§ On the Vote of £23,559 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, 1896, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the House of Lords,
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
observed that he was very glad to see the right hon. Member for Preston in his place, not only because of his feeling of pleasure, which he believed was universal, at the right hon. Gentleman's well-deserved promotion, but also because he was about to make a Motion in which he confidently relied on the Member for Preston's support. The 582 Motion he intended to make was for a reduction of item A, relating to salaries in the Department of the Lord Chancellor, by a sum of £500. Before the Motion was put from the Chair, he thought he should be within his right in making a few observations on the Vote in general. The only Motions which he believed would be shut out by his Motion being put from the Chair, were those referring to the first item of the Vote, namely, item A; and if any hon. Member wished to move a Motion precedent to that, he apprehended it would have to be on the salary of the Lord Chancellor.
Perhaps I had better explain. If any hon. Member moves a Motion for the reduction of a particular item, after that Motion is put from the Chair—whether it is pressed to a Division or not does not signify—it is not then competent for the Committee to go back upon any previous item. The right course to take, is for any hon. Member who wishes to move a reduction on the first item, to rise and say so. I understand the hon. Member to say he desired to move a reduction on the first item?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
replied in the affirmative; but said he had no desire to do that if any hon. Member wished to discuss the Vote as a whole. Perhaps the most convenient plan would be for him to discuss the Vote as a whole, and then allow any hon. Friends who desired the opportunity of doing so, to move the reduction of any particular item. The first objection he had to make was that which had been made some little time ago by the present Secretary to the Treasury, namely, the extraordinary disproportion between the amount of work done by the officials of the House of Lords and the amount done by the officials of the House of Commons; that disproportion in work being by no means represented by a similar disproportion in the salaries received. Everybody knew that the sittings of the House of Commons were very prolonged, and those of the House of Lords were very brief. The House of Commons met at three o'clock, and usually ended its proceedings at half-past twelve. On the other hand, the House of Lords met about four, and, after some conversation which was inaudible to everybody except Members in the Chamber, and sometimes even to 583 them, usually adjourned at five. It was, therefore, perfectly clear that the officials of the House of Commons were subjected to a strain, both upon their attention and health, which was entirely different to the corresponding strain on the officials of the House of Lords. That being so, he held, as a necessary consequence of this disproportion of labour between the two sets of officials, that the salaries for the one should be considerably in excess of the salaries for the other. But that was not the case. He would give a few instances, being chiefly indebted for his facts to a speech delivered by the present Secretary to the Treasury when he was a Member of the Opposition. The Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Lords had £1,500 a year, whilst the similar officer of the House of Commons had only £1,200 a year. It was true that the latter had also an official residence, but that was a necessity, because of the late hours until which the House sat. On this question he was less extreme than the Secretary to the Treasury, one of whose most serious charges when criticising this Vote on a former occasion, was the excessive number of residences which were given to officials. He considered that the officers who were kept there all hours of the day and night, should not then be compelled to have to travel long distances to their homes. He did not know of any office, next to that of the Speaker and the Chairman of Ways and Means, which was more important than that of Clerk of the House of Commons. In the House of Commons, the Principal Clerk had £2,000 a year; but, in the House of Lords, the Clerk of Parliament, as he was called, had £2,500 a year, and £500 a year for a house as well. He considered that was a monstrous salary, considering the small amount of work that was done for it. Again, the Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords had £2,500 a year, which was exactly the same as was paid to the Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons, where the labour was infinitely greater and the hours of work much more prolonged. In the speech of the Secretary to the Treasury to which he had referred, great emphasis was laid on the number of pluralists there were in the House of Lords. He must say that, anyone looking through the items 584 of the Votes relating to the House of Lords must come to the conclusion that the offices in that Chamber were kept up mainly for the purpose of providing largely-paid sinecures for gentlemen who had the good fortune to be of noble birth, but the misfortune of being sparse of means. Let him cite one case, which was brought forward as a shocking example by the Secretary to the Treasury, namely, that of the Black Rod. The Black Rod, in addition to a salary of £2,000 a year, according to a note in the Estimates, also received emoluments as an Admiral on the Retired List, was provided with an official residence, and received fees for his own use as an officer of the Order of the Garter. On a vacancy (the note stated) the salary would be reduced to £1,000, without residence. A number of these salaries were personal to the holders; but would it not be worth while for the Secretary to the Treasury to see whether he could not make one of those re-arrangements by which public departments got rid of officers by commutation, and have these smaller salaries paid to other officers? On a previous occasion, the hon. Member for King's Lynn, whose absence from the House at that particular moment he much regretted, called attention to the serious fact with regard to the Black Rod, that when the House of Commons was summoned to the House of Lords, instead of having the real Simon Pure in the shape of the Black Rod, the House of Commons was put off' with such a paltry official as the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod—a gentleman with only £300 a year, and whose superior officer received the very large salary and extras he had already mentioned. He did not desire to raise any question of policy with regard to this Vote. He had based his observations on the question of public economy, and he appealed to the Secretary to the Treasury to produce or promise a large scheme of reconstruction, basing such appeal on the fact that, on this subject, practically all sides of the House were agreed. When in opposition the Secretary to the Treasury was a Radical economist. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman had not changed his views. The hon. Member for King's Lynn was a Radical economist, and he could not think the hon. Gentleman had changed his skin 585 because he had crossed the floor. He did not think there was a single individual on the Opposition Benches who would defend these monstrous sinecures and bloated salaries unless they were the Gentlemen whom the hon. Member for King's Lynn had described as the Olympian personages who sat on the Front Bench—[Laughter]—and who when in office felt they must defend the Estimates.
§ * THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. H. W. HANBURY,) Preston
said, he adhered to the views he expressed when he sat opposite. His opinions in regard to this Vote had not altered in the slightest degree, but it must be remembered that the issue raised by the hon. Member was different to the one he raised and defeated the late Government upon. His contention when in Opposition was that the officers of the House of Lords should be paid on the same scale as that in force in the case of the officers of the House of Commons; and in Subhead C of the Estimate then presented the salaries of the officials of the House of Lords were on a considerably higher scale than those of the corresponding officials of the House of Commons, and no promise was given that in the event of future appointments the salaries paid in the two Houses should be the same. The effect of the Division he took two or three years ago was that the House of Lords had agreed that in the case of all future appointments of officials the salaries should be on the same scale as that observed in the House of Commons. He was not sure that this House were entitled to go any further, because he did not think they could fairly expect the House of Lords would admit any inferiority by adopting a lower scale of salaries to their officials than that in the House of Commons; at any rate, he was not prepared to advocate any change of that sort. It was said there were still on the Estimates for this year a great number of officers of the House of Lords who were still receiving higher salaries than those paid to the Officials of the House of Commons. It was utterly impossible to effect a change at once or to cut down the salaries of existing officials. What could be done was, either to wait until vacancies occurred or 586 to retire the present officials and substitute others paid on a lower scale. To retire civil officials was a most expensive thing to do, because they had to pay the pensions of the old officials as well as the salaries of the new ones. Clearly the best course to adopt was to wait until the appointments became vacant, and then, pay the new officers on the same scale as the officers of this House were paid. The hon. Gentleman had cited certain cases. The Clerk of Parliaments was paid on a higher scale than the corresponding officer in the House of Commons, but when a vacancy arose it was intended that the Clerk of Parliaments should receive £2,000 and a house, in which case he would be placed in exactly the same position as the Clerk of the House of Commons. Black Rod was a patent officer and could only be removed by the Crown itself, indeed he understood there was some doubt as to whether he could be removed even in that way. At any rate, it was quite impossible for Black Rod to be removed from office by the House of Commons. But, however, when the present official did vacate his office, the salary would be reduced from £2,000 to £1,000 a year without official residence. A revision was to take place, too, in the office of Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod. The only other complaint he heard from the hon. Gentleman was that the duties of Black Rod ought to be performed in person. At present they could not be performed in person, owing to old age and infirmity. They were now performed by the Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, a matter over which he was informed Parliament had practically no control. Black Rod could appoint what deputy he liked, but he (Mr. Hanbury) supposed that when a new appointment took place some regulations would be laid down on that point. The Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords got exactly the same salary as the Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons, and as to the Serjeant-at-Arms he had no doubt that when a vacancy arose in the office in the Upper House, the salaries of the two officials would be placed upon the same footing.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
thought the right hon. Gentleman had forgotten 587 much of what he said when in Opposition, but had remembered a large part of what Sir John Hibbert said in reply to him. Instead of taking up the position he then took up, the right hon. Gentleman now took up the position assumed by Sir John Hibbert. When he proposed the Amendment on which the late Government were defeated, the right hon. Gentleman objected to the fact of there being so many pluralists amongst the officials of the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman protested against the Black Rod holding three offices, and urged that that gentleman should come under the Civil Service rule of retirement at 65. Black Rod might hold a patent office, but the House of Commons had got the money, and need not pay his salary unless they chose. Taking the Vote as a whole, the right hon. Gentleman pointed out on the former occasion that the officers of the House of Lords, were paid 30 per cent. more than the hard-worked officials of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman also pointed out that the Assistant Clerk in the House of Lords began with £1,200 a year, while the Assistant Clerk in the House of Commons only got £1,000, although he had ten times more work to do than the other. The Secretary to the Treasury also showed that the 11 clerks in the House of Lords only received £200 less than the 23 clerks in the House of Commons. On the previous occasion they were told it was impossible to reduce the Vote, but an endeavour would be made to come to some arrangement. The House of Lords had certain control over fees, but the only thing they could legally take out of the fee fund was the superannuation allowance. That was entirely in the hands of the officers; but so far as the rest of the money was concerned, the House of Commons had complete control over it, and should exercise that control. With regard to the tenure of the officers, he thought the existing condition of things was preposterous. He did not see why they should not make a complete change. They had power to do so. In the Debate in 1893 the present Secretary to the Treasury stated that most of these offices were held at will; that the present holders of them were not under Civil Service Regulations, and that, 588 therefore, their services might be dispensed with by giving them the usual notice the law required. He thought it would not be quite fair to move any reduction now, because the present Government were not responsible for the existing Estimates. But things would be different next year. The next Estimates would be drawn up under the care of the Secretary to the Treasury, and they would expect that all the changes the right hon. Gentleman had advised would be carried out as far as possible. Of the officers of the House of Commons he thought the one most underpaid was the Chairman of Committees. The Office, though still a Party appointment, was next in importance to the office of Speaker; and he was glad to have assisted in a successful movement, some years ago, to level its salary up to the salary of the Chairman of Committees in the House of Lords. Indeed, he wished they could level down the salary of the Chairman in the House of Lords, for practically he had no work to do. Next year, however, there would be a general attack on the pluralists in the House of Lords, from the Lord Chancellor downwards; and, unless the changes the present Secretary to the Treasury had advised were meantime carried out, it would be difficult to get the Estimates for the other House passed.
§ * MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
said, he should like to take notice of a remark which fell from his hon. Friend the Member for Caithness, as well as of an assumption of a still graver character on the part of the Secretary to the Treasury. His hon. Friend the Member for Caithness seemed to be against moving any reduction, because the Estimates were prepared by the late Government, and had been simply taken over by the present Administration. If the late Government had not managed to get themselves out of office, in what seemed to him to be an unnecessary and uncalled for manner, they would have brought forward those Estimates, and he would be in the same position as he was last year, when the hon. Member for Caithness moved for a reduction in the the Estimates, before which the hon. Member now grovelled in an attitude of servile worship, which was quite a new 589 feature in his hon. Friend's character. Therefore, if anyone moved an Amendment, he could not be deterred by any undue respect to the ideas of the late Government in the matter of the Estimates, any more than he had shown them any slavish deference in things of greater import. Then there was a subtle fallacy of great constitutional and political significance in some of the remarks of the Secretary to the Treasury, and he wanted to guard against it, once and for all, so that it might not be used in a future contingency in the way such fallacies were commonly used. The Secretary to the Treasury had said that particular corresponding offices in the House of Lords and the House of Commons had been put upon the same footing, because the salaries were numerically identical. He disputed that proposition entirely. If they paid one man £2,000 for half the work for which they paid another man £2,000, the only rational conclusion was that the work of the first man was of a far higher order. There was consequently an assumption in the remarks of the Under Secretary to the Treasury that the House of Lords occupied a higher altitude in the Constitution than the House of Commons; and in view of contingencies which by-and-bye would be relevant, he would not allow any fallacy in the distinction between the two Chambers to be set up in this indirect way. He denied out and out that the work of the House of Lords was of a higher character, and required higher paid officers than the work of the House of Commons. Indeed he would be inclined to assume the very opposite of that proposition. He had dwelt on those ideas in a general manner before his constituents, and hence he was able to return to give his advice to the House of Commons. He took a deep interest in the criticism of those useless ornaments of the House of Lords because of the possible future constitutional effects which would follow on their removal. If they took away some of this useless paraphernalia they would for one thing get closer to the Lords, and they might then find that dealing with the Lords from a severe constitutional point of view was far simpler than when their eyes were dazzled by the false glamour of their tinselled frippery.
§ * SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said, he did not think it was necessary 590 on this question to institute comparisons between the way work was done in the two Houses of the Legislature. He was familiar with the manner business was conducted in the Lords, and in many instances the Commons received business examples they might profitably imitate. If in the Lords there were several more stages of a Bill, owing to the excellence of the Committee Stage, Bills were passed in a much shorter time, and underwent a more careful revision than in the Commons. He deprecated any comparison between the Chairman of Committees in the Commons and the Chairman of Committees in the Lords. It was quite true that the Chairmen in the Commons had much longer hours; but Private Bill legislation had been under a special obligation to the Chairmen of Committees in the other House. He thought they owed a good deal to the Secretary to the Treasury in having almost promised the establishment of an equal scale of remuneration in regard to similar offices in both Houses, and also a change in the system by which apartments essential to the business of the House were now occupied as residences. Equality, at least, between the officers of both Houses should be their aim; but he could not quite follow the argument of the Secretary to the Treasury that equality should necessarily be maintained lest it should be thought that the other House and its officers occupied a position of relative inferiority. In all business appointments the time occupied was an element of consideration, and, in the House of Commons this was much more prolonged. To act otherwise would be to recognise the reply of a Civil Servant to his chief, who complained of his being late; "Well, sir, if I do come late, you forget I go early." The case of Black Rod, who drew a very large salary and occupied rooms which were much wanted for public purposes, and did any work entirely by deputy, who was also paid by the State, amounted almost to a public scandal. When an office had been conferred on an official, it was understood to be practically for life, but it was also understood that the work undertaken should be performed for the pay. While the House of Commons would probably be slow to resort to a Resolution expressive of its opinion in the matter, he thought that the invidious position of the holder of the office should be a matter for consideration on the part of 591 the individual himself; and neither House of Parliament ought to be placed in the position it occupied when this Vote was being discussed. He thought the time had come when men of all parties owed a duty to the State, to take much greater care of the expenditure and economy of our public funds than had been the case in the past, and to try to rectify the great disproportions often evident between the salaries of the higher and lower grades. On one occasion Mr. John Bright said that the expenditure of this country ought never to exceed £60,000,000 a year, yet it was now nearly £100,000,000; and the times now were certainly such as ought to make us more economical in the matter of our public expenditure. Though business was improving, he thought that we should never have a recurrence to the large profits of the past; and therefore the community as a whole was not so well able to bear the financial burden which had to be placed upon it. He hoped that one of the results of this discussion would be to direct increased attention to this most important and growing question, and to lead us to make the most and the best of our public services at the least possible cost to the taxpayers. While thanking the Secretary to the Treasury for some promise of improvement in this respect, the right hon. Gentleman must also remember that greater responsibility would be cast upon the Government next year; and the House of Commons would naturally expect that what had been preached in other days by the right hon. Gentleman and others, should be translated into effective action.
§ MR. J. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether he would place an account as soon as possible in the hands of Members, of the Fee Fund, and whether it was not thought that the House of Commons should have full and complete control over the payments made out of the Fee Fund to the officers of the House of Lords by way of retiring allowances. He also drew attention to the fact that the changes and reforms advocated for so long in the past were being given effect to very slowly. In 1888 savings to the amount of £6,510 were recommended, and up to 1894 the savings realised only amounted to £2,114. In respect of one important item, at all 592 events, a saving ought to be effected at a very early date. This was in the position of Black Rod. It seemed to him an extraordinary circumstance that this country should have to pay an enormous salary to an official who did no work, and who, as they were led to believe, was incapable of doing any work. The House was told that it was doubtful whether the Crown had the power to dismiss this official. If this was the case, then the power of the monarchy must be limited indeed. If it was doubtful whether Parliament had the power to dismiss Black Rod, the House of Commons had at least the power to deal with the salary of Black Rod in the Estimates. The matter was ripe for decision, and the position of Black Rod ought to be dealt with effectively and promptly. He moved to reduce the Vote by £2,000, being the salary of Black Rod.
That Item E (Department of the Black Rod) be reduced by £2,000, in respect of the salary of that Officer.
The Committee divided:—Ayes, 94; Noes, 171,—(Division List, No. 18.)
§ Dr. CLARK
complained that officials in the House of Lords who had very little to do had residences in the palace, while the hard-worked officials of the House of Commons had no such accommodation. The secretary of the Lord Great Chamberlain, no doubt had a small salary, £200 a year, but he had a fine residence. If they gave him twice his present salary it would no doubt be an economical arrangement. Then the Librarian of the House of Lords, who was a bachelor, had a very large house. He hoped before the next Estimates were presented a change would be made, so that more room might be given to their officials and to Members themselves, who were very much cramped. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ DR. CLARK
Yes, there is generally plenty of room on both Front Benches when the Estimates are being discussed. He protested against so little time being given to Supply in order that Members might go down to Scotland to shoot grouse, but some of them were determined that the Estimates should be discussed.
Order, order! The hon. Member must confine himself to the Vote. He is discussing the general procedure of the House
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that if this matter came to be reviewed the question would arise how far the official residence was taken into consideration as part of the salary.
§ * MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W. R, Holmfirth)
criticised the mode of admitting the public to visit the House of Lords on Saturdays.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
said, that when Parliament was not sitting, the Palace of Westminster was under the charge of the Lord Great Chamberlain, and it was surely material that an officer of his Department, responsible for the safety and custody of the Palace, should have a residence in its precincts.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
asked why it was that in the Recess Members of Parliament were not allowed to enter the House of Lords or to show their constituents over it? He himself, and other hon. Members had tried to gain admittance to the House of Lords in the Recess and had been refused. Was it the fact that the Lord Great Chamberlain could order things as he wished in the Houses of Parliament when Parliament was not in Session? Why should the Librarian of the House of Lords have an official residence when the Librarian of the House of Commons had none? Another official of the House of Lords who had a residence was the Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain, whose salary was £200 a year. The residence, which might be valued at £500 a year, was, therefore, greater than the salary. There was, also, a residence for a Superintendent, as to which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, in 1893, asked why it was required. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would now be able to answer his own question. It was of great importance that Members should have ready means of reference to the books in the House of Lords' Library, which really belonged to the State, and not to the House of Lords. Could it not be arranged that the Library 594 should be open to Members at convenient times?
§ MR. CALDWELL
urged that this was the time for the present Government to declare their ideas on these subjects, as the Estimates presented to the Government the ideas of the late Government.
MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
asked whether it would not be possible to give greater facilities for the admission of the public to Westminster Hall. He had been told that the control was in the hands of the Lord Great Chamberlain, and that the House of Commons had no voice in the matter. It was regrettable that, owing to something which happened many years ago, the public should be denied reasonable access to so grand and historic a building.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon District)
said, that in 1893 the present Secretary to the Treasury declared, during the discussion on this very Vote, that the time had arrived when the Services in the Houses of Parliament should be put on practically the same footing as the rest of the Civil Service. What steps was the right hon. Gentleman going to take, now he was in office, to carry out that principle!
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that as to the pensions paid by the House of Lords, their amount had been exaggerated. These were not over, but under £5,000 a year, and he was told that the scale was usually that of the Superannuation Acts, though that scale is not obligatory. The fees of the House of Lords were paid for duties performed in connection with Private Bill business, and they had never been regarded as funds over which the House of Commons had any control. The House of Lords fixed its own fees for private business, and the House of Commons had no more to do with them than had the House of Lords with the fees of the House of Commons. The Fee Fund was accumulated during two years, when there was a great deal of private business The fund amounted to £42,000, and the interest on that sum went to pay for the pensions. About £1,100 of the pensions was paid by the interest, the remainder coming out of current fees. He could not go into the question whether the Librarian and other officials of 595 the House of Lords ought to have residences in addition to their salaries. The salary and the residence together constituted the emoluments of the post; but when, a new appointment was made, the emoluments would, so far as possible, be made the same as those of the corresponding official of the House of Commons. Until vacancies occurred, it was impossible to make any reduction whatever. He did not know what were the rights of Members of Parliament with regard to entering the House of Lords during the Recess, but the position of the Lord Great Chamberlain was this. The office was very ancient, and in the old text-books was described as that of the Governor of the Palace of Westminster. He assumed that that was his position at the present day. The Lord Great Chamberlain undoubtedly had the regulation of the palace, especially during the Recess. There could be no doubt whatever about the powers of the Lord Great Chamberlain. They dated from a very early period, and had always been exercised. With regard to the question of how the salaries in the House of Lords were regulated, that question did not arise on the Estimate at all. The body which governed the salaries, &c., of the House of Commons Offices was appointed by a Statute 40 or 50 years old or more, and this question of the regulation of the salaries of the officials in the two Houses was on quite a different footing to that of the regulation of salaries in other civil departments. The Committee of the House of Lords which regulated the salaries there was appointed annually.
said, I have allowed the discussion to go on in the hope of discovering how hon. Members can connect it with this Vote; but unless hon. Members can show me that what they have to say is connected with the Vote, I cannot allow it to go any further.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that what he wished to say was connected with the Vote, because the persons concerned were paid partly out of the Fee Fund and partly by the House. He only wanted to say that the question was more determined by Statute and not by the option of either House. The Fee Fund was now determined by Act of Parliament.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had said that fresh regulations as to promotion in the House of Lords could not be dealt with on the Estimates. That was not the view taken some years ago. The right hon. Gentleman said it was a matter which was regulated by Statute. That might be true, but at any rate, if injustice was done in the promotion of these officers, the House of Commons could withhold supplies. With a view to making a more emphatic protest, he would move the reduction of the Vote for the Lord Great Chamberlain's Department by £100.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid)
asked whether, if a Vote was taken on this Motion, he would be able to call the attention of the Committee to the singular way in which salaries in other departments were allotted, and the great inequalities in them.
The hon. Gentleman can move a reduction relating to item H, or any item subsequent to that, but not on any previous item.
§ Question put—"That Item H (Department of the Lord Great Chamberlain) be reduced by £100."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 82; Noes, 172.—(Division List, No. 19.)
§ MR. T. BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)
said that in May, 1893, he expressed a hope that the Government would see their way to bring in a Bill to deal with this question, and to put an end to patronage and jobbery in connection with the offices in the Houses of Parliament by placing them under the Civil Service Commission. He now asked the right hon. Gentleman to carry out his own views, and so to save the Committee these disagreeable discussions on the Estimates.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said, he understood that in addition to the salaries voted in the Estimates there were pensions paid out of the Fee Fund, and he would ask whether there was any reason on principle why the fees should not be surrendered to the Treasury and the pensions be put upon the Estimates and voted by this House in the usual way?
, interposing, said he could not allow the discussion on the Fee Fund to be continued. He did not see how it could be connected with any item of the Vote.
said, that no discussion of pensions could arise upon this Vote, which was simply one for salaries.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he wished to point out that the Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain was paid £200 a year and his clerk £100, while the principal doorkeepers of the House of Lords were paid £300 a year each, so that a doorkeeper had £100 a year more than the secretary and £200 a year more than his clerk. He moved to reduce the Vote by £400, in respect of sub head H., Department of the Lord Great Chamberlain, so that the disparities pointed out might be put an end to.
§ DR. TANNER
said, he would be the last to press anything unduly. But he would like to receive some answer from the Secretary to the Treasury, for in raising these points he merely copied the example set by the right hon. Gentleman in Committee of Supply when he was in Opposition.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion because these two offices were being dealt with. The doorkeepers were in course of revision, and it was intended that the offices of Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod and the Secretary to the Lord Great Chamberlain should be amalgamated.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £23,559 to complete the sum required for the salaries and expenses of the offices of the House of Lords.598
§ DR. TANNER
asked the Secretary for the Treasury again to give him his attention while he once more feebly imitated him—[Laughter]—on a subject on which, not long ago, he addressed the Committee, namely, that of the duties of the housekeeper of the House of Lords. He understood the housekeeper was an excellent lady in every sense of the word, that she had nothing to do, and a residence and £200 a year to assist her in doing nothing. [A laugh.] How could this be defended in a Committee supposed to consist of business men? This housekeeper had practically nothing to superintend, had not to weigh out the soap or look after the candles—[Laughter]—turn off the gas, or turn on the electric light. As a protest, he moved that the salary be docked by £50 a year. Members were not allowed to vote for any increases in Committee, and he therefore took the only constitutional course open to him.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that prior to 1857 there were two housekeepers—one for the House of Lords and one for the permanent offices. In that year the two positions were amalgamated and the salary fixed at £250. In 1877 this was reduced to £200.
§ DR. TANNER
asked if it was intended to abolish the office of housekeeper to the House of Lords when it next became vacant.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £28,035, to complete the sum required for the salaries of the officers of the House of Commons.
§ DR. CLARK
called attention to the salary of the Clerk Assistant of the House. That Gentleman had been seven or eight years in office, and since his appointment his duties had increased threefold. Yet some of his juniors were better paid than he was. He thought the salaries of the Clerks of the 599 House should be revised with a view to an increase being given in the case of the Clerk Assistant and others. In his opinion the officers of that House ought to be paid fairly and well, and he did not think that they were paid fairly and well at the present time. There could be no doubt that some of their servants were underpaid. Let hon. Members take for instance the case of the Library messengers, as they were termed—a very useful class of men who were employed in getting the books for the use of hon. Members. Those men were employed from noon each day until 2 or 3 o'clock the following morning, and they only received 40s. a week for their services, which he thought was a most inadequate rate of pay. On the other hand the Train Bearer, the gentleman's gentleman, received £235 a year for his ornamental services. In his opinion the men who did good work ought to receive higher pay, whilst the salaries of ornamental officers should be cut down. The House, under the late Government, had increased the subsidy to the kitchen department from £1,000 to £2,000 a year, and the Chairman of the Kitchen Committee gave no account of the way in which that sum of money was expended. If hon. Members would pay a fair price for their dinners, this £2,000 a year might be expended in raising their servants' wages. He did not think that hon. Members should vote money for themselves. He should not move a reduction of the Vote on that occasion, but he should certainly bring this question forward again next year.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said that he could not concur in the attack which the hon. Gentleman had made upon the servants of the House. All the salaries of the House of Commons were regulated by a permanent and statutory Commission, and the recommendations of the hon. Member ought to be communicated to that body. No hasty change should be made in the salaries of the officers of the House.
§ DR. CLARK
said that he had been informed that this Commission had not sat for many years, and that all the powers conferred upon it were now exercised by the Speaker. What he complained of was that a number of men who did good work for the House were very much underpaid, whilst a number of others were largely overpaid.
§ * Mr. HANBURY
said that the hon. Gentleman had a very good opportunity before him of directing the attention of the Commission to the point.
§ MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
thought that it was rather curious that while hon. Members could send copies of Bills free by post they could not send Blue Books free. With regard to the Kitchen Committee he might say that they were all satisfied with the appointment of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley, Lancashire, West Houghton) to the Chairmanship of that Committee, because they believed that his appointment was a guarantee that matters would be properly conducted in that department. He thought that the servants of the department ought to be paid during the recess, because they could not get employment elsewhere when the House was not sitting. He did not press the right hon. Gentleman for a statement on the matter on that occasion, but he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would undertake to consider the matter during the recess and would be prepared next Session to make some proposal for the payment of their servants when the House was not sitting.
§ * DR. TANNER
said that it was extraordinary how many officers they had lost in the Librarian's Department in consequence of the arduous nature of the duties they had to perform. They certainly deserved the humane consideration of the House. Dealing with the Kitchen Committee, he complained of the whole position and working of that body as being most unsatisfactory. They got £2,000 a year, with premises, light and firing, and other items free, and yet they could not make both ends meet. He could not understand it, and he believed that many Members of the Committee were not satisfied with the present state of affairs. ["Hear, hear."] Again and again successive Secretaries of the Treasury had been asked that the whole detailed accounts of the Kitchen Department should be laid upon the Table of the House at the end of the year, showing, among other things, how much was made by the sale of food, how much by the sale of drink, and so on. He asked that a precise Return of these items should be put into the hands of every Member of the House. He believed that there was an undue amount of waste in 601 connection with the Refreshment Department of the House of Commons—[" Hear, hear!"]—and if properly managed, that the Department ought to show a good and substantial balance at the end of the year. He hoped that a satisfactory reply would be returned in regard to these matters.
§ LORD STANLEY (Lancashire, Westhoughton)
, who, on rising to reply, was received with cheers, said, that a detailed statement could not be expected from him, seeing that he had only so recently been appointed to the Chairmanship of the Kitchen Committee. He was absent from the House when the hon. Member for Caithness was speaking, but he would state that upon the Committee just formed were at least two gentlemen who would bring practical experience to bear on the work of the Department, and he hoped that, with their assistance, the Committee would be be able to show more economy in the future than in the past. ["Hear, hear!"] He and the Committee would be perfectly ready, at the end of the year, to show the fullest accounts possible, and to justify any expenditure which they might incur. [Cheers.] In answer to the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Dalziel), he would point out that there were few permanent servants; most of them were taken on daily. He would, however, promise that they would do their best for those who were permanent servants. It was, he thought, a pity that the Member for Cork did not speak in Committee of the House at the time when he was a Member of the Kitchen Committee ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member, when a Member of the Kitchen Committee, did not put into practice that economy he now advocated. In conclusion, he would express a hope that, at the end of the year the present Committee would be able to show good accounts and, if possible, to afford, in the meantime, greater satisfaction to hon. Members who dined in the House. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ DR. TANNER
traversed the statement of the noble Lord that the majority of the waiters were taken on daily, and asserted that it was only on special occasions that that course was pursued. As a matter of fact, there was a large standing staff, and usually only half of the members of that staff were employed. 602 He would like to teach the noble Lord some of the duties of the post to which he had just been appointed. A large standing staff were employed usually in assisting others to do nothing. No doubt the noble Lord would, like good cheese, improve with time, but he was sorry to hear him make such a blunder as he did when he stated that most of the staff of the kitchen department were taken on daily and were not permanent employés of the House.
, interposing, said that he had already ruled that the Library accommodation could not be discussed under this Vote. He understood that the hon. Member was going into the accommodation. That could not properly be discussed under Class I., and it would not be in order to discuss it on this Vote.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
said he was desiring to call attention to something the Librarian might do. It was part of the duty of the Librarian to look after the proper supply of books and papers.
said that if the hon. Member had any criticism to offer on the conduct of the Librarian, he would be in order in making that criticism on this Vote.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
, continuing, said that it was the duty of the Librarian to supply hon. Members with reports and statistics of foreign countries. Some time back he had wanted to look at the criminal statistics of Italy, but they were not in the Library, and the only foreign statistics which were in the Library were a few volumes of French statistics. It seemed to him that there might, with advantage, be an interchange of such documents between this and foreign countries. That would be a pleasant international courtesy, and might, moreover, be useful.
§ MR. LEWIS
pointed out that a certain number of witnesses from some parts of the country had been brought before the Committee on Distress for Want of Employment, and none from other parts. There had been none from Wales. He pointed out that unless this Committee was re-appointed the expenses of 603 the witnesses which they were now asked to vote would be absolutely thrown away. He hoped, therefore, the Government would re-appoint the Committee.
§ MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said he did not wish to reflect on the way in which the Librarian did his work, but he suggested that the excellent books issued by the London County Council would be of great advantage to Members. He thought if the statistics and records of the London County Council were placed in the Library it would help to shorten the speeches of those hon. Members who were also members of the County Council. He suggested also that more rooms should be devoted to the shorthand writing and transcription department, so that more privacy might be secured.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the last question was, he thought, a matter for discussion under another Vote. As to the sending by Members of blue-books through the post free to their constituents, he pointed out that there was a broad distinction between Bills and blue-books. In the first place, the number of the latter was much greater, and secondly, they were much heavier to send through the post.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said, that was an argument for the suggestion, as Members had so much the more to pay.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he did not think it was a matter of very great importance. As regarded the London County Council and foreign statistics asked for, he would see what could be done about the matter. The complaint as to the Committee on Distress from want of Employment should rather have been addressed to the late Secretary of State for War, who was the Chairman of the Committee, and who was responsible for the number of witnesses called before it. It was a matter with which the present Government had had nothing to do; as to whether the Committee would be re-appointed he could give no information at present.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said, that at present there was no qualification of any kind in the case of the Clerks who held their appointment under the Chief Clerks of the House, and he thought it would be advisable that these appointments should be under the Civil Service Commission.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that as a matter of fact these clerks passed an examination, and received Civil Service certificates just as did the Civil Service clerks.
§ MR. H. J. WILSON
suggested that if the statistics of other County Councils, besides those of London, were added to the Library, it would be of advantage.
§ MR. LOUGH
also thought this would be of advantage. He explained that the reason why he believed that if this suggestion were carried out it would have the effect of shortening the speeches of hon. Members who were also Members of the London County Council, was that at present, owing to the lack of such records, from which other Members could inform themselves, hon. Members were obliged to explain matters affecting the London County Council in a very rudimentary manner.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
thought the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had not grasped the point raised by his hon. Friend the Member for the Flint District. His complaint was that the whole of the expenditure on the Committee on Distress from want of Employment would be practically thrown away, which was, he thought, a rather important matter. They had gone to the expense of something like £800 in bringing up witnesses from all parts of the country in order to investigate the subject, and he would ask what the Government proposed to do as to the Report of the Committee.
said that it was impossible to discuss the policy of re-appointing the Committee on this Vote.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he was asking whether the recommendations of this Committee would be carried out.
MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS
said, the salary of the Serjeant at Arms was included in this Vote and he would like to ask why hon. Members, after voting in a Division, were not allowed to leave the House until the Division was over.
§ DR. TANNER
said he felt that he must divide the Committee on the question of the Kitchen Committee. He 605 really believed that £1,000 a year at least was absolutely misspent in connection with this Committee. Everybody was discontented with the kitchen arrangements, and the result was that hon. Gentlemen, instead of remaining to do their duty in that House, went home to dinner. He would be content if he were told that there would be an inquiry shortly into the arrangements. At present £2,000 was being wasted annually. If the business were properly conducted a profit ought to be made annually of about £600. As a protest against this waste of public money he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £2,000.
§ DR. TANNER
said, that he could only be satisfied by an undertaking that a full financial statement would be made within a short period of time.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £49,526 to complete the sum for salaries and expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Treasury and subordinate departments,
§ DR. CLARK
pointed out that under this Vote there was a new item of £200 for special inquiries. He wanted to know why this new department had been created. He protested against the meanness of the treatment meted out by the Treasury to the female typists employed in that Department. He supposed that the late Government were responsible. The ladies employed must have received a technical education, and yet they were expected to work for 16s. a week, and on that sum to clothe themselves in a respectable fashion, and, he supposed, to remain virtuous. The typists, as he had said, were only paid 16s. and the superintendent over them was paid 26s. If the right hon. Gentleman for West Monmouthshire was responsible for these inadequate salaries, he ought to be ashamed of himself. Another matter to which he wished to refer was the 606 salary paid to the Irish Deputy Paymaster. He received £1,200 a year, which was far too much. Why should they give this gentleman in Ireland more than they gave to the gentleman filling the corresponding position in England, who was charged with much more important duties? The Scotch Deputy Paymaster received at first £800 a year, and after three years' service might obtain the same salary as was paid to the English official, but he never could hope to get as much as the Irish official. Scotland paid more in proportion in taxes per head of the population than England, the reason being that Scotchmen were foolish enough to drink so much whiskey. He, therefore, protested against the practice of paying Scotch officials less than was paid for similar services in England and Ireland. Another objectionable form of sweating was practised in the case of the three Suez Canal directors, who earned £2,280 a year. He calculated that the country made £700 or £800 a year by sweating these gentlemen.
§ * MR. HANBURY
explained that the item for special inquiries was in respect of a charge which was met in former years by savings under other heads of the Treasury Vote. This year for the first time this charge was brought clearly to the attention of the House of Commons. That, he thought, was very proper. It was a charge for special inquiries which had to be made from time to time for the information of the Government. For example, there was the proposed inspection of the University colleges, which were receiving a share of the contribution under the Vote for Universities and Colleges. He had heard nothing about the grievances of the typists, mentioned by the hon. Member. No complaints had reached him, but he would now inquire whether the rate of pay was fair or not. He thought he might assume, as he had heard nothing about the matter before, that the ladies were satisfied that they were receiving the regulation rate of pay.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
asked whether the whole of the £200 appearing under the head of special enquiries had been expended in relation to the University Colleges.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the sum given was the amount which it was thought 607 would partly be expended in connection with the Colleges. He could not say that the whole of it had been expended; if not, what remained would be refunded.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
said, he was connected with one of the Colleges, and he might state, for the information of the hon. Member for Carnarvon, that this grant was made on the recommendation of a Parliamentary Committee on certain conditions, in obedience to which only those University Colleges would benefit which conformed to a certain standard in regard to laboratories and other things essential to efficient teaching.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said, he wished to draw the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury to the disparity in the wages paid to the clerks in the Exchequer Office in Scotland compared with those paid in Ireland and England. The clerks in Scotland, comparatively were very badly paid. During the last two or three years the matter had been several times brought before the Treasury and a strong case for redress had, he thought, been made out, but without effect. He would earnestly request the right hon. Gentleman to give his attention to the matter.
§ DR. TANNER
called attention to the item of £200 in the Estimates for the Secretary and Editor to the Annual Statute Law Revision Committee. This Gentleman, he pointed out, was also Clerk of the Public Bills Office of the House of Lords and performed other duties. He complained that, as the Estimates were presented, hon. Members could not easily ascertain what was the total salary paid to public servants in such cases, and urged that the amounts paid for the various services should be given in one sum and not be scattered over the estimates under different heads, thus cloaking the salaries paid to favoured officials.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, it was neither fair nor right to imply that the salaries paid in such cases were cloaked, because the sums were given in the Estimates, and by reference to the Votes of the House of Lords, the hon. Member might easily ascertain what was paid in this particular case. So far from the Office of Secretary and Editor to the Law Revision Committee being a sinecure, he had no reason to believe that £200 was excessive remuneration. The work of 608 the Committee was of a very important character, and the duties of Clerk and Editor involved a considerable amount of work. It was an office that ought not to be underpaid.
§ DR. TANNER
repeated that what he complained of was that in those cases the total salaries received were not shown in one sum in the Estimates.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he greatly regretted the addition of a new department to the Treasury and the appointment of another Class of Inspectors "for Special Enquiries." Instead of increasing the number of classes of Inspectors, the object should be to consolidate them in one body, under the Education Department, and not under the Treasury. He admitted that the late Government were responsible for the appointment of an additional class, but would strongly urge the present Government to reconsider the matter.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £63,451 to complete the sum for the Home Office,
§ * MR. LEES KNOWLES (Salford, W.)
said, he desired to call the attention of the Committee to the case of John Kelsall, a case which had created considerable interest in his constituency. Kelsall was tried at the assizes at Manchester in May, 1892, for the manslaughter of his wife: it was said that he threw a paraffin lamp at the woman and thus caused her death. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years penal servitude. It was alleged that the only eye-witness of the occurrence was Elizabeth Curran, Kelsall's sister-in-law, and it was undoubtedly the fact that he was convicted mainly on that woman's evidence alone. The defence set up was an alibi, but there was some discrepancy in the evidence as to minutes, and at this distance of time it was difficult to investigate that discrepancy. Shortly after the conviction Curran stated to the police that at Kelsall's trial she committed perjury. At first the police did not listen to the woman, thinking she was either mad or drunk, but she persisted in the statement, and eventually she was brought before the Lord Chief Justice and charged with perjury. She pleaded guilty, no witnesses were called, and she was sentenced to seven years penal servitude. He (Mr. 609 Lees Knowles) was in communication with Lord Llandaff, then Home Secretary, just before the Dissolution of 1892. The papers were taken up by the succeeding Home Secretary, and he came to a decision adverse to Kelsall. He now asked the present Home Secretary to take up the case, and, if possible, give the man some redress. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to dismiss from his mind the views of his predecessors and consider the case from his own standpoint. It, no doubt, would be argued that such a case as this pointed strongly to the necessity of a Court of Criminal appeal, but that was no relief to the unfortunate man Kelsall. The man, who was, he believed, a good workman had been three years in prison; he had spent what savings he had, and further than that, his friends and relations had spent their money in helping him to bring about his freedom. The case had created a vast amount of local interest, in fact, so great was that interest, that at the recent election, the candidature of a Kelsall candidate was threatened. The public thought that either Kelsall was guilty and Curran was innocent, in which case Kelsall ought to be in prison and Curran free, or else Curran was guilty and Kelsall was innocent, in which case Curran should be in prison—as in fact she was—and Kelsall free—as in fact he was—and also compensated for his three years imprisonment. It had been suggested that it might be desirable to have an inquiry into the conduct of the police in the case, but personally he did not think the police in Salford were in any degree to blame; indeed, he understood they courted an inquiry. When he asked the Home Secretary to deal with the case in a way different to that adopted by his predecessors, he called the right hon. Gentleman's attention to what took place in the case of the Featherstone riots. In that case it was held by a Commission of Inquiry that the soldiers did their duty in firing upon the mob. Under those circumstances, the ex-Home Secretary said he could not grant any legal compensation to the representative of the killed or to the wounded. The right hon. Gentleman promised, how ever, to consider what could be done in the way of a compassionate allowance. If the present Home Secretary was in this case bound by precedent, and could 610 not give legal compensation, surely, as Kelsall had been liberated, he would give the man some compassionate allowance. If the right hon. Gentleman could not make any definite promise or announcement now, he would ask him to give further consideration to the subject, and give some compensation to Kelsall for the imprisonment he had unjustly endured.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he had been asked by some persons who were constituents of the hon. Member who had just spoken, to make a representation to the Home Secretary about this case of Kelsall. He could not add much to the able and lucid statement of the hon. Member for Salford in regard to this rather mysterious case. It seemed that the woman Curran was the only person in the room when the body of the man who was killed was discovered; and the explanation why she charged Kelsall with the crime was that she herself would otherwise be involved in the charge. The unfortunate woman had made ample reparation for her misconduct by her subsequent confession that Kelsall was innocent, and by the sentence of seven years' penal servitude which she was now suffering. It seemed to have been quite as hard to get this innocent man out of gaol as it had been easy to get him into gaol. The attention of two of three Courts had to be called to the case, even after the confession of Curran, before Kelsall was released. He thought, therefore, the Home Secretary should see whether this case could be regarded as a typical example of the difficulty of proving innocence in a Court of law; for really, it was a most alarming fact that a man plainly innocent of a crime of which he had been convicted should still have to remain in penal servitude, after the opportunity had been given to the Home Office to see whether he was innocent or guilty. It was a strange state of things indeed, if a citizen could suffer three years' penal servitude for a crime of which he was perfectly innocent, and at the end of the period be left absolutely without any compensation whatever for the three years that had been stolen from his life, and the terrible sufferings he had endured. He hoped, therefore, that the Home Secretary would rise above the usual stereotyped official answer in such cases, and award Kelsall 611 the compensation to which he was so justly entitled. He also desired to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the case of Mrs. Maybrick. If the Home Secretary would look up the records in his office he would find that a petition was signed in favour of this unhappy woman by a large body of the citizens of the United States, of which she was a native, headed by the President. He knew that petitions from the United States were sometimes held to be open to the suspicion that they might have been inspired by the exigencies of political conflicts. But Mrs. Maybrick was an unfortunate and a friendless woman, and he did not think anyone could assume that a petition in her favour was signed for any other reason but a sincere conviction that she had been unjustly convicted of a charge of murder. He quite appreciated the danger in the public interest of making the House of Commons a Court of Appeal in Criminal Cases; and a Member was only justified in bringing to the notice of the House of Commons a case of very grave urgency and importance. He regarded the Maybrick Case in that light. It was a case in which he felt very deeply. He read the evidence with very great care at the time of the trial, and formed a strong opinion that the conviction was not just, or fair, or right. As a journalist he wrote strongly to that effect at the time, and nothing had since occurred to shake his conviction in the matter. The judge who tried the case was now dead, and passed beyond all human verdict, and therefore he felt that to a certain extent he must in mere decency use restraint in his comments on the case. But one had to consider the interests of the living as well as the respect due to the dead, and as he believed the conviction of the woman was largely due to the reflections on the evidence by the judge, he was bound in frankness to say so. It was proved that the woman had been untrue to her marriage vows. The judge, in his address to the jury, laid an enormous amount of stress on that offence, which, however heinous from the moral point of view, was not the offence with which she was charged; and the feeling was, in consequence, created that, as she had been found guilty of adultery, she must therefore be found guilty of murder. The Home Secretary of the time, finding that 612 public opinion was so dissatisfied with the result of the trial, and that the evidence was incomplete, reprieved the woman—a decision, which, though most desirable from the point of view of many, was one of the most illogical ever given by a Home Secretary. The Home Secretary declared that it was not proved that Mr. Maybrick had died of poison administered by Mrs. Maybrick. Therefore Mrs. Maybrick was not guilty of murder, and was either entitled to a new trial or to be set free. He could assure the Home Secretary that he had never known a case, in his long experience as a journalist, which had excited a deeper interest in a large number of people, or a stronger conviction of the innocence of the prisoner than the case of Mrs. Maybrick. He had received communications on the subject from the most eminent men and women of letters and of other walks of life, and he knew a feeling of the most intense description existed in America amongst the fellow-countrymen and women of Mrs. Maybrick. Mrs. Maybrick was defended at her trial by the most eminent Counsel who was then at the English Bar, the learned Judge who now occupied the great position of Lord Chief Justice. He had had no communication with the Lord Chief Justice on the subject, nor of course would he think of entering into communication with his Lordship on such a subject, now that he occupied a judicial position. But he understood the conviction formed at the trial that this woman had not been properly and equitably convicted remained unshaken to the present day. He therefore asked the Home Secretary to consult the Lord Chief Justice on the case, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman's view of the case would result in his being able to pass a more favourable judgment upon it than his predecessors in office had been able to do.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir M. WHITE RIDLEY,) Lancashire, Blackpool
said it was somewhat inconvenient, to say the least, that criminal cases of great difficulty such as those that had been presented to the Committee should be discussed on the floor of the House. At the same time, it was not for him, or for anyone who occupied the position he now filled to take serious exception to such a course. It was impossible for the hon. 613 Gentlemen who brought those cases under the notice of the House, and still more impossible for a man in his position, to deal with all the details of the arguments which were necessarily brought to bear upon them publicly But it must be notorious to gentlemen of any experience or knowledge of criminal matters that there was a very great deal, not of absolute evidence, but a great deal of private information—a great deal of reliable information and opinion and guidance—in the decision of those cases, from an equitable point of view, which it was impossible for anybody occupying his position to make public. He had already found that it was absolutely necessary for any Home Secretary to seek guidance and help in forming a judgment on these very important questions, by going outside the limits of legal evidence. The case of Kelsall had been before the House more than once, and the late Home Secretary had spoken of it as one of the most difficult cases with which he had had to deal. On the last occasion when the case was mentioned, his right hon. predecessor had expressed his intention of defending the action of the Home Office, and it was to be regretted that the right hon. Gentleman, in the pursuit of that holiday which all desired, was not present to answer for his decision. But, while admitting that it was a most difficult case, he must add that he took all responsibility for the present decision. He was aware of the local feeling about compensation or a compassionate allowance to be given to Kelsall. He had been through the papers and had taken the best advice, all and he was bound to say that he could not come to the conclusion that the decision of his predecessor—in first letting Kelsall out of prison, and in next refusing to apply to the Treasury for any compensation to him—was not, in the circumstances of the case, absolutely correct. Shortly, this man was found guilty of the manslaughter of his wife, and he was sentenced to penal servitude the conviction being mainly obtained by the evidence of Mrs. Curran, who subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of perjury committed at this trial. At the same time, there was corroborative evidence against Kelsall, and an attempted alibi of an unsatisfactory character. It was impossible always to be very logical in these matters. But the late Home Secretary, 614 who was supported by those whom he consulted, seeing that there was some doubt as to the man's guilt, came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to keep him in penal servitude any longer. But as there was other evidence against Kelsall, which at least rendered it possible that he might have been found guilty even without Mrs. Curran's evidence, the late Home Secretary decided that he should not be justified in recommending a free pardon. The utmost that could be done was to release him from prison and so give him the benefit of doubt. Having gone through all the evidence and looked at the decisions of his predecessors, he could come to no other conclusion than that it would be impossible under all the circumstances to advise Her Majesty to extend a free pardon to this man. Then came the question whether any application ought to be made to the Treasury for compensation or a compassionate allowance. It might have been a case of hardship, if the man had been proved innocent, and that he did not admit to be the case. But there was a doubt, and the man had been given the benefit of that doubt and had been let out of prison; and under those circumstances he did not think it right to ask the Treasury to grant a compassionate allowance, and he could hold out no hope of being able to reverse that decision. The hon. Member for Salford had quoted the Featherstone case; but that was on totally different footing, and no precedent for the present case.
§ * MR. LEES KNOWLES
said that he only quoted the case to show the difference between legal compensation and compassionate allowance.
§ SIR M. W. RIDLEY
said that he could see no case for granting a compassionate allowance to Kelsall. The case had been considered both by Lord Llandaff and the right hon. Member for East Fife, and many high authorities had been consulted, and the conclusion was unanimous that, though the position was curious, it would be impossible to advise a free pardon. As to the case of Mrs. Maybrick, he must say that he knew nothing about it. But being aware of the great interest which the case excited in many minds, and that many thought there was a possibility of injustice having been done, it was his duty to give his best attention to the case when it was brought before 615 his notice. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division would expect no more. He found no fault with the hon. Member's remarks, and he could promise that he would take up the matter to the best of his ability—[Cheers]—and endeavour to elucidate a very difficult case.
§ * SIR ALBERT ROLLIT
called attention to the position and remuneration of the assistant factory inspectors, and asked the favourable consideration of the Home Secretary. He said that when the appointments were made by the late Home Secretary, upon the suggestion of the Trades Congress, the salary was fixed at £100 with an annual increment of £5. This was not very acceptable, even temporarily, but it was thought that in time there would be a revision. That revision, he would suggest, might take place when the new appointments were made under the Factory Act of last Session, for at present the expectations of the inspectors had been disappointed, both as as to pay and the prospects of promotion. The assistant inspectors services were very valuable. Upon the efficient performance of their duty, which was both difficult and delicate, and which demanded high mental, technical, and practical qualifications, and thorough independence, depended the life and limb of those engaged in industry. If their salaries were such as to place them in any way in temptation from any quarter, an administration which ought to be above suspicion would suffer. When they were appointed, it was understood that the assistant inspectors would simply aid the chief inspectors; but now their work was just the same as the inspectors', except that it was confined to the workshops as distinguished from the factories; they had their own own districts, made their own reports, their own prosecutions, &c. In some circumstances these duties were more difficult than those of the inspectors; and they were formerly performed by the inspectors, at a considerably larger remuneration. These inspectors also had another cause of grievance—the promotion to inspectorships which they desired to obtain was apparently at the present time denied to them. An appointment had recently been made which was a precedent, that of lady inspectors who discharged similar duties. He did not suggest any diminution of the remuneration paid to them, though 616 it was well to remember that it was £200 a year, while their duties were practically the same as those of the assistant inspectors, and, equally, local sanitary inspectors who did some similar duties, were much more highly paid by the local authorities. The late Home Secretary had made some concession, namely, an allowance of 3s. when upwards of ten hours' duty had been performed, and of 10s. when duty extended after midnight; but this concession did not meet the point of pay and promotion, because the above concession referred to the performance of extra duties, and did not touch the provinces. The State in the matter of employment ought to set an example to private employers. He trusted, therefore, that the Home Secretary would give favourable consideration to the application made to him, and that certain re-arrangements caused by the application of the new Factory Act would give him an opportunity to revise the remuneration of these men, who were appointed to prevent sweating, and were yet sweated themselves.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said, the question must be considered in connection with other demands which the Home Secretary would have to make on the Treasury when the working of the new Factory Act and the Coal Mines Regulation Act as to inspectorships came to be applied. The Committee ought to bear in mind that they could not have it both ways. If the creation of a new class of assistant inspectors was asked for, that class, if numerous and if drawn from the ranks of the working people, could not be paid on the same scale as factory inspectors, who had to produce literary work in the preparation of reports and statistics. Though an increase of the inspectorate had been promised, he wished to urge the necessity of care being taken by the Home Office in regard to one branch of the inspectorate which would have to be considerably strengthened—namely, in connection with the "Particulars Clause." While the Factory Act was before the Grand Committee on Trade an Amendment was introduced by which the "Particulars Clause" was extended to every occupation in the country. Though the suggestion which some hon. Members made was not accepted in so many words, the late Home Secretary met them by proposing 617 himself to extend the Clause at the option of the Home Secretary from time to time. As matters now stood, by the 40th Section of the Factory Act, every trade in the country which had piecework could apply to the Home Office for an extension to them of this "Particulars Clause." One appointment had been made in the West Riding of Yorkshire affecting the woollen and worsted trades, and the argument that the working people should be made acquainted with the scale of pay applied to all piecework was just as strong in other trades as it was in the woollen and worsted trades. A great deal of inspection would thereby become necessary, and inspectors must be appointed in reference to this Clause to cover the whole country. The demand on the Home Office would be a considerable one, and he hoped the Home Secretary would show the same anxious desire to extend this principle, which was vital to the interests of the working classes, as was shown by the late Home Secretary.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, he represented a district which included some of the largest factories in the country, and he bore testimony to the fact that in the discussions of the "Particulars Clause" a readiness was displayed on the part of the employers and the employed to come to terms on this subject. He thought that the principle of the Clause ought to be extended to every trade to which it was applicable, though he acknowledged that there were certain difficulties surrounding its application. He drew the attention of the Home Secretary to what he considered to be a defect in the reports of factory inspectors, namely, that those reports mentioned not only certain machines as being of great service and value, but also the names of certain firms. He thought it was undesirable that any firm should be mentioned in the report of a Government Department. In Liverpool the other day he saw to his astonishment on the walls an announcement by a firm that their invention had been recommended by the Home Department. That was a most unsatisfactory condition of affairs. He hoped the Home Office would not sanction any such recommendation. The Home Office could not know whether that would be the best possible machine a few months hence. In fact, it was 618 quite impossible to read the report of the inspector without seeing that it was some months behind time. He was greatly struck by reading the report of the present year. There were many references to evils which ought to be remedied, but which had disappeared in consequence of the legislation of 1895. He thought he had said enough on that branch of the case, and he was sure his right hon. Friend would give attention to it. As to the employment of female inspectors, he could speak in high terms as to the labours of these women. In their own province they had done good work, and had greatly improved the condition of the factory hands. He read the report of the female inspectors, and that view was greatly confirmed. He thought they had every encouragement to believe that their services would be of essential value; and, although he did feel that in this change of Administration, as in all changes, much care and vigilance must be exercised, he did think that the progress made in the experiment must be regarded as proving a success. He hoped his right hon. Friend would continue that which was very valuable in the working of the Factory Acts. The next point was one which had engaged the attention of the factory world, and in the constituency he represented there were some of the largest factories. There was no doubt that the Act of 1895, however valuable it might be—and he readily admitted it was of great value—did lay a heavy burden, he did not say an unnecessarily heavy burden, upon the employers of labour. He wished to direct special attention, by way of example, to two of the clauses of the Act of 1895. One section of the principal Act enabled the Home Office to compel the employer to keep on a prescribed form and prescribed particulars a register of the children and young persons in his employ, and other matters under the Act. He did not complain; he was calling attention to the additional labour and cost imposed by this legislation. Then, in the Act recently passed, the 34th Section required the employer to send to the inspector of the district, once in each year, a statement of the number of persons employed in the factory or workshop, with particulars as to age and sex, as the Secretary of State might direct; and in default he was liable to a heavy fine. He spoke of a factory in Wigan where 619 1,300 hands were employed, chiefly females. Even if the Home Secretary was moderate in his requirements, to give such a return would require great care and discrimination. He had had communications from those who were well informed, and he knew that considerable irritation was felt as to the operation of this Section. He had no doubt that wise and moderate requirements with regard to this section might prove a very useful thing. It was a matter which would require great discretion in the administration of the Home Office. Statistics were not everything, and when they got elaborate statistics he did not think they would have done much for the sanitary condition of the people. They knew that they had in many foreign countries great masses of statistics; he had seen many of them, but he was not sure that the figures were accurate. He thought simpler figures would be far more instructive. [An hon. MEMBER here suggested that the hon. Member for Wigan was out of order, but the Chairman ruled that that was not so.] He did not know why he should be interrupted. He represented a district containing some of the largest factories in the country. In administering these Acts they ought to try to have the entire acquiescence and full assent of the employer and the employed. He was quite sure that if his right hon. Friend went beyond that, beyond the wishes of either, the administration of the Acts must fail. They must be guided by the opinion and the experience of those who had spent their lives in those districts, who knew the people, who were aware of the direction in which improvements might be made and who were desirous of promoting the welfare of the people.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, no one took a more liberal and enlightened view on the question than the hon. Member who had just spoken. As to the payment of the sub-inspectors and the increase of their salaries, it must be borne in mind that they were drawn from a different class than that from which the inspectors were drawn. He was bound to say he could not agree with what had fallen from the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. He was glad the hon. Member for Wigan expressed approval of the policy of the late Home Secretary of introducing lady inspectors. There could be no doubt that the experiment had proved a considerable 620 success. There was one point on which he should make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Act. He desired to refer to a clause of the Act of last Session which applied to docks and warehouses and to wharves. Under that Act very considerable powers were given to the Home Secretary, especially in regard to the operation of the Factory Act as applied to docks and wharves; and the reason for that was that it was thought, after discussion in the Committee, that the operations of the Act could better be put in force if greater discretion were left to the Home Secretary in carrying them out. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman would recollect that the docks and wharves were placed under the old Clause 8 of the Act of 1891, with certain extensions. He desired to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to take into council with regard to this matter, not only the owners of docks and wharves but also the representatives of the men working in those docks, who would lead him and the employers in a very reasonable spirit, so that what both parties were interested in obtaining, namely, the safety of life and limb, might be promoted. He hoped, in conclusion, that the right hon. Gentleman would take this matter into his most careful consideration during the next few months, and would arrive at some settlement satisfactory to both masters and men. ["Hear."]
§ * MR. DAVID THOMAS (Merthyr Tydfil)
desired to put in a plea for an increase in the number of assistant inspectors of mines. He did not ask for an increase in salary, but for an increase in the number. He would urge upon the present Home Secretary a plan as to which he had received a distinct promise from the late Home Secretary, and which, as the right hon. Gentleman appeared to favour a continuity of policy, not only in Foreign but also in Home affairs, he hoped he would follow. He regretted that the late Home Secretary was not in his place. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman was taking a well-earned holiday, which they would all like to be enjoying—["Hear, hear!"]—but he thought that the right hon. Gentleman might have been in his place to defend his own Estimates. The plan proposed and promised was to appoint a number of sub-assistant inspectors of mines from 621 among practical underground workmen. In South Wales they had a body of energetic and conscientious inspectors, but they were too few in number to carry out the work. It was rather like shutting the stable door after the steed had been stolen to inspect the mine after an accident had occurred; they ought to be able to inspect the mines with sufficient frequency to minimise accidents. He hoped, however, that the present Home Secretary would not carry out the policy of his predecessor, in regard to the men appointed to represent the Home Office at inquiries into accidents in mines. Last year, after the very terrible explosion in the Albion Colliery in South Wales, a Mr. Roskill, a barrister, was appointed, whose qualifications for the purpose he (the speaker) had been unable to ascertain, nor what he knew of the matter he was sent down, as the representative of the Home Office, to inquire about. It did not add to the credit of the Department to send down men like Mr. Roskill to inquire into these matters. He was entirely ignorant of the Welsh language. Now in the Mines Regulation Act, 1887, it was laid down that the appointment of mining inspectors by the Secretary of State was to be made under certain conditions, provided always that, in regard to Wales and Monmouthshire, persons having a knowledge of the Welsh language should, cœteris paribus, be selected as inspectors of mines. He was not one of those who went in for Wales for the Welsh, but he thought that not only in the case of these mining inspectors in South Wales was a knowledge of the Welsh language highly desirable, but also in the case of those who were sent down to Wales to represent the Home Department It was a distinct reflection upon Welsh-speaking barristers if it were to be inferred that there was not to be found in their ranks one equally competent with Mr. Roskill to discharge the duty for which he was selected.
§ Mr. W. ABRAHAM (Glamorgan, Rhondda)
said he had not the slightest wish to embarrass the Home Secretary, but it was his duty to say that for years he and others had been urging upon the Home office the necessity for increasing the number of inspectors of mines. For the South Wales District, embracing or extending to five counties, and including 622 between three and four hundred collieries, there were four inspectors. A vacancy had recently occurred, and he trusted that no time would be lost in filling it up. As the world knew, the mines were of a most dangerous character; and, if the inspectors lived at the pit mouth they must leave a large proportion of the collieries uninspected every year, as there were many collieries in which three days could be well spent. To be worthy of the name, inspection must be efficient. It had been promised from time to time that the inspectorate should be increased when the Exchequer would bear the additional burden. It would be possible to do something to meet the difficulty by creating a new class of inspectors or assistant inspectors, at less salaries than were paid to the present inspectors. Much of the rough work of inspection, in faces, headings and intakes, could be done by assistant inspectors chosen from practical colliers. On the whole he was sure that the cost of adequate inspection would be amply recouped by the results it would bring about.
§ * MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said, he would remind the Committee that on many occasions between 1886 and 1892 demands had been made for an increase of the inspectorate; and yet the number of inspectors still remained at the total at which it stood in 1892. This was a fact which alone would make hon. Members pause. The theory underlying the proposals just made was practically that the State should be responsible for the management of the mines, and that management was not the function of the State. For constant periodical inspection of mines even in South Wales, where he admitted they were dangerous, a marked increase in the number of inspectors would be required. To increase the staff by 50 would cost £35,000. That was not a heavy charge, yet the authors of the Finance Act considered themselves too poor and necessitous to provide for it. The policy of the Mines Act was to provide for inspection at unforseen times, and that colliery inspectors might have access to any part of the mine which they inspected. While the law provided that managers of collieries should possess high technical qualifications, it was now proposed that mines should be inspected and reported 623 upon by men who did not possess such qualifications. He did not think a Government chosen from either side of the House would consent to this. He deprecated the responsibility of colliery managers being lessened.
MR. LLOYD MORGAN (Carmarthen, W.)
asked on what principle would the assistant inspectors of factories, which the Home Office intended to appoint, be appointed. Would the examination of candidates be a competitive or merely qualifying examination. How many out of the large number of candidates whose names appeared on the books of the Home Office would be selected to undergo the examination, and on what principle would the names be selected? He asked for information on the subject, because much disappointment often resulted from the applications of intending candidates, and some light on the subject would be welcome to other Members as well as to himself. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)
, urged that there should be an annual inspection of every mine to see how it was "found," just as a ship was inspected before she went to sea. In other respects he entirely agreed that it would be a great mistake to remove responsibility from colliery managers.
§ * MR. DAVID THOMAS
said, all he asked for was a sufficient number of inspectors of mines to see that the law was carried out. The function of official inspectors now seemed simply to be to inspect mines only after an accident. He wished to see mines inspected with a view to prevent accidents as far as possible, and not inspected only after an accident had occurred to get a conviction against the owner or manager. The hon. Member for Sheffield seemed to think the inspectors suggested would not be sufficiently qualified. There were hundreds of workmen in South Wales who had first-class certificates under the Mines Regulation Act. These were all that were required from colliery managers, so that they would have the 624 same qualification as the latter. The appointments should be made from amongst the colliers themselves, who should be practical men to see the Mines Act was carried out, and nothing more. £150 a year would be quite sufficient salary to pay them, and the cost would not be anything like the sum estimated by the Member for Sheffield.
§ MR. LOUGH
hoped that there would be continuity of policy at the Home Office. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Sir M. W. Ridley) whether any steps had been taken to carry out the recommendations of the Departmental Committee which sat last year to inquire into the regulations relating to the cabs of London. Some years ago on those Estimates the attention of the late Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith) had been drawn to the subject, and he had been good enough to grant a Departmental Committee, which sat last year and made several recommendations. If the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary was not able to enter into details on that occasion, perhaps he would state at a more convenient time what steps had been taken to carry out those recommendations. New regulations with regard to cabs came into operation on the 1st July last, but neither the cabmen nor the public knew what they were. He should like to know what communications had passed between the Home Office and Scotland Yard in reference to the recommendations of the Committee. He believed that a certain number of inspectors had been appointed last July, and he should like to know the number of those inspectors, and whether they were policemen or chosen from the men themselves, in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee had recommended that the privileged system in operation at railway stations should be abolished, and the late Home Secretary had taken some steps towards carrying out the recommendation. He wished to know whether the present Home Secretary would adopt the policy of his 625 predecessor on that point. The late Home Secretary had entered into communication with the Board of Trade Department, who had consequently approached the railway companies with the view to some amicable arrangement being entered into that would be satisfactory to the railway companies and the proprietors and drivers of the cabs, and he wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would be willing to pursue the same policy. The late Home Secretary had prepared a Bill dealing with "bilking," and he wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to proceed with that measure as soon as possible. He also desired to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the subject of the four mile radius, which was fixed in 1854, when the population of the Metropolis was only two millions, whereas it was now four and a-half millions. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be prepared to reconsider the whole matter, and to carry out the policy of the late Home Secretary upon the point. The right hon. Gentleman had authority over the Metropolitan Police Magistrates and over the police. He had no complaint to make against the Metropolitan Police Magistrates, who usually exercised a very wise discretion in carrying out their very difficult duties. He had seen the report of a case a day or two ago in which a magistrate had refused to grant a summons to a child against another child for abuse, and had told her to go home. The learned magistrate was quite right in taking that course; but a few days ago he had seen another case, in which a poor flower-girl had been sent to prison for three days because she had sold a flower in the city between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., contrary to the Police Regulations. He thought that such a Regulation inflicted great hardship upon a very honest and deserving class. Some thousands of these girls earned their living by selling flowers, and it was very hard that they should be deprived of 626 their means of livelihood in consequence of such a regulation. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would see that the regulation was modified in some degree.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM
thought that the number of mines inspectors was not sufficiently large to enable the policy of the Mines Act to be carried out. He desired to call the attention of the Home Secretary to the fact that, in the days when Lord Cross occupied that honourable post, instructions were sent out from the Department which were considered to be secret instructions, creating a policy which should effect every possible inspection of mines. It was impossible to carry out the policy of that noble man, who did so much for the miners of this country—[Ministerial cheers]—with the present staff. They did not now ask the right hon. Gentleman opposite to do what was impossible, but they did ask him to appoint a sufficient number of additional inspectors to ensure the proper safety of mines.
* COLONEL MELLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
, as one who lived in the midst of a mining district, and was well acquainted with the characteristics of miners and their necessities, wished to express his sympathy with the remarks that had fallen from the hon. Member for the Rhondda Valley, who had just sat down. It was, he contended, the duty of a mining inspector to see that the law was properly carried out, and if the number of inspectors or sub-inspectors was inadequate, common sense and propriety alike called for the appointment of more. ["Hear, hear!"] In saying this, he did not for one moment desire to relieve proprietors and owners or managers of mines of any of the responsibilities which rightly and properly belonged to them, but he did think there was a great deal in the remark of the hon. Member for Rhondda when he said that the appointment of a number of assistant inspectors, not necessarily at high salaries, would 627 accomplish the object which he was sure every Member of the House had in view. He suggested nothing at all extreme in the matter, but the number of assistant inspectors should be such as to insure the proper and efficient inspection of mines, and to prevent, as far as possible, those lamentable accidents which occurred from time to time in collieries. [Cheers.]
§ MR. CALDWELL
remarked that this was not a matter peculiar to one side of the House only, and in the late Parliament both sides had concurred in the view that the number of inspectors of mines should be increased, and also that there should be assistant inspectors. The former Home Secretary (Mr. Asquith) rather gave the late House of Commons to understand that the delay in giving effect to that view did not arise with him, but that the matter was one which depended more on the Treasury than upon the Home Office. The case of Scotland should not be overlooked in this subject. He concluded by expressing a hope that any little difficulty which might have existed in Treasury arrangements with regard to this matter might be overcome, and that effect should be given to the unanimous demand of the mining industry. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. COLVILLE (Lanark, N.E.)
desired to endorse the remarks that had been made in support of an increase in the number of mining inspectors.
§ MR. J. KENYON (Bury, Lancashire)
contended that there was another side to the question, and that was the danger of over-inspection. From his experience in the textile trades in Lancashire, he was of opinion that they were there over-inspected. [Cries of "No."] Only last winter, in the very severe weather, five women went into a mill of his own and two of them set to work on the machinery which they were accustomed to work, which was, no doubt, wrong on their part; the other three sat in the room and kept themselves warm like sensible women. For this he was summoned and 628 taken before the magistrates—[Opposition laughter]—and the decision was that he was not very much to blame but that he must pay the costs. [Renewed Opposition laughter.] The miners and working people, he thought, were very well able to take care of themselves, and did not want so much coddling and inspecting as seemed to be the practice in the House of Commons. [Cheers and cries of "Oh!"] He rose, however, to call attention, as a new Member, to another point. During the past few days, whenever the question of the unemployed had been mentioned, there was a general ring of sympathy from both sides of the House. ["Hear, hear!"] But, in wishing to control this trade and the other, and to weary and harass employers, hon. Gentlemen should remember that they were not doing very great good to the unemployed, and, that the men who owned works and found the capital for them were not disposed to be over-inspected, and to be watched and controlled, to their annoyance, in every possible way. He had nothing to say against the inspection they had had in the textile trades of the north down to within the last year or two, but he did contend that there was a danger of overdoing it in this connection.
§ SIR M. W. RIDLEY
said that, as to the new regulations for cabs, he would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by his predecessor in June. The regulations came into effect on July 1, and it was his intention to continue on the lines which had been begun. With regard to privileged cabs, negotiations between the railway companies and the Board of Trade had lapsed for a time in consequence of circumstances with which they were all familiar. He felt that if they could do anything in the matter it would be of great advantage. The question of the four-mile radius he confessed he had not yet considered. He thought that the Debate on the Inspector of Mines and Factories had been a very useful one. The 629 assistant factory inspectors, 25 in number, whose salaries he had been asked to increase, were appointed, the first of them only three years, and the last only two years ago, and he thought the time had hardly come for increasing their salaries. He reminded the Committee that these men were drawn from a class who were interested in the concerns of the factories, but had not had the same opportunities for education, and could not look for the same high salary as that enjoyed by the upper class of inspectors. A most careful list was made of the names sent in, and the best selection was made from those submitted. The Home Secretary did not exercise by any means a private choice. He was almost sorry that his right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury had not been present during the whole of the Debate, for if all the recommendations made to him were to be carried out, he should have to make a very strong appeal to him. ["Hear, hear!"] The inspectors of of mines and factories should, he agreed, see that the law was carried out, not vexatiously but judiciously, and at the same time with firmness. That was the criterion which he should apply to the appointment of these inspectors. He had found no record of any promise by his predecessor to increase the number of inspectors of mines, but he would look into the question, and, if necessary, would supplement the number of inspectors if it was deficient, though he did not admit the deficiency. The Committee would be aware that such an Act as the Factory Act, which was passed last Session, could not be carried out without a considerable demand on the Treasury to provide for the necessary staff. He was not prepared to commit himself as to a new class of mine inspectors for Wales. The question of docks and wharves was another difficult one, and he would give his attention, to it in the coming autumn. He trusted that when another year came round he should be found neither to have disappointed 630 the expectations of hon. Members nor to have added an enormous number of inspectors.
§ * MR. DAVID THOMAS
asked the right hon. Member, as there was no record at the Home Office of the promise to which he (Mr. Thomas) had referred, whether he would confer what his predecessor in office, and whether, if the statement as to the promise was found to be correct, he would carry the promise out?
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
mentioned the case of a Liverpool firm which advertised a particular machine as being recommended by a Government factory inspector.
§ SIR M. W. RIDLEY
said that, when an inspector recommended some particular method of guarding machinery, it was next to impossible to avoid giving a recommendation to the firm that supplied the improved means of safety. Such matters were matters for the exercise of great delicacy and discretion. Of course, the giving of a recommendation ought to be avoided when possible in an inspector's report.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £23,664 to complete the sum for the Salaries and expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant in Aid of certain Expenses connected with emigration,
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that he wished to call attention to a question that concerned a portion of Africa. It had been suggested that morning, in a Whig party organ, that it would be advantageous to the Colonial Secretary that he should be charged not only with the administration of all the African colonies, but of the protectorates as well. For many years past he had urged the same thing—namely, that the Colonial 631 Office ought to be charged with the administration of the protectorates of this country. He remembered suggesting that course in 1880, when he found that the administration of Cyprus was conducted by the Foreign Office, and he was able to transfer it to the Colonial Office. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) was charged with only a portion of our colonies; there were protectorates and possessions in charge of the Foreign Office, and it was important that the same policy should be pursued by both Departments. The Foreign Office proposed to undertake the construction of a railway to Uganda on the East Coast of Africa, and he understood that the Colonial Office were contemplating the construction of railways on the West Coast, and he wished to take this opportunity of asking what was to be the policy of the Government in regard to those works. He believed the Secretary for the Colonies would receive a deputation from the Gold Coast to-morrow on the West Coast railways, and it was possible that he might wish to make a statement of policy to that deputation, but the House would be much interested in learning to-night what that policy was to be, if the right hon. Gentleman was in a position to state it. What he particularly wished to know was whether British credit was to be pledged, and in what form it was to be pledged for the construction of those railways—whether the Government thought of making those railways themselves, or were going to guarantee them in the hands of private contractors. The reasons why the House ought to exercise great care in matters of this kind was because serious questions might arise with the African chiefs in regard to the acquisition of land, and, still more, in regard to the labour by which the railways were to be constructed; but he was sure the Colonial Office would take great care, with respect both to the acquisition of land and to the nature of the labour employed, 632 not to interfere with those principles which were so dear to large numbers of the British people. There was another danger in connection with the construction of the railways—the increase of the facilities for the introduction of drink into the interior of the country. We were already pouring enormous quantities of spirit into Africa, and that in spite of our promises to Europe. There was great danger that the proposed railways on the West Coast would be pushed forward by men largely concerned in the spirit traffic and with the object of increasing that traffic. He would give an instance of the danger to which he referred. There was a firm of the name of Swanzy on the West Coast, who had recently received a concession for the whole of the India rubber produced over a large district of the Protectorate of Lagos, and they were the largest firm of importers of spirits into Africa. It was notorious that the indiarubber they received under this concession would be paid for by spirit sent into the interior. Unless great care was taken, therefore, in regard to those three points—the acquisition of land for the railways, the nature of the labour employed, and the drink traffic—great difficulties would surely arise. It was unfortunate to have to give figures to the House of Commons, because not only were they distasteful, but because there was always the danger of being misreported. The figures he gave yesterday were misreported, but that, no doubt, was because he omitted to send them up to the reporters' gallery, and he fully recognised the difficulty of correctly reporting figures in the House. The drink traffic was on the increase on the West Coast. On the Gold Coast no less than 1,442,000 gallons of spirit were imported in a single year. Over 9,000,000 gallons had been imported during the last 12 years, and it was not improbable that the total import in 1894 exceeded one and a-half million gallons. In regard to Lagos the figures were even larger. In 633 1893 nearly 1,700,000 gallons were imported into that colony. The colonies of Lagos, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and Gambia largely depended on the introduction of spirits for their revenue, and, though the imposition of duties on the importation had perhaps tended to limit the traffic to some extent, yet on the whole it was on the increase. The matter was one of great importance, and, considering the promises we had given to Europe on the subject, he felt sure the Secretary of State for the Colonies would give the question the most careful consideration. If the Secretary for the Colonies was going to give greater facilities by means of any loan or guarantee for the construction of railways it would be necessary to watch those facilities very narrowly. Of course, there was the possible suggestion that the duties might be even further increased. As regarded the Zanzibar protectorate, we had come under pledges of a very definite character that no spirits were to be allowed to be imported into the interior at all except for the use of Europeans, but although there had been a certain amount of spirit-smuggling on that side of Africa, and although, no doubt, there was some risk that the smuggling trade might be increased when the railway came to be made, yet there was not the same risk that existed on the West Coast, where we were not under heavy restrictions of that kind There accordingly the importation of spirits was not only enormous but was most rapidly increasing, and it was there, therefore, that this danger would have to be most carefully guarded against.
§ CAPTAIN BETHELL (York, E. R., Holderness)
referred to the Resolution passed by the Cape Parliament to annex British Bechuanaland—a proposal to which he took objection on broad grounds of policy. He did not deny that by handing this colony over to the Cape certain immediate advantages undoubtedly accrued; but, on the other hand, he laid it down that when our countrymen 634 went into these out-of-the-way territories and were governed from this country we held such countries in trust for the colonies until such time as such a number of persons were collected together that it might be convenient for them to form a Government for themselves. He maintained, in the case of Western Australia, we had no right whatever to take over huge areas of unused territories, with small bands of colonists, but rather that sufficient territory should be given to them, and the rest remain under the influence of the Crown for future colonies Anybody who considered the South African problem—by which he meant the territory south of the Zambesi—would admit that in a period of time not far distant we might hope to see civilisation practically extended over that area. They knew that the Cape, even if it wished, could not extend its power over the whole of that territory, and we might look surely to various colonies being constituted, or a federation of colonies, which was the best form of government for large territories such as these. That plan had this extreme advantage, that where the Governments were not too large such elasticity might be given to the law of the various colonies as best suited their various needs. The Cape Parliament as such had no special right whatever in Bechuanaland. The difficulties there were put down by the expenditure of this country, and while we had no right to expect that such a territory should remain a Crown colony for all time, the true policy to pursue would be to retain it as a Crown colony until such a time as there was a sufficient number of persons to enable it to form a colony by itself. By pursuing such a policy they should see within a reasonable time some prospect of a federation of the South African Colonies and States, whereas, if the policy was pursued of annexing to the Cape huge areas such as this, that consummation would be postponed in the first place, and the possibility of forming a federation would 635 be much diminished and somewhat spoiled because the size of Cape Colony in proportion to the other States and and colonies would be so large as greatly to destroy the balance of power. The question of the future of South Africa south of the Zambesi was one that might engage the earnest attention of the Statesmen of this country. He conceived it to be practically certain that the existing territories under the dominion of the Chartered Company could not in future be expected to remain under the government of that company. But the territories were so inconveniently large that when self-government came about it would be impracticable to set up one governing body. They might assume that these territories would eventually do what had been done elsewhere, and by preserving their own self-government and making laws suitable to their own requirements from a federation which would embrace the whole. He made this objection because he desired to place on record his opposition to the policy of annexing this particular State to the Cape, which was not connected with it at all, geographically, in any convenient form. He regretted that the late Government thought it their duty to give their consent to this proceeding, regarding a policy of the kind as damaging to the prospects of a well-balanced federation in South Africa. The Cape Colony was going somewhat far in its ambitious projects. It not only asked for British Bechuanaland, but it put in a claim for a voice upon the future of territories from which it was divided by many hundred miles. He did not think it wise or politic always to give in at once, or perhaps to give in at all, to the demands of the Cape Government in such matters.
§ MR. T. R. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
supported the observations of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean in regard to the West African territories. In the interior of Lagos, where our power was not so complete as in other places, slavery was recognised as an existing institution, and if a railway were to be constructed to that country, then undoubtedly the danger to which the right hon. Baronet had referred, of having to employ slave labour, would arise. There had been an extraordinary development of the liquor trade in that country, and very horrible results had ensued 636 amongst the inhabitants from the use of vile spirits. In the course of the present year, the Brussels Act would come up for consideration, and it was possible the question of the drink traffic would be reviewed. Supposing they could not attain the point indicated by the right hon. Baronet—namely, prohibition of the traffic altogether—there was large room in Lagos and the Gold Coast for a duty on spirits. He believed that at present the duty was lower than it was in any other of our Colonies. He hoped they might expect that the right hon. Gentleman who had signalised his period of office by insisting on the restriction of the liquor traffic in Bechuanaland would take some step in the same direction in West Africa, where the baneful results of the consumption of vile spirits were very great indeed.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said, his hon. Friend who had just sat down and his right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had raised a very important question with regard to the drink traffic on the West Coast of Africa. During the past year, the Colonial Office had given great attention to the subject, and he was sure his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would give it his best attention. The difficulty that had to be contended with on the West Coast of Africa was, that if we ever prohibited the liquor traffic altogether, or put a a heavy duty on liquor, we should lose the revenue, while the liquor would got in through French and German agencies. The Member for the Forest of Dean had raised the question of the extension of railways on the West Coast of Africa. The Secretary of State's policy of enlarged markets was one in which they all agreed, if it could be carried out. The late Government did their best to lay the foundation, for an introduction and extension of the railway system in our different colonies on the West Coast, and he wished that policy would meet with the favourable view of the right hon. Gentleman. The important question had been raised as to whether forced labour would not have to be used on these railways when the surveys were complete. Comparing the West Coast with the East Coast, and looking to the smallness of the colonies, it seemed as if any difficulty in connection with forced labour would easily be overcome, especially if the construction 637 of the railways were left in the hands of the Colonies themselves. As to whether these Protectorates should not be taken out of the hands of the Foreign Office and placed under the Colonial Office, his personal opinion was that to a large extent that should be done. He hoped that the Secretary for the Colonies would see his way, at all events, to do what probably the late Government would have done if they had survived longer—namely, to put the African Protectorates north of the Zambesi and those of the British South Africa Company under one department of the State. At present those north of the Zambesi were under the Foreign Office, and those south of the Zambesi were under the Colonial Office. As a matter of business, whenever any question arose as to the administration of the Protectorates north of the Zambesi, the Foreign Office always communicated with the Colonial Office, and an inter-departmental correspondence followed, which was the dullest and slowest of correspondences; and it often happened that things which ought to be done quickly were done slowly, and not so well, perhaps, as they might otherwise have been done. Some of the West Coast Protectorates—such as the Oil Rivers and the Niger—ought also to be under the Colonial Office instead of the Foreign Office, which had no machinery for administering a colony. As to the transference of British Bechuanaland to Cape Colony, that was certainly the policy of the late Government, though the transference had not actually been assented to. He was glad that the Secretary for the Colonies, in carrying a continuity of colonial policy, had seen his way to accept the proposals of the Cape Government. He agreed to a certain extent with his hon. Friend who opposed the transference that it was generally desirable to keep these Protectorates under Imperial control, but it was much too late to urge that view in regard to British Bechuanaland. Successive Secretaries for the Colonies had given the pledge that some time or other the territory should be handed over to the Cape Colony, and the only questions had been when and under what conditions. In 1888 the Cape Government offered to take it over, but there were at that time particular reasons against the transference. It was thought then that the 638 Cape Colony was not in a position to extend its control over native populations; and—the reason which actuated the Home Government—there had been some "treks" from the Transvaal, and a feeling was abroad that the so-called Afrikander party were not over friendly to the British connection and Crown. At that time it was thought it might not be advisable to hand over this sparsely-populated territory to a Government which, to a certain extent, was actuated by Afrikander opinions. But those objections had entirely disappeared. Both the social and economic policy of the Cape Government in regard to native matters had of late years been just and generous; the Transvaal was now surrounded by British territory, so that no more trek could possibly take place; and it should be admitted that the Afrikander in South Africa was thoroughly loyal to the British Crown. Besides, as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies had stated the other day, full and ample guarantees—which covered the questions of land reserves and liquor traffic—had been obtained from the Cape Government as to the proper treatment of the natives. Considerable advantage would also accrue to this country from the transfer of Bechuanaland to the Cape. As a Crown colony had not to meet its own expenses, the House had to give a grant in aid. A great deal of the time of the Colonial Office had in consequence been occupied in curtailing expenses in Bechuanaland, with the result that justice, education, and public works had had much less spent on them than would have been received under a proper system of administration. The Cape were in a better position to spend money economically and more advantageously for education and judicial administration than the Colonial Office could possibly be, and there was the further advantage that the British taxpayer would be saved the £8,000 or £10,000 a year which had to be paid as a grant in aid to the Crown Colony. He was glad that this arrangement between the Colonial Office and the Cape Government, which had been sanctioned by two Administrations—one Liberal and the other Unionist—had passed through the House of Commons without friction. He observed that the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division 639 was about to address the Committee. He took it for granted that the hon. Gentleman would make complaints against him for his action in regard to Swaziland and other iniquities. He thought he knew pretty well what the hon. Gentleman was going to say; and he said now, in anticipation of the speech of the hon. Gentleman, that he had on many occasions met the hon. Gentleman in Debate in regard to the Colonial operations of the late Government in South Africa, and had invariably found that the hon. Gentleman's geography was wrong and that his history was wrong. Therefore, if the hon. Gentleman attacked the late Government they could only leave themselves in the hands of the House, and say that, while no doubt they had not done all that they might have done in regard to those Colonial questions, at all events they had at heart the interest of the natives of Swaziland; and he believed the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary would admit that on the whole they had carried out a policy in regard to that country which had been of great advantage to the natives themselves.
§ SIR G. BADEN-POWELL (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
did not think the Committee ought to pass the Vote with the inadequate information before them. That House was the guardian of the public purse, and should not forget, when a great policy of this kind was on foot, that the taxpayers of the country had put into Bechuanaland something like 2½ millions of money. He rather agreed that it would be well if two or more colonies could be set up in South Africa in addition to the Cape Colony, because, when federation came, the States taking part in it should be on something like a footing of equality. The other point to which he wished to call attention was the question of the West African railways. He sympathised with the two great points of putting down slavery and putting down the iniquitous and damaging liquor traffic; but, in his opinion, these railways were the best instruments possible for putting down both. This country had never, during all the centuries it had been at work, succeeded in putting down such iniquitous systems as liquor traffic, except by successful and strong administration. He had seen what was going on on the West Coast of Africa, 640 and he declared it was a disgrace to our civilisation to find that we had made no impression whatever beyond the mere coast line. If we could once establish a sound and strong administration over the territories we occupied in West Africa, we might succeed in putting down the liquor traffic; and the corollary to that was that we could not establish that strong and sound administration unless railways were made into the interior. Until rapid means of communication were established, a sound administration could not be set up.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
I am aware that many other Members desire to say something on this Vote, but they will probably raise other matters, and I think I should perhaps say what little I have to say in regard to what has fallen from my right hon. Friend opposite and other speakers who have addressed the House. It need not be very much, because my hon. Friend opposite recognised that these Estimates are the Estimates of the late Government and represent their policy. My right hon. Friend who opened this Debate in the first instance suggested some change in the arrangement of the Colonial and Foreign Offices, and some redistribution of duty. I have only just entered on the administration and control of probably one of the largest dominions, and although I am credited with some personal ambition, at the present moment I do not desire any new world to conquer. My right hon. Friend spoke of the extension of railways in West Africa, and he asked whether I could give the Committee any information as to the policy we have adopted in that matter. The first question he asked was whether these railways were to be made by Imperial assistance, or by the colonies, or by private speculators. Of course, I do not know what the deputation which is to wait upon me to-morrow will have to say on the subject, but I can say at once that the Government are of opinion that, wherever it is possible, it is better that railways in these circumstances should be made either by the colony or by the Imperial Government, rather than handed over to private speculators. In these cases there is more probability of an economical progress of the work if it is taken up by 641 the Government instead of by private speculators. ["Hear, hear!"] Then there arises the important question as to whether communications are to be made or assisted by the Imperial Government. My hon. friend has explained that in the present instance there is no claim for Imperial assistance; it has not been asked for, and the conditions of those colonies are not such as to make it necessary. Nothing is more extraordinary to my mind during my short experience at the Colonial Office than the extraordinary growth of trade in those West African colonies. A few years ago they were thought of as almost worthless possessions, but I believe at the present time the trade with those colonies alone is as much as that with some considerable European countries. [Cheers.] Not only so; the trade is rapidly increasing, because we are rapidly getting into communication with the interior. No trade is possible as long as native disturbances are taking place, and when hon. Members, animated no doubt by philanthropic intentions, protest against expeditions, punitive or otherwise, which are now the only way we can establish peace between contending savage tribes in Africa, they are protesting against the only system of civilising and practically of developing the trade of Africa. These internecine contests with the native tribes are brought about, not by the general will of the people, but by the arbitrary action of the chiefs; and it has often happened in the past that those persons who have hitherto held authority are taught by a sharp lesson that they cannot be allowed to continue to conduct those operations, and peace is thereby secured, and immediately there will be a large development of trade. In the case of those colonies, as far as I know, there is absolutely no necessity for Imperial intervention; but, if my right hon. Friend wishes from me a further declaration of policy, I am not sorry that an opportunity has been given to me to make it. I regard many of our colonies as being in the condition of undeveloped estates, and estates which can never be developed without Imperial assistance. [Cheers.] It appears to me to be absurd to apply to savage countries the same rules which we apply to civilised portions of the United Kingdom. Cases have already come to my knowledge of 642 colonies which have been British colonies, perhaps, for more than 100 years, in which up to the present time British rule has done absolutely nothing; and if we left them to-day we should leave them in the same condition as that in which we found them. How can we expect, therefore, either with advantage to them or to ourselves that trade with such places can be developed? I shall be prepared to consider very carefully myself, and then, if I am satisfied, to confidently submit to the House, any case which may occur in which, by the judicious investment of British money, those estates which belong to the British Crown may be developed for the benefit of their population and for the benefit of the greater population which is outside. [Cheers.] My right hon. Friend seems to be afraid that these railways may lead to an extension of slavery. I think those fears have been removed, seeing that the railways will be carried out by the Government of the colonies under the Imperial advice and control. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend behind me, that the provision of railways will be the greatest security you can have for the ultimate extirpation of slavery. Reference has also been made to the introduction of spirituous liquors. It seems to be thought that it may be increased. Let me explain that I am as extremely anxious to prevent the introduction of these liquors into uncivilised countries as anyone can be. I agree, in the first place, that they inevitably bring about the deterioration and probably, ultimately, the extinction of the native population, so that we should kill the goose that lays the golden eggs—the people we want to be our best customers. Therefore, in our own interest, putting aside altogether questions of philanthropy, it should be our object, and it will be our object, to prevent the extension of this traffic. Let me say that my information is that the liquor is not so bad as is said, and I am assured by the Europeans that it is very tolerable drink. The real difficulty lies, as my hon. Friend said, in the acts of other countries. My right hon. Friend spoke yesterday of the promise we made to Europe and had not kept. What happened at the Berlin Congress? The British Government proposed a 643 uniform duty of 10s. per gallon on spirits all round. It was voted down by France and Germany, and the figure fixed upon was 6s. 6d. a gallon. There is no doubt that in our endeavours to limit the evils consequent on this trade we are very much hampered. It must not be supposed that the question is confined to the amount of trade in strong drink. What unfortunately happens is this—that if the liquor is prohibited in the British protectorate the natives get it in a neighbouring protectorate. They will go almost any distance to get the coveted luxury, and where they get the liquor they make their other purchases, so that our traders not only lose the liquor traffic but cotton goods as well. That is not a reason for doing nothing, but it is a reason for proceeding with some caution, and before I can say anything more positive with regard to my intentions I must have time and opportunity, which I intend to take immediately, to communicate with the governors, and see whether any suggestions I may be able to make will enable them to deal with the matter. In the meantime I can assure my right hon. Friend that every effort will be made to reduce the trade to a considerable extent. Another point brought before the Committee is the proposed annexation of Bechuanaland to the Cape. This is one of those cases, of which there are a great number in the Colonial Office, in which any person occupying my position has not really a free hand to deal with them; he is trammelled by the action of his predecessors for many years past. He finds that pledges have been given, promises or quasi-promises have been made, by which his hands are practically tied. What is the history of Bechuanaland? It was coveted by the Boers of the Transvaal. When I was a Member of Mr. Gladstone's Government the Boers were credited with the desire to set up a number of petty republics, which, no doubt, in a short time would have drifted to the larger republic, and so Bechuanaland would practically have become part of the Transvaal. That was thought to be undesirable, and it would have been in direct violation of conventions with the Boers. Although the Transvaa1 would not eo nomine enter upon that course, yet it was a result 644 that might have ensued. In order to prevent further mischief an expedition was sent out under Sir Charles Warren, and the country was taken possession of in the name of Great Britain. The expedition cost a million and a half. I should say it was not in any way to be debited to Bechuanaland proper; it was part of the general outlay of this Government in South Africa. After the expedition a positive offer was made to the Cape to take up the annexation; but the matter was not carried through, because the Cape Government was not prepared at that time to accede to the terms and conditions we proposed to make for the protection of the natives. The matter has been more or less under negotiation ever since. Without entering into detail, it appears to me we were practically committed when the Cape, by the unanimous resolution of its Parliament, expressed a desire for complete annexation. Since I read the papers the Bill has been received. Practically, the conditions which I think it my duty to enforce for the protection of the natives have been conceded entirely by the Cape Government. Let me, however, say that, although my argument has hitherto gone to this extent, that practically the policy of annexation was imperative upon us, it has not gone upon the merits. Yet on the merits there is a good deal to be said. One of the objections of the hon. Member for Holderness is handing over vast territories of this kind before they have been developed. I am sorry to say, unless the policy of this country is, as I hope it will be, considerably changed, they never will be developed under British rule, because, by our practice of leaving these possessions absolutely to themselves at a time when they possess no attraction for colonists, they never will be developed until, at all events, proper communications are made. My hon. Friend said he was opposed to the grant of self-government to Western Australia. I admit there was a great deal to be said at the time the proposal was made against conceding full representative government to an enormous territory only inhabited then by 40,000 whites. But the result has justified the promoters of that policy. The population has doubled, and the prosperity of the country has enormously increased. Its development is practically 645 extending, and I confess, if we depend on that illustration as an example, it shows if we are not willing to develop countries ourselves we should hand them over to those who will develop them. My hon. Friend says the colony under discussion is a great distance from the seat of Government. But it is a still greater distance from the seat of the Government here, and it is more under the control of the Cape than it could be under the control of the British Government. Lastly, my hon. Friend says it will make federation more difficult.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
I would wish to remove any misapprehension. I think annexation will tend in the other direction. I am a strong advocate of federation in regard to these colonies. For one reason, if for no other, it makes it easier to deal with them. It is sometimes almost impossible to deal with them. It is sometimes almost impossible to carry on negotiations with independent colonies, whereas it would be a matter of the greatest simplicity if we had to deal with one federal Government. But the difficulties of that are increased in proportion to the number of units that have to be federated. The history of the federal system in America and elsewhere shows that jealousies and sectional interests increases as the number of separate States to be dealt with increases. So that if we could lessen the number of States to be federated in South Africa, one result would be to make negotiations with them easier. I hope I have fully answered the questions addressed to me on those two rather important points—raising as they do questions of principle—and I will leave matters of detail for a future occasion.
said, that he desired to put a question with regard to the subsidy of £6,000 a year that the Cape Colony paid to a great French steam line for the conveyance of their mails. That great French line competed with our own shipping, and it was further subsidised by the French Government. He desired to express his strong objection to our sanctioning such a policy. He did not ask the right hon. Gentleman to answer his question that 646 night, but he hoped that he would consent to inquire into the subject, because the principle involved was one of great importance. The French Government granted a subsidy to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company, for the conveyance of the French mails across the Channel, but at the same time they made it a condition that the Company's boats should fly the French flag, and be navigated by a French crew. In the case of the French Company to which he had referred, he thought that as they received a subsidy from our Colony, we should insist that the French Company's ships should fly the English flag and be navigated by an English crew. It was well known that the great steamers of that Company, in case of war, would be turned into armed cruisers, and therefore we ought not to allow the line to receive a subsidy from our Colonies. If the contract in question were put an end to, the mails would be carried some other way.
§ DR. CLARK
wished to know what was to become of the northern half of Bechuanaland, and whether it was going to be transferred to the Chartered Company. He trusted that was not the policy of the Government. Whatever was done in Southern Bechuanaland should apply to the whole country. He thoroughly approved of the policy of his hon. and gallant Friend and of his hon. Friend who represented one of the Divisions of Liverpool. He had been to Bechuanaland before it was a British Colony, and afterwards, and he found that since it had become a British Colony the small endowments given for education by the miserable little Republic of Stellaland had been applied to other purposes, and that no provision was made for education. He had watched this Vote carefully, and he found that this country had been spending £120,000 or £140,000 in Bechuanaland, £80,000 of which was spent on an armed force. That force was under the control of Colonel Carrington, who used to amuse himself by shooting, and use the policemen instead of dogs for hunting. The members of the local force received six shillings a day, and he remembered suggesting some years ago the desirability of using the country as a sanatorium for the Army. It was one of the most healthy climates 647 in the world, and Tommy Atkins could be used in the place of the present force. During the whole time we had held the southern portion of Bechuanaland we had done nothing at all to develop it, and he thought it would be the best policy to hand it over to the Cape; but whatever arrangement was made with reference to the southern portion should apply to the northern also. Otherwise, what was to be done to Khama's people, and the people of the other northern chiefs? Was a special force be kept up for them. Some men would be required to maintain order in the northern territory, and that could only be done at the cost of the Imperial Government. We were going to spend 2½ millions on that, and then the hand it over to Cape Colony for nothing. The policy of Downing Street, he agreed, had not been dictated by wisdom in the past. He was glad to find a Colonial Secretary at last who agreed with them on that point, and they should look forward to the future with interest. He did not see who would take control of the northern part, unless Mr. Moffat took charge of it.
§ SIR. E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said, he had been challenged by the hon. Gentleman the late Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, who stated that his geography and history had been wrong in regard to the late Government's dealings with South Africa. If the hon. Gentleman would point out one single instance in which he could substantiate that allegation he should be very much surprised. He challenged him to justify his reckless statements.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said, he could not offhand make an actual statement, but with regard to the question of Swaziland the hon. Member had made statements as to our action which were totally at variance with the facts of the case which he had had to point out over and over again to the House. He apologised, however, to the hon. Member, and explained that his desire had been rather to anticipate and discount what the hon. Member might say, as he saw that he was about to start from his seat.
§ SIR. E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, after that statement he would add nothing, except that the language which the hon. Gentleman had used had been 648 constantly used by the Radical Press, although it had absolutely no foundation in fact. With regard to the Swazis, the late Government, in surrendering them had handed over a native race who were our allies, and whom we were directly pledged to support. The late Government handed them over to the control of a people whom they had reason to dread and detest. In their attempts to justify this action the late Government always asserted that no guarantee of independence had been given by the British Government to the Swazi people. The hon. Member opposite always based his defence upon that statement, but about last May there was published a Blue Book which contained a complete refutation of the statement. It was then found that the British Government had given the most direct and distinct guarantee to this unfortunate people. He had heard the Secretary of State for the Colonies say that the present Government were precluded from doing anything to reverse the acts of the late Government with reference to the Swazi people by the principle of continuity of policy. That principle was doubtless a very important one, and the phrase "continuity of policy" was very fine and taking. Like the "concert of Europe" it was a sort of phrase that pleased the public mind. But there was such a thing as the continuity of a bad policy. If one saw a man driving straight towards a precipice, and one had the opportunity of taking the reins out of his hand, one would not hesitate to do so, and to turn the horse to the right or left. One would not be ruled by the idea that the man must be allowed to preserve the continuity of his direction. The present Government had not hesitated to reverse the policy of their predecessors in a very important matter, namely, with regard to Chitral. As he had already said, the late Government always asserted that there had been no positive guarantee to the Swazi people, but the Blue Book showed that they had been wholly misinformed. The statement of Sir E. Wood, published in the Blue Book, proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a guarantee was given. After the proposal to surrender the territory to the Transvaal Republic had been made, Sir E. Wood was sent to 649 Swaziland by the Government to appease the people, who were anxious and protested against the surrender. He described himself as the authorised representative of the Government, and read to them the 24th Article of the Convention, which said that the independence of the natives would be preserved. Sir E. Wood having explained the suzerainty of the Queen over the Transvaal, pointed out distinctly to the Swazis that the independence of their country was "guaranteed" by the Convention made. Here, then, they had the word "guarantee" used, yet the hon. Gentleman the late Under Secretary for the Colonies over and over again denied in the House that the word "guarantee" was ever used by the British Government with regard to the independence of Swaziland. He asked the hon. Gentleman to now explain that denial. The Government of Mr. Gladstone in 1881 sent its representative to Swaziland, and he distinctly stated to the people that the independence of their country was "guaranteed," and this was repeated to them by Sir F. de Winton in 1890. The hon. Member for Louth had charged him with making speeches in Committee to embarrass the present Government, but at the time that charge was uttered he had not made a single speech in Committee, and he had made no speech at all with such an object. In view of such charges, it was necessary that he should state that he had no desire whatever to embarrass the present Government. But he challenged the late Under Secretary for the Colonies to explain how it was that he concealed from the House the fact that this guarantee had been given to the Swazis. He admitted the dificulty that was in the path of the present Government if they desired to reverse the policy pursued by the late Government, who abandoned in the Swazis an ancient ally, men who had fought side by side with our own soldiers, and who had come to our assistance in times of difficulty. A more pitiful, contemptible, and unworthy betrayal was never made than that made towards the Swazis by the late Government. He wished to refer to another matter also connected with South Africa—the maltreatment of the native races of the Transvaal. That 650 matter had now assumed an aspect which could no longer be neglected. Information on good authority had been lately sent home which demanded the attention of Her Majesty's Government. Whenever cases of the maltreatment of the natives was brought before the late Government they were always met with the same answer—that it was a question of the internal administration of the Transvaal, and that we had no right to interfere. Under the Convention of 1881, and the terms made by Sir Hercules Robinson, we were under the most distinct and honourable treaty obligations to the native races of the Transvaal. We promised them that their existing laws and rights should be maintained. Sir Hercules Robinson, representing Her Majesty, gave in 1881 the most distinct assurances that those rights and liberties of the natives should be upheld. The Conventions both of 1881 and 1884 recognised those conditions, but the late Government shirked their obligations in the matter. The native races in the Transvaal had been attacked without excuse, and large bodies of them had been deported from their homes under circumstances of the greatest cruelty and atrocity and had been practically enslaved. He was glad to know that the Secretary for the Colonies had promised an inquiry into this case. He was glad to notice that the right hon. Gentleman showed a disposition towards the native races of the Transvaal in South Africa, very different from that shown by the late Government, and he trusted the present Government would avail themselves of their present tenure of office to see that some justice was done to those unfortunate people who had been denied the elementary rights of humanity.
§ MR. LOUGH moved to Report Progress, in order to elicit a statement from the Leader of the House as to the remaining business for this sitting, and also as to whether it was intended to take a Saturday sitting or not.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
trusted the Committee would dispose of the Colonial Vote, which he understood was non-controversial. He should be very reluctant to ask the House to undergo the great additional 651 labour of a Saturday sitting, and if they made any reasonable progress to-morrow, he hoped that would not be necessary.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn,
§ MR. JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN
, replying to a question by the hon. Member for Caithness, with regard to the condition of things in Zululand, said he should carefully consider the matter. As was probably well known, the late Government were quite willing to agree to an arrangement, but there were difficulties and opposition raised in South Africa itself, though he had some hope that the opposition might soon be brought to cease. With regard to the subsidy paid to the Messageries Maritime, in the matter of the Mauritius mails, he should make it his business to look into the circumstances. The only other question was one which was put to him by an hon. Member opposite, and which did not really arise at the present time—namely, what he was going to do in the case of the Protectorate. He was going to do nothing. That was to say, the Protectorate for the present would remain in exactly the same position as it had been in hitherto. The annexation of a Crown Colony to the Cape did not necessarily carry with it any immediate dealing with the Protectorate, and for the present he must absolutely decline to interfere with the existing arrangement.
§ DR. TANNER
observed, that in connection with the imposition of the spirit duties in those territories, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had mentioned the names of France and Germany. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman, was his allusion meant to imply that responsibility in this matter rested with France or Germany? Was it France or Germany? In a spirit of gravity he would ask the right hon. Gentleman distinctly to state which of the two Powers he meant Let him saddle the right horse. It was not France, but it was Germany. He asked the right, hon. Gentleman to give them some explanation of his language. Why should an imputation be cast upon a friendly Power like France was? The right hon. Gentleman's words were capable of a double interpretation, and therefore, he asked him to definitely 652 inform the Committee on which of the two great European Powers he saddled the terrific statement he had made in his speech?
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Vote of £8,481, to complete the sum for Privy Council Office, agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported this day; Committee to sit again this day.