§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee. (In the Committee.)
§ CLASS II.
1. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £48,751, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1890, for the Salaries and Expenses in the Department of Her Majesty's Treasury, and in the Office of
the Parliamentary Counsel, and also the Expenses of the Statute Law and State Trials Reports Committees.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I rise to move the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £6,000—that is to say the reduction of £3,000 from the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury and of £3,000 from the salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I desire at once to say that there is nothing personal in the matter. I am perfectly ready to admit -for the sake of argument, that the First Lord of the Treasury is the very best First Lord of the Treasury that it is possible to conceive, and so also with regard to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but I am of opinion that the salaries of our high officials and particularly the salaries of these officers are exceptionally high in their character, and much too high. We have 'been told that a Cabinet Minister is put to a large expense in order to maintain his position. Now I do not understand what that means. I have the same respect for a Minister whether he spends £1,000 a year or £10,000 a year, or whether he lives in a large or a small house. But I find that a certain number of Cabinet Ministers receive £5,000 per annum while there are a certain number who only receive £2,000 per annum. I have before now pointed out to the House, and I think the House will agree with me, that there is no distinction in the individuality of the gentleman who receives £2,000 per annum and the gentleman who receives £5,000 per annum. It appears to be purely a haphazard matter, and if we can get competent men to do the duties for £2,000 a year, I see no reason why we should pay £5,000. If you will look abroad it will be found that Ministers are paid much less than in this country. It used to be urged that living was more expensive in this country than abroad, but as a matter of fact existence is cheaper in London than in Paris, Berlin, or Washington, and, probably than in Vienna. The United States Ministers receive about £1,000 per annum, and some years ago when an attempt was made to put the salary up, there was an immediate outcry in the country. The attempt was called "a salary grab," and those who put it up found themselves obliged to reduce it. In France the salary of a 676 Minister is £2,000, and in Berlin and Vienna £1,600. Therefore I am not asking the House to do anything exceptional but only to act as in other countries, and as, in point of fact, we act in this country in regard to some of our Ministers. As it is impossible to move, upon these votes, an increase of the salaries of Ministers who have only £2,000 a year, I am obliged to take that as the salary which ought to be given to all Ministers of the Crown. I am prepared to admit that a Minister has a considerable amount of work to do, but it is not a very great deal if we compare his duties with those of many permanent officials in this country. He has to attend his office in the morning, and he has to come down to this House. But we also have to come down, and a right hon. Gentleman is not necessarily here more than if he were not a Minister. I can assure the Chancellor of the Exchequer that looking after him is quite as hard work as that which he has to perform in this House as a Minister. I am sorry for the reason which has deprived us of the presence here to-day of the first Lord of the Treasury, but I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his place, and I hope that on the part of Government he will assent to this moderate reduction. Both of the right hon. gentlemen I have mentioned are wealthy men, and it is not a personal matter so far as they are concerned; but I think it will be generally admitted that we can get good Ministers for £2,000 per annum. That is about what the Ministers abroad get, and I see no earthly reason why we should pay more.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item A. of £49,855, for Salaries, &c., be reduced by £6,000, part of the Salaries of the First Lord of the Treasury, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover square
I entirely accept the declaration of the hon. Member that there is nothing personal whatever in the observations he has made. The hon. Member has compared the salaries of Ministers here with the salaries of Ministers abroad. A fairer comparison to draw would have been between the salaries of Ministers and the emoluments received by successful professional 677 and business men. If we compare the salaries of Ministers with the emoluments of successful lawyers, physicians, the managers of insurance companies, or the general managers of railways, I think it will be found that abroad the salaries of Ministers bear a very fair proportion to those of professional men. But, in this country, certainly the emoluments of successful men in all classes are much greater than in other countries, a contrast between the salaries of Ministers and the emoluments of successful men in other walks of life are very unfavouable to the former. The sacrifice which is made by a Minister in this country when he accepts office is very considerable. The question of Ministers' salaries was inquired into by the House in 1850, and the House then came to the conclusion that the salaries were not too high. The hon. Member says that Ministers have no hard work to do. Now I venture to think that they do far more work than they are generally credited with. With some few exceptions, able men in the Civil Service are not over paid, but during the last 15 or 20 years, Parliamentary life has been much harder to all Members than it was formerly, and the increased work has fallen especially upon Ministers. It may be some consolation to the hon. Member to know that it is doubtful whether Ministers can now last as long as they have done in the past. Private Members are not obliged to attend the sittings of the House in the same sense as Ministers. If the First Lord of the Treasury or the Chancellor of the Exchequer is absent, the hon. Member might complain; but, on the other hand, if the hon. Member were absent the Government would certainly not complain. I think it will be generally admitted that Ministers have extremely heavy work to perform besides their administrative business. The matter, however, is one for the Committee to decide.
The right hon. Gentleman has made a defence of the present salaries paid to Ministers in this country as against those paid to Ministers in other countries on the ground that they ought to be compared with the salaries paid to the managers of railroads and insurance companies in England rather than with those paid abroad. Let me take the case of a 678 United States Minister. He gets less than is paid to a Minister in Paris, Berlin, or Vienna, and yet the managers of railway or insurance companies get far higher salaries than they do in the countries I have mentioned. Therefore, the analogy of the right hon. Gentleman hardly holds good, and the proper comparison is, that of the salaries paid to English ministers with those paid to ministers in other countries. I do not complain of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. He has very fairly put the case from his own point of view, but I would point out to him that a Minister is expected to do a certain amount of work for the salary paid to him. We do not pay for what the right hon. Gentleman chooses to call the extra amount of strain put upon the Minister. We expect even a navvy to give his full strength, and we expect a Minister to give his full strength during the hours he is at work. What I contend is that if you take the business of the chairman of a railway company, we shall find that he does a great deal more than the Minister, if we except the time the Minister has to be in this House. The right hon. Gentleman says that a Minister is obliged to be here, and that I as an ordinary Member am not obliged. He added that it would be a good thing if I did not come here at all.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The right hon. Gentleman says he would not complain, but he must not forget that I owe a duty to my constituents. My constituents send me here, just as the constituents of the right hon. Gentleman's send him here. He is here to look after the public exchequer, and I am sent here to look after the custodian of the public exchequer. We should not fulfil our duties unless both of us were in this our House. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman proposes what he considers to be good legislation; but I on my part oppose it, because I consider it to be bad legislation. What, however, I want to get at is, why the salaries of certain Ministers, and only of certain Ministers, should be higher than those paid to Ministers abroad. Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that no efficient First Lord of the Treasury or Chancellor of the Exchequer can be got for £2,000 per annum? If 679 a determination were come to to pay only that sum, would there be a strike on the part of those who were likely hereafter to become First Lords of the Treasury and Chancellors of the Exchequer? For my part I think we should get the same gentlemen, and that they would be as well contented with £2,000 per annum as the President of the Board of Trade and the President of the Local Government Board now are. So long as we have right hon. Gentlemen who are ready to he Ministers upon £2,000 per annum, and to consider that they are fairly and adequately paid, I hold that there is no legitimate reason for exceeding that sum, except perhaps in the case of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, who are required to extend hospitality to foreign diplomatists and visitors, and who might receive £1,000 a year more. It has been said that they have private hospitality to maintain, but neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor the First Lord of the Treasury are in a position which demands a lavish expenditure on that account.
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
was understood to dissent from the remark of the hon. Member.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Well, take the case of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He invites my hon. Friend and others to partake of his hospitality, with the object of keeping the Party he represents together, and of corruptly inducing them to hold to their Party; and they are delighted to accept the hospitality offered them in order that they may go back to their country places and swagger about saying that they met the Duchess of this and Lady that at the Chancellor of the Exchequer's private party. There is really no earthly reason why a Minister should receive more than £2,000 per annum, except that he does receive it. We profess to desire a reduction of expenditure in various respects. Let us begin at home. The country will, I think, have some confidence in us if we say that in regard to the official positions in this House we are making a proper and efficient reduction.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
I do not see that the right hon. Gentleman's argument founded upon the attendance of Ministers in this House is entitled to 680 any consideration; as elected Members we have all the duty of attendance. We get no pay for the duty and we have reason to complain that attendance of Ministers here to vote against us should be made a ground to support a claim for larger salaries. As regards the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am strongly of opinion that these offices should be more of an honorary nature. Looking at the serious and important duties that attach to the positions, I do not think it is advisable that these offices should be held by gentlemen who are not notoriously men of large means. Of course in regard to other offices the same considerations do not arise, but certainly I think for the responsible position of custodians of the public purse gentlemen of notorious wealth are preferable to those who are not so favoured. It may be this is not a Radical idea, but it is one I hold personally. As to the labours of the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we cannot but admit that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has to perform a great deal more drudgery than his official superiors, but he gets a much lower salary. If actual amount of labour is a test to be applied at all, then if the salaries of the First Lord and the Chancellor of the Exchequer are not excessive, the salary of the Financial Secretary ought to be raised. I shall vote for the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Northampton.
The Committee divided.—Ayes 30; Noes 100.—(Division List No. 80.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ *SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I wish to move a much smaller reduction in the salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The last reduction was moved on broad and general grounds, but this I move is rather on personal grounds—personal to the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not want to be too hard on the right hon. Gentleman. The notice on the paper is to move a reduction by £1,000, but I intended to put down £100, and that is the reduction I propose to move as a protest against what I may call the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to Egypt. I protest against the way in which in successive years the Chancel- 681 lor of the Exchequer has, as it were, balanced the Egyptian Budget at the expense of the British taxpayer. I have called attention to this matter in former years, but ineffectually. Year after year we have had grants made to the Egyptian Exchequer on account of the expedition of 1882 and on the ground that the payments were for services rendered by transport or in other ways. When I had hoped that these grants had at last come to an end we were surprised in the present year by another demand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for £40,000 on account of this long-forgotten expedition of 1882. I said when that demand was made, and I say again, it is a gift to the Egyptian Government, although the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a light and airy way, says it is settlement of accounts. It is giving hard cash now in the hands of the officials of the Caisse to the Egyptian Government instead of devoting it to British purposes. When the Egyptian Budget is balanced in this way, it does much to promote, to a dangerous extent, the optimist view of Egyptian finance that now prevails, a view that is not well founded. It may be agreeable to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have Egyptian finance justifying his expectations; but we trusted in his high character and high official position that he would not have shown undue favour to Egypt as against the British Exchequer; that he would have been most careful not to favour the Egyptian bondholders at the expense of the British taxpayers. It does, however, seem to me that by successive gifts, under the pretence of claims on account of this expedition, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not acted on this principle. A mere £40,000 is not a very large sum, but be it remembered Egypt has been a heavy burden on our taxpayers. What I object to in regard to this payment is the manner in which it was obtained, and that is why I renew my protest to-day. It was slipped through Committee of Supply in the small hours of the morning when the Rules had been suspended, and nobody attended to the matter, nor was it brought to the notice of the people of this country. There are many objects nearer home to which the money could have been better applied, and even in Egypt the money would be well spent 682 in providing a suitable residence for our representive at Cairo. I certainly would never grudge a gift to the Egyptian people; but this is not a gift to the Egyptian people, it is a gift to the Egyptian bondholders. I object to the manner in which the vote was slipped through without discussion, as a Supplementary Estimate, the very last of the year, and in the early hours of morning after the Rules had been suspended. Nor was the Report stage of the Vote taken in the usual way, but on a Wedneeday after six o'clock, just before the Speaker was about to entertain a number of Members of the House at dinner, and it was totally impossible to obtain attention to this matter. I do not think I say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in making these successive gifts to the Egyption Government, has acted up to what his position should be in regard to this matter, and I also think there is danger in the optimist view of Egyptian finance encouraged by these gifts for the purpose of balancing the Egyptian Budget. I have been in Egypt lately, and I know that the encouragement of these optimist views points in the direction of fresh Egyptian loans and additional burdens upon the Egyptian people and their last days will be worse than the first. I admit that there has been economy in administation, but I say that in pursuance of the policy of paying the bondholders in full, Egyptian finance is being balanced, not only by economy, but chiefly by additional taxation.
*SIR, G. CAMPBELL
I will not press the subject further as I would have pressed it on a previous occasion, if I had had the opportunity. I believe this optimist view of Egyptian finance is an unsafe view, and not beneficial to the people of Egypt.
§ *SIR G. CAMPBELL
I will then content myself with a motion for the reduction of the salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the sum of £100, as a protest against the successive gifts of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to balance Egyptian finance.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item A, of £49,855, for Salaries, &c., be reduced by £100, part of the Salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I believe the hon. Gentleman is anxious to be fair, and I do not in the least degree accuse of him of any desire to make a charge he does not believe to be well founded, but he is so prejudiced in this matter that it is scarcely possible for him to be fair. He speaks of my having made successive gifts to the people of Egypt at the expense of the British taxpayers.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Member must know that these arrangements arise out of what occurred some years ago when the interest was fixed, and there has been no change whatever in the matter. However, I do not press that. But then he charges me with having continually worked rather for the interest of the Egyptian Government than for the British Exchequer, where the interests of the two clashed, and if I had done that I should be deserving of more severe censure than he has passed upon me.
§ *SIR G. CAMPBELL
I do not mean to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman constantly worked for Egyptian interests, but on several occasions he has permitted himself to go further in direction of these gifts than I think is permissible.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Gentleman alluded to my optimist view in regard to Egyptian finance. Now, the hon. Gentleman is well acquainted with Egyptian affairs, and he may possibly remember that upon my assumption of office one of the first things I did was to re fuse to admit the claims of the Egyptian Government, to the amount of £500,000, which had practically passed the Cabinet. I do not know whether the hon. Member recollects the circumstances, but it is somewhat hard to be attacked now for laxness in looking after the interest of the Exchequer; and I may remind him that on that occasion the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) complimented me on my action, and used these words: "The right hon. Gentleman (that is myself) was practically able to save the country £500,000 by the attitude he took up with regard to these 684 claims, and I attribute to him all the credit of this saving." Is it quite fair, then, for the hon. Member now to make this attack upon me in regard to this matter? No gifts whatever have been made to the Egyptian Government. This is not a gift of which the hon. Member speaks; it is the settlement of claims made by the Egyptian Government; claims arising out of former expeditions, and if the hon. Member knows how long it was before the expenses of the auxiliary expedition were cleared up, he will understand that these contested items of account could not be kept longer in abeyance under the circumstances. The hon. Member complains of my having a special desire to slip the Vote through, but the Committee will remember that in the Supplementary Estimates there were a number of important Colonial Votes, in regard to each of which the hon. Member moved reductions, and so time was occupied, while the necessity to pass the Supplementary Votes before the close of the financial year grew more urgent. I hope the Committee will acquit me of any desire to burke discussion upon this or any other vote. I was rather sorry at the time, that the hon. Member was unable to pursue the discussion, for I know the interest he takes in the subject, but I trust now, at all events, he will see that I had no desire to assist Egyptian finance by grants from the Exchequer, and that my whole interest, if I was guided by interest in any way, lay in the other direction; the direction of anxiety for my own surplus rather than for the interest of Egypt. Egyptian finance is in a fairly prosperous condition, our own position was not altogether satisfactory. I trust it is not necessary for me to say anything further. While I acquit the hon. Member of any desire to be unfair, I think he is somewhat unfair, owing to his having failed to take a wider view of the financial position.
§ *SIR G. CAMPBELL
I do not for a moment suggest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is altogether an abandoned character, and that he has entered into a conspiracy to give the Egyptian Government whatever it asks; but we know that one party in an Oriental bargain always asks three or four times as much as he expects to get, and such has been the case in these 685 Egyptian claims. The right hon. Gentleman did not accept the claim for half-a-million, but, I think, he allowed claims to something like £293,000; which, having in mind the nature of the transaction, is a very large sum. I remember asking if this would conclude the Egyptian demands, and I had an impression that the right hon. Gentleman said there would be no further demands, but I find on reference that he said there remained a disputed item of £25,000 to be settled. This, it seems, grew in two or three years to £40,000. Again, I say, my attitude is not that of imputing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he worked all through in favour of Egyptian finance, but I do say in regard to the Nile Expedition that it is not right the British taxpayer should, in addition to the direct cost, be also taxed for the indirect assistance afforded by the Egyptian Government for the fighting of Egyptian battles. All through the Egyptian Government have been allowed the best of the bargain, and this £40,000 is the last straw that might well break the patience of the British taxpayer. You, Mr. Courtney, stopped me when I was going into the question to explain that this grant does not go towards the reduction of taxation, but as the Chancellor of the Exchequer says it has gone in the reduction of Egyptian taxation. I may be allowed in general terms to say that, having gone carefully into the subject, I am certain that the payments in the last year or two from this country have not gone towards the reduction of Egyptian taxation, because it has been largely increased, but towards making up payments in full to Egyptian bondholders.
Question put, and negatived.
Original question again proposed.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I desire to draw the attention of the Committee to two items in the Vote, one being the salary of the Auditor of the Civil List — the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury — and the other the salaries of the Civil List Clerk, and the Assistant Civil List Clerk. I do not know what the duties of these officers may happen to be, but it is high time that Parliament had some information as to what they do, and unless some satisfactory reply is given on be- 686 half of the Government I shall feel it necessary to move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £1,000, in respect of the salary of these three officials. The three salaries are not inconsiderable, amounting, altogether, to nearly £2,500 a year, the Auditor receiving £1,500, the Civil List Clerk £550, and the Assistant Clerk £375. I should not be in order in discussing the general policy of the Civil List on this occasion, but I would point out that a very strong case exists for reforming the Administration in this respect. The Civil List Act, which was one of the first Acts passed in the present reign, provided for the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of £385,000 a year, which money has to be applied to certain purposes connected with the maintenance of the dignity and the comfort of the Royal Family. The Act divides the Civil List into five classes, and provides that in each class there shall be a certain maximum of expenditure; and it goes on to say that if there is any saving in any one of these classes at the end of any one quarter, that saving is to be carried over to a separate account, and the Lords of the Treasury for the time being may, if they see fit, make an order-authorizing an application of that saving to the purposes of any other of the classes. The £385,000 is not given—en bloc—in solidarity—for the maintenance of the dignity of the Crown, but it is given on the responsibility of the Government as representing the taxpayers of the country. It is part of the duty of the Government, as representing the taxpayers of the country, to see first of all whether there is any saving to be effected in the Civil List, and next to see how such saving can be apportioned to other classes of the Civil List. It appears to me, moreover, that this duty of the Government is strictly a public one—they being the trustees for the public—and that the public are entitled to know what the savings are in any one particular class, and to what other class they are applied. The most astounding fact in connection with this-matter is that for something like 30 years Parliament and the country have been kept by successive Governments absolutely in the dark on this subject. Although we are asked year after year to pay the large salaries of these three officials whose business it is to audit 687 the Civil List and find out how much saving has been effected in any one class, yet no information as to the administration of this enormous fund is allowed to be laid before the representatives of the people who have to provide the money. How it came about that no information whatever on the subject is given to Parliament is, in itself, somewhat remarkable. At the beginning of the reign and for some 20 years, I believe, a meagre amount of information was laid before the Government as to the administration of this money. Up to the year 1854, there appeared an obscure item in the Finance Accounts stating that a certain sum had been saved. In that year Lord Brougham, in the House of Lords, asked for some explanation as to certain savings having been effected in connection with a branch of the Civil List—the saving amounting to something like £36,000 annually—and for his impertinence the Ministers of the day withdrew from the financial accounts of the country that one item, and from that day to this no scintilla of information has been afforded to Parliament as to these matters. I trust that the Government will not, upon this occasion, repeat the myth which has been presented to the House on several occasions—that the Civil List arrangement is a compact between the sovereign and the country. The main point I wish to bring before the Committee is that we are asked to pay these salaries without being informed as to what the officers do for the money. We know they ought to deal with the question of the savings of the Civil List. If it is asserted on the part of the Government that we have no right to ask what the audit is, then I say let the Civil List speak for itself, and do not saddle the country with an additional expense of £2,500 a year for an audit which you will not allow Parliament to know anything about. I think I have made out a case for the Motion I may have to make, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer or some other Member of the Government does not offer a satisfactory explanation.
§ *MR. JACKSON
The hon. Gentleman has fallen into an error when he takes the salary of the auditor to be £1,500 a year. It has been the practice for one of the Assistant Secretaries at the 688 Treasury to hold the office, and £1,500 a year is paid to that gentleman as Assistant Secretary at the Treasury and Auditor of the Civil List. If that gentleman did not audit the Civil List he would still draw £1,500 a year. I can speak from my own knowledge on this matter, and can assure the hon. Gentleman that if the gentleman who now occupies the position of auditor were to cease to occupy it he would still remain Assistant Secretary to the Treasury at his present salary. The position as Auditor may, therefore be regarded as in some degree honorary, as it does not involve a salary. The hon. Member is under an entire misapprehension when he speaks of the cost of this audit being £2,500 a year. The Committee, I think, will be of opinion that it is very desirable that these accounts should be audited, and that they should be audited by somebody who is competent to discharge the duty, and furthermore, that the audit should be carried out under the eye of the Treasury. I do not propose to follow the hon. Member through the whole of his observations, and I will merely point out that the 10th Section of the Act of Parliament provides that when in any year the expenditure on the Civil List exceds £400,000, an account shall be presented to Parliament showing the details of such excess. In order that it may be discovered whether there has been any excess, it is necessary that there should be an audit, and the present method of providing for such audit by the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, assisted by two clerks, is not an extravagant one. I am sure that any hon. or right hon. Gentleman who has been connected with the Treasury will be ready to speak in the highest terms of the conscientious manner in which the gentleman in question—Mr. Mowatt—does his work.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
I must say I do not think the hon. Gentleman has given a sufficient explanation. I beg to disclaim any intention of calling in question the capacity of the gentleman who fulfils this apparently nominal duty. I had not the least idea that the post of Auditor of the Civil List was of the honorary character the hon. Member says it is. I did not know it, and I am thankful for the information. The hon. Gentlemen informs me that the two clerks are the real auditors.
§ *MR. JACKSON
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. I did not intend to convey that the audit is of a nominal character. The auditor is, of course, responsible for the accuracy of the accounts, though he has the assistance of clerks. Each voucher has to be examined, the work being done by the clerks acting under his authority. I do not wish to diminish his responsibility.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
His main public duties are those of Assistant 'Secretary to the Treasury. What I want to observe is that the public have an interest in these accounts, not merely to see whether they exceed the stipulated amount, but to see whether any savings can be effected. If savings can be effected, it is our duty as representing the taxpayers to see that they are properly apportioned, and we have a right to insist on the particulars of this audit being placed before the country. The hon. Gentleman says, and says truly, that these things should be done under the eye of the Treasury, but I hold that they should also he done under the eye of Parliament and the country. As a protest against the system of withholding such information, I will move to reduce the Vote by £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item A, of £49,845 for Salaries, &c., be reduced by £1,000, in respect of the Salaries of the Clerks attached to the Audit of the Civil List."—(Mr. Edmund Robertson).
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
I should like to know whether these accounts are treated like other public accounts, and placed before the Auditor and Comptroller General. I think that, in the interest of the public, these funds should be treated like all other funds in this respect, and should be audited by an independent official who is not under the control of a Minister. I understand that the auditor has merely to see that the total amount has not been exceeded, but I think we ought to be able to see that the amount under the different heads has not been exceeded. The hon. Gentleman opposite says it is the intention of the Act that we should not only see that the whole amount does not exceed a certain sum, but that we should see where savings have been effected and to what classes they can be apportioned. I understand 690 that the audit has not been carried to that length. At any rate, I should like to have some information on these two points.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I do not concur in the interpretation put upon the Act by the hon. Member for Dundee, hut as no notice has been given of any intention to raise this discussion, I have not got the subject as thoroughly at my fingers' ends as I should if I had known it would come up. These accounts stand altogether on a different footing to other public accounts, for any savings effected do not go to the National Exchequer but to the credit of the Civil List, and the whole concern of the public therefore is that the total amount is not exceeded. The accounts, for that reason, are not submitted to the Auditor General. There is probably no instance of so long a reign during which the Sovereign has abided so strictly by the contract made with the nation—for after all, despite what the hon. Member for Dundee has said, there was a compact between the Crown and Parliament on these matters, and that such has been the case has been the contention of all Ministries.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I will not pursue the matter further. I quite bow to the ruling of the Chairman, though I thought that the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman had opened up the subject generally of the Civil List.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
Though it may be highly inconvenient, the forms of the House absolutely require that there should be amendments of this kind moved, because there is no other way of raising our objections. We have no idea whatever of attacking the conduct of the gentlemen who are concerned in these matters. They of course execute their orders and do their duty. We are accused of attacking the Government, hut, so far as I am concerned, if the right hon. Gentlemen, now of the Opposition were sitting on those benches, and I were behind them, I should certainly raise the very same objections as I have done in times past. It is not against the Government we are protesting, but against the system which unfortunately they are obliged to carry out. Now, the right hon. Gentle- 691 man the Secretary to the Treasury, who is always, I am sure, anxious to afford to this House any information that he can, seems to think it is required to make a mystery of this matter. We are to vote so much money every year, and we are to inquire no further what has become of it. It appears to be—
I would ask the hon. Member to be more precise in following the Vote. The question included in the Vote is the question of the audit.
§ MR. PICTON
Certainly, I will do my best, Mr. Courtney. I would say that we see no kind of audit, yet we are to pay a salary to a gentleman who audits the accounts. There is a mystery made, otherwise we should have had it before us. I say that as long as we pay the salary of an auditor, we have a right to require that the accounts be presented to us. I am glad that the hon. Member has raised the question, though in the exercise of your duty, Mr. Courtney, you necessarily keep us within limits which make it very difficult indeed to present our arguments as we should feel inclined.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has challenged my reading of the Act, and perhaps I may be allowed to state what the Act says. I refer the right hon. Gentleman to Clause 9 (not the 10th Clause) of the let and 2nd Victoria. There is, I take it, a public interest in several ways in the administration of these laws, created under this section. We are entitled to know whether all this has been done. Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer say that these quarters have been carried forward?
§ MR. ROBERTSON
Then we who provide the money and pass this Act are entitled to see the accounts. In the second place, if a saving has been effected, we are entitled to know whether it has been entered as the Act directs. In the third place, we ought to know whether the Treasury have exercised control in the matter. Supposing there is a saving on Class 1, it is open to the Treasury to apportion it to class 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7; we are entitled to know bow they discharged their responsibility, and to know to which of these classes they applied it, or whether they applied it to any one of them.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. and learned Member has justified me in my contention that these matters are not laid before the House.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. and learned Member knows that wherever it is the intention of Parliament that accounts should be presented, it is stated in the Act that the Accounts shall be presented to Parliament. But in respect of these surpluses, so far as I understand, it has never been the practice that Parliament should be informed of the various details of expenditure on the Civil List. The hon. Member's contention rests more on the general power of Parliament than on the particular Act which he has cited, though perhaps he is far more conversant with the Act of Parliament than I am.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
Down to the year 1854 a statement was annually presented to Parliament showing the total saving on the Civil List during the year. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he knows that as a fact?
§ MR. BIGGAR
I think the contention of the right hon. Gentleman is utterly weak. It seems to me that the Government are extremely indiscreet in refusing information, because it raises a suspicion that something is wrong where probably nothing is wrong at all. If we could get the information everybody would be satisfied. I think it very desirable that there should be a reform in this matter, especially as it is very desirable before another Civil List is settled that the country should know whether or not there has been a saving on any of the different classes of these items of expenditure. I think the Government are exceedingly indiscreet in refusing this information.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal)
I merely rise to clear up one question on this point. The provision which restrains the over-issue of the money in question is Section 3 of the Act, and that Section says:—"That the daily, weekly, or other issue of the money appropriated by the Act shall be so made that there shall not be an over issue for any single class in any single year." Now, under these circumstances it is perfectly clear that there must often be a surplus at 693 the end of the year on one class or another. The question I desire to ask the Financial Secretary is this: if there is a surplus upon each of these classes other than class 5, which never can be exceeded, so that there is not one of them to which the money so saved can be applied, what becomes of that money?
§ MR. COURTNEY
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that he is entering into a question outside the scope of the Committee.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
I will ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether a report is made each quarter of the means expended by monthly, daily, or weekly issues in each of the classes into which the Civil List Fund is distributed; and whether at the end of each quarter, "the whole amount then due"—that is with regard to each of these classes—"is computed, made up or specified according to the full intent and meaning of this Act," and whether the attention of the Government has been called to the fact that there is a surplus in each and everyone of the five classes?
§ *MR. JACKSON
Yes, sir; I think I can answer that question without any hesitation. I may say I would rather use the expression that it is the duty of the Auditor to consider these matters and to draw attention to anything they may deem necessary. The hon. Member is, of course, aware that the outstanding balances are reported by the Controller and Auditor General to Parliament.
§ *MR. JACKSON
On the Civil List. In February of this year the outstanding balances of 1888 were reported by the Controller and Auditor General at £89,405 19s. 11d.; and the outstanding balances are always reported by him to Parliament. He also reports the issues from the Exchequer every year, so that, as I believe, there is every safeguard.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Do I understand the Secretary of the Treasury to mean that the audit shows £85,000 on some or all classes of the outstanding balances?
§ *MR. JACKSON
No, Sir; I said the outstanding balances unpaid. If the hon. Member will refer to the accounts he will see that there was issued from the Exchequer in 1887–8 the amount of £410,407 0s. 2d.; that is on the balance 694 of sums issued on the 1st of April, 1887, which with the outstanding amount for the previous year of £96,845 7s. 2d. made up a total of £507,315 7s. 4d. The payments in 1887–8 were £217,847 8s. 2d.; the balances unpaid on the 31st March, 1888, were £89,405 19s. 11d.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Can the Secretary to the Treasury tell me in precise words what the Auditor has reported—whether the Auditor shows a saving in the Civil List on any or all of the different classes for the year?
§ *MR. JACKSON
No, Sir; it merely gives the total amount and the balances outstanding. I have already said that the details were not before the Controller and Auditor General, who does not audit these accounts; they are audited by the Auditor of the Civil List, who is an officer of the Treasury.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I have not made my question clear. I understood the Secretary to the Treasury to urge the necessity for the audit, in order that there might not be an excessive expenditure in any of the classes; and I also understood him to put it that the Controller ank Auditor General had either an excess or a saving brought to his notice by the Auditors. I ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether the audit shows for the year a saving on all or any of the classes, and on what classes?
§ *MR. JACKSON
The Controller and Auditor General is in duty bound to report the amount issued from the Consolidated Fund, and in pursuance of that obligation he sees the amount issued by the Exchequer in each year, while each particular service is reported to Parliament.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I regret the clumsy way in which I put my question. What I wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury was whether, as a mere fact, the audit of this Civil List, by whomsoever performed, does bring to the notice of the Treasury, or of the Secretary to the Treasury, the amounts saved and the excess in any or all classes, and whether the audit of the past year has brought to the knowledge of the Treasury what the saving has been in any or all of the classes, and how much it has amounted to altogether?
§ *MR. JACKSON
I am not able to answer the question in regard to the 695 past year. I have no doubt I can ascertain what the amount was, but I am not prepared to say at the present moment what it was.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Cannot the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury say whether the audit has not shown for several years past a saving of several thousands of pounds on the total classes of each year?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I would point out that that is not a question for the House of Commons. As long as the expenditure remains within the totals voted by Parliament, it is not for the House of Commons to interfere. That has been the practice in the past, and I leave it to the House to say whether it shall be altered.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
I should like to know whether the accounts kept are in the nature of a continuous account or whether the accounts of each year are kept by themselves?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
No Exchequer accounts could be satisfactory if they did not show how one year joined on to another; but the information asked for has never been laid before Parliament.
§ MR. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I should be very sorry to divide the House on this question, but the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) has asked for information in regard to the total amount of saving each year in regard to the Civil List, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that this is information that has never been laid before Parliament. I ask him whether he is not aware that up to 1854, a statement was annually presented to Parliament showing the total saving in the Civil List during the year?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
It has certainly not been the case in late years. Down to 1854 I believe there was a statement, but the practice has not prevailed since.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not quite understand all this. The auditor merely declares the amount shown to have been expended by each department, and that it is, or is not, in excess of the amount allocated to that department; but the auditor does not look into the way in which the money has been spent by each department; he merely certifies that it has spent so much money. What we want to know is whether there is a saving in any of these departments, 696 and, whether, if there be a saving in any department, it is handed over to the Privy Purse.
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the discussion must be confined to the question before the Committee.
§ *MR. CAUSTON
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether, in the event of his finding that up to 1854 papers were annually laid, he will promise in future to place these statements before Parliament?
§ MR. J. SINCLAIR (Ayr, &c.)
How is it that these accounts are audited not. by the Auditor General, but by the officials mentioned? Is there any statutable authority for this?
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I have already said it is difficult, offhand, to go into the historical part of the case, and I am unable to state the circumstances under which the original arrangement was made.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 72;. Noes 141.—(Div. List, No. 81.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I wish to ask a question in reference to the Statute Law Revision Committee. Last Session a case in connection with Ireland was referred to, in which an amendment of an old Statute had not been noticed in the revised Statute, and in a recent discussion the Solicitor General, in his place in this House, admitted that some Statutes had become obsolete, and ought to form part of the next Statute Revision Act. I want to know in what way these matters are brought to the notice of the Statute Law Revision Committee, and why a portion of the Vagrant Act, which was repealed by the Statute of 5 George IV., cap. 83, sec. 1, has been allowed to remain unnoticed. [After a pause] If I do not receive an answer I shall certainly move a reduction of the Vote.
§ *MR. JACKSON
I am sorry that ray hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General left the House just before the hon. Member rose, because he would have been able to answer the question. Personally, I am unable to say whether the particular point referred to by the hon. Member has been brought under 697 the notice of the Revision Committee or not.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
The matter formed the subject of a discussion between the Home Secretary and myself for two days, and while my construction of the Act was disputed, there was no dispute as to certain portions of the Act having been specifically repealed, and the repeal not noticed in the Revised Statute, or in the index, or in the chronological tables. I want to know whose duty it was to bring the matter forward?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir E. CLARKE,) Plymouth
I have had no duty to perform in connection with the Statute Law Revision Committee, but my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General has been engaged in the preparation of a Bill upon the subject. I do not remember the discussion to which the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) has referred. My attention has not been directed to it in any way, but I will inquire into the matter.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
As the Treasury has, to a very large extent, the control of other departments, I want to know when it is likely we shall have the legislation in regard to the Civil Establishments which was promised in the Queen's Speech, in order to carry out the recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission; and whether the Treasury have taken any steps—which, I understand, they can take—for dealing with the matter by regulation. I desire to know how far the Treasury have taken steps to deal with the question as a whole, by framing regulations which, to a large extent, would have the effect of diminishing the cost. Has nothing been done to provide that the Civil Service clerks, not only in the Treasury but in other departments, should really attend during the hours for which they are paid? That is a matter which I understand the Treasury has, at present, the power of dealing with. I should also like to know whether steps have been taken to enforce regulations as to holidays, sick leave, and attendance of all kinds, so that the provisions may be the same in all departments, thus rendering more easy than at present transference from one department to another. If such 698 regulations were enforced we should not have, as we have now, the scandal. of redundant clerks in one department, and a whole host of extra clerks employed in another.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I may remind the hon. Member that the past three months are the busiest part of the year in the Government offices, owing to the preparation of the Estimates and other business connected with the meeting of Parliament. All the departments are consequently more heavily worked than at any other period of the year; but nevertheless, attention has been given to the regulations affecting Civil Service clerks, their hours, holidays, sick leave,. &c., and a Bill is in preparation, which will secure that the labour which the Royal Commission has bestowed upon the matter, shall not be thrown away. Nothing has yet been done simply because the ordinary work of the departments has been so extremely heavy. The subject, however, is one that requires a. good deal of care.
Question put and agreed to.
2. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £79,668, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1890, for the salaries and expenses of the office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices,
§ *MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
I rise for the purpose of moving to reduce item A. Salaries, &c., by £1,000, from the salary of the Secretary of State, and in doing so I will say, at the outset, that one of my grounds is that the sum of £4,000 per annum is, in my opinion, amply sufficient for the office of Home Secretary. Allusion has already been made to the very great discrepancies which exist in regard to the salaries of various Ministers. I must confess that I cannot understand why £2,000 per annum should be sufficient for the President of the Local Government Board and the President of the Board of Trade, and £5,000 be required for the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Certainly I fail to see why the functions discharged by the President of the Board of Trade and the President of the Local Government Board should be measured by the figure 699 2, while those discharged by the Home Secretary are to be measured by the figure 5. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) in moving the reduction of the salaries of the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he would allow for the sake of argument that those offices are filled by gentlemen of the highest conceivable capacity. I cannot make a similar allowance in the case of the office of Home Secretary. It does appear to me that an unfortunate step was taken when by some sort of arrangement between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) and the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord R. Churchill) the present holder of the office was appointed without having had the slightest previous experience of official life. I maintain that in this instance the want of previous official experience has been detrimental to the public service, and that it has been shown not only in reference to the question of Trafalgar Square, but in the administration of the police generally. Most deplorable results have occurred which might have been avoided altogether by the exercise of a little more tact and discretion on the part of the gentleman holding the office of Home Secretary. Then, also, in respect to the resignation of Sir Charles Warren, I think the House is entitled to more information on that point than it has yet received. I think it would be found, if we were in possession of the whole circumstances of the episode, that Sir Chas. Warren was in many respects more sinned against than sinning. My main point has relation to the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman, bearing in mind that he had absolutely no knowledge of the subject when he started, gave abundant proof of the admirable manner in which he was coached and attended to the progress of the Bill through Committee with great care and assiduity. The right hon. Gentleman is no doubt a very clever lawyer, and like clever lawyers he was able to discuss the technical points of the Bill as they arose, and to conduct the clauses generally in a satisfactory manner. But whereas in the House of Commons, the right hon. Gentleman was careful to point out that the Bill 700 involved very complicated matters, and to claim our assistance in passing it into law, when he went down to his constituents in January, 1888, he claimed that it was a great measure and gave whole credit for it to the political party, with which he was himself connected. All I have to say is that if the right hon. Gentleman had accepted more of the amendments which were suggested on this side of the House, and had not allowed his colleagues in the other House to strike out amendments which had been accepted here, the Act would have been a much better and more successful measure than it is at the present moment. What has occurred in regard to the weighing clause of the Act? I have asked a number of questions in respect of that clause, and other hon. Members have asked questions also. On the 25th of January, 1888, the right hon. Gentleman told his constituents that this had been a burning question; that it was only just that the miners should have that, for getting which they received their wages, correctly weighed, and that the Government had made provision by the Bill that that should be the case in future. Now, what are the real facts of the case? In the Act passed by the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) in 1872 it was provided that, with certain exceptions, when the wages depended on the amount of mineral got, it should be weighed. By a Bill introduced in 1886, that clause was to a certain extent strengthened by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers). The Bill as introduced in 1887 was on the same lines, that is to say, it gave to the Home Secretary power to except mines from the operation of the clause, and to relieve the owners from the obligation of providing weighing machines. On the 23rd of June, 1887, my hon. Friend the Member for the Wansbeck Division of Northumberland (Mr. Fen-wick) moved an amendment to the effect that the words giving a discretion to the Secretary of State should be struck out, and, although it was resisted by the right hon. Gentleman on the ground that the matter might be allowed to remain where it was, the amendment was carried against the Government by 127 to 119. Why did not the right 701 hon. Gentleman mention that fact to his constituents, and tell them that the provision, as it stood in the Bill of 1887, was carried, contrary to his wishes, by the hon. Member for the Wansbeck division. It was hardly worth while for the right hon. Gentleman to go down to his constituents and claim all the credit of the Act when its main provisions were carried in his teeth by his political opponents on the opposite side of the House. I sincerely wish the right hon. Gentleman would follow the example of the President of the Local Government Board, and give justice where justice is due. If he had done so, his opponents would have had full credit for their efforts to make the measure a satisfactory one. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman what he intends to do this Session in regard to the weighing clause? It now provides that it shall not affect mines that were exempted prior to the passing of the Act, and I wish to know whether he will not exercise the discretion he now possesses and abolish all exemptions? I asked the right hon. Gentleman before Easter to state the total tonnage of all the collieries now exempt; but he replied that it would not be proper to publish the individual tonnage of different collieries. I know that it would not be legal to do that. There is really no difficulty about the matter. It is perfectly possible to have a weighing machine at every colliery, and the opinion of the House has already been expressed in favour of having no exemption. I again ask the right hon. Gentleman what steps he is prepared to take, and if his discretion is not large enough, whether he will introduce a Bill dealing with the whole matter? I venture to say that if he is disposed to take that step he will receive no opposition from any quarter of the House. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, of £28,205, for Salaries, &c., be reduced by £1,000, part of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Mr. John Ellis).
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
The hon. Member in the course of his remarks referred to a speech which I delivered to 702 my constituents last year. Now I must say that that speech has entirely passed away from my recollection; but certainly my impression is that I spoke in special commendation of the representatives of the miners in this House. In regard to the Weighing Clauses the Act provides that instead of laying down a cast-iron rule certain exceptions may be made. I think that that is a reasonable clause. The hon. Member now asks me what course I intend to take in the matter. To be perfectly candid, I confess that I was a little surprised at the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench on the subject of exemptions from the Weighing Clauses. My own impression was that all exemptions were gone. I was bound, however, to accept loyally the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench. That decision was to the effect that under the terms of the Act no exemptions are to be allowed in the future; but that Parliament has thought fit to keep alive all the exemptions existing at the time the Act passed. I have considered anxiously what my duty is after that decision. I came to the conclusion that my duty was not to revoke all the existing exemptions as a matter of course, without enquiry, but to determine in each particular case whether the exemption should be continued. I start with the strongest prejudice in favour of weighing, but I think that, if a strong case be made out, and there are particular reasons why an exemption should continue, it may be wise to allow it to continue. There are some collieries in which the tubs are very small, and there is so great a number of them during the day that it is difficult to weigh them all during the ordinary working hours. If masters and men agree that an exemption should be made, circumstances of this kind ought, I think, to be taken into account in considering the question. I have already taken into consideration the continuance or otherwise of the exemption in the case of one or two collieries, and I have now under my consideration the case of the Burnley collieries. I shall certainly not shrink from taking a course which involves a large amount of trouble on my part, if by so doing, I can meet the convenience of all the parties interested.
§ MR. BURT (Morpeth)
I am very glad attention has been called to this subject, because I know that consider- 703 able dissatisfaction has arisen from the continuance of the exemption that has been so long in existence. It will, I think, be generally admitted by members who were in the House during the debates in Committee on this subject, that the whole question was fought out on the assumption that we were taking away not only the power of exempting in the future, but all existing exemptions. If that had not been so, I can assure you, Sir, that the pare of the Act which allows these exemptions to be continued, would have certainly been resisted in the House. I do not think the objections with regard to thin seams is a valid one. Weighing is carried out satisfactorily in some of the thinnest seams in the country, and there are large collieries where several thousand tons per day are got out of the mines and where every tub is weighed. With the appliances that are now in operation there is certainly no practical difficulty in making weighing general, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will refuse to sanction the continuance of any exemption whatever.
§ MR. COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
I wish to say a word or two on this question, with which I am practically acquainted. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in speaking of the difficulty of weighing a great number of small tubs, seems to forget that they are weighed not singly but on trollies, so that there is really no practical difficulty to be got over. For my own part, I think the time has come when all exemptions of this kind should be done away with. I myself have always sold on the same scale as I have bought on. I have always sold at 20 and bought at 20, and I think it is unfair that exemptions should be made in particular cases.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I am glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Matthews) is about to inquire into the case of the collieries near Burnley. He will probably remember that those are the collieries as to which I put some questions quite twelve months ago, and I think the Committee has some cause to complain of the delay that has taken place in regard to them. I must attribute that delay to the right hon. Gentleman himself or to those who are under his immediate control. The case that came 704 before the magistrates might have been submitted to the Queen's Bench Division in a very few days; but, instead of that, there was a delay of many months, and I think I can show that there are many other cases where the same kind of delay has taken place. I am glad he is going to look at the case with a prejudice in favour of weighing, because the men think that they have been defrauded owing to the continuance of the exemptions.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
I rise for the purpose of supporting the Motion of my hon. Friend for the reduction of the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary's salary by £1,000. I wish to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity, which I think he ought to be very much obliged to me for giving him, of clearing up, once and for all, the position he occupies with regard to his opinions upon political affairs of great interest to this country and to the neighbouring country of Ireland. If I had proposed this amendment it would have been for the sweeping away of the right hon. Gentleman's salary altogether, in the event of which proposal being carried, I suppose he would not continue in office much longer. I support the reduction of the right hon. Gentleman's salary because he holds Separatist views, and because I do not think it compatible with the holding of an office so great and important as that of Home Secretary that a gentleman. should entertain opinions in favour of Home Rule, which, as everybody on the other side of the House knows, means the disintegration of the British Empire and the general overthrow of the power of Great Britain.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
With very great deference to you, Sir, I am upon the point, and I think the right hon. Gentleman, judging by the expression of his face, was of opinion that I was very much upon the point. My principal reason for supporting the proposes reduction of the right hon. Gentleman's salary is that I want, as a loyal subject of this Empire, to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of explaining to the House whether he has, in the course of his career, held the outrageous principles attributed to him.
The hon. Gentleman will be entirely abusing the liberty of the Committee if he attempts to enter into what the right hon. Gentleman's opinions were years ago. If he thinks he can bring home to the right hon. Gentleman now anything which is inconsistent with the discharge of the duties of his office, he will be entitled to do so.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I am very much obliged to you, Sir, for supplying me with the word inconsistent. I cannot imagine anything more inconsistent with the discharge of the right hon. Gentleman's duty than the opinions which he has publicly avowed.
I shall be constrained to order the hon. Member to resume his seat permanently, unless he addresses himself to the question before the Committee.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I only wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman, as a matter of personal explanation, whether certain things in dispute with regard to himself are true or untrue. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to be manly enough to clear up this point—whether he is a Home Ruler or not. If you, Sir, say this is out of order, of course I will not press the point.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Then I will ask a question which is very germane to the vote—namely, whether the right hon. Gentleman contributed £21 to the special Trust Fund of the Home Rule organisation of 1874.
The hon. Member must be perfectly aware that he is abusing the privileges of the House in referring to distant matters—matters happening in 1874. It has no bearing on the official conduct of the Home Secretary. I must beg the hon. Member to observe the ruling of the Chair.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
I assure you, Sir, that I have no desire to ignore your ruling. Is it not in order to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a certain thing occurred which, if it did occur, disqualifies the right hon. Gentleman in the opinion of many people from occupying the position of Minister of the Queen? ("Order.") If that is out of order, I shall take another opportu- 706 nity. Is it out of order? (A pause.) Then it is not out of order.
I should have thought the hon. Member would have sufficient intelligence to be aware that it is out of order. He must refer to something inconsistent with the duties of the right hon. Gentleman as Home Secretary. If he has anything of that kind he is entitled to bring it forward.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
Well, all I can say is that I asked you, Mr. Courtney, in the most courteous terms I could command, whether it was out of order, and as you did not reply I thought it was not. That is what my intelligence showed me. I think, however, that the good taste of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, will tempt him to offer an explanation on the point to which I have referred.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I should always support the reduction of the salary of any Minister who receives £5,000 per annum, but there are special reasons which lead me to support a reduction in the salary of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and they are, I am bound to say, personal to himself. I am not going to allude to anything the right hon. Gentleman did before he became Home Secretary. The appointment of Home Secretary, as I understand, condones any previous misconduct. But since he has been Home Secretary he has acted in a manner of which complaint has more than once been made in the House, and I should imagine he will be exceedingly obliged to me for calling specific attention to these matters, because I am sure he must be anxious to give full and explicit explanation to the House. As we all know, there has been a Commission called the Parnell Commission. The right hon. Gentleman, as Home Secretary, has had occasion to mix himself up, or to allow his subordinates to mix themselves up, in the action of those who were called upon to bring accusations against Members of this House in a manner which certainly, to my mind, makes the Government and the Home Secretary parties to that action. I will only allude to two cases, and ask for some explanation. The Committee will remember that a person named Molloy, a Times witness, was prosecuted for perjury. A witness named Delaney came forward on 707 that occasion. Delaney was a convict, and as I understand, he had been removed to the Chatham or some other English prison, when suddenly a gentleman of the name of Shannon appeared at the prison and had an interview with the Governor. Shannon then had an interview with Delaney, and the prisoner stated in his evidence that he was told that a person whom he understood to be a Treasury official wanted to see him. Shannon asked him to give evidence, and Delaney made certain statements to him. Anyone knows that if a Treasury official goes to a convict and asks him to make statements, the convict reasonably supposes that he will in some sort of way benefit by doing what he is asked to do. When we find that Shannon was introduced to the prisoner as a Treasury official, or at any rate, when we find that the prisoner was left under the supposition that Shannon was a Treasury official, we have no record at all that the Home Secretary has in any way protested against the conduct of the Governor, but on the contrary, judging from what has transpired upon the subject in the House, the right hon. Gentleman approves of the action of the Governor, and defends the matter on the ground that he would have done the same to any other solicitor. But I understand the same facilities would not have been granted to any other solicitor. The only plea on which Shannon was allowed to go to the prisoner was that the prisoner was entitled to a visit, and that this was a periodical visit. But it does not appear that Delaney had any choice in the matter. I maintain that by this action the Government have made themselves parties to the attempt to obtain the suborned and perjured evidence of a convict, in order to blast, if possible, the reputation of Members of the House. We have a right to complain that the right hon. Gentleman has accepted responsibility for the action of the Governor. The second case is that of Le Caron and Anderson. Le Caron was a spy employed by the Home Office and paid in some mysterious way by another Office. Somehow or other Mr. Macdonald of the Times became possessed of the fact that Le Caron was a spy, and that it would be a desirable thing in the interest of the Times to call this spy. What did Le Caron do? 708 He went to Anderson and asked him to give him up documents which were the property of the country, because they had been paid for by the country. These were secret reports which were sent over by Le Caron to Anderson as the chief of what I may term the Spy Department of the Home Secretary. Anderson gave these documents to Le Caron, and I understand from the report of an interview with Le Caron, that Le Caron still retains possession of them. I could not gather from what took place when the matter was discussed some time ago, whether the Home Secretary was aware at the moment of these occurences, that Anderson was acting in this fashion. If he was, I hope he will be able to justify his conduct. If he was not, I ask how is it he has not blamed and punished Anderson for acting in this manner. But Anderson went further than this: he wrote to the Times, entered into a full defence of his conduct, and made attacks upon my right hon. Friend, the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt). Most assuredly Mr. Anderson, as a public employé, had no business to sneer at or make inuendoes against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, concerning his action as Home Secretary; he certainly had no right to say "I could crush the right hon. Gentleman if I liked to produce documents." I can conceive nothing more improper than Anderson's communication to the Times. There is a rule in the Public Offices that no subordinate may communicate with a newspaper on the matters of his Department, without the permission of the head of the Department. A little while ago Sir Charles Warren, in a higher position than Anderson, was blamed for somewhat similar conduct by the right hon. Gentleman. Sir C. Warren had to resign because he had made communications to the public Press; and yet the Home Secretary said that Mr. Anderson, having been attacked, was justified in sending a communication to the Times. But Sir C. Warren also was attacked over and over again. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman either acted most unfairly and most ungenerously towards Sir C. Warren, or he has shown undue favour to Mr. Anderson. I think that an explanation is certainly due to this House upon the matter.
§ *MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
There is another point to which I wish to call the attention of the Committee. The second order upon the Paper to day relates to the Official Secrets Bill. That Bill provides that any member of the Civil Service who attempts to communicate to any person outside the service an official secret of which, from the official position he occupies, he has become cognizant, shall be sent to prison. Now, it seems to me that Mr. Anderson has in effect been guilty of this offence, and therefore it would be instructive to ascertain how the Home Secretary can reconcile his action towards Mr. Anderson for being the means by which official secrets were communicated through Major Le Caron to the Times with his action in supporting the Official Secrets Bill.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Mr. Anderson communicated no official secret to any human being. Mr. Anderson had been in correspondence with Major Le Caron for many years, and it was obvious that if Le Caron went into the witness-box he would have been able to state the substance of his communications to Mr. Anderson. The necessary result of that would have been that Mr. Anderson would have been subpœnaed to produce the documents, and that they would have come out in a roundabout way. Le Caron would have been entitled to refresh his memory with any of those documents in giving his evidence. The circumstances under which these letters were sent in the first instance to Mr. Anderson were such that the letters had, up to that moment, remained private between Le Caron on the one hand, and Mr. Anderson on the other, and Mr. Anderson was under an obligation of honour not to hand them over to anybody but Le Caron himself. [An hon. MEMBER: An informer.] Nothing is commoner in the police service than to return to informers of all classes the written communications which they have made. Information is received often anonymously, and sometimes with the name attached, with the condition imposed by the writer that the communication should be returned.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's County, Burr)
Was that condition imposed in regard to any one of Le Caron's communications?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I am not saying that Le Caron did make that precise condition. His condition was that the letters should be communicated to nobody at all, and that they should not, as I believe, be seen by any eye but Mr. Anderson's. In spite of Mr. Anderson's dissuasion, Le Caron became a witness before the Special Commission, and he was entitled to refresh his memory with the documents. I myself did not know of the existence either of the documents or of Le Caron. The hon. Member for Northampton asks me whether I blame Mr. Anderson for what he has done. In substance I think that Mr. Anderson. did right. It was due to the Commission that if Le Caron appeared before them he should appear with those documents which were essential to the completeness of his evidence. Indeed, it would have been a grave contempt of Court to have kept them back. It is not necessary for me to pass any judgment as to whether Mr. Anderson was right in trying to dissuade Le Caron from becoming a witness; but, Le Caron having determined to appear, for Mr. Anderson to have destroyed those letters would have been a grave error on his part, and calculated to interfere with the discovery of the truth. I apprehend that Mr. Anderson would have been bound under subpoena, or by one means or another, to disclose the documents. The hon. Member asks why I did not reprimand Mr. Anderson for the letter he wrote to the Times, and he relies on the official rule under which Civil servants in a subordinate position are not allowed to write to the newspapers on matters connected with their departments without the sanction of the heads of those departments. That is a very sound rule and one which, in ordinary circumstances, I certainly think it is right to enforce with more or less of censure; but in Mr. Anderson's case the circumstances were so exceptional that I think my duty was best discharged by not passing any censure at all. A right hon. Gentleman who had been Mr. Anderson's official chief thought fit, not only in this House but on a public platform, to assail Mr. Anderson in terms of violent abuse; and in those circumstances to have stopped that gentleman's mouth, or to have prevented him from making an 711 answer to such an attack, would have been simply impossible. In this House the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt) condescended to speak of Mr. Anderson as the "tout of the Times." [Mr. J. MORLEY: Hear, hear, and an hon. Member, "So he was."] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, who is generally a fair and honourable opponent, cheers that phrase. I am not quite sure that Mr. Anderson did not go too far in trying to prevent Le Caron from giving information; but to describe him as a tout for the Times was unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman, and was a gross injustice to Mr. Anderson, and to have prevented that gentleman from vindicating his character from the attack of a man in the position of the right hon. Member for Derby would have been most unfair, and almost a gross abuse of an official regulation which, as a general rule, is very sound and wise. The hon. Member for Northampton says that I dismissed Sir C. Warren for writing to the Press. That is quite a mistake. All I did was simply to address a letter calling Sir C. Warren's attention to the existence of a rule which was adopted before he was in office and requesting him to observe it in future. Sir C. Warren's view was that, as that official rule was not applicable to him, he declined to be bound by it; and he accordingly tendered his resignation. That resignation was accepted. With regard to the case of Delaney, the hon. Member has, no doubt unintentionally, misrepresented the facts. Mr. Shannon was not introduced to the governor of the gaol as a Treasury official, and the governor of the gaol never represented Mr. Shannon as a Treasury official. The interview between Mr. Shannon and Delaney was obtained on the application of Mr. Soames, the solicitor to the Times, who desired his representative, Mr. Shannon, to see Delaney in order to take his proof. That was not a visit as a matter of private friendship, but it was an application of a kind that is daily received. There are numerous cases in which the testimony of prisoners undergoing sentence is necessary not only in criminal, but also in civil proceedings, and the governor of the gaol in this instance merely acted in accordance with the common practice. If Mr. Shannon 712 represented himself as a Treasury official I am not responsible for the statement, though I have great difficulty in believing it.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I do not ask the hon. Member to accept it. All I say is that I think it is extremely unlikely that Mr. Shannon made such a statement; but if Mr. Shannon did, neither I nor the governor of the gaol are responsible for the statement, and therefore I cannot understand why it should be a reason for docking my salary. I am unable to follow the hon. Member for Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) in his persistent attempts to introduce matters which were out of order. The repeated ruling of the Chairman should induce the hon. Member to abstain from making imperfect statements to the House which I am unable to answer.
§ MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
As the right hon. Gentleman has made a reference to me, perhaps I may be allowed to make one or two remarks. With regard to Delaney the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to have understood the point of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby's criticism. My right hon. friend did not attack subordinate officers of prisons, but the Government. The subordinate officers of Maryborough and Millbank prisons are not responsible to the House, but the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary is. The Home Secretary asks the House not to believe Delaney's testimony in regard to Shannon; but the Attorney-General and his colleagues produced Delaney as a credible and trustworthy witness in the matter of Molloy. Why is Delaney to be believed when his testimony was given in the direction desired by the Attorney-General, and not to be believed when he said that be was led to think that Mr. Shannon was a Crown official, and that if he had not so thought he would not have given a word of information?
§ MR. J. MORLEY
It is notorious that Delaney made that statement in the Court upon oath. Delaney, again, was produced in the Molloy case, and he said that he had been allowed to roam about Mr. Soames's office, and had there picked up an old almanac which had enabled him to correct the evidence he had given before the three Judges. Is it to be endured, that a life convict brought up to London for the purpose of giving evidence before the Commission should be allowed to roam about Mr. Soames's office and re-adjust his evidence given before the Commission? Is that the Home Secretary's view of what is right, that a life convict should have such opportunities of correcting and adjusting and creating evidence which might have the effect of swearing away the characters if not the lives of men? As to the conduct of Mr. Anderson, I wish that my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby were present [Mr. MATTHEWS: Hear. hear], but I am perfectly prepared to endorse and ratify what my right hon. Friend has said. It is amazing to me that a Minister of State—a Cabinet Minister, the head of one of the most important departments of the Government, should take the line actually taken by the Home Secretary tonight with reference to Mr. Anderson's letter to the Times. It is quite true that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby used some very strong language about Mr. Anderson, and for my own part I should not have been surprised if Mr. Anderson had written a straightforward denial of any charge made against him; but he has not done so. He wrote no straightforward denial. His letter was one of the meanest as well as one of the most insolent documents ever written. It was one of the meanest because, instead of saying distinctly and openly what he had to say about the right hon. Member for Derby, Mr. Anderson permitted himself to indulge in a number of insinuations and inuendoes which might convey the very gravest charges against his former official chief. The Home Secretary would have been acting more in consonance with the traditions of English Government Departments if he had said that all the relations between a chief and any subordinate were prac- 714 tically sacred, and that Mr. Anderson, especially by referring to them in this mean and insolent way, had been guilty of a grave departure from a most salutary tradition. The right hon. Gentleman quarrelled with the expression of my right hon. Friend, "a tout for the Times." What else was Mr. Anderson? The right hon. Gentleman omitted one very important fact in the history of Mr. Anderson's action in the case; he had forgotten for the moment that it was Mr. Anderson who first put Mr. Macdonald on the track of Le Caron, and that it was Mr. Anderson who told Mr. Macdonald of the existence of Le Caron. If that is not touting for the Times I do not know what is. Then the right hon. Gentleman takes an extraordinary view of the documents. He says that they were private, and Mr. Anderson in his letter took the same view. Would any Member of the House in a quiet moment contend that documents paid for by public money and acquired by a public servant for the public service are anything but public documents? Then the right hon. Gentleman said that Mr. Anderson would have been subpoenaed by the Commission and would have been obliged to produce the documents, which would have been but a roundabout way of arriving at the same result. Instead of being a roundabout way it would have been the most direct and proper way, and if Mr. Anderson had produced those documents in obedience to a supbœna from the Commission nothing would have been said, and none of us would have been entitled to object. He would have been acting in obedience to the law. But he did not so act; and the contention that these documents were private property is a contention that cannot be seriously maintained. On that ground, if there were no other—though I have my opinion about the weighing machine matter which has been raised by the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe division (Mr. J. Ellis), but on the ground which has been taken by the right hon. Gentleman to night—namely, the extraordinary facilities given to life convicts to go to and fro acquiring opportunities for the re-adjustment of their evidence—I shall vote for the reduction of the vote
§ *THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Man-
715 chester, E.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle has raised an interesting question as to whether the documents supplied to Major Le Caron were or were not public documents. That is a controversy upon which I need not enter, because it is wholly irrelevant to the issue before the Committee. Whether the documents were public or private, they ought to have been supplied to Major Le Caron; and, if that be so, what does it matter whether they were public or private? Does the right hon. Gentleman maintain that Le Caron, a witness before the Commission, was to be refused the use of documents which were required to make his evidence valuable because those documents had been paid for out of the public funds? If that is the right hon. Gentleman's position, I traverse it entirely, and if it is not, what is the use of entering into abstract discussions as to whether the documents were or were not public? The right hon. Gentleman has fallen foul of the Home Secretary for defending Mr. Anderson for the conduct he thought it his duty to pursue in reply to the attacks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle said that in so doing the Home Secretary departed from a healthy, useful, and necessary tradition of the public service. I quite admit that it is contrary to the traditions of the public service that permanent officials should enter into controversies with Members of Parliament and former chiefs. But on what principle is that rule based? On the principle that such Members of Parliament and ex-officials shall not abuse their position in the House of Commons by uttering calumnious accusations against their former subordinates. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, taking advantage of his position in the House of Commons, used language against Mr. Anderson which ought not to have been used against any man, however humble his position in the public service. He has exhausted a vocabulary not easily exhausted to describe the conduct of Mr. Anderson, and yet we know that this gentleman was for many years the trusted subordinate of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. When a man's former chief uses the position which a seat in this 716 House gives him to make these attacks upon a subordinate, all previous rules in regard to the action of subordinates are necessarily thrown to the wind, because they have been previously thrown to the wind by the action of his superior. If the right hon. Member for Derby had followed the invariable tradition of English official life, I fully agree that Mr. Anderson in writing the letter might have been blamed for departing from tradition and the course marked out for the permanent Civil Service. But the example has been set by the right hon. Member for Derby, and I think my right hon. Friend was only doing his duty when he refused to censure Mr. Anderson for using the only means of defence which the attack of the right hon. Member for Derby had left him.
§ *SIR G. O. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chief Secretary, is certainly very good rhetoric, but it is exceedingly important that the Committee should not be led away by that from observation of what seems to, me to be the entirely new doctrine laid down, and containing the most dangerous principles. For what does the speech of the right hon. Gentleman come to? It comes to this:—That a very severe-attack having been made on a permanent public servant, consequently the permanent civil servant is justified officially in writing an extremely controversial letter in the newspapers in reply to a member of Parliament. That I take to be the position of the Chief Secretary, and that is a position I entirely controvert, and I say it is one of the most dangerous positions that could be laid down. What is more—and here I appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to something that was done by the Government in which he held office a great number of years ago, and which appears to me to be exactly on all fours with this case. This violent language complained of, so far as I gather from the speech of the Home Secretary, consisted in my right hon. Friend the member for Derby describing Mr. Anderson as "touting for the Times." Now that is a strong way of putting the statement that a permanent servant of the Government was allowed to assist the Times in getting up their case against the Irish members. It is a, very serious charge; but it is a charge 717 not against Mr. Anderson and the subordinate servants of the Government; it is a charge against the Government itself. I maintain that it is not an abuse of the position of a Member of Parliament to complain that the permanent servants of the State were allowed to assist the Times. I am not entering into the question whether they ought to have assisted the Times in this manner or not; but, as regards the language of the charge, Mr. Anderson has nothing to do with it. The expression, "tout for the Times," is in itself an expression admissable in controversy, and I maintain that if I were to say at this moment across the table that the Government had allowed their subordinates to "tout for the Times," I should, it may be, be stating a charge I could not make out, but I should not be making that charge in an unparliamentary manner. Well, the charge having been made, what was the course Mr. Anderson ought to have taken? It is quite plain what action he ought to have taken; he ought to have written a letter to the head of his own department stating his case, and asking that it might be made public or embodied in a speech by the chief of that department. And now if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give me his attention, I will state a case that I believe to be "on all fours" with this under discussion, and which from first to last was dealt with by the Government at the time as such a case ought to be dealt with. During the controversies that followed the terrible Jamaica riots, a very honoured member of Parliament —I do not think I need name names—used strong and even contemptuous language in referring to the officer at the head of the court-martial, which had condemned to death such a large number of negroes. That officer took exception to the words of the member of Parliament, and, instead of sending a decent and proper remonstrance to the heads of his own department, he addressed a letter to the member of Parliament. That letter was the production of a hot and angry young man, but it was exactly in the spirit of the letter addressed to the Times by Mr. Anderson. The Government of the day at once removed this officer from the position which he then held, and placed him on half-pay. I am not sure if he was not 718 put in even a more unsatisfactory position, if that is possible. He remained on half-pay until he came to the member of Parliament whom he had offended, and asked him to intercede with the Admiralty for reinstatement. The member, who was one of the kindest of men, did use his influence, and the young man was reinstated in his position. That was the manner in which a Government which was careful of precedent and of the future relations between heads of departments, subordinate officials, and representatives of the people acted and should act; but such is not the course followed by the Government in the present instance. I think it is a most serious matter that permanent Civil Servants, who have great impunity when once they are allowed to take that course, should be permitted, either in speech or in the columns of a newspaper, to reply in a controversial manner to attacks made upon them in this House, because from that to a much more serious state of things there is a very short step. If once you allow a permanent official to adopt this course, you leave it open to the political head of a Department to go to a subordinate and say—"Here is a capital opportunity to pay off a political adversary if you come forward, and, in, your position of non-political servant, write a letter that will damage his political position." I earnestly trust that from the Treasury Bench we shall, before this debate closes, have a repudiation of the doctrine laid down, or, at any rate, a declaration that the doctrine shall not be applied beyond the present case. To-establish a precedent that permanent Civil Servants may engage in the controversies of this House, is fraught with dangerous consequences for the future.
§ MR. MOLLOY
It seems to me the Home Secretary has laid down a doctrine, one of the most extraordinary ever heard from a responsible Minister. What did it matter, said the right hon. Gentleman, whether Mr. Anderson gave these documents to Le Caron, or whether Mr. Anderson received a subpoena to produce them.. Does the Home Secretary mean to lay down the doctrine that if I am engaged: in a law suit, and consider the production of official documents useful for my-case, I have but to serve one of the permanent officials with a subpœua and he 719 must produce secret and confidential documents?
§ MR. MOLLOY
Then what was the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and what is the use of his argument which he puts forward and then abandons ten minutes afterwards? I can understand this from an inexperienced and irresponsible Member of the House, but it is quite unworthy of a Minister of the Crown, and is a discredit to the Treasury Bench. First it was argued that these documents were private, and now the Chief Secretary says they were public, but that it matters not which they were seeing that they had to be produced. Here again is a new doctrine from the Chief Secretary, who is good at starting hares, for the purpose of drawing a red herring across debate. [Laughter.] Well, we will drop the simile. The right hon. Gentleman lays down a doctrine as extraordinary as that of the Home Secretary, that Mr. Anderson was bound to produce these documents. Does the Home Secretary mean to say that Mr. Anderson was entitled to produce any document in his possession without the permission of the Chief of his office? Mr. Anderson had no authority of any sort to hand over any of these documents to Le Caron or anybody else. We have it from the Home Secretary that he was never consulted. Here is an admission that a subordinate official is entitled to so dispose in this way of Home Office documents that are in his possession, without the previous consent of the Home Secretary.
§ *MR. GOSCHEN
I do not see the right hon. Gentleman who has made an appeal to me (Sir G. Trevelyan) in his place, but if hon. Members desire I will answer him. The Committee have had an illustration this very evening of right hon. Gentlemen opposite taking advantage of their position to use most violent language with regard to Civil servants at the very time they were contending for the rule that those Civil servants ought not to defend themselves in the Press against attacks. There is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, who spoke of Mr. Anderson as having written a mean and insolent letter. If Mr. Anderson writes to the Press to defend himself against the right hon. 720 Gentleman, then we shall be told that he has offended against the rule that Civil servants may not write to the Press. Is it, then, to be the fate of Civil servants that they are to be abused in this House with language applying not only to their conduct as Civil servants, but to their moral characters. ("No.") Yes, because it will be remembered in the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby the phrases ran, "I will not say it is against his character," "I will not say it is against his honour." That went through the whole of his speech, and then the language used by the right hon. Gentleman opposite is language which any gentleman would resent to have applied to him. We must feel that Civil servants are but human, and no more impervious than hon. Members in this House to attacks made upon them. It is deplorable that this controversy should take place between ex-chiefs and their subordinates, but this imposes as much obligation on the ex-chief as on the Civil servant. While I regret that such a letter should have been written, and nothing has been said to applaud the action of the writer, yet I say it was excusable under the extraordinary circumstances of the case, and I trust that both sides will agree not only that subordinate officials should not write to the Press, but that there is some obligation imposed, that some regard should he paid to moderation of language in making attacks upon men who are denied this means of defending themselves when attacked. The suggestion of the right hon. Member for Bridgeton—that subordinates might be used for the purpose of writing letters to the Press against their ex-chiefs, is a most unworthy suggestion, one that should never have been made in the House. But, depend upon it, if there is some moderation shown in the treatment of Civil servants, the Government fully recognize the wisdom of enforcing the excellent rule that Civil servants should not embark in newspaper controversy. The case cited by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton does not bear on the point at all; it was a case in which the conduct of a Naval Officer was dealt with by the Admiralty and not by the Government as a whole. I have replied to the appeal made to me, and I do not wish to continue this controversy; but I am not sorry it has been raised, 721 for I think it will have brought home to the minds of many hon. Members that if Civil Servants are to be tongue-tied and pen-tied that rule does carry with it a corresponding obligation on hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who criticize them to observe some moderation in the language in which their criticisms are expressed.
§ *MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman says the precedent quoted by my right hon. Friend does not touch the case because it was a question of naval discipline, but I say equally this is a case of Home Office discipline. A subordinate of the Admiralty addressed an offensive letter to a Member of this House, and for that the Admiralty punished the official until on the intervention of the Member whose name we all reverence and respect, the punishment was remitted. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman as to the peculiar position in which Civil servants are placed. They are a class of men to whom Ministers and Parliament are under the greatest debt of obligation; but one essential condition of the Civil servant retaining the hold which he has on the confidence of the House and the country is his positive abstention from all interference in party politics in any shape or form. What, asks the Chief Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is the Civil servant to do if he is unfairly and unjustly attacked, either in this House or outside, in respect of his conduct as a Civil servant? The tradition is perfectly well understood—he is to intrust his defence to the head of his department in this House. If Mr. Anderson is unjustly attacked from this side of the Table, there are his chiefs on that side to defend him. I can remember a very severe attack being made by the Party which sat below the Gangway against Civil servants, when the late Government were in office, and the defence was undertaken by the then Prime Minister (Mr. Gladstone) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Childers). On that occasion the Civil servants did not write a letter to the Times attacking the Member who attacked them, they trusted to the goodness of their case and had the satisfaction of seeing the charges withdrawn. I think the position of a Civil servant is far safer 722 if he leaves his defence in the hands of his official superior. If his official chief does not see fit to defend him, then let him write to his chief and ask sanction for the publication of his defence. But the Home Secretary never saw or sanctioned this letter before publication, though he thinks it is justifiable under the circumstances. But it is just the hard cases that make bad law, and it is this allowing a Civil servant to interfere in our controversies, that must lead to much mischief. I do not argue upon the language used by Mr. Anderson in his letter, though I think his letter to the Times, even in self-defence, was full of insinuations against a former chief, which had far better have been omitted. The relations of chiefs to their servants will be seriously modified on both sides if, when Ministers are out of office, the subordinates are to attack them under the auspices of those then in office; and no man knows better than the Chancellor of the Exchequer the absolute impropriety and danger of such a course. When Sir Charles Warren was attacked mercilessly in this House and in the Press—and I do not remember any public servant who in recent times has been subjected to such severe attack as Sir Charles Warren—I do not say whether rightly or wrongly—and when Sir Charles Warren broke the rule of the Service and defended himself in a way the Home Secretary thought unwise and inconsistent with the traditions of the public service he reproved Sir Charles Warren, and in so doing, had the support of his colleagues and of the House of Commons. If Members will for the moment dismiss from their minds the excited angry feelings that attach to this Irish Question, they will see the danger of allowing a public servant when he feels aggrieved, to enter into public controversy, the danger of a disruption of those relations that ought to prevail between the permanent officials and their political chiefs, and the importance of maintaining the principle that it is the political chief who is responsible for his department to the House. And now to turn to another branch of the discussion. The Chief Secretary says it is totally irrelevant whether these documents are public or private, but I venture to say that there is much differ- 723 ence. A spy in the pay of the English Government sends his reports to the English Government, and for those reports he is paid by the English Government out of moneys voted by Parliament. Can it be maintained that these are private documents? The Home Secretary says not only were they private documents, but the individual you have paid for the information has a right to make such use of them as he thinks proper, and that in a round about way their production would have been compelled. If those documents had been produced in the round-about way the Home Secretary described—viz., by a subpœna—they would never have passed out of the custody of the Home Office. They would have brought them as they were into Court, and the Court would have known, and the public would have known, that those documents could not have been tampered with. Instead of that, the documents were handed over by Mr. Anderson to this spy, who took them away to Mr. Houston, and at Mr. Houston's chambers I believe they were seen by Mr. Pigott. And how does the Home Secretary know those documents were not tampered with? Major Le Caron, or rather Mr. Beach—he is no major, to call him so is an insult to every major in the British Army—took the documents to refresh his memory. But suppose some of those documents disclosed what would have been a complete contradiction of his evidence, and showed that he was imposing on the Court, he had the power to destroy any one of those documents. We know that Mr. Houston had a weakness for destroying documents. These were public documents, which Mr. Anderson ought never to have parted with under any circumstances whatever. If they were brought into Court, it ought to have been by Mr. Anderson himself, and the Court would then have known how to deal with them. I think myself that the defence of the Home Secretary in this matter if unsound. The relationship existing between the Civil Servants of the Crown, the House of Commons, and the Political Chiefs, past and present, is a matter of the greatest importance to the purity of our administration and the mode of carrying on the Government of the country. My own experience has been that the permanent servants are most loyal to their chiefs and know no 724 politics, and I want to keep that position intact. I think that Mr. Anderson acted improperly in this case and that, even if the Home Secretary had thought it his duty to temper his censure with any modification he pleased, he ought to have censured him as he censured Sir Chas. Warren in a much less important matter.
§ *MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
As an old public servant—having been in. the Civil Service for 20 years—I should like to say I believe it is a well-recognized rule that a public servant should not enter into any correspondence in the newspapers with regard to his duties, and I do not think it would conduce to the public interest that he should do so. I am afraid that the system of attacking the public servants is largely developing. This is only one of the cases in which Members of the House have given very clear statements of their views as to the manner in which public servants have acted. It can hardly be expected that when public servants are attacked with so much severity they should stand by without saying a word in their own defence, and I think that if the system of attacking them increases as it is doing, the result will be disastrous. If public servants are absolutely prevented from openly writing to the Press, they can reply in other ways without making their names known at all, and the result will be the breaking up of a loyal system which is the great glory of our Civil Service. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley) has expressed a strong opinion as to the motives by which Mr. Anderson was actuated, and I think I should not be loyal to the old service, to which I am very proud of having belonged so long, if I did not protest against the further extension of the system of attacking the civil servants in this House.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
It has not been contended by right hon. Gentlemen on this side that public servants should quietly submit to the attacks made upon them, but that the proper way of replying was to do so through their chiefs who have seats in this House. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) can really have seen, or at all events have mastered, the contents 725 of Mr. Anderson's letter. The right hon. Gentleman says a civil servant may be excused if he displays a certain amount of warmth in replying to strong attacks. But what Mr. Anderson did was to threaten to betray the secrets of his official life as a means of damaging his former chief. I wish to ask the right hon. gentleman the Home Secretary whether he thinks any attack whatever justifies a public official in threatening to betray a public trust? I say that if the Disclosure of Official Secrets Bill had passed into law, Mr. Anderson would have been the very first person who should have been brought under its penal consequences. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) imported into the discussion an amount of that empty and irrelevant rhetoric to which he always treats the Committee whenever he finds the case going against the Government. He tried to make out that Major Le Caron was entitled to the letters, and the Home Secretary said the same thing. I should like to know by what rule he was so entitled. The letters were written in discharge of a public duty, for which he was paid by public money. They belonged to a public department, and he had just as much right to them as I or any other private individual in the country had. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) has adverted, very justly, to the kind of custody into which these letters were allowed to get. Houston admitted in the witness box that he had destroyed every document he had received from Pigott, and yet that unprincipled and unscrupulous agent of the Times was the man who was entrusted by a servant of the Government with the most perilous and secret documents that could be entrusted to anybody, and the other man entrusted with them was Le Caron, who was described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle very properly as a professional perjurer. This professional perjurer was given the custody of documents which endangered the lives of perhaps scores of people in America. The documents were brought into Court in a mutilated condition and the hon. Member for Hackney (Sir C. Russell) had to draw attention to the fact that extracts had been cut from them. I think 726 myself that the Government have laid down a most extraordinary and dangerous doctrine with regard to the future relation of official chiefs and official subordinates in this country. I do not know whether it will be for their advantage or not, but I would look with some curiosity to revelations that might be made or at least threatened by some of the chief subordinates of the present Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary for Ireland.
The Committee divided: Ayes 70; Noes 119.—(Division List No. 82.)
Original question again proposed.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
I wish to ask the Home Secretary with reference to the proposed Committee or Commission respecting the prison rules, whether it will consider the English as well as the Irish prison rules and whether it will rest with him to give instructions to the Committee. I shall take another opportunity of raising the question as to the sufficiency of the enquiry.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The Committee will not directly take into consideration the English prison rules, which are laid down by statute and can only be altered by legislation, but, of course, inasmuch as the prison rules of the two countries are identical, it would be impossible that the representations of the Commission should not have a large amount of influence on my mind, although the Commission is only appointed to deal with the Irish prisons. No doubt the recommendations of the Commission will have an indirect bearing on the prison system generally.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I put the question because I understood from the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the enquiry was to have regard to the whole of the prison rules.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I should like this point to be perfectly clear, because I believe this Commission to be a fraud and a sham, and to be inconsistent with the undertaking given to the House. I wish to ask the Home Secretary whether we are to understand that this Commission has nothing to do with English prisons and English rules.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
Well, if this is a Commission which will inquire 727 as to the rules in England, I submit that we have a right to discuss the terms of reference of the Commission.
If I understand the matter aright, it is a Departmental Committee appointed by the Irish Government to inquire into prison rules in Ireland. In the course of the inquiry they may have to consider the English rules, but, as the Departmental Committee is appointed by the Irish Government, a discussion on the subject will not be at all relevant to the vote.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
I wish to call the attention of the Home Secretary to a point arising out of the administration of the Mines Act of 1887.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
If I may be allowed to refer to what was said just now, I should like to say I have seen the letter which my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland addressed to Lord Aberdare, the Chairman of the Committee appointed to inquire into the question of prison administration, a copy of which was laid on the table of this House on the 16th of this month. If hon. Gentlemen opposite will refer to it they will see that although the Committee was appointed by my right hon. Friend, yet the terms of reference are not connected with the special circumstances of Ireland or Irish prison rules, but refer to prison discipline and prison rules generally. Therefore the investigation of the Committee will be of a general character.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
It now appears then, Sir, that this Committee is to inquire into the prison rules of England, and under these circumstances, it seems to me that the proper authority to appoint the Committee or Commission would be the Home Secretary. I was very much surprised when I saw that the instructions to Lord Aberdare were signed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, because I thought that such instructions, emanating from such a Minister, were altogether without precedent. It appears to me that the enquiry is practically a sham, for the purpose of enabling the Chief Secretary to get rid of the question of the treatment of political prisoners. My contention is that no alteration should be made in respect of the treatment of ordinary criminals—of 728 persons who have committed crimes of a disgraceful character. So far as I am aware, no complaint has been raised in respect of the treatment of those persons. It is not desirable to make any exemption in their case from wearing the prison dress, and if people in a superior position of life do commit crimes of a disgraceful character, they ought to be subjected to all the ordinary indignities of a gaol. I think we have a right to complain that the Home-Secretary has allowed a Minister having charge of another department to issue orders specially affecting the prison legislation of England. If anyone ordered the issue of a Commission, or nominated the Members, it should have been the Home Secretary himself.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I rise, Sir, on a point of order. I wish to invite your ruling upon it. The right hon. Gentle man has stated that this enquiry will deal with the treatment of prisoners in England, and I wish to ask whether a Commission to conduct such an inquiry can be constitutionally appointed by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, without being countersigned by the Home Secretary.
That is a point no doubt of great importance, but it relates solely to the action of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and it really cannot be raised on this Vote.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
I wish, Sir, to challenge the decision of the Home Secretary on a very important question. It will probably be remembered that early last year there was published a report of a Committee, which had been appointed to investigate the accommodation provided for prisoners at places where Courts of Summary Jurisdiction are held in London and in the provinces; and I think I am not using exaggerated language when I say that the report of that Committee startled the country, by revealing the existence amongst us of a state of things which we imagined had been abolished nearly a century ago by the labours of John Howard and his friends. I believe that, in consequence of the revelations then made, steps have been taken, more or less adequate, to deal with the deplorable mischiefs which were set forth in the report of that Commission. Now, I do not desire to deal with that particular aspect of 729 the case; I wish rather to call attention to a somewhat different question, which, I am afraid, has escaped the notice of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not know whether he is aware that before that Committee a Governor of a gaol gave evidence that prisoners had to be taken a considerable distance from the gaol to the Court in a non cellular van, and he said that any decent man would gladly compound for that ride by a month's imprisonment. I wish to know whether any steps have been taken to prevent the inter-communication of prisoners during their conveyance from that goal to the Court and back again, thereby obviating the demoralization of comparatively innocent people by bringing them into contact with the vilest portion of the criminal community. But, Sir, the main object of my rising to-night was to draw attention to a matter of a cognate character. The right hon. Gentleman is aware, of course, that the Committee over which Sir Alfred Wills presided recommended the appointment of matrons to take charge of female prisoners at police courts, and I believe steps, more or less adequate, are being taken to comply with the letter of that recommendation. A few weeks before the recess, I drew the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the case of the police stations as distinct from the case of the police courts, and I endeavoured to indicate to him that a stronger case was made out for the appointment of police matrons at police stations than for their appointment at police courts. The right hon. Gentleman, in his reply, relied on the letter of the recommendation of the Committee, and said that the recommendation was limited to the appointment of matrons at police courts. Yes, Sir, of course it was so limited, for the case of the police stations was not before the Committee, and they would have been travelling out of their province if they had dealt with it. But I wish to point out that the recommendation of the Committee applies with even greater force to the case of the police stations than to that of the police courts, for at the latter place, female prisoners are kept in custody only during the daytime, and for a period perhaps of six, eight, or 10 hours, but at the police stations, if they are arrested in the evening, they are detained in the cells until 730 nine or 10 o'clock the next morning, and are absolutely in the custody of men and without the protection of a woman, while, should they be arrested, as many are, on Saturday nights, they are kept at the station under the custody of men for two nights and one day. I am sure the principle of the recommendation of Sir Alfred Wills' Committee was intended to cover cases such as these, and I have to ask the Home Secretary what he intends to do in the matter. Surely the present position is illogical. If women warders are necessary at police courts they must be equally necessary at police stations, and I believe that if hon. Members will read the Report of Sir Alfred Wills' Committee, contained in the blue book issued at the beginning of this year, they will see that precisely the same objections which are pointed out in the Report apply to the present condition of things at police stations. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his decision in this matter. In the first place it is unfair to women, who have a right, even when they bring themselves within the reach of the criminal law, to be placed in the custody of women. But, apart from the question of unfairness as it affects one sex, I think that, on the grounds of public decency and public decorum, the present condition of things is absolutely indefensible. I therefore beg to move the reduction of the salary of the Home Secretary by a sum of £100.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, of £28,205, for Salaries, &c., be reduced by £100, part of the Salary of the Secretary of State" (Mr. Pickersgill).
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I think the hon. Gentleman is a little too severe upon me. I think he might take it for granted that I am not opposed in principle to his suggestion, and if I had the money at my command I would before this have introduced into police stations those alterations which have been introduced at police courts. I should be extremely glad if, at every police station in the Metropolis, there were a female warder to attend to female prisoners in all cases in which the assistance of women is desirable. But it must be remembered that there are something like two hundred stations, and it becomes consequently a question of finance, for it would be necessary to 731 expend large sums of money in structural alterations at the various police stations, because the female warder would have to be provided with special quarters, as she could not be expected to use the same rooms as the men at the station. I have made enquiries and find that at many stations there is not the space requisite for providing this separate accommodation even if I had the money at my command. In the present condition of police finance it is the want of money and no other consideration which delays many desirable reforms. At the same time I believe that these female prisoners are treated with much consideration by the male warders, and often with as much tenderness as sailors show to women on board ships, but still I admit that, on the whole, it would be more satisfactory if a woman who was taken to a police station was there attended to by a female warder. I am happy to say that I cannot charge my memory with a single instance in which any complaint has been made by a woman, that she has been treated otherwise than with consideration and kindness at a police station. I hope the hon. Gentleman will see that I am not opposing his suggestion—that I am not in any sense hostile to the principle of his proposal—but simply my case is that the large number of police stations, the limited space at my command, and the lack of funds, prevent my doing what I am sure we all desire to see done.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
I am very glad to recognise the spirit in which the Home Secretary has received the suggestion of my hon. Friend, although I am surprised that he should treat it as a question merely of money. I should like to make two suggestions to the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place, I understand that there are women employed at all police stations for the purpose of searching females who may be taken into custody on charges of pocket-picking and robbery. It is perfectly obvious that the women selected as searchers must be trustworthy in order to be entrusted with the performance of these functions, and it appears to me therefore that the Home Secretary and police authorities have in these female searchers a class of women who can be appointed to look after women detained temporarily at police stations, 732 while the accommodation that might be necessary to enable these searchers to remain on the premises during the night, or from Saturday night to Monday morning, when women are in custody at the police stations, does not seem to me to be absolutely unattainable. Another suggestion I would make is that female prisoners might be taken to certain stations in the Metropolis, where there is proper accommodation for them. I hope that as the Home Secretary realizes the advantage of the principle upon which my hon. Friend's Motion is based, he will in the performance of his duty as guardian of the public morality, and protector as well as prosecutor of prisoners, endeavour to overcome the difficulties which surround this question.
§ *MR. McLAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
I am glad to notice that the Home Secretary did not express himself as opposed to the principle of the question raised by my hon. Friend, and if his own opposition is merely based on the question of finance, I must say I think it is most discreditable that the Government should not boldly make up its mind to incur the expenditure. The women of London pay taxes as well as the men of London, and they have as much right to have their convenience in elementary matters of decency attended to at police stations as have the men. The Report of Sir Alfred Wills' Committee properly says that it is very wrong that women prisoners at police stations should not be able to apply to females in regard to matters affecting their private convenience, and I think it is melancholy that the Government should give as an excuse for neglecting this urgent reform, the plea that they have not the money to carry it out. I must say it seems to me to be in the interest of female prisoners that women warders should be appointed to attend them. The Home Secretary has admitted that the report applies equally in principle to both police stations and police courts, and therefore it is probably unnecessary to suggest that an enquiry should be made into the matter as it affects the police stations. I trust that he will soon take such steps as are in his power to remedy the evils of which we have complained, and that he will incur the expenditure which is necessary. Surely it is in his power to bring in a supplementary estimate to 733 enable him to carry out the suggestions of my hon. Friend.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Oh! no. The hon. Member forgets that the police rate is limited by statute. I cannot go beyond that.
§ *MR. McLAREN
Well, where there's a will there's a way, and I sure that if the Government brought forward a Bill to enable them to apply funds for the carrying out of this much needed improvement, there is not a single man In this House, who would have the indecency to stand up and object to the Bill becoming law immediately upon its introduction. The Home Secretary says he cannot charge his memory with any complaint by female prisoners, of improper treatment at police stations. I cannot quote any specific case, but I believe if I looked into the matter, I could bring before the Home Secretary cases in which women have alleged, that they have been badly treated in the police cells by male warders. But whether that be so or not, I venture to hope that the Home Secretary will, at the earliest possible moment, obtain from Parliament the powers which are necessary to enable him to carry out this reform.
§ *MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W. R, Holmfirth)
I should like to elucidate this matter a little further, and to get some additional information from the Home Secretary. I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman on the 10th July last year with reference to female searchers at police stations, and he was then good enough to tell me that there were female searchers resident at 22 Metropolitan stations, and that at 146 other Stations there were female searchers residing within a short distance of the building. Now to-day the right hon. Gentleman has said that there are some 200 police stations. The figures which I have quoted account for 168, and I should like to know what is done in the case of the 32 other stations, or how the discrepancy arises. I think some arrangement could be made whereby female prisoners might be detained in some of the larger police 734 stations. No doubt there are times when there is not a single female prisoner in some of the smaller stations, and therefore, it may not be reasonable to suggest that there should be female warders at all of the stations. I also, want to remind the Home Secretary that in July last be promised to consider the question of the appointment of police matrons.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
The questions which have been raised are most important, and, I hope they will receive attention at the hands of the Home Secretary.
§ MR. J. HOWARD (Middlesex, Tottenham)
I have known a case in which a female prisoner has charged the police with committing an outrage upon bor. The woman was of bad character, and the charge was ultimately dismissed; notwithstanding that, the case shows that in the interest of the police themselves it is very desirable that some alteration of the kind suggested should be made if possible.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Pickersgill) did not say what gaol he referred to just now. I think that it must have been a country gaol, because in the Metropolis—
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
It is the metropolis alone for which I am responsible. I really was at a loss to understand how anything could have occurred of the nature he has stated without my hearing of it. With regard to the appeal made to me by hon. Gentlemen opposite, I shall cheerfully welcome and most carefully consider any suggestion made by them. Certainly one of the most suitable suggestions is that some of the larger stations might be selected in which female prisoners should be detained, and that at such stations there should be female warders stationed the whole night. The difficulty is to have women present at all times. Generally there is a female searcher provided. She is generally the wife of a constable and lives close at hand. But at most police stations there is really no place where one could ask a decent woman to spend the night. I will not be certain whether the proportion of 168 female searchers to 200 stations prevails now, or whether we have not 735 got a larger proportion—assuredly we have not got less. We have provided female searchers wherever it is possible to do so, but, as I have already said, the difficulty in the enormous majority of cases is to have women stationed on the premises. There are a great many matters in which police administration might be well improved if the margin of possible expenditure were a little larger.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM
It strikes me that if the police were handed over to the County Council, proper provision would soon be made in the direction desired.
§ *MR. PICKERSGILL
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his expression of sympathy with my object, but I confess I am not very much impressed by the practical objections he has raised. He appears to rely mainly on the objection that there is not room. It is not for me to say that room could be found even with the present accommodation if the right hon. Gentleman insisted upon application of this principle, but I may point out that a very large expenditure is now being made, and has for some years past been made, upon the provision of police stations. I think that the right hon. Gentleman might, when new police stations are being erected, insist that accommodation should be provided for a matron upon the premises. Notwithstanding the sympathy which I have received, it is well I should go to a division upon the question, because I fancy that however good the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman may be, his intentions will be quickened by a Vote in which I think I shall receive a considerable measure of support, although I cannot, of course, hope to be successful.
The Committee divided: Ayes 46; Noes 90.—(Divison List, No. 83.)
§ Original question again proposed.
§ *MR. B. COLERIDGE (Sheffield, Attercliffe Div.)
I beg leave to move the reduction of the Home Secretary's salary by £100 for the purpose of calling attention to a case which the right hon. Gentleman is fully conversant with, namely, the case of Messrs. Walford and Hardwick, who were convicted of shooting at Duddo Hill Farm, in the County of 736 Northumberland. I will pass by the main events of the trial. It is sufficient to say that the men were tried in the year 1879. I also pass by the fact that out of the nine persons who were present to swear to the identity of the two men, five were not called by the prosecution. The Home Office has since had a statutory declaration made by the five persons, showing that in their judgment the night was too dark, and other circumstances, such as to preclude the possibility of any identification on the part of those who swore on behalf of the prosecution. Neither do I propose to go into the question, whether the jury were justified in arriving at the conclusion they did, in the face of the fourteen respectable witnesses who swore to an alibi—who swore that the two men were at least 7 or 8 miles away at the time the burglary was committed. The Home Office have had doubts as to the guilt of these men; indeed, a gentleman had been sent to Northumberland to enquire into the circumstances. The Home Secretary will not dispute that, as a result of the enquiry, Walford and Hardwick were released. But they were released on ticket-of-leave, and from that day to this a free pardon has been refused them. So much doubt did the Home Office entertain, that they went the extraordinary length of permitting these men to report themselves by letter. The men were sentenced, one to 20 years' penal servitude, and the other to 15 years' penal servitude, and the reason why they were released was, as we assert, the confession of two men who were undergoing sentences of penal servitude for other offences, that they, in company with another man committed the crime for which Walford and Hardwick were sent to prison. I understood from the right hon. Gentleman's answer to a question I put to him last year that the confessions were denied by the Home Office. The two men whom we say have confessed to the crime are men of the name of Whiteman and Hartshorne. It was said these men had not confessed, but since I asked the question last year I have been to the trouble of inquiring from these men themselves and I have forwarded to the Home Office a statutory declaration sworn by Francis Hartshorne on the 20th of June last, in which he certified 737 that he had on three occasions while in prison made confession in writing, that he, in company with Richard Whiteman and Richard Dixon, had committed the crime of shooting at the Robsons of Duddo Hill Farm, county Northumberland, for which Henry Harwick and Richard Walford were convicted at the Spring Assizes at Newcastle, in 1879. Hartshorne added that while in Chatham Prison he sent the three confessions on to the Home Office. I then had Whiteman interviewed, and he stated that he likewise had sent in to the Home Office a statement in writing admitting his guilt. I then had Dixon interviewed, but although he was spoken to for two hours he remained silent. The reasonable conclusion is that Dixon did not deny the crime because he could not, and that he would not confess it for fear of the consequences. I have to ask the Home Secretary whether the Home Office has received these statements—he may not call them confessions—and if so, whether he will lay them on the Table of the House and let us and the public judge as to whether the statements are or are not confessions. Every one must know that a man who has a ticket-of-leave must and does carry about with him a very great burden of guilt. Indeed, one of these poor men has been so hampered in pursuing an honest calling that he has left the country, writing before he left what I cannot but characterise as a most pathetic statement. That statement in itself is a justification for me urging on his behalf, he having lived in my constituency, that the right hon. Gentleman should at any rate do what I ask of him.
The reduction last negatived was £100, therefore the hon. Gentleman had better move some other reduction.
§ *MR. B. COLERIDGE
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, of £28,205, for Salaries, be reduced by £50, part of the Salary of the Secretary of State."—(Mr. Bernard Coleridge.)
§ MR. BURT (Morpeth)
I heartily join in the appeal my hon. and learned Friend has made to the right hon. Gentleman to make special inquiry into this matter. I have for some time taken considerable interest in the subject. I was not acquainted with these men be- 738 fore they were convicted, but I became intimately acquainted with them afterwards, and I am personally acquainted with the locality in which the offence was committed. In the village in which these men resided the unanimous opinion of the inhabitants is that Walford and Hardwick are innocent, and that opinion gained strength by the fact that the men suspected immediately cleared out of the neighbourhood. Under all the circumstances it is quite evident that the subject demands more thorough investigation than it has yet received, and I do not think I can do more than join as I heartily do in the appeal that has been made to the Home Secretary. I know the difficulty of deciding these cases is increased by the fact that you have no Court of Criminal Appeal in this country. The Home Secretary is, I know, placed in a peculiar position, but I think these men either ought not to be free at all, or they ought not to be burdened with the stigma of a ticket-of-leave.
§ *MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)
I desire to say that these men have been neighbours of mine, and I can bear testimony to the respect in which they are held by those who know them. My hon. and learned Friend omitted reading a letter to which he referred which shows these men sought to live a decently respectable life, and to enjoy the confidence of their neighbours. I hope, therefore the Committee will allow me to read a letter from Richard Walford, to show the character of man he is. The letter appeared in the Newcastle Chronicle and Newcastle Leader, and it is as follows:—Sir,—After waiting five years for a free pardon and the clearing of my character from a stigma of guilt from which I shudder, hope seems to die within me. I cannot bear the burden any longer. I seemed to enjoy life while hope carried me on, but as time wears and nothing is done, I cannot bear the name of ex-convict any longer. I am resolved to leave the country; but I cannot go without thanking you and the many kind friends who have laboured so hard and earnestly on our behalf. When we have read the way in which you have placed our case before the public we felt sure of a free pardon and compensation for our unmerited punishment. I remember with gratitude the kindness of the Northumberland miners. There are many names too numerous to mention who have spared neither time nor money, and have shed many a tear, which makes us know to a certain extent they were 739 bearing part of our sorrows. When we appealed to their sympathy financially, £40 was contributed to our funds, chiefly by them fully knowing of our innocence. I am wanting in words to express my feelings on this occasion, especially to Messrs. Burt and Fenwick, M.P's., and the Committee, but as you bore and helped us before, so I hope and trust you will bear with my shortcomings to express myself. I do not know how my friend Hardwick will feel when he is left to himself. Our parting was very hard, but as our case is being renewed by some vary influential gentlemen, I hope the time is not very short, when, by their combined efforts, it will be brought to a true issue.Yours, &c.,RICHARD WALFORD.I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee by attempting to enforce the case made out by my hon. and learned Friend, but I do hope the Home Secretary will even now reconsider the case of these men, and if he cannot give them a free pardon will at least state the grounds on which he refuses to do so.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I cannot complain of the way in which the hon. and learned Member has brought this case forward, for he has taken a lively interest in it. I can however assure him that no pains have been spared on my part to investigate this case as fully and as completely as my faculties enable me to do. I have devoted my attention to it for days, and have gone through every item of the evidence, and if I could have seen my way to a conclusion more favourable to the men whose cause the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has advocated, I trust I should not have been wanting in the courage that is necessary to reverse the decision of my three predecessors at the Home Office who have considered the case. I may say that the first of my predecessors who considered the case took the highest advice that was accessible at the time. The conclusion at which my three predecessors arrived was that it was a case of extraordinary doubt—a case in which no candid man would assert positively that the verdict of the jury was right, and in which, therefore, it was extremely difficult to keep the men in prison under a sentence of penal servitude; but that, on the other hand, it was a case in which the evidence of the identification of the men was so strong and positive that it was impossible to say that the verdict was absolutely wrong, and that therefore a 740 free pardon should be granted. I cannot say that the verdict was wrong, yet the case is surrounded with so much doubt that if I had been on the jury I should possibly have acquitted the accused; and, illogical though it may be, as put by the hon. Member for Northampton, to grant them a ticket-of-leave, and not a free pardon, yet I felt I could not keep them in penal servitude under the circumstances. I do not rely on my own, authority. The right hon. Gentlemen to whom the hon. and learned Member looks as his leaders have concurred with me in this view. It is said, indeed, that there were confessions from other men;, but those so-called confessions were not confessions of the crime charged—namely, shooting with intent to kill or with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. They were only statements that those other men were indeed on the spot, and not the prisoners; but they all asserted that the gun went off accidentally; and if those statements had been put before a jury, those other men could not have been punished or convicted of any offence whatever. The evidence against the men who were convicted was that a gun was discharged—three times I think—at the family of the prosecutor, several of whom were in the road challenging persons who were undoubtedly armed with a gun, and apparently had been in the pursuit of birds. By one of the shots fired, a dog was struck. I think the so-called confession makes no mention of a dog.
§ *MR. B. COLERIDGE
Pardon me; I think the incident of the dog was one of the most important items relied on.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
That was another dog. I am not suggesting that the poachers fired at their own dog, but they fired at the farm dog, which ran out and barked at them, and one of their shots drove the dog home yelping. It would be extremely dangerous if on such a confession as this, in which there was no admission of having committed a criminal offence, I were to grant a free pardon to the men who were convicted by the jury. The case is, however, by no means clear, and I therefore entirely assent to what my predecessor did in letting the men out on licence. I know elaborate inquiries have been made by a variety of persons as well as by the Solicitor to the Treasury, with the utmost desire of getting at the 741 full truth, and although a good deal has been elicited in favour of the men, on the other band, corroborative evidence of identification was very strong. Remember that although the alibi set up was a very strong one, the jury, who bad the advantage of seeing and hearing the witnesses, disbelieved it. I should be extremely glad if I could come to a conclusion definitely as to the guilt or innocence of these men; and I can assure the hon. and learned Member that if he could give me any additional information calculated to throw light on the case I shall be very happy to consider it thoroughly.
§ *MR. B. COLERIDGE
I will not detain the Committee long with my answer. The right hon. Gentleman says that no candid man could come to a clear conviction that the verdict of the jury was right. I cordially agree with that, especially as this case was tried at the same Assizes as and, I believe, in immediate sequence to, the Edlingham burglary case—by the same Judge and, I think, by the same jury. I, therefore, do not wonder that the right hon. Gentleman has some hesitation in affirming the decision of the jury. The right hon. Gentleman also says these three men admit that they were on the spot; they 'confess that they were there and that a gun was fired, although they assert that it was not fired with any criminal intent. But it is not suggested that there were six men on the spot, and surely it must have occurred to the right hon. Gentleman that if he believed the three men who had confessed that they were there, and if he believed the confession of one of them that he did fire a gun (although he may claim that he had no criminal intent) he must come to the conclusion that the convicted men were not present, and are therefore innocent. Now, I wish to ask him will he for the satisfaction of the men and of their friends lay on the Table of the House, the statements of these men which have been forwarded to him, because it might clear up several discrepancies. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will produce these statements.
The Committee divided:—Ayes 52; Noes 112; majority 60.—(Div. List, No. 84.)
§ Original Question again proposed.742
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I beg to move a reduction of this vote by £1,000 made up of £500, part of the salary of the Secretary of State, £250, part of the salary of the Chief Inspector of Factories, and £250, part of the salaries of superintendents and other inspectors. I desire to bring before the Committee the question of the non-enforcement of the Truck Act passed in 1887. Naturally I desire to see that Act—which Members without distinction of Party assisted me in passing—enforced as much as possible. In Ireland the Act has almost entirely broken down, and this is partly due to a very simple reason, but its enforcement has almost entirely broken down in the Metropolis, and there I shall have to lay special blame personally on the Home Secretary. In regard to the regular enforcement of the Truck Act, it may be necessary to remind the Committee that the duty was put into the hands of the Inspectors of Mines and Factories in England, Wales, and Ireland, and on Procurators Fiscal as well as these inspectors in Scotland. The enforcement of the Act has been very irregular, in some places there has been no enforcement at all, and as I shall allege, in consequence of the age of supervising inspectors. There are two inspectors whose ages are 73 and 74 respectively, and at that age they are not likely to attend thoroughly to their duties. Mr. R. W. Coles had the supervision of the whole of Ireland, North Wales, Lancashire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire. That gentleman has only been to Ireland twice during the last three years. I should like to know how often Mr. Coles has been absent from his duties on account of illness since the passing of the Truck Act; whether the medical officer who certified was his own son; and whether the Home Secretary has taken any pains to satisfy himself that cases have broken down, not because of want of evidence, but because of want of physical ability on the part of the Supervising Inspector. Mr. Rickards, the senior inspector at Leeds, is nearly 74 years of age. I have no means of knowing if these gentlemen have the physical ability to perform their duties. I have no means of guessing what occult influence keeps them in their position, whether it is they are kept there to preserve a possible vacancy 743 for somebody else already connected with the Department. These are matters on which I think the Home Secretary ought to give us some information, but it seems to me to be a monstrous thing that two gentlemen intrusted with the duty of inspecting factories and supervising matters connected with them should occupy that position at an age which must incapacitate them from the ordinary physical activity demanded of them in such a matter. Any inspection by them must be a complete farce. That is the first portion of the case I wish to submit to the Committee, but the whole of the method connected with the inspection of factories seems to me radically wrong. The expense of the supervision is great, being 33½ per cent of the whole cost of factory inspection. This, surely, is an extravagant proportion. One of the great difficulties in the enforcement of the Truck Act in Ireland has been in connection with fines imposed on weavers. I have brought cases before the Home Secretary until I am absolutely tired of raising the Irish question at all. They break down in this way—I speak from careful verification of matters already decided in the courts. The employers in the weaving trade have been in the habit of giving a certificate of discharge in these words—"A D has been in our employment for the past five months, and is now discharged, all wages being paid." That is not a certificate of character, but only of discharge; and the consequence of not having that certificate of discharge is that a person cannot get employment elsewhere. When these poor weavers complained or appealed to the law the discharged certificate was withheld, and the fear of starvation compelled the weavers to submit to the illegality and fraud. In Lurgan a woman was fined by her employers, and in the course of the Petty Sessions investigation the employers' book was produced, which showed that no less than £8 6s. 8d. in fines had been inflicted in one week on the poor people in their employ. I have made this the subject of special communication to the Home Secretary, and a difference of legal opinion arose, if I may be allowed to say so, between us. The Home Secretary answered as Home Secretary, but we all know he is a great lawyer. However, he referred to the Law Officers 744 of the Crown, and they took the view happened to hold, that these fines when not stoppages of unearned wage but penalties were illegal flues or deductions under the Truck Act. The Home Secretary explicitly promised me, both in the House and when I placed in his hands a list of fines occupying 32 printed pages inflicted at Whiteley's establishment, that he would have a test case tried to see if the view I insisted upon, and which the Attorney General endorsed, was correct. But from that moment to now such a case has not been tried.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I am sorry to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman.. Does he mean there has been a conviction?
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Ah! but the phrase I used was—it never had been tried, and the offence is now three months old.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The case has been before a Magistrate and dismissed, because he did not think the evidence was sufficient; but he has stated a case, which is now pending.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I am glad to hear that, though I may say it is opposed by the answer given me by the Solicitor to the Treasury.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
But I was confining myself to Whiteley's case, strongly supported as it was by 32 pages of evidence. If the Home Secretary selected a weaker case to try, then I have the more reason to complain of him. The right hon. Gentleman thinks it a laughing matter; I do not.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I do not consider it a laughing matter at all; I only smiled. at the hon. member's unfair inference, before he knows what the case is, that I have selected a weaker case.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I supplied the right hon. Gentleman with the facts and correspondence, and nothing was attempted until after three months, when the people are clear from prosecution under the Act. I admit I was wrong in saying the right hon. Gentleman had selected a weaker case, but I submit that the right hon. Gentleman could not have had a stronger case than that 745 which I laid before him, because in it the evidence was overwhelming and complete. There was also a case at Alperton, near Harlesden, in which the payment was by metal check, instead of coin. I sent those metal checks to the right hon. Gentleman, and he acknowledged their receipt. Detectives were sent down to the district, and there was full corroboration of the evidence; but the three statutory months were allowed to pass, and then the Home Office coolly wrote to me stating that there was not enough evidence to insure a conviction. There was another case in the City of London, in which payment was made by metal check, whereby poor men were robbed of 2d. out of every shilling. In this case the real offender was the ultimate employer, a magistrate of the City of London, and the checks were stamped with the initial letter of his name. The evidence was also overwhelming in this case; but there has been no prosecution. I admit the difficulties, and I am bound to say I have received every courtesy from the Solicitor to the Treasury, but that is not enough. I want the enforcement of the law. I intend to have it enforced, and I hope to be assisted by public opinion on both sides. I have put into the hands of the Home Secretary many pages of evidence relating to cases that were undoubtedly breaches of the law, and it is no answer to mention to me other cases of which I know nothing. If he has a stronger case, I think, after the trouble I have taken, he might have done me the courtesy to give me information. There is another grave difficulty that does not rest with the Home Office. The Truck Act for a first offence makes the maximum and minimum penalty £20 and £5, but under the Summary Jurisdiction Act of 1879 magistrates have the power of inflicting a nominal fine for the first offence, and they invariably exercise it. The chairman of the Rhymney Ironworks in Wales boasted that it paid the company better to pay the fines that were inflicted and the expenses than to comply with the law. This is a monstrous state of things. If fines are not enough to secure obedience to the law, the Home Secretary should pay attention to the recommendations that had reached him—that a first offence should in grave cases be 746 treated as misdemeanour and be punished with imprisonment. If it is always to be a fine for a first offence, men may be bought off to avoid a conviction for the second, and if inspectors are old and incapable, and employers unscrupulous, men will be so demoralized that the whole statute will become a dead letter. At Bristol several cases were brought to the notice of the Home Office, prosecutions followed, and convictions were obtained; but all the magistrates were employers of labour, and the fines inflicted were so ridiculously small that they amounted to far less than the cost of the prosecutions. It was reported in 1876 that truck practices prevailed to an extent which amounted to a most un justifiable robbery from wage-earners, and the House united with me in an endeavour to make the law more effective; but the practices still continues in England, Wales, and Ireland. In Scotland the law is fairly well enforced, and a great change has followed the passing of the Act of 1887. The case of the fruit porters is one that is going on day by day, but the checks I have put into the hands of the Home Secretary are now more than three months old. I do not like to see the law made a dead letter by the indifference of those whose duty it is to enforce it, and I therefore move the reduction of the Vote.
The hon. Member moves a reduction of several items. That is an inconvenient course. Perhaps he will take a decision on the first?
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I do not wish to put the Committee to the trouble of several divisions, and will simply move a reduction of the Home Secretary's salary by £500.
Motion made, and question proposed,
That Item A, of £28,205, for Salaries, be reduced by £500, part of the salary of the Secretary of State."—(Mr. Bradlaugh.)
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART WORTLEY,) Sheffield, Hallam
The hon. Member first complains that some of the Inspectors are by age incapable of duty. All the Inspectors are under the age of 60 with the exception of two, who are respectively 73 and 70. One of these was absent from duty only three weeks in 1887 and five weeks in 1888. 747 The Superintendence charge had been reduced to 20 per cent of the whole cost of inspection, and the ratio will be still further diminished by the non-filling up of the next vacancy in the superintending staff.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
There is some difference between us, but the proportion is, I think, not so high as the hon. Gentleman puts it, and it has been materially reduced during the time the staff has been in existence. Inquiry was made into the Whiteley case, and the difficulty was that it turned out upon inquiry that the wages were paid in full, and fines were exacted for certain breaches of rules. The fines were paid under the threat of process to recover them, and at all events they were not deducted from the wages.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I was prepared to prove instances of absolute deduction. I believe it is true that since the matter has been mentioned the wages are paid and then the stoppages are demanded.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
If the hon. Member is right, inquiry has had the effect of getting rid of the illegal practice. Proceedings were taken against a confectioner in South London, and the magistrate dismissed the charge, but granted a case for a superior Court, on which it is hoped an authorative decision will be obtained. Inquiries were instituted as to the issue of brass checks to the Harlesden brick-makers, but the greatest difficulty was experienced in getting the necessary evidence; but the practice has been discontinued, and so far as I know it has not been resumed. The Treasury Solicitors have been given to understand that they are not to exhibit undue squeamishness in undertaking prosecutions, but by instituting them to make it evident that the Government are determined that the law should be enforced. Experience shows that the action taken by the Home Office in one form or another has brought about a cessation of the practice complained of. In the case of the Orange porters, there again was a difficulty in establishing by evidence an infringement of the Act. The difficulty in the case was that the men did a certain duty and received a check, which they took to another 748 person who gave them payment, and the legal question is as to who it was that made the payment.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
The Act expressly lays down that the wage should be paid in the current coin of the realm. Therefore, payment by token is an offence whether the payment is made by the employer himself or by an agent.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
The question still remains who it was that made the payment. There was also an attempt to make a deduction for beer supplied, but the proceeding was resisted by the men themselves, and was not pressed. From the efforts we are making to prevent the resumption of the practice complained of, I hope we shall arrive soon at some means of overcoming the difficulty that the case presents. We have to avoid, as far as possible, the evil of exposing the men to the certainty of the loss of their employment; and, on the other hand, the danger of making it appear as if the Act is not intended to have effective operation. It is not our intention that the Act shall have no operation. If Parliament passes an Act it should be carried into effect, and if there are hardships brought to light in the course of carrying it into effect that is ground for an alteration of the law, but not for the exercise of the dispensing power. The same observation applies to the exercise of the determination on the part of the Magistrates to disregard certain provisions of the Act creating a penalty under the Truck Act. No doubt, in the case of a second offence in the country, they have no power to mitigate the minimum penalty that the Act prescribes; but it is true, on the other hand, that in the London districts the Magistrates have power to mitigate the penalty even for a second offence. Unfortunately, however, the law does not provide means by which the decisions of Magistrates who may choose to disregard the provisions as to the minimum penalty can be reviewed by a Court of Law or Executive official. I hope it will be seen that in one of the cases I have dealt with legal difficulties have presented themselves, that in the case of the brickmakers the practice complained of has been discontinued, and that in the case of Whiteley's we are awaiting a decision of the Court.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the spirit in which he has met what urged to the Committee, and I trust that neither the Government nor the Committee will think that I have thrown undue warmth into the matter. It has been my duty to put 70 or 80 questions about some 30 cases, and in no instance did I ask the Home Secretary a question until I had written to the Home Office on the subject and believed I had a primâ facie case. With regard to Whiteley's case, if the difficulty which is said to have arisen had been mentioned to me at the time I was bringing the matter before the Home Office, I believe I possessed evidence which would have proved the deduction prior to the payment of the wage. But, I admit, that when these cases are investigated, the men are found unwilling to place their complaint before a Court as readily as they place them before Parliament. There, however, should be no hesitancy on the part of the Home Office in enforcing the law. There is one point upon which I have had no answer. It is admitted that two gentlemen placed in the position of administering this important department are advanced in years, one being 70 and the other 73 years of age. The Home Secretary ought to state why these gentlemen should be continued in a position in which they hinder the work they have been appointed to perform.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
It would be a painful thing to mention in the House of Commons the names of persons who, in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, ought to be dismissed.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Mr. Coles, who has the superintendence in Ireland, is 73; he has been only twice in Ireland during the last two years, and on one of those occasions was certified to be ill.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Mr. Coles was ill for three months in 1887, and for five weeks in 1888. When a public servant has for many years given the good service which Mr. Coles has done it would be extremely hard to dismiss him until it is perfectly clear that he is not able to do the work. If the law said that a gentleman should be called upon to retire at a given age, say 65, I should be very glad.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I did not ask the right hon. Gentleman to pledge himself to dismissal, but to pledge himself to inquire.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Is it not the fact that the medical gentleman who has given certificates of illness in this case is the son of Mr. Coles?
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Then if the right hon. Gentleman will extend his inquiry still further he will find in the office a number of certificates as to Mr. Coles' inability to attend for short periods—two or three days—signed by his son.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The medical gentleman who has given the certificates is not the son of Mr. Coles. I know the name of the medical gentleman who gave the certificates.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I think if the right hon. Gentleman will make further inquiry he will see that I am right in my suggestion. My information differs from that of the right hon. Gentleman and I may say that I am in a position to prove that there are several certificates signed by this gentleman's son in addition to those relating to long periods of illness which have been referred to. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will inquire into this matter.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I will not put the Committee to the trouble of dividing on the matter. I only wanted to raise these points.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Original question again proposed.
§ *MR.W. McLAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
I wish to move the reduction of the vote by £100 for the purpose of calling the attention of the Committee to the subject of the conduct of the Inspectors of Mines in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, and the South-West of Scotland, and I regret that I have been unable to give notice 751 of my intention to bring the matter forward. I hardly thought that the Vote would be reached to-night, and was waiting for fuller information, before dealing with the subject from Mr. Keir Hardy, who has recently addressed a letter on the question to the Pall Mall Gazette. There is nothing that the working men of this country feel more strongly about than the necessity of appointing working men as assistant inspectors. Some of the men appointed are, no doubt, very well qualified and thoroughly conscientious; but there are others who are not equal to them, who do their work in a perfunctory manner, and are always inclined to side with the masters, and, no doubt, it would he a right thing to appoint working miners as assistant inspectors, to go down the pits and see that the mines are thoroughly and properly overhauled. As an instance of the inadequate manner in which the inspectors do their duty, Mr. Keir Hardy mentions a case—a type of many—in which he went down a pit and found that the ventilation was faulty, and reported the matter to the inspector, who went to the in-take and measured the current, and then to the out-let and did the same thing, and then drove away saying that there was nothing the matter. If the inspector in this case bad been a practical man, he would have gone down the pit and examined the ventilation in the workings. But there is another thing at work in the South-West of Scotland that is even worse than this in-competency of the inspectors, and which is largely due, in my opinion, to the want of energy of these gentlemen and their want of sympathy with the miners, and it is this. When you have a man of sufficient courage to make a complaint, and substantiate a grievance against the manager or sub-manager of a mine, he is dismissed for doing so. It is the fault of the inspectors that this state of terrorism exists. Mr. Hardy has called attention to a case in which two miners complained that the part of a mine in which they were working, was excessively badly ventilated. The air they had to breathe was foul, but though they endeavoured to have it put right nothing was done officially. In order to prevent themselves from being poisoned, they got a piece of cloth and made an 752 apparatus by which a fresh current of air was brought into their workings. At a meeting of the men at which the under manager was present this circumstance was referred to, and the result was that the two men were dismissed, and although Mr. Hardy reported the matter, and an inspector was sent to make inquiries, nothing came of it. There is another instance in which the inspectors have neglected their duty. The Coal Mines Regulation Act, requires that there shall be at each mine, two shafts, each available for raising and lowering the miners, but in some of the Scotch Mines only one of the shafts is so available, the other having a furnace at the bottom, and no appliances for raising and lowering. This condition of things has been brought under the notice of the inspector who has reported that these mines fulfil the requirements of the Act. In another case an inspector refused to allow Mr. Hardy to be appointed as the representative of the men to make application for the appointment of a check weigher—although it is difficult to understand why, in this case, the inspector interfered. The men subsequently held a meeting and appointed two of their number to go and give notice on their own account that they desired a check weigher appointed. The next morning those two workmen were dismissed along with twelve others who were suspected of complicity in the election. It seems to me these cases show that the inspector, instead of being strictly impartial or of taking the side of the men, who are usually the weaker body, actively sided with the employers. There is one other case which I will mention, in which the men complained that they were being cheated in the weighing of the empty hutches. They were weighed as 2½ cwt., whereas the men said the actual weight was 2¼ cwt. The manager refused to pay attention to the representations of the-men on the subject, and the men offered to have the case submitted to arbitration, and the manager refused. The matter was brought under the notice of the Home Secretary, who remitted it to the inspector to report upon. The inspector reported that the manager had offered to submit the case to arbitration but the men had refused, the very opposite being the case. I have not yet in my posses- 753 sion the names, but I shall receive the information before many days, and I will then furnish the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary with any further details that may be required. In the meantime I think it is improper that the inspector should act in this way in the interests of the mine-owners rather than in those of the men. It is quite evident that this particular inspector, at any rate, has not been doing his duty, and I desire in moving this reduction to ask the House to protest against his conduct.
Motion made, "That Item R. of £17,401 for Inspector of Mines, Salaries, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. W. McLaren).
§ *Mr. MATTHEWS
I am bound to complain a little of the manner in which the hon. Member has brought forward this matter. He has made various charges without specifying them. He does not even tell me what mine he refers to, and I am unable to say who is the inspector to whom he alludes. It is, of course, impossible for me, under the circumstances, to reply to him. With regard to Mr. Hardy, I really think that when he comes to consider the matter he will consider that that gentleman's zeal has outrun his discretion. No rule is enforced more strictly than that the inspectors are not to interfere in cases of contract between masters and men. It would be intolerable, in my judgment, if they were to do so. If the master dismisses his men simply because they complain of something wrong, I should not refrain from expressing my opinion about it, but it is not for the inspector to interfere. As far as I know, I am sure the inspectors do not champion the cause of the masters rather than that of the men. The influence, such as it is, which I have with the inspectors has been brought to bear in the other direction, and they know that they are always to look after the interests of the men, because the masters are better able to protect themselves. I have always impressed upon the inspectors that their business was to look after the health of the men and their comfort while always abstaining from interference in other matters. As regards the complaint from Scotland, the Trades Union in that district is not very powerful and not very numerous; 754 and Mr. Hardy puts himself forward as the representative of the men on all occasions. He assumes that Trades Unions have the right to come forward and to tell the master that the workmen, one of whom Mr. Hardy was not, had appointed, a check weighman. The master naturally asked—Who is this stranger that comes to tell us that a workman is appointed; I think that the workmen might tell me themselves; if they have appointed as check weighman they might tell us so. But here is a stranger purporting to come behind the workmen—coming from a distance, and telling us that a check weighman has been appointed. That was a very reasonable answer of the master. To my knowledge, the Inspector took no part in the dispute. The masters are bound at their peril to recognize any check weighman, whether they have received notice of him or not; at the same time there was naturally some feeling that the intimation should come from a stranger. All the part I took in the matter was to tell the masters that no notice at all was necessary, and that, therefore, the notice must be regarded as perfectly immaterial in the matter. Ultimately the matter went before the Sheriff's Court, and that Court decided rightly or wrongly, it is not for me to presume to say, and the matter has gone to the Superior Court. The Sheriff's Court decided that the masters not having had notice of the appointment of the check weighman could not be made liable for damages by reason of the action of check weighman. The question is now before the Superior Court. I rather think the Court of Sessions, though I am not quite certain, where it pends decision. That is how the matter stands. The Inspector has nothing to do with the matter, and he could not have prevented the dismissal of the men which has taken place, which occurred, as I think I stated to this House, on grounds totally unconnected with the check weighman. The hon. Member alleged that the Inspector had been misled by the information he had given me. Well, hon. Members know how questions are asked in this House, with four and twenty hours' notice. When I was asked that question I at once telegraphed to the Inspector who applied to the manager. The manager might be wrong, but the Inspector is not to blame. The 755 poor man did the best he could. Re went over to the pit, he saw nobody there, and went to the manager. The question was put in this House, and the hon. Member would have been extremely angry if I had not answered it. I was, therefore, obliged to send a telegram to obtain the best information I could. The Inspector, I am sure, was not to blame. The hon. Member said that the shaft of this pit had no raising or lowering apparatus. I can only say that I have no recollection of such a case; and I am sure the Inspector could not be aware of the circumstance without referring the matter to me. I think there must be some misunderstanding in the, matter.
MR. PHILLIPS (Lanark, Mid)
There are one or two questions I should have asked had the forms of the House permitted, but as they do not, I am compelled to vote for a reduction when I should have preferred to have voted for a very large increase. It seems to me that those who represent the mining constituencies have to complain that there is not anything like a sufficient number of Inspectors. With regard to what the Home Secretary said respecting the check weighman and Mr. "Hardy, it is a very plausible thing to say that the masters do not like strangers to interfere, but every mine owner in Ayrshire knows perfectly well that Mr. Hardy did represent the men. And one reason why the miners wish their Secretary to speak for them is that they are afraid if they make complaints they will be dismissed, or, at any rate, that they will get the reputation of being cantankerous, and will be caused to suffer one way or another. Why Le there a decrease in the Vote this year? I notice that for the additional inspecting staff £900 was voted last year. That £900 is struck out this year. And another item of £1,000 for expenses last year has been reduced this year. The Vote was only a small one last year, £27,000, and it is a very serious matter to have it reduced by nearly £2,000. I should like some explanation of that very considerable reduction. When we consider the immense wealth that is produced by the miners of Great Britain, £27,000 is a very small sum to expend in making the lives of the miners a little bit safer than they would otherwise be. The amount is not any- 756 thing like sufficient, and I very much regret that it has been reduced. I notice in the Votes that the amount re3eived for fines is £352 5s. 8d. That seems 3, small sum, but I should not regret that 3ircumstance if we could feel assured that the condition of things is very much improved. I cannot, however, believe that, and I am afraid the smallness of the amount is due to the fact that we have not nearly sufficient inspectors of mines to look into matters. With regard to the district of Lanarkshire which I have the honour of representing, I have had no specific grievance against inspectors or sub-inspectors brought to my notice. The only grievance I have heard against them in my district is that there are not enough of them, and that consequently there is not enough time given to inspection. Then, Sir, there is a very strong, almost unanimous feeling, that the inspectors ought to be drawn only from the ranks of men who have been practical working miners. That is what the people of Mid-Lanark want, and I tell the right hon. Gentleman that that is the wish not only of the miners, but of men much above them in station. It seems to be the feeling in my district, among men of all political opinions, that it is a fair thing that the inspectors should be men of practical experience as miners. It is not only accidents which have to be guarded against. There are other things much more serious. There are such questions as that of ventilation. Proper ventilation of the mine makes the miners' position more bearable. A certain number of men are killed in accidents, but a very much larger number every year are injured by bad ventilation. Miners grow old very early in life. It is a shocking thing to see young men looking prematurely old by a bad atmosphere and unhealthy work. It is, therefore, necessary that you should have practical men, men of experience, as inspectors, so that the men may be enabled to pursue their calling under healthier conditions. The miners of Great Britain have a right to ask that the very small sum which is voted shall at any rate be spent in a way which shall satisfy them. Rightly or wrongly they and their friends think things would be better if none but practical men were appointed. That is why I wish to urge the right hon. 757 Gentleman to give a pledge, or undertaking, that as vacancies occur during his tenure of office he will as far as possible fill them from the ranks of practical working miners.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
I trust the right hon. Gentleman will consider the point raised by my right hon. Friend of sufficient importance to make some further inquiry in reference to the alleged case of a second shaft in a district of Scotland being left without the proper apparatus to withdraw the men from the mine in case of an accident to the other shaft. That is a matter of very great importance to the men concerned, and the Home Secretary can certainly certify whether it is the fact or not. As to Mr. K. Hardy, I do not know him personally, but my knowledge of that gentleman is such as to lead me to think that he would not have made such a statement as that in the public press had he not just grounds for it. With respect to the additional number of Inspectors demanded, we have frequently on this side of the House made the request, not only to the present Home Secretary, but to his predecessors, for an additional number of Mines Inspectors. When you take into consideration that in the mines of the United Kingdom the annual sacrifice of human life is something like 1,100—I am taking a series of years— I know that last year it was not so high, and that this year it is still less, and something like 995, which is neverthelesss a very serious mortality—I think the Government ought to consider the advisability or otherwise of appointing an additional number of Inspectors, in order to see that the mines are properly conducted, and that the greatest amount of safety is guaranteed to those who have to pursue such a hazardous calling. Even with the utmost care, I fear that there will always he a very sad and very heavy mortality, considering that the men have to follow this occupation with a very imperfect light, and that dangers surround them at every turn. I sincerely trust that when the Government can see their way to spending such large sums of money on the Army, they will see their way also to guaranteeing safety to the miners in this country. There are 3,500 mines in the United Kingdom requiring inspection, and it is 758 an interesting fact that there are only about 30, or probably, 28 inspectors and sub-inspectors, whose duty it is to visit and inspect that large number of collieries. When we consider the time necessarily occupied by these gentlemen in clerical work and in attending inquests, the Committee will see that they have very little time to devote to the actual work of inspection. I make no complaint whatever against the inspectors as to the way in which they perform their work, as I believe that, generally speaking, they discharge their functions in a very commendable manner, and do not attempt to shirk their duty; but I say that the duties imposed on them are too onerous to admit of the expectation that they can be efficiently performed by the staff they have under them; and, in making the request, I now urge upon the Government that an addition should be made to the number of inspectors, and that, where it can be done, those men should be practical working men, possessing sufficient knowledge to satisfy the Home Office of their efficiency for such a position. I am sure that such a concession would give great satisfaction, not only to the workmen, but also to the employers. I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will see his way to making some concession on this point. While I am upon my feet I hope I may be allowed to make a brief reference to the long hours of labour imposed on the pit-brow women in the West Lancashire district. When this question was under the consideration of the House at the time we were discussing the Coal Mines Act of 1887, hon. Members may remember the amount of interest then taken in the subject by Gentlemen on both sides. Indeed, such was the sympathy then displayed on behalf of these poor creatures that I am quite sure, that if it had been thought that the passing of that Act would have furnished an opportunity for increasing their hours of labour no such proceeding would have been sanctioned under cover of that piece of legislation. We know that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has repeatedly refused to answer questions put to him in this House on the ground that they involved the expression of a legal opinion on his part; and in taking that position he undoubtedly took one that was per- 759 fectly logical and reasonable. But I 'think that when the right hon. Gentleman allowed himself, as he has done, to depart from that position he made a very great mistake, and one from which a good deal of mischief has unfortunately followed. I refer to what has arisen out of an expression of opinion on the part of the Home Secretary in answer to a question put to him by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. Curzon) who, in March 1888, asked the right hon. Gentleman whether the term of 54 hours during which women could be employed under the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887, was inclusive of the intervals allowed for meals, and the right hon. Gentleman's answer to that question, in which he undertook to give an interpretation of the meaning of the clause referred to, was, "As I read the Act, the answer to my hon. Friend's question is in the negative." On that answer being given, I immediately rose in my place and challenged the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. I asked him if he was aware that the answer he had just given to that question would involve an increase in the hours of labour on pit-brow; but the Home Secretary did not do me the favour of answering my query. Now, I put it to the Committee—what has been the result? Why, exactly what I then predicted. The Inspector for that district, in his report for 1888, calls attention to the fact that the hours of labour on the part of the women employed on the pit's-brow in West Lancashire have been increased by from one and a-half to two hours per day, thus exactly fulfilling the prediction I ventured to put before the House when the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary gave the answer I have quoted to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport, this addition to the hours of women's labour only being made after that answer had been given. The question was one that had been a matter of dispute in the West Lancashire district for a considerable period; the Inspector for that district had had it repeatedly brought under his notice and had attempted to solve it, but the magistrates would not enter into it, on account of a certain ambiguity in the construction to be put upon the law. Immediately, 760 however, the employers had obtained this expression of opinion on the part of the Home Secretary, they added to the hours of labour performed by the pit-brow women, a further servitude of from one-and-a-half to two hours a day. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, in answer to a question put to him on another occasion, stated that the Act of 1887 did not alter the Act of 1872 in regard to the hours of labour on the part of women employed on the pit-brow; but why did the right hon. Gentleman say that, when he had refused to answer a question put to him on that very point with regard to Scotland, his refusal then being based on the fact that the answer would involve the expression of an opinion on a point of law? It certainly seems strange that after taking this position the right hon. Gentleman, upon a question of so much importance to the pit-brow women, should have given an opinion, not only involving a legal point, but settling that point to the satisfaction of the employers of labour in the West Lancashire district, thereby enabling them to make a substantial increase in the hours of labour on the part of women engaged at their pits. I say we have a right to complain of the action of the Home Secretary in giving expression to an opinion which has produced such a result; and I also say that if the effect of that answer could have been foreseen by the rest of the House as clearly as I saw it at the time, the right hon. Gentleman would not have escaped as easily as he did. Moreover, if this House had thought, when the subject of the pit-brow women was being discussed, that there would have been an attempt made to increase the hours of labour, it would not have permitted the Act to pass in the form it assumed, but would have so guarded it, as to have prevented these poor women suffering any additional hardship. I trust the Home Secretary will consider the question as to the shafts in Scotland not being properly arranged for the purposes of safety to the men; that he will endeavour to see that the Inspectors employed shall be, as far as possible, practical working men, of course possessing a sufficient amount of knowledge to satisfy him as to their competency for such a position, and that he will also seize some fitting opportunity for mitigating the evils from 761 which these poor pit-brow women have to suffer in West Lancashire.
§ *COLONEL BLUNDELL (Ince)
I am also of opinion that the number of Mine Inspectors now employed is not sufficient, but at the same time I think it would be a great error to take Inspectors from the ranks of the working men. It requires a great deal of knowledge and instruction to perform the duties of Inspectors of Mines; and before an ordinary working man can acquire that knowledge, even if he can acquire it he must have arrived at a time of life, when he would be practically unfitted by age to efficiently discharge the duties of such an office. I believe that no class of men could be more indefatigable than the present Inspectors, but in proposing to increase their numbers, I would draw the attention of the Home Secretary to this point, that they ought not to be increased to such an extent as to shift the responsibility from the shoulders of the employers to those of the Inspectors themselves. If that be done you will not have safety, but unsafety in your mines. With regard to the pit-brow women, I would only say that I believe the present Act defines the number of hours of labour, which were not defined in the previous Act; but I am not acquainted with the particulars of what has happened. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, will state to the Committee what are the hours laid down in the Act.
*MR. CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
I think the Home Secretary misunderstood the points of my hon. Friend's (Mr. M'Laren) complaint. He did not argue that the masters should be prosecuted for dismissing the men. The case put was that certain miners complained of the ventilation, and the Inspector's attention being drawn to the matter, some of the men, after the truth of the complaint had been established, were dismissed. My hon. Friend argued that the contravention of the Act, aggravated certainly by the dismissal of the men should have been prosecuted and not condoned. And as to the complaint of the right hon. Gentleman that he was not sufficiently advised of the cases to which reference has been made, the principal cases had admittedly been the subject of correspondence with the Home Office, and I must say that 762 in dealing with them to-night, the Home Secretary showed a minute and thorough acquaintance with the subject. I have thought it necessary to make this defence of the reasonable and proper complaints brought forward by my hon. Friend, but I admit that the more important part of this discussion vas the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lanark, for it leads us to consider how far the present system of inspection is satisfactory. Personally I have received no complaints from East Lanarkshire as to the conduct of the inspectors, but my point is that we believe the number of inspectors to be insufficient. I quite agree that we ought not so to increase the numbers as to diminish the sense of responsibility now resting upon both masters and men; but the Government having once accepted the principle of appointing inspectors, we say it ought not to be carried out on so small a scale as to render the system illusory. There are plenty of pits which are never visited by au inspector, and very few I believe are visited more than once in, perhaps, two or three years. The system of inspection is undoubtedly inadequate, and I agree with my hon. Friend that the number of inspectors ought to be increased. I also agree with my hon. Friend that at least some of the inspectors and sub-inspectors should be men who as miners have acquired a practical acquaintance with the business. The last point I shall refer to is the sad and melancholy fact mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lanark that the men are afraid to make complaints lest they should lose their employment. I well know how difficult it is for Parliament to deal with any grievance of this kind, and indeed I do not now refer to any specific case from my own constituency. The men are the most uncomplaining race I have ever had to deal with, but they tell me, and have often told me, that if they make complaints they do so at the risk of losing their employment. They take a keen interest in our proceedings here, and should this discussion come under their notice—as no doubt it will—I only hope it will lead them further in the direction to which all our experience points—i.e. that their best protection is a strong union among themselves, for by that means they would be able most effectually to resist any unfair 763 proceedings on the part of their employers.
§ MR. ATHERLEY-JONES (Durham, N.W.)
I only rise for the purpose of reminding the right hon. Gentleman of the assurance which he gave when he introduced the present Coal Mines Act. He then stated in answer to observations addressed to him from all sides of the House, that he would not lose sight of the claims which working men enjoyed for the purpose of obtaining positions as Mine Inspectors. So far as my knowledge goes, and on this subject it is not inconsiderable, there is a very large number of working miners in the county with which I am most familiar, who are quite competent to undertake the duties of inspectors. Indeed, rule 38 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act recognises that ability on the part of working men, because it provides among other things, that working miners shall be appointed for the purpose of inspecting mines and reporting upon their condition. I should like to ask the Home Secretary whether since the Act came into operation, working men had applied for the posts of Inspector or Assistant Inspector, and if so whether their applications had been entertained; and further, whether in his judgment, there is any practical reason for refusing to appoint these working men. May I, in conclusion, add my voice to the statements already made as to the non-sufficiency of the present number of inspectors, and may I point out that in the district which comprises the County of Durham, the County of Cumberland, and a large portion of the County of Yorkshire, including within its ambit many hundreds of coal mines and a considerable number of metalliferous mines, there is only one Chief Inspector, assisted by only one Sub-Inspector. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has given most anxious consideration to this matter, and I will ask him if he cannot at least concede the appointment of additional sub-inspectors from the ranks of the working classes.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I hope that the Committee will pardon me if I only briefly notice the points which have been raised in this discussion. I have been urged to appoint working men as inspectors by hon. Members who frankly avow that these working men are their constituents. Those hon. Gentlemen will 764 understand why I am obliged to take somewhat harsher views of the matter. I agree with hon. Members that if the inspections are to be made periodically and if mines are to be regularly and constantly inspected as some hon. Members appear to desire, the present number of inspectors will have to be not merely increased, but multiplied tenfold. But such constant inspection is not considered necessary. It is not desirable to relieve the owners of all responsibility. What is required, and what has been done is that the inspectors should make surprise visits, should attend to complaints which they receive, ascertain the general system of working in their different districts, and satisfy themselves that it is satisfactory. I am in a position to state that these duties have been adequately discharged by the present staff, and the small extra expenditure that is proposed with a view of relieving the inspectors of certain clerical work which now occupies many hours of their time will largely increase their efficiency and their available time. With regard to the appointment of working men as inspectors of mines, I can assure hon. Members who are anxious on this point that I have no objection whatever to make such appointments provided that working men are found with that scientific knowledge which would render them competent to discharge the duties of an Inspector, and to secure that respect for their authority from mine owners and men which can only come from knowledge on their part, and the possession of the necessary qualifications. Under the Factories Act all the appointments I have made have been appointments of working men; but under the Mines Act the case is different, for scientific knowledge is required for the due discharge of the duties of an Inspector. I believe that on more than one occasion I have admitted working men into competition for these posts, and I can only repeat that if any such candidates are found to possess the necessary knowledge I shall be delighted to have them on the staff of Inspectors. As to the point which has been put to me with regard to the construction of the Act as to the calculation of hours for meals, all I can say is that the recent Act has made no change in the law. It 765 has merely made clear what under the previous Act was ambiguous. The only other point I have to refer to is the statement that men are afraid to complain lest they should lose their employment. I regret that it is the fact, as has been stated, that men are sometimes dismissed, especially in Scotland, for making complaints to the Inspectors. That is conduct on the part of owners which is to be deplored; it is most regrettable and most blameable, but I think that if the miners of Scotland were less invertebrate, and were banded more firmly together as in England, this practice would soon be stopped. That would prove a far better remedy than any I could introduce. With regard to the Scotch districts I may say that in order to remedy the complaints made by hon. Members, I have remodelled the districts so as to divide them more equally between the two chief Inspectors, so that each will have as nearly as possible the same amount of work to do.
§ *MR. McLAREN
May I before the division is taken, point out that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has not given any answer to the two distinct charges which have been made, as arising out of the Report of Mr. Kier-Hardy.
§ *MR. MATTHEWS
If the hon. Member will give me the date I will direct that an enquiry shall be held.
§ *MR. McLAREN
I shall be glad to forward the information to the right hon. Gentleman. Now with regard to the question of the number of inspectors, and the appointment of working men to these posts, allow me to point out that we do not desire anything approaching control by the inspectors. We do not ask that the number should be so enormously increased as to practically take the responsibility out of the hands of the masters. I admit that that would be an evil, but I do contend that there is room for the appointment of more inspectors, and that such appointments are necessary in order that the work of inspection may be efficiently performed. It is not enough for an inspector to go into a mine once in twelve or eighteen months, and we contend that this is not a sufficient inspection. The Home Secretary taunts us with urging him to 766 increase the expenditure of the country, and with seeking to secure the appointment of men who are to be found among our own constituents. Sir, we have no hesitation in urging an additional expenditure wherever it is necessary. I say that this increase of expenditure would be a cheap expenditure and would amply repay itself, because it would probably save the lives of many men who contribute their fair share to the taxation of the country. When there is a sort of illusory inspection, we consider it our duty to protest against it. With regard to the appointment of working men inspectors I do not think the Home Secretary ought to insist on these candidates possessing the high scientific attainments necessary to enable them to pass the severe technical examination. The right hon. Gentleman should remember that their practical experience, their knowledge of the tricks of the trade, as he calls them, amply compensate for any deficiency there may be with regard to the higher scientific branches of the work. It is because the Home Secretary has shown very little desire to meet the views of the working representatives that I feel it my duty to trouble the House with a division upon this vote.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 53; Noes 156. (Div. List, No. 85.)
§ Original question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported to-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again upon Wednesday 1st May.