Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £56,697, 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, 1994, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said, that he did not intend to move a reduction of the Home Secretary's salary, but he wished to ask a few questions. In the first instance, he desired some additional information with regard to the appointment of 15 new Assistant Inspectors of Factories, including two lady Inspectors. He assumed that the new men were to act as the spies, so to speak, of the Factory Inspectors; to be their eyes and ears; to go about the factories and workshops collecting evidence. He thought that was a very right thing to do to supplement the present administration of the Factory Acts; but, of course, any Minister who increased the Factory Inspectors by so large a number as 15 was bound to give an explanation, and to show that this new staff was created for the purpose of genuinely improving the administration of the Act. Especially was this necessary in cases of appointments carrying small salaries. He did not suggest that these appointments had been made for the purpose of rewarding political services in the country, but with the view to enabling the Home Secretary to further satisfy the public mind on the subject he invited him to make a further explanation. He also wished to ask whether these new additional Inspectors were subject to the ordinary Civil Service rule, that persons in that position were forbidden to take part in political agitation. This was a requirement particularly necessary in the case of those officers. They had to exercise extra- 303 ordinary statutory powers, and according to the way in which they exercised those powers so did they gain local confidence. He would be glad to know whether the Committee could, by the presentation of a Return to the House or otherwise, be informed as to the qualifications and the examinations, if any, of this new class of Inspectors' assistants. The House might remember that the conditions of the examination of the old staff were altered by the late Home Secretary in a direction he thought they would all agree was very much for the better. It used to be the fashion to require that a Factory Inspector should show some form of literary qualification, such as was required from all the other branches of the Civil servants; but the late Home Secretary conceived that it was much more important that they should be examined in the history and growth of the enactments they had to administer. He hoped some such knowledge was required of these new assistants, and that these appointments were not merely conferred upon candidates on the sole ground that they belonged to what was commonly known as the industrial and wage-earning classes. It was quite right that candidates should, when they had shown themselves to be otherwise qualified, be appointed as much as possible from the working class, and a large number of appointments were made by the late Home Secretary from that class. With regard to Mines Inspectors, he observed that during the last Parliament, in the Debates on the Estimates for the Home Office, many complaints were made that the staff of Mines Inspectors was totally inadequate for the work they had to do. But there was no increase proposed in the present year. He did not say there ought to be an increase, but he thought, considering the amount of criticism, which sometimes pretty nearly amounted to abuse, the House should have its attention drawn to the fact that although a full year had elapsed, during which there had been complete opportunity of reviewing the situation, no increase in the Mines Inspectors had been proposed. With regard to the financial consideration, a few increases would not come within dangerous distance of changing the balance of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would be observed 304 that the sub-head also included Inspectors in metalliferous mines. One of the subjects which used to be pressed upon the attention of the late Government was the amendment of the present Act regulating these mines. There were many sources of danger in that dangerous industry which might possibly be relieved by legislation, and he would be glad if the Home Secretary had it in his contemplation to introduce legislation on that subject. Another subject that came under these sub-heads was the question of retreats for inebriates. The late Home Secretary appointed a strong Departmental Committee to consider whether the present law might be altered, and they made a Report which indicated several material improvements which might be made in the present system. That Report had been shown to be the germ of a great deal of work which might possibly be done to great advantage. He would be glad to know-that the Home Secretary was able to make any promise as to initiating legislation in the future. He was afraid that most of the recommendations of the Departmental Committee were things which could not be carried into effect without legislation., Therefore, the House would be very interested to know whether the Home Secretary, as a Minister, would recommend legislation to that House.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said, he desired to call attention to the want of action of the Home Secretary in connection with the tithe riots which had recently occurred in Cardiganshire, South Wales. Within the last year there had been very serious disturbances indeed in the neighbourhood of Cardiganshire, owing to the refusal of the people to pay tithes and the fact that the County Council did not send a sufficient police force to protect the bailiff when he attempted to execute the order for the tithes. Over 100 of these orders were unexecuted in the neighbourhood of Cardiganshire, with the result that the tithe owners had to a certain extent been deprived of their income. Those people who refused to pay tithes were small freeholders, and, therefore, were not affected by the late Act, which transferred the payment of tithe from the owners to the occupiers. On May 5th the bailiff set out to collect the tithe in 305 Cardiganshire. He had only a protection of four policemen, accompanied by a member of the County Council, to persuade the people to pay the tithes; but as that gentleman was a member of the Anti-tithe Committee for the district, his efforts in that direction were not successful. A crowd of about a hundred people collected, and the bailiff was severely handled by them. He (Mr. Griffith-Boscawen) brought the matter before the House by asking questions of the Home Secretary, and he was bound to admit that the right hon. Gentleman had taken a certain amount of action with satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman ordered the Public Prosecutor to prosecute a man named Thomas for the brutal assault on the bailiff, and Thomas was convicted and got three months' imprisonment. But what he had to complain of was that the Home Secretary had taken no steps to provide against a recurrence of the disorder, or to provide for the carrying out of the law in the future. In fact, when he asked the Home Secretary to recommend to the Chief Constable that a sufficient force of police should be available for the protection of the bailiff in the future, the right hon. Gentleman refused to do it, and said that he had confidence in the Chief Constable. He would venture to ask the Home Secretary how he was able to say that he had confidence in the Chief Constable. The predecessor of the present Chief Constable had been dismissed without a pension simply because he gave adequate protection to the tithe bailiff, and as to the present officer he knew that if he took action his situation would not be worth a day's purchase. In face of these facts it was absurd to say that there were any grounds for confidence in the Chief Constable under the local circumstances. After the trial of Thomas, he (Mr. Griffith - Boscawen) questioned the Home Secretary as to whether he would take steps to warn the Joint Standing Committee, who had control of the police arrangements, that a sufficient police force should be provided in the future. The Home Secretary did write to the Chief Constable, but the Chief Constable thought so little of the letter that he never referred to it in his Report to the Joint Standing Committee, and only mentioned the fact when he 306 was asked about it by the Chairman of Quarter Sessions. On the strength of the letter, the Chairman of Quarter Sessions proceeded to move two resolutions. The resolutions were intended to carry out the suggestions made by the Home Secretary in his letter. But the Joint Standing Committee simply treated the Home Office with contempt. They rejected those two resolutions, and left in force a previous instruction to the Chief Constable that he was never to send more than two or three constables with the bailiff and a County Councillor to persuade the people to pay tithes. The majority against the resolutions were entirely County Councillors, and two of them, he contended, had no moral right to vote, being members of the Anti-tithe Committee, and, therefore, interested parties. After the resolutions in favour of the enforcement of the letter of the Home Secretary had been rejected by the Joint Standing Committee, he again asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he intended to take any strong action to compel the observance of the law. He believed that the Home Secretary had done absolutely nothing, so that at the present time they had the Local Authorities in league with the lawbreakers, and the Home Office looking on with indifference. Cardiganshire was truly a disturbed district. There was, in fact, in the district as much disorder as had arisen in many parts of Ireland during the recent land agitation. The feeling in the district was indicated by the fact that a Welsh Liberal newspaper had started a public subscription for Thomas, who had committed a brutal assault on a bailiff. Whether the people objected or not to the payment of tithes, so long as it was the law of the land the Executive Government was bound to see that the collection of tithes was carried out without disturbance. He, therefore, moved the reduction of the Home Secretary's salary by £200.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £200."—(Mr. Griffith-Boscawen.)
§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid.)
said, he had some personal information as to what had taken place with reference to the collection of the tithes in the parish of Penbryn. This was not a "disturbed district." Notwithstanding the 307 strong feeling which prevailed amongst the people against the payment of tithes in the locality, there had only been one criminal prosecution for a serious assault upon a bailiff. The hon. Member for Tunbridge—whose qualifications for taking this matter in hand he was at a loss to understand—had called this a very brutal assault. He thought the Committee ought to be informed that the bailiff first of all took proceedings before the Justices against a man named Thomas for doing him grievous bodily harm, and also for unlawful wounding. The Magistrates dismissed the charge. They came to the conclusion—and there was no doubt of it from the evidence of the medical men—that not even a rupture of the skin had taken place from this "brutal assault." However, the authorities determined to prosecute at the Assizes, with the result that a verdict was given against Thomas for a common assault, not for doing the bailiff grievous bodily harm, and not for unlawful wounding, and he was sentenced to a term of three months' imprisonment. He had heard some complaints made by the bailiff in the County Courts. The bailiff, according to the evidence in these cases, took a very high-handed course, and took a very high view of his authority. When distraining for the purpose of compelling the payment of tithes the bailiff thought he had a right to go over hedges, break down fences, and go over locked gates, and that he had a right to go upon premises by any means he chose; but the opinion of the Law Officers had been given to the effect that he had no such right at all. What the tithe bailiff said, practically, was this—that when he attempted to go over fences the farmers or their friends took up a position on the top of the fence, that he pushed against them, and then he exclaimed, "You see these cruel men; I knocked up against them, and they assault me." He had in some cases heard the bailiff give evidence of this description. The bailiff thought he had a right to get in to a farm over a gate. There were people inside the gate on freehold premises. The bailiff put his foot on one of the bars of the gate, and thereupon his foot came into contact with the knee of somebody on the other side. He at once took proceedings in the County Court, and said, "I am assaulted in the execu- 308 tion of my duty." The fact of the matter was, police protection was not required for the bailiff at all. The Chief Constable, a man of admirable tact and judgment, was of that opinion. The County Council who had appointed him thought it was better in the regulation of the district and for the peaceful carrying out of legal process that there should not be a big; police force. He knew what the hon. Member opposite would like. If the Home Secretary acceded to the request of the hon. Gentleman, and ordered down a large force of police, the hon. Gentleman would then like a military force sent into the district. He thought the fact that during the last two years there had only been one serious case of assault—which it required the lively imagination of the hon. Member to describe as a "brutal assault"—was proof that no further protection was needed for tithe bailiffs. It was not a disturbed district. There had, no doubt, been prosecutions for unlawful assembly. But although the prosecutions were before the Magistrates, and the Chairman was a clergyman and a tithe-owner, though a man highly respected in the district, the Bench did not think fit to commit any of the defendants on the charge of unlawful assembly. He ventured to tell the Home Secretary that his-action in this matter was the right action to take. The County Council were fully alive to the state of things. There was no serious disturbance, and he hoped the Home Office would not undertake, without due necessity, to interfere with the Local Authorities in respect of this matter. The effect of sending a large military force would be, in the first place, to say to the County Council what the Home Office had no right to say—they were neglecting their duty; and, in the next place, it would be a further incitement to the people; and, in the third place, they would be using the forces of the Crown to collect tithes for the tithe-owners in that district. That was not what was required. As soon as it appeared that it was necessary to have a. large force to protect the bailiff he dared say the requisite force would be given, but he had shown that a larger force was not necessary at present, and, if sent, might even create disturbances which did not now exist.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
This discussion is carried on on lines which range over fields very widely apart, and I would point out to the Committee at once the small area that is really covered by the Vote. As to the Motion now before the Committee, the hon. Member has moved to reduce my salary owing to some act which he disapproves of on the part of the Joint Standing Committee of Cardiganshire. What the hon. Member has succeeded in doing is to point out—unconsciously, but very effectively—the defects of the legislation of the late Government on this very question. The Tithes Act was passed, as we all know, to settle this question two or three years ago. Power is given by the Act to the County Courts to enforce the payment of tithes. When I entered Office I received complaints from Cardiganshire that a large number of these orders remained unexecuted. I thereupon took the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown as to what right the bailiff had to call upon the police to assist him in the execution of these orders. The Law Officers gave me a very clear opinion on the point. They say that under the legislation passed two or three years ago a bailiff, in executing a County Court Order on the premises of a freeholder, was in no better position than a bailiff levying a distress for rent due to a landlord at Common Law. The law is perfectly clear on that point. A bailiff levying a distress for rent may not make a forcible entry on the premises in respect of which the rent is due. The police are not bound to render him any assistance whatever in making such an entry. The police are bound only to protect the bailiff from breaches of the peace or bodily harm. Under these circumstances, I gave advice, which, if it had been acted upon, I have reason to think that, though probably a number of the Orders would remain unexecuted, there need have been no trouble. Whether the bailiff was acting lawfully or not on the occasion to which the hon. Gentleman referred I will not undertake to say; but he was undoubtedly assaulted by the crowd. It was the only case of assault brought to my knowledge. I ordered a prosecution at the public expense, and the man was sentenced by the Judge to three months' hard labour. I 310 also wrote to the Chief Constable pointing out that, in my opinion, a sufficient force of police ought to have been sent to protect the bailiff from actual harm. I said that there had been a neglect of duty, and that I hoped it would not occur again. The Chief Constable wrote me a most becoming and sensible letter. He said be had been taken by surprise, that he did not anticipate that there would have been such a crowd, and he undertook that it would not occur again. What more could I do? The hon. Gentleman has complained of the Joint Standing Committee, from whom the Chief Constable has to take his orders as to the service of the police. The hon. Gentleman has advanced the novel theory that some Members of the Joint Standing Committee should be suspended from voting, because they are Members of the Anti-Tithe Committee. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and if Members of the Joint Standing Committee are to be disabled from the performance of their statutory duties because they are members of Political Bodies outside, the administration of the police in England would soon be paralysed. If I find the Joint Standing Committee neglecting to discharge the duties laid upon them by Statute in handling the Police Force in such a way as to endanger the maintenance of law and order, I shall not hesitate to bring the matter under their notice; and when the time came for giving the certificate of efficiency, I should consider whether I was bound to give such a certificate. I have maintained a perfectly impartial attitude in this matter. Up to this moment I have no reason to doubt that the Police Force are being properly used; and if they should at any time be improperly used, I shall not hesitate to take such steps as the law enables me to take in the matter.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said, the Home Secretary's salary was a legitimate opportunity afforded to the House of Commons of criticising his administration. The real importance of this matter lay in the fact that, by the course of action which the Home Office had permitted, a serious blow had been struck at the power and dignity of one of the constituted tribunals of the country—namely, the County Court. The Tithe Act made the County Court in Wales responsible for the collection of the tithes proved to be justly due, and 311 the bailiff of the Court in this case, in endeavouring to carry out its judgments, had been grossly assaulted by mobs and prevented from performing his duty. It was a mistake to say that the bailiff had been assaulted only once. He had been seriously assaulted over and over again, and what he and his hon. Friends contended was, that the Local Authorities and the Home Secretary had failed to see that the bailiff, who was an official of a legally-constituted Court, was properly protected in the performance of his legal duty. If the tithe owner obtained a judgment from the proper Court that he was entitled to certain tithes, surely he had a right to the payment of those tithes, and it was the duty of the authorities to see that the judgment of the Court was properly executed and the law carried out. In this respect, however, there had been culpable neglect in the case in question, and the result of the attitude which the Home Secretary had taken in the matter had been, most unfairly, to make the just and legal collection of tithes in Cardiganshire increasingly difficult. The right hon. Gentleman was usually very rigid in his view of Ministerial responsibility and the enforcement of the law, but in this particular case he seemed to have thrown in his lot with the law-breakers. He very much regretted the attitude which the Home Secretary had taken up, and under the circumstances he hoped his hon. Friend would press his Amendment to a Division.
§ MR. W. REES DAVIES (Pembrokeshire)
said, he had been repeatedly assured by the Chief Constable of Pembrokeshire that a small police force was more effective than a large force in effecting tithe distraints. The noble Lord opposite was entirely mistaken in supposing that the task of the bailiff would be made easier if a dozen or 20 or 100 policemen accompanied him. The resistance was simply made as a protest against tithe altogether; and, in his opinion, the Nonconformists of Wales were fully justified in a Constitutional agitation against it. He could assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that they were entirely mistaken if they supposed that they would silence the agitation by the means suggested. A case had now been stated for the opinion of the High Court as to the bailiff's right to cross over hedges and gates in effecting tithe distraints, and 312 it was well-known that the people in resisting this were acting in accordance with the opinion given by the Law Officers of the Crown. Of course, the bailiff, in the action which he had taken, had been bolstered up by the clerical party in Wales; but he entreated the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to pay no heed to the noble Lord or to the hon. Gentleman, who were entirely misinformed as to the facts, but to leave the matter entirely in the discretion of the Chief Constable, who was responsible for law and order, and who had the full support, in the course which he had adopted, of the representatives of the ratepayers on the County Council. An increased police force would mean an increase in the rates, and would increase, if possible, the hostility to tithes.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
admitted that much of what the Home Secretary had said justified him in the course he had taken. It was perfectly true that he had the power of refusing a certificate of efficiency, and thereby his Ministerial connection with the action of the police force was technically established. He agreed that it was only in an extreme case that he would be justified in refusing that certificate, but the policy of moral suasion by means of a small police force did not cover cases of intimidation that did not proceed to actual assault. The Home Secretary must know that the system existed in Wales of collecting crowds and causing them to observe an attitude so menacing that the commission of actual violence was rendered unnecessary. Cases of that kind required police protection. He protested against the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander in this matter. Those, on the one hand, to whom the right hon. Gentleman alluded were maintaining the existing law as to tithe distraint, and neither advised nor instructed the Chief Constable to do anything in excess of that law; whereas, on the other hand, it was notorious that the object of members of the Anti-Tithe League was to abolish tithes, and with that end in view their policy was to paralyse the law by sanctioning a series of acts that were on the border line between legality and illegality.
§ MR. MORE (Shropshire, Ludlow)
said that in Cardiganshire the Chairman 313 of Quarter Sessions resigned because his ruling with respect to the authority of the Joint Committee over the Chief Constable was outvoted by a majority of Liberal Magistrates, who had made an ex-policeman, supposed to sympathise with the anti-tithe movement, Chief Constable, in the place of one who had carried out the law, who was dismissed. It was not an ecclesiastical question at all, as in Cardiganshire only 25 per cent. of the tithes were paid to the clergy, the rest being paid to lay impropriators.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I should like, Sir, to make a few remarks on the question of tithes.
pointed out that the only question before the Committee was the action of the Home Secretary, and that it would not be in Order to discuss the general question of tithes.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I will keep entirely to that question. What I want to do is to urge some reasons why the Home, Secretary should use all the power which he possesses to secure the due administration of the law in reference to the collection of tithes, and I want to point out that this is not, as it is sometimes treated, entirely or even principally a question of ecclesiastical distinctions. It is perfectly true that the ground given for the refusal to pay tithes is the religious scruple on the part of the tithe-payers to contribute in any way to a Church with which they do not agree. So far as that goes, I, of course, have very considerable sympathy with the objectors. That was the principle on which the Quakers or Society of Friends resisted the payment of Church rates. [Cries of "Order!"]
said, the right hon. Gentleman must confine himself more closely to the question before the Committee. It was a much smaller question than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I must emphasise what I say. I must point out that this is a national question, which goes very much beyond the narrow question of disputes between religious bodies. [Cries of "Order!"] I am perfectly in Order. I am directing myself to showing the importance of the Home Secretary, who is not concerned in these disputes, taking proper measures to secure the payment of tithes. Whatever sympathies one might have 314 with those who object to pay tithes from conscientious scruples, we all know that other influences are brought to work, and, although those scruples are to be respected, it must be borne in mind that, whether tithes are paid to the Church or to a sect, in any case the contention of those who are opposed to a State Church is that tithes are a national fund. If, as is contended by a great number of hon. Members who are supporters of the Government, the tithe is a national fund, it behoves the Government to take care that the corpus of that fund is not destroyed. ["No, no! "] If hon. Members will not be quite so impatient I shall not occupy many moments. If this fund is a national fund, what we have to do is to preserve the corpus of the fund. As to the destination of the fund, that is a totally different question, and we may hold different opinions on that point. Some may desire to see it appropriated to purely national purposes, others to the National Church. But, whatever opinion we hold on that matter, it is of the first importance that the fund itself should be preserved intact. The persons who are now tithe payers are pledged to this burden, and it is the State they rob, and not the Church, when they refuse to pay the tithe. Under these circumstances, whether they agree with those in favour of Disestablishment or not, it is the duty of the Government to maintain the law and see that this fund is not destroyed. Well, Sir, the fund is being destroyed. How is it possible this fund can remain intact or be protected when it is well known that the sympathy of those locally called upon to administer the law is against the payments, and when they practically gave instructions to the Chief Constable to be lax in his duties. ["No, no!"] We know perfectly well what happened. We know how the Chief Constable appointed before the agitation was forced to resign his position, and a mere creature of the majority who compose this Committee appointed in his place. This Chief Constable has not taken the steps which anyone in his position, acting impartially, would have taken, and the result is that, in my opinion, this fund from tithes in Wales is seriously endangered. I think it is a case in which the Home Secretary ought to exercise the fullest powers in his possession. [Mr. ASQUITH: What are 315 they?] They are to refuse the certificate of the Chief Constable, and it is perfectly certain—I do not think it would be necessary to go to that extent—that if he showed he was prepared to exercise that power we should see a very great difference in regard to the administration of the law. But because it is known he will not exercise that power—and he has practically expressed in this House that under no circumstances will he exercise that power—
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
Then I beg my right hon. Friend's pardon. I was misinformed. If that is the case, and if he is prepared to withhold the certificate from the Chief Constable, I have no complaint to make of him. But when I suggested he should do that he tossed his head and gave an ironical cheer. Therefore, I did not understand what his exact position is. If he is prepared to withdraw the certificate if this action, or rather inaction, on the part of the Chief Constable continues, then I am perfectly certain that the Chief Constable, and those who are his legal masters, will be better advised in the future than they have been in the past.
§ MR. ASQUITH
I very much regret that my right hon. Friend should not have taken the trouble to be present at this Debate if he intended to take part in it, as on the matters as to which he has attacked me and the Government he has obviously been misinformed. At least, we are entitled to expect from my right hon. Friend that proper and orderly conduct which is generally practised in this House in regard to its Debates, and by which it is understood that right hon. Gentlemen should not take part in them unless they are prepared to take the trouble of ascertaining what has passed. My right hon. Friend gave us a disquisition as to the value of maintaining the corpus of a national fund, which was interesting, no doubt, as an expression of his opinion, but which, I venture to think, was totally irrelevant to the question. The sole question before the Committee is whether I, in the character of Home Secretary, have done something I ought not to have done, or have omitted something I might and ought to have done, in relation to this particular case. My right hon. Friend does not know what I have done, or what 316 I have omitted to do, and yet he comes down here prepared to join in an attack on the Government, and, I suppose, vote for the reduction of my salary. I think that shows an impulsiveness on the part of my right hon. Friend to think evil of his political antagonists that, I confess, I did not give him credit for. I have already explained my action to the Committee. I must point out again that I took the opinion of the Law Officers as to the duties and powers of the officers of the law in this matter. They advised that the bailiff had no power to make a forcible entry. I communicated that to both the bailiff and the Chief Constable, but, at the same time, I expressed my opinion—I had no direct power over the Chief Constable—that it was the duty of the Chief Constable and police to protect the bailiff against assault and breaches of the peace. Well, Sir, what more does the right hon. Gentleman think I should do? He says I ought to have done something I have not done. What more could I have done? So far as I am aware, no one who applies a rational and unprejudiced mind to the consideration of the question, and who knows what the duties and responsibilities of the Home Secretary are in relation to the management of the local police, can say there is anything in this matter I could effectively do which I have not done.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
My right hon. Friend has referred to my remissness in my Parliamentary duty, but I do not find my absence from the House for a very brief period has in the slightest degree interfered with my accurate knowledge of what had taken place during my absence. The right hon. Gentleman asks me what he could have done and what he has omitted to do? I thought I had told him, but I will repeat it. In the first place, let us see what happened here. I am perfectly aware that the bailiff would have been going beyond his legal powers in endeavouring to make a forcible entry. But he was entitled to the protection of the constables, and I understand, on a review of the whole circumstances, my right hon. Friend communicated to the Chief Constable his opinion that this man had been insufficiently protected—[Mr. ASQUITH: On one occasion]—and that, as a matter of fact, in consequence he was brutally assaulted. ["No, no!"] He was not, says an hon. Member from Wales, but 317 at all events, a Crown prosecution was instituted by the Home Secretary and one of the bailiff's assailants got three months' imprisonment, which I do not suppose was a bit more than his deserts. That is the state of the case. I admit the Home Secretary did all he could do at that moment. He warned the Chief Constable that in future he ought to give greater protection than he had done, and that in consequence of not having given sufficient protection personal injury had been done towards this man. I want to know what the right hon. Gentleman has done, and what he is prepared to do in future, to see that his recommendation is accepted? because we have reason to believe that the Chief Constable treats the opinion of the Home Secretary with perfect contempt, and that, secured in his position by the Joint Committee by which he is appointed, he is prepared in the future as in the past to withhold sufficient protection from the persons who are engaged in the collection of tithe. That is the position, and I want to know if there is another assault on the bailiff, and the right hon. Gentleman again employs State money in order to carry out a Crown prosecution, what is he going to do with the Chief Constable? Will he withhold his certificate? If he says he will, then I shall be perfectly satisfied.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
I should like to make one observation, and that is with respect to the authority and power of the Home Secretary over the local police. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham knows something about local administration. I should like to know what they would say in Birmingham if the Home Secretary were to communicate with the Chief Constable in Birmingham and tell him if he obeyed the orders of the Watch Committee and not the orders of the Home Secretary he would withhold his certificate? I think I know very well what the Watch Committee would say on that subject. But really I do not think it necessary to enter into further argument on the subject with the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, because last night he informed us that he is prepared to vote against any Supply being granted to the Government.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
I rise to a point of Order, Mr. Mellor. Is the right hon. Gentleman justified in going into matters which occurred at previous Sittings?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The hon. Gentleman opposite will, perhaps, not be so precipitate in future. But, Sir, I was going to say that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham has adopted the principle of refusing all Supplies to Her Majesty's Government because he does not think them entitled to have any, really he might spare the House the trouble of listening to any other reasons for his votes, because the principles on which he acts are thoroughly well understood.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
remarked that the Home Secretary appeared to be under the misapprehension that the bailiff was engaged at the time he was assaulted in making a forcible entry. That was not the case, because the man was assaulted in his carriage before he had time to get out. The Home Secretary said he was only assaulted on one occasion, but the bailiff said he was assaulted on five occasions. Why had he not been assaulted recently? Because of the intimidation and neglect to send a sufficient force there had been no attempt to collect the tithes, and that would be the mode of proceeding in future. He believe the majority of those elected to the Joint Committee by the County Council were members of, or interested in, Anti-Tithe Leagues, whose ostensible and avowed object was to prevent the payment of tithes, and who, therefore, connived at law-breaking in order to accomplish their object.
(interposing): The Home Secretary is not responsible for that. He is only responsible in the matter so far as he himself indicated—namely, in the advice he gave.
§ MR. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
said, he thought it was a matter of some importance what advice the right hon. Gentleman gave to a County Council so constituted, and he contended there was 319 ample ground for refusing the Chief Constable's certificate.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 46; Noes 135.—(Division List, No. 295.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
desired to know if the Factory Inspectors' assistants, who had been recently appointed, were under the same regulations as their superior officers, and one of whose rules required that they should not disclose trade secrets? The Factory Inspectors were men who could be thoroughly trusted in this matter. He would not insinuate for a moment that the smaller literary acquirements on the part of the Inspectors' assistants rendered them any less worthy of confidence than their superiors, but he wanted the assurance that they were bound by the same rules.
§ MR. ASQUITH
With reference to the Inspectors' Assistants, they, like the Inspectors, are strictly forbidden by their instructions to reveal trade secrets. The Inspectors' Assistants, who are 15 in number, were appointed mainly for the purpose of assisting in the inspection of workshops rather than of factories; and the great object was to provide by a more efficient and vigilant system of supervision against the evils of sweating, which prevail so largely in the workshops of our great cities. The number at present appointed is, I hope, only the first instalment, because, of course, it is obviously impossible that this work should be carried on over the whole country by 15 men, and the 15 men appointed this present year are exclusively stationed in London and Glasgow, and there is one in Ireland. They are put under the superintendence of Mr. Lakeman, one of our most efficient Inspectors, who has a considerable acquaintance with the industrial conditions of the Metropolis, and who has almost dons more than any public servant in the past to provide for protection from, and the abolition of, sweating. The object being to obtain quick witted and practical men who can go about amongst workshops in an informal way and make themselves acquainted with what is going on, it appeared to me a very much lower standard of educational qualification was required 320 in the case of these men than in the case of Her Majesty's Inspectors, and accordingly the scheme of examination they had to submit to is of an elementary kind. It comprises handwriting, spelling, and arithmetic, including fractions, and a general knowledge of the law relating to workshops as laid down in the Factory Act. Further, each candidate was required to write a simple report of a practical character on a given subject connected with workshops. By means of an examination of that simple kind, coupled, of course, with the testimonials I received from practical persons of the experience of each of these gentlemen, I believe I was able to select 15 thoroughly competent men. In future I intend still further to simplify the scheme of examination, as I am not satisfied that the particular requirement as to vulgar and decimal fractions may not possibly have excluded men, otherwise well-fitted for the purpose. I do not think you ought to make the literary part of the examination so important. We have carried the literary side of examinations for the public service to a ridiculous extent, particularly when dealing with men like Factory Inspectors—men as to whom what you really want is no doubt a certain kind of scientific equipment, but chiefly some practical knowledge and ability. I am strongly in favour, as far as possible, of reducing the literary side of the examination. They must be able to read and write and spell, and have sufficient facility of composition to be able to tell us in a simple, and perhaps homely, but intelligible way what they have seen. I do not think we ought to include much more than this in the examinations, and I think on this there will be a general agreement on both sides of the House. All these assistants are members of the Civil Service, and they will become entitled to pensions in the ordinary way and on the ordinary terms. As I pointed out to the hon. Member behind me, they will be forbidden to reveal trade secrets, and I need hardly add that the general rule of the Civil Service which forbids others to take an active part in political agitation will be rigidly enforced in the case of these men.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Yes; it has been extended to 40. I have received a report from Mr. Lakeman, who tells me that great good is being done, particularly in and around London, by their investigations. I was able some months ago to extend an order made by my predecessor, requiring certain trades to keep a list of out-workers—a very useful provision of the Factory Act. I have been able to extend that order to other branches of trade, and to take steps which, I believe, coupled with the appointment of these assistants, will prove very effective in putting down some of the worst forms of sweating. As the hon. Gentleman opposite probably knows, what the Act of Parliament enables the Home Secretary to do is to require the occupier of a factory or workshop to keep a list of all persons employed outside in carrying on his business. By first requiring the occupiers to keep these lists, then having them inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectors and sending the Assistants to visit the outworkers at the place of address given in the lists, we have been able to track to its home a great deal of the industrial sweating which now exists. I hope we may see a very considerable extension of these orders in the future. For the purpose of their being effectively carried out throughout the country, it will be absolutely necessary to increase the staff of Inspectors' Assistants; and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer promises to give me the requisite sum, I hope to be able to make this increase in the course of the next year. As to salaries they begin with the very modest figure of £100, rising by increments of £5 to £150. That is a very small sum, and I should be glad if I could make it larger. But small as it is it has enabled me to secure thoroughly competent and efficient men for the purpose, and on the whole I can report very favourably on the progress of the experiment. In no sense is it a Party question, and I trust on both sides of the House there will be a disposition to further the extension of the system in the future.
§ SIR J. GORST (Cambridge University)
I do not rise for the purpose of moving a reduction of the Secretary of State's salary, but I do so for the pur- 322 pose of inviting him to make a statement to the Committee upon what I venture to think is an extremely important question, that is the progress which is being made by the Executive Department of the Home Office in carrying out the provisions of the Factory Act of 1891—firstly, with reference to noxious trades; and, secondly, with reference to sweating. The right hon. Gentleman has already made some statement as to the policy and progress of the Home Office in reference to sweating; but I should like to have some further and fuller statements made. Now, I was extremely pleased to hear the Home Secretary say, in a little speech he made a few minutes ago, that he regarded these questions as not being of a Party character; and I hope, at least in this House, they may be discussed as questions which are not Party questions. But it is very much to be regretted that the admirable sentiment which the Home Secretary expressed in this House as to the non-Party character of these social questions should not be observed by him out-of-doors, because I notice that out-of-doors no one is more given to confer a Party character upon these social questions than the Home Secretary himself; and this very speech, upon which I am inviting him to make some explanation to the House, affords an instance of it. In January last I read, with great interest, an excellent speech made by the Home Secretary at Liverpool to the National Union of Liberal Associations—an opportunity which a Leader of a Party might have made use of to point out the non-Party character of these questions. But, instead of that, I am bound to say I read with pain that the Home Secretary practically invited those whom he was addressing to recognise him as the Executive authority who was very earnestly endeavouring to carry out the Factory Act of 1891, and reflecting upon his predecessor in Office, who had made the Act, as he then stated, practically a dead letter. I am perfectly ready to give to the Home Secretary every credit for being perfectly sincere, and honest, and energetic in carrying out these Acts in the interest of the local population, and especially the poorest and most distressed parts of the local population; but I think we have a right to expect that a person in his high position and with his 323 great authority should give equal credit to his predecessor in Office, and I hope that hereafter he may give equal credit to his successor in Office. As to the exercise of powers under the Factory Act of 1891 with reference to noxious trades, the late Home Secretary was making inquiries with a view to putting the powers given by the Act into force, as no one knows better than the Home Secretary himself, although he did not tell his audience at Liverpool that that was the case. But, unfortunately, in January, 1892, the late Chief Inspector, Mr. Whymper—whilst he was at Manchester making inquiries into the manufacture of white lead, and preparing rules for that particular trade which is one of the most noxious and unhealthy carried on in the country—was seized with a serious illness which ultimately resulted in his death, and that was, no doubt, the reason why considerable delay had been occasioned in carrying out the provisions of the Act. But at Liverpool, in January last, the Home Secretary expressed his intention of acting in this matter with considerable vigour. I am informed that the whole matter as to the necessary rules in the white lead and chemical works was fully threshed out 12 months ago, and the only thing now wanting, and that has been wanting for some time, is action on the part of the Home Secretary. I am sorry to say that instead of giving that a Departmental Committee has been appointed—that universal refuge for persons who cannot make up their own minds, and who require some delay. That Departmental Committee has hung up all matters with regard to these works, and there is no expectation of any rules being made for an indefinite time to come. I hope the Home Secretary will be able to make some statement to the Committee which will show that within some reasonable time the powers given by the Act of 1891 will be really carried out—that rules will be made and promulgated, and that progress will be made in giving effect to such provision as Parliament made in 1891 for the protection of the workers in these particularly noxious and dangerous trades. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will agree with me that two years having now elapsed since the Act became law, it is high time that its 324 provisions should be, at least in some trades, enforced. Of course, all progress in legislation and in administration of this kind must be of a rather experimental character, but when you find that so long a period as two years elapses from the passing of an Act before the experimental carrying out of that Act by the Executive Government, it is not unreasonable to ask for some explanation of the delay, and some assurance that that delay will come to a prompt conclusion. So much for obnoxious trades. I should like now to ask the Home Secretary to make some further statement about the action of the Executive Government in regard to sweaters. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman must regret having stated at Liverpool that nothing had been done by his predecessor. He stated here to-day that the late Home Secretary had issued an order for lists of out-workers to be given, and that the present Government had extended that order, but in Liverpool, when addressing his political partisans, he said that the credit due to the present Government was on account of its superior administration, and he instanced, as an example, the order for the lists of out-workers, making no reference whatever to the order made by his predecessor, leaving it to be inferred that the Act had been treated by his predecessor practically as a dead letter. Well, I want to ask how is sweating actually going to be suppressed? The issue of lists of out-workers will not suppress sweating in the East of London, in Glasgow, and in Ireland, to which places this action is confined. What I want to ask the Home Secretary is whether he sees his way to any large and comprehensive policy for really suppressing sweating? I must say I have long thought that however costly the central office in London may be, you will never be able through the action of a central office to suppress sweating all over the multifarious industries of this great country. You never can really reach the sweater until you devise some method of local inspection as distinguished from centralised and Imperial inspection. I do not at all wish to undervalue the inspection of the Central Authority in London. It is desirable and necessary; but if you really mean your law to be carried into execution you will have to enlist the sympathy and assistance of 325 particular localities. You cannot carry your law into execution unless you have Local Authorities—controlled by the people of the localities—with you, with officers of their own, to see that the law is obeyed. I do not quarrel with the Inspectors the right hon. Gentleman has appointed. As an experiment, I have nothing whatever to say to the arrangement. I have nothing but praise for it; but these Inspectors are confined to the small area of London and Glasgow. They cannot exercise any sort of influence or power over the whole Kingdom, but as an experiment I must praise it—unless, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman should think praise from me an impertinence. I was very pleased to hear the right hon. Gentleman say he had determined not to require literary attainments from the Inspectors. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we have driven the demand for literary attainments, and especially for spelling, to an almost absurd extent. There is no reason why competent people should not serve the State, though they may not have acquired all the elements of a liberal education, and may not on all occasions be able to spell correctly. But what I want particularly to ask is whether the Government have any policy as to extending the system of inspection by making it in a sense local. If the right hon. Gentleman says, "We have no policy in regard to local inspection, and intend to restrict ourselves entirely to inspection from head quarters," we shall know where we are. Those of us who think that local inspection is essential for putting down sweating will be able to endeavour to ventilate our opinions in the country and to get the country to press on the Government the necessity of taking proper steps in this matter. I do not know whether the present would be a convenient opportunity for saying anything about the Inspectors themselves. Perhaps not; I had better reserve my observations about the staff and the arrangements for inspection to a later period. My object now is to get the right hon. Gentleman to make a more extended statement as to the progress being made in carrying out the Act of 1891, especially in regard to obnoxious trades, and also to give a full account of the policy Her Majesty's Government intend to pursue in regard to the suppression of sweating.
§ SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
said, that before any reply was given there were two subjects to which he desired briefly to call the attention of the Home Secretary. All these questions affecting factory legislation ought to be of great interest, especially to those who represented constituencies in which factories existed. There were two questions in which he took particular interest, and as to which he wished to have some information. In the first place he desired information with regard to the clause in the Factory Act of 1891 called the "particulars clause." He believed it was the 24th clause. That clause came into existence by virtue of the demand made by the operatives. They asked that they should always have information as to the amount of wage they were entitled to receive, so that they might know how much at the end of the week or day they were entitled to obtain by way of recompense. It was very easy to make the demand, but it was very difficult to carry it out. It required great practical knowledge to know the exact amount of particulars which should be given to the operatives without the employé discovering the secrets of his trade. The late Home Secretary appointed one Inspector, a gentleman whom he was sure the present Home Secretary would agree was about the best fitted man that could be found for the post. He meant Mr. Birtwistle. This was the only Inspector employed, and he presumed that this gentleman's task was an almost overwhelming one. He knew that inspection of the kind which was necessary under the clause he had named required peculiar practical knowledge and that inspectors like Mr. Birtwistle were not easy to find. But the Home Secretary had been good enough to give assistance to those who wished to extend the clause. He (Sir H. James) hoped that that clause would be extended not only to the particular trades or class of trade mentioned in Clause 24, but to almost every textile industry. He wished to know whether it was the intention of the Government to appoint additional Chief Inspectors or sub-Inspectors for the purpose of seeing that these particulars were duly given. There was a great difficulty in selecting sub-Inspectors. The whole requisite was confidence. They could not send an Inspector into the factory hostile to the employer, and they, therefore, would 327 have to find men who could almost act as judges between employer and employed. Then, with regard to the carrying out of the Cotton Clause of the Act of 1891, that Act was also founded on the demand made by the operatives, who complained, with the greatest possible reason, of the high temperature which existed in some cotton cloth factories. The temperature was taken for the purpose of sizing fabrics so as to put substance into shoddy materials, and the temperature was raised to such an extraordinary extent as to be dangerous to the health and very existence of the operatives. The disclosures made were perfectly frightful as to the effect in winter time on young men and women who had to pass into the cold air from the overheated sheds. He had received a great many communications in consequence of having had charge of the Bill, saying that there was a great deal yet to be done.
§ SIR H. JAMES
Yes, Mr. Osborne; and I am aware of the ability and zeal he displays in carrying out the Act. Perhaps the Home Secretary, by the appointment of additional Sub-Inspectors, if necessary, would see that the provisions of that Act were fully carried out.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said that any legislation which would benefit the Lancashire operatives would receive the unanimous support of the Lancashire Members. As representing a manufacturing town in Lancashire himself, he could endorse what had fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury. With regard to the Report of the Committee on Inebriates, which the hon. Member for Sheffield had alluded to, he hoped the Government would not let the matter sleep, but would remove the difficulties which now interfered with the fulfilment of the hopes of those who felt strongly on this question. He complained that the Shop Hours Act had been to a great extent a dead letter, owing to insufficiency of inspection. The Reports of the Inspectors of Workshops and Factories and the number of visits they had paid under the Act was sufficient justification for legislation. A great deal might be done by giving publicity to these Acts. He believed many Acts affecting the industrial life of the 328 people remained totally unknown to many persons in whose interests they had been passed, and he was glad that the Government had taken some steps by means of the post offices to impart this information. They had arranged to distribute 30,000 notices in one case and 20,000 in another. When these notices were published and were read by the people in the post offices and the local newspapers there would be no room to complain that these Acts, at any rate, were unknown to those whom they affected. He observed that in France a most wholesome custom prevailed of publishing the Acts of Parliament passed for the benefit of the people with statements showing the benefit of the legislation. He did not know that in a country with a free Press like England it was desirable to adopt the French system, but the system was sound in itself, and he was glad to see that something approximating to it had been adopted by Her Majesty's Government in two instances. The next point to which he wished to refer was that of licences for overtime. The statements made by Inspectors on that subject were truly melancholy. In some instances persons of tender years were employed as improvers in clothing shops, and were kept at work 14 hours a day without wages. Could sweating assume a worse form? These people in return for their labour were supposed to obtain skill in their trade, and the moment they became skilful and asked for wages they were discharged; beginners, condemned to like labour, being taken in their places. He was glad that the Government were appointing women Inspectors, and he should be glad to know if they were considered by the Home Office to be a success. No doubt the advantages of their employment were clear and obvious; but he felt some doubt whether women would be found to possess strength enough for their labours or to command sufficient technical knowledge in the exercise of their duties. With regard to the Reports of the Inspectors, they often had a very wide range. The Inspectors frequently went beyond their legitimate duty, dealing with the state of trade and questions of co-operation, technical education, and other subjects. Some years ago the Reports of the School Inspectors became dis- 329 cursive, and the attention of those officials was invited to the failing; a request being made that they should devote their attention rather to the schools than to the state of society generally. He did not wish to discourage general" observations, but he did think that where complaints were made that Inspectors were insufficient in number it was probable that there would not be so much room for objection if in Reports attention were more confined to the subjects in hand.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, that they were now discussing the most important Labour Department of the Government, and he was sorry to find that not one of the Labour Members was present.
§ MR. HANBURY
thought that the House of Commons was just as important as the Congress at Belfast. He urged that the Inspectors should not be taken from the matters with which they were specially competent to deal. To make Factory Inspectors deal with quarries was ridiculous. Such work ought to be done by the Inspectors of Mines. Some years ago the late Home Secretary issued a Circular against the practice of imposing heavy costs with small fines, but he was afraid that it was being disregarded. There was a tendency on the part of Magistrates' Clerks, who had, he believed, some pecuniary interest in the matter, to disregard the Circular.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, that whether as a rule or not it was undoubtedly the fact, as one knew from one's own experience. In spite of the Government Circular, many Benches of Magistrates were glad to pile up heavy costs when the fine was only small. He had had during the past few weeks brought under his notice a case in which, where the fine was only 1d., the costs were 14s., and another case in which, where the fine was 5s., the costs were £2 2s.
§ MR. M. AUSTIN (Limerick, W.)
said, he hon. Member (Mr. Hanbury) had referred to the absence of the Labour Members; but he would remind the hon. 330 Member that there was at present holding its sittings in Belfast a Labour Parliament, not, perhaps, of a less important character than that honourable House. He wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to the disparity in the payment of Factory Inspectors. If quick-witted and intelligent workmen were needed as Inspectors they should be recompensed in the same degree as those appointed from another class. He thoroughly agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that some modification in the examination papers was necessary. Though they might appreciate a literary standard, still sound common sense and practical knowledge of the inner life of the workshop was far more desirable than mathematical problems in seeing that the provisions of the Workshops and Factory Acts were carried out. Then there was the question of female Inspectors. There had been only two female Inspectors appointed up to the present—one in London, and the other in Glasgow—although there were something like 100,000 female workers in the North of Ireland. Surely they were entitled to be looked after as much as female workers in Glasgow. He thought it necessary also to call attention to the want of Factory Inspectors in Ireland. There were only three such Inspectors at present in the country—two of them for the North, and one for the Midlands and South. In many portions of Ireland there were numerous small mills which were totally neglected as far as inspection was concerned; some mouths ago there was a deplorable accident in the South of Ireland owing to the want of inspection, the place not having been visited by an Inspector for years. He trusted that the Home Secretary would also take into consideration the desirability of recompensing the working men who were appointed as Inspectors in proportion to their ability.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said, he wished to call attention to a subject of an entirely non-political character—namely, inspection under the Cruelty to Animals Act of the 39 and 40 Viet., popularly called the Vivisection Act. His reason for doing so was that there was a very large increase in the 331 number of experiments which took place under the Act. This increase had made the outside public very anxious about the carrying out of the Act, and there was great eagerness to have the matter brought forward in order that in future the measure might be properly carried out. He had no intention or wish to enter upon the question of vivisection or anti-vivisection. His desire was to try to obtain the general support of the Committee. Anti-vivisectionists were very often accused of being sentimental; but he assured the Committee that there was a great deal more fact than sentiment at the bottom of their agitation. He was sure that no one could accuse the Home Secretary of being a sentimental man; but he (Colonel Lockwood) would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would find some room for sentiment, of course subserviently to his official feelings. The United Kingdom bore a very high name for its humane treatment of animals; and this was, he believed, chiefly owing to the action of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Great Britain alone, of any country he was aware of, had interfered to prevent the needless infliction of cruelty on animals under the name of science. Previous to the passing of the Act he referred to, no person was allowed to ill-treat or torture any dumb animal, but that measure allowed the granting of licences and certificates both for painful and painless experiments. He wished to be guided in his remarks by the action of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That Society was above suspicion on the question of accuracy of statement, and the evidence of its Secretary (Mr. Colam) before the Royal Commission on Vivisection was treated by the public with the greatest confidence. The Committee of the Society had called attention to the subject in their last two Reports, and had pointed out that the experimentation, which was 270 in 1881, grew to 2,661 in 1891, and to 3,960 in 1892. No one could accuse the Society of fanaticism on the subject of vivisection. Indeed, they had been found fault with by other Societies on the ground that they had not taken sufficient action on the question. The Committee reported in the following language:— 332Even if the enormously-increased experimentation sanctioned by the late Home Secretary had been followed by satisfactory inspection it might be contended that the Act had been properly administered, though even then with a prodigality of experiments. Your Committee have year after year, for the last 12 years, called attention to the fact that the Returns made by the experimenters have, in some instances, been the only means on which Her Majesty's Inspectors have been enabled to make their Reports instead of by personally witnessing operations. A few may have been personally inspected, but the majority of the experiments are reported to the Inspectors by the very persons whom the Inspectors are appointed to inspect. In Section 13 of the Act it is provided that the Inspectors shall visit the places registered for experiments for the purpose of complying with the provisions of the Act. Seeing that the provisions of the Act refer to the mode of experimentation, it will be obvious that the Legislature intended personal inspection. On a careful study of the present Return it is evident that the imperfect inspection has not been intelligibly improved, and still consists mainly of an examination of Returns only; but they are also constrained to give expression to a sense of painful anxiety arising out of the present Return, which in 10 years shows the enormous increase of 1,000 per cent. in the number of experiments.He begged the Committee to remember that this was not the Report of an Anti-Vivisection Committee, but the Report of the dispassionate men who formed the Committee of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Under no other system of inspection would it be allowed that the very individuals whom it was desired to keep under inspection should make their Reports unchecked to the House. An Inspector of Mines did not report on the Reports furnished to him by the owners or the workers in the mines, nor would an Inspector of Factories report on the ipse dixit of the owners or representatives of factories. He asks that the inspection under this Act should be as thorough, searching, and effective as were the other inspections carried out by Government officials. The system of inspection under certificate was arrived at as the result of a series of compromises under the Act of 1876. He believed the public were too greatly influenced by the Reports of the great medical authorities who were in favour of vivisection; and they, therefore, refuse to abolish it altogether; but they believed that the well-authenticated stories of some of the cruelties inflicted on dumb animals were too true, and the result was that the Government determined to put a stop to the un- 333 licensed practice of vivisection. By the passing of the Act it was proved that unnecessary cruelty had been practised on dumb animals. He did not wish to overstate his case. He believed that a good case had been greatly injured in the past by the use of statements which could not be proved, and he was extremely anxious to preserve as moderate a manner as he could under the circumstances. He might say, in passing, that he believed the British public, who were so humane in the treatment of animals, would see in time that vivisection was altogether anomalous, and would refuse to allow it to continue. The Government Inspectors were supposed to stand between the vivisection and their subjects, the dumb animals, in order to insure what the Royal Commission declared to be the claims of the lower animals to humane consideration, vivisection being, in the opinion of the Commission, from its very nature, open to abuse. There were three Inspectors for the United Kingdom, one covering England as far North as Newcastle, one covering Scotland and England down to Newcastle, and the third covering Ireland. These gentlemen were not occupied solely and entirely with the inspection of the physiological laboratories, but had other work to do, and many of their statistics were obtained from hearsay. One medical gentleman went so far as to say that the whole inspection was an absolute farce. He (Colonel Lockwood) would not go so far as that, but he maintained that it was not sufficiently efficient. The first Inspector (Dr. Buss) showed his partiality by alluding to the agitation of the Anti-Vivisectionist Society as a senseless and mischievous one. That being so, he could hardly be called an impartial man on the subject. The next Inspector (Mr. Allison) was a well-known advocate of vivisection, and the present Inspector (Dr. Poore), who was, he believed, universally respected, held appointments at the University College Hospital, at which, in 1893, there were 16 vivisectionists at work. A gentleman who was constantly in association with 16 men engaged in the work of vivisection could hardly be regarded as perfectly impartial. The two British Inspectors had 69 places to visit in 334 England and Scotland, and he maintained that it was impossible for them to do the work properly. According to the last Report, they paid rather more than two visits, on the average, to each of these laboratories in the course of a year. He knew that several visits were paid to certain laboratories, and therefore he presumed that some of the laboratories were not visited at all. He believed the Home Secretary preserved a very equal mind on the subject, and thought he might ask him that for the future it should be stated in the Returns whether all the laboratories were visited. He hoped also that in the future, if possible, the names of the operations should be given, as well as the dates, and that it would further be stated whether the operations were going on at the time of the Inspector's visit. Further, he should like to know whether the visits were all surprise visits? Some time ago the Home Secretary stated that some of the visits were surprise visits; but he (Colonel Lockwood) desired that they all should be surprise visits. At the present moment, except so far as it prevented people without certificates practising vivisection, the Act was fallacious and misleading. He confessed that he himself was much exercised in his mind to find what an enormous increase had taken place in the experiments. In 10 years the returns had risen from 42 men licensed, 20 practising, and 406 experiments in 1882, to 180 men licensed, 125 practising, 55 stating on their own authority that they did not practise, and 3,960 experiments in 1892. In 1891 the experiments numbered 12,661, so that was an increase of nearly 1,300 in 12 months. He maintained that the supervision, as at present carried out, was absolutely inefficient. He might be told that a great number of these experiments were inoculation experiments, and were painless. The Times newspaper, which had never been very favourable to anti-vivisectionists, however, made the following remarks in a leading article on Dr. Klein's investigations for the discovery of the bacillus:—On rabbits the results of inoculation were 'altogether nugatory.' Twelve monkeys were inoculated, and 11 of them remained unaffected. The 12th became the subject of pneumonia, and was killed by chloroform as 335 soon as its recovery seemed hopeless. The inflamed lung contained numerous influenza bacilli; but together with them were bacilli of another kind, and it was impossible to say which of them, if either, had produced the pneumonia.…. So far, therefore, the only results of the investigation ordered by the Local Government Board are such as were foreseen. We have some statistics of very uncertain accuracy and of no particular applicability to the affairs of life. We have a bacillus previously discovered by others, and we are entitled to believe that it does not live long after having made its way into the current of the circulation. During the acute stage of influenza it is abundant in the living secretions, and it disappears as the disease subsides. Its characters are sufficiently distinctive, and it is not known in any other conditions. These results were hardly worth obtaining at the cost. We do not speak of the cost in money, which in all such matters might be properly disregarded by a wealthy nation. The real cost has been the skill and labour of trained observers, directed from worthy and useful purposes and applied in directions in which failure was a foregone conclusion.This was an opinion which went to show that these experiments upon dumb animals were absolutely useless for the purpose for which they were undertaken. It was said that these experiments were beneficial. He believed that these experiments were not properly supervised, and that it was advisable and necessary that from time to time there should be a searching public examination into the working of the Act in order to guard against its abuse. At present the Act was carried out in a misleading and unsatisfactory manner, and that was unfortunate for the reason he had stated. He was occupying the House a little longer than he expected, but he was anxious to place the case before the Committee as clearly as possible, and hoped he should not go too far in asking the Home Secretary—not wishing to move a reduction, he left it for the present in his hands, and he wanted to ask him whether in future Inspectors under the Act could not be appointed by him in conjunction with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Anti-Vivisectionist Societies? He saw that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith) smiled; perhaps he would rather be content with going direct to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? He should also like to ask whether the character of the experiments could not be stated in future Reports, and also how many visits 336 were paid by the Inspectors to each place; and, again, whether it could not be arranged that all the vists of the Inspectors should be surprise visits? He would also like to press upon the right hon. Gentleman that it was widely and strongly felt that the carrying out of painful experiments on dumb animals before bodies of students in order to demonstrate for their instruction facts already known was unnecessary cruelty and ought to be discontinued. He was grateful to the Committee for listening to him upon a subject in which he took the greatest interest, and which he believed was of the greatest interest to other Members, and to everybody who was satisfied that they are right in the position which they had taken up.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
said, perhaps the Committee would allow him to occupy a few moments. He wished to draw the attention of the Home Secretary to the existing deficiency in the inspection of collieries, particularly in the South Wales district. He wished to see a larger number of Sub-Inspectors appointed, whose duty would be to go through the coal districts to see that the regulations of the Coal Mines Act were enforced. He found from the Report of Mr. Robson, the Inspector of the district, that there were no fewer than 366 mines in the South Wales district, and though it was one of the largest coal districts in the United Kingdom it had the smallest number of Inspectors attached to it. He did not make any complaint at all about the present Inspectors: they had too much work to do. The Chief Inspector had shown in his Report for 1892 that, while taking the average in all the coal districts of the United Kingdom there was only one fatal accident for every 816 persons employed, there was one such accident for every 506 persons employed in the South Wales district: and whereas there was only one death caused for every 676 persons employed on the average of the United Kingdom, there was one death for every 291 persons employed in South Wales; and he expressed the opinion that there was urgent necessity for the further adoption of measures calculated to increase the safety of the workmen, and that there 337 should be a more stringent enforcement of the Rules and Regulations in order to lead to a diminution of accidents and loss of life. The number of inspections was altogether insufficient. In 1892 there were only 341 underground inspections, and this did not amount to one inspection per annum for each colliery in the district. In these circumstances, he hoped the Home Secretary would be able to see his way to appoint a large number of Sub-Inspectors, and that when he did so he would select experienced men for the work from among the workmen themselves. Many such men could be found of great practical experience, who would command the confidence of the workmen, and see that the Act was carried out. He hoped this matter would be considered.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) asked why the Labour Members were not in their place to deal with the Home Office Vote this year. Many of the Labour Members were absent, as they knew; but, in addition to that, they had a state of affairs that never existed before. The Vote for the first time contained something like a concession of what they had for years been fighting for. Fifteen Assistant Inspectors were appointed and two female Inspectors, and he desired to thank the Home Secretary for what he had done in this direction. That was a good reason. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would carefully consider the question of the remuneration of these Inspectors. There remained, however, the question of examinations for these appointments. While the Labour Members agreed that there should be an examination in practical knowledge, they thought it should be of such a character as would meet the case of men whose lives had been spent in workshops, and whose opportunities for education had not been many. There would be 20 districts, as between these men and others. It would often happen that the man who had gone through a high-class literary education was the best man for this class of work, but the literary man was by no means always a capable man for the work. They wanted men who, from their practical knowledge of what was required of them, would find no difficulty in discharging the duties in 338 a satisfactory manner. The Member for Wigan (Sir F. S. Powell) spoke of Inspectors going out of their way in their Reports, and he made a comparison between School and Factory Inspectors. The Factory Inspectors made reference, it was said, to things that did not come before them. There was the case of Cooperation. It was a question upon which he (Mr. Rowlands) had a strong opinion; and he believed that the Inspectors could make valuable representations upon the question as to distribution and production—questions which, in his opinion, were within their scope. For example, he thought that any information the Inspectors could give in reference to technical education in any industry was within the sphere of their duties. Any information on matters of that kind was bound to be useful. He had only again to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his attention to the business of this Department, and he hoped his further efforts would be equally beneficial in their results.
§ MR. WHITELEY (Stockport)
said, he had listened to what had been said by one of the Irish Members regarding the supervision of Irish industries. As representing a manufacturing constituency, and as a manufacturer himself, he (Mr. Whiteley) was glad to see that there was an increased number of Inspectors in England. But he would impress upon the Home Secretary the necessity for a general overhauling of factories, and for insisting on a more stringent enforcement of the provisions of the Act by the Inspectors. Then there was the question of overtime. Many firms worked their employés overtime by starting their engines five or ten minutes before the hour in the morning, or running five or ten minutes late in the evening. The matter was, no doubt, a very difficult one for the Inspectors to tackle; but he would ask that the attention of the new Insectors should be specially directed to this question of running overtime. Then as regards the state of factories, he wished that the Inspectors should keep a factory register, and that they should visit factories as soon as the interval permitted by law for cleansing had elapsed. An important fact for consideration was that in some cases the Inspectors were really incompetent to 339 carry out the requirements of the Act in regard to the ventilation of factories. All these points showed conclusively that the present number of Inspectors was insufficient, and he was glad to hear that an increase was contemplated. An increase was necessary. He was glad to hear that matters were progressing in Ireland.
§ MR. WHITELEY
said, it appeared from what they heard that the number of industries in Ireland was insignificant as compared with Great Britain. If it were the fact that factories were springing up in Ireland, and that an increase in the Inspectors was necessary, it disproved a favourite argument of the Prime Minister in another matter. He hoped there would be a more careful inspection of factories in the future. He thought there ought to be more working-men Inspectors appointed, men who were practically appointed with the conditions of employment in factories, and who had the welfare of the working classes at heart.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)
urged that there were not sufficient working-men Inspectors. He wished to call attention to what the Chief Inspector in Wales himself said when he gave evidence before the Labour Commission in 1890. He said that the inspections made were 323, a total falling short by 49 of the number of collieries in the district. Therefore, in that extremely dangerous district, the Chief Inspector himself had admitted that there were 49 collieries that were not inspected during the year. As to the nature of inspection, the Inspector said that in most cases several days were required to make a thorough examination; but he admitted that they had only been able to devote, on an average, three hours for the purposes of inspection and examination. The Chief Inspector further stated that he considered he had fulfilled his duty by satisfying himself generally that the managers were carrying out the provisions of the Mines Act. If, then, it came to this, that they were content with what the managers were doing, where was the need for inspection at all? 340 According to the same authority, about one-half of these examinations were made after the accidents had occurred. This was a grave admission. It meant that the collieries had no real inspection, before the accidents. What was really required, if accidents were to be prevented and avoided, was that the Government should appoint a class of men with knowledge of the collieries, who could make a practical and thorough examination. He also thought a large staff could be employed in inspection at considerably less than what was now paid, though he did not complain of the present remuneration.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
said, that there ought to be inspection of mines before fatal accidents as well as after. He wished particularly to call attention on this point to the Northern part of the Kingdom—a place called Scotland—to which the House had given little consideration. During a visit which he paid to that country a few months previously, he was asked by the miners themselves to represent to the Home Secretary their anxious desire that there should be inspection of mines before as well as after accidents. He had sent these views in writing to the Home Secretary, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would give them his consideration. It was in the interest of the owners as well as of the men that mines should be inspected with a view to prevent accidents.
§ SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said, he desired to support the point raised by the hon. Member for West Limerick (Mr. M. Austin), in regard to the appointment of working men as Sub-Inspectors. The Home Secretary had taken that course in North London; and he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for making a new departure, which would do good to the State, and give satisfaction to those whose lives and health were dependent on the proper inspection of factories and workshops. He did not think that the remuneration in these cases was adequate. The commencing salary was £100 a year. Persons qualified for these Sub-Inspectorships were persons with a practical and thorough trade knowledge, and he must be a poor mechanic who could not earn more than the salary 341 attached to this office. Therefore, in respect to the salary, the Government had not set that good example as employers, of which the House had declared its expectation. The salaries were also very disproportionate to the salaries enjoyed by the Inspectors. Some of the Inspectors had sources of income three or four times more than the salaries given to the recently appointed Sub-Inspectors, though they rendered services in some respects as valuable as those rendered by the Inspectors. He recommended strongly that there should be a readjustment of this disproportion between the salaries of Inspectors and the salaries of Sub-Inspectors. Then, as to the examination, he thought it should not be of the searching character that members of other branches of the Civil Service were subjected to. He did not desire, in the least, to depreciate literary attainments; but it must be apparent to all that what was most required in the men who filled those positions was technical knowledge, for the attainment of which there were now special advantages in almost every part of the Kingdom.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, he also desired to express his satisfaction at the appointment of working-men Sub-Inspectors. No one should, in his view, he appointed to inspect a factory who had not a competent knowledge of the industry carried on in the factories and workshops he was required to inspect, and also with the general conditions under which those industries were carried on. The appointment of men of this character as Inspectors had been urged on the Government year after year by those who represented the industrial communities. It was about eight years ago that he formed part of a deputation that waited on the present Chancellor of the Exchequer who was Home Secretary at the time, and urged the appointment as Inspectors of men who had a practical acquaintance with the trades they had to inspect.
§ MR. ASQUITH
Considering the multifarious duties of the office I hold, I cannot complain if the discussion on the Vote should be of a discursive character. I feel bound to acknowledge with gratitude the very considerate and kindly 342 tone which has marked the large majority of the criticisms of hon. Gentlemen. There were two main subjects discussed. One related to by far the most important department under the Home Office—always, of course, excepting the exercise of the prerogative of mercy—the department connected with factories and mines. But there have been one or two incidental criticisms which I propose to dispose of before I come to those important questions. First of all, the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) referred to the Home Office Circular issued to Magistrates, calling the attention of their Courts to the provision of the Summary Jurisdiction Act of 1879, which enacts that where a fine does not exceed 5s. there shall be no costs unless expressly ordered, and suggesting that they should give a wider effect to that provision than they have hitherto done. The hon. Gentleman asks me what authority the Home Office has for making its wishes effective, and what means we possess of obtaining a knowledge of the actions of the Magistrates in those cases. I am sorry to say I cannot give a satisfactory answer to either of those questions. The Home Office has no direct authority in the matter at all, and the only way we can obtain a knowledge that this section has not been observed in Courts of Summary Jurisdiction is when the cases are brought before me for revision. I strongly deprecate the imposition of costs upon a defendant where the fine does not exceed 5s., except in very exceptional cases; and I make it au invariable practice to call the attention of Magistrates to the fact that, in imposing costs in such cases, they are violating, if not the letter, at least the spirit, of the Act. I am not, however, satisfied with the result, and I have it in contemplation to call for a Return from all Benches of Magistrates in the country of all cases during, say, a twelvemonth in which costs have been imposed where the fine does not exceed 5s.; and if the Returns show that the practice is widespread, I shall have to consider what steps may be necessary to make the provision of the Act mandatory instead of discretional. The question of vivisection has been raised in a very temperate, and—if he will permit me to say it—very able speech by the hon. and gallant Member 343 for Epping (Colonel Lockwood). If any hon. Member thinks that experiments on live animals for scientific purposes ought to be prohibited, his first step must be to obtain the repeal of the Act of 1876, by which these experiments are made legal. I will not express an opinion one way or the other on the general question. All I have got to do is to administer the Act as I find it; and I may say that there is no part of my duty that gives me greater solicitude, or to which I pay, as time allows, more constant attention. In no case, I think, since I have been in the Home Office has a licence to experiment upon dogs, cats, monkeys, and the higher class of animals been granted without the matter having come before me personally, and receiving my individual attention. We take the most careful precautions that these licences shall not be granted, in the first instance, except to persons whose qualifications are undoubted, and as to whose bona fides and desire for scientific research alone no reasonable doubt could be entertained. Further, no licence is granted unless the applicant is recommended by eminent medical men, such as the Presidents of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons, and the application is then sent on for observations to the Society for the Propagation of Knowledge by Research. Until these preliminary recommendations are obtained, the application is not considered at all by the Home Office. If a licence is granted, the licences is bound to make Reports to the Inspector, and he is always liable to visits from the Inspector, which are as often as not surprise visits. It is impossible, however, to lay down a rule that all visits must be surprise visits. The Inspector has often to arrange an inspection in order that he may see the various stages of the experiment. An additional security is afforded by the fact that none of these experiments are allowed to be conducted in private places; and, for the most part, they take place in the great Medical Schools and the laboratories of Pathological Institutes. The area in which the experiments are carried on is narrow. In the whole United Kingdom there are only 59 licensed places for these experiments, and as these 59 places are contained in 37 institutions, the 344 Inspector has only 37 different places to visit. The hon. and gallant Gentleman asked me to appoint an Inspector in consultation with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the Anti-Vivisection Societies. I am afraid that if I had to arrive at a conclusion with the Anti-Vivisection Societies, we should remain without any Inspector at all. The hon. and gallant Gentleman complains that the Inspector has not made a sufficient number of visits. The Act of Parliament requires that the registered places should be, from time to time, visited by the Inspectors; but it does not require that each experiment or any experiment should be witnessed by the Inspector, though I quite agree that the Inspector would not be discharging his duty properly if he did not make himself personally acquainted with the manner, in which the experiments themselves are actually performed. Every licensed place is visited yearly, some of them three or four times a year; and the Inspector is in constant communication, by letter, with the licencees throughout the country, making suggestions and offering advice. We ought not, however, to look upon these scientific men as criminals, who are to be treated to constant surprise visits, and caught out in attempted infractions of the law. Only two or three cases have come under my notice in which the experiments violated the conditions of the licence. When that happens the most severe notice is taken of it, and unless a satisfactory explanation is forthcoming the renewal of the licence is refused. I do not think, therefore, that there is anything wrong in the method of inspection. If there has been an increase in the number of experiments, there has not been a corresponding increase in the amount of pain inflicted on animals during the last year. I would point out that the large increase in the number of experiments is almost entirely due to what is called inoculation. These are performed without anæsthetics, because they are perfectly painless; but it is a rigid condition of the certificate allowing these experiments that if pain supervenes after the Experiment the animal is to be at once killed.
§ MR. LEES KNOWLES (Salford, W.)
I might point out that the great increase is also due to experiments in 345 connection with the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis.
§ MR. ASQUITH
That is so. I will only say, in conclusion, that the working of the Act is being very carefully watched. In regard to the inspection of mines, I admit that the South Wales collieries are the most dangerous in the country, and perhaps in the world, and they must demand and receive the anxious attention of all those who are responsible for them. I was glad to hear the tribute which has been paid the Mines Inspector. I do not believe there is a more efficient Inspector. My attention has been specially directed to the mines in South Wales, and the Inspector has drawn up special regulations for them. These are under the consideration of the Under Secretary and myself. I think a primâ facie case has been made out in this district for additional inspection, and I hope during the Autumn to deal with the question and that of quarries, which by an extraordinary legislative freak have been treated, not as mines, but as workshops. It may become desirable to transfer them from the Factories to the Mines Acts. I will not forget Scotland in this matter. As to factory inspection, I think that the pay given to the Sub-Inspectors is adequate, especially taking into account the fact that they become permanent Civil servants, entitled to a pension. Their pay is fixed at £2, rising to £3 per week. In the direction of noxious trades, I have at least done as much as any of my predecessors in Office. The Commission on the white and other lead trade has visited almost every factory in the country, and has taken a large mass of evidence, both as to the magnitude of the evil, and, what is even more to the point, as to the possible remedy. I strongly believe in the work of such Departmental Committees, and I have appointed them in four of the most dangerous trades—namely, lead, potteries, chemicals, and quarries. My attention has been called to the condition of the linen-workers in Belfast, who are mostly women and children, and I sent over a competent man to inquire. His Report, which goes to the very root of the evil, shows that there is a very large mortality from phthisis, owing to the excessive humidity and high temperature 346 under which the work is carried on, as well as to the quantity of dust generated in the process of manufacture. Rules have been framed and submitted to the manufacturers, and the result, it is confidently anticipated, will be largely to reduce the rate of mortality in Belfast. As to sweating, I believe that any orders would have been but waste paper had it not been for the Inspectors' Assistants, whose appointments have led to valuable results. I think, therefore, that this system should be extended to other parts of the country. I do not share the very sanguine views expressed as to the results that would flow from making inspection local rather than central. I think no change has been found more necessary than that of the appointment of women Inspectors, of whom I have, as yet, only been able to appoint two. I hope, however, to increase the number. I am quite sure that the present women Inspectors have more than justified their appointments. Abuses have been found to exist in large West End establishments, and a large number of prosecutions and convictions have followed during the six months since the appointments were made. This has resulted in the law being better observed. As to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Bury with reference to the Particulars Clause of the Act of 1891,I can only say that if it is found necessary to appoint additional Inspectors I will see that it is done. The question of overtime occupies a rather peculiar position. Under the Act of 1878 there are some employments in relation to which there is a statutory right to work overtime, and in the case of other employments the Home Secretary has the power to relax the restrictions of the law. I am very careful in granting this relaxation, and only do so in cases where strong reasons are given in favour of it. Important changes in matters of this kind so closely affecting trade cannot be made without very careful consideration. I trust the Committee will now pass this Vote.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not a fact that three of the Factory Inspectors were pluralists—officers who had retired from the Army or Navy and were in receipt of pensions?
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, he believed the statement of the hon. Member was correct, but he certainly did not think that previous service in the Army or Navy should be regarded as a disqualification for the office of Factory Inspector.
§ CAPTAIN NAYLOR - LEYLAND (Colchester)
pointed out that, although the staff of Inspectors under the Factory Acts had been increased by 27 during the last year, there were still only 86 Inspectors for the whole country, and he contended that this number was wholly insufficient to fully and effectively carry out the provisions of the Factory Acts. He thought also that greater power should be given to the Inspectors to enable them to deal more directly and promptly with insanitary workshops. If the premises happened to be a dwelling-house the Factory Inspector could not enter them without a warrant, and the result was that in 99 cases out of 100 warrants were never applied for, and sweating went on just the same. He should like to have a Report as to how this wonderful reform was working at the present time. He should like to see all matters appertaining to factories and the appointment of Factory Inspectors transferred to a responsible Minister of Labour. Whilst the law was extremely good, it was not enforced in many cases; and it was, in fact, perfectly useless to enforce it without an adequate number of Inspectors, the present staff being wholly inadequate for the purpose of carrying out a thorough system of inspection of factories and workshops. The Commission on the subject of Sweating, in their Report published in 1892, were of opinion that workshops, including under that description a factory, workshop, or domestic workshop, should be required to be kept in a cleanly state, and should be treated for sanitary purposes as fact ones were treated under the Factory Acts. By the Act, at present, this was purely a matter of administration on the part of the right hon. Gentleman; and from that day to this not a single thing had been done towards carrying out that important recommendation. The Commission also recommended an increase in the number of Inspectors, who, they thought, should have the power to enter all workshops within their jurisdiction at reasonable times without a warrant—that was to 348 say, that where a workshop was also a dwelling-house they should be allowed to enter it without a warrant. There were many other recommendations of a similar character, and he wished to impress upon the Home Secretary that it was false economy to endeavour to enforce the law with such an inadequate staff of Inspectors, and instead of 15 extra they wanted a very much larger number. He was willing to believe the Home Secretary himself was, possibly, extremely anxious to carry out these reforms, but his position was that of a number of gentlemen on the Treasury Bench—"Heaven save me from my friends," and Heaven save him in particular from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, unfortunately for the factories of the country, was reclining in ease and opulence on the flesh pots of the Treasury; he had got a tight hold of the money bags of the State; and for no purpose, not even for the purposes of the working classes of this country, would he relax his grip. He would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to dole out a little sum to enable the Home Secretary to increase the Factory Inspectors, the present number being absolutely insufficient for the work they had to perform.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, that after the very full and satisfactory discussion on this Vote, and the very fair and candid statement of the Home Secretary, he thought the Committee would feel the time had arrived when the Government should have the Vote. He only desired to say that he was not going to press the reduction he had on the Paper. It was a reduction of the salary of the Private Secretary to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and he put it down with a number of other similar reductions in the case of pluralists. This gentleman was a Clerk in the House; he was Private Secretary to the right hon. Gentleman; and he was also Gentleman Usher at the Court; and there did, therefore, seem to be a reason why his case should be carefully considered. He did not propose, however, to enter into the case that day, because he had not yet got the full list of pluralists which he intended to deal with generally, from top to 349 bottom, when he got it; and as he was not in possession of this list he felt it would be invidious if he dealt with this particular case.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he believed that upon this Vote it was open to any private Member to challenge the general policy of the Foreign Department. If he were in Order, he wished now to challenge the policy of the Government in reference to the burning, or rather the blazing, question of Siam. The hon. Baronet the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would not, he was sure, think he had put this challenge in any unfriendly spirit. He was hopeful that his challenge might lead to a satisfactory answer. He could assure the Government that an answer was expected from them by public opinion in all well-informed circles in this country; that they were, in a certain sense, on their own defence at the bar of the national sentiment; and that the onus probandi rested upon them at this moment to show that they had done all that duty required for the just interests of England. He earnestly hoped that they would be able satisfactorily to discharge that onerous task. They had had, as yet, no Papers laid upon the Table upon the question; and, therefore, they were at some disadvantage in respect to interpellations. Several of them had put questions to Ministers at various dates, and though they had received official answers, he must be pardoned if he said that these answers were never quite so explicit as to be satisfactory. They were afraid always that behind these answers, which appeared so full at first sight, there might lurk some danger. Public opinion was greatly exercised at the declaration they understood to have been made at the outset by the Government, that England had no interest in the quarrel between Siam and France. Had this been merely a matter relating to boundaries, or to some local question, they admitted that England would not have a share in that quarrel. But the quarrel assumed far larger proportions, and affected the very safety, honour, the independence and integrity of Siam. 350 When they came to a quarrel which extended to the cession of a territory, perhaps 100,000 square miles, which comprised the occupation of districts, the employment of naval forces, and menaces of a most formidable kind to the capital of Siam, that was a quarrel of the largest dimensions. It might be a vital quarrel, and he contended that our interest was immense, and that it was a most unfortunate thing if any such declaration was ever made by the Government which would make Siam think that England would not stand by her, but would almost cast her to the wolves. He was sure it was no exaggeration to say that Siam was led to fear she would be thrown to the wolves. It was a most unfortunate declaration. He knew not how far exactly it was made; but if the hon. Baronet could assure him he was labouring under an utter misapprehension, no one would be more thankful than be (Sir R. Temple). He contended that Siam was led to apprehend something of that kind, and in consequence of that declaration she yielded to the ultimatum of France. With regard to the integrity and independence of Siam, the House would recollect that originally they had the comforting assurance from the hon. Baronet that the French Government declared themselves just as anxious as we were to preserve the integrity and independence of Siam. But that integrity and independence were menaced in the most critical manner. The hon. Members then repeated their questions in this House as to whether the French adhered to their assurance as regarded the independence and integrity of Siam, and he understood the hon. Baronet to say that in general terms the French did adhere to that declaration; but that they put their own interpretation upon the meaning of this integrity and independence. The French were as much entitled as we were to put their interpretation upon these very vital and important words; but the question, however, was what construction the English Government applied to these words. What he apprehended was, that France had been allowed to interpret the words in their own way, and that England had acquiesced in that very dangerous interpretation. He submitted that it was the duty of Ministers to put 351 the English view into juxtaposition with the French view. In the next place, when this matter was last before the Committee he raised certain questions which he must be pardoned for saying were not answered, the hon. Baronet devoting his attention to the speech of the hon. Member for South-port, whose questions were rather more sharply defined. That must be his excuse for briefly recapitulating these questions now, which either ought to be answered, or England ought to know the reason why they were not answered. The River Mekong was the fons et origo of all the trouble. The proposal of Siam was that the cession to France should end at the southern corner of the bend in the river. The French contention was that it should end at the upper corner of the bend at Luang-Prabang. The consequence would be that the whole of this bend—a great stretch of country containing tens of thousands of square miles—would go by the board to France, and would enable France to have the weight of territorial influence right into the very heart of the Kingdom of Siam. Supposing we had to acquiesce, or that Siam had to agree that the cession should go as far as Luang-Prabang on the north-east of the bend, he wanted to know whether the whole of the territory inside the bend was to be given to France or not, or was a straight line to be drawn by means of negotiation or delimitation from the south to the north end of the bend? If such a delimitation could be secured he admitted that, after all the diplomatic disasters that had happened, this would be something of a retrieval for this country, and it would be greatly to the credit of the Foreign Office if, even at the eleventh hour, they could secure something of this kind. He would ask whether, in the negotiations, this territory inside the bend was to be ceded to France or not? Of course, if the hon. Baronet said that negotiations were still going on, and that it would be prejudicial to answer, he must accept such a reply; but he could assure the Under Secretary that the British interests in that part were directing close attention to this important point. He understood that somewhere about the 21st degree of North latitude there was to be a neutral zone—somewhere between Luang-Prabang and 352 the British Protectorate or British protected territory. He desired to know whether the negotiations were going on satisfactorily in reference to this neutral zone, and he would also like to know what was to become of Luang-Prabang itself? He apprehended that half of it would go bodily to France; and that the other half would be somewhere inside Siamese territory, or perhaps in the neutral zone. Further, the French had made the monstrous claim that for some distance along the right bank of the Mekong River there should be no Siamese troops; thus the right bank, or the portion that was spared, would remain absolutely under French control, so that the whole river on both banks would be under the French command. That was a cruel expansion of the original claim. Was it not enough to take the whole of the left bank for some comparatively trifling offences which Siam had committed—if they were offences at all—but that, in addition, they must alienate from Siam all that bank which still nominally belonged to the Siamese? They were entitled to know whether this article was included in the ultimatum, and whether it had been accepted?
It being half-past Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow; Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.