To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that postmasterships in London are not open to the staff of the whole of the United Kingdom, but are practically confined to London officials, he will explain why postmasterships in Ireland are not confined to officials serving in Ireland; and will he say in what respects there is a greater difference between postmasterships in London and in Scotland, for example, than there is between postmasterships in Ireland and in Scotland. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) As already explained to the hon. Member the position of postmasters in London is dissimilar to that of postmasters elsewhere. The former are an integral part of the London postal service, and they would more properly, perhaps, be described as chief superintendents. Provincial postmasterships, whether in Ireland, Scotland, England, or Wales, are staff appointments open to the staff throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, and it would not be beneficial, either to the service or to the staff, to confine them to officials serving in any particular part of the Kingdom.
Postal Facilities At Ardglass
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that letters arriving at Downpatrick at 10.32 a.m. are not delivered at Ardglass till 4.30, and that letters for the English mail must be posted at Ardglass at 8 a.m., whereas the mail leaves Downpatrick at 3 p.m.; whether arrangements can be made with the Belfast and County Down Railway to have the English mail letters delivered at Ardglass at 12.20 a.m., and letters for the English mail outward despatched from Ardglass at 2.20 o'clock; and whether sufficient remuneration is now paid to the postman delivering letters twice daily in Ardglass, the delivery occupying about five hours.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, as there are four deliveries of letters daily in Strangford and only two deliveries of letters in the town of Ardglass, with the result that the inhabitants, seaside visitors, and some 500 fishermen are put to grave inconvenience and expense in replying to urgent letters by telegrams, or by mailing their replies by train, he will inquire whether the arrangements at Ardglass can be improved; and whether representations have been made asking for a letter-box to be erected at the junction between High Street and Hill Street, Ardglass, and another box to be erected at Coneyisland, half way between Killough and Ardglass.
( Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I have called for reports on both these Questions, and on receiving them I will send the hon. Member a reply.
Appointment To Sub-Postmastership Of Buttevant, Mallow
To ask the Postmaster-General whether Mr. E. Green, late sub-postmaster of Water Street, Manchester, was recently transferred or promoted to the salaried sub-postmastership of Buttevant, Mallow; what was the number of applicants in Ireland for this post; and will he state the length of Mr. Green's established service in the Post Office, the length of established service of the senior recommended candidate in Ireland, and the respective annual emoluments in Water Street, Manchester, and in Buttevant. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) Mr. Green, late sub-postmaster of Water Street, Manchester, was recently appointed sub-postmaster of Buttevant. The net emoluments of Water Street, Manchester, were about £90 a year, and at Buttevant the salary is £100 a year. It is not the practice to publish the other particulars asked for by the hon. Member.
Transfer Of Irish Savings Bank Work To Dublin
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that the late Government would have transferred the Irish Savings Bank work from London to Dublin, he will now say why the Irish Savings Bank accounts are still kept in London.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, seeing that a number of Post Office Savings Bank women clerks were asked, some time before the present Government came into office, whether they would serve in Dublin, and that the annual number of vacancies in the clerical staff of women clerks in Dublin does not amount to more than one or two, he will say how many of such clerks were so asked and what was the reason for asking them.
To ask the Postmaster-General whether, notwithstanding official denials, numbers of complaints are received every quarter from depositors in Ireland in respect to the inconvenience caused to them by the rule which requires that their deposit books shall be sent to London on each occasion of a withdrawal on demand; and whether he will now give the approximate quarterly average number of such complaints. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) I am sorry that I can add nothing to the replies which I have given to my hon. friend's previous Questions upon this subject.
Irish Postal Stores
To ask the Postmaster-General whether he could state the estimated annual value of stores used by all branches of the Post Office in Ireland; the estimated value of the stores for which contractors are required to tender for delivery in Ireland; whether, before deciding that deliveries of Irish supplies should be made in London instead of Ireland, account is taken of the extra freight and handling involved by delivery in London; whether he could state where Irish manufacturers, desirous of tendering for such stores as bicycles, tools, cloth and trimming for uniform, nails and screws, paints, and oils, can inspect patterns and ascertain particulars; and whether the Irish Secretary is consulted before it is decided to draw supplies from London instead of obtaining them in Ireland. (Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) The annual value of stores used by all branches of the Post Office in Ireland is roughly estimated at £73,000. The estimated annual value of the stores which contractors, including the Prison Commissioners, are required to deliver in Ireland is £13,500. These estimates do not include stationery, etc., supplied by the Stationery Office, and domestic stores, etc., supplied by the Office of Works. Account is taken of freight and handling charges before contracts are placed. Whenever patterns are exhibited by the Department, arrangements can be made for exhibition in Dublin, and full information can always be obtained from the Controller of Stores in London or his representative in Dublin. The Secretary to the Post Office in Ireland is consulted whenever it appears that any useful purpose may be served thereby.
Audit Department Officials And Political Influence
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether, seeing that the positions of Comptroller and Auditor-General (£2,000 per annum) and Assistant Comptroller and Auditor (£1,500 per annum) are political appointments in the gift of the Crown, he will explain the circumstances under which the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the Assistant Comptroller and Auditor recently considered it expedient to draw the attention of their subordinates, a considerable number of whom have only small rates of pay, to an office rule forbidding the use of political influence by such subordinates. (Answered by Mr. Runciman.) I have already dealt with this matter in previous replies to the hon. Member.
Unpaid Old Transvaal Loan
To ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he will now make further inquiries from the National Debt Office and the Exchequer arid Audit Department regarding the sum of £1,800,000 Old Transvaal Loan which is as yet unpaid and which has been allowed to remain outstanding; and will he explain the circumstances under which this money has been allowed to remain outstanding, and what he now proposes to do in this matter. (Answered by Mr. Runsiman.) The hon. Member has been misinformed. The old debt of the Transvaal was redeemed out of the first guaranteed loan, and there is no sum outstanding.
Secret Commissions In Naval Clothing Depot
To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what punishment was inflicted on the contractor and four stewards who admitted a secret commission of 5 per cent. on all clothing supplied and examined in one of the naval depots; what steps have been taken to discover and punish the other officials implicated in this business; and what steps have been taken to discover and punish the other contractors and stewards who, on the statements of these four stewards and contractors, were guilty of the same practices. (Answered by Mr. Lambert.) As regards the contractors implicated, their contract was cancelled, their names struck off the Admiralty list, and particulars of their offence communicated to other buying departments of the Government. The question of taking criminal or civil proceedings against them was very carefully considered, but on the advice of the Public Prosecutor it was decided not to do so. As regards the four stewards who had already left the service, payment of their pensions was stopped for a period of twelve months. There was no evidence in this case to implicate other officials, nor was their any definite information to show that other contractors or stewards had been guilty of the same practices.
Garforth Parochial School
To ask the President of the Board of Education how many children there are on the books of the Garforth parochial school in Standards III. to VI., inclusive; what is the accommodation in the Garforth Council provided school; and what is the number of children of all standards on the books of the Garforth Council provided school. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) The Answer to the first paragraph is 113 on 21st June, the latest date for which figures are available; to the second, 240; to the third, 143 for the month of July.
Merionethshire School Teachers' Salaries
To ask the President of the Board of Education on what date the Board wrote to the local education authority of Merionethshire asking about the correctness of the claims of repayment of teachers' salaries advanced by the managers of certain non-provided schools; and what reply has been received. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) The Board wrote on the 17th instant to the local education authority. The authority replied in letters received to-day that in the case of two of the schools the instalments of salaries are correctly stated by the managers, whilst in the case of the other two schools the salaries of three of the teachers are not quite correctly stated.
Medical Inspection Of School Children
To ask the President of the Board of Education whether under the Education (Aministrative Provisions) Bill there is any obligation on parents to submit children attending public elementary schools to medical inspection, as well as an obligation upon local education
Survey Of Road Between Cahersivane And Cloughvoola
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland can he state when the Congested Districts Board intend to carry out the undertaking given by them several months ago to make a survey of the proposed road between Cahersivane and Cloughvoola, in the barony of Iveragh, county Kerry. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Board's engineer anticipates that he will be able authorities to provide for such medical inspection. (Answered by Mr. McKenna.) In the view of the Board the obligation placed by the Bill upon the authority to provide for inspection does not of itself compal a parent to submit his child to inspection.
Indian Civil Service Examiners
To ask the Secretary of states for India how many of the examiners at the examinations for appointments in the Civil Service held in 1904, 1905, and 1906 were professors or fellows of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, and Edinburgh.(Answered by Mr. Secretary Morley.) The following table which has been supplied me by the Civil Service Commissioners gives the information desired by the hon. Member— to inspect the route of the proposed road in the course of next month.
Purchase Of The Freeman Estate, County Cavan
To ask the Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Estates Commissioners have acquired, in Judge Ross's Court, the Freeman estate, at Virginia, county Cavan; and, if so, when and for what amount; whether the receiver has conveyed to the tenants the terms of purchase; whether the untenanted land has been or will be acquired, in view of the fact that many of the tenants are very poor and stand in need of economic holdings; and whether the turbary on the untenanted land will be made available for the tenants. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners have made an offer to purchase this estate, and the Land Judge has signified his willingness to accept the offer, subject to the tenants signing the necessary undertakings to purchase their holdings at the prices estimated by the Commissioners. It is understood that these prices have been communicated to the tenants, who have so far refused to give them. The untenanted land, on which the turbary is situate, was sold long since and has been vested in the purchaser.
Repayment Of Loan On Portmagee Water- Works Scheme
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord- Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that the Local Government Board has charged the electoral division with the expense of the Portmagee waterworks, whilst in the case of Caherciveen waterworks, in the same district council area, the charge has been made a union charge, and can he explain why in the case of Portmagee the money is payable in twenty years at 7 per cent., whereas in the case of Caherciveen it is payable in fifty years at 3¾ per cent., and whether, seeing that the rural district council has applied for an extension of time, from twenty to fifty years, for repayment as regards the Portmagee scheme, he will see that equal treatment is given to these two schemes. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Local Government Board have made orders fixing the district electoral division as the area of charge for the Portmagee waterworks, and the rural district as the area of charge for the Caherciveen waterworks. In the former case the rural council would only agree to the district electoral division as the area of charge, and the resolution of the council requesting the Board to fix this area was proposed by the councillor representing the electoral division. A large proportion of the expenditure had been guaranteed from outside sources and, as the amount falling on the rates would not in consequence press unduly on the ratepayers in the electoral division, the Board did not feel warranted in withholding their approval of the area desired by the local authority. In the Caherciveen case the area was fixed as the rural district, with the consent of the rural district council. The loan for the Portmagee waterworks is repayable in twenty years with interest at 3½ per cont. per annum, and the period for repayment for the Caherciveen scheme is thirty years, and the interest 3¾ per cent. The periods in both cases were fixed by the Board after due consideration of the character and durability of the works. No application has been made to the Board for extension of the period in the Portmagee case.
Mr Peter Roe And Purchase Of Land At Curraghmore
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that Mr. Peter Roe, who holds a farm of 180 acres of untenanted land on the eleven months system upon the White estate at Curraghmore, Borrisin-Ossory, Queen's County, seeks to become purchaser under the Act of 1903; and, in view of the fact that Mr. Roe is in possession of 700 acres of land, and that there are deserving persons in the locality who claim portion of the Curraghmore farm, will he see that the sale to Mr. Roe is not sanctioned.
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord - Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Estates Commissioners have received a resolution passed by the Borris-in-Ossory branch of the United Irish League relative to the proposed sale of the estate of Mr. Robert V. White, situate at Skierk and Curraghmore, Borrisin-Ossory, Queen's County, pointing out that there is untenanted land amounting to 700 acres on the estate, and that the eleven months graziers, with the approval of the landlord, have applied t become purchasers of same; will he state whether a memorial has been received from the parish priest of Borrisin-Ossory enclosing a list of parties eligible under the Land Act, 1903, for portion of this untenanted land; and can he say what course the Commissioners propose to adopt in this matter. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Estates Commissioners inform me that, up to the present, proceedings for the sale of the estate mentioned in these two Questions have not been instituted before them. The Commissioners, however, have received the resolution and memorial referred to, and will duly consider the alleged matter of fact when the estate comes before them to be dealt with.
Mr Frend's Farm At Ballinamona
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he will give the date on which Mr. Henry Fiend became tenant of the farm of Ballinamona, on the Kingston Estate, Mitchelstown, from which farm Mr. Thomas Kent was evicted, and what is the description of the letting to Mr. Frend; if the evicted tenant has made an application to the Estates Commissioners for reinstatement; and whether he will arrange that the tenancy created by or for Mr. Frend himself, the agent of the Kingston Estate, will not be permitted to stand in the way of the reinstatement of Mr. Kent in his old holding. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) Proceedings have not been instituted before the Estates Commissioners for the sale of the holding in respect of which Thomas Kent has lodged an application for reinstatement. The Commissioners are, therefore, not in a position to give particulars as regards the interest of the present occupier.
Repayment To Debenture Holders In County Fermanagh Under The Charitable Loan Funds Act
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland is he aware that, though the proceedings under the Charitable Loan Funds Act of 1906 have caused much distress among the unfortunate borrowers in county Fermanagh, very little progress has beer made in payment of debenture holders; and will he urge upon the Loan Fund Board the importance of prompt payment to the many debenture holders who are in many cases in want owing to non-payment of the debentures. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) The Loan Fund Board inform me that they are fully alive to the importance of prompt payment to the debenture holders referred to, but the several collections are necessarily proceeding slowly, and many difficulties are being experienced by the receivers. In some cases the magistrates, when giving decrees against borrowers have stipulated that the amount shall be paid by instalments spread over a considerable time. The Board have reason to anticipate that, in many of the cases, the sum which will eventually be available for distribution will be but a small one.
Grievances Of Royal Irish Constabulary
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland if he can say when and by what means he proposes to inquire into the grievances of the Royal Irish Constabulary. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) This matter is under consideration, but I am not at present in a position to make any statement in reference to it.
Sale Of Fitzmaurice Estate, North Kerry
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Fitzmaurice estate, at Duagh, North Kerry, which is in a congested district, has yet been offered for sale to the Congested Districts Board; and, if so, with what result. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) This estate has not been formally offered for sale to the Congested Districts Board. The Board, however, have had some correspondence on the subject with the agent but have not been furnished with the particulars which they require in order to consider whether the estate would be suitable for their purposes.
Sale Of Estate Of Mr T W Sands, North Kerry
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he can state when the agreements signed by the tenants on the estate of Mr. T. W. Sands, situate near Tarbert, North Kerry, were lodged by the landlord with the Estates Commissioners; whether the sale has yet been sanctioned; and, if not, when will it be completed. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) Purchase agreements for the sale of this estate were lodged with the Estates Commissioners in August, 1905, and the case will be dealt with in its proper order of priority. Other applications of prior date remain to be dealt with, and the Commissioners are not at present in a position to say when the proper turn of this particular estate will be reached.
Application Of Michael Scully For Cottage
To ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether a representation for a cottage and allotment on the lands of Michael Nugent, rural district councillor, was received by the Carrick-on-Suir (No. 2) District Council from a labourer named Michael Scully, of Tinhalla; was this representation passed by the district council but transferred by the sites committee, of which Michael Nugent was a member, from the latter's farm to the holding of a brother district councillor named William Hearne; was this transfer effected on the recommendation of the sites committee as a whole or on the sole initiative and responsibility of Michael Nugent; has there been friction at the meetings of the district council over Scully's application and the shifting of sites: have the council as a result now thrown out this man's representation, although it was originally approved of by them: and will he say whether, having regard to all the circumstances, the Local Government Board inspector will inquire at the local inquiry with a view to restoring Scully's representation to the improvement scheme. (Answered by Mr. Birrell.) A representation on behalf of the labourer in the Question, for a cottage and allotment on the land of Michael Nugent, was passed by the rural district council and referred by them to the local sites committee with a view to their selecting the particular site on Nugent's farm on which the cottage should be built. The committee, however, did not mark out any site on Nugent's farm, and when the committee's report came before the district council the council decided to reject the case, possibly in order not to delay the whole scheme. The Local Government Board have no information as to the other matters referred to in the Question. As regards the concluding portion of the Question I must refer to the reply which the Attorney-General for Ireland gave on my behalf to the hon. Member's Question of the 11th July.
Infantry Officers' Chargers
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the hardship occasioned to infantry officers who have to he mounted on parade, by the terms of the circular memorandum issued on the 24th July last regarding forage, calling attention to King's Regulation 903, and Allowance Regulations 151 and 606; and whether he will consider the necessity for the strict enforcement of these regulations in promoting economy, in view of the fact that many officers are able to provide chargers at their own expense for regimental duty as well as private use so long as they draw forage in money or in kind. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) In order to reduce officers' expenses, it was decided in 1902 to supply chargers at the public expense to all regimental mounted officers, and to allow them to use these chargers for private as well as military purpo es on payment of £10 a year, the horse so used becoming the officer's property after six consecutive annual payments at home and after four such payments abroad. At the same time it was laid down in King's Regulations that officers were to ride these chargers on parade, except in the case of private horses in their possession prior to January, 1903; and it was further laid down in Allowance Regulations that forage could only be drawn for public horses supplied for military or general purposes, or for private horses in possession prior to January, 1903. If the above rules were relaxed, the object of supplying horses at the public expense would be defeated, and I may add that no complaints of the working of the present system have reached the War Office. No circular memorandum on this subject was issued by the War Office on the date mentioned in the Question.
Planning Of Volunteer Camps At West Tarring, Worthing
To ask the Secretary of State for War whether he has yet received the Report called for from the General Officer Commander-in-Chief upon the planning of the recent Volunteer camps at West Tarring, Worthing; and, if so, what action, if any, he proposes to take. (Answered by Mr. Secretary Haldane.) It is untrue that a mistake was made in siting the camp at West Tarring. The camp was planned from an Ordnance map corrected up to date in 1905, and checked on the ground by officers on the Brigadiers' staff. The camping ground was quite clear of any houses except one newly erected villa to the occupants of which no possible inconvenience could have been caused. No complaints of any sort were received.
Merchant Shipping (Tonnage Deduction For Propelling Power) Bill
Lords Amendments to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 330.]
Public Accounts Committee
moved that the three Reports of the Public Accounts Committee be now taken into consideration. He said he wished to thank the Government for affording them an opportunity of discussing the Reports. It was the opinion on all sides of the House that some discussion on the Reports would be of considerable value not only to the House but to the Departments concerned. He hoped that the precedent set by the Leader of the Opposition when he was responsible for the business of the House would always be followed and that an opportunity for discussing the Reports would become a permanent feature in their financial procedure. In the Reports the Committee had endeavoured to give a clear and comprehensive account of all matters which they had dealt with, and he would therefore confine his remarks to matters of principle rather than of detail. The Committee had done its best in an extremely arduous session to deal with an immense number of subjects. The Committee had sat on a greater number of days than ever before. He wished to thank colleagues for the support and consideration they had given him, especially in the somewhat peculiar position he was holding, for the accounts they had considered in the last two years referred mainly to matters for which the late Government was responsible and in which he himself was personally concerned. He reminded the House that although he did not enter into all the details mentioned in the Reports, these details would not entirely disappear from view, because in some cases they would be the subject later on of Treasury Minutes in connection with the various Departments, and when the Committee met again next year there would be an opportunity of seeing how far the recommendations of the Committee had been carried out. In paragraph 15 of the second Report there was a statement that a disallowance which was recommended by the Committee last year had been carried out, and that a sum of money had been placed in the Estimates this year by which the Suspense Account had been wiped out. The first question to which he wished to direct attention was that referred to in the second paragraph of the first Report, namely, appropriations in aid. This matter had already been before the House in one form or another, and he did not propose to go into it at any length. If irregularity had been committed it was an irregularity fr which several Chancellors of the Exchequer bad been jointly responsible. It was one which certainly required to be adjusted. Ho thought the House had reason to be grateful for the line which the Government had taken in having the necessary alteration made in the Appropriation Bill. The result would be that the practice which had been in operation for several years would be discontinued, and that the new method would be regular and thoroughly in order. He was confident, however, that the expression the Committee used in their Report, that the total expenditure authorised by Parliament had in no case been exceeded, was strictly correct. He wished to take this opportunity of thanking the Chancellor of the Exchequer for having submitted to them the draft of the Amendment to the Appropriation Bill before it was embodied in the Bill. He did not know whether there was any precedent for that, but it was thoroughly in accordance with the spirit of the relationship existing between the Administration of the day and the Public Accounts Committee that such proposals should be placed before them. The next question to which he wished to direct attention was possibly the most important of all the questions which the Committee had had before them. It would be found in the second paragraph of the second Report, dealing with the variations between the forecasts of expenditure and the actual outcome. In paragraph 2 of this Report they stated that "the surplus, which would have been larger by £245,000 but for the additional expenditure sanctioned by the Treasury on the rearmament of the artillery, is nearly twice as large as any that has occurred in Army Votes for the last twenty years, and is considerably in excess of the surplus on the combined Votes of the Navy and Civil Services and Revenue Departments in the year under review, where an expenditure of £82,000,000 was involved." In dealing with this question, he hoped the House would keep in view the evidence which was given by the Accountant-General of the Army. It would be admitted on all sides that the state of affairs disclosed in that paragraph was far from satisfactory. This matter had been the subject of correspondence between the War Office and the Treasury, and he would like to remind the House that necessarily there must be a considerable amount of difficulty before the new organisation of the War Office could be fully effected. This represented almost the first year of the new system which was the result of the Esher Committee. He ventured to suggest to the House that they should not endeavour to blame any of those who might seem to have been responsible for what had occurred, and that they should rather endeavour to find a system by which these discrepancies could be avoided in future. He was bound to confess, from the evidence of the Accountant-General of the Army, that he was afraid the outlook was by no means promising. One of the Reports of the Committee contained the following statement on that subject—
"As regards the future, they are without assurance that a more satisfactory result may be expected. For it has been explained to them that the military directors (who now frame Estimates and control the progress of expenditure) 'are transient officers who come to their post with very expensive notions, and only get to know their work thoroughly by the time they have got to go;' and that, as was admitted by the representatives of the War Office, the financial shortcomings now under notice may be repeated again, possibly periodically."
said that in referring to War Office finance it would only be fair that the right hon. Member should give the opinion of the Accountant-General as expressed in his evidence in chief in answer to Question 3225. The Accountant-General said—
"I should like to say, and I think I am voicing the whole civil side of the office when I say, that it is extraordinary how had these men have worked and how well they have succeeded in the difficult pos-itions which they occupy,and what an extraordinarily economical spirit they have shown."
said it was quite fair that that side of the case should be considered also. They were not now dealing with individuals but with the system under which they were appointed. The Committee admitted that there had been difficulties, but what they were anxious to do was, instead of imputing blame for what had occurred, to endeavour to see that these difficulties did not occur in future. He reminded the House that the Estimates for the Navy and Army had necessarily been prepared in November or December in one year for the year ending 31st March, not of the following year, but of the year following that. Therefore, those responsible for drawing up the Estimates a considerable time prior to the time when the actual expenditure would take place made provision on the safe side, with the view of avoiding the necessity for Supplementary Estimates. The Public Accounts Committee, in approaching this question, were fully aware of the difficulties in which the War Office were placed, but the importance of the matter could not be over-estimated. Every effort should he made to arrive at as accurate a forecast as possible. The next point was one which concerned both the War Office and the Admiralty, and was connected with the question of pensions and gratuities for wounds. In their previous year's Report the Committee called attention to this matter in the following paragraph—
Further evidence was taken on the subject this year. The Committee were informed by the Admiralty and the War Office that they were unable to concur in the recommendation which had been made. He was bound to state on behalf of the Committee that, in view of the evidence which they had received and the correspondence which had taken place, they had not been induced to alter the opinion they expressed in their Report last year. Certainly there was no suggestion that an officer should be deprived of a wound pension; the Committee only recommended that when he was still drawing full pay he should not be in receipt of extra pay concurrently. During temporary disablement from wounds the officer should get practically his full pension, but if he returned to duty on full pay he should receive the full pay as before, and the whole question of pension should be renewed on his retirement. The next point to which he wished to draw attention, because it had given rise this year and last year to considerable discussion, was where contracts had been given without competition, and where contractors had been allowed by means of taking comparatively small contracts to increase them by a considerable amount. For instance, there was the case of a contract for mounted infantry barracks. The original contract was £28,150, but the new contract amounted to £42,000. Parliament had devised a regular procedure by which cases of special urgency could be dealt with, and the Committee strongly recommended that if such cases were found to be necessary the question should be considered before the contract was entered into and the sanction of the Treasury received, so that the subject could be brought before Parliament at the earliest opportunity. There had been cases during the year under review, but they had risen before the issue of the Report of 1906, and the Committee understood that their recommendation had been brought to the notice of the various Departments concerned. A point in connection with the Army and the Navy was the cost of the staff in relation to the work that had been carried out. He admitted that there was a certain amount of difficulty in arriving at what might be called the correct figure, but he hoped that through the recommendation in the Report of this year it might be possible to furnish the Committee in succeeding year s with some statement showing the cost which was involved on the part of the staff in carrying out the work. The Department need not be apprehensive of the figure being a high one. What the Committee were really anxious to find out was whether there was a variation from year to year between the cost of the staff, and also the effect of the comparisons between similar services. Another point was that of triennial contracts. This subject was now engaging the attention of the War Office, and he hoped they would consider the evidence which the Committee had brought before them. Any new work costing not more than £400 might be included under these contracts. The original limit was placed at £400; it had now been raised to £1,000. Though no definite opinion had been expressed by the Committee on the point, it was clearly indicated by them that the limit of £1,000 should not be exceeded. This contract system had been on the whole economical and useful, and had worked well. It was regrettable to add in respect of the military statement that there had been a loss of public money incurred through constant changes of policy. He was prepared to take as much blame as any one on this head, because he was a member of that Government that had to deal with the housing of the Army and the provision of accommodation for them. He hoped that statement set out by the Committee might act as an inducement to the House not to be always making changes in Army policy. He expressed the hope also that they were reaching finality in the form of Army administration, and that they would not be constantly making those variations which, whether received well by the Army or not, could not be achieved without cost. A considerable amount of satisfaction was felt by the Committee in dealing withpersonnel in relation to their review of the accounts. This year the only case of irregularity was not one which had been committed for the purposes of fraud or by which public money had been lost. The irregularity in fact had been committed by a public servant actuated by an almost excessive zeal to wind up his accounts. He understood that a strongly worded circular had been sent out, and he was confident that when this matter had been brought to the notice of all concerned, they might look forward to amendment. The Committee was, from the nature of the case, essentially a critical committee. They had to detect, if they could, what they considered practices involving the spending of money contrary to the expressed opinion of the House. Though the system of investigation might be slow and cumbrous, it was at any rate effective and efficient. Hon. Members who perused the Reports and noted the ultimate destination of the money voted would find that on the whole it passed smoothly in the direction in which Parliament intended. It was practically certain that any departure from the expressed intention of the House would sooner or later be brought to the attention of Parliament. Some might be disposed to allege that the system savoured a good deal of red tape; but it could be confidently said, at any rate, that it was effective in seeing that the deliberate intentions of Parliament were carried out. The Committee as well as the House owed a debt of gratitude to the distinguished servants, high and low, who had been actuated by the highest motives to carry out what they believed to be the direct intentions of Parliament in a smooth, efficient, and economical way. He thanked the Government for giving an opportunity to raise these questions, and he hoped that in future years the precedent now established would never be departed from. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Report of the Public Accounts Committee be now taken into consideration."—(Mr. Victor Cavendish.)"Your Committee have ascertained that under existing regulations 'wound pensions' can he drawn by officers who are able to resume military duty and to earn full pay. Exception has been taken by the Treasury to the continuance of this practice on the ground (1) That it constitutes a class distinction, seeing that the ordinary soldier does not participate in this benefit. (2) That it contravenes the practice in civil life, where no compensation is given for injuries which do not impair earning power. While recognising that on retirement from service the permanent effects of a wound or injury may warrant increased rates of retired pay both for officers and non-commissioned officers and men, your Committee are of opinion that the above practice of issuing wound pensions concurrently with full pay should cease, and that when an officer has recovered, and can resume military duty, no further grant should be made to him in respect of his injury until he retires from the service."
said the first Report of the Public Accounts Committee was issued on the 24th June, the second on the 23rd July, and the third on the 27th July in this year, while the evidence was issued on 15th August, and it occurred to him that these Reports should have been issued with the evidence on which they were based so that hon. Members might be enabled to keep in touch with the proceedings of the Committee and have the whole matter before them. The result of the present system was that the discussion of the whole matter was driven off to the second or third week in August when they were drawing near the end of their proceedings. That not only meant that the opportunity for discussion was very limited indeed, but also that they had had very little time owing to the manner in which the House had been sitting early and late to go through the evidence and sift it as it ought to be sifted. Unless the House was given an opportunity of considering the evidence it reduced the whole proceedings to an absurdity. The first paragraph he wished to refer to was paragraph eighteen of the first Report ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on the 24th June, which related to balances irrecoverable and claims abandoned, and had special reference to the defective rudder casting for H.M.S. "King Ed- ward VII." He had put a Question on this subject to the Admiralty, and he was bound to say that he received a very unsatisfactory reply, from which it seemed that the object of the Department was to give as little information as they could, so that he was driven to make inquiries on his own account. Luckily he came across a man who had been employed in the Ayrshire Foundry Company at the time of the casting of the defective rudder, and he gave him a detailed account of the whole process attending its manufacture. He said, "The Ayrshire Foundry Co., Ltd., held a Government contract for a period of three years to construct marine castings to Admiralty patterns and specifications and subject to inspection by Admiralty inspectors at the rate of thirty shillings per cwt. Castings condemned to be a dead loss to the foundry. In the autumn of 1904, orders were received to make the rudder frame for H.M.S. 'King Edward' and the work was forthwith commenced, William Brown, foreman moulder, being responsible for the moulding, and Thomas Muirhead, foreman smelter, for the quality of the metal. So far as was humanly possible the moulding was done in a tradesmanlike manner. Brown was a trained steel moulder of large experience and in every way fitted for the job. As for the quality of the metal I cannot express an expert opinion. But I should think if it was good it was so by accident. Muirhead called himself a tradesman, but the general opinion of trained workers in the foundry was adverse to him, and complaints of the quality of metal by moulders and dressers were of daily occurrence. Moreover, he was entirely ignorant of chemistry, and had to judge his furnaces by appearances alone, being unable to check appearances by chemical tests."
What was the date of that?
I do not know the date, but it formed the subject of part of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee.
said he had understood his hon. friend to give some date for this occurrence.
said he did not know the date, and continued the reading of the document, as follows: "The cast took place and after cooling the mould was dismantled and the casting raised. A crowd of dressers now set to work on it with a couple of electric welders in attendance. Any flaw revealed by the dressers was at once tackled by the welders and, well—I will say obliterated. On turning the casting to continue dressing on the underside a large hole was discovered at the neck of the rudder stock. The casting was at once removed from the foundry to the engineering shop and work suspended for a couple of days."
inquired as a point of order whether it was quite fair to read an anonymous letter involving serious accusations against individuals.
said the hon. Member who was addressing the House was acting on his own responsibility. He could not compel him to give the name of his correspondent and he must use his own discretion in the matter.
said that in answer to the hon. Member he might point out that not only was he referring to the Report of the Public Accounts Committee but that that Committee described this incident as a fraudulent matter and expressed surprise that criminal proceedings had not been taken against the company. No one had been prosecuted, but one of the directors had been knighted. The workman of the company who had brought the subject to the attention of the Government had, however, not received any reward whatever. Therefore he thought he was justified in bringing this matter before the attention of the House, and in trying to get the information which he could not get from the Admiralty officials. The letter continued:—"Frequent consultations were held by the works-manager, foremen, and managing director. The first-mentioned, Mr. Livingstone, declined point blank to have anything to do with the casting and condemned it utterly. The others less independent were swayed by the managing director, and it was decided to electrically weld the flaw or, in plain language, `fake' the casting. To do this the hole was filled with steel borings (it took about two pailsful) well rammed down and a powerful current of electricity passed over it. To enable you to understand how electric welding works I may explain that a negative wire is attached to the casting while the welder applies a carbon connected to the positive pole of a dynamo. This simple application has no effect further than charging the casting with electricity, but the welder, after touching the casting, raises the carbon, say, half an inch, and the current still flows in a released state and being concentrated on a given point generates the most intense heat. This heat immediately liquefies anything in the shape of metal it comes in contact with, but only at the point of contact, because after contact the current becomes different and loses power through non-concentration. The melting power of the current does not extend beyond half a inch from the point of contact, but the welder by rapidly moving the carbon from side to side can keep a comparatively large surface in a fluid state, but that surface, be it large or small, is never deeper than about half an inch. You will see by this process a skin can be formed over any flaw, and such was the method adopted in the case of the 'King Edward.' The borings beneath the half-inch skin would retain their normal condition. Mr. Marshall, the managing director of the Ayrshire Foundry Company, is a boiler maker by trade and has risen from the ranks by his own exertions. In a financial sense be has been a success, but in any other sense 'the less said the better.' He it was who suggested the 'faking' and accompanied the inspectors. The rudder was duly weighed (about fifteen tons) dispatched by special train to Glasgow, thence per steamer to Devonport." On the 22nd of July he asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty a question as to why tese people were not prosecuted, and the hon. Gentleman said, "I am informed that the Memorial submitted to the Scottish Law Officers in 1904 contained no imputation whatever against any director of this company except Mr. Marshall, the managing director, and that in his case the accusation was made by one person and denied by three. No criminal prosecution appears to have been considered expedient in 1904, and in the opinion of the Lord Advocate it would be out of the question now." He submitted that if the Admiralty had been anxious to do its duty by setting the Law Officers of the Crown and the Public Prosecutor to work they could have obtained plenty of evidence on which to base a criminal charge against this Mr. Marshall, the managing director. His informant went on to state, "I may mention all castings at Ayrshire Foundry previous to inspection were painted with a solution of sal-ammoniac which quickly forms a heavy coating of rust and effectually conceals any marks of hammer, chisel, or carbon." Large castings were also submitted to a sound test, that is, a man struck them here and there with a forge hammer in presence of the inspector, but, alas, the hammer-man was an employee of the foundry. The scene was rehearsed, and the man was careful to strike only where the casting would ring true. This was the worst feature of all, but yet the Law Officers of the Crown and the Admiralty had not taken any steps in the matter, although this battleship cost us over £1,000,000 and carried 800 men. Had "King Edward VII." come into action and had this rudder given way at a critical moment the valuable vessel and 800 lives might have been lost, but the man who had exposed this and brought it to the attention of the Admiralty had received no reward and no honour, while one of the directors of the company, as he had already said, had been knighted. As this Ayrshire Foundry Company had been supplying castings for several years, he thought there might be some other cases of defect, and so he wrote to his correspondent for particulars, who replied that the ships that he knew contained castings from the Ayrshire Foundry Company in regard to which he had a perfect recollection were the "Hindustan," the "Argyll," the "Roxburgh," the "Duke of Edinburgh," and the "Dominion," these being in addition to the "King Edward VII." In another letter his correspondent said that he had mentioned castings supplied to H.M.S. "Argyll." He said he selected these for the reason that he remembered them as being very badly torn in the cooling process and he was on duty during the night when the electric welders were employed on them—in other words, when they were "faked." Upon that statement he (Mr. Lea) asked a question of the Secretary to the Admiralty requesting him to furnish the names of His Majesty's ships at present on the active list containing castings supplied by the Ayrshire Foundry Company prior to the delivery of the rudder for the "King Edward VII.," and he also asked that the information might be given with special reference to the castings supplied to H.M.S. "Argyll." The Secretary to the Admiralty informed him that to furnish the information asked for would involve a great amount of labour which, in the opinion of the Admiralty, would not be justified by the results. That he could not believe. Moreover, the Secretary to the Admiralty said that the castings had stood the test of actual service for some years without exhibiting defects. His correspondent wrote that the castings supplied to the ships he mentioned were all stem or stern frames with one exception, and that was a rudder similar to that of the "King Edward." He could not recall for which vessel it was intended. The writer enclosed a rough pencil sketch to scale of the worst tears marked as they showed and according to that some of the tears would be in the "Argyll's " case 15 inches deep. The other castings were torn in a like manner, but not so badly as the "Argyll's." His correspondent added, "Please understand that I consider that so long as these castings are not subjected to strain, such as would be caused by violent weather, or touching the ground, they are safe enough, but should the 'Argyll' be unlucky enough to encounter what I may call a legitimate storm or to touch the ground aft, the chances are ten to one the stern frame would simply buckle up. May I draw your attention to the latter half of Mr. Robertson's reply to your question in which he stated that the castings supplied to the 'Argyll' have stood the test of active service for some years. The 'Argyll' was only completed in January, 1906, so I think Mr. Robertson has rather a vague (perhaps a naval one) idea of what is generally understood by the word 'some.'" It appeared from the letters he had read that the ships for which these castings were supplied by this firm were the "Hindustan," the "Argyll," the "Roxburgh," the "Duke of Edinburgh," the "Dominion," and the "King Edward VII.," but the officials of the Admiralty, in their crass stupidity and ignorance of the elementary facts of technical work of foundries, had allowed these defective castings to he built into the ships, and if anything happened they and they alone would be responsible. When the armorial device of this honourable knight of the Ayrshire foundry was prepared, he hoped that a rotten stern post would be a prominent feature of it. He had put Questions with regard to these matters to the Secretary to the Admiralty but had been hold off until that day. He hoped they would now be gone into, because they were of great public interest. As to the Army Esti- mates, the chief discrepancy was that between the official forecast of the 22nd of March and the actual result nine days later, the amount being between £600,000 and £700,000. The officials of the War Office saw no likelihood of the matter being remedied in the future. Then in regard to paragraph 5 he would like to know what the garrison institutes mentioned were because he believed they were exclusively used by officers. The Committee recommended that the institutes should be pressed for the repayment of £9,294 for the rent of premises hired. Coming to paragraph 6, it appeared that £4,649 was issued by the Army Council without the sanction of the Treasury in regard to the attendance of Volunteers at the Royal Review at Edinburgh. If that could be done what safeguards had they? The Report of the Public Accounts Committee also in paragraph 9 called attention to the contract for a water supply to the troops at Standerton, which bound the War Office to pay at an absurd rate for twenty years, although the troops might be withdrawn at any time. He wished to know how many troops had been there, how many were there now, and how many were likely to be there in future. Then there was the remount depot in South Africa, for which a farm was bought, and to which a branch line was constructed on an undertaking to bear the capital charges in perpetuity. When all this was done it was found that the depot was useless because of the absence of a water supply. Paragraph No. 18 which dealt with this matter read like a chapter from "Alice in Wonderland." From paragraph 22 it appeared that at Aldershot a balloon factory was built at the cost of thousands of pounds in order to construct an elongated balloon, but the work was so slowly done that other buildings sprang up all round the factory, with the result that the balloon could not be got out of the factory. Poor people living on a few shillings a week had to pay the money that was being wasted by these fools in the public Departments. He hoped the man responsible for this elongated balloon factory would be cleared out of the service. Paragraph 23 referred to the increased cost of the headquarters staff, expressing disappointment that the reductions foreshadowed by the Esher Committee had not taken place. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see that they were effected as soon as possible. With regard to paragraph 26, this was only a small matter probably, but still in one sense it was important, as it set up a class distinction. When an officer died and left a widow and she received a pension she forfeited it if she married again, but if her second husband died then she could claim the pension again. That provision did not apply in the case of non-comissioned and warrant officers and men. Again, no pensions for wounds were given to non-commissioned officers and men as in the case of officers, and he did not see why such a distinction should be drawn. The latter half of paragraph 29 really raised a most important point in connection with the Report of the Committee, although it only came out in a very indirect manner. It was an instance of expenditure the explanation of which by the responsible officer was not satisfactory. The Director-General of Army Finance entered a written objection which had come before bite Army Council, and the point was decided by the majority of the Council, who were not answerable to the House of Commons. He wanted to see the Secretary for War in the position of being the only man in a position to override the protest of the accounting officer, for he would be responsible to the House. With regard to paragraph 36, it dealt with a small technical irregularity, and he hoped they would have an assurance that the recommendation of the Committee would be carried into effect. In paragraph 39, attention was drawn to the fact that one of the recommendations of the Committee with regard to putting tenders out to competition had hitherto been disregarded; while paragraph 40 spoke of the waste of money at East Bulford, a waste due to the policy of the late Government, which in one instance only had cost the country £140,000. Then, in Ireland, at a place called Moor Park, it was decided to start a mounted infantry school, and an estate of 840 acres was purchased at a cost of £35,000. When that had been done it was found that the school was no longer necessary, and they now had this Fermoy estate on their hands. He hoped it would be disposed of as soon as possible and the money appropriated for the relief of expenditure this year. Paragraph 42 dealt with the case of falsification of accounts by an officer. He asked for the officer's name and rank, where he was now employed, and why ho was not court-martialled. Had he been a civilian clerk in the War Office or in the employ of an ordinary private firm he would have been "fired" at once, but he supposed this office] had before him still a brilliant military career with many opportunities of squan- dering public money. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give a detailed reply to every question he had put to him.
said he interrupted the last speaker because he thought that it was a little unfair of the hon. Member to bring in names mentioned in the course of an anonymous letter reflecting on private characters. The House of Commons was not a Court of Law, and what was said within its walls was not actionable; and therefore every hon. Member ought to be particularly careful what he said. He wished to thank the Public Accounts Committee for the valuable work they had done. There was no other Committee of the House that did such great service; their reports were of immense value.
said he would as far as possible specifically reply to the demand of the hon. Member for East St. Pancras for information, but in the first place he wished to say that he associated himself without reserve with what the hon. Member for Preston had said as to the work of the Public Accounts Committee. The financial system of the country had its disadvantages and difficulties; but in his experience, extending over eighteen months, they were outweighed by the advantages. Obviously a system which gave the House of Commons a complete check on the issue and application of all public money must be rigid and give rise to some difficulty. It was not always convenient that every item of expenditure should be earmarked, and therestraint of individual initiative, while it might prevent the misapplication of public money, did not always lead to economy. The Departments were often blamed for what was the result of having to conform to a rigid system. Many of the accusations of "red tape" were founded on that. He had been blamed for not getting on faster with the placing of the contracts for the new stables at Tidworth. A private firm would have saved at least three weeks; but he had to observe the rule that all contracts must be put up to competition. On the balance, he believed that the present system of Parliamentary control was advantageous. The right hon. Gentleman took a gloomy view of the evidence of the Director-General of Finance at the War Office; but it was not justified. Sir Fleetwood Wilson had said that they were saving money, and were now in touch with military policy. When he came into office in December, 1905, he of course found that a great many of these matters had been already settled, and ho had to deal with the Estimates on very short notice. The directors were new and the system was new. It was a valuable system which the late Government had introduced, but it had not then got into working order. It was natural that the directors, who did not wish to be found under-estimating, should be very cautious. They took margins which he thought people who knew the work would consider they were justified in taking. The result was, with the rigid economy which was practised during the year following, that they saved a considerable sum of money on these Estimates. It was a large sum of money, but he thought it would be most unjust to blame the directors for what was really the outcome of prudence on their part in their want of experience of an entirely new system. As to what had been said about nine days, he did not blame the hon. Gentleman for having brought that forward, but it rested on a sheer misunderstanding. It was not true that it was only nine days from the end of the financial year when the Estimate was made. Many of the accounts did not come in until six months later, so that it was not nine days but something like six months. The discrepancy was inevitable, because they did not know how matters stood. The financial management of the War Office was not like that of the Admiralty. They had to deal with units and not with ships about which they knew everything. They had to deal with matters that were carried on thousands of miles away, and the directors had to control operations in almost every part of the globe. It was impossible for them to get in their accounts or know what was going on, and months had elapsed before the detailed information came forward. It was therefore quite a mistake to compare that system with the system at the Admiralty; and nine days was not the actual time; the real time was six months, and not less, before all the information could be got in from distant stations. As regarded the future, he thought it would be found that this year, with twelve months more experience, that they had estimated very closely. They had now something approaching to a settled system. They had made a reduction of £2,000,000 in the expenditure, and he thought it would be found that the close survey to which they had subjected everything, and the experience which the directors had gained, had brought them a much nearer result than had been the case in the last two or three years during which the new system at the War Office had been in operation. He agreed with the criticism of the Public Accounts Committee upon much of that system. He believed that it was very difficult for military directors to deal with these financial matters as satisfactorily as was the case under the old system of finance. When he used the word "satisfactorily," he meant satisfactorily from the point of view of finance, and that alone. Why had the re-organisation taken place? The reason was plain. It was because the old system had broken down completely in the South African War. The Report of the Farwell Commission swept away altogether the old system. They had waste in the field, waste in the stores, and waste in the making of contracts, and they had every kind of financial abuse. Why? Because it was not possible for civilians, who thoroughly understood matters, to get into the field to do the business. Some of the work had to be done almost under fire, and, it became evident that, if they were to have an efficient business system for the Army and a proper plan of accounting, they must base their preparations and everything else upon a war and not upon a peace footing. The old system of keeping everything upon a peace footing broke down, like every system based on peace when tried in the field. What they wanted was a system which prepared for war, yet preserved the checks and financial control and other things which were requisite in order to make the system thorough. He did not think they had got that completely up to this time. He said again that he entirely accepted the advantages of Parliamentary control, and he did not want by a hair's breadth to go back from that. He wanted to adopt it, and at the same time to bring the military mind and the financial mind closer together. They had been working hard at this problem during the last few months, and he hoped that they had devised means by which they would be able to satisfy the requisition which had been made upon them, and he thought justly made upon them, by the Public Accounts Committee, that there should not be that divorce between civilian and soldier which there had been up to this time. By their arrangement they had managed to get the soldier to accept much more financial advice than had been the case in the past, and they proposed to give him yet more. This would disturb nothing, and it would work harmoniously with the principle of Parliamentary control; it would put at the soldier's elbow every advice, so as to enable him to submit his accounts for review to the financial authorities at the War Office, and ultimately to appear on the Estimates. He thought the outlook, therefore, was not one that was without hope. He would not put it higher; but they had got a long way on with their preparations and he thought he saw his way to working out an efficient business system based on preparation for war while maintaining those checks and financial control to which allusion had been made. The other points which had been raised were much more difficult to meet. There was one, he thought, heavy criticism which the Public Accounts Committee had levelled against the history of the War Office. Of course, he was not merely speaking for himself in this matter, he was speaking of the past, and of the loss of money which had been caused by changes in the past. That loss was deplorable in this matter, but looking back upon it it was very difficult to blame anybody. It was thought that the Six Army Corps Scheme would be the salvation of the country, and there was all the enthusiasm of people who felt that there had been a breakdown of the War Office under the existing system, and that the Six Army Corps system had been adopted. It broke down, and really he did not blame in the least those who had advised it and ill whose hands it broke down. Under the old system at the War Office they had not got a machine to work out the calculations on which any system could be based that they had to-day. The old system was a very bad one for reform. The plan under which they had a Commander-in-Chief and a Secretary of State side by side, neither quite sure of the functions of the other, but each anxious, he suspected, to make the most of his rights, was a system which led to confusion. They had got rid of all that, and Parliament, much more directly than before, controlled the policy of the War Office. He must confess to having made changes in the policy of his predecessors. He had done that because he was forced by military and financial opinion behind him—forced by the outcome of organisation at headquarters. Of course, he felt the responsibilityery much of making these changes. They had formed four mounted infantry schools which were taking away more men from the battalion than they could afford. They had worked out a cavalry policy and had ascertained their requirements, and they had settled the number of mounted infantry required consistently with maintaining the strength of the line battalions from which the men could come. The result of that was that they found that one mounted infantry school was sufficient, and they did not want more. They wanted one cavalry school, and he looked about with his hon. friend to see how they could provide it economically. They had a large estimate, something like £60,000 or £70,000 for Bulford, and they felt it was capable of adaptation to their purpose at a cost of £8,000 or £9,000. The transference of themateriel was effected during the winter months, and the new mounted infantry school had been established economically and, he thought, efficiently. When they came to the recent Army organisation scheme, which extended not only to the Regulars but to the Auxiliaries on a very large scale, the Government had been met by the Opposition in what he thought he might say was a very handsome fashion. There had been controversies between them at the beginning, but when they came to work the thing out they saw that there ought not to be party questions raised about military matters further than it was possible to avoid. When one party or the other came into power, and there was change of policy, then the period would come when, as the result, there would be a flow of expenditure. He thought that had justified them in making friendly overtures to the other side, and those overtures had been responded to. He thought he might say, after what they had done, that they had good hope of continuity of policy, which they had not had for a very long time in the history of the Army. The responsibility for the present policy of course rested with the Government. If it failed, nobody on the other side of the House would be responsible. On various matters, like that of the Militia, the other side had met the Government, and they had been able to meet and to work out something together, which he thought was accepted in both Houses, and which was sufficient to give them at least a hope that there would be some chance of continuity. How the scheme succeeded depended on how it was worked out. If it did not succeed, he thought there was no disposition to overturn merely for the sake of overturning. He, therefore, looked to the future with some degree of hope, just as he looked to the future in finance with some degree of hope—the new methods they were working out, of bringing the military and civilian minds closer together, while retaining the policy of preparing for war in time of peace. Certain other matters had been raised. There was the apportionment of the charges betweeen the loans and Votes. That, of course, was a serious matter, but he was glad to say that it was getting to be more and more academic. The House had abolished the loan system and he was sure no more satisfactory steps had been taken. It might be that for a year or two there would be an increase in the Estimates, but it would not be a real increase, because there had always been an expenditure of one or two millions which did not appear in the Estimates but was included in these loans. The result would be that three years from now the loan charges would begin to fall off and the sum of £1,200,000 which the War Office had to pay for interest and instalments of principal would drop first by £300,000 and then by larger amounts, so that the Estimates would be automatically relieved of charges which did not make for fighting efficiency but referred only to past expenditure amounting to over £1,000,000. That was the economy they would get if they adhered to this method of paying their way as they went along instead of charging it on loan. In regard to officers' wounds pensions there seemed to be a natural tendency to cut down officers' emoluments because the pay of the men had gone up enormously within the last few years. The pay of the officers had not been raised at all and the Army was in this difficulty, that there was a tendency to think that officers were necessarily rich men, and ought to accept payment much less than an equivalent for their services. That was thoroughly bad for the Army. He did not want to raise this question of the increase of officers' pay unduly. They had done something this year, for they had increased the pay of battalion commanders of cavalry regiments by £100 a year. Step by step he trusted they would get to a state of things in which it would no longer be necessary to be a rich man in order to become an officer in the British Army. He was reluctant to cut down even a small thing which seemed to be extra remuneration at the present time. That was the reason for his reluctance, and it was not any wish to differentiate between officers and men. The differentiation had been all in favour of the men during the last decade. With the general criticism of the right hon. Gentleman he was in accord. It was most important that they should keep the control of Parliament over this expenditure, and keep it completely and attain even to his own ideal, which had given rise to some suspicion, of saving the Army from being overwhelmed by red tape. It was not true that red tape and Parliamentary control were convertible terms. Now he came to the formidable questions raised by the hon. Member for St. Pancras, who asked him about the South African garrison institutes, for whom they were demanding £9,294. The hon. Member had asked for the amounts claimed against each. Those institutes were created during the war for non-commissioned officers and men. The claim was not against any individual institute, but against the Committee as a whole who were responsible for their management. The next question put to him was in regard to £4,649 paid in respect of a review in Scotland in 1904, for which Treasury sanction was not obtained. He believed that the paper which should have gone to the Treasury was put into the drawer of a distinguished General who should have sent it to the officials of the Treasury, but it was overlooked. But the review went on all the same. His hon. and gallant friend near him agreed that it was a most successful review. There was no doubt that in those days, in the mood and mind the Treasury and Parliament were in, they would have sanctioned that expenditure. Therefore he thought it was merely a technical omission, and the Public Accounts Committee took that view and recommended that the item be passed.
Has anybody been reprimanded for that irregularity?
said some very nasty letters were written. His hon. friend had asked some questions about the Standerton water supply. That contract was entered into under peculiar circumstances. After the war it was thought that a very large garrison would have to be kept in South Africa for a long time to look after the Boers. All that had completely changed and it was now more a matter of the Boers looking after the garrison than the garrison looking after the Boers. The old distribution was not now necessary, and at Standerton they had not as many troops as they used to have and they might have less in the future. After the war some £2,000,000 was placed at the disposal of the general officers to arrange all these things, and this contract for a water supply at Standerton was made with the approval of the military authorities in South Africa. There was no necessity to send that contract over here for review, and they did not do so. That was the conclusion he had come to after looking up the papers, although the matter did not occur in his time at the War Office. The contract was made with the municipality of Standerton and the people of that town had got a lower water rate in consequence of the advantageous arrangement they made with the British Army. As for the farm which had been alluded to, it was abandoned no only because of the failure of the water but because it became saturated with horse disease and the loss would have been so enormous that it was considered wholly inexpedient to maintain it. He had been asked why there had not been that diminution in the expenditure which the Esher Committee had forecasted. There had been a diminution on one side, but it had been overbalanced by an increase on the other side. The expense in other departments of the district staff alone had been reduced by about £21,000 a year. The increase with regard to the general staff was due to the fact that there was no general staff before and one had to be created. It might have been started in a somewhat expensive fashion, but they were making inquiries with a view to seeing if the cost in this and other particulars might be cut down. He wanted to point out that there had been a reduction in the general cost of the district staff, and the increase was due to the fact that for the first time in the history of the Army it had got what the German, French, and Japanese armies had had for a long time and to which they owed their efficiency; namely, a General Staff. It was the new General Staff coming into existence that had produced this increase and not any failure to follow out the recommendations of the Esher Committee. With regard to the elongated balloon factory, it was said that after building the shed it was found that other buildings had been put up alongside which made it impossible to put the balloon there. That was stated in the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, but it was not a fact. The balloon had not been made at that time. The witness who gave the evidence had not the knowledge at the moment and was under a wrong impression that this balloon had been built a long time. The shed was not built specially for this elongated balloon and it was now being used for other purposes. The building became available for military workshops and was being used now for that purpose. Therefore, this balloon question was full of the inflammable and dubious material which sometimes raised these questions. Reference had been made to the way in which an officer had dealt with his accounts. That was not a case of malversation, but a case in which instructions had been sent to an officer to complete his accounts by a certain time. He could not finish them, not having the materials. He therefore took a shot, and put in the figures and made his total exactly right, though what he did was quite wrong. He had been censured, but they had sent out a circular saying that that sort of thing was never to be done in future.
said he did not mean to follow the hon. Member for East St. Pancras into the question of the behaviour of individuals. That was a question of detail rather than of policy. What he wished was the adoption of a policy which would obviate future risk to His Majesty's ships from defects of the kind which had been referred to. He was very grateful to the Admiralty for the steps which had already been taken to obviate the possibility of such defects in future. He had been informed in answer to a question that instructions had been issued that all castings should in future be inspected in the rough, and before they had been treated in any way, and, secondly, that instructions had been issued to prevent the smudging of castings. He did not think these directions went quite far enough. He would suggest that, when vacancies occurred on the inspecting staff, practical moulders should be appointed as inspectors. In connection with many branches of the shipbuilding trade practical men were appointed as inspectors, but moulders were not appointed. He did not think he was exaggerating the case when he said that there was no branch of shipbuilding in which there was greater necessity for proper inspection than that of castings and mouldings. A great mass of correspondence had reached him from a variety of quarters, and he was convinced that it was very easy for any practical moulder to detect defects, however great the efforts might have been to "fake" and conceal them. He did not suggest that faking often occurred, but one instance had been brought to their notice by the Public Accounts Committee, and there might be many others. He thought they should endeavour to prevent their recurrence. When His Majesty's ship "Inflexible" was being built by Messrs. John Brown & Co., of Clydebank, it was found that a defective cast had been used, and its removal involved a delay of about a month in the launching of the ship. He mentioned that to show that these things might occur with the best regulated firms. They were all agreed that Messrs. John Brown and Co. ranked with the very first of the kind, and that there could not be the slightest suspicion in their case that any effort would be made to hide defects, or use anything but the very best material.
said he wished to discuss a question which was before the Public Accounts Committee during the past year, namely, the subsidy granted to the London & North Western Railway Company for carrying the mails between London and Ireland.
Does this arise on the reports of the Public Accounts Committee?
submitted that it certainly did arise as there was a reference to it in the evidence to which he was going refer.
Will the hon. Gentleman give me the reference to the page in which it occurs?
We are now dealing with the Reports of the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr. Speaker earlier in the debate allowed references to be made to the evidence in regard to other matters, and I submit that I am fully entitled to discuss this matter.
The point is this. The Motion before the House is that the Reports of the Public Accounts Committee be now taken into consideration. The evidence on which discussion has been allowed has reference to matters dealt with in the Reports. I do not suppose that there is any reference in the Reports to the question raised by the hon. Member.
If I am to be precluded from discussing the evidence I will not pursue the subject. It seems to me curious that while the War Office and the Admiralty are only too anxious to have a discussion, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury should try to stop discussion on a matter affecting his Department.
I must tell the hon. Gentleman that it has nothing to do with the Financial Secretary. I have made inquiry as to what has been done before.
All I can say is that the point was not raised until the Financial Secretary had consulted you.
I did not consult the Chair. if any communications passed, they were certainly not on my initiative.
May I not discuss the omission of something from the Reports which is included in the evidence given before the Committee.
If it is not referred to in the Reports, it is not in order to refer to it on the present occasion.
referred to the fact that the Bluebook containing the reports of the Committee also contained a vast amount of evidence which had been given at an inquiry in regard to the way in which departmental accounts were kept. That examination had been conducted in a very effective manner, and in cross examination the members of the Committee displayed a variety of practical knowledge of the subjects in hand and were able to elicit valuable information. Another interesting point in connection with the work of the Public Accounts Committee was that there was nothing political either in the composition of the Committee or in their course of action. The members were actuated only by an honest desire to obtain bare facts in relation to public accounts, and to call the attention of the House to any points with respect to which changes might with advantage be made. Referring to what had fallen from the Secretary of State for War on the subject of pensions, he suggested that it would be better to pay officers what they deserved instead of following the practice which had been commented upon. A suggestion was made some time ago by the Select Commitee which inquired into national expenditure that the Estimates prepared by Departments should be examined by a Committee before they were brought before the House. That, he thought, would be an improvement in the financial system. Although it was all very well for the Public Accounts Committee to investigate accounts after expenditure had been incurred, it should be remembered that their investigations often referred to expenditure of a year or two before. That was a long interval and it was sometimes difficult to get full information. If there was a Committee to examine Estimates before they came before the House, that would have the effect, he believed, of reducing expenditure, because the Departments would be more careful in drawing up their reports.
thanked the Government for the opportunity of discussing this Report. Since 1862, when the Public Accounts Committee was appointed this was only the second occasion when such an opportunity had been afforded. He earnestly hoped that it might now be regarded as a settled precedent which would he followed every year. The importance of the work of the Committee in ensuring the control of that House over expenditure was great and increasing. The totals of our national expenditure were greater year by year, while the effective control over them of the House of Commons under the present conditions governing discussion in Supply was visibly decreasing. Increasing grants were increasingly unconsidered; and, under the Supply Sessional Order of 28th April, 1902, vast sums were appropriated to expenditure without any consideration in the House at all. Moreover, even that appropriation was constantly defeated in respect of large sums without any reference to Parliament and by the mere motion of the Treasury, as shown for instance, in paragraph 17 of the Committee's Second Report this year. This power ofvirement had just been further extended to include extra departmental receipts never contemplated by Parliament at all; and it was clear that, unless the control of Parliament was in future to be limited to making block grants within which the Departments might have an absolutely free hand, the kind of scrutiny now exercised on its behalf by the Public Accounts Committee was an absolute and increasing necessity. He entirely agreed with his his hon. friend opposite that the scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee was of the highest value to this House, but, after all, it was only apost mortem examination; they had been considering this year the expenditure which took place in the year 1905-6. The Committee on National Expenditure, which, reported in 1903, made a recommendation that the scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee should be supplemented by that of an Estimates Committee which should be appointed continuously, and with the same power as the Public Accounts Committee. To that Committee should be referred each year one branch at least of the Estimates before they were agreed to in Committee of Supply. He hoped that that recommendation would be taken into the very serious consideration of the Government, because he thought it would certainly increase the effective control of the House of Commons over expenditure. To his mind the outstanding feature of the Reports of the Public Accounts Committee this year was the striking contrast between the financial administration of the two great spending Departments—the Admiralty and the War Office. On March 22nd, only nine days before the end of the financial year, the War Office made a forecast of a surplus of£691,000. As a matter of fact they had a surplus of £1,334,000. In other words the War Office on the 22nd of March made a mistake involving the unnecessary issue from the Exchequer of no less than £643,000. Owing to this and similar errors, upwards of £800,000 in excess of the amount required for Army expenditure was issued from the Exchequer and quite unnecessarily withdrawn from the old Sinking Fund and the extinction of Debt. The Secretary for War now informed the House that this was quite inevitable.
said that although the accounts closed at the end of the year the amounts were not ascertained until six months later. Moreover, £200,000 of the error was made at the express request of the Treasury itself. The War Office would have been £2000,000 nearer the true figures had they not listened to the advice of the Treasury.
said if it were true that from whatever cause—it did not matter two pins what the reason was—the system of financial administration at the War Office was such as to make these errors and discrepancies inevitable, that was a grave defect, and required the serious consideration, not alone of the Public Accounts Committee, but of the House. Why did these enormous discrepancies and mistakes never occur at the Admiralty?
said that they were dealing with a wholly new system, and he had good hope that they had seen the last of these big blunders.
said he was glad to hear that. They were told in the Public Accounts Committee by the Accounting Officer that this was the first year after enormous departmental changes had been made in the War Office. It was the fact that the civilian element had no voice in the War Office such as it had at the Admiralty and other great Departments of the State that was the cause of the blunder which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War did not extenuate, because he could not extenuate. The Director General of Army Finance said that under the system of the War Office there was no real security that this blunder might not occur again. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that it was necessary to emancipate the War Office from the appalling amount of red tape which surrounded the administration of that Department. But the complete maintenance of the present powers and duties of the Accounting and sub-Accounting officers, and above all of their independence of purely military control, was essential, and if that was preserved and the more the right hon. Gentleman abolished red tape, which was an abomination, the better.
said he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would not lend himself to any scheme which would reduce the control of the civilian element, which really meant the control of the House of Commons, in the administration of the War Office finances. He wished to call attention to one matter which although small in itself, was important. It had been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman—he meant the expenses incurred for the review in Edinburgh in 1905. In that review, which took place on the 18th September, both Army and Navy were represented. It was arranged in August that they should take part in it ; and on the 26th August the Admiralty wrote to the Treasury asking their santion to the expenditure of money for this purpose, which, of course, had not been included in the Admiralty Vote. How very different was the procedure of the War Office! On the 3rd of August the Army Council met. It was an informal meeting; and he understood that three generals and the right hon. Gentleman constituted an Army Council such as that. It was then decided that the expenses of the review were to be met out of public funds, and the Army Council at once, without any application to anyone and of their own mere motion, caused a letter to be sent on the same day to the General Officer Commanding in Scotland, telling him that he might spend £4,000 on railway fares. It was not until two days after the review had taken place that the Treasury heard anything from the War Office about the proposed expenditure, and, therefore, it was not surprising that the Treasury refused to sanction the grant. It was not enough for the Army Council to say that some papers had been lost or had been put in a drawer and had been forgotten. The point was that, in writing that letter of the 3rd August, the Army Council assumed a discretion over the expenditure of Army funds, which if conceded, would strike at the root of all Parliamentary control. It was a significant example of the spirit which appeared to animate the Army Council in financial matters-a spirit which did not exist and had never existed in any other Department of State. If brought out in the clearest and strongest contrast the different notions held at the War Office and the Admiralty. He hoped that the Secretary for War would allow no suggestion or scheme for ridding the War Office of red tape to lead him into the way of decreasing the civilian or House of Commons control over War Office expenditure.
said that, of course, they at the Admiralty were very grateful for the hon. gentleman's commendations of their methods of finance. The right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee was criticising the action of two years ago. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, was a prosecuting counsel or critic of his own administration in this matter; but he felt it to be his duty and privilege to defend the action of the Department with which he was connected although it took place in the time of the late Government. He thought the House must be gratified to know that in the years 1904-5 and 1905-6, although £35,000,000 to £40,000,000 a year had been spent by the Admiralty, no charge of malversation or corruption had been found against a single official; and if errors had been made they had been honestly made. There had been no taint of personal gain. The Admiralty welcomed intelligent criticism, arid if they could be shown how money could be more profitably spent in the service of the State they would gladly avail themselves of any suggestion or information placed at their disposal by hon. Members. The main criticism of the Admiralty had been in reference to the "King Edward VII.'s" rudder, in regard to which the hon. member for St. Pancras had accused the Admiralty officials of cross stupidity.
said he would pass that cheer by. The hon. Gentleman apparently thought he could get no information from the Admiralty and therefore he had got it for himself. He did not know from what source the hon. Gentleman had obtained his information, nor did he much care. The hon. Gentleman began by asserting that the date of this occurrence was in 1904. As a matter of fact it was in 1902. That was the first comment he had to make on the accuracy of the hon. Member's informant. The history of this defective rudder casting was as follows. In 1902 this casting, was ordered from the Ayrshire Foundry Company. The casting was cast in August, 1902, and it was found to be defective. The works manager, on a Sunday morning, called the attention of the managing director to this defective casting, and against the works manager's advice the managing director of this company ordered the works manager electrically to weld the casting so that the defect would be concealed. The Admiralty got no information of this transaction until they received it from the works manager himself, who had assisted at the transaction on this Sunday morning.
agreed that it was under protest. He would read to the House a statement which had been made by this works manager, and he hoped the House would forgive him if he omitted all names, for they were not really material. He would read the statement so far as it was applicable to this particular matter. This statement was sent to the Admiralty in, October, 1903, some fourteen months after the transaction. The works manager said:— "The welding would take place, as far as I remember, about the month of August, 1902.…I had no dispute or difference"—this was by way of explaining why he gave the information to the Admiralty—"with the managing director in reference to any personal question until January, 1903. It was some months after the rudder frame was delivered to the Admiralty. He led me to expect a rise of salary, but it was delayed, and not granted. I did not press it. Another foreman engineer was, however, taken on. He was put under me, but he was to receive the same salary as I did. I thereupon threw up my job. I obtained from the managing director a certificate of character, dated January 22nd, 1903. Immediately on receipt of this certificate I wrote to the managing director a letter, of which the following is an extract:— 'Now I am no longer in your employment and not bound by any ties whatever, I propose to communicate with the following firms and individuals and see, after due explanation, if they do not arrive at the same conclusion as I do regarding your promises and good faith—(1) the Director of Navy Contracts concerning the various jobs that have been foisted on to them as sound, viz.:— "King Edward VII." rudder, Broadfoot Door,and the various jobs lying at Ayshire Foundry at present. I have my mind made up to interview this gentleman if at all possible, and will, if necessary, go to London for that purpose.'" He wanted the House particularly to note the next passage he was going to read, "'And also,'" said the works manager, "'I will send a copy of this letter to every director of the Ayrshire board, together with my personal views on some transactions which may be of general interest to them.'" That paragraph proved that the directors other than the managing director had no knowledge whatever of these transactions.
Then they were not doing their duty to their shareholders.
said that interruption only exposed the hon. Member to the charge which he bad levelied against the Admiralty officials. All the insinuations which the hon. Member had made against these gentlemen were utterly unfounded. He would not characterise the hon. Member's action; the House had its own opinion in these matters. The first concern of the Admiralty was the safety of the "King Edward VII." which had this alleged defective rudder. The rudder had been built into the ship at Devonport, and there was no dock at Devonport big enough for the "King Edward VII." to be docked in order that the rudder could be taken out. Directions were given that the vessel should be cautiously taken to Portsmouth, where, upon this information only, the rudder was unshipped and a new rudder was put in. That, he thought, cleared the Admiralty of any charge of weakness in caring for the safety of the vessel. The primary consideration was the safety of the ship, and he did not think anybody could say that the Admiralty did not safeguard it in every possible way. They had been asked why the managing director of this company was not prosecuted. The Admiralty sent all these facts to the Law Officers of the Crown. They considered the matter, and advised the Admiralty on January 30th, 1904, that the question of pressing a criminal prosecution in Scotland is not one for the Admiralty, but for the Lord Advocate as Public Prosecutor. The Admiralty placed the matter in the hands of the Lord Advocate, and he decided to take no steps. Therefore the Admiralty could go no further in the matter. What influenced the legal mind it was impossible for him to fathom. The Lord Advocate decided against any prosecution. The hon. Gentlemen asked why no reward was given to the works manager who informed. The works manager performed this transaction, under protest, in August, 1902, but he did not give information until fourteen months afterwards. The Admiralty could not reward him for that belated action. He thought he had satisfied every reasonable mind in the House that the Admiralty had taken the utmost precaution they could for the safety of "King Edward VII.," and that they had placed the matter in the hands of the proper authorities so that a prosecution, if possible, should ensue. In the matter of the "Argyll," the rudder had been tested with great severity, the vessel had been in commission for a considerable time, and the Admiralty had no reason to believe that the rudder was other than satisfactory. With regard to the suggestion that the Admiralty should employ practical moulders as inspectors, he said the inspectors at present employed were extremely competent men; there was no fault to find with them, but in the case of these castings it was impossible to see inside. In the case of the "King Edward VII." the castings were electrically welded on a Sunday morning, in the absence of the inspector. Of course, if people tried to deceive, sometimes that deception would succeed. He was also informed that to detect this electrical welding it would be necessary to bore into the casting, and chemically analyse the bores.
asked the hon. Gentleman whether he had expert information to prove that the rudder was a bad rudder, becauselectrical welding was a well-known and recognised process of remedying deficiencies. So far as any statements to which he had listened had gone, the rudder might be so bad that the man responsible for delivering it to the Admiralty ought to be hung. On the other hand, it seemed quite likely that by means of the system of electric welding it had been made into a perfectly good and sound rudder, fit for any work.
said that as far as he was informed—of course, he was not a technical expert—electrical welding could be usefully performed in small flaws, but if there was a large flaw, then the welding did not weld with the casting, and in such case the casting was weakened without its being perceived. The Admiralty were most anxious that these castings should be effectively inspected. With regard to the case of the "Inflexible," at Messrs. John Brown & Co.'s works, there again it was impossible that the flaw could have been discovered until machinery had been used to grind into the casting for the purpose of fitting. Scientific methods were not yet so perfected that they could depend upon all castings being perfectly sound all the way through, and as the whole of Messrs. John Brown & Co.'s officials did not find out the defect, it was not surprising it had not been discovered by the Admiralty inspector. The Admiralty were anxious for the safety of His Majesty's ships, and any reasoned criticism they were glad to have. Some of the criticism to-day had not been quite reasoned; but anything that would add to the stability of His Majesty's ships, and ensure that the public money was spent to the best advantage, the Admiralty would always gladly welcome.
said he was glad even at this late stage of the session they should have the opportunity of reviewing the work of the Public Accounts Committee. What he was sorry for, however, and in this he agreed with hon. Members who had spoken, was that that Committee did not look into the appropriation accounts before they were paid. However, the Public Accounts Committee did some of the best work which was done in the House of Commons, and he was delighted to acknowledge it. The public officials did not, however, let the Public Accounts Committee know too much. In fact, the amount of information they gave them was the minimum. He was a member of the Public Accounts Committee in 1894, but he understood in 1895 that they did not want him reappointed because he made too many inquiries. On that occasion he overcame that opposition, but they had kept him off the Committee during the present Parliament, and he could not induce the Government to put him on again, because he supposed th objection again was that he made too many inquiries. Nevertheless, the work of the Public Accounts Committee was more necessary now than ever before, as the bulk of the Estimates were systematically guillotined. There was bound to be some red tape in our Government Departments, but members of the Government Bench seemed to be alarmed when hon. Members carried on inquiries. He regretted that prosecutions had not been instituted in the cases referred to. The letting off these people was most deplorable. The bigger the people who were prosecuted the better he would be pleased. The letting of them off offered a premium to other people to carry on the like fraudulent business. They had been told about a balloon, and he thought it would do a great deal of good if some of these officials were sent up in one. About the rudder of the "King Edward VII."; the hon. Gentleman was in rather a bad temper with regard to the criticisms of the hon. Member for East St. Pancras, but he thought they ought to have a better response to those criticisms. There was, he considered, a case for further inquiry, and he thought they were indebted to the hon. Member for East St. Pancras for bringing the matter before the House, although he no doubt did it rather roughly. The report of the Public Accounts Committee was very clear and so entirely upset the statement of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty that he was afraid he had not read it. The Admiralty only discovered the matter in consequence of an expenditure of £48—a very small sum. It appeared that twelve months after the rudder was received the the Admiralty was informed by a retired employee of the company that on a certain Sunday the management collected certain hands and filled in the flaws. An examination showed that such defects did exist. The firm offered to replace it but the second rudder was as defective as the first, and ultimately it was decided to have another rudder made in Vie Government dockyards. Not only did this firm act fraudulently, but they lied; that was proved when the machinery was opened up. But his hon. friend endeavoured to whitewash all these people and tried to censure the hon. Member for East St. Pancras for the statements he had made, and repudiated them all, although they were confirmed by the Public Accounts Committee. He told the House that they had taken the law officers' opinion on the case, and read a portion of it; therefore he presumed that opinion would be laid before the House. The hon. Member had told them that the law officers stated that it was the duty of the Lord Advocate to prosecute. But he might remind the hon. Gentleman that in Scotland the Admiralty could prosecute themselves if they got the Lord Advocate's sanction to do so. Why did not they do that when they found the Lord Advocate would do nothing? Why was not this firm or the somebody connected with it who was guilty prosecuted? He might be told that one director who probably knew nothing of the matter had at least seen sufficiently punished by being knighted. He was not going to discuss that because these honours came from the sovereign, but what he regretted was that the Sovereign was not informed of the state of things before he conferred this honour. They still wanted to know why a prosecution was not instituted. It was no use saying that the law officers were against it, because no sensible persons allowed their legal adviser to advise such a thing as that: they simply said "take action." The Government should have said to the law officers "go on and prosecute." A prosecution should have taken place even though the Government knew they were going to fail, because if no prosecution took place other people would -not be deterred from perpetrating these frauds. It was admitted that had this vessel been caught in a heavy storm or had accidentally grounded 800 or 1,000 valuable lives would have been endangered owing to this flaw in the rudder. He still hoped some further explanation would be given, because at the present moment the Admiralty were simply whitewashing these persons, who were acknowledged to be guilty. It was no use saying that all this was twelve months ago, because time did not run against the Crown in this case. Such people as these ought to be punished otherwise honest contractors had not a chance. Contractors who would do this work conscientiously had no opportunity, because men like these came in and underbid them, having no intention when they did so of doing the work properly. There was one word he would like to say with regard to these contracts. They had heard of contracts being given out with regard to which there had been no competition. A case was mentioned recently where a contract was given to a contractor at double the amount of the original contract, without any other tenders whatever being asked for. In public as well as private affairs—as was well known—the only chance of getting these matters criticised and considered by contractors was by advertising for tenders, and by so doing getting an honest contractor to do the work properly. He thought if they could have another Committee like that of Public Accounts to consider these accounts before they were paid, they would make a great advance in the direction of getting the national accounts in still better order than they were at present. He made no complaint against the Public Accounts Committee nor against the Comptroller and Auditor-General, who had done their work as well as the officials of the Departments would let them, and had done it in an exceedingly effective manner. After all, the principal duty of this House was to look after the breeches pocket, the people's money. Although this money was not their own the Department should consider it, and regard the expenditure of it in the same way as though they were spending their own money. He hoped next year the Government would give the House an opportunity of considering these matters earlier in the session, and not at the end of August after the Appropriation Act had been passed and when most Members had left town, and it was not likely to receive adequate discussion.
in appealing to the House to bring the debate to a close, acknowledged that the discussion had been a fruitful one, and said he thought that the innovation of setting apart a day for the consideration of the Report of the Public Accounts Committee was a valuable precedent, and one which he hoped would be followed in the future. On behalf of the Treasury he recognised the admirable assistance which the Treasury received, in controlling the other Departments of the State which were responsible for the expenditure of public money, from the rigid scrutiny of the Public Accounts Committee, and, further, he thought it was not sufficiently borne in mind by the House, the enormous obligation which they were under to the Comptroller and Auditor-General, who was not a servant of any Department, but solely of this House. He suggested that the House ought not to pass away from the discussion without a unanimous acknowledgment of the Comptroller and Auditor-General's services. He hoped that with this expression of opinion the House might now be allowed to pass to the orders of the day. Question put, and agreed to.
Expiring Laws Continuance Bill
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
[MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.) in the Chair.]
moved to omit the Poor Rate Exemption Act of 1840 from the schedule of Acts to be continued in force. He said that by an Act passed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was provided that the overseers of every parish shall raise by taxation of every inhabitant such sums as they think fit—"to set the poor to work, to relieve the poor not able to work, and to put out poor children to be apprentices," and the overseers were to raise it out of the same parish "according to the ability of the same.? This included ability from every source, surely the justest measure of what every inhabitant ought in fairness to he called on to pay. The Act passed in 1840, (3 and 4 Vict. c. 89) enacted that for the next ensuing year it should not be lawful to tax any inhabitant—"in respect of his ability derived from the profits of stock in trade or any other property? —with the exception of property of certain named kinds, as land, houses, tithes, coal mines and saleable underwoods. Thus personal property obtained an exemption which had been annually renewed to this day. He desired to call the attention of those who were to-day proposing revolutionary changes in local taxation such as were aimed at in the Scottish Valuation Bill, to this fact. Instead of proposing to revert the old and fair practice of rating according to "ability," they proposed to aggravate the existing inequality by assessing one, and only one, of the still liable kinds of property, viz., land, on its capital instead of on its annual value. He moved the omission of the Act of 1840, in order to call public attention—and especially the attention of struggling ratepayers—to the fact that a great mass of income in this country which under the Act of Elizabeth would be liable to pay rates to-day was only continued exempt by the renewing of the Act of 1840 at the end of each Parliamentary session. The true line for local taxation reformers to take was to urge return to the old and fairer plan under which "ability to pay, from whatever source the ability arose, was the measure of the contribution levied on every inhabitant. Amendment proposed. To omit from the Schedule, "The Poor Rate Exemption Act, 1840." —(Mr. Everett.) Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
said that every Parliament and every Government had coincided with the view embodied in this legislation. The true relations between personal and real property were important, and they would come up in a short time for consideration. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved the omission of the Vaccination Act of 1898 from the Schedule. His reason for doing so was that this Act, having made a partial attempt to define what vaccination was, provided that only glycerinated calf lymph or such other lymph as was approved by the Local Government Board should be used for the purposes of vaccination. One would have thought that if vaccination was to be performed by medical men the lymph used should be that which in the doctor's opinion was best. That, however, was not the case. The Local Government Board had gone to Germany in order to find the lymph with which to vaccinate the calf, and there was some reason for believing had reintroduced into this country the germs of small-pox, a disease which but for their action might have been now extinct. There was also reason for believing that other impurities and poisons had been introduced into the human blood from the calf lymph—among others, the germ of cancer, which was undoubtedly due to the substitution of calf lymph for humanised lymph, the use of which had been advocated by medical men for ninety years. There had been an enormous increase of cancer since the Act of 1898 had come into force, and there had been an increase of deatl by over 5,000 a year. If the House now stopped the inclusion of this Act in this Bill they would put an end to. the greatest curse that existed at the present time. By its continuation they condemned every year thousands of children to fearful illnesses, and many to a lingering and painful death. He would be told that if the Act of 1898 was not renewed there would remain the Act of 1867, without mitigations contained in the Act of 1898, but this he did not mind. It was nine years since the 1898 Act was passed. The Act of 1867 was now obsolete, and no Government dare enforce it, so that the effect of not renewing the 1898 Act would practically be to abolish compulsory vaccination. He begged to move. Amendment proposed.
— (Mr. Lupton.) Question proposed, "That the wends. proposed to be left out stand part of the, Schedule.""In page 5 to leave out lines 47 and 48."
said his answer to the hon. Member was that if he carried his Amendment certificates of exemption would be no longer possible, and as an anti-vaccinator he would be worse off. With regard to calf lymph he could only say that they were getting the best that could be obtained, and no con-consideration of economy would prevent them always getting the best. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Bill reported, without Amendment, read the third time, and passed.
Public Works Loans Bill
Considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
[MR. EMMOTT in the Chair.]
moved an Amendment providing that the loans to be issued should not exceed £1,000,000 instead of £3,000,000, for the purpose of obtaining a reply to a Question which he put to the right hon. Gentleman on the previous day, and to which he had received no answer. This Bill, dealing with large amounts of this kind, was an extremely important one. He had not been able to refer to the current figures because they were not yet published, but upon looking at the report for the year 1905-6, he saw that the Government in that year were advancing loans of upwards of £2,250,000, that there was a standing debt of £50,500,000, that £134,000 of principal and £152,000 of interest had been written off as bad debts. He mentioned these figures to the Committee to show that the transactions were very large. He therefore submitted that when they were voting a considerable sum of money in a Bill like this they were entitled to some explanation of the general principles upon which these large sums were applied. Hitherto there had been no very great scrutiny of these items, but he thought notice should be taken of some of the very large sums which great local bodies had obtained from the Public Works Loans Commissioners, when they were quite able to raise the money they required on the market. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would be able to give an assurance that the Government was exercising some economy in the issue of these public loans, and that some check would be put upon the unlimited borrowings by public authorities from the Public Works Loans Commissioners. It had been the practice for many years for local authorities to get these loans without any serious investigation, check, or any careful regard to the way in which money so borrowed was spent. The present stringent condition of the money market constituted a great temptation for them to go to the Public Works Loans Commissioners, and he hoped some check would be put upon them. He begged to move. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Gretton.) Question proposed, "That the word 'one' stand part of the clause.""In line 9, to leave out '3' and insert '1.'"
said that during recent years many restrictions had been placed on the granting of loans to public bodies, and only recently the Treasury had added two or three additional restrictions to those in force. No loans were made to any local authorities with a rateable value of £200,000 or over except in two or three instances, in connection with, the Education Act of 1902, the Housing of the Working Classes Act, and another Act. The loans were made almost entirely to small local bodies not able otherwise to obtain money at anything like decent rates of interest. Every week these small local authorities came for paltry loans, and it was better to deal with them in the bulk by the Commissioners, whose powers were not abused. The restrictions in the last few years had diminished the number of loans they had granted. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
moved to leave out the words "Public Commissioners of Works in Ireland." He said that on the previous day when he stated that these gentlemen were trying to get further power into their hands, the Secretary to the Treasury took exception to his remarks, and now he wanted some explanation as to this £700,000 which was to be placed in their hands. He submitted that the Public Works Commissioners in Ireland were not the proper body to administer any such sum as this. If his Amendment were carried it would not prevent this money being used for Ireland, but would simply ensure its administration by a proper body. The Public Works Commissioners in Ireland were a board of three gentlemen, two of whom were legacies left to Ireland by two former chief secretaries at £1,000 a year each, and the third an Anglo-Indian, who, to use a phrase of the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, represented nothing and nobody. He was not in favour of putting further power into the hands of these three gentlemen. against the actions of whom they had had to protest time and again. It was a most extraordinary thing that the Government should pick out the most inefficient of all Irish Boards to administer the expenditure of this £700,000. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Mooney.)"To leave out the words 'Public Commissioners of Works in Ireland.'"
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
said it was not a fair description of an Anglo-Indian to say he represented nobody and nothing.
said it was not his phrase but that of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary.
said the Chief Secretary could not have been serious seeing that his distinguished Under-Secretary and one of the Land Commissioners were Anglo-Indians and that Irish legislation owed so much to Indian precedents. It was not for him to express any opinion whether such precedents were or were not suitable, neither was it for every member of the Irish Party to disparage Anglo-Indians. Indeed he thought the Government of Ireland would be much more effective if they had a few more of them.
said that ever since 1878 loans had been made through the 'Commissioners of Public Works for Ireland. So far from this being an innovation it had been the practice for several years. Large sums had been paid by them in connection with all these various purposes. The only effect of the Amendment of the hon. Gentlemen would be to deprive the local authorities of Ireland of the power to borrow during the whole of next year except upon their own security. He suite agreed that the Irish Board of Works was not a very competent body, but as the law now stood it was the only body which could lend money in Ireland for the ordinary purposes of local government. He therefore appealed to the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to. Clause 7:—
said he desired to move the rejection of the clause, and after the hon. Gentleman's own description of this Board he did not see how he could refuse to accept the Amendment. The clause had been inserted in pursuance of a promise made to the House. What he objected to was that when they asked for something to be inserted in the Bill something more was put in than they had asked for. These Commissioners were attempting to get into their hands more power than they had at present, and this was only another instance of that kind of endeavour on their part. In this measure the Commissioners had attempted to get control of money that was voted for another purpose altogether. The work was being done without the intervention of these three gentlemen at all, and he could not see what necessity there was for putting into an Act of Parliament a provision giving them powers which they had not had up to the present time, or the exercise of which did not require a clause in an Act of Parliament. For these reasons he opposed Clause 7 altogether.
said in reference to the navigation works to which the hon. Member alluded, the Bill was introduced by the Irish Office and it was a measure promoted by the Irish Board of Works, the Treasury having nothing to do with it. So far as he was concerned personally, he washed his hands of it altogether. Clause 7 had been introduced at the request of the Public Works Loans Board themselves; he could assure the hon. Gentleman that it had been inserted at their request. The powers under which they might have made loans had been quite obsolete in recent years. They had made no loans whatever, and they had got rid bit by bit under the Acts passed by that House of all powers to make loans in Ireland, with the solitary exception of those mentioned in Clause 7. The Public Works Loans Board were anxious that all the powers should be transferred to the Commissioners of Public Works for Ireland, and it was at their request that the clause was inserted. He did not see why the hon. Gentleman should object in any way; on the contrary, they were allowing powers which had become obsolete in the past some chance of being operative in the future.
said he did not press the omission of the clause, but the hon. Gentleman had made a charge against him of having made an inaccurate statement regarding the action of the Commissioners of Public Works. That statement was founded on Subsection (b) of the Bill before the House, and he merely wanted to point out that the Bill, which was wanted by the whole of Ireland, was dropped when action was taken by these Commissioners.
gave an emphatic denial to every statement made by the hon. Member with reference to the navigation works. This Bill, he said, had been accepted by the Government as a Government Bill, and nothing had been inserted in it other than what appeared when it was printed and circulated.
said that that was not the statement that he had made. What he said was that this Bill gave the Commissioners control over public money which, before the Bill was printed, was vested in other departments in Ireland, and owing to the Commissioners trying to get control of this money the Bill had to be dropped.
That is not so. Clause agreed to. Bill reported, without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.
Vaccination (Scotland) Bill Lords
As amended, considered; read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.
Whale Fisheries (Scotland) Bill
As amended, considered.
said he desired on behalf of his noble friend the Member for the Chorley Division of Lancashire to move in Clause 1, before 'manufacture' to insert 'primary.' He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland desired to accept it. Apparently an agreement had been come to last night by which some words were to be inserted to protect from the operation of the Bill certain manufactures, in many parts of Scotland, from various whale products. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Bill only referred to those manufactures of whale products which were primarily and directly from the carcase of the whale, and he seemed to think that that was provided for in the clause as it now stood. He did not think that that was really so; at any rate they on that side of the House did not think so. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Bowles.) Question proposed, "That the word `primary' be there inserted in the Bill.""In page 1, line 6, after the word 'the,' to insert the word 'primary.'"
said he proposed to insert the word "primary" in another place, and suggested that it should be in line 7.
asked leave to withdraw the Amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Sinclair.) Question, "That the word primary be there inserted," put, and agreed to."In page 1, line 7, after the word 'other' to insert the word 'primary.'"
said that in the discussions which had taken place on Clause 3, Sub-clause 4, it had been suggested that licensed persons should not be in the same position as unlicensed persons, and he proposed therefore to submit certain Amendments of the clause. He moved to leave out the words "holder of a licence or." Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Sinclair) Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill.""In page 3, line 30, to leave out the words 'holder of a license or.'"
asked whether the words "by him" ought not also to be omitted?
Yes; the hon Member is quite right. Amendment agreed to.
"In page 3, line 30, to leave out the words 'employed by him.'" —(Mr. Sinclair.)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
said he was very glad that the right hon. Gentleman had made this alteration in the Bill, for it was a very distinct improvement. Amendment agreed to. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Sinclair.) Question proposed, "That the word 'or' stand part." Question put, and negatived. Bill read the third time, and passed."In page 3, line 32, to leave out the word 'or' and insert the words 'and no holder of a licence or persons employed by him shall pursue, kill, or shoot at any whale."
Notification Of Births Bill
As amended (by the Standing Committee) considered.
said he desired to ask the House to recommit this Bill for reasons which he would state shortly. He shared to the full the view of the noble Lord who was responsible for this Bill as to the desirability of doing all they could to limit the high infant mortality which obtained at the present time, but it was because he felt sure that the Bill would not effect that object that he took the extreme course of moving its recommittal. The reasons which lay at the root of the question of infant mortality were not touched by this measure. The first point which he wished to raise was as to the authority to whom notification was to be made of the birth of a child. The second point was whether, failing the father of the child, liability was to rest on any person in attendance on the mother. It was because he understood that the noble Lord had tabled an Amendment which the Government had accepted excluding medical men from the operation of the Bill that he moved the recommittal of the Bill. The Amendment to which he wished to invite the attention of the House dealt with the case of the midwife, for whom there was no substantial body of opinion in that House ready to speak. The House should bear in mind that no less than 70 per cent. of the births among the working classes were attended by midwives without the intervention of a medical man. Under the provisions of the Midwives Act of 1902 a body was constituted called the Local Supervising Authority, who were charged with very large, extensive, and minute powers in relation to midwives. This authority was doing a most valuable and important work. It was the only authority which the midwives knew, and it would surely be desirable to employ an authority to receive notification which was already known to them. There was a provision that the Act might be adopted in every county borough, and in every county borough at this moment the Local Supervising Authority under the Midwives Act and the district local authority coincided, but in a county like Hertfordshire, the medical officer of the Local Supervising, Authority was not the same person as the medical officer of the local authority, and the midwives knew the former as the person to whom to notify still-births. He desired to see the Bill made simple in its working so that midwives might be able to comply with its requirements. That, he thought, as an administrative point, was one of first-class importance. Then there was the question whether notification should be made by a person in attendance at the time of the birth.
I have been carefully listening to the hon. Member, and I have not heard any argument that goes precisely to the point that this Bill should be recommitted. All the suggestions he has made should have been made on the Report stage. Why is it necessary to recommit the Bill?
said he was only asking the House to recommit it on the ground that this point of the authority which ought to be notified was not the subject, so far as he could judge, of any prolonged discussion in the Standing Committee upstairs and no Amendments were suggested. A new clause had been brought down by the President of the Local Government Board, and, according to the Report of the Committee, it was read a second time and added to the Bill.
The hon. Member must show some reason for recommitting the Bill, and up to the present has not done so.
said he did not desire to waste the time of the House, but it was almost impossible to divorce these questions.
If it is impossible to make the changes which the hon. Member desires, what is the good of recommitting the Bill? It is open for the hon. Member to move Amendments on the Report stage.
said under the circumstances he would not move.
moved to leave out of line 11 on page 1 the word "and" in order to insert the word "or." His desire was that those in a humble sphere of life should not be unnecessarily hampered by undesirable and vexatious regulations. He thought all that was desired could be achieved by a slight alteration in the registration law. Personally he disliked the Bill from beginning to end, and he did not see why the clauses should be so drafted as to be unnecessarily vexatious and annoying. He could not see what advantage was going to be derived from this multiplicity of notification. He would have thought that one notification was sufficient, and that by the father. The President of the Local Government Board had already laid down in the debate on the Vaccination Bill that it was the duty of the father to carry out his parental duties when the child was very young. Surely when the child was only a few days old the father was the right and proper person to carry out this notification. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept this Amendment. The Amendment was not seconded.
moved to amend Clause 1 (provisions for the earlier notification of births) by leaving out the words which would impose upon the midwife the duty of sending the notification of a birth to the medical officer of health of the district. He questioned the wisdom of laying this new obligation upon women, many of whom were illiterate, and all of whom had already sufficient duties to perform. There were over 22,000 midwives practising in England and Wales, and by far the larger number of them were untrained women who had been registered under the Act of 1902 because at the time there were no other women to take their place. An enormous number of these women were quite illiterate and unable to read or write. They performed a most difficult task and were making every endeavour to comply with the regulations to be clean and use antiseptics. The great difficulty in the administration of the Midwives Act was that 90 per cent. of the penal cases, in which there had been a failure to give proper notice to the medical officers and the local supervising authorities, were due simply and solely to the fact that these poor women could neither read nor write. Under this Bll they had to notify every birth in fifty-three out of the sixty-two counties in England and Wales to a strange authority. If they laid upon the midwives this new obligation they would find either that this Act would be inoperative or they would drive all these women off the roll. If they laid a burden on these women which they could not stand they would resign. They could not afford to risk that result with the midwives of this country. There was nobody at the present time to take the place of these women, because the examinations and training centres set up under the Mid wives Act of 1902 had only had three years existence, and they had not trained sufficient new women to take the place of these untrained midwives. They had been told that their duties would be rendered easy by providing them with postcards, but there was nothing new in that, because they had been supplied with similar aids ever since the Act of 1902 came into force. These women could not write and they had to get somebody to write for them. He asked the House and the Government to consider the enormous difficulty women in London would have under this Bill, where the county council was now the only authority to be notified. He had been to the offices of the London County Council and even their council's inspectors when they came to write out their reports were not always quite sure which particular borough council area the streets were in without consulting the map. Under this Bill notification must be given not to the County Council but to the borough council within which the birth took place. How was it possible for a midwife Visiting three or four patients to find out in which particular borough council area her patients resided? This was a great hardship to place on these women without fee or reward, and it was the duty of the father to make the notification.
seconded the Amendment. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Bertram.) Question proposed, "That the words 'and of any person' stand part of the Bill.'""In page 1, line 11, to leave out from the word 'occurrence' to the word 'to,' in line 13.'"
pointed out that the effect of the adoption of the Amendment would be that, if the father was not actually resident in the house at the time of the birth there would be no notification at all. He reminded his hon. friend the Member for the Hitchin Division that midwives already notified births under the Midwives Act, and, as they were to be supplied with prepaid letters or postcards for the purposes of the present Bill, he did not think they were imposing upon these women any very difficult new duty. All the midwife had to do was to write the name of the child on one of these postcards and drop it into a letter box, and there her obligation ended. He thought his hon. friend had somewhat magnified the hardship.
failed to see how they could possibly carry out this slight but valuable experiment in social reform if they limited the persons who were to give notice to the father. He agreed that if they were placing a new duty upon midwives it should be done in the most convenient way. The county councils were not only the authorities under the Midwives Act, but they were also doing extremely useful work in promoting the education of midwives and trying to get a superior class of women to undertake this work. He did not think the arrangements which the county councils had made should be interfered with by this Bill without a proper hearing being given to them. His vote on this question would turn upon the answer the President of the Local Government Board was able to give upon this question of machinery. In some large towns it might be more convenient for the midwives to report to the district officers of health, because in some towns machinery already existed for carrying out the benevolent objects of the Bill. He asked the right hon. Gentleman so to amend the Bill that every county council would have the opportunity of adopting the Act for the whole or part of their area. The County Councils Association desired that county councils should be able in any case to argue before the Local Government Board as to whether they or other councils of borough or district were the proper authority. If he was assured that thelocus standi of the county councils would be preserved then he would vote against this Amendment, because he thought the Bill ought to be tried, but it should be tried in the most convenient way possible. In some parts of the county the district authority was the best, whilst in other parts the county authority was the most convenient, and this kind of flexibility ought to be applied to the Bill. The Bill ought to be made to work with a minimum amount of trouble to the poor people who would come under its provisions, and it ought to be done without increasing to any unnecessary extent the complexity of local administration.
said that when they reached the appropriate place in the Bill he would be ready substantially to adopt the suggestion made by his hon. friend the Member for Middleton. The hon. Member for the Hitchin Division had made a very strong appeal to the House not to place any additional burden upon midwives which might tend to these women abandoning their profession. He thought the hon. Member had needlessly emphasised the illiterate character of midwives, because the picture he had drawn of them to-day was more like the Mrs. Gamp style of midwife of fifty or sixty years ago.
said he had merely related his experience of cases which had come within his own observation.
said his knowledge of the poor had been like Mr. Weller's, "extensive and peculiar," and he knew something of the midwives in the Metropolis. The hon. Member had drawn a moving picture of the hardship that would arise through the midwife having put upon her the responsibility of filling up a printed postcard, stamped and addressed, which she had only got to sign or get somebody to sign for her, notifying the birth she had attended of a child whether alive or stillborn. The hon. Member supported this delightful picture of illiteracy by saying that the midwife had sufficient duties already to perform, and that she had at present to do a similar thing in the way of notification. If she had to notify a medical officer now in the case of a stillborn child, why could she not do the same under this Bill, and fill up a small postcard for the birth of a child that was not stillborn. To him there was nothing more extraordinary than the manner in which the poor people were availing themselves of the facilities offered to them for education. In 1876 there were no less than 148 per thousand of the husbands of working class women who when they were married had to sign their marriage certificate with a cross, but in 1905 the proportion was only sixteen per thousand. With regard to wives in 1876, 199 per thousand attested their marriage certificates with a cross, but in 1905 the proportion was only twenty per thousand. When they remembered that as far as education went the average midwife was more intelligent than the average working-class wife, he did not think the hon. Member had much of a case to support his Amendment on the score of illiteracy. He hoped his hon. friends would not press their Amendment, which would destroy the usefulness of the Bill, but would join in giving the Government the opportunity of making this humanitarian experiment. Let them have a year or two of experience in endeavouring to stop this dreadful and shameful infantile mortality which had become the curse of our industrial centres. With regard to any representations made by local authorities to the Local Government Board the House could rely upon the line of least resistence being pursued in order to achieve the desirable object they had in view.
said they all wanted to diminish infantile mortality, but he doubted whether it could be done by compulsory enactments of a severe character. Compulsory enactments often defeated their own purpose, and under this Bill there was a danger of people being deterred from aiding a woman in the hour of her direst need, lest they should he subject to a fine. As the Bill stood, every person who attended upon the mother was under an obligation to send the notice—the sister, the daughter, the niece, the neighbour, the midwife, the doctor, the doctor's assistant—every one of them was ordered to send this notice, and every one of them was liable to be prosecuted and fined 20s. and costs if he or she failed to give this notice. It was quite true that the section went on to say that a person should not be convicted if he or she satisfied the Court that he or she had good reason to believe that the notice had been sent by someone else; but (with the exception of the medical man) how could one of these poor people satisfy the court? They did not know how to give evidence; probably none of them had ever been in a Court of justice before. The law did not permit them to get the services of a friend who could speak for them; they could only emply a lawyer, and that they could not afford. They would be summoned, convicted and fined, and probably they would nut know what it was all about. They would not know that they were being tried; all they would know was that they were pushed about by the police, and told they must pay so much money or go to prison. Even if they knew how to defend themselves, and had a good defence, that might not avail them, because the clause did not say that they should not be convicted if they proved that they had good reason to believe that someone else would send the notice; it said they must satisfy the Court, and they had abundant experience in another class of cases that the Court often refused to be satisfied with the plainest evidence. The effect of the fear of all these penalties would be to deprive a poor woman of aid in her direst need, because everybody who went near her would be liable to this penalty.
said he was entirely in favour of the principle of this measure. He believed that the President of the Local Government Board had been encouraged by what might be called the unexpected success of the Midwives Act. That measure had certainly been of great utility to the community. Before voting on this Amendment he would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether it was the intention of the Government to accept the Amendment which was to be moved by the noble Lord the Member for East Marylebone exempting the medical profession from the duty imposed by this section.
That is the next Amendment on the Paper which we shall reach in due course.
said the reference which had been made to the increase of education in this country was extremely interesting and encouraging. It would have been more relevant to the subject if the right hon. Gentleman had given some information as to the number of midwives employed as compared with medical practitioners. He was satisfied that ii the county of London the number of midwives employed to attend births was small as compared with the number of doctors. He did not think he was fa wrong when he said that 90 per cent. of the cases were attended by members of the medical profession. If medical practitioners were exempted from the duty of giving notification of births, only those cases attended by midwives amounting to 10 per cent. of the whole, would be notified, and the question was whether it would be worth while in posing this duty upon them. In La don there were twenty-nine borough councils, and difficulties would arise as to the authority to which the notification should be sent, because the different areas were not separated by natural frontiers. The areas ran into of another, the middle of a street often being the boundary line. It would not be at all easy for a midwife or anyone else to give notice to the proper authority. Amendment negatived.
moved an Amendment, which he said was intended to relieve medical practitioners from the obligation to notify under this Bill. He regretted that it was necessary to move the Amendment. The case which the medical profession made was that the Bill would impose a new professional duty upon them without payment. He was advised that it would risk the success of the measure if they inserted a provision for the payment of a fee to the medical practitioner. There was something to be said for the objection to the Amendment that it would set up a distinction as between the doctor and the midwife. It might be asked, if the doctor is to be free in this matter why not the Midwife? He thought the answer was that the midwife had recently received from Parliament very important privileges under the Midwives Act of 1902, and that she was already under an obligation to send a notification of this character to I the supervising authority. To require that she should also send a postcard on this matter would be of very great advantage to the State. A doctor after a birth went away for sonic little time, and as some doctors had a great press of practice the duty of giving notification would put additional work upon them. That was not the case with the midwife who was a longer time with the patient. Personally he could not say that he had any great liking for it, but under the circumstances he trusted the House would accept the Amendment.
seconded the Amendment. Amendment proposed—
—(Lord R. Cecil.) Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted.""In page 1, line 12, after the word 'person,' to insert the words 'other than a medical practitioner.'"
said the Government reluctantly acceptd the Amendment. It was a matter to him of extreme regret that a great, honourable, and charitable profession, which signalised itself with great earnestness at the commencement of this beneficent movement for the reduction of infantile mortality, should have almost at the last hour practically dissociated itself from it. Through its representatives in the House, the medical profession had asked to be dissociated from co-operation with other people in this measure. He regretted it. He believed the best of the doctors would deplore it, and that a large number of them, notwithstanding that they were formally struck out of the Bill, would refuse to dissociate themselves from the rest of mankind in making this experiment. He still believed that the doctors were greater than their trade union, and better in this case than the narrow view their profession imposed upon them. He trusted that when this Bill had been in operation a year they would be in a kindlier and better mood, worthier of the great profession to which they belonged, and that they would ask to come in under some amending Bill to co-operate with the midwife, the nurse, and the parents in bringing about a reduction of infantile mortality in the great cities and towns of this country.
said he had never heard a weaker argument used by the right hon. Gentleman than that which he had given for accepting the Amendment. He had always thought that the right hon. Gentleman had the courage of his opinions; but he had given no reason why this wealthy trade union should not be called upon to make a return. The right hon. Gentleman, of all persons—might he be forgiven! —ran away from the poor women. The President of the Local Government Board had expressed the hope that the public spirit of the medical men would induce them yet to come into line. He wished that the right hon. Gentleman could get them to do so. If he could get one other Member to go into the lobby against this proposal he would vote against it. The action of the Government was extremely disappointing.
said that he also regretted to hear the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, and he would be very pleased if the House refused to allow him to accept the proposal of the noble Lord, reluctantly or not reluctantly. The right hon. Gentleman had not given any reason whatever why the Amendment should be accepted, while the noble Lord had moved it in such a way as showed the House that he was almost ashamed of his clients. Was the signing of a mere postcard too heavy a burden to impose on the medical profession?
said that the noble Lord had offered some extraordinary arguments in support of excluding medical practitioners from the provisions of the Bill, and of including midwives as some kind of return for thestatus which had been conferred upon them by the Act of 1902. He would remind the noble Lord that thatstatus such as it was was conferred upon the midwives without their being asked; and that the result had been that an enormous number of them had lost their means of livelihood, while those admitted to the roll were subjected to very necessary but exacting regulatiosn.
said he thought that the hon. Member was really going too far. Thoe midwives who were able to get on to the roll had obtained very considerable means of livelihood.
said that it had entailed upon them a considerable amount of expense, and had given them in return no particularstatus. He thought that the Government had not done any good by accepting the Amendment, and he hoped that the House would reject it by a large majority.
said that both the noble Lord who moved it and the President of the Board of Trade who accepted it were against the Amendment, which he hoped the House would not accept. The person most competent to give the notice was the medical attendant, and it would not take more than a minute to fill in the postcard. He had doubts whether this measure, being compulsory with penal clauses, would have the effect of diminishing the infantile death rate.
said he wished to assure the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord that the non-payment of a fee was not the ground of the opposition to the Bill by medical practitioners. Nobody knew better than the right hon. Gentleman that he had done his best to get midwives excluded with medical men from penalties under this Bill, and any blame because the former remained in the Bill must rest with the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone. It was the penalty to which the medical profession had always strongly objected.
said that both those hon. Members received a deputation from the British Medical Association on the subject, and Sir Victor Horsley put it plainly and distinctly that it was the penalty clause to which they strongly objected. Sir Victor said that a new duty was being placed on the medical profession, which was a civil duty, under a penalty for non-performance. They did not think that it was any part of their duty to notify a birth. The avocation of medical practitioners and midwives made them acquainted with certain facts, and because they knew these facts the State now required them to make the notification. He repeated that it was the largely penalty which induced the medical practitioners to oppose the Bill.
The hon. Member must surely forget some conversations we have had.
said that the medical profession felt that the notification was the duty of the parent; that it was a civil duty pure and simple. He complained that this Bill had been rushed both through the House and the Committee without adequate discussion. [An HON. MEMBER: That was another Bill.] This Bill was based on the Notification of Infectious Diseases Act, under which if a child was suffering from a disease the medical man was bound to noify the fact under a penalty, but there was a fee attached. Well, he saw no reason why the medical man should not receive a fee, for doing the State's work. They could always be generous at the expense of a noble profession. The administration of the Infectious Disease, Notification Act showed that under this Act it was the medical man who would be summoned and not the parent. While the medical man would be summoned the parent would get off. It was a most offensive thing to ask the medical profession to notify under a penalty when it was the duty of the parent to do so. As the first chairman of the Midwives Committee of the London County Council he knew how badly midwives were paid, and the Amendments he had placed on the Paper showed that he had always, asked that both medical practitioner and midwife should not be required to notify, and as they received no fee for notifying he did not see why they should be exposed to penalties.
thought the House should hesitate to, divide against the Amendment. They were all agreed in desiring that the doctors should be included but, unhappily, the doctors themselves, through their representatives, had strongly opposed the proposal and in order to save the Bill, and to secure facilities from the Government, the promoters of the Bill had reluctantly agreed to exclude them. That being so, he and some of his friends were under an honourable obligation to support the Amendment. The House should remember, however, that the doctors would, in any case, be supplied with the notification forms and the provisions of the Act would be brought to their attention, and he had sufficient faith in the medical profession to believe that, even if no legal obligations were put upon them, many of them would willingly cooperate with the local health authorities in carrying out the provisions of the Bill. It had been objected that it was unfair to exclude the doctors, while including the midwives, but while he personally would have preferred to see both included, he must point out to the House that experience in Huddersfield had shown that it was more important to include the midwife than the doctor. In Huddersfield, where, under a special Act, compulsory notification hid been in force for nine months, he found that only 20, per cent. of the births were notified by doctors as against 34 per cent. notified by midwives. He preferred, therefore, to accept the Amendment rather than jeopardise the chances of the Bill by dividing against it. Experience had already shown the great value of early notification. During the nine months in which it had been in operation in, Huddersfield the rate of infantile mortality had averaged only 85 per 1,000 births as against an average rate of 118 per 1,000 during the previous ten years. No doubt the present year had been a very favourable one from a public health point of view, but the period of ten years which he had chosen for comparison also included favourable years, and, when all proper allowance was made, it must be admitted that a reduction of 33 per 1,000 was a powerful suggestion of the value of early notification.
thought the reasons advanced by the hon. Member were not sufficient for accepting the Amendment and did not think they could accept the figures which had been put forward. He regretted that the authors of the Bill had not the courage of their convictions. If the Bill was justified in regard to the reduction of infant mortality he thought the medical profession were wrong in asking that they should be left out of it. He objected to midwives being put under the penal clause, as well as the medical profession.
said they were told by both the mover and the seconder of the Amendment that they objected to the principle expressed in it, but rested on the unanimity of opinion in the medical profession against it. He would be the last to say a word against the medical profession as a whole, but it was safe to say that the medical profession had asked the House on more than one occasion to protect the profession against the action of some of its members. The hon. Member for Huddersfield said he was pledged to an honourable undertaking which had been given to the doctors of this country. He would like to know by whose authority such an undertaking was given. Under all the circumstances he hoped that the hon. Member who had just suggested that this should be carried to a division would insist upon it, in which case he would gladly vote with him.
said they were asked to put certain words into the clause by hon. Gentlemen who had not a word to say in their favour, and they were asked by the Minister in charge of the Bill to accept this Amendment which he had been ashamed to bring foward and for which he had made no kind of defence, expressing instead some high-flown senti- ments about the honour of medical men as a whole.
said he gave a more substantial reason for this Amendment than that. What he said was that if the Amendment was not accepted there would be no Bill. There was not very much sentiment about that.
said he saw no reason why the progress of the Bill should be jeopardised if these words were not inserted. It was not a Party question, and it was obvious that the House did not wish to insert the words. They desired to place medical men in the same position as midwives. He trusted the House would go to a division.
said before they went to a division he would like to know how the House stood. As he gathered from the statements that had been made many Members were in favour of these words not being inserted. That being so, if the House divided and this Amendment was lost was the House to understand that the right hon. Gentleman would drop the Bill? That seemed to be the question. A good many Members would prefer to have the Bill with this Amendment rather than not to have the Bill at all. That was the dilemma and that was why he asked whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to drop the Bill if the Amendment were lost.
asked whether the Government would consider the question of including the medical men, provided they were paid a fee, such as they were paid in Huddersfield. Would the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to consider that, because he knew in that case a great many doctors would immediately consent?
said the medical profession would hardly be grateful to their advocates, who had succeeded in making it appear that they declined to carry out a professional act because they were not to be paid a fee of one shilling. That was not the case. The medical profession objected to being subjected to a penalty in respect of what was a civil and not a professional obligation. But they put their objection on a higher ground than that. Their function in the birth chamber was a professional one, and it was not for them to scatter broadcast notifications of births. He thought they might have undertaken this duty and their refusal to do so had, he thought, cast an aspersion upon a great and noble profession besides putting the midwives in a higher position. The hon. Member for Norwood had asked whether the Government would drop the Bill if this Amendment was rejected. That was not the question, but he had been informed that if the doctors were included there would be such a powerful opposition to the Bill in another place as would endanger the progress of the Bill at this stage of the session. He thought the Bill would he worth a great deal even if the medical profession were excluded from its provisions. The question was whether it was worth saving. He thought it was, and therefore he made an earnest personal appeal to his hon. friend not to press for a division.
said that if the Bill was imperilled by the rejection of this Amendment it would be imperilled in another place. Let another place look after its own affairs. They were in danger in this matter of imperilling the justice of this House. It was most important that this House should be just. Here they had a number of poor women, many of them illiterate working for a small fee among the poorest of the poor. They were to be subjected to this penalty while the medical profession with all its ability was to be exempted from the provisions of the Bill simply because their trade union had threatened the Government with what they would do in the House of Lords if the Amendment were not accepted. The House of Commons was not likely to listen to such arguments as that. They should do what they thought was right, and let the other House take care of itself.
said that if any intimation regarding another place had reached the Government it had not come through him. He had no reason to suppose that the other House would take any particular view about this Amendment one way or the other. He was told that unless the medical opposition to the Bill was withdrawn the Government could not see their way to "star" the Bill. He there- fore approached the Government and asked them whether they would assent to any Amendment of this kind. He then went to the representatives of the medical profession in the House, and they agreed to withdraw their opposition if he moved such an Amendment as this and it was accepted by the Government. If, therefore, this Amendment was rejected, he would feel bound to do his best to prevent the Bill from going further. He thought the Government were also bound by that understanding. They could not have gone on with the Bill without the consent of the doctors, and if the Amendment were rejected they were honourably bound to abandon the Bill.
said the noble Lord had approached him, and not he the noble Lord, and he withdrew his opposition to the Bill on the understanding that the Government would agree to the insertion of these words.
said the noble Lord had accurately stated the arrangement made between himself and the medical profession. It was true, as the noble Lord had said, that there would have been little chance of this Bill's being passed this session but for some understanding on the noble Lord's part and on his own with the doctors as to the conditions under which it should be passed. But they could not by an understanding or bargain between themselves withdraw the Bill from the purview of the House when perhaps there might be a chance of getting the Bill through. Personally he declined to accept the attitude in which the hon. Member for Bermondsey wished to place him. It was all very well to say that the doctors now did not want the fee. Had his hon. friend told the noble Lord and himself that before the necessity for a bargain of the kind referred to would not have been necessary. It seemed to him that if he had to choose whether this Bill should be lost and a million children in the next year placed under the disability that was imposed upon them by the hon. Member for Bermondsey, who he did not believe represented the medical profession in this matter, or leave it to the House, he appealed to the noble Lord to exonerate him from any breach of agreement, and to leave the matter to the good sense of the House.
said that he was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman and himself did not take the same view of this obligation. So far as he was concerned he felt absolutely bound by the obligation he had come under. That was not the Government's view. and therefore he appealed again to the House of Commons to honour an obligation which he had entered into on their behalf, but which he quite admitted he had no authority to enter into.
said that until that day he had no idea whatever that there was any compact with the medical profession as a whole in this matter. He would have hesitated to enter into any such compact. He and others were supporting the Bill because the awful infant mortality which took place in this country would be called infanticide in any other. It was an evil which everything should be done to prevent.
said a good many of them were of opinion that the million children which had been spoken of would have an infinitely better chance of living if they were left to the care of their parents and friends with the intervention of the Government or the local authority.
asked whether if this Amendment were rejected the Government would give further time to the measure. If the Amendment having been rejected by this House was put into the Bill in another House would they still continue to give time? Everybody wanted the Bill, and unless he could be assured that time would still be given in the event of this Amendment being rejected, he, being one of the parties to the undertaking referred to, would be compelled to vote with his noble friend.
asked the noble Lord to give way on this point, and he for his part would raise no objection to the House's passing the Bill in its present form. When he withdrew his Amendments it was on the distinct understanding that the Government would adopt the noble Lord's Amendment and the Bill become a Government measure and "starred." If he had not withdrawn his Amendment the Bill would not have been "starred." Therefore the onus of the bargain rested entirely with the President of the Local Government Board.
thanked the hon. Member for releasing both the noble Lord and himself from any supposed understanding.
reminded the House that he had come under a similar obligation to other hon. Members besides the hon. Member for Bermondsey.
said he was placed in a difficult position, but if the hon. Member felt himself at liberty to release him from his obligation he would not place any obstacle in the way. Question put. The House divided:—Ayes, 19; Noes, 87. (Division List No. 458.)
|Balcarres, Lord||Forster, Henry William||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Stanley,Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Horniman, Emslie John||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cave, George||Lamont, Norman|
|Cooper, G. J.||Napier, T. B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES?Lord|
|Corbett,C.H(Sussex,E.Grinst'd||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Robert Cecil and Mr. Master-|
|Craik, Sir Henry||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||man.|
|Fell, Arthur||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Branch, James||Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)|
|Alden, Percy||Brigg, John||Cleland, J. W.|
|Baker,Joseph A.(Finsbury, E.)||Byles, William Pollard||Clynes, J. R.|
|Bertram, Julius||Causton,Rt.HnRichard Knight||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Chance, Frederick William||Cremer, Sir William Randal|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Cherry, Bt. Hon. R. R||Crooks, William|
|Dickinson,W.H.(St.Pancras,N.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Elibank, Master of||Lundon, W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Essex, R. W.||Lupton, Arnold||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macdonald,J.M.(FalkirkB'ghs)||Rowlands, J.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Scott,A.H.(Ashton under Lyn-3|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Seddon, J.|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal,E.||Seely, Colonel|
|Gill, A. H.||M`Callum, John M.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T.(Hawick B.)|
|Gooch, George Peabody||M`Crae, George||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Grant, Corrie||Maddison, Frederick||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Hazleton, Richard||Morrell, Philip||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Snowden, P.|
|Henderson,J.M.(Aberdeen, W.)||Murray, James||Verney, F. W.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Vivian, Henry|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Nicholson,CharlesN.(Doncast'r||Walters, John Tudor|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Nolan, Joseph||Weir, James Galloway|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, J. D.(Dumbartonshire)|
|Jackson, R. S.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whiteley, George(York,W.R.)|
|Jones,William (Carnarvonshire||O'Grady, J.||Wiles, Thomas|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.|
|Lambert, George||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Lever,A. Levy (Essex,Harwich||Radford, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rees, J. D.||Acland and Mr. Gulland.|
moved to leave out "thirty-six" and insert "forty-eight," which, he said, would give another twelve hours in which the person might send notice.
If the hon. Member will put in the words "if delivered" we accept.
said he had another Amendment for seventy-two hours for delivery. The Under-Secretary had said forty-eight hours if posted or delivered within that time to the medical officer. He thought thirty-six hours very much too short a time. He proposed forty-eight hours for posting and seventy-two hours for delivery at the residence of the medical officer of health. Often a person would have to find out the address, and it would Take him some time to do so. As this would affect a lot of very poor people he did not see why they should not have more time. It should be remembered that the Bill imposed a penalty, in cases where the notice was given too late, of 20s. The Amendment was not seconded.
then moved to insert, "and the local postmaster or mistress shall be supplied with a sufficient stock of such postcards by the local authority, and shall supply the same free of charge to the father and person in attendance named in Sub section 1." He pointed out that the local authority in country places might live miles away from the father's abode, or it might be that poor people, unfamiliar with these matters, might not know the address of the authority, whereas everybody knew where the village post office was, and they would have no difficulty in procuring a postcard on which to send the necessary notice as by law required. A great deal was said about protecting a million babies; let them not throw obstacles in the way of the people who had put upon them the duty of notification.
This Amendment imposes a charge on the rates, and that cannot be done on Report.
next moved an Amendment providing that the penalty of 20s. should include costs. The Amendment was not seconded.
said he had now to move an Amendment to facilitate the defence in cases where the person had reasonable ground for believing that notice had been sent or would be sent by someone else. To do that he proposed two Amendments which he would explain together in order to save time, and would move them.
The hon. Member can only move one Amendment at a time.
said his Amendment was to leave out the word "satisfy" and put in the words "prove to the Court." The Amendment was not seconded.
moved to insert a provision that the notice should be registered in a book by the medical officer of health. He thought that that would he a very useful instruction to the medical officers of health, who, many of them, were not business men. The Amendment was not seconded.
moved an Amendment the object of which was to permit other people to search the registers. Under the Bill as it stood only the medical officer would have access to the register. He thought that it should not be a hole-and-corner affair. He would be perfectly frank; he moved this as an anti-vaccinator. The medical officer and his allies the Imperial Vaccination League, would take care that the poor little child was poisoned with pus from a diseased calf called vaccine lymph, which would keep up the death rate. It was a terrible thing that in the last seventy years, despite all our sanitary improvements, the death rate of infants had not diminished. He attributed this to vaccination. The poison which was put into the child rendered it liable to all sorts of ailments, and, notwithstanding all the medical progress and scientific knowledge of these times, the only class in the community that had not benefited were the poor babies, who were subjected to this poisonous process. If he could get this Amendment into this bill, other people would be in a position to examine the register and to sign the notice paper that under the Act exemption could be obtained for vaccine poisoning.
The hon. Member must keep himself to the Amendment.
said he would not detain the House, but he hoped that the President of the Local Government Board would accept the Amendment, so that the register would not be a mere hole-and-corner affair, but should be accessible to other persons, and not merely to pro-vaccinators. He had worked in this cause for over thirty years—
Order, order! The hon. Member is converting the liberty I gave him into licence.
seconded. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Lupton.) Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted.""in page 2, line 13, after the word 'adopted,' to insert the words 'or other person, such other person paying sixpence for each search.'?
did not think it was advisable to allow the register to be open to a number of other people who might subject poor women to inconvenience from which they had a right to be protected.
thought it was far better that all these people should have access instead of allowing a hole-and-corner arrangement of this kind. He hoped the House would accept this Amendment. Question put, and negatived.
moved an Amendment to provide that a notification by a midwife to the medical officer of the local supervising authority under the Midwives Act, 1902, within thirty-six hours of birth should be deemed a compliance with this Bill. He felt convinced that many women would erroneously send notifications to the old authority, and if they gavebona fide notice to the old authority which they knew he thought that ought to be considered sufficient.
seconded. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Bertram.) Question proposed "That those words be there inserted.""In page 2, line 18, at the end, to insert the words 'but any notification of birth or stillbirth given by a midwife to the medical officer of health of the local supervising authority under the Midwives Act, 1902, in compliance with such last mentioned Act or any rules made thereunder shall be deemed to be a compliance with the requirements of this section, and, if so given within thirty-six hours of birth, shall be deemed to be a compliance with this Act, and particulars of such notification shall be forthwith transmitted by such medical officer to the medical officer of health of the district in which the birth or still-birth has occurred."
said he sympathised with the proposition because he could see that possibly a little confusion might arise. It should not be forgotten, however, that the vital essence of this Bill was that the notification should be made as soon as possible. He thought this Amendment would only make confusion worse confounded, and as the Government felt sure it would only cause delay they could not accept it.
said the midwife would have now to make two notifications, one to the county council under the Midwives Act, and the other to the new authority. It was rather hard that she should be compelled to make two notifications. He thought the President of the Local Government Board might approach the Midwives Board and ask them to relieve the midwife of the necessity of notifying that authority. Then there would only be one notification.
promised to approach the Midwives Board with that object in view. Question put, and negatived.
said that in the Amendment he desired to move they had adopted with a slight alteration the definition of the hon. Member for Bermondsey. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. John Burns.) Amendment agreed to."In page 2, lines 19 and 20, to leave out the words 'still-born children as well as to children born alive,' and insert the words, 'any child which has issued forth from its mother after the expiration of the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy, whether alive or dead.'"
moved to omit Subsection 2 of Clause 2. This was a public Act dealing with the whole country for a beneficent purpose, and surely it ought not to be left optional for the Local Government Board to force the thing on or hold it back. This proposal should go forward with the authority of both Houses of Parliament and not be left to the discretion of the Local Government Board. The Amendment was not seconded.
moved to omit certain words and insert words providing against the danger which might arise if differences took place between the midwife, who was legally responsible for the patient for ten days, and the members of any voluntary association. The purpose behind this Bill was to establish, where-ever possible, voluntary associations of persons whose duty it would be, as soon after a birth as possible, to come upon the scene and endeavour to help the mother and the child, and to promote the extension of infantile life. He asked whether it was not a very dangerous experiment, to run any risk of conflict as would certainly be possible under the Bill seeing that the midwife might be acting under one medical authority and the members of the voluntary association under another, each prescribing a different mode of treatment for the patients. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Bertram.) Question proposed, "That the words 'council of a' stand part of the clause.""In page 2, line 38, to leave out from the first word 'the' to end of clause, and insert the words 'authority for the time being exercising or established for the exercise of the powers of the local supervising authority conferred by section eight of the Midwives Act, 1902.'"
said his hon friend had overlooked the fact that half of the counties had not any medical officer of health at all. How were they going to do what the hon. Member contemplated by the Amendment in places where there was no medical officer of health?
Every Local Supervising Authority under the Midwives Act has a medical officer.
said he was well aware that every county council had power to delegate certain duties under. the Midwives Act, but a great many of them did nothing of the kind, and the power would still remain with the county council. It was quite impossible to accept the Amendment.
appealed to his hon. friend not to press the Amendment. Amendment negatived.
moved an Amendment to provide for the powers conferred by the clause being given to the county council. Each borough council had the option of applying or not applying the provisions of the Bill in its area, and it seemed to him desirable that London should be administered as a whole. He was surprised that the President of the Local Government Board, who was a strenuous apostle of the unity of London, should introduce a measure which would have the effect of dividing London into twenty-nine areas where the measure might or might not be enforced. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Radford.) Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted.""In page 2, line 38, after the words 'council of a' to insert the words 'county and the council of a.'"
said that what was wanted was uniformity in the administration of London, and the only way of getting it in this matter was by giving to the central authority the power to adopt the Act for the whole of the twenty-nine boroughs. That was done in regard to the notification of infectious diseases, and he thought it should be done in this matter also.
said that his view of uniformity of administration might not altogether tally with that of the hon. Member for East Islington. He differed from the hon. Member in some respects on the point here raised. If any of the borough councils showed a disinclination to apply the Act to their areas, it would be for the Local Government Board to impose the duty on them. There would then be that uniformity which the hon. Member sought. He believed the borough councils would unanimously put the Bill in operation. Question put, and negatived.
moved an Amendment to include county councils as authorities under the Act. Amendment proposed—
—(Mr. Adkins.) Question proposed, "That those words be there added." Question put, and agreed to."At end of Sub-section 4 to add the words 'and the council of a county, other than the county of London, may adopt the Act either for the whole of the county or for a district therein.'"
said that he wished to move an Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for West St. Pancras providing that the medical officer of health in every metropolitan borough in London should send weekly to the London County Council a list of all notices of birth received by him during the week. Amendment proposed—
—(Dr. Cooper.) Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to."In page 2, line 41,at the end, to add the words in London the medical officer of health of every metropolitan borough (including the City of London in which this Act is in force for the time being) shall send weekly to the London County Council, in a form prescribed by the Local Government Board, a list of all notices of birth received by him under this Act during the past week.'"
proposed the omission of Clause 3, but the Motion was not seconded. Question put, and agreed to. Bill re-committed to a Committee of the Whole House in respect of an Amendment to Clause 2.—(Mr. Adkins.) Bill considered in Committee. (In the Committee.) [Mr. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.) in the Chair.]
—( Mr. Adkins.)"In page 2, line 41, at the end, to add the words, 'and the council of a county (other than the county of London) who may adopt the Act either for their whole county or for any county district therein. Provided that (a) where the Act is adopted by the council of a county, the county medical officer of health shall be substituted for the medical officer of health of the district, and the expenses of the execution of the Act shall be paid as general county expenses, or special county expenses as the case requires; and (b) if, where the Act has been adopted by the council of a county for any county district, the council of the district, or where the Act has been adopted by the council of a county district for their district, the council of the county, subsequently apply to the Local Government Board to be made the authority for the purposes of this Act, the Board may, if they think fit, make an order declaring that the Act shall take effect as if it had been adopted by the council of the county district instead of the council of the county, or by the council of the county, instead of the council of the county district as the case may be, and on any such order being made the Act shall take effect in accordance with the order.'"
"Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
Bill reported, with an Amendment.
Bill, as amended, on recommittal, considered.
moved that the Bill be read a third time. In doing so he said he wished to make the announcement that upon the Order Paper for Monday there appeared only the Lords Amendments to the Merchant Shipping (Deduction for Tonnage) Bill. But the real business would be the Lords Amendments to the Small Holdings and Allotments Bill, and to the Evicted Tenants Bill, which had not yet been received from the other House. As these would not appear in the Order Paper on Monday he wished hon. Members to know that most important business would be taken that day. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a third time."
said that this Bill, when introduced by its promoters, had two valuable points, it was compulsory and it for the first time in English law required the notification of the still-born child. He regretted that the Local Government Board had deprived the Bill of its compulsory character. The President of the Local Government Board had declared that the infant mortality of the rural districts was less than that of the towns, and therefore the Bill was not required in the country. The report recently issued of the Registrar-General ought to disabuse the minds of the Local Government Board on that point. That report showed that the infant mortality for the first mouth after birth was higher in the rural districts than it was in London. In the rural districts it was 35.9 per thousand, while in the county of London it was 26.2 per thousand. It was not till the fourth month that the death rate in the rural districts and in London was equalised. He did not believe that this Bill would do much good to prevent infant mortality. It was absurd to generalise on insufficient data, or on statistics gathered from a favour ably situated town like Huddersfield where the conditions of life could not be like those of London, Glasgow, Liverpool and other large cities. Ignorance of the management of children by mothers was not the only cause of infant mortality. It arose from very complex conditions. He believed ignorance was one cause, but impure milk was a far greater cause, and the Local Government Board would have been wiser to have pushed forward their Bill for municipal milk depots. Drink was another cause; but the real cause was the great economic factor that more than 13,000,000 of people in England were living on the verge of poverty. [Cries of "No."] Well, he would put it that 60 per cent. of the unskilled labourers wore not in receipt of a living wage, and were not in a position to provide their children with proper food. Their wives were compelled to go out to earn a living, leaving their children at home. What was the good of a health visitor suggesting to a half-starved mother an elaborate list of regulations? Until these workmen secured a fairer and juster share of the profits of labour there would be no improvement in the rate of infant mortality. The promoters of this Bill stated it would enable philanthropic ladies to help the poor, and in Huddersfield they invoked the aid of the Charity Organisation Society. The workmen did not want charitable doles or charity organisations, and they strongly objected to visitations in their homes from charitable ladies. What was wanted was that the labouring classes should be paid a living wage, and thus be given an opportunity of bringing up their children in a healthy and proper way.
said he heartily agreed with the hon. Member for Bermondsey in his belief that this Bill was no, likely to reduce the infant mortality, being based upon compulsion. What they required was that people should be guided in the right way, and should not be led to believe that it was advantageous that they should not have children. Some people complained of the falling off of the birth-rate, but if provisions of Bills such as this were enforced people would say, "The fewer the children we have the better." Therefore the measure would not promote the welfare of the country. It had been said by one speaker that a large proportion, in fact, the majority, of the people of this country were on the verge of starvation. That might very well be, but happily they were on the right side of the verge. That made all the difference. There were very few people in this country who had not plenty to eat and drink. But the way to proceed to improve the people of this country was not by drastic measures of compulsion, enforced by ruinous fines. They would succeed much better if those who bad knowledge, money, and leisure, proceeded in the gentle way of benevolence and charity. And he believed in charity; it would be a bad day for the country when that ceased; he believed in the salvation of our race through charity. He opposed the Bill because it was based on compulsion.
thanked the Government for taking this Bill up, and quite agreed that it would be of the greatest value. He supported the Third Reading.
also supported the Third Reading. He thanked the President of the Local Government Board for his concessions, and he hoped that till Bill, though slight in extent, would be a beginning of needed social reform it the preservation of child life.
said that he disagreed with the view that poverty was the great, or chief, cause of infantile mortality. There were many causes of it—bad food, bad milk, dirt, drink, ignorance. It had been alleged that low wages was the chief cause; in his judgment irregular wages were worse. It often happened that in rural districts where wages were low, but work was regular, the mortality was much lower than in more highly paid districts This was proved by the fact that in the rural districts 5,000 out of every 100,000 children born died in the first three months; in mining districts, where the wages were twice as high, 8,000 out of 100,000 died; arid in the textile districts, where wages were higher still, 9,126 out of 100,000 died. Married women, in his judgment, ought not to work in factories; their province was at home. The sooner the working classes recognised that fact the better for the home comfort of the men, the better for the children, and the better for the State. He thought if they put this law upon the Statute-book they would all have builded better than they knew. Question put, and agreed to. Bill read the third time, and passed. Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 26th day of July last, adjourned the House without Question put.
Adjourned at twenty-five minutes after seven o'clock till Monday next.