House Of Commons
Tuesday, 20th August, 1907.
The House met at a quarter before Three o'clock.
Questions And Answers Circulated With The Votes
Retirement Of Temporary Civil Service Clerks
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that a small body of men designated temporary clerks, who have been employed in certain departments of His Majesty's Civil Service for a period of fifteen or twenty years, have been given notice to retire; and whether, in view of the fact that these men will not receive pensions, and that their salaries have not been subject to any increment, he will state the amount of bonus which will be awarded to them for their long services. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I have no knowledge of any such notice having been given. Such notice would not require the concurrence, and would not education authority in the year ending the 31st day of July, 1906, in which the average attendance did not exceed sixty:— in the ordinary course be within the knowledge, of the Treasury. As regards the award, if any, to be made to such persons on retirement I am unable to make any statement in the absence of full particulars of the cases referred to.
Punishments In The Royal Navy
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, with reference to Cd. 3628, the Punishments in the Royal Navy during 1906, what were the offences and sentences in each case of the twelve men sentenced to penal servitude, the places of offence and trial, and the ship each man belonged to, and the offences and sentences of each individual in the seven cases who suffered corporal punishment with birch, the date on which each birching took place, where it occurred, and the name of each individual's ship. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) The particulars asked for are shown in the accompanying tables:—
|I. Sentences of Penal Servitude.|
|Rating.||His Majesty's Ship.||Place at which offence was committed.||Place at which court martial was held.||Date of court martial.||Charges proved or to which prisoner pleaded guilty.||Length of sentence.||Remarks.|
|Able seaman||Cambrian||Port Said||Sydney, New South Wales||1906 8th Jan.||1. Attempting to use violence against his superior officer being in the execution of his office.|
2.Striking his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
|Ordinary seaman||Majestic||On shore at Gibraltar||Portland||31st Jan.||Sodomy.||5 years|
|Stoker||Majestic||On shore at Gilbraltar||Portland||31st Jan.||Sodomy.||5 years|
|Able seaman||Flora||At sea||Hong Kong||5th Feb.||1. Act to prejudice of good order and naval discipline in leaving the quarter deck without permission whilst undergoing 10a punishment.|
2. Wilful disobedience of lawful command.
3. Striking his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
4. Act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline in breaking out of irons.
5. Using violence against his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
|3 years||Tried, together, with S. T. Mills, able seaman, and A. Ralph, ordinary seaman (see below).|
|Able seaman||Flora||At sea||Hong Kong||5th Feb||1. Act to prejudice of good order and naval discipline in leaving the quarter deck without permission whilst undergoing 10a punishment.|
2. Wilful disobedience of lawful command.
3. Attempting to strike his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
4. Act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline in breaking out of irons.
5. Using violence against his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
|3 years||These two, with F. C.|
|Ordinary seaman||Flora||At sea||Hong Kong||5th Feb.||1. Act to prejudice of good order and naval discipline in leaving the quarter deck without permission whilst undergoing 10a punishment.|
2. Wilful disobedience of lawful command.
3. Using violence against his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
4. Act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline in attempting to use violence against a sentry.
5. Act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline in breaking out of irons.
6. Using violence against his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
|3 years||Jacobs, able seaman, were tried together (see above).|
|Ordinary seaman||London||Malta||Malta||21st Feb||1. Absence without leave.|
2. Striking his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
|3 years||To be brought up in 2 years.|
|Stoker||Bedford||Chatham||Gibraltar||7th March||1. Absence without leave.|
2. Striking his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
|Storker||Antrim||At sea||Arose Bay, Villagarcia||8th March||1. Behaving with contempt to his superior officer.|
2. Striking his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
3. Act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline in violently resisting an escort.
4. Attempting to strike his superior officer being in the execution of his office.
|Stoker||Antrim||At sea||Arose Bay, Villagareia||8th March||1. Striking his superior officer being in the execution of his office.|
2. Act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline in striking a private R.M.L.I.
3. Act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline in violently resisting an escort.
|Stoker, 1st Class||Victory||Portsmouth||Portsmouth||23rd Nov.||Two, of inciting stokers to join in a mutinous assembly.||5 years, reduced to 3 years||To be brought up in 12 months.|
|2nd yeoman of signals||Amphitrite||Chatham||Chatham||20th Dec.||1. Theft of a boat's signal book.|
2. mproperly leaving his ship.
|5 years, reduced to 3 years|
II. Cases of Corporal Punishment with Birch.
(Prior to Admiralty Order for its suspension, or to promulgation of the same.)
|Rating.||Date.||Place at which punishment was inflicted.||Offences.||Sentence. Cuts with birch.|
|Boy, 1st Class, H.M.S. "Victory"||1906 3rd Jan.||R.N. Barracks, Portsmouth||Desertion from H.M.S. "Glory"||24|
|Boy domestic, H.M.S. "Pembroke"||5th Jan.||R.N. Barracks, Chatham||1. Misappropriation of money entrusted to him|
2. Obtaining money under false pretences
|Boy domestic, H.M.S "Vivid"||8th Jan.||R.N. Barracks, Devonport||Stealing officers' clothing||18|
|Boy domestic, H.M.S. "Pembroke"||13th Jan.||R.N. Barracks, Chatham||Desertion from H.M.S. "Pembroke"||24|
|Boy, 1st Class, H M.S. "Ganges."||15th Jan.||H.M.S. "Ganges," Harwich||1. Absence over leave 59 hours|
2. Disposing of part of his uniform
|20 (also 60 days leave stopped, and 60 days pocket money and 12 days vacation leave stopped, and pay all expenses).|
|Boy, 1st Class, H.M.S. "Ganges"||15th Jan.||H.M.S. "Ganges," Harwich||1. Absence over leave 59 hours|
2. Disposing of part of his uniform
|20 (also 60 days leave stopped, and 60 days pocket money and 12 days vacation leave stopped, and pay all expenses).|
|Signal boy, H.M.S. "Victory"||3rd Feb.||R.N. Barracks, Portsmouth||Breaking out of ship and desertion from H.M.S. "Victory"||24|
Post Office Women Clerks—Miss Howse
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that Miss Howse, the president of the Association of Post Office Women Clerks, was recently superseded by three of her juniors, notwithstanding the fact that she has been in the Post Office service thirteen and a half years, and during nine or ten years has been employed on special duties, he will state what official reason was put forward by the lady superintendent for thus superseding this young lady.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether it was with his sanction that the lady superintendent of the Post Office Savings Bank recently conveyed to Miss Howse the information that, although her work was excellent, she was passed over for promotion because she was insolent and insubordinate; whether the only insolence and insubordination that this young lady was guilty of consisted in being president of the Association of Post Office Women Clerks, and in taking an active part in furthering the interests of that association; and seeing that this lady superintendent has acted in a similar manner towards her subordinates in several other instances, will he say what steps he intends to take in the matter. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) Miss Howse has herself properly approached me on the subject of the recent promotions at the Savings Bank, and I am inquiring into her case and her allegations. Pending my decision it is highly improper that a Member of Parliament should have been approached in the matter. If I thought that the officer in question had herself instigated or been cognisant of the Question I should be unfavourably impressed with her judgment or her fitness for promotion.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether it is with his permission that the lady superintendent of the Savings Bank Department frequently exceeds her official duties by having covert threats of dismissal, and without preferring any charge, conveyed to her subordinates who may be suspected of matters which are personally disapproved of by her; if not, will he give instructions that methods of this description must be stopped, and that all charges made must be in writing with full opportunity of defence to the suspected person; and will he state the age, length of service, and date of retirement of this lady superintendent.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that he has accorded full liberty to Post Office servants to combine in their own interests, he will explain whether it was with his permission that the lady superintendent of the Post Office Savings Bank conveyed to her subordinates the information that she disapproved of the Association of Post Office Women Clerks, that she disapproved of their holding meetings, that she disapproved of their giving evidence before the Select Committee on Post Office Servants, and that she would not allow them to hold meetings in the Savings Bank premises; whether he is aware that she sent her own particular friends to take private notes of the proceedings when meetings have been held by these women clerks outside the Post Office buildings, and that she afterwards sent for the speakers at such meetings and cautioned them; and whether he proposes to take any steps in the matter. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) It is well known in the service that officers who may consider themselves aggrieved by the action of their superior officers can lay their alleged grievances before me. I much regret, therefore, that any officer in the service should have preferred publicly to promulgate anonymous and unsubstantiated statements such as those contained in the Questions.
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that the painting work in connection with the construction of H.M.S "Agamemnon," now being built by Messrs. Beardmore, of Dalmuir, is almost entirely being done with a machine and by unskilled labour; and whether this is in accordance with the terms of contract signed by the firm. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) Nearly the whole of the painting work on the "Agamemnon' has been and is being carried out by skilled manual labour and only a very small proportion by machine. The skill of the labour employed upon the machine is judged by the results, which have been satisfactory. The use of the machine is not forbidden by the conditions of the contract, but no work performed in an unskilful way will be accepted.
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty when it is proposed to report to this House the result of the mechanician experiment, and its total cost to date, so that Members may have an opportunity of discussing it. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) An opportunity of discussing this question will arise on Vote A and Vote 1 of next year's Navy Estimates. I am advised that it is impossible to give an estimate of the total cost.
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if his attention has been called to the fact that the inculcation of the idea that chief stokers and engine-room artificers are their greatest enemies is made part of the educational training of mechanicians for His Majesty's Navy, and upon what grounds this is based; and whether, in the interest of good order and discipline, he will take steps for its discontinuance. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) There is no foundation whatever for this allegation.
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if engine-room artificers have loyally carried out the duties imposed upon them in the training of mechanician candidates; and will he state the terms of the last report giving the results of their labours. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) The answer to the first Question is in the affirmative. The Report stated that with one exception all the mechanicians passed satisfactorily.
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what are the terms of advancement from stoker in His Majesty's Navy to chief stoker and mechanician, respectively; are candidates for S. P. O. and C. S. ratings selected only from those who express their willingness to continue with the course of training for mechanician if required. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) The regulations on this subject are numerous and detailed, and I have caused a copy to be sent to the hon. Member. The Answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.
Stokers In The Navy
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty how many men have joined His Majesty's Navy as stokers since 1st October, 1906; what was stated by them as their former occupations; have the age and height for entry been reduced since that date; what number of seamen and marines have changed their rating to that of stoker since that date; and what is the-number of stokers now short of the complement required irrespective of Royal Naval Reserve men. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) The Answer to the first part of the Question is 2,805. It will be obvious from this that the second Question does not admit of a Parliamentary Answer. As to the third Question the Answer is in the negative. The figures asked for in the fourth Question are, approximately, seamen, 409; marines, 82. The Answer to the fifth Question is 500.
Pensioners And Home Service Billets
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty to what extent it is proposed to substitute pensioners for active-service ratings in Home service billets, enumerating for what special duties they will be utilised and from what Vote their wages will be paid; and will their pension allowance be stopped whilst they are in receipt of full pay for employment in their former rating. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) The extent to which the substitution of pensioners for active service ratings will be carried out depends upon the requirements of the service. Pensioners entered as civilians are employed on duties for which they are considered more suitable than active-service ratings, such as caretakers, attendants, etc., and to a limited extent on instructional duties. The charge will fall mainly on Vote 11 (Miscellaneous Effective Services). The Answer to the last Question is in the negative.
Stamford Embezzlement Case
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the case of a man named Herbert Stanton, who, after upwards of thirteen years service was arrested on his honeymoon and charged before the Stamford borough magistrates with embezzling the sum of £14 19s. from his employers, and, after, being remanded three times without bail, has now been committed for trial at the Stamford quarter sessions, which will not be held till the end of October next, bail still being refused; and whether he will consider the desirableness of a representation to the magistrates upon the subject, or take such other steps as may be necessary to prevent a prisoner charged under such circumstances remaining in custody for a period of upwards of three months pending trial. (Answered by Mr Secretary Gladstone). I have made inquiry into this case. The question of allowing bail when a felony is charged is one for the discretion of the committing magistrates. I am informed that the charges against the defendant are more serious than is indicated in the Question, as they include two charges of embezzlement, two of falsification of accounts, and two of converting his employer's money to his own use; and that the sessions at which they are to be tried are fixed for 1st October, not for the end of that month. In any case I have no authority to interfere; if any injustice has been done, the remedy is an application to a Judge of the High Court to grant bail.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Mr. Dallen, Mr. Hains, Mr. Athoney, Mr. King Lewis, and most of the other inspectors of the Egyptian Ministeries of Finance and the Interior were teachers brought from England and transferred to their present positions, although not possessed of engineering certificates. (Answered by Secretary Sir Edward Grey). I have no information on the subject, but I am not aware that the efficiency of these Gentlemen has been called in question.
Egyptian Ministry Of Public Works
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether Messrs. Yorke, Darke, Prampolini, and others, are, or are about to be, appointed to high posts in the Egyptian Ministry of Public Works, though not possessed of polytechnic school certificates or diplomas; whether many other European officials of the same Ministry have been so appointed though lacking such certificates; and whether they have been promoted over Natives who possess such certificates. (Answered by Secretary Sir Edward Grey.) I have no information as to the points raised by the hon. Member, and I would observe that questions of this kind lie solely within the discretion of the Egyptian Government, who must be trusted to make the best appointments in their power.
Political Unrest In Egypt
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many of the Egyptian Ministers and how many of their British Advisers are now on duty at Cairo; and whether, in view of the alleged political unrest in Egypt, he can state when the Ministers now absent and the Agent-General will return to their posts. (Answered by Secretary Sir Edward Grey.) I am not consulted as to the vacation of the Egyptian Ministers, nor do I propose to interfere in the matter. There is no reason, so far as I am aware, for interference with the annual leave of the British Advisers, and certainly none for the curtailment of that of the British Agent.
Assam Labour Commission
To ask the Secretary of State for India whether the Government of India has yet taken action upon the Report of the Assam Labour Commission; and whether any Papers on the subject can be laid in the Library. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) I understand that the Report is still under the consideration of the Government of India. A copy was placed in the Library of the House in February last.
Plague In India
To ask the Secretary of State for India whether he will consider the advisability of giving, in Official Publications and Answers, together with the actual figures relating to plague mortality, the figures per mille of the population of India, in order that comparision may not be made with a population approximating to that of the United Kingdom. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) I will bear in mind the hon. Member's suggestion in cases in which the additional information would be pertinent and correct, and might prevent misleading comparisons. When, as frequently happens, plague is practically confined to a province, a per mille ratio to the population of India would itself be misleading.
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the Great Central Railway Company, the owners of the docks at Grimsby, have given instructions that the railway company's own boats plying between Grimsby and various Continental ports are to have priority in berthing and loading facilities over vessels belonging to, or chartered by, English traders for conveying traffic from the port of Grimsby to the port of London; whether such preference of the railway company's own traffic has been shown as against coal intended to pass from Grimsby to His Majesty's dockyard at Woolwich; and whether, in the public interest, he is prepared to put a stop to the preferential treatment complained of. (Answered by Mr. Kearley.) The Board of Trade have been in communication with the railway company on the subject of my hon. friend's Question, and are informed that no instructions to the effect indicated have been given. The company state that in accordance with the course of business which has been uniformly followed at Grimsby, both before and since they acquired their dock property, casual steamers using the docks give place to vessels plying regularly to and from the port, but this description applies to the boats of several owners besides those of the company, and all are treated alike.
Promotions To Head Postmasterships
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that it was represented to the Parliamentary Committee on post-office servants, by means of a printed chart as well as by departmental witnesses, that head postmasters have the right to look for promotion to the large postmasterships with salaries up to £775, including the postmasterships of Sheffield and Hull, he will explain why the vacant postmasterships at Sheffield and Hull have just been filled by the appointment of officers from the Secretary's Office, London, and the Surveying Department, respectively.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that the officer appointed postmaster of Sheffield has been considered unfit for promotion in his own Department, and has been passed over on several occasions by the promotion of junior officers of his own class, and that the officer appointed postmaster of Hull was second in the list of assistant surveyors, first-class, and therefore likely to have been promoted within a short time, if deserving, to a surveyorship carrying a salary of £600 by £25 to £900, he will say whether there are any head postmasters amongst the 877 members of that class who are in every respect well qualified for, and entitled to, promotion to such offices as those at Sheffield and Hull.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that dissatisfaction prevails throughout the ranks of the head postmasters in consequence of the manner in which their claims have been dealt with in the matter of promotions and of the fact that a much larger proportion of postmasterships carrying salaries of £400 and upwards have been filled by the promotion of officers other than postmasters since the present Postmaster- General has been in office than was formerly the case; whether it is proposed to compensate head postmasters for the decrease in their prospects of promotion caused by these appointments of officers from other branches by promoting head postmasters to better positions in the Surveying Department, the Secretary's Office, and other departments of the postal service; and what steps the Postmaster-General will take to allay the feeling existing amongst those public servants. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I will answer these three Questions together. It is not, and never has been, the case that promotion to the larger postmasterships is exclusively reserved for postmasters, nor was it so stated to the Select Committee. Postmasterships are staff appointments for which all officers of the post office are equally eligible and can make application, and postmasters have no exclusive claim to all or any particular proportion of them. There has been no change in practice in regard to the matter since I have been Postmaster-General. As regards the officers recently appointed postmasters of Sheffield and Hull they were, in my judgment, taking everything into account, the best qualified of the candidates who presented themselves. I need hardly say that before arriving at this conclusion I examined carefully the qualifications of all the postmasters who made application for these posts. The hon. Member may not be aware that the postmastership of Cardiff, which is of equal value with that of Sheffield, was filled at the same time by the promotion of a postmaster.
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury, in view of the fact that the new class of assistant clerks is the only considerable body of permanent Government officials on the major establishment to which the privilege of twenty-one days annual leave after five years service is not extended, whether he is aware that this concession is granted to some officials junior in rank to assistant clerks; and whether, consequently, he can see his way to allow assistant clerks to count the time served by them as temporary boy clerks or copyists to reckon towards the com pletion of the period of ten years established service which it is at present necessary for these clerks to serve before they become entitled to eighteen days annual leave. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I do not feel able to add anything to the reply which I gave to a somewhat similar Question put by the hon. Member for the Ludlow Division of Salop on the 9th ultimo.
Powers Of School Boards
To ask the President of the Board of Education whether, in view of Section 20 (5) of the Elementary Education Act, 1870, under which the Board of Education may authorise a school board to put in force the powers of the Land Clauses Acts, either absolutely or with such conditions and modifications as they may think fit, the Board is prepared on the request of a local education authority to insert in Provisional Orders Confirmation Bills provisions modifying the Land Clauses Acts with regard to such matters as payment of compensation in the case of insanitary property, exemption from Section 133 of the Land Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, and the power to take part only of properties. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) The Board of Education are prepared, on the request of a local education authority, to insert in Provisional Order Confirmation Bills, where the circumstances in the opinion of the Board justify such a course, those clauses which, having been frequently inserted in local Acts, are regarded in the practice of Parliament as model clauses.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the evidence given by Mr. J. G. Legge, late chief inspector of industrial schools, before the Departmental Committee on Vagrancy (Minutes of Evidence, page 160, Questions and Answers 4621, 4623, 4624, and 4628), and in view of the Report of that Committee, he will, in his legislation for next session affecting children, take steps to secure that when the parent or guardian of a child is dealt with as an habitual vagrant, there shall be a power to the Court to order the child to be sent to an industrial school. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Gladstone.) I am aware of the evidence and recommendations to which my hon. friend refers, and I can assure him that they shall receive my careful and sympathetic consideration when the Bill is being drafted.
Mile End Local Government Inquiry
To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that at the inquiry recently held at Mile End by one of the inspectors of the Local Government Board objection was taken to the legality of certain surcharges that formed the subject of the inquiry, on the ground that the audit had not been properly adjourned, and that such adjournment had not been proved, as required by Section 7 of the Poor Law Audit Act, 1848; and whether, seeing that the ultimate enforcement of these surcharges involves the liberty of the subject, he will undertake that during the recess the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown shall be taken as to the validity of the proceedings of the auditor, and in the event of that opinion being against the validity of the auditor's action he will take immediate steps to declare these surcharges void. (Answered by Mr. John Burns.) I understand that at the inquiry a question has been raised as to the legality of the surcharges on the ground that the audit at which they were made had not been properly adjourned. At present the inquiry is not completed, and the inspector's Report has not been made. Until I receive it, I cannot say what course it will be right for me to take with reference to the point raised.
Lord Cloncurry's Evicted Tenants
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether any steps have been taken for the reinstatement of evicted tenants on the Kildare estate of Lord Cloncurry; and whether the claim of James Hanlon, of Newpark, Donadea, to be reinstated in his former holding of the lands of Kilmurry, from which he was evicted in the year 1882, has been considered; and, if so, what is the result. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners inform me that they have received only one application for reinstatement on this estate, namely, the application of James Hanlon, which they have rejected. The Commissioners have ascertained that Hanlon merely held a grazing tenancy of the farm in which he sought reinstatement, and that he is at present the tenant of a farm of seventy acres on the estate.
Kilbride Labourer's Cottage
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Naas (No. 2) Rural District Council made recently an improvement scheme under the Labourers' Acts, and under the same proposed to erect a cottage for a labourer named John Richardson, in the townland of Kilbride, the site being on a holding in the occupation of Mr. Fletcher Moore, who objected that the site was on demesne land, such objection being up held by Mr. John F. M'Cabe, Local Government Inspector; at the local inquiry into the scheme, did Mr. Moore, in his evidence, admit that this particular holding was distinct from his demesne, had been in the occupation of a tenant up to 1902, when the tenant was evicted, and since then has been on his hands; was the inspector correct in disallowing the site under the circumstances; and will the matter be reconsidered. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The tenant's interest in the land on which the site in question is marked was purchased fifteen years ago by Mr. Fletcher Moore, who added it to the demesne surrounding his mansion house. The inspector considers that the plot comes within the exemptions specified in Section 6 of the Labourers' Act of 1883. The decision in such cases is vested by the Act of last year in the inspector, and his decision was arrived at after considering the evidence given at the inquiry and visiting the lands in question.
Castletown School Mistress
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he can ascertain whether Mrs. M'Geehin, late teacher of Castletown national school, Mountrath, received any salary for the two years previous to her enforced retirement from the service of the Commissioners of National Education, though she fully complied with the directions of the Commissioners; and, if not, whether he can suggest to the Commissioners the propriety of now paying the arrears of salary earned by her. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Commissioners of National Education inform me that Mrs. M'Geehin received her salary and other emoluments in full up to the 30th June, 1904, when she ceased to be recognised as teacher of the Castle-town girls' national school. In October 1903, it was found necessary to make an adjustment in respect of an overpayment of salary made to Mrs. M'Geehin prior to 1st July, 1901. This overpayment was due to incorrect returns of pupils' attendances which Mrs. M'Geehin had furnished.
Instruction In Irish
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he can ascertain how many teachers in Circuit 21, Section A, who taught Irish for a fee during the year ended 30th June, 1907, got increments; and what annual reports are necessary in order to secure increments in such cases. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Commissioners of National Education inform me that twenty-three teachers of national schools, other than convent schools, in Circuit 21, Section A, taught Irish for a fee during the year ended 30th June, 1907. One of these teachers has a salary in excess of the maximum of the scale provided for first-grade teachers, sixteen received triennial increments since 1st April, 1905, one case is under consideration for promotion in grade, two are not at present entitled by length of service to any increment, and three have failed to give service of sufficiently satisfactory character to warrant an award. In dealing with the claims of teachers for the triennial awards of increments the Commissioners consider the reports upon the schools which cover the whole, or practically the whole, of the triennial period.
Questions In The House
Presbyterian And Methodist Churches At Berehaven
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is aware that there are about 700 men of the Home Fleet, which regularly visits Berehaven, who are members of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, and that the authorities of both these Churches have for fully two years pressed the Admiralty to grant a site at Berehaven sufficient for the erection of a hall in which to conduct religious services; and whether, seeing that such services are at present conducted in the open often under much discomfort, he can now grant the site asked for and arrange for giving possession without further delay.
The first application was made about eighteen months ago. The Admiralty have been anxious to meet the wishes of the Churches, and the difficulty in selecting a suitable site has now, I hope, been solved, so that an offer to use the land will shortly be made.
At whose expense will the site be provided?
At the expense of the Government.
Will you do the same for the Catholics? [No Answer was returned.]
Home Fleet—Vessels Under Repair
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what number of destroyers which took part in the recent manœuvres of the Home Fleet are now undergoing or awaiting repairs, or have been under repair, since the manœuvres.
Of the Home Fleet destroyers which took part in the recent manœuvres, two are undergoing large repairs due to a collision, nine are in hand for minor repairs, and one will shortly have her boilers re-tubed.
Germany And The Cape Government
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether any information can be given to the House as to the steps taken by the Government of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope in consequence of the negotiations with the German Government as to the Damaraland and Bechuanaland frontiers.
There are no negotiations in progress with the German Government in regard to the Buchuanaland frontier, but certain questions have arisen as to the interpretation of Article 3 of the Anglo-German Convention of July, 1890, in so far as it relates to the Orange River. His Majesty's Government have made certain proposals for settling these questions, which are now under the consideration of the German Government, and in the interval no action is required on the part of the Cape Government.
asked if any military or semi-military steps had been taken as to the removal of certain tribes. There had, he said, been rumours to that effect
I cannot go beyond my Answer.
Mortality Among Panama Canal Labourers
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make inquiry into the rate of mortality among the labourers employed on the Panama Isthmian Canal.
I understand that my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has called for an official report, but has not yet received it. I may mention, however, that very beneficial results have followed from the strict enforcement of sanitary laws and anti-mosquito regulations in the canal zone, and from the application of the new knowledge of tropical diseases to local conditions. In October, 1884, there were twenty-one deaths and eighty-four cases of yellow fever amongst 2,706 non-im munes, in a total of 19,243 men, employed in the construction of the canal. In October, 1905, among 4,000 non-immunes in a total of 22,000 employees, there was no death and only one case. This is an excellent instance of the inestimable value of the kind of research work which is being conducted by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and other institutions of a similar kind.
If the information is not received till after the prorogation will the right hon. Gentleman have it circulated?
I will see if that can be done.
Panama Labour Contracts
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will ascertain what steps the local Governments have taken to assure themselves that the labourers engaged in the British West Indies working on the Panama Isthmian Canal thoroughly understand the terms of their engagement before leaving.
The respective Governments of the British West Indies are very careful to safeguard—as far as it is possible to do so—emigrants from those Colonies, and I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by making the suggested inquiry unless or until the hon. Gentleman is able to furnish me with some definite evidence that neglect has occurred.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what steps the Government have taken to ensure that the coolies understand the terms of their contract.
We assume naturally that the officers responsible have done their duty, but if there are any facts to justify the suggestion that there has been neglect and that injury has resulted therefrom they will, if brought to the notice of the Secretary of State, be inquired into, but we think aprima facie case should first be made out.
was understood to ask if the regulations provided for inquiry being made of the coolies if they really understand the contracts. Would the regulations be laid on the Table?
I beg to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies if he has received a representation from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce on the subject of the new Australian tariff; and, if so, whether he will inform the House of the nature of that representation.
A letter has been received from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, representing that hardship and loss will be inflicted on exporters by the immediate coming into operation of the new Australian Customs Tariff, and asking that a telegram might be sent to the Commonwealth Government requesting them to postpone the operation of the tariff for, say, three months. The effect of this letter has been telegraphed to the Commonwealth Government.
Will the reply when received be laid?
Italian State Railways—Luggage Robberies
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been drawn to the systematic robberies that are continually taking place on Italian State railways, from registered luggage belonging to British subjects whilst in charge of State officials; and whether His Majesty's Government will consider the advisability of making representations to the Italian Ambassador in this country with a view to the stoppage of these thefts, perpetrated by or with the connivance of the State officials.
Complaints of such robbories are constantly brought to the notice of His Majesty's Consuls, and in some cases to that of His Majesty's Embassy, who have fre quently made representations to the proper authorities through diplomatic and consular channels.
Egyptian Public Companies And Foreign Capital
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is yet able to state approximately the amount of native and foreign capital invested in public companies in Egypt, the number of companies trading there without being registered, and the proportion they bear to the number registered.
From information supplied by the Egyptian Ministry of Finance, it would appear that the share and debenture capital of the companies whose business is entirely, or almost entirely, confined to Egypt, is estimated approximately at £90,000,000 sterling, of which the proportion contributed by Egyptian companies is about two-thirds, the remaining one-third representing the capital of foreign companies. These figures afford no indication of the proportion of native and foreign capital invested in these companies, the capital of Egyptian companies being largely held abroad, andvice versa. It is estimated, however, that the larger proportion of the total is in foreign hands. The capital is distributed among some 220 companies, about 45 per cent of which are Egyptian and the remainder foreign companies. There are also a certain number of banking and other foreign companies which have established branches in Egypt, but with respect to which it is not possible to ascertain the amount of capital invested in the country. Foreign companies are not registered in Egypt. I should that the above figures do not include the Suez Canal Company.
Egyptian Government And The Legislative Council
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is yet able to state whether any and what papers have been withheld by the Egyptian Government from the Legislative Council, as asked in Question 4 on 7th May.†
†See (4) Debates, clxxiv., 63.
According to a Report received by His Majesty's Agent and Consul General at Cairo, neither the Egyptian Council of Ministers nor the Secretary of the Legislative Council, to whom inquiries have been addressed on the subject, are aware of any refusal on the part of the Egyptian Government to communicate Reports to the Legislative Assembly, nor are they able to ascertain what are the Reports referred to in the hon. Member's Question of 7th May†.
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is yet in a position to state the grounds of the appointment of Borton Bey as Postmaster-General of Egypt.
Borton Bey was appointed Assistant Postmaster-General in December, 1904, and was chosen for that post on account of his great experience as an administrator, having served since the beginning of 1899 in various important and responsible positions. Saba Pasha, the late Postmaster-General, succeeded Halton Pasha, an Englishman. Had Borton Bey now been passed over for the appointment, the next official in seniority would have been an Italian.
Egyptian Salt Adulteration
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to the fact that on analysis the ordinary salt sold in Egypt by the Egyptian Salt and Soda Company, Limited, is found to contain only 91·08 per cent. of salt, with 6·01 of sodium sulphate, 2·33 of sodium carbonate, and ·20 per cent. of sand, while the fine table salt sold by the same company contains only 89·93 per cent. of salt, with 6·96 of sodium sulphate, 2·65 of sodium carbonate, and ·26 per cent. of sand, the fine salt being thus the more impure of the two; and whether he will recommend the Egyptian Government to use what power it has in connection with the partial monopoly of the Egyptian Salt and Soda Company to secure that its products shall be freed from the adulterants or impurities above specified.
†See (4) Debates, cixxiv., 63.
This matter must be left to the Egyptian Government. But the information which the hon. Member has sent me will be forwarded to Cairo.
Metropolitan Police Clothing Contracts
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the regulations as regards the price, quality, and supply of police clothing; and what contracts for this purpose have been placed in Wales last year.
I have no information with regard to police forces other than the metropolitan police. The conditions of the metropolitan police clothing contract could not well be stated within the limits of a reply to a Question, but I shall be happy to show my hon. friend a copy of the form of contract if he desires it. No contract for metropolitan police clothing was placed in Wales last year.
Glasgow Telephone Operators' Hours Of Duty
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that girl telephone operators in Glasgow, employed by the National Telephone Company, are kept at night work for twelve hours for seven consecutive nights without any stated time for rest or meals; and whether he can take any action to effect an improved arrangement.
I have communicated with the company, who inform me that their night operators in Glasgow have one week night duty and one week day duty alternately. During the week of night duty their employment is as stated in the Question, but is understood that they have during every night two hours each free from duty, although, owing to the exigencies of the work, the precise time when this rest is to take place cannot be fixed. The company inform me further that for some time past the fubject of night operator's work has been under their consideration with a view, if possible, to modifying the existing conditions. The matter is one in which I have no authority whatever to interfere.
London, Tilbury, And Southend Railway—Workmen's Trains
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the fact that the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway Company have not yet fulfilled their undertaking to issue workmen's tickets between Grays and Purfleet by their 5.39 a.m. train; and whether he can state when such workmen's tickets will be issued. I beg also to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he has taken any action with a view to inducing the London, Tilbury, and Southend Railway Company to afford to the workmen of Grays and Tilbury similar facilities by means of workmen's tickets and workmen's trains for getting to the docks in London as are afforded to the inhabitants of Barking and places nearer the metropolis and as the company afford to the inhabitants of London for getting to the docks at Tilbury; and, if so, whether there is any prospect that such facilities will soon be granted.
The Board of Trade have been in communication with the railway company as to the delay in issuing workmen's tickets between Grays and Purfleet, and I understand that this delay has been due to the receipt of the subsequent demand for workmen's tickets from Tilbury and Grays to London referred to in the second Question. If this further demand is not proceeded with the company are prepared to issue the tickets to Purfleet at once, but if it is to be pressed the company would prefer that the whole matter should form the subject of any inquiry that may be ordered.
Australian Tariffs—British Protests
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been directed to the protests of British Chambers of Commerce on the subject of the new Australian traiff; and whether he is taking any steps to bring those protests to the attention of the Australian Government.
I can add nothing on this subject to the reply given by me yesterday to the hon. Member for the Tottenham Division.†
I beg to ask the President of Board of Trade if he is aware that, owing to the heavy frieght and other charges incurred in shipping goods to Australia, the natural protection enjoyed by the Australian manufacturer is usually 50 per cent. to 100 per cent.ad valorum upon the export price of the British manufacturer; and whether he will represent that fact to the Australian Government in connection with their imposition of a heavy tariff upon imports from the United Kingdom.
If and when the question of representations come to be considered, the point referred to by my hon. frieud will not be lost sight of.
New Cross—Accident To Post Office Linesman
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if his attention has been called to the case of Charles Kelly, a linesman in the engineering department, who lost both legs by accident while in the employment of the Department at New Cross on 4th March, 1904; whether any compensation or other method of settlement of his claim for damages has been made; and if so, what is the nature of such settlement.
I have obtained from the railway company concerned a sum of £700 as compensation for the injuries received by Kelly. This sum was paid to Kelly on the 7th June last.
National Telephone Company Rates
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General if he is aware that opposition is being aroused in the chambers of commerce and other trading associations throughout the country at the new measured rate introduced by the National Telephone Company; and whether he has taken any steps to ascertain the opinions of these bodies, or any of them, with reference to the introduction of the new rate.
As I have already explained, my consent was not necessary for the introduction of these rates by the National Telephone Company, and I have, therefore, not invited any expression of opinion from chambers of commerce and other trade associations.
Promotions In The Education Department
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education how many second division clerks have ever been promoted to be examiners in the Board of Education, and how many sub-inspectors have, during the last five years, been promoted to be inspectors, seeing that there is no absolute barrier to promotion by merit in those two cases; and what are the dates of such promotions.
Two second division clerks in the Board of Education have been promoted to be examiners on the 8th March, 1904, and the 23rd November, 1901. The former of them was promoted under the late Science and Art Department. Eleven of the persons appointed to inspectorships since 1st August, 1902 have been sub-inspectors. My hon. friend will, therefore, see that there is no barrier to promotion between the two classes.
Will the right hon. Gentleman give me a list of the dates?
I assume there will be no difficulty in doing so.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education if he can state separately the numbers of provided and non-provided schools for older children which are still recognised as supplying accommodation on the eight-square-feet basis; and whether the provided schools so recognised are exclusively schools which have been transferred under the Act of 1870 and which were originally voluntary schools.
No, Sir; as I have already stated, I cannot yet make an accurate statement as to the accommodation of the 21,000 public elementary schools on either basis, but I am having the information gradually collected, and I am taking such steps as I can, during that process, to expedite the writing down of the public elementary school accommodation to the ten and nine feet basis.
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Education what steps have been taken to see that the decision of the Board of Education in the matter of the Catholic school, at Mortomley, near Sheffield, was carried out by the local education authority, and whether the salaries due to the teachers had yet been handed over to the managers.
I have had a communication unofficially from the local education authority informing me that the salaries would be paid. I believe the delay has been on account of the holidays, and the closing of the office in consequence thereof.
both gave notice to repeat the Question.
Incorporated Law Society
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General if he has any information as to the recent poll of the Incorporated Law Society rejecting all the precautions suggested by a recent committee of inquiry appointed by the council for the better protection of trust funds and the prevention of the cases of misappropriation and malversation, of which so many startling examples have occurred.
I am informed that certain resolutions were carried by the Incorporated Law Society, having for their object the preservation of trust funds in the hands of their members. They were in the following terms:—
replied that there was a good deal to be said in favour of those that were rejected but, it was held to be somewhat hard that solicitors should be called upon to make statutory declaration.
The Public Trustee
I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General if he can inform the House where in London the office of the Public Trustee will be located; when the proposed table of fees for his services as trustee of a settlement, as custodian of shares to bearer and certificates of negotiable securities, or as executor of a will, will be issued; and how soon settlors and testators will be able to avail themselves of his services as a trustee or executor, who will never die, never leave the country, and never become incapacitated, and whose honesty and integrity will be guaranteed by the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.
The office of the Public Trustee will, in the first instance, be opened in Clement's Inn, immediately adjoining the Strand, Lincoln's Inn, and the Royal Courts of Justice. The table of fees will be published this week; and the Public Trustee's services become available under the Act on 1st January next.
Will the rules also be published?
Yes, as a Parliamentary Paper.
Streatham Hospital Bequest
I beg to ask the hon. Member for the Elland Division, as representing the Charity Commissioners, whether, with reference to the estate of the late Benjamin Weir, deceased, estimated at about £100,000, with an accumulated income of about £10,000, which was bequeathed by him for the purposes of a hospital for the benefit of the inhabitants of the parish of Streatham, the Charity Commissioners are preparing or contemplating a scheme for the application of the estate to purposes outside the parish of Streat ham, although that parish, which has an acreage more than four times as large as the City of London, and with a population of 101,628, and sixty miles of roads, yet has no hospital; whether a local public inquiry will be held, or any other opportunity given to the inhabitants to express their opinions on the subject, before any such scheme is carried into effect; and is he aware that a letter was received by the Charity Commissioners from the Streatham Ratepayers' Association dated 23rd May, 1907, of which receipt was acknowledged on the 25th idem, promising attention, but to which no further reply has been given.
The residuary esatat e estimated as stated by the hon. Member was left by the late Benjamin Weir by will for the maintenance of a hospital to be carried on, at a house belonging to the testator at Streatham, for the benefit of the inhabitants of the parish of Streatham and the neighbourhood. The house having been found to be unsuitable for the purpose, and the authorities of King Edward's Hospital Fund having informed the trustees of the Weir Charity that the sum at their disposal was quite insufficient to found a hospital, and having advised union with the Bolingbroke Hospital at Wandsworth Common th e, Trustees have submitted proposals to the Charity Commissioners for dealing with the Weir endowment. These proposals are for the application of the greater part of the endowment for the enlargement and maintenance of the Bolingbroke Hospital (at which beds are to be available for Streatham cases) after providing for the carrying on of the existing Weir Dispensary at Streatham and for the establishment and maintenance of a home at Streatham for nurses for the benefit of the neighbourhood and for setting apart a fund for the payment of fees for nursing and other treatment of Streatham patients. The Commissioners have expressed their willingness to publish a scheme in substantial accordance with the proposals of the Trustees. In the letter of 23rd May, 1907, from the Streatham Ratepayers' Association it was stated that a similar letter was being sent to the Trustees of the Weir Charity. The Chairman of the Association was informed at an interview at the office of the Commissioners on the 31st July last that the Commissioners favoured the proposal for amalgamation with the Bolingbroke Hospital. In a letter of the 15th August the views of the Association and of the Streatham Chamber of Commerce have been stated to the Commissioners, and when a scheme has been framed for publication full opportcnity will be given to all persons to express their opinion on the subject. In these circumstances there does not seem to be any occasion for a local public inquiry.
Customs Assistant Statistical Clerks
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether assistant clerks in the Statistical Office of the Customs are compelled to remain on overtime duty till 8 p.m. for about six months every year; if so, will he endeavour to arrange for the reduction of this amount of overtime; what is the remuneration for such overtime; and would the overtime work afford an opportunity for the employment of some of the unemployed.
I am informed that the number of working days on which extra attendance by assistant clerks in the Statistical Office was required compulsorily during 1906, to secure the early publication of the monthly trade returns, was sixty-one, but that every effort is made to reduce the amount of such attendance. The overtime remuneration of assistant clerks is as follows:—
|With salaries under £85 a year||9|
|With salaries of £85 and under £100||10|
|With salaries from £100 to £150||1||2|
Civil Service—Boy Clerks
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether any benefits which may result from the recent memorial of boy clerks in the Civil Service will be applicable to boys discharged since September last. I beg also to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether temporary provision can be made for the employment of Civil Service boy clerks, aged twenty, pending a decision being arrived at by the Treasury on the memorial now before them. I beg further to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will undertake that in future no appointments of boy clerks will be made in excess of the number which can be absorbed into the permanent establishment of the Civil Service.
If my hon. friend will allow me I will take the three Questions which he has put down on this subject together. It would not be practicable to give retrospective effect to any new measures which may be adopted in connection with the employment of boy clerks, nor would it be possible in any event to find employment for boys who had already left the service. Though I can give no undertaking of the kind which my hon. friend suggests, I may say that the administrative changes which I contemplate will probably have the effect of reducing to the extreme limit possible the number of boys discharged on grounds other than that of unfitness for permanent employment, and of securing that unavoidable discharges are effected at an earlier age than at present.
Old Writers' Wages
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the old writers received a half-yearly bonus in addition to their wages; whether, in cases where such writers have been discharged in the course of a half-year, the portion of the bonus which has accrued has been withheld from them; and, if so, what is the reason that it has been withheld.
No bonus accrued under the regulations regarding copyists except at half-yearly intervals. No part of any bonus which had accrued has been withheld, so far as I am aware. On the contrary, some copyists were allowed on the recommendation of Departments to be retained for short periods specifically in order to enable them to complete the six months qualifying them for an additional half-yearly bonus.
I beg to ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, the reason why the Agricultural Statistics and Report on the Agricultural Returns for the year 1906 have not yet been printed and presented to the House; and when they may be expected.
The Agricultural Statistics for 1906 are being issued in four parts. The first three parts have already been published and the fourth part, dealing with Foreign and Colonial Agriculture, will shortly be issued. Each part contains a Report on the Returns comprised therein.
I beg to ask the hon. Member for South Somerset, as representing the President of the Board of Agriculture, if he will state the total number of cattle returned in 1906 as entering the markets at the places in England scheduled under the Markets and Fairs Act, 1891, and the total number of fat and store cattle imported into Great Britain from Ireland in 1906; whether, since the year 1902, there has been a serious annual decline in the numbers returned in both cases; and to what cause is the decline attributed by the Board of Agriculture.
The number of cattle returned as entering the scheduled markets in 1902 was 1,010,115. The corresponding figure in 1906 was 857,598. The total number of cattle imported from Ireland was in 1902, 959,241, and in 1906, 775,374. The high figures of 1902 were in each case due to exceptional causes to which reference will be found in the Reports on the Agricultural Returns for 1902 and 1903, the principal one being a shortage in supplies from the United States. I may add that the imports of cattle from Ireland were somewhat larger in 1906 than in either 1904 or 1905.
Irish Customs Statistics
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware that the Return of Imports and Exports, recently issued by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland contains the statement that the information given is neither complete nor exact, and applies to the year 1905; whether such tables are prepared for the United Kingdom by the Customs Department and issued monthly; and whether, seeing that the whole value of such figures depends on their accuracy and the promptness with which they are issued, he can undertake that in future correct tables of imports and exports shall be issued for Ireland by the Customs Department.
The Answer to the first part of the Question is in the affirmative. As to the second part of the Question, tables of the foreign trade of the United Kingdom are prepared by the Customs and issued monthly. The trade between Great Britain and Ireland is regarded as coasting trade, and the Customs do not prepare statistics of the quantities and values of goods carried coastwise. As to the final part of the Question, the Department will undertake that a full and complete statement of Irish imports and exports will be promptly and regularly issued, provided they are given the necessary powers to obtain adequate Returns. Legislation with this object in view is being considered.
Does the hon. Gentleman consider that a delay of eighteen months is reasonable?
No, and I think the Returns should be made monthly.
Will the hon. Gentleman undertake to introduce legislation next session to expedite the Returns?
I can give no undertaking, but I will do my best to get the necessary legislation to secure that the Returns are adequate and prompt.
Outrage At Lord Ashtown's Residence
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether it is intended to hold an inquiry into the alleged outrage at Lord Ashtown's residence, having regard to the fact that the inquiry into the alleged outrage at Drumbo resulted in proof that the outrage was the work of the residents in the house.
An investigation of the most careful and searching character is being made, and until this has been completed it would be premature to consider the question of holding a formal inquiry under the Explosive Substances Act, 1883, or otherwise.
May I ask is it not a fact that on the night when this explosive was said to have been laid there the dogs about the place gavo no alarm, and also whether, although the ground about the spot was full of moisture and very soft, there were no footmarks around the place?
All considerations of that sort are forming the subject of the most careful and searching inquiry that is now being made.
In view of the admittedly suspicious circumstances surrounding this case, will the right hon. Gentleman order a special sworn inquiry, such as was held in the case mentioned in this Question, which, as the right hon. Gentleman is aware, resulted in showing that the alleged outrage was committed by persons in the house?
I think everyone will agree that until the preliminary inquiry, which is being carried out in the most searching manner, is concluded it would be premature.
Is it a fact that Lord Ashtown, since the outrage has been in London, and has been in communication with the authorities, and if so may we have anyex parte statement that he made to them for our own investigations?
And has the Chief Secretary seen the statement in thePall Mall Gazette welcoming this as a timely outrage, which would justify the House of Lords in their treatment of the Evicted Tenants Bill. And is he aware that the Pigott letters were also produced on the occasion of important legislation for Ireland?
Pending the inquiry, it would be most irrational for me, whose opportunities for information are not at all complete, to express any opinion. The most searching investigation is being made, and after that the Government will consider the necessity or desirability of holding a special inquiry either under the Explosive Substances Act or otherwise.
Is it a fact that Lord Ashtown has been in London, making anex parte statement to the authorities, and, if so, may we see that statement for our own investigation?
I do not know where he is. I do not know that he has made a statementex parte or otherwise to the authorities. I do not think he has.
May I ask the Chief Secretary whether there is any ground for the allegation contained in the concluding part of the Question?
I must decline to give any opinion. I know nothing about It. I cannot say.
Does the right hon. Gentleman know that Lord Ashtown makes a business of circulating information that he can pick out of the papers all through Great Britain with the view of defaming the people of Ireland, and that he has an agency through which he supplies hon. Unionist Members from Ulster with the material for Questions, which are slanders on Ireland?
Will the right hon. Gentleman be careful in investigating this matter to try and find out if it is not possible, as is believed in the district, that Lord Ashtown himself did this in order to give a fillip to his infamous business of defaming Ireland. [No Answer was returned.]
asked whether the evidence at the inquiry would be available for hon. Members.
said the hon. Gentleman must wait.
Will you give us the opportunity of cross-examining Lord Ashtown? [No Answer was returned.]
Wage Revisions In Government Departments
I beg to ask the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the temporary character of Select Committees of inquiry as to wages and conditions of service of employees in the public service, and their failure to give satisfaction to those workers concerned or to establish any definite and orderly system of revision of wages from time to time, the Government will take into consideration the establishment of a permanent Commission or Board whose duty it would be to regulate wages in all Departments of State, in keeping with changing conditions, cost of living, the general standard of wages in private employment, and the particular nature of the employment.
My right hon. friend has asked me to answer this Question, as it deals with a matter affecting other Departments. I can only refer the hon. Member to the Answer which I gave on 31st July to a similar Question put to me by the hon. Member for Shoreditch.† I have nothing further to add to that at present.
The Master Of The Horse
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether the salary of £2,500 a year paid to the Master of the Horse is for services rendered, and, if so, what those services are; and, if the services are not of an important nature,
will he give favourable consideration to the proposal to abolish this office, so that by the economy effected the salaries of more useful officials of the State, about to be appointed, may be provided without additional burdens to the taxpayer.†See (4)Debates, clxxix., 974.
A salary of £2,000 was attached to this post on the recommendation of the Select Committee which at the commencement of the present reign drew up the proposals for the Civil List which Parliament has approved. The Civil List settlement is in the nature of a statutory arrangement, and the total amount cannot be varied; and therefore no such result as my hon. friend desires can be effected by any adjustment of detail.
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to introduce legislation in the interests of economy to reduce this sum of £2,000 for a sinecure office.
said that there would be no economy effected. This was an arrangement entered into by Parliament, and it was binding on it.
What are the qualifications for this post, and is it still vacant?
I do not think that concerns either my hon. friend or me, or anyone else in this House. ["Why?"] It rests with the King to apportion this money according as he finds it desirable and necessary.
Are we to understand that in the event of being abolished the post the £2,000 would go to His Majesty personally?
said that probably His Majesty would find some other means of disposing of it within the limits of the Civil List. That was an end of it as far as Parliament was concerned.
What are the duties of this official?
I have already said we have nothing to do with that. The duties are assigned to the office by His Majesty, and I know enough of them to be aware that the office is no sinecure.
Redistribution Of Seats
I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether he can see his way to introduce in the ensuing session any measure for the redistribution of seats in Parliament and rectifying the constantly increasing disparities in the representation of the people, seeing that under existing conditions one half of the Members of the House of Commons are returned by 5,137,117 electors and the other half by 2,309,519 electors, and that one half of the electors of the United Kingdom return 445 Members and the other half return 225 Members.
No Sir, I cannot make any more promises for next session—nor can I accept responsibility for the hon. Member's figures.
Did not a Plural Voting Bill pass this House, and was it not sent to the Chamber of Hereditary Revisers, and we heard no more about it? [No Answer was returned.]
Fair Wages Resolution
I beg to ask the Prime Minister, in view of some firms which have contracts with the Government declining to treat with the accredited representatives of workmen and making non-membership of trade unions a condition of employment, whether the Committee appointed to consider the working of the Fair Wages Resolution of the House will be asked to deal also with the need for amending the terms of the Resolution; and whether the necessity of representation on the Committee of workmen's organisations has been considered.
The Committee has been instructed to report whether any changes are desirable in the administration of the Fair Wages Resolution in order to enable its objects to be more effectually attained. It is not intended to amend the terms of the Resolution or enlarge its scope. In these circumstances it did not appear necessary to invite representatives of workmen's organisations to be members of the Committee. They will, of course, have every opportunity of placing their views before the Committee.
asked whether, seeing that the Committee would have to deal with the complaints of workmen, it was not better it should have on it accredited representatives of workmen's organisations.
replied that it was a purely inter-departmental Committee, and there was no place on it for outsiders of any kind.
Business Of The House
asked as to the business for the next two or three days.
said that the Government proposed to take the first four orders on the Paper that day and To-morrow the Factory and Workshops Bill and the Miners Bill.
asked what day would be given for the discussion of the Public Accounts Committee.
asked when the Cabs Bill would be taken.
said that there had been a little see-saw between the Cabs Bill and the Factories and Workshops Bill, but at present the latter was in the more commanding position. As to the Public Accounts Committee, an opportunity for discussion would be afforded on Friday, but it did not follow that the opportunity would be a whole day.
Has the right hon. Gentleman any information to give the House as to the letter addressed by the Senior Member for the City of London to the Chancellor of the Norwood Conservative Club approving Free Trade
I have not inquired into that matter.
The Late Sittings
asked the Prime Minister whether he could take some steps in the arrangement of public business to prevent the House from having to sit to the early hours of the morning day after day. Hon. Members were becoming quite worn out. He had attended the House regularly; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would bear in mind the great stress on Members who did not want to sit up continually to forsaken hours when they could not possibly attend properly to business.
The general desire is not to sit longer into the remainder of the year than we can possibly avoid; and, therefore, it is necessary to sit late at night. But I think that some nights we sit unnecessarily long owing to the unnecessary amount of repeated discussion. I think I can see as far through a millstone as most people; but I have not been able to discover what motive or advantage their can be in these prolonged discussions, and I am afraid that they are the real cause.
May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that he is never here to see what goes on?
I thank the hon. Member for his courteous and kindly reference to myself. But, unfortunately, when he comes to my time of life, and has my amount of work to do, he will discover that there is such a power as the family doctor; and he is my master at present.
I, like the right hon. Gentleman, though perhaps with less excuse with regard to the family doctor, have not suffered from these late sittings; and I do not put this question in an invidious spirit. But does the right hon. Gentleman think it judicious to attack hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House for unnecessary debate unless he has been himself present?
One can only proceed by way of sample. In this case, I took a sample by staying up last night until half-past one; and what I saw between 11 o'clock and that hour was quite enough to explain everything to me.
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he was aware that the House was asked to deal with the Appropriation Bill, the Criminal Appeal Bill, the Limited Partnerships Bill, and the Companies, Bill; and whether, as far as could be judged from private information, there was a single Member of the Liberal Party who thought it possible to get through all that business last night.
I understand that it was not only possible but agreed.
pointed out that the Companies Bill was not taken in the end.
Because other matters took so long.
said that there was no agreement about business. Did the right hon. Gentleman think that an important Bill like the Companies Bill ought to be taken at half-past five in the morning, when the great majority of Ministers were away, and when the learned Attorney-General, who had spoken already on the Transvaal Loan Bill, the Appropriation Bill, the Criminal Appeal Bill, and the Limited Partnerships Bill, could not be in a state to advise the House?
said that the Companies Bill ought to have come on at half-past twelve. Other Bills were placed before it, but they were practically non-controversial. The Appropriation Bill had never been debated at such length on the Third Reading. Therefore the Government were not asking the House to do an unnecessary amount of business. The Government had a large number Bills to which they attached importance, and if these Bills were to be passed, they must ask the House to sit late.
If these Bills were so important how was it that the Government could not keep more than seventy-five of their men here?
said that hon. Members interested in the Companies Bill had not acquiesced in any arrangement that two hours would be sufficient for its discussion.
said the business was posted in the inner lobby at five o'clock in the evening, after conversation with one of the right hon. Member's colleagues. It was admitted that several of the orders named would be regarded as uncontroversial, although nothing definite was arranged about the time that might be taken over the Companies Bill.
Arranged with whom?
With the hon. Member for Sevenoaks.
May I say I was shown a list of the Bills, and I asked how long it was proposed to sit, and the Government Whip, with a smile on his face, said he had no control over that. I suggested to him that in the interests of the amicable arrangement of the Business of the House, he would do well to modify the list.
Land Values (Scotland) Bill
As amended (by the Standing Committee), considered.
moved a clause the object of which was, he said, to give local authorities in Scotland the opportunity of deciding whether or not they would adopt this very expensive Bill. The measure required that every local authority in Scotland should institute a new method of valuing land. It would impose considerable expense on the local authorities, and they ought to have the option of saying whether they would incur that expense or not. They were the best judges if they would get an adequate return for their outlay. In New Zealand, which had always been quoted as a model for this legislation. such option had been given the local authorities. He knew he might be told that in New Zealand there was also a national tax on land values, but perhaps. hon. Gentlemen were not aware that in New Zealand the national tax on Land Values was a substitute for the income tax. Was that what the advocates of land values taxation desired, that people who paid the land values tax should not pay the income-tax? There was, however, a further reason for giving the local authorities option in this matter. This Bill had never been before the country at all. It was introduced very late in the session and passed through the House on the Second Reading stage after one day's debate, going from thence up to the Grand Committee. He thought he might fairly ask the House to take warning by what happened last year in regard to a similar measure. On the Second Reading debate of last year's Bill he had the honour of moving the rejection of the Bill. His Motion was defeated by a majority of 258; but what happened? The Bill was referred to a carefully packed Select Committee, practically all the members of which were in favour of the measure. After having deliberated upon it, however, and examined witnesses, that Committee reported "that the Bill be not proceeded with." Such an instance as that afforded good proof of how easy it was for the House to vote for a Bill without knowing the meaning of it. A new situation had been created by the statement of the Government that they would not tax feu duties. When the local authorities demanded this Bill their whole object was to secure the taxation of feu duties. He quite admitted that there was some doubt as to whether the Government would remain firm in their resolve, and because of this uncertainty he put a question to the Prime Minister. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman, did not give him a very clear answer. With reference to this question he had received a leter from the Parliamentary agent to the Manchester Unity of Odd-fellows, dated 15th August. It began—
In other words the object of this great Friendly Society was to provide for old age pensions out of the land values they had purchased with their savings. The letter continued—"Dear sir,—I must thank you for your Question, No. 62, in the notices given last Monday with respect to the taxation of land values. Though tho Hearts of Oak Society put the subject forward this year the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows with its 800,000 adult members and £12,000,000 capital amongst its 4,000 branches is largely interested. Many of its lodges have invested in ground rents at prices which will produce less than 4 per cent. Their object was absolute security of income from which claims, as they mature in the old age of the members, could be properly met. As the leases are long no unearned increment will accrue to present members.…"
"I therefore await with much interest the Parliamentary news in to-morrow's newspapers to ascertain the view the Prime Minister takes."
He was sorry to say that the view the Prime Minister took was not very clearly expressed, but he still had confidence that the Government was resolved not to tax feu duties or to go back on existing contracts. He remembered warning the Liberal Party years ago against the danger of rushing into this morass. He told them they would find themselves in the position of ving to break existing contracts, or else finding that there was no money in the scheme. The burghs wanted money, they did not want a Bill which would give them no money, but would instead involve a great deal of extra expense. Greenock, which had originally supported the Bill, had now petitioned against it. A new situation had also been created by the reply of the Lord Advocate to a deputation of county councils which waited upon him a little time back in reference to this question. The right hon. Gentleman said—
Instead of getting a new revenue they were going to wipe out the old one. Where then were the local authorities to get the money to carry on their work? They could only get it from poor people who were compelled to live in the centres of the towns. They would have to pay at the rate of 30s. to £2 in the £1 upon the value of the land upon which they were living. Shopkeepers would be rated on a similar similar scale upon the sites of their business premises. When this was made clear to the people of Scotland their answer as to whether they wished for the Bill or not would be very definite indeed. The Bill would benefit the rich man living in the suburbs in his large house; he would be relieved of all rates except upon the site of his house and garden, which would be put at a low value. It was the poor people and the business men in the towns who would have to bear the burden. Nor was that all. The professed object of taxing agricultural land upon its supposed value for building purposes was to force it into the market. But the whole case for especially taxing agricultural land which had an urban value, but was only rated at its agricultural value, had been given away by the Government in Clause 33 of the Small Holdings Bill—that perfect and delicate piece of mechanism, which according to the Prime Minister must not be touched. The agricultural land referred to in that clause already had an urban value though it was not fully developed. Who was to pay the special tax? Not the county council, because they had no beneficial interest in it; not, certainly, the holder who was growing cabbages on the land, and not the landlord who had not yet resumed possession of it. There was, in fact, nobody who could pay the tax. In other words the Small Holdings Bill rendered it impossible to carry out the purpose of the Land Values Bill. The object of the present Bill was to get to know whether they were going to get any money when they put this tax on. That information could be got just as well without imposing this burden upon the whole of Scotland. The Latin proverb said, "Make your experiments upon something cheap." He did not think that Scotland was cheap enough for such an experiment to be tried on her. He suggested that the experiment should be tried in the constituencies of the Lord Advocate and the Secretary for Scotland—one urban and one rural. At any rate let the burghs and counties be consulted. That would afford alocus penitentiœ to those who had been agitating for a tax on land values. Let them get at the facts and this agitation would be killed. There were four Members for the City of Edinburgh—three of whom were in favour of the Bill, and the fourth on the other side. The majority of three to one said that they believed the people of Edinburgh were in favour of the Bill. Let them give the people of Edinburgh a chance of saying so. They preached the doctrine of "trust the people"; let them practise it. He begged to move."When the statute passes it will be found that county proprietors, equally with town proprietors, will be escaping taxation for improvements which they have made upon their land, and that any assessment which may be laid upon the land value is already paid on the composite value."
seconded the Motion of the hon. Member for Preston, who, he said, had expounded the questions raised by this Bill in a manner which he would not do, owing to their great difficulty and complexity. But he would remind the House that the Bill was made applicable to both urban and rural areas. In the Select Committee the question was never raised of including the counties, and no evidence was led in support of it. He was bound to say that the quotation by the hon. Member for Preston, of Clause 33 of the English Small Holdings Bill, was most damaging. It had not occurred to anyone on the Committee on this Bill upstairs. It had put the Government in an extremely difficult position, although he had no doubt his right hon. and learned friend would wriggle out of it as he usually did. An Amendment having the same object in view, but put in a different form, as the proposed new clause of the hon. Member for Preston, was proposed in Committee upstairs; but during the course of the discussions they were told by the Lord Advocate that there was a national purpose underlying this Bill, which would be entirely defeated were local option adopted. Before the House divided on this new clause they should know what that national object was. He had no doubt that in the view of the Solicitor-General it involved the taxation of existing feu duties, although they had been assured by the Prime Minister and the Lord Advocate that it did not. At any rate, it seemed that the view of the Solicitor-General was not to be accepted. If that were so, they were entitled to know what the national purpose was. He thought that this particular Bill was not thoroughly understood by the people of Scotland; it was not even understood by those who pressed for such legislation in connection with the Glasgow Bill of last year. He was quite certain that if local option were granted, it would be utilised in the way of rejecting the Bill altogether. He knew how the incidence of taxation would be changed if this system of rating were adopted in many of the small burghs in Scotland. He was quite certain that the rich manufacturer would ride off with a light weight of taxation, and the poor cottager would have to pay almost all the taxes. [MINISTERIAL cries of dissent.] He insisted that it could not be denied that that would be the effect of the Bill. Take the town of Ayr, which he represented. Suppose there a house which had cost £30,000 or £40,000 to erect, standing in its own grounds two acres in extent. And next to it, suppose a market garden, also two acres in extent. Would it be believed that the market gardener who had difficulty in making a living would have to pay the same taxation the rich man? That would be an atrocious cruelty. He thought the people should be asked whether they were willing to adopt a measure for the taxation of land values, before it was put in force in their localities. New clause—
— (Mr. Harold Cox.) Brought up, and read a first time. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time.""Within three months after the passing of this Act the clerk of every council of a county or burgh shall convene, with not less than one month's notice, a special meeting of the council to consider the desirability of adopt-this Act in that county or burgh, and if the decision of that meeting is against such adoption this Act shall have no force within that county or burgh."
said he regretted that he could not, on behalf of the Government, accept the new clause. The bulk of the argument delivered by the hon. Gentlemen who had moved and seconded the Amendment had been not in connection with a valuation Bill pure and simple, but with reference to the incidence of taxation and rating. What had the taxation of feu duties to do with a Bill for the ascertainment of land values in Scotland and for that alone? What did the observation of the hon. Member for Preston mean as to there being no money in it, or about people who would have to pay 30s. or 40s. a year on their land values? What did the observation mean as to who was to benefit by the Bill? And what did the observation mean as to the relations between the county council and the small landholder? What had all that to do with the Bill?
said that his argument was a perfectly simple one, viz., that these local authorities should not be put to the expense of getting information when there was no money to be got out of it.
said he understood that the concluding portion of his hon. friend's speech was to the effect, "By all means get at the facts." This was a Bill the object of which was to get at the facts. The hon. Member had said that they could get at the facts by taking two constituencies, one an urban and the other a rural constituency, and working out from them all that was required in regard to land values of Scotland. The hon. Member did him the honour to refer to his constituency, the Hawick Burghs. Assuming that in his constituency there was very little unoccupied land the capital valuation of the land would make very little difference indeed from the present valuation. But what they wanted to know was the capital value of the land in a large portion of Scotland where there were burghs with a large agricultural area some portions of which were being held up for building. What was the use of attempting to deduce from a single instance the whole value of Scotland for the purpose of a Bill to obtain nation al statistics? A single instance would not do. They must have the whole of Scotland valued in order to enable a second stage to be reached, whether there was to be taxation or whether there was to be rating. His hon. friend seemed to argue that this which was only a valuation Bill was a rating Bill which rashly provided for something which could be done without any inquiry at all. Surely his hon. friend's study of the literature of this subject must have convinced him that all the best authorities were agreed that any rating or taxation Bill must be preceded by necessary preliminary inquiries in the shape of the ascertainment of the land values, so as to enable the country as a whole, and if thought wise, localities individually, to judge whether the basis of individual rating or taxation ought to be altered. Of course that would be by a new Bill; but this Bill was confined to ascertaining land values. There was a provision in the Bill that until Parliament should otherwise determine no rate or tax should be put on in consequence of the information obtained under this Bill. He could imagine that nobody would refuse a Bill which made it optional to adopt it. When his hon. friend said that it all hung round the ultimate question of rating he would remind him that on questions of rating a great many points of admitted complexity would have to be considered. They must first get at the facts as a whole, on a national scale, upon exactly the same scale as the existing valuation. On those grounds, and feeling that the Amendment would render the Bill inoperative, he could not accept it. So far as their desire to obtain national statistics was concerned, the Government were following the best skilled advice which was contained in the Minority Report of the Select Committee.
asked if the proposal in the Bill had not reference to the abatement of existing rates.
said that his object was to show the necessity of preliminary inquiry. It was in the mind of everybody that they should have national statistics as to the land values on the same scale as the existing Valuation Acts in Scotland, which made no distinction between valuation for rating or taxation purposes.
said that this was a branch of the question which was quite different from the subject of whether they ought to give options as to rating to rural districts apart from this Bill. He had an Amendment on the Paper relevant to that point, and in the observations he had to make on this Amendment he would not refer to the comparison between agricultural districts and urban districts, which was at the basis of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument. The right hon. Gentleman said that this was a Bill for the ascertainment of national statistics, and he had two observations to make upon that. He gathered from the right hon. Gentleman that he wished the House to discuss this Bill on the Report stage, without reference to the schemes of local taxation, which he and his friends, not always speaking with one voice, desired to see subsequently adopted on the basis of this measure. It was, however, impossible for them to discuss the Bill in that abstract manner. The Lord Advocate wished them to regard the Bill simply as a matter of obtaining information without regard to the uses to which that information might be put, but one must remember the various uses to which the Government had announced that they proposed to put the information. The Solicitor-General for Scotland had announced that in his view the duties should be subjected to taxation. The Lord Advocate had not, he thought, got so far as that.
I said expressly and from the first that existing contracts as to feu duties must be respected.
continuing, said the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, frightened and alarmed by the utterances of their rasher colleagues, had gone out of their way to explain that they did not propose to break existing contracts in connection with the taxation of feu duties and other contract values. That destroyed the whole value of this measure in the eves of those who wished to have it passed, and who were in effect its authors. The Propagandist Institution, which had been started at Glasgow, had no other object in view than the taxation of feu values and other contract values which the Solicitor-General for Scotland wanted, but which the Government now discovered would be very imprudent.
said he had always held that view, and stated the same thing.
said he believed that the right hon. Gentleman had always held that view, and if his words were susceptible of any other interpretation he withdrew them. But if the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had always held that view, they might have communicated it to their hon. and learned colleague, and it would have saved a great deal of confusion in Scotland. It would have been better if one of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues had not gone about Scotland preaching an economic doctrine which the Prime Minister, the Lord Advocate, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer repudiated. When the rioht hon. Gentleman said he held that view, however, he would like to ask whether he had always advertised it.
Well, I do not know if that is so.
said he had supported the Bills on this subject which had been brought forward in the last two or three Parliaments and every one of them contained an exception in favour of existing contracts.
said he had not the least quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman, but it was sufficient for his purpose that one member of the Government held that these values should be taxed and that he had not only held that opinion but had preached it before the general election and after the general election.
said he had not done so since the general election.
said he would not dispute that point with the Solicitor-General for Scotland as it was sufficient for his purpose to point out that one member of the Government held that these values should be taxed while the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it would be immoral to tax them. The original authors of this Bill, the people whose agitation had brought about this proposal, had always desired to put on the very form of taxation which the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought was a breach of the whole idea of public honesty and private property. Was not that a reason for giving localities in Scotland an opportunity of rejecting a Bill which would not carry out the objects which they had in view in promoting this agitation? The right hon. Gentleman had said that these statistics were to be obtained for a national object. Then why were they not to be obtained at the cost of the nation? He was told that a sober estimate of the cost of this valuation in Scotland was £2,000,000. The Government talked glibly about obtaining information for the nation at the cost of individuals, but they had not given the House any estimate of the cost. Twelve thousand separate valuations would have to be made in Scotland, including the burghs and counties, and they were asking proprietors of hereditaments to make valuations of great difficulty, involving in many cases expert advice. These individuals ought to be given an opportunity of objecting, not so much against the principle of the Bill, as against the cost of the Bill's being thrown upon them. The agitation with which this Bill was intimately connected had already done a great deal of harm. The Government had to choose between carrying out a policy which might benefit a good many ratepayers in the towns, but at the cost of public faith and morality and the interests of the best of the working class, and a policy which would be enormously expensive so far as the collection of information was concerned, but would be extraordinarily barren of pecuniary results so far as the ratepayers of the towns were concerned. When the towns and country districts realised that carrying out this Bill would be a very expensive operation and they would get nothing out of it, he thought the Bill would lose the little popularity it now possessed and the factitious support now accorded to it. An opportunity ought to be given to the Scottish ratepayer to relieve himself from the mesh which the Government were involving him in. They understood that subsequently a Rating Bill would be based on this measure, and he thought that burghs and counties should be given an opportunity of adopting it; if they did so the measure would be a success. It would not be an elaborate experiment from which large conclusions could be drawn. It would not be an experiment extending over a large part of Scotland. Why should not the Government allow the small section of Scotland which rated their Bill at its true value to escape from the unnecessary burden of perfectly useless taxation which it was proposed to throw upon them? In the interests of the ratepayers, of those who had to make this valuation, in the interests of the burghs, in the interests of the general requirements of the community, he earnestly suggested that local option in this particular might well be adopted by the Government. They might allow each locality to decide for itself whether it thought it worth while to adopt a very costly investigation for the very barren results promised by the Lord Advocate and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or in the hopes that the more productive policy of the Solicitor-General as he understood it would be carried out. Let that section of opinion which had forced this Bill forward decide whether the policy was worth while, and if they thought not let the Government allow them to leave it to their friends in the neighbouring burghs to go through the perfectly useless procedure which the Bill attempted to impose on every burgh and county of Scotland.
said he had listened with great interest to many speeches delivered by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but this was the first time he had heard him address the House in favour of the principle of local option. Like many new converts, the right hon. Gentleman had applied that principle in exactly the wrong way. The earlier part of his speech, in which he sought to establish a difference of opinion between Members sitting on the Treasury Bench with regard to the taxation of feu duties, was, except in one particular aspect, wholly irrelevant. But as the right hon. Gentleman had raised that point, he desired to say in a sentence, speaking for himself, and he believed for the vast majority of those who sat on the Ministerial side in this Parliament and on the Opposition side of the last Parliament, that they had repeatedly had before them measures dealing with this matter, and in every case, so far as he knew, there was a clause in the Bill which excluded its application to existing contracts, and nobody had ever welcomed a measure of this kind except on that assumption. In his view that was an elementary condition of any reform.
asked whether it was not the fact that the right hon. Gentleman voted for a Bill last year which contained no such clause.
said that might be so, but on that occasion the Lord Advocate laid it down in the most explicit terms that that was the only assumption upon which that Bill could be accepted. The only relevance of the right hon. Gentleman's reference to this topic was his suggestion that the various local authorities in Scotland who had interested themselves in this matter would not have done so unless they had thought that existing contracts and feu duties were going to be the subject of taxation. From that he inferred that if the principle of local option were allowed to have full effect, the same keenness would no longer be shown. It was extraordinary, if that was the case, that the various municipalities not only in Scotland, but in England, should have joined in supporting a Bill of an hon. Member which had always contained that very restriction.
said that the right hon. Gentleman must have surely forgotten that while the Bill of the hon. Member for the Elland Division excluded feu duties, the Glasgow Bill did not.
said the so-called Glasgow Bill was not a Glasgow Bill in any sense of the word.
said the Bill to which he was referring concerned the kingdom as a whole. He thought he was justified in saying there was no reason to think that the municipalities of the country would be any less willing to adopt this reform because it was so restricted. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the supposed expense which the operation of this Bill would entail. He did not think the operation would be a very expensive one, and he was certain that when it had once been performed, when the initial expense had once been incurred, subsequent developments would be very inexpensive and simple. As regarded the expenditure of the proprietor, the expense of a rough estimate was all that he would be put to. That estimate would be subsequently revised by the burgh and local surveyor, and he did not think that would be a very heavy tax either in time, trouble, or cost to the owner. But assuming local option were adopted, and the great bulk of the burghs and counties took advantage of local option, there would be no relief in the expenditure, because the only expense which would be removed in such a case would be the expenditure of the council itself. If they refused to adopt the Act, the owner also would be entitled to refuse to do so. If the council decided to adopt the Act, the ownernolens volens would be put to the same expense. He desired to point out that the great virtue of the Scottish system was that there was a single valuation for all purposes. This was a very great improvement on the English system. Under the Act of 1854 these valuations were conducted by a single officer, and in a great number of cases he was an Imperial officer performing duties for the Inland Revenue. They felt it would be dangerous to introduce into that system any practice which would not be uniform. He considered the step now proposed a useful one from a purely statistical point of view, but he did not attempt to conceal the fact that many of them regarded it as the first step towards a great reform. He agreed that the object of the promoters of the Bill was to take measures for ascertaining facts on which local authorities would be enabled in future to make use of fresh sources of revenue.
said he only intervened to say a word in reference to something which had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman said it was the first time he had heard the Leader of the Opposition express his views in favour of local option. His right hon. friend might never have addressed the House upon the subject before, but as the head of the Government he had more than once been responsible for Bills which had adopted the principle. He reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the great body of statutes which controlled the public health of the country nearly all rested on what had up to now been considered the exceptionally sound foundation of the option for the local authorities to adopt them if they thought fit. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had used an argument against the adoption of the clause moved by the hon. Gentleman opposite, namely, that the Scottish system of valuation was far superior to that existing in England. With that observation he entirely agreed. It had been the aim and object of most of those who had striven to amend the valuation laws in England to take the example of Scotland as their model, and try to work up to that higher standard. He entirely agreed with what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. He did not agree, however, that inconvenience would result from the application of a different system in different parts, for this reason, that they had had it laid down repeatedly that the intention of this particular Bill was not to create a new system of valuation but to take a first step in that direction, and to accomplish the result by subsequent legislation. If that were the case, what stronger argument could they have for this clause than the fact that this legislation was to be followed by other legislation, which would never be introduced, however, by any Government, no matter how powerful, unless the first step had been taken which would not only justify it in the places where it was to be enforced, but which would have the general consensus of opinion is the country to which the law applied. He did not understand how the Chancellor of the Exchequer could justify the opposition he had offered to the clause. He regretted very much that the Government did not see their way to adopt the clause, because he thought it would if accepted, lessen the feeling of opposition which existed in many quarters to the Bill. The whole system of valuation was so complicated, so difficult, and so important, that any step they took to amend it should not only be well considered, but be supported by popular opinion. He believed it would have been of enormous advantage to have had behind them the expressed opinion of the local authorities who, by the adopting of this Act and the working of it, would have shown in the first place that they believed in the principle, and, secondly, in the views of the Government in introducing the Bill and carrying it through the House.
said the policy of this legislation was based on the not very scientific gospel of Henry George, the supporters of whose policy thronged the benches behind Ministers. He challenged any supporter of that gospel to tell him the name of any economist of any reputation, living or dead, of the old school or the new, who was a supporter of the doctrine underlying this legislation. A few weeks ago he had discussed in that House the point that the taxation of incomes should not proceed without a knowledge of the facts, and he had moved an Amendment which was aimed at securing knowledge about incomes before proceeding to tax them. It therefore followed, he need hardly say, that he strongly supported the Lord Advocate in his desire to gain knowledge of statistics through this Bill so far as that was the object. As the Leader of the Opposition had said, it was impossible to consider this clause, or indeed any part of the Bill, without reference to what would follow this particular first step. What was the object of the Bill? It had been described by the Lord Advocate, on the Second Reading, as a step towards the taxation of values largely created by the enterprise of the community. He ventured to differ from that observation. There were no social values existing in this country which were not taxed already by existing methods of taxation. He would add that if the Government desired to tax social values as they ought to be taxed, they would find a much more scientific. much more common sense and practical method of getting at those values by reforming the existing system of taxation, than by setting up this new method of taxation, to which they themselves had to make important exceptions. They themselves confessed that they could only apply it partially, and could only apply it to some people and not to others. It was an entire mistake if anyone supposed that social values entirely attached themselves to land. The greater part of the social values of this country created by the community did not attach themselves to the land, but to other things. The exaggerated ideas with regard to this particular policy of taxing land values, which were doubtless entertained by a great many local authorities on imperfect information, had been very well expressed by one of the most able advocates of this policy who now sat behind the Lord Advocate. The hon. Member had said in very plain words that he would substitute a land-values tax for all other local rates, and, when he had done that, he would logically proceed to place all Imperial taxation on the same source. But that was not statistically possible. The most liberal estimate of the land values of the country was a sum not large enough by one-half for the purpose. They did not come to that House to talk fine theories; they came to frame, if they could, sensible and practical policies which were capable of application to existing circumstances. He thought they must always bear that in mind. What was this policy in essence? It was to relieve capital of taxation at the expense of the landlords. Let them take, for instance, a tea shop in the Straud. It would be hardly a proposition in accordance with common sense to relieve that tea shop of the cost of police, of the maintenance of the roadway, and of all the other beneficial services performed for it by the local authority. Was it really a common-sense proposition that in connection with this thriving business, which drew from the community social values, five, ten, twenty times that which was drawn by the landlord, the capitalist or body of capitalists should be relieved of taxes? Surely if there was any doubt as to the social values in such a case they had only to compare the value of the site and its increment with the amount of interest drawn from the business, which only meant the employment of girls at a cheap wage, and not very much enterprise. If they went to the Stock Exchange, they would find the £1 shares of that business quoted at something like £5 or £6. The landlord did not draw the lion's share of the work of the girls, or the social values created by the presence of the community; they who drew those values chiefly were a body of idle capitalists, who had put their money into the tea shop. The local authority must really have regard to what the rates were, and it could not be too clearly borne in mind that even in regard to what were called onerous rates, they were really beneficial to the occupier. If a local authority desired to reform its taxation ought it to proceed upon the policy to which this measure was the first step; or ought it rather to have proper regard to the means of those who lived within its borders? The whole matter became plain when they considered where the injustice of rating lay. Let them take the case of a man with an income of £4,000 a year living under the beneficent sway of one of the London Borough Councils. He would probably live in a house assessed at £200 a year, and the rates would be, say, 7s. 6d. in the £. That man would pay in rates £75 a year. Regarded as an income-tax that rate was 4½d. in the £ on his income. Let them contrast that with a man earning £400. He would probably live in a house assessed at £45 a year, and would pay £16 7s. 6d. in rates, or an income-tax of 10d. in the £. Would this Bill or the policy it was intended to lead up to remedy that injustice? It would not. Some sort of an income-tax or an ability-tax would have a fairer incidence. The policy to which this Bill was the first step made not the slightest impres-upon these injustices. While he advocated a local income-tax he did not desire to overlook another important point in the question of rate incidence to which he would now refer. While he did not for a moment acknowledge that the landlord bore the entire burden of local rating, he did agree with Professor Marshall that such part of local taxation as was levied upon the site value tended to decrease the rental and was in some sense a burden on the landlord. If a local authority were to levy an income-tax, and the present unfair house rate was abolished, the landlord would stand to gain. In that case the valuation of sites might be useful. They might levy a new local land tax directly assessed upon the valuation ascertained by such a Bill as this to compensate for the benefit gained by the landlord. Thus, they might find a common ground of agreement in the imposition of a land tax combined with a local graduated income-tax, which should have a fair incidence, according to ability to pay. Any legislation which contained so many exceptions as this Bill stood condemned on the face of it. The exceptions were so numerous that it would not be worth pursuing this policy. Moreover, the policy of taxing land values, with present contracts excepted, would not obtain for the community the unearned increment. How could they get at the increment which attached to sites due to the presence of the community? It was not difficult, and it could be done by a local transfer tax on the German pattern. Such a tax was in force in Frankfort. The tax varied according to the time which had lapsed, and according to the amount of increment which had occurred since the last transfer at sale or death, and a certain proportion of it was taken for the community. That was a direct and sensible method. The longer the transfer was delayed, the more the value rose. If they combined the income-tax with a new land tax and with an increment tax, they would get a fair and equitable scheme of local taxation. He did not advance this view dogmatically, but he thought it should have consideration before they went further with a policy which would only add very greatly to the complications which already existed
said it had been stated that the people of Scotland did not understand the subject before the House, and probably that statement was correct. He did not think, however, that the people of Scotland would understand it much better to-morrow. This was a very intricate question which was not grasped by everybody and which he for one did not pretend to grasp in the higher branches. There were, however, one or two practical considerations which were understanded of the people. He agreed that it would be most inexpedient to upset the general system of valuation in Scotland. From the humble, but practical standpoint of the local authority he should very much deprecate the introduction of local option in rating matters. They had a certain amount of trouble now with regard to appointments under local authorities, but if they were allowed to regulate their own basis of valuation as was proposed under this local option clause some disturbing elements might be introduced which would not conduce to the harmonious working of local institutions. Therefore, they had to take the Bill generally as part of the valuation system of the country. The point which was really raised by this new clause was the cost. If for a national object information was required, the cost of obtaining it should be borne by the nation. He was certain the local authorities would expect material assistance to be given them sufficient to cover the cost of this new entry. That was needed, and he thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have made some reference to that subject. As for the cost, he did not think it would be anything like £2,000,000. Some assessors had estimated their costs at very considerable sums, but they would amount to nothing like £2,000,000. He did not think in the case of landed estates the cost would be anything out of the ordinary course. He had consulted several people, and he was inclined to think it would not cost anything. With all due respect to the members of the Committee he attached less weight to the last inquiry than to the inquiry into the incidence of taxation held under Lord Balfour of Burleigh. This valuation was just as necessary to carry out the minority Report of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's Committee of inquiry as to carry out the recommendations of the last inquiry. It was necessary to separate house and site values. At any rate Lord Balfour of Burleigh advised separation in the valuation, and that could only be carried out by some such proposal as that contained in the Bill.
reminded the hon. Member that the separate valuation which was recommended was purely for the purpose of giving deductions on poor rates and so on. It was for a different purpose altogether from that to which the hon. Gentleman was referring.
said that if he were to build on this in the future he would take the Report of the Joint Secretaries to the Treasury as the basis of legislation. He would not take the basis of the last inquiry, nor would he limit himself in any way to the proposals of the minority Report or that of the Joint Secretaries. If the only purpose required was a separate valuation that was all they would get by this Bill. The real point raised by the Amendment was the question of cost. The scheme being a national one, he thought the local authorities had a right to expect a lead from the Treasury in respect of the first valuation. The question of local option might come in later on, but he did not think it could possibly come in now. The right hon. Gentleman had laid considerable stress on the policy advocated by the Solicitor-General. He was not himself a supporter of the full policy of the hon. and learned Gentleman, because he did not think it would be just if applied in certain cases. A number of inquiries into this question had taken place and a variety of proposals had been made. The proposal in the Bill was one which ought to be carried out. He did not believe that at the beginning there would be much money in the scheme, but eventually it would lead to increased revenue which might become considerable, He believed in taking the whole of the increment for the benefit of the community which had created it. They might all unite on this valuation, which committed them to nothing, but which was absolutely essential if they were to do anything. Whether in respect to agricultural land or urban land he could see no difficulty in carrying out the proposals of the Government. He had always maintained that the increased value of agricultural land was created by the owner, and that the increased value of urban land was not created by the owner, although he reaped the full advantage of it. It was in order to mitigate that irregularity, as he conceived it to be, that this valuation was an essential preliminary to any readjustment of local taxation or of any scheme for the endowment of the community with a better proportion of the value it created.
said the cost of making this valuation would be about £4,000,000. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laughed, but he thought he could prove the statement. He found that the rateable value of property in the city of London was £43,000,000 per annum. Taking that at twenty years purchase the capital value was £860,000,000. It occurred to him that it was possible the whole of Scotland might be worth half the capital value of the city of London. He thought it was worth more, but for the purpose of his argument he would reckon it at half. That gave the capital value in Scotland at £430,000,000. They could get it valued for nothing by people who did not understand the work, but if they got it valued by people who did understand the work they expected to be fairly remunerated. If they took as representing this work 1 per cent. on the £430,000,000 they found that the cost would be £4,300,000. He noticed that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not laugh now. Considering the amount of work which the surveyor would have to perform he did not consider 1 per cent. too high. No man of repute in his profession would do it for very much under 1 per cent., but even if the cost was only a half per cent. the amount would be £2,200,000. When it was done it would not be worth for practical purposes the paper it was written on, as everyone who had dealt in property would admit. When a man had a property to sell he consulted a surveyor, but it often happened that the prices realised in the market differed very considerably, up or down, from the estimate which the owner received of the price the property would probably bring. The valuation under this Bill might be made by some person who spoke in a flippant tone of something which he did not understand at all. He was confident from his long experience that if they were to get a proper valuation of property in Scotland they would have to pay at least £2,000,000 for it. Nothing was more difficult to get than a correct valuation of property. It must be looked at from the point of view of both the buyer and the seller. In this case there would be a tendency on the part of surveyors to put up the value however much they might guard themselves against forming a partial judgment.
said the new clause seemed to him to be an exceedingly reasonable one. The different localities which would be affected would, if it were passed, have the option of saying whether the measure should be put into operation in their areas. They would be able to consider whether it would be worth while incurring the cost; they would also be led to consider whether it was just, and what they were likely to get out of the measure when it was put into operation. The Bill provided for ascertaining certain facts, but they all knew that the ultimate object was to make those facts the basis of the rates and taxes which should be imposed hereafter. It appeared to him that the Bill would work a very unjust revolution in rateable value. Rates had hitherto been made on annual value—at what the property could be reasonably rented at from year to year. The Bill had in view assessing the rate on the capital value of land, which was a very different thing. He considered that would be most unreasonable and unjust. Why should a particular kind of property be selected from all other kinds to be taxed on its capital value? No one liked paying rates. Why should different kinds of property be unequally treated? A large amount of property was now not charged rates at all. On the average it was supposed that what was inside a house was twice the value of the house itself, but there was an Act which was renewed from year to year by which all that kind of property was exempted altogether from liability for rates. Why not rate that if any change was to be made? He could conceive nothing more unfair than to charge land rates on its capital value while all other kinds of rated property were rated on their annual value. He was very glad to think that this revolutionary system was to begin in Scotland if at all. The Scottish people were good economists and possessed of sound common sense, and he believed that when they came into close quarters with the Bill they would not put it in practice. At any rate the Bill should only be put in practice in those localities which agreed to adopt it. As an English Member and having an eye to what might come to England if the Scottish people liked the Bill—although he did not think they would when they came to know what it involved—he was in favour of the new clause because it would minimise the opening effect of the measure. If the Scottish people, speaking generally, did not wish to incur a good deal of expense in taking the first step on this new and dangerous road, it could be tried in the first instance on a limited scale only. Fortunately this was not a party question, and he would vote for the Amendment.
said that anyone listening to the debate would not imagine for one moment that they were discussing a Bill the object of which was to ascertain land values in Scotland. All those who had taken part in the discussion, except the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment, were English Members who, with all respect to them, did not understand the system of Scottish valuation. The right hon. Member for South Dublin paid a tribute to the method of Scottish valuation, and during a previous Administration had introduced a Bill to bring the English system up to the Scottish system. Did the right hon. Gentleman imagine that Scotland was to be kept standing still until England was brought up to the existing Scottish system? He would say to the right hon. Gentleman that they in Scotland were desirous of forging ahead and taking a further step. The right hon. Gentleman would admit that hitherto they had been able to demonstrate that the Scottish system of valuation was one of uniformity and simplicity. Any Amendment to the Bili like that proposed by the hon. Member for Preston would cut at the root of that uniformity and simplicity which had hitherto obtained. He knew that all those who supported the Amendment did not do so because they were in favour of local option in adopting the Bill, but because they were opposed to the Bill altogether. The Leader of the Opposition had made a most extraordinary statement. He had listened to many speeches from the right hon. Gentleman, especially in the last Parliament, notably those on the fiscal question, but he had never heard a more extraordinary statement than the right hon. Gentleman had made that day, viz., that the cost of land valuation in Scotland under the Bill would amount to £2,000,000. He admitted that the right hon. Gentleman had been supported in that view by the hon. Baronet the Member for Taunton, who said that it would cost £4,500,000. The hon. Baronet might just as well have said £10,000,000 or £20,000,000. The sums stated were altogether absurd.
asked if the hon. Gentleman would make a calculation showing where he was wrong?
said he would. He understood that the hon. Baronet was a great authority on rating. They had had his assistance in the Committee upstairs, but whatever experience the hon. Baronet might have in England—and no doubt it was great—he was quite sure that he had not come to close quarters with the system in Scotland. The hon. Baronet made his calculation on the basis of the employment of expert witnesses. That was not the system in Scotland. There the assessors had the confidence of those who rated and the people who paid the rates, and they proceeded in a much simpler and cheaper way. The assessor of the City of Glasgow, who actually made the valuation of that city, stated before the Committee that the cost of this Bill if put in operation would amount to £6,000.
That is purely hypothetical
And the assessor for the City of Edinburgh calculated that it would cost the public to make a similar valuation in that city £4,000,
Not at the public expense.
The hon. Member knows nothing about Scottish valuation or he would not have made that interruption.
I beg pardon; I do know something about Scottish valuation.
said that the assessors were paid by the public. Taking Glasgow and Edinburgh, the cost would amount to £10,000; that would of course be exclusive of any sum paid by private owners who wished to contest the assessor's valuation. He could assure the House that in Scotland they had very few appeals from the valuation of the assessors, who had the confidence of the community. He was sowewhat astonished by the speech of the hon. Member for North Paddington, who was an authority on questions of taxation. Before the Income Tax Committee the hon. Member and others complained seriously as to the lack of statistics in this country. One witness before the Committee went so far as to say that there was no country in the world so lacking in statistical information as Great Britain. He would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would have been delighted to see a Government which was trying to obtain accurate statistics. He was sure that the hon. Member did not want that the land should bear no taxation. When they remembered that the valuation of land in this country was made in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, he thought it was time that a new valuation should be made as the basis of a reform, not only of local but Imperial taxation. If they were to have reform they must know what were the different elements which were to compose the subject of taxation. The hon. Member for Preston had said that there was no money in this Bill, but he did not seem to have much faith in his own view. If there was no money in it, the Bill would demonstrate the fact. The hon. Member for Preston was more lucid on other questions of taxation, but on this he was like his distinguished predecesor who always brought in King Charles's head. The hon. Member had got a wrong view of the question which was not supported by political economists. He would remind the hon. Gentleman that John Stuart Mill went very much further than the lines of this Bill; he recommended that all the increased value given to land by public improvements should not only be taxed but confiscated. The hon. Member for Preston seemed to think that he had scored a point when he referred to the English Land Holdings Bill, and said that difficulties would arise with the county councils, but he might point out that this was a Bill for the valuation of land in Scotland, and they would have no such difficulties in that country as the hon. Gentleman anticipated if the Bill passed this House and another place. Not only so, but they had a practical demonstration of the soundness of the view which the Government were putting forward in this measure by the system of taxation which exempted improvements and rated the land value only under the Crofters Act, which had been a success for twenty years. The passing of a Bill like this and the taxation consequent upon it, would be a relief to agriculture which hon. Members were so anxious to have put in a satisfactory position. The hon. Member for Preston put forward his case for local option because he said it was carried on in New Zealand, but that was not so. It was taxation of land value by municipalities that was optional in New Zealand. The valuation was made, and therefore that argument fell to the ground. He thought that the effect of the Bill would be to supply them with information which would be of the greatest possible benefit to the nation.