§ On the Vote for £23,297, to complete the sum for Civil Service Commission,
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
asked if the Secretary to the Treasury was aware that, according to a memorandum which had been issued by the Treasury, several appointments had been improperly made, there having been no examination, or certificates given by the Civil Service Commissioners, and by what method the recurrence of such an inadvertence would be avoided in the future. He would also ask whether there were any statutory obligations in regard to the matter, and, if so, with whom it lay to carry such obligations into effect.
§ * THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. R. W. HANBURY)
said, the case to which his hon. Friend had referred was within the jurisdiction of the Serjeant-at-Arms, and was therefore connected with the appointments of that House. The rule governing the rest of the Civil Service, that these certificates should be granted by the Civil Service Commissioners, did not really apply to that House, and it was only by the direction, he thought, of the chief clerk, or by the Commission which dealt with the appointments of that House, that any such rule could be applied.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, the memorandum stated that two men, Edward Gregory and George Cooper, and Hy. Bonsor Watchford, Department of the Serjeant-at-Arms, were appointed without Civil Service certificates through the inadvertence of the Civil Service Department. That did not coincide with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the examination was a purely 804 voluntary act on the part of the authorities concerned; if that was so, why was it necessary for the Treasury to make this minute pointing out the inadvertence committed.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he understood that examination was the general rule, but that through inadvertence it was not carried out in these cases; nearly all the appointments, however, in that House were by voluntary arrangement. He would inquire further into the matter if his hon. Friend required additional information.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid)
compared the amounts asked for in this Vote with those in the Estimates and Appropriation Act of last year, and pointed out that considerably more money was asked for than was spent. He criticised the expenditure under the Vote, and asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether the Treasury was not asking too much at the present time. Why, he asked, should they always try and get too much money, and then return it to the Treasury? The fact was, this money was handed back in the way he had described to help to swell the surplus of the following year. That was a very strange way of doing business, and there was no doubt that the system was a false one. He would like to have some assurance that these Estimates were not in advance of what had hitherto been the expenditure.
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
called attention to the salaries of the Civil Service Examiners, and pointed out that one of them, in addition to getting the maximum salary of £600 a year, had also a personal salary of £700, making in all £1,300 per annum. He wished to know why this gentleman received this additional salary. With regard to the item for wages and allowances, he deprecated the fact that the Office Keeper of the Civil Service Commission in London received £120 a year, while the Office Keeper in Dublin received £78 a year. The expenses in Dublin were very nearly as much as they were in London, and he thought it was an illustration of the working of the Treasury with regard to Irish appointments. He stated that owing, unfortunately, to the very few openings there were for young men of education in Ireland in the south, a large number had to apply for entrance into 805 the Civil Service. There were, of course, different centres of examination, such as London, Glasgow, and Dublin, but he would like to know if it would be possible for Cork to be made a centre in the South of Ireland for Civil Service examinations. It was a very expensive matter for these young fellows, the sons of small farmers or shopkeepers, who have to travel great distances to be examined, and perhaps, after all, to be rejected, whereas it would be very little further expense to the Treasury to have examinations held at Cork. He would be glad to receive some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the matter.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said, he wished to ask why special expenditure should be incurred in an outside examination, and why all the examinations of the country should not be conducted by the Civil Service Commission. In the first place, a special examination involved an additional cost; and there was an obvious practical convenience in having all examinations conducted by the same agency, and applying equivalent tests to all competitors. As to the point raised by the hon. Member for Cork, it was true the surpluses were in some cases returned to the Treasury; but in others they were not returned, and were appropriated to purposes other than those for which they had been voted; and there did not appear to be any record of these diversions. He asked the Secretary to the Treasury to take care that when Votes proved to be excessive there should be a record of the manner in which the surplus had been disposed of.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, if it had not been for the favourable tone of the reply of the Secretary to the Treasury, he should have felt it necessary to occupy some time; but the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman had only confirmed his views with regard to the Civil Service Commission. He still regretted the predominance given to Latin and Greek in the examinations, and regarded the predominance as a great block to our educational advancement. He meant to raise the question again and again until something was dune to relieve education from the block caused by the bias of these examinations.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, there seemed to be some misapprehension about the state of the facts with regard to the position of Greek and Latin in the examinations. A considerable change had been made recently in the examinations for the first division, in which alone classics were required. All candidates, whether for the Indian Civil Service or for the service at home, were examined at the same time. The marks given for Greek and Latin in the Indian Civil Service examinations were considered four or five years ago, and he believed that now, out of an attainable total of 5,000 marks, only 1,500 were possible for classics—750 for Greek and 750 for Latin. Thus these subjects were brought down very nearly to the level of other subjects, and the Civil Service Commissioners informed him that they had accommodated themselves to the change of public feeling in relation to the value of the classics as compared with other subjects. The maximum number of marks for ordinary mathematics was 900, and for advanced mathematics 900, making 1,800, as against 1,500 for classics. For the Army, it was possible to pass without taking up Latin; but candidates were not able to take up any other subject in lieu of it. A candidate was not required to take up Greek at all. With regard to the Army, the subject had recently been under the consideration of a Committee, and was now awaiting the decision of the Secretary of State for War, who was responsible in the matter. On the other point raised, he quite agreed that it was a mistake to ask in the Estimates for more money than was likely to be spent; but there was a great distinction between the money voted on the Estimates and the money actually issued out of the Exchequer. Money was not issued until it was known that there was a probability of its being spent. Money could not be diverted, at the discretion of a Department, from the purpose for which it had been voted; this could be done only with the sanction of the Treasury; and all these matters were brought before the Public Accounts Committee by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said that records were kept and were brought before the Public Accounts Committee, and through that Committee the House had full cognizance of all the changes. The increase in the bonuses and gratuities to copyists was due to the fact that they were granted to those who had been eight years in the service, and the number went on increasing from year to year. As to the number of examination centres, it was matter for consideration whether steps could be taken to insure that candidates in Ireland should not have to travel further than candidates in England, and the suggestion which had been made should be borne in mind.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman only confirmed his strong feeling against the character of these examinations. Take what had just been said about the Army; one-sixth of the entire number of marks might be given for Latin. The sooner this was changed the better. To many officers, would not a knowledge of Russian or Hindostance, or Chinese be better than a knowledge of Latin? In the recent war between China and Japan, would not a knowledge of the language of either country have been of more use to a British officer on the spot, than the nonsense with which his head would be stuffed at public schools and universities? The reason why Latin and Greek were so well established was that last century men could get bishoprics only by translating Greek plays, and this century they wore passports to headships of colleges and other offices. It would be different if the knowledge of the classics were thorough and complete; but an Athenian washerwoman would laugh consumedly at the baboon Greek of one of our university professors; while as to Latin, a Roman plebeian would probably have been shocked by the choice compositions produced at an examination. This slavery to classics was the main vice of our higher education; and the reason he raised the question was that the Civil Service examinations had wide influence, because the Civil Service was one of the genteel professions, and one which the whole country looked up to for guidance in this matter. Therefore he should renew his 808 protest from year to year until the Civil Service Commissioners set a better example.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid)
wanted to know how many of the copyists had been made abstractors. He also asked how much had been received from the sale of fee stamps.
§ * MR. HANBURY
could not tell the hon. Member the amount received from fee stamps during the five months which had passed of the present financial year. He could not say how many of the copyists had been made abstractors during last year. He could, however, inform the hon. Member that the number of copyists on the Register was now only a seventh of what it was in 1886, and that a large number had been appointed to the pensionable class of permanent abstractors.
§ * MR. WHITMORE
as a Member of the Committee which inquired into the entrance examinations for the Army, said that it was on enormously preponderating evidence that the Committee came to the conclusion not to report in favour of any diminution in the value of classical languages. He warned the Secretary to the Treasury that any further lessening in the value of Latin would excite strong opposition.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he quite agreed that, primâ facie, these personal allowances were a bad system. It must, however, be borne in mind that in a very great number of cases these personal allowances meant that the existing rate, though continued to the present holder, would not be given to his successor. To this extent personal allowances were an earnest of future economies.
§ * MR. HANBURY
No, Sir, I cannot give that promise for there may be exceptional cases, but these cases should be very exceptional indeed.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, the system seemed to embrace the defects of both permanent and temporary employment. We employed men temporarily, and then by a Treasury Minute we put them on a permanent footing. We gave a man a bonus, which was in fact ordinary increase in pay under another name, and when he left we gave him a gratuity, which was capitalisation of retiring allowance or pension under another name. We thus ingeniously combined all the disadvantages of a temporary with those of a permanent system. A temporary man did not feel the same interest in his work that a permanent man did; he considered himself a casual, a hanger-on, the State did not have the benefit of his complete personal service; but it could turn him off at any lime without, incurring any claim for compensation. That was considered in fixing pay, because a temporary man was paid at a higher rate than, a permanent one. These engagements having been made on this basis, the Treasury stepped in with its Minutes and raised their pay by bonuses and gratuities. This was a mistaken way of altering the terms of appointment, producing the maximum of disadvantage to the public.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the circumstances were these. The men had received very small pay, much below that given to Second Division clerks; they were employed for casual purposes; but after a number of years they set up a claim to be treated as permanent servants. There was a difficulty in treating them as established servants qualifying for pensions. In these circumstances the Treasury, in the exercise of its discretion, gave bonuses, bringing the earnings of these men to a little over £100 a year, and gratuities on retirement, which were small indeed compared with the pensions. The object was simply to do justice, and to show the men that the Government was not sweating them, and at the same time the difficulty was avoided of putting the men on the Establishment and enabling them to qualify for pensions. The Civil Service Commission was a kind of depôt for these copyists, but they were employed in all departments of the State.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, it was a pity the explanation was not given in the Estimates; it would have saved discussion.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
said, it appeared from an examination of the Estimates that many of the men were receiving in bonuses double what they would have received in salary.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the hon. Member was wrong on that point. He quite admitted that the Estimate was not clearly drawn. There were three classes of copyists; a number were employed by the Civil Service Commission on the Commission's own work; a number were employed by the Commission as a central establishment for the surplus work of other departments and did their work at the office of the Commission; and a large number were doing work at the offices of various departments, and paid from the Votes of such departments.
§ MR. MICHAEL AUSTIN (Limerick, W.)
said, he thought these copyists were worthy of all consideration, and it might be well to bring them under Civil Service rates altogether.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
said, it was right it should be understood that these bonuses and gratuities were being given, not only to the copyists employed by the Civil Service Commission, but to the whole body of copyists employed in all departments of the public service. These copyists were as it were lent out to various departments of the Civil Service, and the payment they received was not only most inadequate, but unjustly low. These bonuses in no way compensated them fairly for the services they rendered to the Government. Some years ago he was a Member of a Royal Commission to inquire into the position of Civil Servants generally, and the unfair position in which these copyists were placed came specially under his notice from an inspection he made at the War Office, in company with the Chairman of 811 the Commission, the present Home Secretary, and another Commissioner. In one room at the War Office they found six gentlemen, and of these the highest in grade was on the Establishment receiving £500 a year, with two months leave, and, if necessary, six months' sick leave on full pay and six months on half-pay. All these six men were doing the same work, and when the senior was way the second man took charge. With the exception of the senior man all were copyists. They found therefore six men in one room all doing the same work, while the senior received £500 a year with two months' leave, and all the others 10d. an hour, or £70 a year, with a fortnight's leave during the year. The senior was entitled to a pension, and had since retired on a pension of several hundreds, or as much as all the five men together recived as pay. These five men had no sick leave, and were not entitled to pensions, and those bonuses represented the sums paid to them on their leaving the Service. All the Civil Service was—he would not say honeycombed—but streaked with such instances of injustice and inequality, and copyists could not be expected to feel that they were fairly treated when five men together received only as much as the one Establishment man, all doing the same work. He hoped therefore that the Committee would not have the idea that the copyists had fair justice extended to them under the present system.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, there was something to be said in moderation of this case. The copyists did not go through the ordinary conditions of the Service, they did not pass examinations Civil Servants passed.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £34,989, to complete the sum for the Department of the Comptroller and Auditor General,
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
asked what had become of sub-heads B C and D. Under sub-head A were found particulars 812 of salaries, wages and allowances, and under sub-head E were details of appropriations in aid, but as to other subheads, no information was given.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the items for travelling, removal, law and incidental expenses, were separately estimated, but it was not thought necessary to specify further details. The allowances were paid on a scale laid down.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, some further explanation was desired. It appeared as if an absolutely fixed payment was made each year. Travelling and removal expenses, it was true, were £15 less than last year, being £1,750 as against £1,765, but law expenses were just £30 last year and the same in the present year. It was scarcely conceivable that the amount under this head should be exactly the same. Then again, "incidental expenses" must, from their nature, vary, but here again was a remarkable unanimity rarely seen except on the stage. Last year and this year these incidental expenses were set down at £140. It would he thought be obvious that the sum was allocated each year, and hence it was that no details were given. He was not sure if this was not the only instance of the absence of details of a sum reaching nearly £2,000. He confessed he regarded the items with the gravest suspicion. Was it a lump sum handed over to be served out to the subordinates year by year?
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, as his hon. Friend had now been nominated to the Committee on Accounts, he would, no doubt, soon acquire more knowledge of the actual facts. He would learn that the work of this Department was of a nature that could vary very little from year to year. Each year practically brought the same routine of work, and therefore in regard to these small sums of £140 and £30, it had been found from experience that these were about the sums that would be required under these sub-heads. It was one thing to estimate and another thing to pay the money, and his hon. Friend need not fear that if the Estimate was placed too high the money would still be expended. If it was not all spent, the Comptroller and Auditor General's Department would not get the benefit of the balance, it would go back to the Exchequer. He 813 did not know why there was a difference of £15 in the travelling and removal expenses, but did not think it was a matter of much importance.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
confessed he had not that knowledge he might expect to gain from service on the Public Accounts Committee, but it was because of his state of ignorance he put his questions on details in the Estimates. But he rose to say a word or two upon the Comptroller and Auditor General's Department. The Committee were accustomed to hear this Department praised beyond measure as a great security to the State and guardian of economy. Knowing something of the Civil Service, he was much inclined to think it was the reverse of this. In every department of State this Department made an infinity of extra work by the filling up of forms and the making out of returns; while his belief was that it secured no diminution whatever in charges, and never had done so. What took place was a series of conflicts between heads of departments and the head of the Auditor General's Department—quarrels, correspondence, papers, and ink, and at the end of all not a farthing saved. One result of the existence of this Department, supposed to control all other departments in expenditure, was that the head of every department felt less responsibility than otherwise he would fool. On this point he hoped to make some inquiries of the Committee to which he had had the honour to be appointed. It was within his knowledge that there was a feeling throughout the Service that the heads of departments did not feel an undivided responsibility, and considered it quite allowable to leave matters to be challenged by the Auditor General's Department, fie very seriously doubted if the Department was of any use as a safeguard to the public purse.
§ MR. WEIR
said he could not allow the Vote to pass without calling attention to the footnote with reference to the allowance of £100 to the principal clerk. It was the same old story to which he alluded on a previous Vote, and he repeated his hope that the Secretary to the Treasury would not allow any increase of this system, but would see that salaries were properly 814 proportioned and these footnotes dispensed with. He desired some explanation of the note to the effect that one of first-class clerks received part of the private secretary's allowance. How much was it, and what became of the other part? This was not a satisfactory way of conducting business. If a first-class clerk was such a really first-class man, let him have an increase of his salary without these egotistical footnotes.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
desired to ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, what he made as the product of £320 multiplied by 12? There were 12 examiners of the second section, the maximum of whose pay was £320 and yet the amount asked for was £3,964. He thought £320 multiplied by 12 would not reach that amount. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman how he arrived at the figures?
§ * MR. HANBURY
confessed himself unable to answer the question offhand. He for one was by no means satisfied with the way in which the Estimates had been presented. With reference to the question of the Private Secretary, he saw the salary was put down as £150 a year. But there was not one gentleman who performed the duties of Private Secretary. He should have thought that a Private Secretary was a person who could not well be a clerk, but one who would be able to travel about with the Auditor General in the different inquiries he had to make. He would find out what were supposed to be the functions of a private secretary. He certainly thought this was an unsatisfactory way of placing the matter on the Estimates. With regard to the criticism that the total salaries should be shown in the columns, he considered the Committee ought to know what was the ordinary official salary, what the increments a clerk could get, and what the total he could reach. These foot-notes in the Estimates told them whether an official had a personal salary in addition. He thought that was the best way of setting forth the salaries, though whether they ought to have so many personal allowances was another question.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
observed, that as the right hon. Gentleman admitted there was a sum of £124 taken by 815 an arithmetical error, he supposed he would consent to a reduction of the Vote by that amount. There was a great disadvantage in allowing the Government to take by an arithmetical error any money which was not required. It was perfectly true that, if it was not expended at the end of the financial year, it would be surrendered to the Exchequer. But there was something more to be borne in mind. It might be that upon one item of the Vote there was a surplus, but if upon another item there was a margin, the Department in agreement with the Treasury were able to appropriate the surplus on the one to meet the excess upon another item, and, under these circumstances, the check which the House had endeavoured, through the Comptroller and Auditor General, to establish on all spending departments was practically lost. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman would agree to the Motion lie now begged to make, namely, to reduce the Vote by £124, the amount in excess of the sum required to be paid for 12 Examiners in the second section.
§ * MR. HANBURY
hoped the hon. Gentleman would not press the Amendment. He must remember that these were not the Estimates of the present Government. He himself was not primarily responsible for them, nor had he had the time to go into them in detail. A possible explanation of the difficulty might be that the salaries mentioned were paid to the officers before they were obliged to give a seven hours a day service, and this sum in excess might represent the amount paid them for doing extra work.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
replied, that the right hon. Gentleman was evidently under a complete misapprehension. The salary of this office varied from £100 to £320. He (Mr. O'Connor) had, therefore, computed that every single one of these gentlemen was drawing the maximum salary, which was an extravagant supposition. But the maximum salary multiplied by the total number of officers did not reach the figures put down in the Estimates. It was, therefore, clear that there must be an excessive charge of £124.
§ * MR. HANBURY
denied that this necessarily followed. Suppose they had reached their maximum salary when 816 this was a six hours office, no doubt when it became a seven hours office they were entitled to more.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
desired to know whether the £30 each, which five of the examiners received for local allowances was included in the Estimate. If they were all paid the maximum salary, and in addition five of them received an allowance of £30 each, it would bring the amount up to £3,390, whereas it was only £3,964 that was asked.
§ * MR. HANBURY
agreed that the Estimates might be drawn up in a clearer form. The third column showed what ought to be the maximum and what was the ordinary maximum. Twenty-two of these clerks would rise to a personal maximum of £420.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR
said, that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong, for the maximum of £420 only referred to examiners in the first section. It was clearly a clerical error, and if the right hon. Gentleman had been in Opposition, he would have been the first to insist on a reduction of the Vote. No personal responsibility was imputed to the Secretary to the Treasury in respect of the Vote, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman to be consistent and to allow that course to be taken which he himself certainly would have most strongly advocated had he been sitting on the other side of the House.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
considered the last explanation the right hon. Gentleman had given only made matters worse. They were given information, which was not correct, for the maximum salary was not £420 but £320. He was delighted to see so much of his right hon. Friend's former virtue remained to him that he admitted the Estimates were not perfect, and that if he had had the preparation of them he would have bettered them. They invited him to do that by assisting them in removing the error which he had not denied. It was, he thought, especially disgraceful that an error of this kind should occur in the very department which was supposed to be so very useful in preventing such errors. It was a strong illustration of what he had said before, namely that the usefulness of this department was exceedingly doubtful. If it could not perform a simple multiplication sum, 817 how, in heaven's name, could it control other departments? No case had been made out by the right hon. Gentleman against the Amendment, and he should certainly vote for it, as would the Secretary to the Treasury had he still been a private member.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £34,865, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 4l; Noes, 171.—(Division.List, No.21).
§ Original Question put and agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £4,648 (including a supplementary sum of £500) for the Registry of Friendly Societies,
§ DR. CLARK
said, that for some time the Committee had voted £1,000 a year, in order that the Actuary might supply a set of tables affording more accurate information respecting Friendly Societies. The grant had now ceased. Would the Secretary to the Treasury say whether the tables were finished, or whether it was intended that the ordinary staff should complete them?
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the original estimated cost of the tables was £10,000. The work was very nearly finished and it was calculated it would cost somewhat more than the £10,000. The Actuary had only now to put the information he had obtained in an intelligible shape.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork co., Mid.)
pointed out that the Assistant Registrars in Ireland and Scotland received only £300 a year each, whereas the Assistant Registrar in England received a salary of £800 a year, the Chief Registrar receiving £1,200. Would the Secretary to the Treasury acquaint the Committee with the reasons for the difference in the salaries?
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that in England the societies and branches under 818 the Friendly Societies' Acts exceeded 26,000 in number, whereas in Ireland they did not reach 500 and in Scotland there were only 900. While in England the Industrial and Provident Societies numbered nearly 1,100, in Scotland there were only 300, and in Ireland only seven. Moreover, whilst the Assistant Registrars for Scotland and Ireland may take outside work in addition to their official duties, the Assistant Registrar for England is required to give his whole time to the public service.
§ DR. TANNER
asked how it came to pass that the cost of prosecutions in connection with Friendly Societies was so small in amount, and why it never varied from year to year.
§ MR. FLYNN
said, it was no doubt true that the work in the office of the Chief Registrar in England was very much greater than in Ireland and Scotland, but the Chief Registrar, in addition to his salary of £1,200 a year, had 13 clerks in his office, as compared with two in Ireland and one in Scotland, so that the discrepancy in the amount of work in England and in Ireland and Scotland was largely accounted for by the number of hands in England to do it.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the reason why the charges for legal expenses were so low and remained the same every year, was that prosecutions were very few, which was indeed a matter for congratulation.
§ DR. CLARK
thought that if hon. Members had sat, as he had done, on the Select Committee of four or five years ago they would be inclined to think that this Estimate ought to be increased rather than diminished. Evidence had been given of instances of the expenses of management being over 90 per cent, of the premiums, and of only the remaining 10 per cent, going for benefit. The Registrars wore intended to prevent fraudulent societies being established, and what he ought to complain of was that they had not sufficient powers to effect that object. He supported the Vote with the greatest pleasure, because it tended to encourage thrift amongst the people.
§ Vote agreed to.819
§ On the Vote of, £95,108, to complete the sum for the salaries and expenses of the Local Government Board,
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean),
said, there were two topics that he desired to raise on this Vote. The first was the exercise of the patronage of the President of the Local Government Board in making appointments to auditorships. It used to be the custom to bring pressure to bear on the President to make appointments to auditorships, against which nothing could be said but that the persons appointed lacked a knowledge of auditing. The work was extremely delicate and difficult, and it was most important to Local Boards through the country that the auditors of the Local Government Board should be persons trained as clerks in auditors' offices. He believed the present President would exercise patronage of that kind with a full sense of responsibility, but it might strengthen the hands of the right hon. Gentleman in resisting the pressure that might be brought to bear on him, to have attention drawn in Committee of Supply to the matter. The other question was a question of public policy. Last Session there were some Debates on the question of the unemployed, during which a general desire was expressed that the hands of Boards of Guardians should be set free, if the law prevented them from trying the experiment to put the pauper population on the land. Many Boards of Guardians desired to make such experiments, and rules for their guidance were issued under some old statutes. But those old Acts of Parliament were passed according to ideas different from the ideas that now prevailed, and, if they were applicable at all, were only applicable to a very slight extent to the experiments the Boards now desired to try. Lately, one Board of Guardians made a definite proposal, but it had been rejected by the Local Government Board, who pointed out the legal difficulties as well as the practical difficulties in the way. He did not in the least wish to question the action of the Local Government Board either as to its law or as to its policy. Nor did he wish to commit himself to the view that those experiments would succeed, for there were great difficulties in the way, as every one knew who had 820 practical experience of the Poor Law; but undoubtedly there was a growing disposition on the part of the public to allow Boards of Guardians to take land for the purpose of having it cultivated by the paupers—the money being provided from the rates, which would insure that extravagance would be checked by the ratepayers—and he would be glad if the Boards were enabled to try the experiment. It seemed to him impossible for central authorities to continue to exercise quite so sharp a control over popularly-elected Local Boards as in the past; and he thought a prudent Administration would be anxious to meet the growing popular feeling by passing laws that would enable the Boards of Guardians to try such experiments.
§ * SIR A. ROLLIT
said, the questions of most interest during the recent General Election, in London at any rate, were those which touched the administration of the laws affecting the poor, pensions for the aged, and similar social matters touching the daily lives of the working classes. He therefore thought the question raised by his right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean was worthy of their best consideration. To make a discrimination between those who were worthy and those who were worthless was one of the problems they had to solve; and the principle that should guide the administration of relief was to bring back to the ranks of the useful members of society as many as possible of those who, from one cause or another, had fallen away. We must relieve, but relieve chiefly to restore. He had therefore always been in favour of allowing Local Authorities to try social experiments like that referred to by his right hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean. He and his right hon. Friend had constantly protested against a standard of uniformity being set up and made applicable to all Local Authorities. Considering the advantages which had accrued in Local Government from municipal experience and even experiment, he thought the same principle might be applied with equally beneficent results in connection with the administration of the Poor Law. The interest of the people in this question was enhanced by the recollection that in London no less than one out of every three of the working classes came at 65 to the poorhouse, who up to 60 had 821 not received relief at all, showing that they belonged to the deserving classes, and, altogether it was a subject which thus touched very closely the daily life of the poor. He thought, too, the question of a greater classification, not only of paupers, but of workhouses, was one which demanded great consideration; and they must try to reclaim the temporary poor as others and himself had done successfully at Abbey Mills and elsewhere through their Mansion House Committee on Employment. While he should protest against a careless and incautious administration of the Poor Law, he could not help feeling that, in an age in which pensions and other beneficent modes of dealing with the poor were occupying so much attention, it might lie possible to reconcile the administration with more sympathetic treatment of the deserving poor, especially by their employment in reclaiming land, and so meeting, with the least industrial competition, the existing, and, he feared, increasing, want of employment with which Members of Parliament must be so familiar.
§ DR. CLARK
called attention to the charge for the inspection of Metropolitan vagrant wards and poor-law schools, and contended that this charge ought to be borne by the London County Council and not by the Imperial Exchequer. He also referred to the charges for inspection and audit, and, with regard to audit as a whole, protested against this charge because it was only applied to England, and Scotland had to pay her share of it. In consequence of the Act of last year creating Parish Councils, there was an additional charge of £800 this year for Parish Councils. When the Scotch Bill was before the House, he moved an Amendment to provide that the expense of the Scotch audit, like that for England, should lie borne by the State, but this was refused, so that now Scotland was compelled to pay the whole of her own local audit, and in addition a portion of the English local audit. That was not fair. The cost of the audit was £55,400; the fees were,£41,000, so that the charge on the Imperial Exchequer was £14,500. In this and several other English Estimates the people of Scotland were compelled to pay their own local costs and a share of those, of her rich neighbour, England.
§ * MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University)
said, he had drawn the attention of the late President to two scandals in workhouse infirmaries, one in Warwickshire and one in Shropshire, in which it was alleged that deaths had occurred owing to insufficient nursing of the paupers in the workhouse infirmary. He freely admitted that great improvement had already been made in this matter, especially in London and the large towns, but he feared that in country unions there was still much need for improvement. Nursing of the sick by paupers should not be allowed to continue. This was a subject which had attracted a great deal of attention, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give it his best consideration. A great deal of obloquy had also been cast upon the management of district pauper schools, which had been called by the disagreeable name of barrack schools. It might be that these schools, like all human institutions, had a good deal of imperfection about them, and no doubt the massing of a great number of children together was not a desirable, thing; but he did not think the whole of these schools deserved to have opprobrium cast upon them because of a scandal in the management of one. A Committee was appointed to inquire into this subject, and had been sitting nearly twelve months, but had not yet reported. He hoped the Report would not longer be delayed.
§ MR. E. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)
called attention to the difficulties placed in the way of County Councils and County Boroughs obtaining control over their local charities, in the same way as Parish Councils have under the Local Government Act, 1894. The Local Government Board had shown some hostility to conceding this control, and he asked the President to look into the matter.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon District)
said, that among the Guardians of North and South Wales there was a general complaint, that the Local Government Board inspectors did not understand Welsh. He submitted that, if these inspectors were to be of any service at all, it was highly desirable that when they addressed Boards of Guardians on their important functions, the people so addressed should understand what the 823 inspector said. He hoped, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman would appoint Welshmen to some of these posts.
§ MAJOR PRYCE-JONES (Montgomery District)
hoped the President and the Cabinet would give the subject of poor-law reform their sympathy and support. He also urged the classification of paupers in the same unions, and pointed out that a considerable saving might be effected in the county of Montgomery by a reduction in the number of unions.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. HENRY CHAPLIN), Lincolnshire, Sleaford
in a general answer to the questions which had been addressed to him by preceding speakers, said he recognised the force and the propriety of the views which had been urged with reference to the exercise of his patronage in appointing auditors. It would be his desire on all occasions, in making those appointments, to be careful that they were such appointments as would give satisfaction and be thoroughly justified. He could assure hon. Members that he would approach in a thoroughly sympathetic spirit the question relating to greater facilities being given to Local Authorities than they at present possessed for the purpose of making experiments by which they might in certain circumstances place paupers who came to them for relief on the land. In his judgment, However, there were great difficulties in connection with the question; but, as far as it might be possible to surmount them, he would approach the question with the greatest sympathy. He had been asked what were the powers of the Local Government Board and the Local Authorities under old statutes of the time of Elizabeth and George I. dealing expressly with this subject. He had examined into this question the other day, and he found that the Department did not possess powers to accede to the request made to it on that occasion. But, even had the Department possessed powers on that occasion, he doubted whether it would have been possible for him to undertake the responsibility of granting that particular request. He had, however, been advised by the legal experts connected with his Department that it would be beyond his powers to accede to the request. What the Department could do and what had been 824 done was this. At the present time they had powers to sanction Boards of Guardians giving aid and assistance to schemes for land colonisation which were promoted by other parties. He saw no reason to doubt that by a judicious and liberal use of that sanction great benefit might, be conferred. He viewed with the greatest possible interest the question of the classification of paupers and of workhouses. He had not, however, been, able to give all the attention which was requisite to a thorough mastery of the question, and he should prefer not to be asked to express any positive or definite opinion upon it. It was in that direction he thought that much might be done for the advantage of paupers in this country, and he hoped that a fuller and more complete examination of the subject would place him in a position to be able on a future occasion to state more definitely his view to the House. In the inspection of vagrant wards it would be the duty of the Department to make representations to the authorities calling upon them to inspect such wards more efficiently than they had done, and to use every means in its power to give effect to those remonstrances. He believed that the number of pauper schools beyond the Metropolis was something like 300; but he could not be held personally responsible for the fact that, while in Scotland the local ratepayers bore the expenses of the inspection of those schools, the Imperial Exchequer bore the cost in England. He did not see, therefore, that any intervention on his part would have the effect which was desired of rectifying what appeared to be an anomaly. He admitted that the regrettable cases which had occurred in workhouses, of patients suffering from illness owing to inefficient and inferior nursing, ought to receive his careful attention. He had already made inquiries on the subject, and he understood that at the present time there was in existence a Workhouse Nursing Association, by means of which nurses were trained and also recommended. He understood, moreover, that many Boards of Guardians subscribed to the association. The Local Government Board attached great importance to the work of the association, and also to the nursing duties in workhouses by trained nurses. It was also 825 the policy of the Board to discourage as far as possible the nursing of patients by pauper nurses. This had been the general policy of the Department, and it was one which he hoped to continue to carry out in the future, realising how important it was that the nursing establishment connected with workhouses should be thoroughly reformed. As to the position of district schools in the Metropolis, he had made some inquiries of the Chairman of the Committee now sitting in connection with this subject. He understood that the Report might be presented not later than November next. When the Report had been presented and the Department was in possession of the views of the Committee, it would be his duty to give his best attention to the subject.
§ MAJOR PRYCE-JONES
thought that there were too many workhouses in Montgomeryshire, and suggested that, in order to relieve the ratepayers from a burden that was becoming intolerable, the number of them should be largely reduced.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that with regard to the question which had been raised as to certain Welsh Poor Law inspectors being unable to speak the Welsh language, he could only say that if that were so one of the first essentials of their duty would be to render themselves intelligible and understood by the people. He would examine into the question, and see what could possibly be done in the matter. He thought that the question as to the reduction of the number of workhouses in Montgomeryshire was one worthy of consideration.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
thought that there was no subject connected with the right hon. Gentleman's Department which more urgently demanded attention than that of the treatment of the pauper sick. Some of the communications he had received on this subject were both shocking and alarming, and the right hon. Gentleman would do great public service by instituting an inquiry into the matter. He had heard of an inmate of a workhouse infirmary, who was suffering from a nervous disorder, lying in a bed next to one in which a person was dying. He thought that something should be done to prevent infirmary patients being placed in 826 beds next to those who were dying, and being compelled to witness their death agonies.
§ * SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
was glad to state that the question of nursing the sick poor was one that had of late years received a great deal of attention on the part of the Local Authorities, who had been stimulated to action by the Local Government Board. The British Medical Journal had instituted a Commission of Inquiry into this subject, and had pointed out many necessary reforms, most of which had been anticipated in the reports of the Inspectors of the Local Government Board. There was in some quarters a great desire for greater central control in reference to this matter, but the Local Government Board was bound to proceed with caution in connection with the Boards of Guardians. There was no doubt that the nursing of the aged and sick poor in our workhouses required a great deal of professional skill on the part of the nurses employed, and he was glad to say that the Local Government Board had exercised the strongest influence to do away, as far as possible, with pauper helps, and to substitute trained nurses. There were, however, cases in which the Guardians had failed to abolish the old system, but these cases were fewer ever year. He was glad to hear what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board as to the scheme which had been suggested for giving employment to the casual poor oil the land. It was undoubtedly the best system yet suggested, and it had the great advantage of enabling a portion of those so employed to regain their characters. When a man was occupied in productive and interesting labour, and could see the useful results of his work, it did much to restore his self-respect. This was the experience gained by the Salvation Army in their Colony. The great obstacle that would have to be encountered in carrying out such a system generally, would be found in the difficulty of inducing such persons to remain upon the land for a sufficient period. He thought that experiments might be carried out, more especially in small counties, in reference to the grouping of unions and the consequent classification of workhouses and infirmaries, so that there might be one house 827 for the more deserving poor, another for the sick, and a third, possibly, for the well-behaved women and children. In this way they might get a useful classification of the poor in the different districts, while, at the same time the work would be rendered more harmonious throughout the county. ["Hear, hear!"]
MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)
said, that with regard to the proportion of English-speaking people in Wales he might say that during his first election he had had to address 57 meetings out of 60 held in his constituency in the Welsh language. He did not assert that none of these men understood a word of English, but, if hon. Members would endeavour to judge the matter by analogy to their own cases in the use of a foreign language, they would see that, although it might be understood when read or when spoken very slowly, it was not intelligible for ordinary purposes. These Welsh farmers used Welsh in the markets and fairs, as well as in their own homes. No doubt a case could be made against excessive outdoor relief, but all the arguments that were directed by poor-law inspectors were in the English language, and therefore did not have the effect that they would have if delivered in Welsh. He hoped, in conclusion, that the right hon. Gentleman would see that the inspectors to be appointed should speak Welsh.
§ MR. D. H. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
pointed out that the right hon. Gentleman had the power already in his hands, and hoped that he would not fail to put it in force. Most of the Acts of Parliament dealing with the condition of the poor were ancient Acts of Parliament, dating from the time of Queen Elizabeth. The old notion of dealing with our workhouses by making them as uncomfortable as possible had passed out of date, and he hoped that at the beginning of the next session the right hon. Gentleman would tell the Committee that he had taken a step forward. The time had now arrived for making the lot of the inmates of workhouses a happier one than it was in the past.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he was not satisfied with the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman. If hon. Members looked at the Scotch Local Government Vote, they would see that it was only £11,000, while the English Local Government Vote was,£175,000. The proportion of population was about one to eight, and, upon that basis, the English Vote ought, to be only £88,000. Scotland had to pay the cost of her own local government from local sources, and she was then called upon to contribute to the cost of the local government of England. They had always been told that the Parish Councils would pay their own expenses, but, as a matter of fact, the loss to the Imperial Exchequer was £14,500 upon that item. He did not think that ought to be continued. It was very unfair; and, as a protest against the charge being thrown upon them, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,000. The charges in regard to Scotland ought, he contended, to be placed upon the same footing as those in England.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he would have been very glad to meet the lion. Members opposite if he could have done so, but it was really quite impossible for him upon the present occasion to say anything that would be satisfactory to them upon the point which the last speaker, no doubt, felt strongly upon. It would be quite impossible to interfere just now with the whole system of the financial relations between England and Scotland, or to make any promise such as the hon. Member desired.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
said, that he quite recognised that the right hon. Gentleman could not be expected now to go into the financial relations between England and Scotland, and he thought that the Committee should at present be satisfied with his promise to give the matter his consideration. He would, therefore, ask his hon. Friend (Dr. Clark) not to press his Amendment upon the present occasion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ * DR. TANNER
rose to call attention to the question of vaccination. There could be no doubt that at the present day the immense amount of vaccine 829 virus that had been supplied was not required to the same extent as in the past. Within the past six months several cases had come to his knowledge of persons being treated by the inoculation of calf lymph got from the Royal Vaccine establishment, which had produced a most deleterious effect. It would be much better and equally efficacious that the lymph should be taken from a healthy child. A number of leading men in the provinces had pointed out that greater care and attention should, in the first place, be attached to the development of the calf lymph and the choice of the animals from which it was to be supplied. He did not agree with those who thought vaccination an evil. [Cheers.] On the contrary, he believed it to be one of the greatest benefits conferred upon mankind. [Renewed cheering.] Still, they could not be too careful in investigating the sources from which the virus was obtained and the means by which it was transmitted. The degree and development of the disease must, when several generations had already been inoculated, be milder in character, with the result that the cost of the establishment might reasonably be cut down. Crude vaccination might have been requisite 20 years ago, but was no longer requisite to-day. In regard to the nursing of infectious cases in workhouse hospitals, he had been very glad to hear the suggestion made that greater care should be taken. Workhouse inmates should not, he urged, be allowed to nurse such cases; the greater danger attaching to the nursing of infectious cases rendered it necessary that a higher salary should be paid to the nurse in attendance. This, of course would entail a greater cost upon the Guardians. The higher pay to the nurses who attended infectious cases was analogous to the higher pay which we paid to our officers when we sent them to the West Coast of Africa. Unfortunately, enough pressure had not been brought to bear upon the Guardians to secure adequate attendance.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said be had heard with genuine interest the remarks of the hon. Member, who was well entitled to speak on the scientific aspect of the question, but he was sure the hon. Member would forgive him for not following him in its discussion. He was bound to 830 say that the question of vaccine was not in a very satisfactory position at present; he had done all that was in his power up to that time by writing, a fortnight ago, to the members of the Royal Commission which was still investigating that subject, pressing upon them the urgent need there was of an early report. He hoped, in the interests of the general public, that they would not have to wait much longer for their views on this extremely important matter.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Vote of £9,055, to complete the sum necessary for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Commissioners in Lunacy, England—agreed to.
§ On the vote of £59, to complete the sum necessary for the salaries and expenses of the Mint,
§ DR. CLARK
complained that the Mint had illegally reverted to the practice of stamping on sovereigns the device of St. George and the dragon, instead of the arms of the United Kingdom. When the cross of St. Andrew and the cross of St. George were united and became our ensign the name Britain was substituted for England and Scotland, but, notwithstanding this, in Her Majesty's Speech the word "England" was used instead of the word Britain, and in the last Administration there had actually been a treaty between "England" and China. He thought they ought to have the Welsh dragon on the quartering of the shield. He urged that it was the duty of the Unionist Government as far as possible to carry out the law, and see that the arms of the various nationalities appeared on our coins instead of the device of St. George and the dragon.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
suggested that the dragon of Wales should be substituted as one of the quarterings upon the armorial shield appearing on our coins instead of the three leopards of England, as the latter at present were in duplicate.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he had nothing to say with regard to the point raised by an hon. Member as to the use of the word "England" in Her Majesty's Speech. There was no doubt that both 831 Scotland and Wales were now included in the term Britain. As to the question of the device upon our coins, he was satisfied that there was nothing in the insignia that was illegal, as had been stated by the hon. Member. There was no authority on the part of the Mint to issue coins in their actual shape. In the Act of 1870, which was the chief coinage Act, there was a distinct provision that it should be lawful to Her Majesty in Council, from time to time, by proclamation, to do any of the following things, namely, to determine the dimension of, or design of any coin. Therefore, clearly, the present design was under the Act of Parliament, and there was nothing contrary to the Statute in issuing it in its present shape. He himself thought the design of St. George and the dragon was a very good one, but at any rate the contention of the hon. Member that it was illegal was not correct.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, that the hon. Member opposite had better enter a protest in the first place against the white ensign, instead of complaining of the coinage. The white ensign bore the small Union Jack in the corner, with a large St. George's Cross suspended. But there was one point in reference to the coinage which was not sentimental but practical. The old shillings all bore the words "One Shilling" on one side; and it was desirable that the sovereign and half-sovereign, and indeed all coins, should have their denominations indicated. At present there was nothing on these coins but a coat-of-arms, and a portrait of Her Majesty which was far too large. Our coins were used by foreigners as well as ourselves—our sovereigns wore used all over the world. He did not know where the evil custom arose of putting on the coin everything but the one thing essential; but he hoped the Committee would be given the assurance that this bad custom would be departed from in future.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that the point brought before the late Government was that there was no difference in design between the sixpence and the half-sovereign, and that gilded sixpences were passed as half-sovereigns. This had now been remedied; and he thought that the intention was to make a similar change with respect to the shilling. 832 These coins were not English coins, but were coins of the United Kingdom. It might please Her Majesty to speak as though all the people of the United Kingdom were English; but he preferred to be a Scotchman. England, Wales and Scotland formed Great Britain, and Ireland used to be known as Western Britain. On the sovereign and half sovereign was the emblem, not of the United Kingdom, but of England only; and this was only one of a series of acts of the same kind, which were illegal as well as inaccurate.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
said, that our colonies and dependencies very much liked to see the emblem of St. George and the dragon on the sovereign. China, for instance, with which we did a large trade, valued the emblem on the English sovereign. As to the question of the white ensign, many hon. Gentlemen owned yachts—
* THE CHAIRMAN
This is not the proper time to enter into a nautical discussion. I must ask the hon. Member to confine his remarks to the Vote.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER
said that the half-sovereign was used a great deal, and the wear and tear of the coin cost the country a considerable sum. It was a pity that some silver coins were not issued for use all over the British Empire, and interchangeable in all parts of the Empire. By this means our merchants, and the commercial and working classes generally would get the benefit instead, of the exchange brokers and bankers. The objections raised by hon. Members opposite were very small. If our coins were well-known and liked by people generally, what did it matter that Wales, Ireland, and Scotland were not represented in the design?
§ * MR. B. L. COHEN (Islington, E.)
said, that the discussion showed that every time this Vote came up, there would be a number of conflicting opinions as to the proper arms which the coins of the realm should bear. The difficulty could easily be obviated in a practical way if no coin were to bear any arms at all, according to the precedent, which was practical, useful, and agreeable to all, of the shillings of 1870. On one side of our coins should be a portrait of the Queen, drawn from a becoming model, and on the other side should be the face-value of the coin. The only 833 objection in his view might be that this would be symbolical of bimetallism, for there would be the same design for all coins.
§ DR. TANNER
said, that he had yet to learn that China, as the hon. Member for East St. Pancras suggested, was a part of the British Empire. The hon. Member for Caithness had alluded to Ireland as Western Britain.
* THE CHAIRMAN
This discussion is becoming more and more irrelevant. Let the hon. Member confine himself to the Vote.
§ DR. TANNER
said, that at any rate he should not refer to flags; but he wished to deny that he belonged to any such place as Western Britain. Another hon. Member for Wales had suggested that the dragon should be put on the coins. The dragon appeared on the sovereigns already, together with St. George, the patron saint of England, by whom the dragon was being transfixed. Ought not hon. Members for Wales to be satisfied with the inclusion of the Welsh dragon in the design? This discussion was typical of many in Supply; and he hoped that the Minister in charge of this Vote would see fit to adopt all the suggestions which had been made; then next year we might hope to have something like a satisfactory coinage.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman had rather misunderstood the point which the Welsh Members had made. They did not object to any emblem representing Britain. What they did object to was an exclusively English emblem on the coinage, and their demand was that Wales should be represented in a quarter of the shield.
§ MR. LOUGH
said, there was a large item in connection with this Vote of £4,500 for incidental coinage expenses. The first items under that head were for water supply, bags, and boxes for coin and melting pots. He would like to know what was charged against water supply. Then there was an item of £2,500 for the supply of silver and bronze coin to the colonies. Was there no means of recovering this amount from the colonies? There was also an item, "appropriations in aid and extra receipts, £250,000." Under that the first item was seignorage on silver coinage, the second was profit on bronze 834 coinage, and the third receipts from sundry sources. He would be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would kindly tell the Committee how much was derived from seignorage, how much from profit on bronze coinage, and how much from sundry sources.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
asked why the four-shilling piece was continued in circulation? It was a very objectionable coin. It was absurd to have both the four-shilling and the five-shilling piece. There should be one or the other, but not both. At any rate he would suggest that some special distinction should be made between them.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he did not quite know the reason precisely why the four-shilling piece was introduced, and he quite agreed that some great distinction ought to have been made between it and the five-shilling piece. The issue of the double florin had, however, been discontinued since 1892. Under the Proclamation of 30th January 1893, the denominations of coins from the half-crown downwards are now stamped on the face of the coins. He did not know that he would care to see the sovereign much altered, for in his opinion, the representation of St. George and the Dragon was one of the best productions the mint had turned out. He did not think there was the same necessity to put the denomination on the sovereign as there was to put it on the shilling. As to the loss on silver coins withdrawn from circulation for three quarters of last year, it amounted to £22,000 on about £205,000 of silver coins withdrawn, or a little over 10 par cent. As regarded the supply of silver and bronze coins to the colonies, the charge under that head was chiefly one for freight to and from the colonies of imperial silver and bronze coin only. The Vote had no reference to colonial coinages executed in this country. Then a question was asked as to the extra receipts and how far the profit was due to seignorage and how far to other receipts. Ho could only deal with what happened last year when the seignorage on silver brought in a profit of very nearly £300,000. The profit on bronze coinage amounted to nearly £19,000, and the other receipts arising, as he believed, from what was known as the "sweep," amounted to something like £10,000.
§ * MR. HANBURY
The term is an ancient one as it concerns silver coinage, though perhaps it is not wholly justifiable for a token coinage. The modern term of profit is used with regard to the modern bronze coinage.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, that St. George was not a person for whom we should make much sacrifice, because, if he remembered his Gibbon aright, he was a Cappadocian tetrarch, who was put to death for defrauding the Roman army in contracts for meat.
§ DR. CLARK
asked whether the £250,000 was the entire profit made? He believed that the last figures they got showed very much more. The last information he got from the late Secretary to the Treasury was that pennies cost fourpence a dozen, and he should say that there was about sixpence profit on every shilling at the present price of silver.
§ MR. R. PIERPOINT (Warrington)
thought there was some danger in simplifying the impress on coins. The more difficult the design was to execute, the less likely was it that there would be an illegitimate coinage.
§ MR. LOUGH
asked the Secretary to the Treasury to explain how it was, that instead of the larger figure he had mentioned, only £250,000 was the amount set down as profit on silver and bronze coinage and other sources. Further, he desired to know how much silver was coined upon which the profit arose, and had the authorities considered the question of giving coin not so attenuated in value?
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he found he was wrong in the answer he had given to the hon. Member for Caithness; only £2,239 was due to the amount realised from "sweeps." As to the profits, he found that there was a certain amount in hand at the beginning of the year from the previous year, and the gross total was £380,000. Then certain extra receipts had to be deducted again; but why the addition was made in the first instance and the deduction subsequently made, he confessed he could not say, but he would inform himself on this point.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
asked if this country had to pay the cost, of depreciation in the recoinage of Australian sovereigns.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £7,175, to complete the sum for salaries and expenses of the National Debt Office,
§ DR. TANNER
asked what was intended to be done with the two senior clerks described as "redundant," and receiving the minimum salary of £340, and with an increase this year of £15. He observed that last year there were three assistant clerks marked "redundant," and this year only one with a salary of £320. From the appended note he found that the redundant clerks were being replaced by second division clerks as vacancies arose, and he presumed, therefore, that these were temporary appointments; but how did it come to pass that the appointments filled by second division clerks became permanent?
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, as the hon. Member would be aware, in consequence of the recommendation of the Ridley Commission on the Civil establishments, an estimate had to be decided by each department as to what are called clerks of the first and second divisions. It was no doubt found that in the National Debt Office there were a number of first division clerks whose work could very well be done by second division clerks, and he understood that, as vacancies occurred among these redundant clerks of the first division, their places were filled by Clerks of the second division.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the clerks continued in their appointments until their time came for retirement, and then appointments were made from the second division.
§ Vote agreed to.837
§ On the Vote of £12,488, to complete the sum for salaries and expenses of the Public Record Office,
§ MR. LEWIS
said, that about eighteen months ago a number of educationalists from Wales, chiefly connected with the Welsh University, waited upon, the then Financial Secretary with the object of securing the appointment of an officer with the duty of calendaring Welsh MSS. They pointed out the difficulties that beset Welsh scholars in the endeavour to refer to ancient Welsh MSS., that these MSS. were kept in great houses in various parts of the country, and access to them was extremely difficult.
§ * MR. HANBURY
pointed out that the Historical Manuscripts Commission came under another Vote and was concerned with private MSS.; this Vote dealt only with the Record Office.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, he was only going to say that the officer appointed had done excellent work, that his appointment was of a temporary character, and he wished that the work might be continued and the appointment made permanent. He was about to observe that, when the work of calendaring this mass of private MSS. was finished, there would still remain work at the Public Record Office, which, so far as he had been able to ascertain, had never been tackled by any official. There, was a great mass of valuable historical documents relating to Wales, remaining uncalendared and un-indexed, and so Welsh scholars were entirely unable to avail themselves of the great stores of information there existing on the subject of Welsh history. For many years past there had been a demand among Welshmen for a good history of their country written from a scientific standpoint; but when scholars were approached and reproached for this want, they replied that materials for such a history were not available. He believed that Wales was worse off in this respect than any civilised nation on the face of the globe. So much interest was taken in this subject in Wales that a private society had been started with the object of publishing some of these interesting historical records, and Members from either side of the House had joined this society. The grievance was a substantial one, and the request now 838 made by Welsh Members as modest a request as had ever been made in the House. Private enterprise was doing what it could, but could not of course do much. A sum of £1,300 had been subscribed, and documents had been published throwing a flood of light on customs of the Middle Ages in Wales full of interest to scholars. Scotland and Ireland had been provided for in this respect if not amply, and he by no means complained of this; indeed, he confessed that the provision for the publication of Irish Celtic MSS. was inadequate. But for Wales nothing of the kind had been done. Last year the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, when this subject was raised on the Estimates, gave an encouraging answer, quite different to the stereotyped official reply, the tone being more encouraging than the mere words as they appeared in "Hansard." What was understood to be the moaning of the right hon. Gentleman was that he hoped that the present temporary arrangement might be made permanent. At present nothing was done for Wales in this matter, and the Government threw upon private individuals the burden of making these interesting historical researches.
§ * MR. MAURICE HEALY
complained of the inefficient, careless, and grossly-incompetent way in which the investigation of documents in the archives of the Vatican was being conducted. The sum devoted to this purpose was only £380. The subject was important to historical students. A few years ago the present Pope, for the first time in the history of the Papacy, permitted scholars of all countries to have access to the documents preserved in the Vatican, covering the period between 1200 A. D. and 1600 A. D. Of this opportunity the Government had taken very little advantage. A gentleman had been employed for many years in connection with the archives of Rome, and to him had been entrusted the additional work arising out of the Pope's concession. He understood that no less than 12 French scholars had been sent by their Government to examine these Papal records, which must throw great light upon the ecclesiastical history of almost every country in Europe. The question of the connection between the Churches of this country and the Roman Church 839 was one of great interest to historical and ecclesiastical students; and it was surprising that a, rich country like this should have failed to take more advantage of the offer of the present occupier of the Papal Chair, and should practically have treated that offer with contempt. The Government had left it to one gentleman in Rome to examine these documents, and complaint was made of the way in which that gentleman had done his work in the volume which he had published. The volume was published at the beginning of this year, and it covered the period between 1128 and 1304. It had been reviewed by a most able scholar in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record. The reviewer complained of the grossly inadequate and unskilful manner in which the writer had done his work. It was surprising that the English Record Office had not asked for some explanation from the compiler of the volume. The reviewer alleged that the chronology of the book was inadequate and wrong. The Papal records were dated according to the year of the Papacy to which they related, and one of the functions of the editor of the book was to convert the year of the Papal reign into the year of Our Lord, so that the reader might see at a glance to what period of history any document referred. In this part of his work, according to the reviewer, the writer had committed several errors. It was scandalous that public money should be spent for work which was thus inaccurate. Historical students, it should be remembered, were dependent upon digests of this work; very few of them could afford to go so far as Rome to examine documents at first-hand. The reviewer also complained that the editor seemed to be incapable of making correct translations of Latin. Here was an example. One of the most interesting questions in history was the connection of the Churches of this kingdom with the Church of Rome; and there had been great historical controversies as to how far those Churches, before the Reformation, were subject to the Roman jurisdiction. Well, in translating the mandate of Gregory IX., dated 1237, the editor of this book made that Pope distinctly state that the Scotch Church was not subject to his jurisdiction, when the statement was, of course, exactly the 840 contrary. The mistake was due to the fact that the translator thought the words nullo medio which occurred in the mandate meant "by no means." Such a blunder was almost incredible. The Pope used exactly the contrary language—namely, that the Church of Scotland was subject to the Church of Rome as its sole mother and Metropolitan—that was to say, there was no Archbishop in Scotland to whom the Bishops of Scotland were primarily subject, and who stood between them and the Church of Rome. This gentleman, however, translating the words nullo medio as "by no means," made the Pope write: "The Church of Scotland was not subject to the Church of Rome." This was a point of capital importance, and it was a scandal and shame that the public money should be spent on such careless and slipshod work. Many of these documents related to the Irish Church, and were full of topographical names referring to particular sees and dioceses, which were, of course, rendered in Latin. It was quite impossible for any man, no matter how learned in English, to be competent to do this special work; and accordingly the Record Office should have taken pains to have had the Irish and Scottish portions revised by Irish and Scottish scholars. This was not done, and the result was that the Irish portion of the work so teemed with errors and inaccuracies as to be useless for any purpose of reference. The right hon. Gentleman would admit that these were grave and serious charges, well deserving of investigation; and, he said again, it were better this work should never be done at all than done in the manner of which he complained.
§ * MR. HANBURY
quite admitted the importance of the subject, and the right which the hon. Gentleman had to express an interest in it in this House. Of course there was, as he had pointed out, a great difference between the number of men employed upon this work by the French Government and by our own, and he would have made inquiries to see how far special assistance was required for what he admitted was an important matter. With regard to the complaints against Mr. Bliss, that gentleman certainly ought to be competent, for he had been editor for 20 years. The first complaint against him, 841 however, was that he was not sufficiently acquainted with Irish subjects and Irish topography, and therefore he had made some mistakes in the translation of Irish names from the Latin. He quite agreed that it would be well if, in this special field, some assistance were found for the editor, at any rate in the way of revising his proofs to see that no blunders appeared—he assumed, of course, the blunders mentioned were beyond a doubt—and that there should be somebody on the spot at Rome to protect him against the recurrence of them in future volumes. One was nearly ready for the Press, and he thought some local assistance was desirable in order to see that the same kind of mistakes were not made in the succeeding volumes. Accepting the statement of the hon. Gentleman—for he had no means at hand of verifying the facts—such a blunder as that of nullo medio—a very important one in connection with the passage in which it occurred—was one which should not be made by any average scholar. It was so absurd that—again without throwing any discredit on the statement of the hon. Gentleman—it seemed almost incredible it could have been made by a gentleman who, presumably, had special qualifications for the work, one of the first of them being, at any rate, an average knowledge of the Latin language. It was an important matter, and he wished it to be understood that he would make no perfunctory inquiry about it. With regard to the complaint of Mr. Bliss not dealing with the records in chronological order, that was not the editor's fault. His instructions were to take them in the order in which they occurred in the Papal Registers, and that was the order adopted by the representatives of the French Government. With regard to the special Irish grievance that these errors occurred in the translation of Irish names of places, he thought it a very reasonable suggestion that Mr. Bliss should get some assistance from some Irishman. The hon. Member for Flint had referred to certain manuscripts which did not come under this Vote at all, but which came before the Historical Manuscripts Commission. The hon. Gentleman asked that the 842 official appointed to examine these documents in Wales should be made a permanent official. So long as the inquiry in Wales continued, no doubt the work would fall into the hands of the gentleman who now performed it, but he did not think there was any intention of making him a permanent Civil officer, qualifying him for a pension, and carrying with it all the advantages of being placed on the Establishment. Again, it would not be fair to the other officers in the Record Office to bring in this gentleman and make him a permanent official. So long as he continued to examine Welsh documents, he would be treated in exactly the same way as the gentlemen who were engaged in a similar examination of English records. The hon. Member complained that Welsh records were neglected in the Public Record Office. One of the existing officials of the Record Office was a Welshman, and he was told that there was no reason why Welsh records should not be dealt with just as readily, by the staff of the Record Office, as any other documents. As a matter of fact, he believed the Welsh documents were in Latin, and, so far as those which were in Latin were concerned, any ordinary official, whether English, Scotch or Irish, would be able to deal with them as well as a Welshman himself. He quite recognised that Wales ought to be treated on exactly the same terms in this matter as England, and if the hon. Gentleman could show him any specific instance in which injustice had occurred in the Record Office in regard to Welsh records, he should be perfectly willing, so far as he had the power, to see that justice was done.
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interval,
§ MR. LEWIS
said he desired to impress on the Secretary to the Treasury the desirability that one who was not only a Welshman, but one thoroughly acquainted with Welsh law, and particularly with Welsh agrarian law, should be appointed permanently to do exclusively Welsh work in the public Record Office—that was, to obtain information relating to Wales from historical records. 843 If the, right hon. Gentleman made that concession, which, indeed, had been practically promised by his predecessor in office, it would give universal satisfaction in Wales.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, the Vote called for some remarks in the interest of economy. He found that the total cost of the Public Record Office was £50,490. That seemed to be a very large sum to pay for keeping a lot of old papers. He thought the House would be astounded if it realised the amount of money spent on foreign papers. This was a matter which should he left to private enterprise. Many booksellers would be glad to get an opportunity of having the work done for nothing, publishing them at such a price as would remunerate him. Then the investigation on the Archives of Rome cost them £10,000—"investigation" only. Then there was a large sum for investigation at Simancas? [An hon. MEMBER: "Where is Simancas?"] He did not know; he believed in Spain, but the Secretary of the Treasury, who knew everything, would tell them. [Laughter.] He should like some explanation which would justify this expenditure being continued. He had another remark to make. If hon. Members would turn to page 153 and observe the extraordinary crop of foot-notes, they would see that almost every official in this Department had two or three salaries. It seemed to him that this dusty old office with its dusty old papers had been lost sight of, and that the salaries had been allowed to accumulate one on the top of the other in the most remarkable way. Here was the Secretary who gets £600 a year, and in addition he received an allowance of £100 a year as Secretary to the historical manuscript. How could he do both duties? He received £600 a year as Secretary of the public Record Office, which ought to take the whole of his time. The assistant keepers got a maximum of £700 each. One of these officers edited the Chronicle out of office hours. He received eight guineas a sheet for this work "out of office hours." Here was a man with two masters; he was sure to neglect part of his duties. They might be quite certain that if they allowed an official to do work "out of office hours" he would do the work in office hours. He thought he could say 844 that from a certain amount of personal experience. [Laughter.] He was then very young and very wicked, but since then, he had had the privilege of the company of the Secretary of the Treasury. This work out of office hours ought not to be allowed. One man one job. Then, as to the clerks; a great many of them were pluralists, but it would be observed that they could not tell how many were pluralists. They were told that "four or five" got extra payments. Surely they ought to be told whether it was four or five. Then they were told that "others" received payment for extra work out of office hours. Down even to the charwoman, they were all pluralists. It was a vicious, bad system. When a man received a public appointment he should give up his whole time to its duties, and he should not be allowed to hold another employment on the pretext that he did the work out of office hours. They did not allow Ministers to be directors of companies, but called on them to give their whole time to the Queen's service. He intended to raise this question of pluralists from time to time as it came up, until the system by which a man received two or three salaries was put an end to. In the meantime it seemed to him that to call on the country to pay £50,000 a year for the keeping of these duty old papers and the maintenance of dusty old pluralists, was a matter which called for urgent inquiry.
§ DR. CLARK
said, these men were getting preposterous salaries. The Commission laid down a scale, and that was that the salaries should begin at £150 and increase to £300. Some of the junior clerks had a salary of £530, so that actually they were paid more than the assistant keepers. This office would supply the hon. Gentleman plenty of scope for his reforming energy. Some of the officials drew in extra payments twice as much as their wages were. He hoped some further information would be given.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said, the grievance of the Welsh Members was that no effort was made in the Record Office to deal with historical documents affecting Wales. The Welsh documents ought to be put in such order that the historian would not be compelled to lose valuable time in 845 needless research. He thought it would be preferable to appoint a Welsh-speaking individual, who, necessarily would know most about these subjects and about the documents which relate to Welsh history.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that if the hon. Member could point out to him privately any particular way in which Wales was suffering owing to the present constitution of the office, he would do his best to provide a remedy. Wales certainly ought to be treated in the same way as other portions of the country. The hon. Member for King's Lynn appeared to be under the impression that the Record Office was simply used for keeping old papers. But the office was of greater value than that. Not only was it the store house of historical records of the country, but it produced the indices and calendars pertaining to them. It was, indeed, the source whence many of our great historians drew many of their facts. For example, Dr. Stubbs and Dr. Creighton had used the office for the investigation of many of their historical facts. Calendars were periodically published, and issued at a low price, and, historically, they were very valuable documents indeed. As to the records in foreign archives, he had to say that officials were sent abroad in order to get information and consult documents in foreign archives bearing on the history of their own country, and this was a useful purpose for the Record Office to serve. For example, the correspondence of Phillip II., relating to British affairs in the reign of Elizabeth, had been consulted at Simancas in order to throw some fresh light on that reign. He had always maintained that a great deal of discussion would be prevented if the Estimates were presented in a move intelligible fashion than at present; and as to personal allowances, he agreed with his hon. Friend on that point. If a definite salary was attached to a particular kind of work it ought to be an exceptional case if a personal allowance was granted. But it would not be fair to take away those allowances at once, though ho promised that he would watch carefully over the personal allowances which were granted in future. The same remark applied to those persons holding more than one office. It was a somewhat more difficult question to deal with work 846 out of office hours. While, no doubt, the State had the fullest claim on the service of officials during office time, and in preventing them from undertaking outside work during that time, it yet came to be a question how far it was possible or right to say to public servants, "You shall do no other work outside the seven hours allotted to the service of the State." He did not think this was a regulation which would be generally acceptable to the House. While it was laid down clearly in the Report of the Ridley Commission and in the Order in Council based on its recommendations, that no one should hold a directorship the meetings in connection with which took place in office hours, it was held that neither the Commission nor the Treasury should attach that disqualification to the case of directorships the duties of which could be fulfilled after office hours. If, therefore, they had that rule applying to directorships, he did not see how they could prevent officials from doing work out of office hours. While he thought that they ought not to encourage or to allow any great amount of work out of office hours, it was only fair to remember that those hours were not paid for by the State. They were the time of the officials themselves, and, unless work was carried on by the officials to such an extent as to interfere with their ordinary duties, he did not think the Government had a right to interfere.
§ DR. CLARK
said, the case was rather this. A man was paid £700 a year for doing certain work during a stated number of hours. After those hours the official took exactly the same class of work home, and by means of piece wages earned £8 8s. per sheet. This was a bad system, because the country was paying for the work twice over.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said he was speaking of private work other than office work or work connected with their Department. He agreed that in principle it was not wise to encourage this work out of office hours, and to pay separate salaries.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
was urging that some person should be appointed, conversant with the Welsh language, to go into the question next year, when
interposed, and reminded the hon. Member that he was not entitled to repeat arguments already 847 used. If he could throw any fresh light on the question he would be justified in doing so, but he warned the hon. Member that he must not repeat, over and over again, the arguments which had already been used by hon. Members.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, the blundering of Mr. Bliss was the more inexcusable because a former writer mentioned by him had published the originals in Latin. He wished to ask whether if this work of investigating the Vatican records were to go on, the translation could be accompanied by the original; otherwise, controversies would arise on the blunders of Mr. Bliss. There were persons of undoubted erudition and archæological lore who could supply the technical knowledge that was required to avoid translating the word for diocese into parish with the effect of locating several churches in one parish. There were scholars, Irish and English, at Rome, who could assist in the translation of ancient ecclesiastical terms and save Mr. Bliss from exhibiting that ignorance for which he attacked other scribes. Without wishing to lessen the thousands spent on English records, he must call attention to the expenditure of £600 on Irish records; and he would suggest that in the manning of the Department all the nationalities should be adequately represented. In the last few years the papers calendered were British papers, to the exclusion of Irish papers, and he did not blame the Government for this. Still, he maintained the Irish Members were entitled to ask that Irish manuscripts and records in England and Ireland, as well as on the Continent, should be looked after by well-qualified men, and that the amount spent upon this work should bear some proportion to the amount spent upon records in England, Scotland and Wales. In this respect the Irish people were entitled to sympathetic treatment at the hands of the editors of these documents.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said, it was clear Wales had a grievance Neither this year nor in any year for five years past had a penny been taken for the cataloguing of Welsh manuscripts. Would the right hon. Gentleman promise that one set of Welsh manuscripts should be investigated and catalogued within the coming year?
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, he thought the claims of Ireland and of Wales ought to be fairly recognised in the work of the Record Office, and, as far as he could bring any influence to bear, he would endeavour to see that justice was done. He could not give the specific promise asked for with regard to Wales, but he would do his best to secure that no errors were committed that could be avoided. The hon. Member for Louth had returned to the documents in the Vatican. Already he had admitted that, with regard to points of Irish topography and details of that kind, a fair claim had been established that Mr. Bliss should have assistance, and it had been suggested that a member of the Dominican body on the spot should be associated with him for this special purpose. If these records were worth translating or inquiring into, the work ought to be done well. He was glad to hear that, although blunders sometimes occurred, the work was, on the whole, well done. The hon. Member suggested that somebody should be associated with Mr. Bliss to correct errors of that kind. It might be that his ecclesiastical Latin was not as good as his ordinary Latin. He would submit to the Record Office the suggestion of the hon. Member for Louth that instead of having this assistance the Latin text should be published alongside the translation.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Vote of £5,855, to complete the sum for the Public Works Loan Commissioners—agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £24,899, to complete the sum required for salaries and expenses of the Registrar General for England,
§ DR. CLARK
pointed out that £21,445 of this was for fees of registrars. In Scotland, these local expenses were defrayed from the local rates and not from the Imperial Exchequer. It was not fair that Scotland, a comparatively poor country, should pay her own expenses and contribute towards those of England too.
§ * MR. HANBURY
replied that legislation would be necessary to deal with 849 this state of affairs, and as this could not be introduced this Session, ho asked the hon. Member to allow the Vote to pass.
§ DR. TANNER
said, there was a very important matter in connection with the Registrar General's Office which should be dealt with in connection with the registration of births. From vaccination and other causes there was much infantile mortality which was blamed upon medical officers who were called in to act without fee or reward. Much mal-administration occurred in connection with the registration of the births and deaths of children which ought to be inquired into. The medical journals had frequently called attention to the subject and called for a remedy.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, the subject was an important one, but went beyond the purview of the information then at his command. He would be glad, however, privately to communicate with the hon. Member.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £277,909, to complete the sum for Stationery and Printing,
* MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
drew attention to the large sum of £77,000, which was taken under the head of "printing, paper, binding, &c., for the two Houses of Parliament." At one time every Parliamentary paper that was printed was supplied to each hon. Member, but now a partial reform had been effected, and only a selected class of Parliamentary papers was sent to them, and hon. Members who desired to have additional papers had to make special application for them. That arrangement had given satisfaction to the House, and no complaint had been made with regard to it. There were points, however, in respect of which the present system required amendment. For instance, when the Home Rule Bill was in Committee all the proposed Amendments to it were reprinted every morning, although there was no possibility of the greater part of them being reached for many days after they were placed upon the paper. He had ventured to call the attention of the then Financial Secretary to the Treasury to the great waste of money that that course 850 involved, with the result that subsequently only those Amendments that were likely to be reached on the day appeared upon the paper, and thereby a considerable saving was effected. The same thing occurred in connection with the Welsh Disestablishment Bill, but it was a curious fact that the Amendments to that Bill continued to appear upon the paper after the late Government had resigned office. The Reports of the Police and Sanitary Committee on Local Improvement Bills were also delivered to all Members; Reports in one instance occupying 46 pages of the Votes of the Day. His suggestion was that both the Amendments to Bills and the Reports of Committees should be printed, as they were under the present practice, but that the latter should only be delivered to those hon. Members who desired to have them. Amendments should not be reprinted, except when fresh Amendments wore put down. He was aware that the Reports of the Police Committee were circulated in virtue of a Standing Order of that House, but that was a difficulty that might easily be overcome. By adopting the course he had suggested, not only would a great saving be effected but the convenience of hon. Members would also be consulted, because their tables were now overloaded by a quantity of papers that were of no possible use to them. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to effect the change he had indicated, which he believed would result in a considerable saving of public money.
§ MR. LOUGH
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had been good enough, in answer to a question he had put to him, to promise to reappoint next Session the Committee which had sat to consider the terms upon which the great bulk of the Government printing was done. He should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would inform him what were the terms of the reference to that Committee, and whether any change had been made in the terms that were fixed by the late Government. There was great discontent among the large body of men connected with the printing trade, who complained that the terms of the Resolution of that House had not been carried into effect. That Resolution could not be regarded as being in 851 any sense a, Party matter, seeing that it had been carried by a Conservative Government in 1891, and had been affirmed when the late Government was in office. The Resolution prohibited sweating and sub-letting, and directed that the London Scale of Prices should he paid; but he was afraid that it was carried out neither in the letter nor in the spirit. The Government was constantly getting work done which was of a temporary character, and was not included in the regular printing contracts, and the Resolution was not carried into effect as regarded that work. He asked whether the right hon. Gentleman was willing to promise that as far as possible the contracts should be carried out in accordance with the terms of the Resolution of the House of Commons. There was no trade in which the conditions of work could be more clearly ascertained as the printing trade. The London School Board and the London County Council had both adopted the London scale of prices, and 90 per cent, of work done in London was done under that scale.
§ MR. MICHAEL AUSTIN (Limerick, W.)
thought it had been fully proved that as regarded the Government printing in London, it was done under conditions which were disadvantageous to the printing trade of the Metropolis. The Committee appointed by Sir J. Hibbert met, but were not able to take evidence. They, however, draughted a recommendation that the Committee be reappointed, and he hoped this would have been done, even in the present short Session. The printing contracts in connection with the present, ten-year system would expire next year, he was glad to say. He did not consider a Committee a very safe way for bringing home to the minds of the people the workings of Government contracts. The Royal Labour Commission, instead of producing any good results, only deferred the question for a longer period. He trusted that more energy would be thrown into the deliberations of the Committee which had been promised for next Session, and that they would put an end to the ten years' contract. Among the second division clerks he noticed that there were five with a special knowledge of printing, but why, he asked, was it that their knowledge of printing was not recognised? The Comptroller of the 852 Department had no knowledge of the printing trade, and the printing and binding in Dublin was carried on under a system which had been denounced. He would impress upon the Secretary to the Treasury the desirability of appointing upon the promised Committee men who had a grasp of the subject, which affected the credit of the book-binding and printing trades in Dublin as well as in London. He hoped that the Committee to be appointed would not be thwarted by permanent officials in London, who had not the remotest idea of the printing and book-binding trades. He thought, too, that the scope of the Committee should be widened, and that it should not be merely a Select Committee of the House, but that men outside the House should be appointed upon it, with a view to inquiring into the working of the various departments. The strong representations which were made to the late Government should strengthen the present Government in the appointment of the Committee, and he hoped that in the next Session that Committee would be practical both in its constitution and results.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that a practical suggestion had been made as to the amount of documents published by the House, and he thought that the suggestion would go far to remedy the evil which had been complained of. A most practical suggestion was also made by the Committee which introduced the system now in force, that hon. Members should mark on a pink paper the particular volumes of the Parliamentary papers which each wished to have sent to him That principle had been carried out as far as possible, but he was afraid there were still a great many Members of the House who did not avail themselves of it, and wished all the volumes to be sent to them. That might save trouble, but it entailed a vast amount of unnecessary expense, and he thought it would be well if there was a general understanding in the House that so far as possible, the public expenditure should be spared by hon. Members marking on the Paper what documents they really required. As to the suggestion in regard to Amendments on the Paper dealing with important Bills occupying the attention of the House for a long time, that was a matter hardly to be discussed 853 on the Stationery Vote, but rather a matter of procedure. The same remark applied to the circulation of the Reports of recent Sanitary Committees. As hon. Members had stated, that was done under one of the Standing Orders of the House, and it would therefore be impossible for him under that Vote to express any opinion as to how that matter was to be dealt with. Then the hon. Member for Islington had referred to a promise which he had given, that the Committee on Printing should be nominated again at the beginning of next Session. As to the terms of reference, those had not yet been definitely settled, but he believed they would probably be precisely the same as the terms of reference under which the late Committee sat. The hon. Member for Limerick was anxious, and very properly so, that this should be a really practical Committee. It was impossible to nominate that Committee this Session in time for it to do any practical work, and therefore the appointment of the Committee had been put off till the beginning of next year. He could certainly promise the hon. Member, so far as he had to do with the nomination of the Committee, that he would do his best to see that it was a thoroughly practical Committee, and he should hope that the hon. Member himself would give his assistance upon it, because there was perhaps no other Member of the House who had so much practical knowledge of the subject. In regard to the longer contracts for printing given by the Stationery Department, generally speaking, in fact, almost wholly, he endorsed the views expressed by his predecessor. The directions that that right hon. Gentleman gave to the Stationery Office were that in cases where tenders were sent in by union and non union, houses, if there was no important difference in prices between them, preference should be given to the union houses, but if the union house tender was very much above that of the non-union house, then the contract should be given to the latter, on the condition that they should be bound by the terms of the Resolution with regard to fair wages.
§ MR. J. W. MACLURE (Lancashire, Stretford)
protested strongly against the opinion expressed by the right hon. Gentleman. He urged that the Members of the Committee which had 854 been promised should be Members of the House, who were accustomed to deal with large contracts in a fair and square way.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
desired to point out that the proceeds of the sale of the Ordnance Survey maps, an item of £14,000, were credited to the Stationery Department, whereas the proceeds of sale of the Admiralty charts, which were in exactly the same position, being prepared by the Admiralty, were credited, he presumed, to the Admiralty. He wished to know why these two entirely different methods of keeping the accounts of two similar departments were adopted. He also pointed out that there was credited as appropriation in aid £22,000 for stationery supplied to the repaid departments, while there was also credited as appropriation in aid 5 per cent. on those supplies. Why, he asked, should one department pay 5 per cent. to another department? He found that full accounts of the three official publications—the London, Dublin and Edinburgh Gazettes—were set out in the Estimates. Why was no account rendered of the other publications, recently started by the Government, such as the Labour Gazette and the Agricultural, Gazette? He knew why. It was because they were run at a dead loss in competition with outside newspapers. The loss was concealed somewhere in the Estimates, so that it should not be known.
§ * Mr. MAURICE HEALY
said, that, if there were a loss on the publications mentioned by the hon. Member for Lynn Regis, he hoped they would not be stopped on that account. Nothing but a loss was to be expected; and the publications were not undertaken for the purpose of earning a profit. To compare them with the London, Edinburgh and Dublin Gazettes was quite fallacious. The latter existed largely for the publication of legal advertisements, which were very profitable. Whether the Labour and Agricultural Gazettes were profitable or not, they were well worth the money spent upon them. While the Edinburgh Gazette brought in £3,300 by sales and advertisements, and cost £327 to print; the Dublin Gazette only brought in £999 and cost £620 to print. What was the reason for this serious discrepancy? In Scotland the Gazette was published by 855 the Government themselves, and in Ireland through a contractor; but that was, if anything, a reason for the Irish publication being produced more cheaply. In England and Scotland the fees for advertisements were paid in stamps, but in Ireland they had to be paid for in cash. Why was the practice different? Further, why had the former practice in regard to the sale in Ireland of Ordnance maps been departed from? Now there was only one agent in Ireland for the sale of these maps, while before it was possible to deal directly with the Government. The old arrangement was much more satisfactory, and he hoped it would be reverted to. The circumstances of Ireland rendered it particularly desirable that the maps should be accurate, because they were constantly being referred to in the Land Courts. As to the circulation of volumes of the Statutes to the Departments, there was at one time complaint that this was too lavishly done, but now the Government had gone to the other extreme. There were a certain class of officials—such as the Crown and Sessional Crown Solicitors—who were constantly requiring to refer to the Statutes; and to such the volumes ought to be supplied by the Government. How was it that the publication of the volumes of Brehon Laws had been abandoned? He hoped that the work done in that direction in the past, which was of a very excellent character, would be continued by the department. The only other matter to which he wished to refer was the subject of the reporting of the Debates in the House. He would like to learn from the right hon. Gentleman how that matter now stood. It had been considered by Committee after Committee, and had never yet been put on a satisfactory footing. The House of Commons was the only Assembly in the world which had no official record of its Debates. If they took the trouble to appoint Committees, and those Committees made elaborate inquiries on the subject, they ought at any rate to follow the recommendations they made. The Committee which sat some time ago made several recommendations which had not been carried out. One of their recommendations was that there should be a verbatim report. There was no doubt a great deal to be said on both sides on that question. Perhaps some people would think 856 that many observations that were made in the House were not worth reporting; but the answer to that was that if selections were made, there must be complaints that those selections were invidious. The only safe rule was to have, as far as possible, a verbatim report. The Report they got now was practically The Times report, a little amplified in Committee. There was a further objection. It was well known that the Reports did not appear even as they were published in The Times. They were submitted to individual Members who had the opportunity of revising and correcting them, and what appeared in print was not what they had said. It was a very common thing for Members to say one thing when they rose in their places, and afterwards, when others wished to face them with what they have said, it was found that when it got into print it had assumed quite a different shape. He did not think that was a satisfactory condition of affairs. He thought that the recommendations of the Committee, presided over by Sir John Hibbert, should have been followed. It was not the first Committee that had reported in a similar sense, and, indeed, he did not think any Committee could come to any other conclusion. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government intended to see that the recommendations of that Committee were carried out, and if not, what conclusion they had come to, and in what condition the matter now stood?
§ MR. H. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman what was the ground on which he had arrived at the determination to give a preference in printing contracts to houses which conformed to trades union rates over houses that were independent of them? He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that it was not merely a case of tenders being equal, but that there being only a small difference between tenders of trades union houses and those of non-union houses, he would give the preference to the trades union house.
§ MR. LOUGH
said, he wished to make one or two remarks on the same subject. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had gone distinctly back from what his predecessor had done with regard to this matter. There was nothing in the House of Commons Resolution about union or 857 non-union houses, and he much regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should drag in that suggestion at all. He founded his case entirely on the Resolution of the House. The House pledged itself first to do its best to guard against the evils arising from sweating and sub-letting, and to see that such wages were paid as were commonly current in a district. There was not a word about unionist or non-unionist rates, and he did not think those words ought to be introduced into the Debate. The position with regard to printing contracts was this. There was a scale, called the London scale of prices. It was not a trades union scale at all. It was drawn up by masters and men, and was a peaceful and happy outcome of an agreement between them; and 95 per cent, of the London masters acted upon it. The position he wanted the right hon. Gentleman to take up was this, that with regard to contracts he would not ask whether the house tendering was unionist or non-unionist, but that he would see that the provisions of the Resolution of the House of Commons were inserted in the contract, and that the wages paid under the contract were the wages current in the district. The Treasury should get rid of the distinction between union and non-union firms and keep close to the Resolution of the House for the payment of wages accepted as the current rate in the trade. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would make this matter a little clearer, and not go beyond the statement of his predecessor and the terms of the Resolution.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said, that, for his own part, he had listened with extreme satisfaction to the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury, and he was surprised that his hon. Friend should take exception to the statement. His hon. Friend objected to any preference being given to union over non-union houses.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said, he quite understood; and there was the statement of 858 the Secretary to the Treasury to the effect that, other conditions being equal, he would give the preference to a union house as against a non-union house. With that statement he was satisfied. He had watched the agitation in regard to the House of Commons' Resolution with some interest, and had, indeed, taken some part in it. The first demand made was that, in the giving out of contracts, preference should be given to union houses, and then a compromise was arrived at and embodied in the Resolution which stood as a text in this matter. That Resolution contained all he desired to see enforced; and, if the right hon. Gentleman interpreted fair rate of wages to be the union rate, he would not go far from the general desire.
§ MR. J. LOWLES (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
hoped the Government would not go beyond the spirit of the Resolution, which was founded on a Resolution of the London County Council, that wages paid in contracts should be those recognised as fair in the particular trade concerned. In giving contracts, the balance should be fairly held; always recognising that the Resolution was directed against the evils of sweating. He hoped the Government would follow that course, and would not be swayed by the fact of a house being union or nonunion.
§ MR. MICHAEL AUSTIN
thought there had been some misapprehension of the words used by the Secretary to the Treasury. He did not understand him to say or to imply that a preference would be given to union houses above non-union houses, but that where the conditions of labour were carried out in accordance with the spirit of the Resolution, that firm was entitled to a contract. The London scale was agreed upon by the London Society of Compositors and accepted by the great mass of employers, by 600 firms out of 642. That must therefore be recognised as the current rate in London. The unionists did not want any privilege beyond their fair claim, and this he declared as an advocate of trade unions and representative of the society he had mentioned. Let Government contracts be carried out under the same conditions as attached to other employment of labour. The Secretary to the Treasury only meant that where work was done under 859 fair conditions, that house should be given the preference over a house where the work was riot conducted according to the Resolution of the House of Commons. That Resolution had been found wanting, and it was being violated every day. The trade unionists of the country wished for its amendment. If a Select Committee on the printing contracts were appointed the shortcomings of the Resolution could be shown.
§ MR. J. C. FLYNN
said, that the difficulty was to determine whether the Resolution was to be interpreted according to its spirit or according to the letter. Interpreted according to its spirit, it meant distinctly that those houses which were conducted on trade union principles were entitled to a preference at the hands of the Department. It should be borne in mind that the scale of wages known as the London prices was settled at a conference at which the vast majority of the men were trade unionists who sought for the recognition of a right which would not have been recognised if most of the men had not been Trade Unionists. He hoped that the Secretary to the Treasury would take care to prevent any violation of the Resolution in Ireland. On two or three occasions Mr. John Morley, when Chief Secretary, was waited upon by the representatives of trade union houses, who supplied abundant proof that with regard to the undue employment of boy labour and with regard to sweating the Resolution of the House was not being properly carried out by the officials in Dublin Castle. He wished to call attention to the payments made to the Edinburgh Gazette office, as compared with those made to the Dublin Gazette Office. The sum set down for the printing and paper of the Edinburgh Gazette was £327, and the corresponding sum for the Dublin Gazette, for the same amount of work was £620. 15s. 8d. Why should the Dublin Gazette, office be shown this preference? Why should it receive so much larger a sum? He was in favour of meting out equal justice to the two countries.
§ DR. TANNER
said, this was a matter to which they ought to give considerable attention. The first question he wished to ask the hon. Gentleman was, how did 860 they stand at the present moment? This was the financial point, and they could not be too strict or too careful. They were told that "considerable arrears continued to exist." He wanted to know how they stood with regard to the contractors. Another point was about outstanding balances. He should like to know exactly the position with regard to these two matters. There was a third point, the agents' balances. In dealing with these points he was only quoting the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, and he hoped he would put the Committee in possession of all the information he had.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, a question had been put to him—and it was dwelt upon on both sides—with regard to these small contracts given for printing. He should like to state what was the exact position with regard to these contracts. Of course the matter had come before him rather suddenly, and he at once, as the first thing, ascertained what had been the practice of his predecessor. The hon. Member, he thought, was in error when he stated that what he said varied from what was said by his predecessor in every respect. What he said was that, until he had an opportunity of going into the whole matter, it was impossible in the short time he had been in office to depart from the practice of his predecessor. Until he had had an opportunity of examining the question from both points of view, the practice of his predecessor should be carried out.
§ * MR. HANBURY
replied that the practice of his predecessor was, that when there was a tender from a union and a non-union house, unless there was a considerable difference between the two, the preference should be given to the union house. When he came to deal with the question, he supposed he should have to give a decision upon it; but, as had been shown by the difference of opinion expressed from various quarters of the 861 House, it was a thorny and difficult subject, and it would have been, wholly impossible for him to have arrived at any satisfactory decision in the very short time he had had at his disposal. Under these circumstances the only course he could possibly adopt with any justice was to carry on the practice of his predecessor until he had formed a definite opinion on the subject one way or the other. With regard to some of the minor points which had been raised, the first referred to the publications connected with the Brehon laws. The gentleman responsible for them, Dr. Wilkinson, was paid by fees. It so happened that neither last year nor the year before had he sent in an account as to his claim for fees. That, however, was no proof, that the work was not being carried on, and as a matter of fact it had been carried on during the past two years just as in previous years, and he believed the new volumes were now ready. With regard to the issue gratis of Acts of Parliament to different public offices, the list was drawn up in 1883 and it was annually revised by the Home Secretary for England, the Lord Advocate for Scotland, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. What was the exact position of the list he could not say. With regard to the sale of ordnance maps, undoubtedly there had been serious complaints, fairly well grounded, as to the sale under the present system, which was practically giving a monopoly in England to one firm, in Scotland to another, and in Ireland to a third. It had been found these maps had not been sold to the extent they had a right to suppose, and although he was not able to say that a new system would be adopted, still the contract had only got a short time to run now, and no doubt there was a tendency to revert to the old system by which there would be a large number of maps available throughout the country; the agents communicating direct with the head office of the Ordnance Survey instead of through one particular firm. The different agents would thus get a higher commission on their sales, and would have a greater inducement to push the maps. He had been asked why the advertisements in the Dublin Gazette were paid for in cash whereas the advertisements in the London Gazette and the Edinburgh Gazette were paid for by 862 stamps. He did not know the reason for that distinction. The statement, however, was not wholly true of the London Gazette, certain of the advertisements being paid for in cash and not in stamps. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had asked why the London Gazette should be charged upon this Vote, whilst the Labour Gazette and other departmental publications were charged upon the votes of their own departments? The reason was simply that the London Gazette dealt not with one department but embraced the whole public service, and was, therefore, properly charged upon the Stationery Office as being a general office, as far as stationery was concerned, affecting all departments. The Labour Gazette was charged to the Board of Trade. Reference had been made to the charge of five per cent. on supplies. That was merely the margin to cover establishment charges and was, in his opinion, fair under all the circumstances. The charge for Ordnance maps would, in any case, have to fall on the Civil Votes and, therefore, it was of no consequence whether it fell on the Stationery Vote or upon the Vote for the Ordnance Survey. If, however, they charged the Admiralty maps to the Stationery Vote they would be putting on the Civil Votes a charge which equally ought to be made on the Navy Votes. It had been asked why the recommendation of the Committee, which reported in favour of a verbatim report of Parliamentary proceedings, had not been carried out. The fact was that, although he believed the late Secretary to the Treasury was a member of the Committee and reported in favour of a verbatim report, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer found that the cost of such a report would be so great that he was not prepared to find the money for it.
§ MR. KIMBER
said, the answer of the Secretary to the Treasury had disclosed the fact that the late Government had departed from the Resolution of the House in regard to the payment of fair wages. [Mr. LOUGH: "Wages current in the district."] In view of the short time the Secretary to the Treasury had been in office no blame attached to the right hon. Gentleman, but he (Mr. Kimber) now entered his protest against the non-observance of the principle 863 embodied in the Resolution the House had passed.
§ * MR. HARRY FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
desired to call the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury to the distinction which had been drawn by the hon. Member for Islington (Mr. Lough) and others between a house which paid the trades union rate of wages and the house which paid that which was recognised as the London scale of wages. The London School Board appointed a Committee to inquire into the matter in consequence of a petition they received, requesting them only to give their printing work to trade union houses. Evidence was given before the Committee, to show that at a meeting of masters and men, representing 90 per cent. of the trade in London, a scale of wages was agreed upon, which was not necessarily trades union rate, although a large number of trades unionists acknowledged it was fair. As a result he moved and carried at the London School Board the Resolution as to fair wages, which had become the precedent for many other public bodies and for this House. If only firms belonging to a trades union were to get Government work, a very unfair and invidious distinction would be drawn which the House never intended should be drawn. The principle the House laid down, and the principle he was sure the Secretary to the Treasury would act upon, was that a fair rate of wages should be paid by firms doing Government work.
§ MR. FLYNN
said, the hon. Member for Wandsworth had declared he was anxious to avail of all the forms of the House in protest against the action of the Government in this matter. The simplest and most convenient course for the hon. Gentleman, in order to effect, was to move the reduction of the Vote. Why did not the hon. Gentleman do it?
§ MR. KIMBER
I said, I would do it if necessary, in regard to the next Estimates. But these are the Estimates of a Government of which the hon. Gentleman was a supporter.
§ MR. FLYNN
said, it was not a question of the pounds, shillings and pence of a particular Estimate, but of the principle involved in the Estimate. The hon. Member had his remedy by moving the reduction of the Vote and if he 864 carried his Amendment he would have censured both the present Government and the past Government. He desired to point out to the Secretary to the Treasury, that he had given no reply to a question asked as to the difference in the expenditure on the Dublin Gazette and on the London and Edinburgh Gazettes.
§ MR. MICHAEL AUSTIN
said that he desired to recall to the notice of the Committee, the Debate on this question which took place in 1891, when a Resolution was unanimously agreed to declaring that in the opinion of the House it was the duty of the Government, in making Government contracts, to secure "that wages which are generally accepted as current amongst competent workmen" were paid by the contractors. That Resolution had been adopted by the School Board and by the Board of Works. Nothing more was asked for than the carrying out of that Resolution in its spirit. Those who had supported that Resolution contended that the Government had a right to recognise the conditions which ensured greater comfort for the workmen; that the Government which protected the shores of the kingdom, ought also to protect the lives and limbs of its workmen; and that the Government ought always to show itself a model employer of labour. These contentions he should urge upon any Government, whether it were Liberal or Conservative. The opinions expressed by the Secretary to the Treasury on this occasion had met with his hearty support.
§ DR. TANNER
asked that an answer should be given to the points he had raised, as to advances to contractors.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said, that the hon. Member was referring to something which was not on the Estimates this year, but in the Report of the Auditor and Controller General, which dealt with the accounts for 1893–4. As a Member of the Public Accounts Committee, of course these questions had formerly come before him, and the Report of the Committee endorsed the views of the Auditor General. As Secretary to the Treasury, he would do his best to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee.
§ DR. TANNER
asked whether these advances were in a satisfactory state. Year after year the same answer would be given about the Report of the Auditor General, referring to the previous year's Estimates.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £11,423, to complete the sum necessary to defray the expenses of the Office of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments,
§ * MR. MAURICE HEALY
said, that the Irish landlords were always exhorting the Irish tenants as to the way in which they should pay their rent; but when it came to rent being payable by an Irish landlord himself, it seemed that it was quite a different matter. In an inquiry held a few years ago, it came out that certain quit-rents payable by Irish landlords, had been left hopelessly in arrears by the Irish Quit Rent Office. The Statute of Limitations did not apply to those rents, and within the past two years an Irish peer had called upon the Government to bring in a Bill to release the Irish landlords from their legal obligations. Though those quit rents were insignificant in amount, as compared with the amount of rent payable by the Irish tenants, the accounts showed that from 18 to 20 years' arrears were due by the Irish landlords. Did the Government propose to enforce the payment of the arrears?
§ * MR. HANBURY
was glad to say that the amount of arrears had diminished to a considerable extent. Between 1880 and 1887 the arrears rose rapidly from £36,000 to £50,000. Since then they had been gradually going down, until on March 31, 1894 (the latest return), the amount of arrears stood at £14,300.
* MR. BRYN ROBERTS
called attention to action on the part of the Woods and Forests Department which he described as harsh, almost dishonest, and not exceeded by Irish landlords. In his constituency there were 134 small holdings, carved by tenant occupiers out of the bare mountain side. All these holdings had been enclosed out of the mountain at a higher elevation than the former limit of cultivation. The total area was 202 acres, for which the Crown never received a penny of rent until they were enclosed. The occupants were permitted by the commoners to 866 make the enclosures, and they had occupied them so long that, as against the commoners, they had been able to establish a right to them; by occupation for 20 years the rights of the occupants had been established; and now the Crown had stepped in and said—You have gained a title as against the commoners, but you have not gained a title as against the Crown, because 60 years are required to do that, and, since you have gained a title as against the commoners, we will take possession and confiscate both your improvements and the commoners' rights.In his evidence before the Land Commission, Mr. Sowray described the Crown as saying—We come in when an encroachment is made. You have made an encroachment; you had no right to make it; and, so far as the Crown is concerned, we will take care that we do not give up our rights for nothing.The nation should get every penny of the value of the property of the Crown. The men who made these enclosures were told—We recognise that you made the enclosures, built cottages, dug the land, &c., but inasmuch as the land is ours you must pay some nominal amount.That should be what quit rents were with respect to the landlords in Ireland. They were simply a recognition of the right of the Lord of the Manor in the ground as distinct from the surface. But after establishing that right and getting a small sum paid, the rents were increased again and again. There had been considerable agitation on the subject because the Crown not only exacted the full value of the enclosures, but a higher value than was paid by the farmers for the closed land below the ancient limit of cultivation. Mr. Sowray mentioned to the Welsh Land Commission a farm of 160 acres, sublet by the Crown at only 9s. 4d. per acre, though £302. 19s. had been spent upon it in repairs and improvements. When he tried to get the total rental of this Crown property, he was told that the information he wanted involved a tremendous inquiry of several days, and the department had put him off twice without the information solely that he might not be armed with it when he raised the question. ["Hear, hear!"] He would take four cases for the purpose of showing how these small Crown tenants were treated. Robert Williams, who held 1frac12; acres, had had 18s. a year rent demanded from him, although no 867 charge whatever had been made in respect of the holding until it was enclosed. Therefore the moment this small tenant enclosed he was charged a rent of 12s. per acre. In the case of David Thomas, who held 2 roods and 38 perches of the land, he was charged 17s. 6d. a year rent in respect of the holding, or at the rate of 23s. per acre. Owen Evans, who held 2 acres 4 perches, had had £3 demanded from him as yearly rent, being at the rate of 30s. per acre, whilst Hugh Jones, who had half an acre, had £1 a year demanded from him, being at the rate of £2 per acre per annum. These were only four specimen cases out of 131. It was monstrous that the last farthing should be exacted from these small tenants. Let the Committee compare the conduct of the Department as regarded these small tenants with the way they dealt with the great landlords. Lord Penryn purchased the Crown rights in 6,129 acres of Crown property, and he was only called upon to pay £1,789, or about 5s. 8d. per acre for all the Crown rights in the land, whereas the Department charged the small tenants from £1. 10s. to £2 an acre annual rent. He had told these tenants that it would be unreasonable for them to expect the Crown to sell if it would hamper the development of the quarries. These men were themselves quarrymen, they had no desire to hamper the development, and they said that they would be willing to have inserted in the purchase-deed a clause to give the Crown a right to repurchase at the same price which they were buying at, without compensation for improvements. That was an offer which the Crown ought to have accepted. The policy of the Unionist Party in Wales had been announced as one of enabling small tenants to become owners; but here was a case in which the Crown and the Government were themselves the landlords, and where the tenants came to them anxious to buy these small holdings and willing to pay the purchase-money down, and to buy subject to the right of repurchase by the Crown, at present prices and without compensation for improvements, and yet the Crown refused to sell. He had been endeavouring, for some days, to extract from the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hanbury), certain statistics, and the reason given why the figures had not been furnished, was, 868 in his opinion, a mere subterfuge. Further, the person who was called upon to re-sell, in order to enable a quarry to be developed, would have no public support whatever if he tried to raise an outcry against such a re-purchase. [Cries of "Divide."] This was a matter of importance. ["Hear, hear!"] He was quite willing to move to report progress, and continue to-morrow. It was the fault of the Government having insisted on suspending the 12 o'clock rule that he was now obliged to speak on the subject at that late hour, but since they had to deal with the matter then, the business must be discharged and not rushed. The entire public opinion of that neighbourhood was entirely in favour of developing the quarries. The Parish or District Council, who would do anything to retard the development of a quarry, would be exceedingly unpopular. The objection he made was that they had sold to Lord Penrhyn, at 5s. 8d. an acre, the Crown rights, subject to the commons rights, but in the case of these enclosures made by poor people, they asked 20s. to 40s. annual rent for the Crown sights, refused to sell, and had confiscated the commons rights. He wished to know, further, how the local officials of the Woods and Forests were paid; were they paid fixed sums, or commissions on the money they exacted from these tenants? As far as he could see, the Estimates were confined exclusively to the salaries in the Woods and Forests Office, in Whitehall Place; but they had a large number of agents, sub-agents, and surveyors, in Wales, who supplied the head office with information. He should like to know whether or not it was made a matter of profit to them to confiscate these holdings. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would be able to give him a clear answer, so that he should not need to move the Motion of which he had given notice.
§ * MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydfil)
said, it was now many years since he endeavoured to open an industry in Wales, and the Woods and Forests Department had not acted fairly and justly to those who had embarked their capital in it. In 1888 gold was discovered in Wales, and the landlords in the locality, for reasons best known to themselves, applied to the Crown for licences to mine. The Crown sent them the usual form of mining lease. These 869 leases contained the usual working conditions, but the landlords did not care about the working conditions, and sent back their leases with the working conditions cut out of them. Leases were granted of land of great value, without any consideration whatever except a nominal sum of £1 a year. The result was that a large area of land was unworkable. The whole of these mining leases were granted for the sole purpose of mining, but the landlords refused miners work, and thereby deprived people of work on the land of the State. He contended that this was a state of affairs which ought not to exist, and that the Government should take some steps, and should either compel these landlords to carry on mining operations or surrender their leases, and then grant new leases to persons who would mine. It might be said that these mines were of no value, but large sums had been paid on royalties, and this would soon be largely increased—so that an amount would be forthcoming which would be some assistance even to a rich body like the Treasury. He complained also of the inequality of the royalties. The Crown granted leases to landowners at 1-30th royalty, but refused to grant leases to miners of Crown land under 1-15th. The only excuse was that the landowners must injure their land by digging a hole in it, and—Ergo, we give them more favourable terms than we do to the miners.He did not think the Committee would be of opinion that their industry was properly administered when in one mine 1 per cent. was charged, in another 5 per cent., in another 3⅓, and in another 6⅔, per cent. This was not a charge upon the profits of the mine but upon the product; and it must be remembered that gold-mining was not like working a colliery. Gold miners had to carry on a metallurgical business, and had to spend large sums of money on the machinery. On one property alone £60,000 had been spent on machinery. There were now some 12 or 13 mines at work, and he said, without fear of contradiction, that if Her Majesty's Government would send down capable men, they would find some 40 or 50 square miles of auriferous country which, if properly worked, would give employment 870 to 10,000 or 20,000 men. He contended, as he always had contended, that every encouragement should be given to this industry. Did they charge royalties in the Australian Colonies? No, not a penny. They paid handsome bounties to men who opened up the country, and sometimes allowed them £1 or £2 a foot for sinking shafts, in the hope that they would give employment to men and enrich the country. Suppose, for the sake of argument, 30 per cent. gross profit was made on a mine. That was a very handsome turnover; but how did the sum work out? Suppose £500 were spent weekly, as was being done in one mine, and suppose £650 worth of gold were got out, the annual profit would be £7,500. Suppose that from that were deducted 10 per cent. of the amount embarked in the undertaking—because machinery only had 10 years of life—and £5,000 were put by to a reserve fund, There would be a net profit of £2,500, of which £1,166 would go in Crown Royalties, and £1,334 to the miners, the Crown getting nearly 50 per cent. Or supposing the profit only 10 per cent., it would work out that the Crown received two-thirds and the minors one-third. Leases existing should be surrendered, or they should be worked. Without arguing the question whether royalties should be paid on proceeds or profits, he impressed on the Government the necessity of uniformity of royalties in Wales. If 1 per cent. was enough for one mine, then it should be enough for another. Work could not be successfully carried on under royalties fixed for a very short period. As well expect a man to accept a building lease for three years, the rent then to be raised according to his circumstances, as to say to a man who leased land for mining—We reduce your royalties for a year or two, and then if you come across a prize we shall take it from you.This was not the way to encourage the mining industry; this was not the way Australian gold-fields were opened up. The royalties should in all cases be fixed on some uniform principle, and as low as possible. Far better was it for the Government to get 1 per cent. or something, than to demand 3 per cent. and get nothing. He trusted that the Secretary to the Treasury, who had been good enough to grant him an interview 871 and had listened to him, he hoped not without sympathy, would see the reasonableness of the request for uniformity of royalties and fixity of tenure. Let the Government say, "We will charge you 1 per cent. all round, good, bad and indifferent." It was a well-known fact that the average cost of a gold-field exceeded the value of the gold there. As it was with people on a race course, the losers were many, while one man returned with his pocket full, so it was with metalliferous mines a most speculative business. With the concessions he had mentioned, work might go on in Wales this autumn, and by winter many men would be at work underground.
§ * MR. HANBURY
answered first the question and speech of the hon. Member for Carnarvon, assuring him that there was no desire on the part of the Department to keep back information, and promising that he would do his best to give him the information he sought, and that at the earliest he could obtain it. He could not agree with the hon. Member in his use of the word "inclosures." The right expression for what had taken place, was enroachment without legal authority upon the actual freeholds of the Crown. For a considerable period the squatters upon these freeholds were allowed to hold the land upon payment of mere nominal sums. Then leases for 21 years were granted to them. [Mr. BRYN ROBERTS: "The Department is pressing the leases upon them."] A certain number of them had accepted the leases at nominal rents for seven years, and then at increased rents for the ensuing periods of seven years. These were improving leases, such as were ordinarily granted when waste lands were occupied in this way. The chief complaint of the hon. Member had reference to the refusal of the Woods and Forests to sell these particular lands to the persons who had settled upon them. If the circumstances of the district were different from what they were, there might be something in the complaint. But what was this district? It was one in which quarrying was the principal industry, and the reason why the Crown was unwilling to sell these small plots was, that as the quarrying increased the surface land might all be wanted for way-leaves and tipping purposes. If the Crown were to sell there would be two ways of selling. 872 It might sell outright without any limitation or reservation as to buying back. But when land was acquired like that, the prices asked for way-leaves and enroachments were exorbitant. He found from the evidence given before the Welsh Land Commission, that an encroachment sold by the Crown at £4 per acre had to be bought back at £1,200 an acre. Another parcel of land required for tramways was sold for £20, and had now to be bought back for £330. Another parcel, sold for £5, was bought back by a private individual for £500. Therefore, it would be foolish to sell outright; and this reservation must be imposed—that if the Crown required the land for way-leaves or other such purposes, they should be able to buy it back at the price they sold it for. It was to provide against hardship to the individual purchaser, that the Crown refused to sell without reservation.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS
said that the total income derived by the Crown from Wales was £16,940. Of that sum, only £820 was spent directly in Wales on the Crown property there, or about 5½ per cent. He thought these two principles could be laid down with reference to this matter. First of all, the Crown property must be regarded in these days as a trust, and the money derived from it should be devoted to the material commercial development of the country. In the second place, generally speaking, they could lay it down as an axiom that the money derived from Wales should be, as far as possible, for the benefit of the Principality generally. He should like to acknowledge personally the courtesy he had received in his negotiations with regard to certain matters with the President Commissioner of Woods and Forests. That Gentleman had shown a desire to investigate all grievances in Wales, and he was sure, if he had an opportunity of learning their grievances more fully, he would be glad to give his personal attention and sympathy to the matter. He was afraid the Department thought itself entitled to make as much money as possible for itself, and this he felt convinced inflicted a hardship upon small tenants and in many other respects. He hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would go into this matter fully, and, after acquainting himself with the facts of the case, would 873 be able to give his hon. Friend a more favourable answer.
* MR. BRYN ROBERTS
was sorry that the hon. Gentleman had held out no hopes of redress for the matters he had brought before him, and expressed his intention of moving the reduction of which he had given notice. The rights of the Crown were simply manorial rights in a common. The Lord of the Manor was the freeholder of the common exactly in the same way as the Crown was of these mountains. The legal ownership was in the Crown, subject to the rights of the commoners, which were fifteen-sixteenths of the total value of the fee simple. When he said that these were encroachments by squatters on the freehold of the Crown, the right hon. Gentleman was asking the House to believe that there had been something equivalent to a gipsy encampment made in a field belonging to a farmer, and that the conduct of the gipsies towards the farmer was the same as to that of these people to the Crown. But the Crown rights in these commons were simply the nominal ownership of the soil, subject to the commoners' rights of pasturage, which amounted to 15–16ths of the fee simple value. The commoners' rights had vested in the squatters by possession. The Crown did not restrict its claim to the l–15th or the 1–18th, but claimed the 15–15ths, in fact it claimed the entire value, confiscating the common rights as well as the added value made by the encroacher. His complaint was not exclusively directed to the refusal of the Crown to buy. His suggestion was that the Crown should sell, but he was not wedded to the proposal. He thought, however, it would be the best way out of a constantly-recurring difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman had not dealt with the cases he put; he had not, for instance, dealt with the case of the charge of 40s. per acre for land which was not worth 6d. per acre. The men in question were not the leaseholders, but the Crown were now trying to force 21 years' leases upon them. The men had declined to accept the leases. But even in the leases offered, the Crown inserted a clause giving the right of pre-emption. In all the debates the House had had on Ireland nothing had ever been shown in the way of a misuse of territorial power by the landlords to equal the action of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. 874 He should therefore move that the salary of the Commissioners be reduced by £100.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said that a very large amount of arrears was still due to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in Ireland by the landlords.
I must remind the hon. Member that, when a motion for a reduction is made in respect to a particular matter, the debate must be confined to that particular matter.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said it was in respect to the duties the Commissioners discharged for the unreduced portion of their salaries that he desired to speak.
The custom always has been that, when a motion is made in respect to any particular subject, the Debate is confined to that particular subject. Of course, when the discussion on the Motion has come to an end, the hon. Member can bring on the question he desires to deal with.
§ * MR. HANBURY
said he was quite willing to give an assurance on the further point of the question of the rents apart from the leases; he would look into the matter, and, if he found the rents were entirely too high, he would communicate with the Commissioners for the purpose of getting the whole practice placed on a fair basis.
* MR. BRYN ROBERTS
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would undertake that the rents should be based on the real value of the Crown rights alone, without charging anything in respect of the commoners' rights or the value of the improvements, and intimated that he should press his Amendment to a Division if such assurance were not given.
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100 in respect of the Salary of the Chief Commissioner.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 38; Noes, 145.—(Division List No. 22.)
§ * MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he wished to impress upon the Treasury the importance of looking after the office in Dublin. It might be made a source of revenue to the Crown. The Marquess of Ormonde sold his estate to the Crown, and for a long time the Land Commissioners refused to fix the value of the reversionary interests of the Crown in the estate. 875 Under the Lands Purchase Acts estates had been sold by the Crown, and an examination of the titles to those estates would probably show a large amount of quit rents due to the Crown. On the estates of London Companies there probably were reversions to the Crown, and the values had been paid to the Companies without any deductions. The office in Dublin is worked with a staff costing £210 a year, under two gentlemen from Westminster, who knew nothing of Irish records. It might be doubted whether the muniments were properly protected. Quit rents, which might be made a source of revenue to the Crown, were neglected. He wished that a return could be presented showing the present arrears of quit rents. It was said that many years' arrears were due from Mr. Ponsonby, who was himself engaged in evicting tenants who do not pay their rent to him. A Return should be presented of the arrears due to the Crown from members of the landlord class in Ireland. They exercised enormous pressure on the House of Lords. Lord Morris recently brought in a Bill intended to help them. He (Mr. Healy) appealed to the landlords in the present Government not to allow this pressure to be put upon them. If the landlord's arrears to the Crown were to be got rid of, the tenant's arrears should be got rid of too. The Return would show how much of arrears was due to stress of weather or not. He did not see why Marquesses, Viscounts, and other noble Lords should be forgiven their arrears when they mercilessly exacted rack rents from their tenants. These gentry were always boasting about their loyalty to the Crown and their devotion to the Sovereign. A return would show what it was like. The site of Her Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket had long been left derelict owing to the action of Lord Clanricarde. He would be glad to know what was the present state of affairs between Lord Clanricarde and the Crown with regard to this site, and what had been the cause of delay in utilising it?
§ * MR. LEWIS
wished again to raise a question which had already been raised by himself and the hon. Member for West Denbigh. Between 1847 and 1888 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests had sold remote properties in Wales to the value of £151,000. They 876 had invested £1,800 of this in Wales, and had bought £40,000 worth of Crown property. Would the Secretary to the Treasury take steps to have the balance of £110,000 invested in Wales? He would suggest a way by which this could be most profitably done. Last year one of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests went down to Wales and made inquiries to ascertain whether it would be possible to afforest Crown lands in Wales. He believed these inquiries were still in progress. Experimental plantations had been made. He hoped this policy of afforestment would be steadily pursued, and the hills of Wales which had been stripped to provide timber for the Navy would once again be timbered to the advantage of the country. The evidence taken before the Welsh Land Commission showed that the great landlords in Wales were treated by the Woods and Forests Department with the utmost leniency and consideration, and he should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to take measures which would provide that the Department, which exacted the last farthing from the smaller tenants, should also require the great landlords to pay up every penny in which they were indebted to the Crown in respect of the lands that they held from it.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that the Report of the Royal Commission showed that the Crown held large estates in Caithness which were now held among some dozen farmers. The evidence taken before that Royal Commission pointed to the fact that those Crown estates were very badly used. He wished to know why that land should not be scheduled as land fit for the creation of new holdings?
§ MR. FLYNN
pointed out that in the case of the Crown lands in Ireland which were in the hands of the large landowners, there were considerable arrears due to the Crown. He asked that the right hon. Gentleman should give the fullest explanation in his power, and, if he had not the necessary information, that he should make further inquiry.
§ DR. TANNER
said that he desired to invite the consideration of the Government to a matter which had attracted the attention of one of the papers as lately as yesterday—namely, the question of foreshores between high water and low-water mark.
§ * MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN,
speaking from his seat with his hat on, asked, as a point of order, whether, when an hon. Member brought forward a subject on an Estimate and had been promised by a responsible Minister of the Crown an answer to the statement which he had made, it was within the province of the Leader of the House to use the closure without paying any regard to that promise.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 142; Noes, 34.—(Division List, No. 23.)
§ The Committee divided.
§ Only three Tellers appeared at the Table, Dr. Tanner, who had been named one of the Tellers for the Noes, being absent.
§ After waiting for a few seconds,
§ Ayes, 144; Noes, 32.—(Division List, No. 24.)
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER
rose to a point of order. Was it not usual for the four Tellers named for a Division to be present when numbers were announced?
It is usual, and this is the first instance within my experience when four Tellers have not been present when the result has been announced.
§ On the Vote of £28,926, to complete the sum for the Department of Commissioners of Works and Public Buildings,
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he was not disposed to object to the Government taking this and the next Vote, but he thought that they might be called, and report progress.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
hoped the two remaining English 878 Votes in Class II. might be taken before progress was reported, and also two Scotch Votes—those, namely, for the Lunacy Commission and the Registrar General of Documents.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, the hon. Member for Ross and Cromartie, who was suffering from illness, had asked him to prevent any Scotch Votes from being taken if he could possibly do so. [Laughter.]
§ MR. BYRON REED (Bradford, E.)
rose to submit a point of Order. The hon. Member for Mid Cork, whom he now saw in his place, having been nominated a Teller in the last Division—
§ DR. TANNER
hoped he might be allowed to explain. His absence was due to an inadvertence. He had gone to the Library for a book, and, unfortunately, there was some delay, during which he lost sight of the time, with the result that he was too late to accompany the other Tellers.
§ MR. JASPER TULLY (Leitrim, S.)
wished to hear from the First Commissioner of Works what were the regulations applying to amateur photographers in the Royal parks?
said, that the proper place to raise the question was on the Vote for Royal parks, which had already been up.
ruled that structural alterations in the House and changes in connection therewith arose more properly on Class I.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
asked where the rules referred to by his hon. Friend, the Member for South Leitrim, might be seen?
§ * THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. AKERS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
said, that he would give every information in his power.
§ DR. TANNER
asked for an explanation as to the furniture assistants and temporary assistants who appeared on the Estimate.
§ * MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
replied, that the Inspector of Ancient Monuments was General Pitt-Rivers, who was appointed some years ago. The hon. Member had asked why the salary of this gentleman did not appear on the Votes. General Pitt-Rivers, being dissatisfied with the provisions of the Act, preferred not to draw his salary, although he (Mr. Akers-Douglas) was bound to say that he did visit the monuments. With regard to the furniture assistants, the increase of the Vote of this year was simply caused by the annual increments of salary. With regard to the item for temporary assistance in the office in China, there was a surveyor who looked after the diplomatic buildings in that part of the world, and that was the amount he received for temporary assistance.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
inquired whether there was in England, as in Ireland, in connection with this Office of Ancient Monuments, the same facility for the inspection of them?
§ Vote agreed to, as also were the following:—
§ £14,000, to complete the sum for Secret Service.
§ £3,147, to complete the sum for Lunacy Commission, Scotland.
§ £2,539, to complete the sum for Registrar General's Office, Scotland.
§ Resolutions to be reported this day; Committee to sit again this day.