, within the Metropolitan district, thereby obstructing other vehicular traffic in many cases for lengthened periods; whether any special instructions have been given to the police whereby a speedy removal from the streets of such derelict omnibuses may be effected; and, if not, whether he will consider the propriety of taking some action in a matter so greatly affecting the convenience of the community at large.
Motor omnibuses, like all other forms of motor vehicles, occasionally break down, and no regulations can prevent this. No special instructions have been given to the police as to the removal of derelict omnibuses from the streets, but the companies concerned endeavour to minimise the resulting obstruction by employing travelling engineers to remedy defects expeditiously. The omnibuses are carefully inspected before being licensed, and, moreover, as machinery improves, breakdowns are likely to become less frequent.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that Gisuppi Farnaro, a prisoner, who was convicted in May, 1894, by Mr. Justice Hawkins at the Central Criminal Court, has broken down in health; and whether he will consider the question of ordering his immediate release.
The prisoner is in poor health, and is receiving treatment in association in the prison hospital. He is weak minded, though he cannot be certified as insane, and, like other prisoners classed as weak minded, is not subject to the ordinary prison discipline. I regret that, in view of the nature of his crime and his mental condition, I do not feel justified in advising his release.
Civil Rights Of Prison Officials
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, considering that regulations now in force in His Majesty's prisons prevent members of the staff' attending the annual conference of the Ex-Naval and Military Civil Servants Association, he can see his way to grant prison officials similar facilities as are given in other Goverment Departments.
I have given instructions that members of this Association who are in the prison service should be allowed, subject to the needs of the Service, special leave, without pay, to attend the annual conference of the Association, and that they may also, subject to the same condition, use part of their annual leave for this purpose.
Bath Magistrates And The Right Of Affirmation
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that, in a recent case tried before the Bath magistrates, a witness who claimed to affirm was denied the right to do so by the chairman, who is also chairman of the Watch Committee who were the prosecutors; whether the Home Office proposes to take any action in this matter; and whether he will take steps by legislation or otherwise to prevent the chairman of a prosecuting committee taking the chair on the bench when cases from the committee are being tried.
My attention was called to this matter on the 14th instant, and I communicated with the Bath magistrates. I am informed that the witness in question claimed to affirm, but as he declined to state either that he had no religious belief or that taking of an oath was contrary to his religious belief, the conditions prescribed by Section 1 of the Oaths Act, 1888, were not complied with, and the magistrates therefore declined to allow him to affirm. In a previous case tried on the same day the witness had taken the oath without any objection. The prosecution in this case was not ordered by the Watch Committee. I see no ground for any action on my part in the matter.
Bail For Poor Prisoners
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the letter he sent to justices throughout the country, after consultation with the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief I Justice in August, 1906, recommending that in minor offences they should not detain poor prisoners in prisons pending trial, but should release them on their own recognisances, has been generally acted upon or ignored by the justices; whether he will have a Return made of the length of time between committal to quarter sessions or assizes and trial in all cases during the past twelve months in which bail has been refused and the accused detained in prison with special note of those cases in which the accused has been acquitted; and whether, in cases where his recommendations have been persistently disregarded by benches of magistrates, and accused persons have been unnecessarily imprisoned in consequence, he will place the facts before the Lord Chancellor with a view to further steps being taken in the matter.
I issued such a circular as the hon. Member describes, but it referred to poor prisoners who were not of the "criminal, vagrant or homeless class." Offenders of this class are numerous, and to release them on their own recognisances would, of course, be equivalent to discharging them without trial or punishment. Tables are included every year in the Criminal Statistics showing the number of prisoners released on bail, and the numbers detained in prison, and the numbers of both classes acquitted. To give these tables for broken portions of a year would involve much useless labour and expense, but the figures for 1906 will be published in the autumn and will show, I anticipate, an appreciable improvement. I have no reason to think that my recommendations have been disregarded by the magistrates.
All-British Steamship Service
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, whether his attention has been called to the speech of Earl Grey at Halifax, Nova Scotia, declaring that the natural geographical advantages of the Dominion were destroyed by the colossal Imperial blunder of subsidising mail steamers to New York; and whether His Majesty's Government will intimate to the Cunard Company that they are willing to permit that company to substitute a Canadian port for New York in the existing contract.
I have seen a brief telegraphic summary of a speech by Earl Grey to which my honourable friend doubtless refers. As regards the last part of the question I shall be happy to submit my honourable friend's scheme to the informal Committee which is examining practical proposals for the establishment of an all-British steamship service and I have no doubt that it will be carefully considered together with other schemes having a similar object.
asked if the right hon. Gentleman was in a position to tell the House what subsidy it was proposed to give by the Treasury to the all-red route.
thought that question was rather premature.
asked if it was not a fact that an alteration in the present mail service would not be justified unless a fast bi-weekly steamship service to Canada were established on a scale equivalent to that afforded by the Cunard Company's present service.
Who is responsible for what is described by Earl Grey as "the colossal Imperial blunder in subsidising mail steamers to New York"?
I do not think that those were the words used by Earl Grey. My recollection is that he was denouncing the Cunard subsidy, and with that I cordially agree.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade, whether he has made further inquiries into the action of those insurance companies who issue policies to persons who have no assurable interest in the policies; and if he will consider during the recess whether, by a commission of inquiry or otherwise, this practice can be stopped.
I promised the hon. Member, in reply to a Question he asked me last month to consider any definite information that he could furnish on this point. He has-supplied me with some newspaper cuttings, but I do not find in them such evidence of the existence of the practice complained of as would justify action on the part of the Board of Trade.
Seeing that this practice is most injurious to that class which is least able to protect itself cannot the right hon. Gentleman take steps to forbid it?
I would do so if I had sufficient evidence.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been directed to the fact that, under the new Australian preferential tariff, British goods heretofore admitted free of duty, e.g., saws, iron pipes cartridges, &c., will in future be liable to heavy duties calculated entirely to exclude them from Australia; and if he will communicate with Sir William Lyne on the subject, reminding him of the solicitude for British export trade expressed by Mr. Deakin and himself at the Colonial Conference.
I am not yet in possession of the complete new Australian tariff and I am consequently unable to form a final opinion in regard to its effect on British trade. I understand, however, that certain articles (including those mentioned in the Question) which were previously free, are now to be subjected to duty.
Patent Office Fees
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Patent Office fees yield a profit of nearly 100 per cent. over the cost of maintenance, and that the American Patent Office issue patent protection for seventeen years for fees less than those charged by the British office for fourteen years' protection; and, having regard to all the circumstances, will he bring about a reduction of fees in this country in the interest of poor inventors.
I am aware that of late years the Patent Office fees have yielded a considerable profit, but at the present time whilst the office expenses are rapidly increasing and new duties are being thrown on the office by the Patents and Designs Bill I can give no undertaking to reduce them; nor do I believe that it would be to the interests of poor inventors to substitute for our present fees those chargeable in the United States which would benefit the comparatively small number of successful inventors at the expense of the much larger number of unsuccessful inventors who can less afford to pay. I will cause to be printed with the votes a statement showing the comparative cost of patents in the United Kingdom and United States respectively.
Canada And The All-Red Route
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the Canadian Government have communicated the extent of the financial support they are prepared to render to the project of an all-red route from Great Britain to Australia across Canada; and whether any statement can yet be made in reference to the proposal.
I am unable at the present stage to add anything to what I have already stated to the House on this subject.
Sugar Refining Industry
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if there has been any increase in the amount of sugar refined in this country since the Sugar Convention came into force; and, if so, can he give the number of additional persons employed in the industry for each year since the Convention.
There are no official records of the quantity of sugar refined in this country prior to the Sugar Convention coming into force. Since that date the quantities have been as follows:—
|4 months Sept. to Dec. 1903||3,662,000|
I am unable to state the numbers of persons employed in this industry for years later than 1901, the date of the last Census.
Guardians' Offices And Friendly Societies
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether there is any regulation of the Local Government Board forbidding boards of guardians from letting rooms in union offices, subject to a reasonable rental, for the accommodation of trade unions or friendly societies who may wish to hold meetings of their branches or lodges on other than licensed premises.
There is no such regulation. On the contrary, the Local Government Board, whose sanction would be necessary to the letting, have expressed their willingness to give their sanction, subject to the guardians reserving to themselves the power to determine the arrangement should it be found to interfere with the use of the building for poor law purposes.
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General, with reference to the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Wages, which recommends that London postmen's wages should range from £49 to £91 a year, whether he is now aware that the Berlin postmen's wages range from £63 to £93 a year; and whether, in view of the fact that German wages generally are lower than British wages, he will level up British postmen's wages to a proper standard. I beg also to ask the Postmaster-General if his attention has been directed to the fact that, although the London postal porters maximum wages of 30s. per week have not been increased since 1882, or during a period of rather more than 25 years, the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Wages does not recommend that an increase in that maximum should now be made, while it states that its recommendations are sufficient for a considerable period; and whether, in view of the increased cost of living and the consequent real decrease in wages sustained by the postal porters, he can see his way to increase the maximum to at least £100 a year.
I will answer these two Questions together. I have already informed my hon. friend that the Report as a whole is receiving my most careful consideration; and I do not think it would be advantageous to enter upon a discussion of particular points in regard to it. But, as he makes a specific comparison between Berlin and London it may be well, in order to avoid misapprehension, to point out that the comparison is inaccurate, and the figures are therefore misleading. Before a Berlin postman can reach the minimum to which my hon. friend refers, he has, I understand, to perform nine or ten years' unestablished service on much lower pay. After a similar length of service the London postman would have arrived at or near the top of his scale. Moreover, the London postman, in addition to the maximum, is eligible for stripe allowances, up to an amount of 6s. a week. Thus the maximum remuneration recommended by the Committee is 41s. a week or about £107 per annum in the case of the Central London postman. In addition there are pension rights, uniforms, boot allowance, sick pay, &c. The hours of the London postman are forty-eight a week; those of the Berlin postman are, I understand, considerably longer.
Telegraphists And Volunteer Camps
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether his attention has been directed to the fact that telegraphists in the postal service who attend the annual camp training of their Volunteer battalion have either a week's pay deducted or lose a week's leave; and whether he will take steps to place these telegraphists, when attending such annual camps, on the same footing as other members of the Civil Service.
In accordance with a general Treasury ruling, leave with pay is not granted to officers of the Post Office for the purpose of attending Volunteer camps. I have no power to modify these arrangements.
Cost Of West African Mail Service
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General what sums have been paid for the carriage of mails to and from the West Coast of Africa during each of the last three years; and what average rate this represents per pound carried.
The sums paid for mails sent in both directions were as follows:—
These amounts include payment for foreign and inter-colonial mails. The materials available do not admit of a statement of the rate of payment per pound except in the case of correspondence despatched from this country, for which the rate is estimated to be 6½d. per pound.
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General what shipping companies received payments for carrying mails to the West Coast of Africa during the last completed financial year; and how much each company received.
The particulars are as follows:—African Steamship Company, £7,224; British and African Steam Navigation Company (1900) Limited, £10,936. These amounts include payment for the mails in both directions.
Mortomley School Teachers' Salary
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he is satisfied that the salaries due to the teachers of the Catholic school at Mortomley are now actually paid by the local authority of the West Riding.
I understand that the salaries due will be paid forthwith.
Board Of Education Medical Bureau
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he will state what will be the constitution and personnel of the medical bureau to be attached to the Board of Education, with the view to giving guidance and advice to the medical officers to be appointed by local education authorities to undertake the medical inspection of the children in public elementary schools.
I am in communication with the Treasury on this matter, but I am not yet in a position to make any statement.
Christopher Wharton's School At Stamford Bridge
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education whether he is aware that in October, 1905, the Board of Education sanctioned the use of the endowment of Christopher Wharton's foundation for the erection of a non-provided school at Stamford Bridge, and that on the faith of that sanction, land was conveyed as a site for the school; whether, in June of this year, the Board of Education withdrew their sanction, alleging as a reason altered circumstances; and, if so, why the Board changed the decision which they had in their quasi-judicial capacity arrived at in 1905.
The Board of Education did not in October, 1905, or at any other time, sanction, whether in a quasi-judicial capacity or otherwise, the use of this endowment for the erection of a non-provided school. The Board did, however, inform the trustees of the endowment in December, 1905, that the-proposals made by them—which involved the use of the endowment money for the purposes of the rebuilding, but, so far as the Board were then aware, not the enlargement of an existing non-provided school—could only be carried out on the authority of a scheme; and in January, 1906, the Board, in order to assist the trustees, drafted a scheme under Section 75 of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, which the trustees might, if they thought fit, submit for the Board's approval. The trustees took exception to certain provisions of the suggested draft scheme, and it was not until April, 1907, that they adopted it as their own, and submitted it for the approval of the Board. In the meantime it had appeared that the proposals of the trustees involved a substantial enlargement in the numbers of school places provided in the school, which was not before the Board in the original proposal. Moreover, circum stances affecting the position and prospects of non-provided schools in the Kingdom generally, which are as familiar to the noble Lord as to myself, had occurred which, in the view of the Board, rendered it undesirable in the interests of the Foundation itself that eudowment money should be sunk in the provision of public school accommodation in non-provided schools.
Walpole House Farm, Norfolk
I beg to ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, what rent has been agreed to be paid to the Crown for that portion of the Walpole House Farm in Norfolk which is to be converted into small holdings?
The amount of rent is £697 10s. 0d. per annum for the first two years and £775 per annum thereafter, and in addition the lessees will pay interest at four per cent. on the expenditure (estimated at about £3,800) that may be made by the Crown in providing the necessary houses, buildings, fencing, etc.
How many acres have been converted into small holdings?
Roughly speaking 560; 360 are to be let with the old building.
What was the previous rent?
The rent now will be the same as before.
All-Red Pacific Cable
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies what is the loss, if any, upon last year's working of the all-red Pacific Cable, and how much of that loss, if any, falls upon the taxpayers of this country.
The accounts of the Pacific Cable for the year 1906–7 have recently been published (Parliamentary Paper No. 250). These accounts are drawn, as required by the Act, to include among the working expenses of the cable the terminable annuity of £77,544 18s., which will repay the capital outlay on the cable in a term of fifty years. On this basis the accounts show a deficiency for the year of £54,923 12s. 2d., of which the portion payable by the taxpayers of the United Kingdom is £15,256 11s. 2d. If the cable were charged merelywith the interest payable on the borrowed capital, namely, £60,000 a year, instead of being charged with the annuity for repayment, the total deficiency would be reduced to £37,378 14s. 2d., and the British share would be reduced in proportion. It may be pointed out, also, that the working expenses include a sum of £33,000 carried to renewal account.
Second Division Clerks—Annual Leave
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that Second Division clerks appointed prior to the Order in Council of 21st March, 1890, are, almost without exception, allowed leave to the extent of twenty-eight days per annum; whether the maximum leave of Second Division clerks appointed subsequent to that Order is twenty-one days per annum and whether he will consider the desirability of amending the regulations in any future Order in Council by allowing, after ten years service, a maximum of twenty-eight days leave for all Second Division clerks.
I have no information as to the number of Second Division clerks appointed prior to the Order in Council of 21st March, 1890, who are allowed twenty-eight days leave per annum; the maximum amount of ordinary annual leave allowed by that Order in Council is twenty-one days in addition to Christmas Day, Good Friday, the King's Birthday, and, subject to the convenience of the public service, the four Bank Holidays, and a half holiday on alternate Saturdays. I am not prepared to recommend any extension of this maximum.
Free Grant Account—Credit Balance
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland, with reference to the annual fee grant of £40,000, the amount of the Scottish share of the Customs and Excise which, by Section 2 (ii) of the Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act, 1890, is to be applied in relief of the payment of school fees of children in State-aided schools in Scotland, together with the annual balance of the Local Taxation (Scotland) Account referred to in Section 2 (6) of The Education and Local Taxation Account (Scotland) Act, 1892, which by that Act is to be applied as a supplement to that fee grant in Scotland, and is to be distributed accordingly, and which amounted to more than £37,000 in the last financial year; if he can state for what reason and under what authority these revenues, instead of being expended annually as fee grants, have been accumulated to such an extent that the credit balance of the Fee Grant Account, at the end of the last financial year, amounted to more than £113,000; and whether he can say to what purposes it is intended to devote these accumulated funds.
The credit balance in question has fluctuated from year to year, owing to the variation in the amount received under the Act of 1892, which amount was in some years actually nil. In view of this circumstance, it has not seemed desirable hitherto to raise the fee grant beyond the rate of 12s. per child in average attendance. Now, however, that the balance has attained the figure named by the hon. Member, it is a question whether this rate might not be somewhat increased.
Arrochar Pier, Loch Long
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland if he can say how many persons landed and embarked at Arrochar Pier, Loch Long, in 1906.
I have no responsibility with reference to this pier, and have no information which is not equally accessible to my hon. friend.
Dundee Police Wages
To ask the Secretary for Scotland if he will state the nature of the intricate questions as regards the reasonable amount of advance proposed by the Dundee City Council to be given to the policemen of that city; what are the rates of pay of similar police forces as compared with Dundee; and what is the amount of advance approved by the Department.
Questions involving increase of pay have to be considered in the light of the pay and advantages enjoyed by other forces in a more or less similar position. The advance recently accorded to the Dundee Police place them in a position of equality with the best paid forces outside those of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the immediate vicinity of these towns. If the hon. Member desires further particulars I shall be happy to supply them for his personal information.
Dundee Police Clothing
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland upon what principle does the Scottish Department base their grant of 40 per cent. of the cost of police clothing, and what are the regulations as regards the price and quality of the cloths supplied, as it is asserted that the Dundee contractors are unable to compete for the police clothing owing to the conditions fixed by the Scottish Department.
The percentage of grant varies from year to year, the amount available for distribution being fixed and the amount of outlay which it has to meet being variable. The auditors admit charges for the various items required for police clothing up to a fixed maximum. For information as to the regulations regarding police clothing, I may refer the hon. Member to the rules issued in 1892 of which I shall be happy to give him a copy. In reply to a further Question.
said he understood that a maximum price was fixed for each article of clothing, but the authorities were given full discretion as to how and where to obtain them.
Musselburgh Tramway Strike
I beg to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether he has read a leading article in the Edinburgh Evening Despatch of 3rd August, in which it was stated that policemen's batons were most effective arguments in the Musselburgh tramway strike, and whether in view of this direct incentive to violence, he could use his good offices among the men on strike to maintain law and order.
I think such statements are greatly to be deprecated, and I am willing to do all I can in the direction desired.
Mr Timothy Rorke
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Lord-Chancellor of Ireland has arrived at any conclusion with reference to the continuance of Mr. Timothy Rorke upon the Commission of the Peace.
The Lord-Chancellor informs me that he has suspended Mr. Timothy Rorke from sitting as a magistrate until further order, and he is still under that suspension.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether any persons have been made amenable for the offence of shooting and wounding Thomas Corcoran, junior, of Benmore, near Loughrea, on the night of 21st July, and, if not, what is the reason for the failure to bring the perpetrators of this outrage to justice.
Three persons were arrested for this offence. The case was heard by the resident magistrate at Loughrea, on the 9th instant, when the accused were discharged owing to the insufficiency of the evidence.
Mr Grinnell, Mp, And Cattle Driving
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, whether he has perused the official report of the speech delivered by the hon. Member for North Westmeath at Strokestown, county Roscommon, on Sunday, when the hon. Member said that the cattle ought to be driven off the ranches, and that the people of Strokestown ought to relieve the pressure on the people of other parishes by giving some occupation to the police thereabouts; and whether he proposes to take action with reference to such incitements to lawless conduct.
The transcript of the shorthand writer's notes in this case has not yet reached my hands.
Fohenagh Farm Dispute
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether Sir Antony MacDonnell has assured the Rev. Mr. Martin, of Ballintubber, that if the United Irish League would give him a guarantee that there would be no further disturbance in the district he would withdraw the extra police who are in the district for the protection of the cattle on the Fohenagh farm, and would see that this farm was divided at the earliest moment; and, if so, under whose instructions Sir Antony MacDonnell was acting when he entered into negotiations with the United Irish League, and what differentiates the Fohenagh farm from others from which cattle have been driven that the Government should adopt this course of negotiation, instead of attempting to vindicate the law by prosecuting those supposed to be guilty.
I am aware that a report to the effect mentioned in the first part of the Question appeared in a newspaper, but Sir Antony MacDonnell informed me at the time that the report was incorrect. The Rev. Mr. Martin asked Sir Antony MacDonnell to have the police removed from the farm in question, and Sir Antony replied that he would like to have an assurance that the cattle would not be driven off again. Father Martin said he could give no absolute guarantee, but would do all in his power to prevent further interference with the farm, and he believed there would be none. As a result the large force of police at the farm was reduced. No reference to the United Irish League was made by either Sir Antony or Father Martin. Full measures for vindicating the law in this case have been taken. The Attorney-General sent up a Bill against a number of persons at the last assizes, and an adjournment was obtained in order to move for a change of venue. The case is pending.
asked whether it was the policy of the right hon. Gentleman to abdicate the powers of the Government where assurances could be received from local influential people.
No, Sir; I never abdicate.
Reinstatement Of Evicted Tenants— System Of Inspection
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he proposes to continue the present system under which assistant inspectors first report on claims for reinstatement by alleged evicted tenants and are then required to supervise any sanctioned reinstatements in the same districts and make payment to them of authorised grants and advances from the reserve fund, or whether he will consider the advisability of arranging that these important duties should be discharged by different officers.
The Estates Commissioners inform me that the system referred to in the Question was a good one, and worked satisfactorily, and I am not aware of any reason why it should not be continued. I may, however, mention that the special staff of assistant inspectors for evicted tenants' cases has recently been dispensed with, and the expenditure of free grants and advances from the reserve fund is now supervised by the ordinary staff.
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the reports of assistant inspectors, appointed to investigate claims of alleged evicted tenants, are subjected to any system of checking before being adopted by the Estates Commissioners.
The reports of assistant inspectors are carefully examined and checked before being adopted by the Estates Commissioners, but, of course, a second inspector is not sent to the locality to inquire afresh into the case unless some special necessity should arise.
Jacob Estate, South Wexford
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can say if the Jacob tenants, South Wexford, and their landlord have agreed regarding the purchase of the estate by the tenants; and if the agent, Mr. G. L. Taylor, Fethard, has refused to entertain the claim of Mrs. Marshall, evicted tenant, to purchase her farm.
No proceedings for the sale of this estate have been instituted before the Estates Commissioners, and they have no knowledge of any negotiations for sale. No application for reinstatement has been received from Mrs. Marshall.
The Outrage At Glenahira Lodge
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he had received any information with reference to the attempt to murder Lord Ashtown by blowing up his residence at Glenahira, county Waterford, on Tuesday night; whether he knew that the explosive was placed directly beneath the room which Lord Ashtown was occupying; what number of police were stationed in the vicinity, and what personal protection did the police afford Lord Ashtown while he was at Glenahira.
I have received a telegraphic report, but full details are not yet to hand. It is the fact that an explosion took place yesterday morning at Lord Ashtown's shooting lodge at Waterford. The explosive was contained in a metal pot placed on the sill of the window immediately below the room in which Lord Ashtown was sleeping. The window was blown in and the furniture damaged, but I am glad to say that Lord Ashtown and the servants escaped injury. Some paraffin bottles containing oil were found by the police, who are pursuing their inquiries. Lord Ashtown has declined to receive personal protection, but the police are affording him protection by means of patrols. The question of extending the protection is being considered by the police authorities.
On whose evidence was this information—on Lord Ashtown's?
It is derived from an inspection of the spot made by the police.
asked whether the inquiries would be continued, bearing in mind the revelations as to a certain Constable Sheridan, so as to ascertain that the outrage was not committed by some such agent provocateur.
asked whether the damage caused by the explosion was so great that the mantelpiece in the bedroom of Lord Ashtown was detached from the wall.
asked whether Lord Ashtown had not stated in an interview that he knew it was an outrage before he left his bedroom.
said that he would road the telegraphic despatch, which was as follows:—"The injury to Lord Ashtown's lodge was caused by placing a metal pot containing, it is believed, a large quantity of blasting powder on one of the window sills of the drawing-room directly beneath his lordship's bedroom. The pot had a metal cover which was flattened down by an iron band with nuts on end. There were four holes in the cover for the purpose of inserting a fuse. Three broken bottles, which contained paraffin oil, were found on the ground. The window and the shutter of the same where the pot was placed were blown into the room, curtains, etc., caught fire, and some articles of furniture were broken, as well as a quantity of the woodwork. The glass of three other windows was also broken, walls were slightly cracked in many places, and the mantelpiece in Lord Ashtown's bedroom partly torn from the wall. Lord Ashtown and four servants were sleeping in the lodge, but none were injured."
Belfast Postmen's Grievances
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that considerable inconvenience is occasioned to those members of the postal staff in Belfast who have to deliver letters, by reason of the fact that they are frequently detailed to a district remote from their own residences and are in consequence unable, or have very little time, to get to and from their homes for meals in the intervals between their spells of duty; and whether arrangements could be made whereby men should the detailed, as far as possible, for duty in districts convenient to their homes.
I am having inquiry made on the subject and will acquaint the hon. Member with the result.
Rosslare Pier Telegraph Office
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether any conclusion has yet been arrived at with reference to the establishment of a telegraph office at Rosslare pier; and whether any progress has been made regarding the giving of a second delivery at those villages in South Wexford through which the Rosslare line passes.
I hope that arrangements will shortly be made with the railway company for opening a telegraph office at Rosslare pier. My inquiries with regard to further improvement of the postal arrangements at places in the neighbourhood of the Rosslare Railway in South Wexford, have made considerable progress, but they affect a large district and it has not yet been possible to complete them. I will communicate with the hon. Member as soon as I am able to arrive at a decision.
Friendly Societies And The Taxation Of Land Values
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he has received a resolution from the delegates of the Hearts of Oak Benefit Society, representing more than 300,000 members, requesting the Government that when they deal with the question of taxing land values they will take into consideration the desirability of exempting friendly societies from the operation of such Act; whether he is aware that many other friendly and building societies hold large investments in land values; and whether he can give any general assurance which will remove the alarm that has been created by the proposals made by some of his supporters.
No, Sir, I have not received the resolution in question. I shall always be glad to give any assurance in my power which may tend to remove alarm in whatever quarter it may exist; and my hon. friend is quite free to make it known that His Majesty's Government will endeavour in this and other matters to act with justice and consideration.
Proposed New Judge
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether, before appointing another Judge to the King's Bench Division, he will take stops to have the present circuit system re-organised.
The Address from the House to the King, as well as the Address from the other House, was founded on the urgent state of business in the High Court. It would not be consistent with the course taken by Parliament to delay the appointment of the Judge.
County Of London Area
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he has expressed agreement with the proposals recently brought before him by a deputation of London Liberal Members, including proposals for a wider extension of the area of the county of London; whether he contemplates dealing with the question of extension by means of a Government Bill; and whether, before coming to a decision on the matter, he will take steps to ascertain, by public inquiry or otherwise, the opinion of the inhabitants and local authorities of the districts which it may be proposed to bring into the London area.
A wider extension of the area of the county of London was one of the many objects brought before me by a deputation of London Members, and I agree with them that it is a desirable object, but the Government have come to no conclusion as to the time at which or the form in which it may be best attained.
asked if the Prime Minister could give him the assurance he had asked for in the latter part of the Question.
replied that naturally the views of the population in the districts concerned would be an important factor in the situation.
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would see that the feeling of the inhabitants of the suburban districts, in respect of the drastic and far-reaching changes proposed, was not overlooked?
If the suburban Members come to me in the same way that the London Members have done, I shall be happy to receive them.
Business Of The House
asked as to the business for next week.
said that to-morrow, after the Third Reading of the English Land Bill, some of the smaller orders on the Paper would be taken. On Monday, the Second Reading of the Transvaal Loan Bill would be taken; on Tuesday, the Report Stage of the Scottish Land Values Bill; and on Wednesday, probably the Second Reading of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill would be taken. The Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill would be put dawn as first order on Monday.
said that it was the ordinary practice for the work of the session to conclude with the Appropriation Bill, which gave opportunity for the discussion of urgent public questions. He suggested that the Third Reading of the Bill should be reserved, as there were several outstanding questions which the hon. Members would like to discuss.
asked when the relics of the late Evicted Tenants Bill would be taken.
(St. George's, Hanover Square) pointed out that by arrangement with the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury the preliminary stages of the Transvaal Loan Bill had been regarded as purely formal on the distinct understanding that the whole day would be given for the Second Reading. That arrangement would not be fulfilled if the Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill as put down as first order on Monday.
said that he understood that it was necessary that the Appropriation Bill should be in another place on Monday, and that the Third Reading would be a purely formal stage If it were not he agreed that it could not be taken as first order on Monday, but that the Transvaal Loan Bill must have precedence.
asked why it was necessary to send the Appropriation Bill to another place on Monday.
said that the money was wanted for the public services. The Royal Assent ought to be obtained at the latest on Tuesday.
asked whether any day would be given for the Motion which stood on the Paper for an address to annul the rule relating to the appointment of a Public Trustee. The rule had already lain on the Table for half the required thirty days.
I not only fear, but I am certain that the exigencies of public business will not allow us to give such a day.
asked whether the Act of Parliament which conferred on the House the right to discuss this most important matter could be defeated by the exigencies of Party interest.
said that in ordinary circumstances it would have been possible for the hon. Member to raise a discussion after 11 o'clock at night; but the House had passed a Resolution that on the conclusion of Government business the Speaker should declare the House to stand adjourned. By passing that Resolution, the House had deprived itself of the power of discussing such a Motion as the hon. Member desired to bring forward. It was open to the hon. Member to have voted against the Resolution on that ground.
No doubt I shall have an opportunity on the Appropriation Bill.
The hon. Member, in putting down his Motion, has himself pat down a blocking notice.
asked whether on the Appropriation Bill it was not competent for any Member to discuss any subject.
said that the rule against anticipation applied.
I beg to give notice that I will withdraw my blocking Notice.
Vaccination (Scotland) Bill Lords
Read the first time; to be read a second time on Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 317.]
Public Health (Scotland Amendment Bill Lords
Read the first time; to be read a second time on Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 323.]
Education (England And Wales) Bill
"To make further provision with respect to Education in England and Wales," presented by Mr. Higham: to be read a second time upon Friday, 23rd August, and to be printed. [Bill 323.]
Employment Of British Subjects Abroad Bill
"To prohibit the engagement of British subjects for service in the place of workmen locked out on a strike in Foreign countries," presented by Mr. Crooks; supported by Mr. Shackleton, Mr. Curran, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, Mr. William Abraham (Rhondda), Mr. Arthur Henderson, Mr. Macpherson, Mr. Brace, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Enoch Edwards, Mr. John Ward, and Mr. Fenwick; to be read a second time upon Wednesday next and to be printed. [Bill 324.]
Married Women's Property Bill
Lords' Amendments to be considered forthwith; considered, and agreed to.
Post Office Sites Bill
Lords' Amendment to be considered forthwith; considered, and agreed to.
Probation Of Offenders Bill
Lords' Amendments to be considered forthwith; considered, and agreed to.
Companies Bill Lords
Reported, with Amendments, from Standing Committee C.
Report to lie upon the Table, and to be printed. [No. 310].
Minutes of the Proceedings of the Standing Committee to be printed. [No. 310.]
Bill, as amended (by the Standing Committee), to be taken into consideration To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 321.]
Standing Committee On Scottish Bills
Ordered, that the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills have leave to sit Tomorrow during the sitting of the House.—( The Lord Advocate.)
Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill
Order for the Second Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the second time."
said it was convenient, it was certainly not unusual, that they should take the opportunity of the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill to make some survey of the Government proceedings during the course of the session. He did not propose that afternoon to survey the whole field of Government activities. He intended to confine his remarks to the action of the Government with regard to the business of the House and to the condition to which they had, by their methods and their programme, reduced that Assembly. He did not believe there was any man on either side of the House, or belonging to any section of the House, who did not agree with him that there was matter for the gravest reflection and the most anxious meditation with regard to recent Parliamentary procedure, and that they could derive but small contentment from the announcement which the Government had made that they were not wholly dead to the class of questions which he meant to bring before them, but proposed to devote their minds to their consideration during the winter months. Let the House consider for one moment, apart from the discussion of any particular controversial measure, how far it had carried out, or was under existing circumstances able to carry out, its two great fundamental and essential duties—the duty of legislation and the duty of criticism, the duty of dealing with the legislative proposals brought forward by His Majesty's Ministers, the duty of dealing, by comment, adverse or otherwise, with the executive actions of the Administration. Under neither of those heads had the House of Commons been able to carry out, nor could it conceivably carry out, the two primary duties with which it was entrusted by the country, and for which the country should hold it responsible. There were two great novelties in the course of the present session, for which, though not wholly without precedent, the precedents had been immensely exceeded, and by which they had been brought under a system of administration hitherto wholly unknown to the House. The first point to which he would venture to call the attention of the Prime Minister, the Government, and the House was the way in which Grand Committees had been worked. In the first place, he could not see how the Government were to escape from the charge of having, if not deliberately, at all events completely, broken the solemn pledges entered into by Ministers of the Crown when they asked the House to adopt their new system of Grand Committees. He had made this charge before in the presence of the Prime Minister. He had given at least one quotation on which he rested it; but never as yet had the right hon. Gentleman condescended to reply to what was a serious charge, and certainly a definite one. He would read again, to remind the right hon. Gentleman of the facts, two quotations from speeches made by responsible Ministers of the Crown when they were passing the new rules establishing Grand Committees on their novel basis. The first was from a speech by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, who was, next to the Prime Minister, the Minister in charge of the new rules. This was what he said on 26th March—
For his own part, he was unable to conceive of a pledge uttered in more precise and explicit language, nor had he ever known such a pledge which was more obviously and plainly violated by the subsequent policy of the Government. But it might be said that the right hon. Gentleman, though an important member of the Administration, was not its head, and that he misinterpreted the view of the Leader of the House when he gave vent to that explicit declaration of intention. He would, therefore, quote from the Prime Minister himself. The Prime Minister, on 25th March, said—"It was the intention of the Government that all important controversial Bills should be discussed in the House, and not in Grand Committee."
It really could not seriously be pretended that the Government had kept either to the spirit or to the letter of those two distinct and explicit promises. They stood there as violations of the solemn declarations of the Government made to the House, and on the faith of which the House passed the new rules, and within a few months, within a few weeks, after those declarations were so solemnly made, they were completely and absolutely broken alike in form and substance, alike in letter and in spirit. That was the first point which he wished to make as to Grand Committees, but it was not the only one. When the right hon. Gentleman was pressing upon the House the propriety of this new expedient of his, the Opposition urged upon him that the labours thrown upon those Members of the House who had both to serve on the Grand Committees and to do their work as Members in the House would be of so exhausting a character that it was quite impossible that it should be adequately carried out until human nature and the human organism were much more vigorous than they were at present. They urged on the Government that both the Ministers and the Members would find the labours of these Committees far greater than they could stand. Who doubted that that was so? The right hon. Gentleman himself came down to the House the other day and explained that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the English Land Bill had gone away for a week's holiday because he had found the work in Grand Committee of so exhausting and exacting a kind. He was not surprised. It was an intolerably severe strain when Members were asked to work from twelve o'clock to three, but he was perfectly certain that, when they asked them to work from eleven to four, and sometimes longer, they really were throwing a burden upon Members of that House which it was impossible for any human shoulders to bear. In that respect he ventured to point out that the prophecies they made about these new rules had been amply confirmed by the experience. That was not all. He complained as a Member who had not served on these Grand Committees, and he thought others would probably feel the same cause of grievance, that they had no opportunity of hearing the details of the Bills discussed upstairs. The Prime Minister had gone on the supposition that a Committee was representative of the House, that everything which the Committee did might be regarded as done by the House, that everything the committee discussed might be regarded as discussed by the House, and that everything which was known to the fifty or sixty gentlemen who sat on the Committee was known to the 670 gentlemen who formed that Assembly. That was an impossible position. It was one of those conventions which had no relation whatever to fact. No one who was not on the Committee could know what was the sort of arguments, what was the sort of trend of opinion which the critics and the defenders of a Bill alike pursued; and, when the Bill came down to the House for the brief discussion which they were permitted on the Report stage, they were totally ignorant of what had taken place upstairs for any purpose which could really enlighten them as to the movement of opinion and the course of argument. And observe the extraordinary irony of the position. The Opposition pointed out when the rules were before them that the House had laid down certain standing orders with regard to the discussion of financial matters which made it possible for a Committee upstairs to deal with finance, but made it impossible for the House to deal with finance on Report. The right hon. Gentleman refused to modify those regulations, and the result had been that measures which touched very closely upon financial proposals might be discussed in Committee by fifty or sixty gentlemen, but when they came down to the House they were precluded from raising points, however great might be their importance, if they in the smallest degree trenched upon the sacred precincts of public money. That was an impossible position in which to place the mass of the House. Let them take what happened on the English Land Bill. There was a considerable body of opinion largely represented below the gangway which desired to see some modification of the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman opposite with regard to the source from which the funds should come for carrying out the policy of increasing the number of small holders in England. There could not be a question touching more the central problem of land policy. That central problem was withdrawn from their notice. Mr. Speaker ruled, as he was bound to rule, that they could not deal with it; and so they were face to face with this extraordinary and paradoxical result, that the rules which the House laid down to protect the public Exchequer had prevented its discussing that which most nearly touched its interests. And that evil was going to be an increasing evil. This House was deeply pledged to what was called social reform. Social reform was inextricably mixed up with questions of public finance, and the result of these rules was that they would never be able on the Report stage—the only stage left them for dealing with the details of a Bill in the whole House—to touch those monetary provisions which were the very sinew of any proposals of that kind, and without freely discussing which it was impossible to discuss the questions of policy brought forward in those Bills."The Government had no desire to send the great measures of the session, which almost necessarily were controversial, to Grand Committees. They would still be retained under the control of the House."
You could not do it under the old system.
said the right hon. Gentleman had mistaken his point. It was perfectly true that even the discussions in Committee of the whole House were limited by the terms of the original Resolution; but there was the further limitation which prevented them dealing on the Report stage with things which could perfectly well be dealt with on the Committee stage, and the only way of dealing with them was to re-commit the Bill, and—especially under closure—it was only the Government themselves who could propose that a Bill should be re-committed. So much for the Grand Committees. They had been used in defiance of Government pledges; they had been used to the utter exhaustion of many of the most active Members of the House; they deprived other Members of a privilege which they before enjoyed of taking part in the Whole House on the Committee stage of controversial and important Bills; and, finally, they had absolutely removed from the Whole House, at any stage, the power of discussing any financial proposal. A more damaging indictment could hardly be urged against a system which the right hon. Gentleman—again under the guillotine—urged them to adopt four months ago. He passed from the Grand Committees to the guillotine. Let it be remembered that the Government came in as the advocates of Parliamentary liberties. They were pleased to say that the late Government deprived the House of liberty of discussion. Let anybody compare the proceedings under the late Government with regard to the guillotining of Bills with the proceedings under His Majesty's present advisors. The guillotine had already been applied this session on no less than five separate occasions—upon four Bills, and upon their discussion on the Rules of the House. The guillotine had been applied before, by other Governments, Conservative, Unionist, Radical, and Liberal, but never, except perhaps once under Mr. Gladstone's Government, had the guillotine been applied at the beginning of the Committee stage of a Bill. As everybody knew, when once the guillotine had fallen there was an end of satisfactory debate. He would take an example. The Education Bill, 1902, was a Bill that was guillotined, and no doubt the ordinary result followed. But before the guillotine was put on there was free discussion, and everybody who would honestly look through the debates would admit that there was no great principle of that Bill that was not discussed and re-discussed almost ad nauseam. Let them take another example, the Bill dealing with the local authorities in Wales. That Bill was one of a single principle, which could really be almost exhaustively discussed upon Second Reading. It was discussed altogether twelve days in Committee. Six of those days were passed before the closure was applied, and the discussion before the the guillotine was applied was, and always must be, wholly different in character from the discussion which took place after that drastic operation had been performed.
I think the right hon. Gentleman is not correct. We only had a single day.
said he had not verified the quotation, and it might be another Bill.
The Licensing Bill.
Yes, it was the Licensing Bill. That Bill took eleven days in Committee and six days before the guillotine was put on. At all events, on the Education (Defaulting Authorities) Bill there was only one principle involved, and in that case the House had an opportunity of discussing, without the guillotine, a proposal which was vehemently objected to. Let them compare that case with another case of dealing with great local authorities of which they had had recent example. The Government brought in a Land Bill for England, and they had put every county council, every district council, and every parish council under the control, for certain purposes, of a central authority, which was directed by the Bill, in certain circumstances, to coerce them. That might be a very proper proposal, just as he thought the Welsh Bill was a very proper proposal; but it was a very important proposal. It was a proposal which touched the very central nerve ganglion of English public life; it touched the relation between Parliament and the great bodies which Parliament had brought into existence to deal with local affairs. He could imagine no point more deserving of the consideration of the House, or one which touched more nearly the general organisation of the country; yet under the plan of the Government it had not been considered by that House for an hour, or even a quarter of an hour. No more striking example of the way in which the Government had misused their power could be given than the way in which they had treated the county councils. But it was not only in relation to Grand Committees and the use of the guillotine that he made his complaint against the Government. They had prevented the House from carrying out its full function in connection with the criticism of administration, a function not less important than the function of criticism of legislative projects. The House spent 22 days under guillotine—about a month of Parliamentary time—and during that period, at the very height of Parliamentary activity and when public attention was most concentrated on public affairs, they had been deprived of any use whatever of the expedient of moving the adjournment of the House upon questions of urgent public importance. That was an interference with the liberties of the House on the part of a Government which had appointed a Committee to deal with blocking notices. If individual Members who put down blocking Motions were criminals, what was the depth of iniquity of the Government themselves, who had for a month deprived the House of Commons of one of its most important rights? But that was not all. The Government, in his opinion, had grossly misused the Supply rule. They had not given the additional three days which it had been customary to give. By itself that was not a matter of great importance, but it was important when they bore in mind that the Government had by that means entirely avoided adequate criticism either upon their Irish administration or upon their education administration. The Chief Secretary for Ireland was in his place, and he was sure that there was nobody who would welcome criticism more than the right hon. Gentleman, and there was no one who would find more joy in his answers than hon. Gentlemen in all quarters. But the right hon. Gentleman had had no chance of replying to them nor they of criticising him as to the state of Ireland. Could it be said that the state of Ireland was such as to cause no anxiety, or that the general administration of the country was a source of universal satisfaction to all Irishmen and also to all who were interested in the fate of Ireland? The Chief Secretary would be the first to admit that profound anxiety existed with regard to the internal condition of largo parts of the country, and that nothing could be worse either for the duties of the House or for himself, or for his critics, than that the Chief Secretary's Vote should be put down in the dinner hour upon one night in the whole session. At a time when much anxiety was being caused in Ireland, the light hon. Gentleman was not permitted to give his critics a chance of surveying his administration as a whole and bringing against it charges which in their opinion the Chief Secretary for the time being ought to meet. The Education Vote no doubt had a night devoted to its discussion, but the President of the Board of Education would forgive him if he said that his administration was of a kind which required more than one night adequately to deal with it; and his general proceedings had been so aggressive that he should have been especially careful to see that his critics had a full opportunity of explaining their case, and he an adequate opportunity of defending himself. He would remind the House that the right hon. Gentleman had without a shadow of excuse asked Parliament in the Appropriation Bill to violate the law in the interests of one section of public educational opinion; and the money which he was asking the House illegally to vote was to be expended upon one class of schools, and one class only. Even if that incident in the right hon. Gentleman's official career stood alone, he should have requested the Prime Minister to devote more time than had been given to the Education Estimates. It was true that they had had one night since the Government policy was declared, but that night was interrupted by private business. And let it be remembered that the incident of the illegal vote of £100,000 was by no means the only and worst administrative action for which the right hon. Gentleman had made himself responsible. They knew that he had administratively used his Department to bribe or to threaten secondary schools to modify their governing bodies and to alter their system of religious teaching in the interests of one particular section of public opinion and against the wishes of the parents using the schools. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] They knew that he had compelled the parents of Roman Catholic children in one of the parishes in Yorkshire, who desired to have a school of their own, and who were building a school of their own, to send their children against their will into the board school.
Which parish is that?
It was not I who closed that school; it was the hon. Baronet opposite who preceded me.
That is so. But the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly well aware that the parents have since at their own charge provided and maintained a school which he declines to sanction, contrary to the principles of the Act of 1902.
said he did not know that the right hon. Gentleman had gained much by the interruption, but doubtless the matter would be further debated. The right hon. Gentleman was alleged not to have held the balance equally with regard to some of the schools in Wales, and undoubtedly he had not done all he could to help those unfortunate teachers whom the county council of Merionethshire desired to deprive of their well-earned holiday. A Minister who did these things ought to provide ample opportunity for their discussion. It was not right that, with time under the Supply rule at the disposal of the Government, a Minister should escape either making an explanation of his general policy or the duty of defending himself for particular acts of what they considered maladministration. The evils which the right hon. Gentleman had done, and was doing, by his use of his executive powers did not stop with his own Department. Let them remember that every measure of the present Government, and possibly of their predecessors, tended to throw more and more upon the central departments of the Government, on whose fairness, irrespective of Party, it had been the practice of the House to rely. The Minister of Education had done more than any Minister he knew of to shake confidence in that fairness of public administration; and in so shaking confidence in public administration he had done a far greater evil than merely injuring the interests and hurting the susceptibilities of a particular section of the community who hold certain views on the education question. The general result was that, as everybody must admit, interest in their proceedings was diminishing among the public outside, and, what was far more important, it was diminishing within those walls. What happened now was that the Prime Minister in a perfunctory speech—he did not blame the right hon. Gentleman; the same speech had been made four or five times in the course of the session—introduced a closure by compartment Resolution, and when that melancholy performance was carried out to his satisfaction the House at once ceased to be in any sense a debating assembly. The same results were to be observed whichever Party was in Opposition, and they were therefore justified in saying that these results were due to a system and not to individuals. The debates lost all zest, all interest, all keenness, all novelty, all reality. The House might struggle to believe it was of importance, but it knew, and every Member of it knew, that it was of no importance. It fulfilled no other functions than the functions of those sham assemblies which at various periods of the First and Second Empires in France were supposed to carry on the traditions of free Parliamentary institutions. They all knew that these proposals were unwillingly brought forward by the Government who made themselves absolute tyrants of the situation. Individually they were lovers of liberty, but collectively, by the action they had taken in that House, they had become, against their will, its arbiter and its master. They could not escape the fate which attached to all other tyrants, whether willing or unwilling, and that was seen in the actions and speeches of Ministers themselves. They insensibly fell into the errors which dodged the steps of absolutism. They would not pretend themselves that they took much trouble over the drafting of their Bills. Their Bills were not thought out.
said he seemed to have hurt the feelings of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, but the Government had just sent up a measure to that unfortunate Scottish Committee which had so heavy a burden to carry, and he was told there were twenty-one pages of Government Amendments to that Bill. If that had been done on the Opposition side of the House the Prime Minister in courteous terms would have accused them of obstruction, but the Government seemed anxious to obstruct their own Bill, because they had put down a whole volume of Amendments to it including a single clause of 100 lines. Therefore the Attorney-General would feel that there was some slight justification for the comment he had made on the drafting of Government Bills. This was the kind of thing which must happen when every Minister knew that whatever the defects of his measure it would be huddled up in the end unless its defects were exposed in another place. This system had its effect, not only on the Bills of the Government, but on their speeches. They had got into the habit of using a regular formula whenever a criticism was made on their Bills. That formula was—
That could only pass for argument when there was the closure and the guillotine behind it. Gentlemen who would be the last to imagine that they were not ready to come into the open and meet their adversaries face to face got into the habit of sheltering themselves behind thisformula. Why did the Government, who, he was sure, hated all this, do it? Largely because they did not bring their Bills in early enough in the session. They asked the House to do more than the machine could do. They said they were going to consider the whole subject in the course of the winter months. It was, however, no use considering this subject unless they would see where the root of the evil lay. All would desire to see the Bills they desired to pass, passed rapidly. It must not, however, be forgotten that there must be limitations to the output of legislation in an Assembly of 650 gentlemen dealing with subjects of most acute controversy and possessing equal rights of speech, and in most cases equal capacities for speech. They could have a good solid output of legislation each year, but they could not do that by bringing in every year numerous and gigantic measures and expecting them to pass. The Government seemed to have got into a hopeless habit of miscalculation. Everybody would admit that the position of public business at this moment was not satisfactory; but what would it have been but for the abandonment of the Devolution Bill? The Chief Secretary might mourn the premature decease of that Bill, but the Government, as a Government responsible for business, must, though he was sure they believed in the measure, nevertheless have been delighted. He strongly suspected that the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury went over in disguise to the Irish National Convention and used his well-known powers of diplomatic persuasion to induce that important body to relieve himself and his colleagues of the intolerable strain which the legislative activities of the Secretary for Ireland were about to put upon them. The rules of the House certainly required remodelling. The problem the Government had to face was one of extreme difficulty. The difficulties were not wholly the creation of the present Government; they were difficulties incident to the gradual development of our public and political life. He wished he could see in the policy pursued by the Government, either last session or this session, any recognition of the root evils with which they had to deal before the affairs of the House could again be brought into a satisfactory condition."His Majesty's Government have carefully considered the point raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite, and on the whole they must adhere to their original opinion."
said the right hon. Gentleman had brought a sweeping and drastic indictment against the manner in which the Government had conducted the business of the session, but had done it with a degree of good nature and good humour which had taken away much of its sting, but none of its force. He trusted he might be able to show that the right hon. Gentleman had greatly exaggerated the evils which he had discovered, and that, after all, the session promised to be a legislative success, and to have done nothing but credit to the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman first attacked the general system of the reference of Bills to Standing Committees, which was the staple of the new rules of procedure. The view taken on the Ministerial side of the House was that it was necessary and desirable that they should legislate with energy and rapidity. During the last ten or twenty years legislation had fallen into arrears. There were many questions that were ripe for being dealt with, and their difficulty was to know in what order they should take them up. But there were numbers of Members—he did not know that the Leader of the Opposition was conspicuously one of them—who held an entirely different view, and who were fond of telling audiences that there was far too much legislation, and that it would be much better for the country if the House of Commons devoted itself more to academic discussion. They thought that such legislation as was promoted should be of a harmless, and more or less inoperative, character. There was a fundamental difference between the two orders of men in that House, and the energetic section, who demanded that there should be activity in legislation, were so superior in numbers in this Parliament that it was obvious there must be greater attempts made to deal with legislative problems than they had been accustomed to in the past. At the same time, there was the fact to which the right hon. Gentleman had made allusion, that the individual Member was much more active now than he was in the old days. The private Member was much more able to take an intelligent and useful part in their deliberations. He was accustomed to speak more in the country before he came into the House, and when he came there he was able to speak with facility and good effect. The Government had endeavoured in these two sessions to do their best to fulfil what they believed to be the mission entrusted to them by the electors. For that purpose they had instituted a new and experimental system of relegating a much larger share of the work to the Committees sitting upstairs. In the application of this new system it was probable that some blemishes and defects would be found, and he trusted that the Government would not be blind to any faults that might be disclosed, but be quite ready to remedy them. But it was absurd to suppose it would do much good to send these Bills to a Committee upstairs if the whole House was to be present in spirit and if the Committee was not to be trusted to do the work referred to it. This excessive desire that every Member of the House should be able to follow in detail the operations in Committee was an exaggeration founded upon a misconception of the true functions of a Committee. Having referred the question to a Commit- it was not for the House to interfere. They expected the Standing Committees to do their work loyally, with the view to a full discussion and consideration, but also with a view to the ultimate passing of the measures referred. He did not think that that had in all cases been done. Let them take, for instance, the Scottish Small Landholders Bill. There were, he thought, an unusual number of Members on that Committee who had acquired in a great degree the habit of meticulous examination of matters brought before them, and who were exceedingly fluent speakers with extremely ingenious minds, and the result of their applying themselves—no doubt conscientiously from their point of view—was that an amount of time was spent which was altogether out of proportion. Admitting as he did that the Bill was a strong Bill, proposing great alterations in the law which might well give rise to strong feelings, yet the time spent was altogether out of proportion, and if the Bill had not been dealt with somewhat stringently under the new powers given to the Chairman that Committee would have been sitting still. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Government ought not to have referred the great controversial Bills of the session to the Committees upstairs. Had they done so? The great controversial Bill of the session was the Army Bill. Then the Budget Bill, the English Land Bill, the Evicted Tenants Bill had all been kept in the House. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Government had put such a great strain upon Members of the House. Members of the House had not complained much about it. He did not think it had been a great strain, but Members had behaved with great public spirit. The right hon. Gentlemen had also referred to the use of the guillotine. It sounded almost hypocritical and pharisaical, but the Government also detested the whole system of the guillotine as at present applied, and the House would have the same feeling towards the guillotine if the allocation of time were imposed by some impartical authority. It was undoubtedly a system that was open to objection. He did not agree with the right hon. Gentleman, who preferred to begin the discussion of a Bill in Committee and resort to the guillotine towards the end. It was more effective calmly to review the situation before they began, and, after consultation with different parts of the House as to the amount of time that ought to be allotted, lay down the particular allocation of time that appeared to be fair and just. It seemed to him that when the House was accustomed to this allocation of time, and regarded it without disfavour, it should not prevent the proper discussion of important matters. He constantly saw instances where time that was allotted was wasted in trivial discussions and more important questions were shut out. There was a flagrant instance this session in the ease of the Scottish Small Landholders Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had referred to Clause 3 as perhaps the most important clause in the Bill, and it was included in the section which was to be disposed of on the first day. The right hon. Gentleman said he anticipated that they would not be able to reach it, and he deplored that as a great misfortune. What happened? The new clauses were mostly ruled out of order, they disappeared, and they immediately got on to Clause 1. The Opposition went on discussing comparatively unimportant Amendments to Clause 1, maintaining the discussion with obvious difficulty, until the time came when the axe fell, and Clause 3 was not reached at all. That was an instance, a rather flagrant instance, he thought, of the manner in which opportunities could be used. He repeated what he had said on other occasions in answer to questions, that the Government would consider whether some means could not be adopted for shifting from the Government to some impartial authority the adjustment of these matters, and when that was accomplished he did not believe any substantial injury would be done to the interests of the House. Passing from the Government's sins in that respect, the right hon. Gentleman had complained of the somewhat mechanical mode of dealing with public questions in that House, of the neutralising and sterilising effect upon their debates of this somewhat mechanical mode of dealing with public questions. He did not think there was any matter with regard to which that observation was more true—and he admitted there was some truth in it—than the administration of the Government as exhibited in the Estimates of the year. It was the right hon. Gentleman who introduced this method of devoting so many days definitely to the Estimates. It was a system which had many advantages; it saved the House a great deal of the uncertainty and discomfort that prevailed under the old system; but obviously, when a Minister had his Vote brought on on a certain Thursday, he had only to make the best answers he could and get the debate prolonged until the end of the sitting, and then he was free for twelve months from any animadversion on the part of anybody. That was a bad effect. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman was not altogether free from responsibility for the neutralising effect of the guillotine upon criticism, for he himself had applied this sort of soothing syrup to the whole of the Votes of Supply. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out that the Government had not given the three additional days sometimes allowed to Supply. The Government had not those days to spare. He quite admitted, and he repeated the admission, that they had been too sanguine, whether the fault was theirs or not, and they had found themselves in June and July with more before them than they could well accomplish. They could not spare the days unless they were to go into October, as the right hon. Gentleman had prophesied they would. They could not in the circumstances give days for this, days for that, and days for the other. What were the particular cases of which the right hon. Gentleman complained? He said that their policy with regard to Ireland had not been properly discussed. Three days had been given to the Irish Estimates, one of them to the Chief Secretary's salary, which occasioned, of course, a general review of the policy of administration, the Vote being brought on at the dinner hour. That was in accordance with the wishes of Irish Members opposite, and it was rather a novelty that they should take into consideration Irish Members who supported the Leader of the Opposition, because he believed he was right in saying that in former years when the right hon. Gentleman had charge of the business, they were not consulted in these matters. The present Government had consulted them, and had given them a day, and it happened to be the second half they got. He did not think there was really serious ground of complaint in that. He did not know whether he was called upon to make any answer to the attack made by the right hon. Gentleman on the President of the Board of Education's whole policy, but whether he had done wrong or whether he had done right, his right hon. friend was able to take are of himself without his assistance. In addition to the one day given to the Education Vote, there had been besides, three other discussions of a less formal kind.
What about the Local Government Board?
The Local Government Board Vote had been unfortunately sheared and left out. They could not put a quart of Votes into a pint of time, and that was one of the evils under this mechanical system.
You had the three days.
said that the Government had not the three days to spare, and if they had given them there would have been other claims. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Government had asked for more than the machine could do. It was because the machine could not do what they asked of it that they had introduced this experimental system of sending Bills to Committees. He was still sanguine and fully persuaded that, if it was worked steadily and reasonably and any little blemishes and asperities removed which practice showed to exist, that system would be agreat improvement upon the proceedings of the House of Commons, and that they would be able to do much more under it than they had done in the recent past. The right hon. Gentleman had taken a despondent and gloomy view of this Parliament. He had said that nobody cared what they did, and they did not much care themselves. He was afraid the right hon. Gentleman's eyes were elsewhere. It was the other branch of the Legislature, who had every possibility and means that the House of Commons had not of despatching their business with celerity and effectiveness—it was they who were to engross the attention and the gratitude of the country. He did not so read either the tendency of men's minds or the necessities of the time. He believed the House of Commons, with the good sense that had always prevailed in it, and with the good feeling and good spirit which the right hon. Gentleman had himself displayed that day in his criticisms, was quite equal to the task it had undertaken, and that not only in this session, but in any future session—which, he was ready to admit, might be better managed—they would have results which would redound the credit of the House and to the benefit of the country.
said the Leader of the Opposition had had the courage to ask for a return of the occasions since 1887 on which Closure by compartments had been carried. He had got a copy of that return and he was sure the right hon. Gentleman had not seen it, or he could not have made the speech which he had just delivered. The first entry was
The second entry was—"1887. Criminal Law Amendment (Ireland) Bill; four days were occupied on the Report stage, which was concluded on the same day the order as to Closure was made."
That was a Bill for the establishment of a special Commission to investigate the genuineness of that forged letter by the assistance of which the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition was enabled to pass the Second Reading of a Coercion Bill for Ireland. That Bill occupied two days on the Report stage, but there was no order as to Closure."1888. Members of Parliament (Charges and Allegations) Bill."
Will the hon Member read the number of days on the Committee stage before the Closure, and the number of days in Committee of the Whole House?
said the Criminal Law Amendment (Ireland) Bill was sixteen days on the Committee stage before the Closure and twenty days altogether in Committee, whilst the Members of Parliament (Charges and Allegations) Bill was three days in Committee before the Closure and four days altogether in Committee. That was a Bill which affected the whole Parliamentary position, the character of Mr. Parnell, and the whole foundation of the movement of his colleagues and himself, and after three days the right hon. Gentleman established the guillotine. Therefore the Leader of the Opposition had as much responsibility for the guillotine as any member of the House. He was amazed at the right hon. Gentleman's description of the want of public attention which the House now attracted. He was a Parliamentarian, and would regard the failure of the House of Commons to excite the attention of the country as a