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Lords Chamber

Volume 84: debated on Thursday 21 June 1900

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House Of Lords

Thursday, 21st June, 1900.

Private Bill Business

The LORD CHANCELLOR acquainted the House that the Clerk of the Parliaments had laid upon the Table the Certificates from the Examiners that the further Standing Orders applicable to the following Bills have been complied with:—

St. Albans Water,

London and North Western Railway (Wales).

Devonport Corporation.

The same were ordered to lie on the Table.

Dorking Water Bill Hl

Fishguard Water And Gas Bill Hl

Menstone Water (Transfer) Bill Hl

NEWPORT CORPORATION BILL [H.L].

NEWTOWN AND LLANLLWCHAIARN URBAN DISTRICT GAS BILL [H.L.].

Commons Amendments considered, and agreed to.

Buenos Ayres And Rosario Railway Bill Hl

Costa Rica Railway Company, Limited, Bill Hl

Read 2a .

Bradford Corporation Bill

Baker Street And Waterloo Railway Bill

Read 2a , and committed. The Committees to be proposed by the Committee of Selection.

Great Grimsby Street Tramways Bill Hl

Read 3a ; Amendments made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

Ramsgate Corporation Improvements Bill Hl

Read 3a , and passed, and sent to the Commons.

Charing Cross And Strand Electricity Supply Bill

Standing Order No. 93 considered (according to Order), and dispensed with, with respect to a petition of the Corporation of London. Leave given to present the said petition.

South Eastern And London, Chatham, And Dover Railways Bill Hl

The Queen's consent signified; and Bill reported from the Select Committee with Amendments.

Morecambe Urban District Council (Gas) Bill

Reported from the Select Committee without amendment.

Market Weighton Drainage And Navigation Bill

Report from the Select Committee, That the Committee had not proceeded with the consideration of the Bill, the opposition thereto having been withdrawn; read, and ordered to lie on the Table. The Orders made on the 18th and 25th of May last discharged; and Bill committed.

Christchurch And Bournemouth Tramways Bill

Blackpool, St Anne's, And Lytham Tramways Bill

Brought from the Commons; read 1a ; and referred to the Examiners.

Local Government Provisional Orders (No 5) Bill

Brought from the Commons; read 1a ; to be printed; and referred to the Examiners. (No. 116.)

Local Government (Ireland) Provisional Order (No 1) Bill

Local Government (Ireland) Provisional Orders (No 2) Bill

Local Government Provisional Orders (No 2) Bill

LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROVISIONAL ORDERS (No. 3) BILL.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROVISIONAL ORDERS (No. 4) BILL.

Read 2a (according to Order), and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Monday next.

Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 1) Bill Hl

Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 3) Bill Hl

Electric Lighting Provisional Orders (No 4) Bill Hl

ELECTRIC LIGHTING PROVISIONAL ORDERS (No. 5) BILL [H.L.].

House in Committee (according to Order). Bills reported without amendment. Standing Committee negatived; and Bills to be read 3a To-morrow.

Metropolitan Common Scheme (Petersham) Provisional Order Bill

Read 2a (according to Order), and committed to a Committee of the whole House To-morrow.

Returns, Reports, Etc

Training Colleges

Reports on training colleges for the year 1899, by W. Scott Coward, Esq., the Hon. Mrs. Colborne, and Sir John Stainer; list of training colleges under inspection.

Education (Scotland)

Twenty-seventh Annual Report by the Accountant for Scotland to the Scotch Education Department.

Fisheries (Scotland)

Eighteenth Annual Report of the Fishery Board for Scotland, being for the year 1899: Part III. Scientific investigations.

Criminal And Judicial Statistics (Ireland)

Part I. Criminal Statistics for the year 1898.

Fisheries (Ireland)

Annual Report of the Inspectors of Irish Fisheries, for the year 1899.

Navy (Hydrographer's Report)

Report on Admiralty Surveys for the year 1899, by the Hydrographer.

Cape Of Good Hope Observatory

Report of the Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope Observatory to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, for the year 1899.

Factory And Workshop

Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops, for the year 1899.

Trade Reports (Miscellaneous Series)

No. 527. Agricultural and other natural resources of Tripoli.

Presented (by Command), and ordered; to lie on the Table.

Greenwich Hospital And Travers' Foundation

Statement of the estimated income and expenditure of Greenwich Hospital and. of Travers' Foundation for 1900–1901.

County Officers And Courts (Ireland) Act, 1877

Account of receipts and payments under the Act during the year ended 31st March, 1900.

Intermediate Education (Ire Land)

1. Rules and programme of examinations for the year 1901;

2. Rules made by the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland appointing. Bangor, county Down, an additional place of examination for boys in 1900.

Laid before the House (pursuant to-Act), and ordered to lie on the Table.

Arundel Port

Account and Report for 1899–1900. Delivered (pursuant to Act), and ordered to lie on the Table.

Petitions

Ecclesiastical Assessments (Scotland) Bill

Petition in favour of; of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; read, and ordered to lie on the Table.

Statue Of Oliver Cromwell, At Westminster

Petition for the removal of; of persons singing; read, and ordered to lie on the Table.

Public Accounts

Message from the Commons for leave for the Clerk of the Parliaments to attend to be examined as a witness before the Select Committee of that House. Leave given accordingly, and a message ordered to be sent to the Commons to acquaint them therewith.

Beer Retailers And Spirit Grocers' Licences (Ireland) (No 2) Bill (No 114)

Cruelty To Wild Animals In Captivity Bill (No 115)

Brought from the Commons; read 1a and to be printed.

Volunteers Bill H L

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:—

My Lords, I was under the impression that the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War did not intend taking the Committee stage of this Bill until Friday, and therefore I have not put down the Amend-mend which it was my intention to move. I will, however, move it in the Standing Committee. The effect of my Amendment will be to leave out Sub-section (b) of Clause 2, and, of course, to consequentially amend the former part of the section. The noble Marquess explained to the House on a former occasion that he considered it desirable that Volunteers should be called out for active service within the limits of the United Kingdom. I do not object to that, but, for the reasons I gave on a recent occasion, I think it very undesirable that Volunteers should be called upon to give an undertaking to serve outside the United Kingdom before circumstances arise which justify a special call for their services.

I understand that the noble Lord does not intend to press his Amendment on this occasion, and therefore I scarcely feel justified in taking up your Lordships' time in commenting upon it. In our view it is desirable that we should place it within the power of Volunteers to assume, if they so desire, a liability for service beyond the limits of the United Kingdom. They have done so lately with great distinction to themselves, and in our view it is not likely that they will consent to deprive themselves of the power of rendering similar services should the opportunity hereafter arise. If that be so, it is clearly our opinion that we should be put in a position to make the necessary arrangements with such Volunteers, not at the last moment and in a hurried fashion, but deliberately and beforehand. That is the reason we have inserted this provision in the Bill, and I confess I should be very sorry indeed if your Lordships decided to get rid of it.

I adhere to the opinion I have already expressed, and I should have preferred to see both (a) and (b) omitted from the clause. I object to them on general grounds—as altering the character of the Volunteer force, as likely to give rise to embarrassment hereafter, and as totally unnecessary, in my opinion, for the purpose which the noble Marquess has in view.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Other clauses agreed to; Bill reported without amendment; and recommitted to the Standing Committee.

Military Lands Bill

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clause 1:—

The clause as it now stands would render it impossible to set in motion the machinery of the clause on behalf of a rifle club. It is felt that this restriction would be undesirable, and my Amendment removes it.

Moved—

"In Clause 1, page 1, line 8, to leave out 'by or on behalf of a Volunteer corps.' "—(The Marquess of Lansdowne.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

This clause, as at present worded, obliges a Volunteer corps, as well as a county council or any other local authority, to apply to the Local Government Board for leave to borrow. That is a very proper condition in the case of a local authority, but I do not think that it should apply in the case of a Volunteer corps. Under the Military Lands Act of 1892 Volunteer corps must apply to the War Office for permission to borrow, and in our opinion the War Office would be a better judge in cases of that kind than the Local Government Board.

Amendment moved—

"In Clause 1, page 1, line 9, to leave out from 'and' to 'may' in line 11, and to insert 'for this purpose.'"—(The Marquess of Lansdowne.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Consequential Amendments agreed to.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2 amended, and agreed to.

Clause 3:—

To this clause I have to move a drafting Amendment of very considerable importance. It is not my own, but Lord Thring's. Lord Thring would have moved it himself had he been able to be present to-day. On looking through Clause 3, Lord Thring was quite unable to satisfy himself of the effect of the clause as it at present stands. Your Lordships will see that it is a case of legislation by reference run mad. In the first place, certain provisions of Section 9 of the Local Government Act, 1894, are to apply; but they are to apply with certain modifications. Those modifications refer to other Acts, and if those Acts are looked at it will be found that they in their turn refer to previous Acts. The consequence is that anyone who reads this section will have considerable difficulty in understanding what the procedure is. Lord Thring suggests that it is exceedingly desirable that Her Majesty's Government should lay down in the schedule the rules of procedure which they consider are applicable to this case. They will have no difficulty in doing so if they understand Clause 3, which Lord Thring is unable to do. I would suggest that before the next stage of the Bill, or in the Standing Committee, the noble Marquess should produce a schedule describing in detail the procedure he proposes.

Moved—

"In Clause 3, page 2, line 4, after 'purposes' to leave out to the end of the clause and insert 'the regulations contained in the Schedule hereto as to the continuation and otherwise of the resolution mentioned in this section shall apply in the same manner as if they were re- enacted in the Act.' "—(Lord Monkswell.)

No one has more respect for the high authority cited by the noble Lord than I have, and it is quite true that we all occasionally complain of the abuse of what is generally described as legislation by reference. I am afraid the offence, if it be one, is committed rather indiscriminately by all of us, and for very obvious reasons. The noble Lord has moved to insert the words—

"The regulations contained- in the Schedule hereto as to the confirmation and otherwise of the resolution mentioned in this section shall apply in the same manner as if they were re-enacted in the Act."
But he has left it to us to provide the necessary schedule. I have made some inquiries as to the probable character of that schedule, and I am told that it would be one of considerable length, covering four or five pages of printed matter. That would greatly add to the bulk of the Statute-book, and I submit that in this case it is scarcely necessary. I am told that the procedure to be followed under these two Acts—the Local Government | Act, 1894, and the Allotments Acts, 1887 —is very 'well understood, and that an exhaustive recapitulation of all the clauses would be superfluous. I have an Amendment to the same clause which will perhaps deprive it of some of the ambiguity to which the noble Lord has referred, and I certainly prefer my Amendment.

The noble Lord is setting a very bad precedent. In order to render the Amendment intelligible, anyone voting on it must have the schedule before him; but we are asked to vote on the Amendment without in the least knowing what the schedule is to be. I hope the Amendment will not be adopted.

My proposition is that at the next stage of the Bill the schedule should be set out, and the House given an opportunity of considering its provisions. Surely the four or five pages of printed matter to which the noble Marquess has referred might be lessened by some modified and perfectly intelligible reference to statutes that are easily accessible. But if it is the case that the Government cannot make the meaning of the clause clear to the ordinary mind under four or five pages, then that is an additional reason why those pages should be set out. I may mention that Lord Thring placed this Bill before the Parliamentary Committee of the County Councils Association yesterday, and that the committee passed a resolution recommending that the procedure clauses should be set out in full in the schedule.

I agree strongly with the Amendment of my noble friend. This is the most outrageous case I have heard of. It is most extraordinary that a Bill of this kind, involving very considerable dealings with land, should be passed through Parliament without the procedure being clearly set out. And why, forsooth, is this to be done? Because it is so complicated that it will take the War Office a long time to make it clear. How, I ask, is the ordinary reader to understand it without the assistance of those gentlemen in the War Office who, whatever may be their qualifications on military matters, are perfectly able to prepare a schedule of this kind? I hope the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who has frequently spoken against the practice of legislating by reference, will persuade his colleagues to give the public some assistance in understanding this Bill.

May I ask whether it is likely to add to the value of the precedent you are endeavouring to set up, to enact that there shall be a schedule of some sort or other without describing it?

I suggest that the noble Marquess should withdraw these words from the clause with a view of producing a schedule at some future time.

On Question, their Lordships proceeded to a division.

I am very anxious not to keep back from persons interested in this Bill any information with regard to the manner in which it will operate, and I suggest, as a possible solution of the difficulty, that we might print and lay upon the Table of the House.—

I am afraid the noble Marquess is out of order in speaking now.

The noble Earl is quite right. There can be no speaking after a division has been called.

THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
(The Marquess of SALISBURY)

All we have to do is to withdraw the division and proceed.

On the Question being again put, the Amendment was negatived.

There is now no reason why the noble Earl should not allow my noble friend to make his statement.

We refrained from dividing in order to enable him to have an opportunity of making it.

The suggestion I was going to throw out was that we might make the position perfectly clear, without encumbering the Statute-book with a schedule of inordinate length, if the clauses of the two Acts which affect the clause in this Bill were printed and laid upon the Table of the House for your Lordships' consideration. It would then be for your Lordships to judge whether it was necessary to do anything more or not.

Drafting Amendments agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 4, 5, and 6 agreed to.

The new clause standing in my name after Clause 6 has been introduced at the instance of my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and is designed to render the Act applicable to Scotland. I must take it from him that the Amendment is sufficient for the purpose. I cannot pretend to be sufficiently conversant with the mysteries of Scottish law to affirm that it is so from my own knowledge.

Moved—

"To insert as a new clause, after Clause 6:—' (1.) In the application of this Act to Scotland the following provision shall have effect—(a) The expressions "council of any urban district" and "council of any urban district other than a borough" shall mean the commissioners of a police burgh; (b) the expression "Public Health Acts" shall mean the Public Health (Scotland) Act, 1897, provided that the limit of rate imposed by that Act shall not apply to any rate authorised by this Act; (c) the expression "hire" shall mean "take on lease"; (d) references to the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1894, and to Section 25 and Sub-sections (2) to (4) and (7) to (9) of Section 26 thereof shall be substituted for references to the Local Government Act, 1894, and to Section 9 and Sub-sections (2) to (5) and (8) to (10) thereof respectively; (e) a reference to Subsection (8) of Section 25 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1894, shall be substituted for a reference to Sub-sections (1) and (5) of the Local Government Act, 1888; (f) in Section 6 of this Act the expression "Local Government Board" shall mean the Local Government Board for Scotland. (2.) In Subsection (9) of Section 25 of the Military Lands Act, 1892, "twenty-one" shall be substituted for "twenty-two."' "—(The Marquess of Lansdowne.)

On Question, new Clause agreed to.

Clause 7 agreed to; Bill recommitted to the Standing Committee; and to be reprinted as amended. (No. 117.)

Uganda Railway Bill

[SECOND HEADING.]

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

My Lords, this is a Bill to increase the sum provided for the construction of the Uganda railway, the expense of the work having exceeded the estimates which we made for it. But this is so common a failure with respect to the prophecies of surveyors, architects, and engineers that it has almost come to be regarded as a matter of right that their estimates should in some degree fall short of their ultimate expenditure. I am not, however, going to plead any right of that kind in the present instance, though I hold that the universal practice for many generations has established the fact that surveyors and engineers may exceed the estimates they have laid down. There is no need for me to appeal to that unhappy experience. The first Bill was passed under very peculiar circumstances. It was deliberately passed by Parliament without there being that survey which is invariably undertaken before any railway is begun. There was a survey executed under circumstances of great difficulty, and with great ability, by Major Macdonald, but it was not a survey such as is generally made in such a case. Most of the ground was not even travelled over, and some of the circumstances necessary to be known in carrying through the work were not even ascertained. But Parliament were perfectly well aware of what it was doing. They perfectly well know that it was a railway undertaken without such a survey as is usually carried through before a work of such magnitude, or, indeed, any railway work at all, is undertaken. For instance, the character of the labour market, the opportunities that there were for obtaining the requisite number of workmen, the cost at which they could be obtained, the nature of the soil with reference both to its operation upon steel sleepers and its action under the pressure of tropical rains and hurricanes, and many other matters, which a more elaborate survey would have cleared up, were left without being fully or even considerably investigated. Anyone who reads the report of Sir Guilford Molesworth will see that this statement is fully borne out by him. Then it may be asked why we undertook a railway without a preliminary survey. My answer is that we did so with a perfect consciousness of what we were doing, and for the sake of speed. There is no doubt that if we had gone through the usual process many more years would have passed before there was any chance of completing the work; and anybody who remembers the political condition of the country at that time will not find it difficult to realise that there were considerations of a very cogent character which induced us to desire to finish, at the earliest period possible, what was practically our only access to these regions. At that time the battle of Omdurman had not been fought, the occupation of Fashoda had not taken place, the very wide-reaching agreements which we have since made with the French Government had not then been discussed, and our position was one which I will not say was critical, but our position was one of very considerable difficulty if any serious embarrassments with any European Power had arisen before we had done anything to make our military access to the place easier than it naturally was. I doubt whether anyone will challenge the soundness of that reasoning, and I will not pursue it, because it leads into many matters which are not precisely suitable for discussion. If the railway was to be made, one of the great objects why it should be made was to give us military access to the country; and therefore it was important that it should be made with as much speed as possible. On these grounds we undoubtedly entered on the railway without that complete and exhaustive survey which under other circumstances would have been proper and suitable; but I do not think that any great harm was done. There is no doubt that the sanguine views which were entertained have not been carried out, but many things have happened which we had no reason to anticipate. The native labour market to a very great extent proved useless, and we were compelled to go to the Indian labour market, which was itself enormously embarrassed by the famine and pestilence with which that country has been visited. The use of cattle in the country was very seriously impeded by the outbreak of rinderpest, which raged with such fury over all those territories. One of the first necessities in constructing a railway is to have an adequate supply of machinery, and when that necessity was pressing upon us the most strongly there come the engineers' strike in England, which arrested the supply of machinery for a considerable time. There were many other difficulties which it may be said we might have foreseen, but which we could not have altogether foreseen, and which had the effect of considerably raising the price. I observe that in another place a railway was cited for our example—namely, the Beira Railway—which had been completed at a somewhat cheaper rate; but the citation was an unfortunate one, for the Beira Railway has turned out so supremely ill-made that it has had to be almost entirely recast, and I doubt very much whether in the end it will be found to have been constructed at a cheaper rate than we propose to assign to the Uganda Railway. Although there is good ground for the speed at which we constructed the railway and the comparative absence of precaution, there has been no financial disaster. The railway is now advancing rapidly, and as soon as the great work of the Man escarpment has been overcome—it requires engineering arrangements of a peculiar character, but the difficulties, I believe, are now very nearly overcome—the line will reach the lake with great rapidity; whether in the course of next year or not I do not know. The expert evidence seems to show that that will probably be the case; but, at all events, we are very near the end, and I am sure that when the railway is completed it will be an enormous engine for the civilisation of the country. On these grounds, my Lords, I hope there will be no objection on the part of this House to give its assent to the measure which the House of Commons has passed, by which the amount assigned shall be raised from three millions to nearly five millions.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—( The Marquess of Salisbury.)

My Lords, no doubt at first sight the amount demanded by this Bill appears extremely startling. It is very rare that an estimate is exceeded to so large an extent, and, on the face of it, it appears to be a very serious matter. I agree, however, with the noble Marquess that it was highly desirable, as we were in possession of Uganda—a question which is now beyond discussion altogether—that without loss of time railway communication with the coast should be established, and that there were many reasons—some of which it is not desirable to enter into—which made it extremely unsafe that we should have no means of communicating with that distant possession. I think that it was not without justification that this project was set on foot without that detailed survey which undoubtedly would have been made under other circumstances. What I would like to know is whether the Government are of opinion that they are now in possession of such complete information that they can with confidence say that the present estimate is not likely to be exceeded. I gathered, from reading some time ago that very able Report to which the noble Marquess referred, that there had been a very large change in the whole direction of the railway towards the Lake, and that that had involved a great increase in the cost. I suppose those who projected the railway and framed the estimates hardly took into consideration the presence of a considerable number of lions, who ate up a number of the coolies employed. Looking at the cost of the railways in India during the time I was connected with the administration of that country, and considering the difficulties of the country through which this line had to pass, I do not think that the amount is very excessive. In ordinary circumstances I would be inclined to say that it was, of course, a scandalous thing to ask Parliament for a sum of three millions and then to add two millions, or nearly two millions, to that figure. But, as I have already remarked, this case must be judged in a different way, and only those who are well aware of the very peculiar conditions under which we held the country can rightly estimate the matter, and I will not say the excuses but the reasons why it cannot be regarded as a subject for censure. All I wish to do, therefore, is to ask whether the Government are now in possession of satisfactory information enabling them to say that the sum at present fixed will be sufficient.

I am afraid I can only tell the noble Earl that I am told so. I cannot pledge my own knowledge of engineering as a ground for believing that it will be so, but those with whom I have been in communication are quite of opinion that the sum named will cover the expense. Of course, the unknown plays a considerable part in this matter. It is the part of the railway which is furthest from the coast that is less known, and there may be embarrassments and difficulties which we cannot foresee. But, speaking my own conviction, I have little doubt that what we are now asking for will be enough. With respect to the lions, I feel bound to say something in their behalf. They are not so aristocratic that they will only feed on coolies; they took a medical man the other day, and I expect it will be found that they have taken many other people. The noble Earl indicated that in consequence of our not having had a survey we were compelled to take a longer route than we otherwise would have done. That is not so.

I did not mean to imply that. I do not know that the answer of the noble Marquess exactly gives me the information for which I asked. What I wished to know was not so much whether the noble-Marquess himself was of opinion that the estimate was sufficient, as whether there had been such an examination of the country, especially the difficult new country which has to be passed through, as would make the estimate formed probably a correct one.

I do not think I would be doing right if I pledged myself. Undoubtedly, the part of the country referred to has been very little investigated yet; but, according to the opinion of competent persons, the estimate ought to be sufficient.

On Question agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House to-morrow, and Standing Order No. XXXIX. to be considered in order to its being dispensed with.

The Cromwell Statue

My Lords, I rise to call attention to the erection of a statue of Oliver Cromwell within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster without the consent of Parliament; and to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to a speech of the First Commissioner of Works in the House of Commons, on 23rd February, †in which he laid down as a doctrine of Constitutional Law, that in the case of the erection of a statue upon which no public-money is spent, the First Commissioner of Works is under no obligation to consult Parliament as to the acceptance of the gift or as to a site; and, if so, does

† See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxix., p. 956.
the doctrine hold good even when the opinion of Parliament has been expressed against the proposed statue or site. I hope your Lordships will forgive me for bringing to your notice a matter which I know is considered by many people to be past and done with. But there are circumstances resulting from it which, in my opinion, are very far from being past and done with. Your Lordships will observe that I have prefaced my question by asking to be allowed to call attention to the erection of a statue of Oliver Cromwell within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster without the consent of Parliament. I have done so for the following reasons:—First, it is only the facts in connection with this statue which render intelligible the point on which I am going to ask the Prime Minister for enlightenment; and second, I am anxious to take this opportunity of explaining why I have not followed up the Motion I carried in your Lordships' House in October last by a further Motion.* I am aware that the effect of the division I took on that occasion was discounted by the press and only too plainly by Her Majesty's Government, and, perhaps, with your Lordships' permission, while I am referring to this point I may be allowed to allude to what may be considered a personal matter. I have a painful recollection that on the occasion referred to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack characterised the Motion I brought forward as not calculated to add to the dignity of your Lordships' House; but I hope your Lordships will believe that it was very far from my intention to do anything disrespectful. The circumstances were peculiar. It was only when the pedestal on which the Cromwell statue now stands reared itself into view that any one realised the intention of Her Majesty's Government, and petitions came in from all parts of the country. I have a list in my hand of 274 petitions which, I believe, have been presented to Her Majesty's Government protesting against the erection of this statue. The only opportunity I had of protesting was by putting down a motion. Parliament was about to adjourn, and I put down my motion with the sole object of getting Her Majesty's Government to consent to defer the putting up of the statue
* See Vol. lxxvii., page 749.
until the re-assembling of Parliament in the coming year, when both Houses of Parliament would have an opportunity of expressing their feelings and their opinion on the matter. Her Majesty's Government decided to ignore the division that was taken in this House, and on a dark November morning the statue of the great Protector was stealthily unveiled by a workman representing, I presume, the First Commissioner of Works, and without one word of panegyric. It is true that on the same evening a demonstration was held to celebrate this unique and interesting ceremony. I am informed that the anonymous donor of the statue addressed the meeting, but, of course, I have no authority to say so. I eagerly scanned the names of those present on the platform in the expectation of finding the name of the First Commissioner of Works, if not that of the Prime Minister himself. It is strange that not one single member of Her Majesty's Government was present, and I think it is a significant fact that of the party that supports Her Majesty's Government the names of only two members were on the list—one a Unionist Peer, and the other a Conservative Member of the House of Commons who himself had signed a petition protesting against the erection of this statue without the previous consent of Parliament. I fully intended to have drawn your Lordships' attention to this singular proceeding before, but at the time I thought of doing so the very serious aspect of affairs in South Africa led me to think that it would not be convenient to raise the question. Unfortunately, Mr. Swift MacNeill did not share that opinion, and he brought the matter forward in the House of Commons by moving an Amendment on the Vote for the maintenance of the Royal Palaces.* I regret very much that episode, but I think it is worthy of note that the matter was brought forward wholly unexpectedly, with the result that Her Majesty's Government got a very large majority, but in the minority were many Members of the House of Commons who usually support the Government. Thereupon I put down the question on the Paper, which I should have asked the Prime Minister some weeks ago had I not unfortunately been
* 23rd February, 1900. See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxix., page 949.
laid up, and unable to attend your Lordships' House. On the occasion of the debate referred to, the First Commissioner of Works stated that it had never been the practice of his Department, when a statue was paid for by public or private subscription and not out of public funds, to consult Parliament. That claim, my Lords, does not square with the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Churchill, who represented Her Majesty's Government when I brought my motion before the House in October last. Lord Churchill said:—
"The understanding on which the work [the statue] was to be executed was that a suitable site, satisfactory to the donor and to Parliament, should be given by the Government."
I was astonished at that statement, and I asked the noble Lord why Her Majesty's Government, in face of that understanding, did not think it necessary to consult Parliament, and the noble Lord replied that the terms were arranged by the late First Commissioner of Works and not by Mr. Akers-Douglas. The fact that Mr. Herbert Gladstone arranged and Mr. Akers-Douglas accepted those terms distinctly negatives his claim that the First Commissioner can deal with all such matters proprio motu without consulting Parliament. The claim of the First Commissioner of Works, reduced to its logical conclusion, amounts to this— that the First Commissioner of Works has the right to give a site and erect a statue in any of the Royal palaces, without consulting Parliament, to any obscure or undeserving person which some generous person might be willing to give. Suppose some enthusiastic pro-Boer offered a statue of Mr. Kruger—the First Commissioner of Works, according to this doctrine, is perfectly entitled to give a site, and your Lordships would not be allowed to say a word. Suppose that somebody presented a statue of Guy Fawkes—in the same way Parliament would have no voice in the matter. There is one further point upon which I desire the opinion of the Prime Minister. Assuming that it is no part of the duties of the First Commissioner of Works to consult Parliament in these matters, but that, as a fact, Parliament has expressed an opinion, is the First Commissioner of Works entitled to disregard that opinion, for that is exactly what the First Commissioner has done in this case? On June 17th, 1895, the House of Commons decided, by a majority of 137, that they would not erect a statue to Oliver Cromwell.* This was during Lord Rosebery's Administration. It is true that, technically speaking, the decision of the House was against a reduction of £500, but the tenor of the debate, and, more especially, the tenor of the speech of Mr. Balfour, who led the Opposition, shows conclusively that the House voted against any statue at all to Oliver Cromwell; and I cannot believe that anyone who has read or who heard that debate can seriously attempt to put aside the decision of the House on the plea of so trumpery a technicality. Four days after the 17th of June, Lord Rosebery's Government fell. During those four days the anonymous donor came forward and offered to Lord Rosebery, as head of the Government, a statue which Lord Rosebery, as head of the Government, accepted. He did that in the teeth of the division in the House of Commons against a statue of Cromwell, and it seems to me that this action was a cynical defiance of the wishes of Parliament without parallel, probably, since the days of Cromwell himself. I hope I have not detained your Lordships too long, but I feel strongly on this subject. I believe that the question which I now put to the Prime Minister is one involving a constitutional point of considerable importance. If the noble Marquess holds that the doctrine which the First Commissioner of Works has laid down is correct, that the First Commissioner is legally clothed with this almost papal authority, then, I submit, the sooner his powers are reduced to the level of those of other members of the Government the better for the appearance of the Palace of Westminster and the dignity of our monarchical Constitution.

My Lords, my noble friend has led us so deep into the mysteries of constitutional law that I feel considerable misgiving in addressing myself to a matter which really ought to be dealt with by the legal Members of the House. But if I may be allowed to confine myself to answering the question put to me, I will try to do it to the best of my ability. I am asked whether my attention has been called to a speech of the First Commissioner of

* See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. xxxiv., page 1341.
Works, in which he laid down, as a doctrine of constitutional law, that in the case of the erection of a statue upon which no public money is spent the First Commissioner of Works is under no obligation to consult Parliament as to the acceptance of the gift or the character of the site. Well, my Lords, suppose the converse were laid down, that the First Commissioner of Works must consult Parliament as to every statue which is to be erected throughout the country upon any site over which he has control. I think that is a proposition which will not be found in any of those works on Constitutional law to which I have no doubt my noble friend has referred himself. When I was taught constitutional law, I imagined that the relations of the Executive to Parliament were to be these—not that the Executive had to come to Parliament for leave to act under its executive powers, but that, when the Executive Government had acted in the discharge of its executive powers and had in the view of Parliament committed an error in so doing, the remedy of Parliament was to censure the Minister and to turn him and his colleagues out of office. I believe that to be the sound constitutional doctrine, and I think that the already over-burdened House of Commons would be still more terribly burdened if everything a Minister proposed to do in his executive capacity was subject to debate by Parliament before he exercised his power. I do not think Oliver Cromwell himself would have had any hesitation on this point, and I think even less violent politicians than Cromwell would have protested very strongly against the idea that the powers of the Executive Government are to be exercised by Parliament. Those powers are to be exercised subject to the judgment of and exposed to the review of Parliament. Turning from these grave matters to the smaller details, I will proceed to the next part of the question. I am asked, does this doctrine hold good even when the opinion of Parliament has been expressed against the proposed statue or site? The opinion of Parliament was not expressed against the proposed statue; it was expressed in support of the much more commonplace view, that Parliament declined to vote the money—an attitude which Parliament very frequently takes up, and an attitude which is obviously within its most primary and elementary constitutional powers. My noble friend talks of this as, I think, a piece of trumpery pettifogging. The Vote was refused by a large majority, and therefore my noble friend says Parliament has pledged itself to the doctrine that the statue is not to be erected, even though no public money is required. There, again, I think my noble friend will find it very difficult to summon to the support of that doctrine those lights of learning of which this House is proud. The matter for us is very simple. It is not so much as a matter of constitutional law that the matter appeals to me; what appeals more to my sympathy is the doctrine of continuity of policy. The late First Commissioner of Works undertook to give a site and to accept a statue, and on the faith of that undertaking certain monies were expended by a private individual whose name we shall never know. It seems to me not a matter of constitutional law but of common honesty that when the First Commissioner of Works was changed, his successor should hold himself bound by the promise which his predecessor had given, and should not take advantage of the change, especially when money had been expended by the person to whom the promise was given. It would be impossible to conduct business with the vast number of persons who have to consent to contracts with Her Majesty's Government on matters of very much more importance than this, if the doctrine was once laid down that a change of Government released the incoming Government from all that the former Government had promised. I do not think you can possibly accept such a doctrine as that. I understand that there are three questions at issue. First, ought the money of Parliament to be spent on the matter at all? Secondly, if not, ought Oliver Cromwell to have had a statue at all? And, thirdly, if he ought to have had a statue, ought it to have been placed in the sunken garden to which it has now been banished? I am no adorer of Oliver Cromwell, but if I wished to hand down an unfavourable view of his policy and history I could devise no more outward and visible sign of it than to put him at the bottom of a hole. So long as the anonymous donor, whose political opinions I cannot even guess, is content with that way of honouring the particular hero whom he delights to praise, I do not see that those who belong to what I may call the side of the question to which my noble friend and I belong—to the party which is not supposed to be enthusiastically or extravagantly desirous of honouring Oliver Cromwell—need complain of the arrangement, because I do not see how any arrangement could be devised which would suit our views so satisfactorily. Having a statue, they can hardly have another. No one can lift him out of the depths to which he has been relegated, and I think foreigners will go away from the site, after studying the Statesmen whom we have honoured in the surrounding land, with the observation, "Behold the banishment that a just monarchical Government inflicts upon a rebel and a regicide!"

I would remind the House that the division against the site was taken on the morning or the prorogation, in a very thin House composed of ten Peers, and was only carried by a majority of two. No discourtesy to the noble Lord was intended by me when I pointed out that a division taken in such circumstances was not calculated to add to the dignity of this House or to the respect with which people would regard its decisions.

My Lords, I had hoped that some Peer of more importance than I can pretend to be would have intervened in this discussion. The noble Earl who opened it I think satisfied the House that a transaction had taken place that ought not to have taken place. That is the point. I quite agree, if I may take the liberty of saying so, with the noble Marquess that it is not a proper description of the matter to say it is unconstitutional. That is entirely too vague and too large a phrase to describe what occurred; but I do say, and I think everybody who has heard the temperate, concise, and effective statement of the noble Earl will have come to the conclusion, that what occurred ought not to have taken place. I cannot understand how any First Commissioner of Works can find it consistent with his duty to arrogate to himself the right to set up a statue within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster if he knew that the presence of that statue would be objectionable to the great majority of the Members of both Houses of Parliament. If the First Commissioner had such a right why was the statue unveiled in a surreptitious manner on a November night, and why was it accepted from an anonymous donor? I think it is an indignity to both Houses to accept such a statue in such a manner. Is the donor ashamed of his action? Is that the reason he wishes to preserve his anonymity? It is childish to continue to talk of the donor being anonymous when everyone knows in this House and in the street—a favourite place now to appeal to—who the anonymous donor is. He was the Prime Minister of the Crown, and his First Commissioner of Works accepted his statue. What made him so urgent? Was it because Oliver Cromwell disposed in a summary way of the House of Lords, or was it because he was enabled to quote Oliver Cromwell as a great instance to save him from that unpleasant thing, the Nonconformist conscience which objects to racing? The noble Earl—I decline to speak of him as the anonymous donor, for in the Courts of Justice we are in the habit of calling a. spade a spade—with reference to the objection of Irish representatives, said that they should not object to a statue in London when Englishmen did not object to statues in Dublin. To this I reply that I would not raise any protest against a statue of Cromwell in the streets of London provided I was not expected to subscribe to it, but it is quite a different matter to erect such a statue within the precincts of the Houses of Parliament, in which Irishmen have an interest in common with representatives of other parts of the kingdom. The point is not that a statue of Oliver Cromwell was to be put up, but that it was put up within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster upon the promise of the First Commissioner of Works, who knew at that very time it was contrary to the wish of both Houses of Parliament. I do not think that point has been met. It is not a question of its being unconstitutional; it is a question of a thing having been done which ought not to have been done, and which was done to a certain extent defiantly. The doctrine of continuity of policy which has been referred to is seldom carried out in things that are right. If Mr. Herbert Gladstone did wrong, why was Mr. Akers-Douglas. to persevere in that wrong, particularly when he could shield himself under not only the fact that this House did not approve of it, but that the House of Commons substantially disapproved of it? Anybody who reads the debate will see that the £500 was a mere bagatelle. The question discussed was, was Oliver Cromwell a person to whom a statue should be erected within the precincts of the House of Commons? Continuity of policy did not justify the First Commissioner of Works in carrying out the mistaken intention of his predecessor to erect a statue to the man who ended, not mended, the House of Lords, and ignominiously drove the Members of the House of Commons from their place of meeting. If the noble Earl who raised this question had concluded with a motion, I think he would have received considerable support in this House. I would certainly have voted for his motion.

My Lords, I do not think that anyone in this House would desire to go into a discussion as to the merits of Oliver Cromwell; no doubt there are great differences of opinion as to that great historical character. A very considerable time has elapsed since the events in which Cromwell too part occurred, and, for my part, I consider that he was one of the greatest men this country ever produced, and any honour done to him is an honour to the country to which he belonged. Further than that I will not go, nor will I say anything as to the attack made by the opponents of Cromwell. The anonymous donor is a donor whom, undoubtedly, we all know, and that being the case I feel myself justified in saying that I think the anonymous donor, even if he be a member of this House, has done nothing whatever of which he has any reason to be ashamed, but on the contrary I think that everyone who has any respect for the great men of the country ought to be obliged to him for what he has presented to the nation. The only other observation I wish to make is as to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down. He seems to have entirely forgotten that there is a bust of Oliver Cromwell at this moment placed on a very conspicuous site within the very walls and precincts of the House of Commons, and that it was placed there since the present Government came into office. If it became a question for discussion, which is the more offensive to the opponents of Oliver Cromwell—the statue in what the noble Marquess called a "hole" outside, or the bust in a central position where it must come under the notice of every Member of the House of Commons? Upon the whole, I think that discussions of this kind about one of our greatest men do no honour to the House, and will not meet with the approbation of right thinking men in the country.

I am very grateful to the Prime Minister for the full way in which he has dealt with my question. I disagree with the noble Marquess when he says that the statue is in a hole. Though he is technically correct, it must be borne in mind that it is on a pedestal which makes it one of the most conspicuous statues in London. As to the bust in the House of Commons, to which Lord Kimberley referred, it is a question of degree. The bust inside the House is small and not conspicuous. The statue outside is conspicuously before the public; everyone can see it and everyone who sees it knows that it was placed there by a Conservative Government and will infer that it was placed there to do honour to the memory of one who no doubt was a great man. I regret, after the very strong feeling which I observe exists in your Lordships' House on this question, that I did not move a motion instead of asking a question.

Gpo—Transfer To Mount Pleasant—Postal Rearrangements, Delays, Etc

My Lords, I beg to ask the Postmaster General if he will explain under what circumstances and in what cases the hours of posting for the provincial mails have been curtailed, in consequence of the transfer of a portion of the work of the General Post Office to Mount Pleasant. It will be within your Lordships' knowledge that certain complaints have arisen owing to the curtailment of the hours to which I have referred. This alteration is a source of great inconvenience in the West End and in the City, and it is with the object of getting an explanation from the noble Marquess the Postmaster General that I have put down this question.

My Lords, the question which has been put to me by my noble friend is, if I may venture to say so, a very pertinent and practical one, and I do not in the least regret that it has been asked. The matter is creating certain doubts — I might almost say misapprehensions— in the minds of the public at large, but if it had been possible the Post Office would gladly have avoided the transfer referred to. But they had no other course open to them owing to the pressure of business and the likelihood of that pressure being increased. The Post Office building at St. Martin's-le-Grand, which had hitherto been devoted to sorting purposes, was found to be absolutely inadequate for the work, and as regards the employees there was danger that the sanitary arrangements would be insufficient. To give an idea of the increase in the work during the last few years, I may state that from a return taken in November, 1895, the number of articles posted in the E.G. district weekly was 8,300,000 and the number delivered in the E.G. district was 4,221,000, making a total of 12,500,000. From the latest return of November, 1899, the numbers had risen to 9,536,000 (an increase of nearly 15 per cent.) and 4,761,000 (an increase of nearly 13 per cent.) respectively, or a total of 14,290,000. The number of articles despatched from St. Martin's-le-Grand to places abroad was in May, 1896, 2,033,000. The number is now 2,842,000 (an increase of nearly 40 per cent.), but this is temporarily swollen by the large amount of correspondence which is now sent weekly to the troops in South Africa. Owing also to the reduction of rates of the inland letter postage in 1897 the bulk of the articles sent through the post has materially increased, and this is a serious factor as regards the space available in the sorting office. I think I have shown your Lordships by these figures that some movement was necessary, and it was absolutely impossible to continue the whole of the work in the old building. Consequently my predecessor decided to transfer, roughly speaking, one-half of the duties of St. Martin's-le-Grand to what is now known as Mount Pleasant, a building one mile off on the site of what was formerly the Coldbath Fields prison. For some years a large portion of the business of the parcel post has been carried on there, and on Monday last it was opened for its new work. I do not deny that there has been a certain amount of inconvenience to the public in connection with the transfer, and I do not attempt to shirk any responsibility, but I can only ask your Lordships, and through you the public, to exercise the leniency which is called for when there is a transfer of such a large number of employés and plant. The site of the new building is on the extreme edge of the E.C. district, but it was the only site available for a building of the dimensions necessary, and, as your Lordships know, it belonged to the Government. The duties transferred to Mount Pleasant were those relating to the postal arrangements connected with the provinces. The foreign mails and all the postal arrangements connected with London will remain at St. Martin's-le-Grand. I wish particularly to impress upon your Lordships that practically there is no alteration in the hours of posting in any district in London as a result of the change, except in the E.C. district. There may be certain delay in connection with letters posted in London in the middle or early part of the day. Letters posted in the south or east of London and intended for the south and east provinces will have further to go to Mount Pleasant than they had to the old Post Office. But there will be a corresponding gain in point of time with regard to letters posted in the north and west for the north and west provinces, for the reason that those districts are nearer to Mount Pleasant. Except as regards the E.C. district there will be no alteration in the hours of posting for the night mails to the provinces. At Mount Pleasant the hours of posting will be the same now as they have hitherto been at St. Martin's-le-Grand, and the hours of posting for the general night mails will be maintained all over the district. But letters intended for despatch to the provinces by mails other than the general night mails should as a rule, if posted elsewhere than at Mount Pleasant, be posted about half an hour earlier. I may mention that in the E.C. district letters will no longer be able to be posted in pillar and wall boxes with an extra halfpenny stamp up to seven p.m. It has been found that of the 50,000 letters per night so posted an average of only 700 bear the extra stamp, and it is not practicable to examine 50,000 letters for the sake of 700. It has therefore been decided to abolish the wall and pillar boxes for late-fee letters. I wish it to be understood that although that facility is taken away the facilities offered are satisfactory, because at every post- office in the east-central district the facilities for late-fee posting will exist as before, and no one will have to walk more than 200 yards in the east central district in order to reach a post-office. The main point to which exception has been taken is that late-post letters must be posted at St. Martin's-le-Grand at 7.30 instead of at 7.45, as hitherto. The pressure at the General Post Office has been so great that it has been found absolutely necessary to remove a certain portion of the work to another building. It takes a quarter of an hour to get from St. Martin's-le-Grand to the new building, and that quarter of an hour has to be made up in some way, otherwise the mails would not catch the trains. After considering the matter very carefully my predecessor arrived at the conclusion, in which I concur, that that quarter of an hour should be taken off the time allowed at St. Martin's-le-Grand. I believe the inconvenience has been greatly exaggerated. I can only say, on behalf of myself and the Department over which I preside, that we do not think we are asking too much of the public, having regard to the convenience of every part of the country, and that we believe we shall be able to carry on our enormous and daily increasing task in a manner which will give satisfaction to She country.

Hours Of Labour In Shops

My Lords, I rise to ask the Prime Minister whether he would consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the long hours of labour in shops. In a recent debate on the Early Closing Bill the noble Marquess, while admitting the length of hours of labour in shops, objected to the Bill, on the ground, mainly, or at any rate among other reasons, that though it was drawn in accordance with a unanimous resolution of the House of Commons, and had passed through two Committees of that House, it did not, in his judgment, sufficiently protect the interests of the consumer. The loss of the Bill has caused great disappointment to the shopkeeping community, and I beg to ask the noble Marquess whether he will consent to the appointment of a Committee to consider the subject.

My Lords, I do not think that this matter is at all an unfit one for the consideration of this House, but I should demur to the appointment of a Committee so late in the session, when it would hardly be possible to obtain the attendance of Peers who would be adequately fitted for examining into a question of such complexity. The great novelty of the proposal made by the noble Lord imposes upon us the duty of examining very carefully what the effect will be of limiting the hours of labour in shops, and how far the interest of various classes of the community would be injuriously touched by it. In some recent debates we have had the doctrine laid down, which, I confess, very much alarmed me, that whenever a Commission or Committee which was appointed by the Government was unanimous on a. subject, the Government was thereupon bound to accept the conclusions to which they had arrived. I entirely demur to any such suggestion. I have no belief in the infallibility of Commissions or Committees, though they may be of great assistance to Parliament in the investigations of social phenomena which it is their duty to make. I will not pledge myself as to the course we shall pursue with respect to the recommendations which may be made, but I entirely concur with the noble Lord that this is a suitable matter for Parliament to investigate. It is a matter of extreme difficulty, and I hope that some care will be taken to appoint an impartial Committee.

I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess for consenting to the appointment of a Select Committee. I quite concur that it should not be a partisan Committee, and I am sure the advocates of early closing would be desirous that it should be a Committee which would inspire the confidence of your Lordships' House. I beg to give notice that I will move for the appointment of a Committee at the commencement of next session.

Colonial Marriages (Deceased Wife's Sister) Bill Hl

Amendments reported (according to Order), and Bill to be read 3a To-morrow.

House adjourned at Twenty-five minutes past Six of the clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten of the clock.