§ 6. £60,672, to complete the sum for the Treasury and subordinate Departments.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he proposed to call attention to a matter of t he greatest importance. The Treasury was the guardian of the financial purity of t he public service. It was the overseer or schoolmaster, as it were, of all the other Departments. If the smallest irregularity were committed by any Department it was the Treasury that always descended on it to have the matter put right. The charge he had to make against this watchdog of the public service was that it was itself habitually and shamelessly guilty of the very practice which it existed to prevent in other Departments. The Controller and Auditor General had told the Public Accounts Committee that there was nothing to prevent the Treasury from remitting sums which were due to the public, and which ought to be levied, and that such remissions need not ever be discovered. Among the remissions granted by the Treasury without authority were remissions of Income Tax and of Customs Duties, and there had been one astonishing case, at any rate, of remission of Death Duties. This was the remission of duty on cash and bonds for £213,273, belonging to the late Czar of Russia. When he died in November, 1894, these bonds and moneys were in the custody of the Bank of England, and under the Finance Act of 1894 the duty payable thereon at 6½ per cent. was £13,800. The question of liability was raised by the Russian Ambassador in this 390 country, and the Commissioners of Inland Revenue reported to the Treasury that ditty was payable. They said:—The only instance which we have been able to foul of a foreign Sovereign dying possessed of personal property in this country is that of his late Majesty Dom Luiz I. of Portugal, who died on the 19th October, 1889, and to whose estate administration was granted to Dom Antonio y D. Nazaret, as attorney of the present King of Portugal, on June 2, 1890. Probate duty at the rate then in force was paid upon the affidavit lending to that grant of administration. The Russian Bonds of which the late Emperor died possessed are securities transferable in this country, and the bonds themselves were -here; consequently they are, in law, locally situated within the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice in England, and no one is allowed to recover them without obtaining a grant of representation to the deceased Emperor. The affidavit to be made leading to this grant must accordingly be stamped to recover the bonds and the two sums of cash. The only person whose estate was, under the former law, free from probate duty was the reigning Sovereign of this country. That was because the King does not pay taxes to himself. The estate duty is subject to similar rules. All tile Royal Family of England, except the Sovereign, were subject to probate duty, and will be subject to estate duty. A foreign Sovereign stands in this respect on no higher footing than a member of the English Royal Family.Thus it appeared from the Commissioners' Report that the only precedent bearing upon the case showed the existence of liability, and it also appeared that if the claim had been insisted upon the money would have been paid without demur. But the Treasury, recognising that it had no power by law to remit the duty, sought about for a way of rendering evasion of payment possible. One of the persons responsible in this matter was the right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire. Sir E. Hamilton, a high permanent official of the Treasury, told the Committee of Public Accounts,—Sir W. Harcourt (the then Chancellor of the Exchequer) admitted the force of the Russian Ambassador's contention—which was that the exaction of duty in respect of property belonging to a foreign Sovereign was hardly consistent with the rules governing international courtesy—but it was not clear at the time how the difficulties could be surmounted. It then transpired that in the special circumstances the 391 Bank, which had the custody of the bonds, was prepared to hand them over to the representatives of the late Czar without requiring a grant of administration to he presented, provided that the Treasury would take no exception to that course. Accordingly it was intimated to the Bank that, as far as the Treasury was concerned, the Bank was authorised to transfer to the present Emperor the property belonging to his late Imperial Majesty. Consequently no duty was paid or was payable in respect of the bonds.The Treasury thus construed an Act of Parliament—as it was so fond of doing—its view being that if no grant of administration was taken out no duty would be payable. That was absolutely false law, and the course taken was an evasion of the law. It was surprising that the right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire should have been a party to so shabby and mean an expedient. He had, however, felt convinced all along that the right hon. Gentleman did not understand his own Act, and he supposed that the right hon. Gentleman had been misled. The Commissioners of Inland Revenue had said that nobody could take possession of this money except by a title founded upon probate or letters of administration, and the suggestion of the Treasury to the Bank was that it should commit what was an illegal act. It was a curious circumstance that there was no written record of this transaction at the Treasury. Everything was done secretly, and the communication to Sir A. Milner that he was not to levy the duty was verbal, as was also Sir A. Milner's communication on the subject to Sir W. Karslake. There was not a trace left in any paper or book of the Department connected with the remission of the duty. When the Committee came to inquire into the transaction, they found that not even the accounting officer who was responsible for, and presumably acquainted with, the whole of the accounts of the Department, had any knowledge of the transaction that had taken place with regard to these duties. The same observation applied to the sub-accounting officer and the Auditor and Controller General, and if it had not been for the existence of the Public Accounts Committee the transaction would have been buried in secrecy to the end of time. The Committee were probably aware that the Inland Revenue acted under the orders and directions 392 of the Treasury in all it did in the collection of revenue. It was bound by Statute to obey the orders of the Treasury in what it did, but the conception of the kind of obedience which the Department held itself bound to render was to him a strange and new conception. When Sir William Karslake was being examined he put to the witness these questions:—I will put this case to you: Supposing the Treasury instructed you not to take any steps to recover duty which was undoubtedly due from a private estate, would you consider your self bound to follow out those orders?—Certainly. I think the section I have read would bind the Commissioners, and therefore would bind me.Then you do hold that even unlawful orders should be obeyed?—I do not think it is for me to question whether they are lawful or unlawful.It would thus be seen that the Treasury could get any commands obeyed which were issued to the Department. Let the Committee go one step further and convict the Treasury out of its own mouth as to the impropriety of its conduct. In 1382 the Treasury was considering the misdoings of the Accounting Officers among other persons, and it sent forth a solemn minute. It said that:—Accounting officers will understand that if they are desired by their superior officers to order a payment which, under Act of Parliament, Order in Council, Queen's Warrant, Treasury Minute, or otherwise, they believe to he wrong, they must represent their objection, and the reason for it, to such superior officer in writing. If the order is then repeated in writing they must obey without further responsibility; but if the officer direction the payment is not the supreme chief of the Department they should ask to obtain the authority in writing of such chief before obeying. The responsibility is then transferred to the directing officer, who will he held personally liable.Here then was the Comptroller of Legacy Duties, hound hay Statute to collect the duties, directed not to collect them. Sir William Karslake's duty was to take his orders in writing; he did not do so; he took verbal orders; and if Sir William Karslake and Sir Alfred Milner had complied with the terms of the Treasury Minute, each would have had from the other an order in writing from the right hon. Member for West Monmouthshire (Sir W. Harcourt), and the right hon. Gentleman would have been held personally liable for the £13,800, [Laughter.] 393 But none of the proper steps laid down by the Treasury in a transaction of this kind had been taken, and the failure to take them was due to the action of the Treasury itself. It was the Treasury that authorised this thing to be done by verbal communication, and the responsibility rested with the authorities there. Why was this thing done? The reason given was that it was done in order to act according to the comity of nations with regard to a foreign sovereign. When he asked the Treasury official who gave this answer whether he understood what "comity of nations" was, the gentleman replied that he did not understand it. He then gave to the official the definition of Phillimore, that comity of nations "consists in the foreigner and the native being entitled to a like measure of justice," and he suggested that this was the proper meaning of comity, which after all meant courtesy. Comity would require, therefore, that the Czar and the Hereford washerwoman should lie treated in the same way; but in this instance the one was treated in one way and the other in a wholly different way. But the plea of comity having disappeared, it was next suggested that the duties were irrecoverable. But he reminded the Committee that the Comptroller of Legacy Duties told the Committee that had the duties been insisted upon they would have been paid, and thus the issue of civil process could never have arisen. Under the Finance Act it could not have been a question of civil process, because the charge lay on the Treasury. Both the plea of comity, moreover, and the plea that the duties were irrecoverable failed when it was considered that only a few years before, in precisely similar circumstances, time duty was levied on the King of Portugal. The transaction was thus left in its naked proportions as a complete and inexcusable violation of the law perpetrated by order of the Treasury. What the final motive was he did not know. He had hoped that the late Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been present to tell the Committee; but so far, he could not understand what it was. He could easily understand that a Sovereign of this country who had power to do so before the Revolution—say a Plantagenet—might have excused from duty a poor relation; but in this case the 394 relation was not poor; and there was no power, not even in the Sovereign, certainly not in the Treasury, to make the remission. Pascal said that the great casuist. Escobar took the view that "if you saw a thief going to rob a poor man it was lawful to divert him from his purpose by pointing out a rich man whom he might rob instead." [Laughter.] But the modern casuist of West Monmouth, when he saw the tax collector ready to mulct a poor Czar of £14,000, diverted attention by pointing out that he might console himself by taking £5 from the Herefordshire washerwoman. He could see no authority and no justification for what had been done. It seemed to him to be absolutely necessary that sonic change should be made in the system under which the Treasury conducted its business. Remissions made in contravention of the law should cease once and for ever, and he believed that if they had not been made secretly and without the knowledge of the House of Commons they would have ceased long ago. Whenever the Treasury made any remission, he maintained that it should inform the Auditor and Comptroller General in order that the attention of the Public Accounts Committee should be called to the matter if it was thought fit, and the House of Commons should insist that every year a list should be presented of every remission, great or small, which t he Treasury thought it desirable to ["Hear, hear!"] In his opinion no Department was to be trusted with the dispensing power over the laws; no Department ought to be enabled to issue either general or particular declarations of indulgence—to its friends, perhaps. Consider the openings to favouritism and to every kind of abuse this would give rise to; but, if it were done, then it should be done no longer in secret, but under conditions which would enable Parliament to judge of each remission made, and so to prevent the recurrence of any such abuses in future as he had ventured to describe.
MR. COTTEN (Islington, E.)
expressed surprise that no reply was forthcoming either from the Treasury Bench, or, what would perhaps be even more satisfactory, 395 from some one on the front Opposition Bench, explaining the proceedings in question. There ought to be some assurance that it would not be possible for such a transaction to take place again in such a clandestine and secret manner. Differing from his hon. Friend, he held that a dispensing power must reside in the great Officers of State, but he contended that there should be furnished to the Public Accounts Committee and in a proper manner to the House a return showing any case in which taxation had been remitted.
§ *SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I am sorry I was not hero when the hon. Member for Lynn Regis brought this matter before the House. The hon. Member who spoke last has used the word "clandestine." I must protest against that word. There was nothing clandestine about the matter at all. The practice in the Treasury for time out of mind has been that in regard to Sovereigns and their representatives a relaxation is made in respect of duties of various kinds which are levied upon everyone else, and that without statutory authority. There was a celebrated case in the reign of William III., when the Custom House officers confiscated the riband of the St. Esprit of the French Ambassador; and there was an Act passed in the time of Queen Anne at the instance of Peter the Great, who demanded the immediate execution of all the officers who had been concerned in a transaction of a like sort. That was the origin of the statute of Anne which forbids process to be taken out against foreign Ambassadors, and, still more, against Sovereigns. It is perfectly true that, literally speaking, there is no statutory authority with reference to Customs or income tax or duties on Ambassadors' houses, and so on, for not levying the imposts, and the consequence is that Ambassadors, time out of mind, have had their tobacco, wines, and other articles free of duty, and they are passed and no questions are asked. When the Czar visited the Queen at Balmoral the other day, an absolutely "illegal and clandestine" operation took place. The Customs, even without the instruction of the Treasury, gave orders that the Emperor of Russia's luggage, containing possibly cigarettes and caravan tea, should be 396 passed, and this violation of the statutes of the realm took place, and, I am afraid, in a "clandestine" manner. [Laughter.] That is really the state of things which has existed ever since Queen Anne, and ever since the celebrated Act, of which an illuminated copy was presented to Peter the Great, and the present Czar of Russia has derived an hereditary benefit from that protest of his ancestor 200 years ago. Now the enactment of the statute of Anne is that no process can be taken out for the recovery of moneys from foreign Sovereigns or their representatives, and when it was represented to me by the Russian Ambassador that there was this money, there was no process of law by which the duty could be levied, and there cannot be a process of law—
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
We were told by the Controller of Legacy Duties that if the duty had been insisted upon it would certainly have been paid.
§ *SIR W. HARCOURT
The hon. Member has been wrongly informed. What might have been done was this—the money might have been impounded until the duty was paid. The hon. Member is wrong in supposing that the Committee have stated that some illegality has taken place. The Committee have not said anything of the kind. The Committee said that they were not called upon to formulate an opinion on the question of the propriety, in view of international comity, of securing the transfer, without payment of duty, of the property held by the Bank; the point taken by the Committee was whether the transaction should have been recorded and published. This was not a remission, because a remission, properly speaking, is the paying back of a duty which has been already paid, and the Treasury Minute of 1883, which is referred to in the Report of the Committee, deals with remissions of that character. You might lay on the Table of Parliament, if you chose, the details of those transactions. You might lay on the Table of Parliament a statement of how many cigars in the course of the year the Spanish Ambassador and his suite smoked, and how many gallons of wine each Ambassador or Minister has 397 consumed. I do not know that that would add to the grace of the comity, because in Committee of Supply you might discuss whether the Spanish Ambassador smoked too much, or whether the French Ambassador had too much claret and champagne. [Laughter.] That, I have no doubt, is the reason why the practice which the hon. Member has condemned has been pursued. If you are going in future to lay on the Table of Parliament a return of such things, it may be a very strict financial proceeding, but it would destroy the comity of the transaction; and, of course, hereafter you must examine the Czar's luggage when he conies over in order that you may make a return to Parliament of what it contains. That is not my view of the comity of nations. Now, in the case of this particular remission, what happened was this. The Bank of England, having this money in their hands, had power perfectly legally to hand it over to the Emperor of Russia, and they might have done so at their own risk without letters of administration. I do not speak positively upon this, but the information I have is that the Emperor could not take out letters of administration, for lie becomes possessed of the property of the late Emperor, whom he succeeds, immediately. Therefore it was his property without letters of administration. Consequently what was really done by the Treasury was to inform the Bank that if they chose to do what they did perfectly legally the Treasury would not object. That is the whole history of the matter, and when it was said that this was done clandestinely, I do not know how the hon. Member would desire that it should have been revealed to the House. The Treasury simply followed in this case the practice they always follow. I hope I have made a frank statement to the House. [Cheers.] I do not desire that any responsibility should rest upon the Treasury or upon any of the officials. The responsibility was mine. I regarded it as an act of State—the dealing of one Sovereign State with another; and I think that the proceeding was justifiable and proper under the circumstances. [Cheers.] That is not really disputed by the Committee of Public Accounts. They remark, not on the propriety of the transaction itself, 398 but on the necessity for further publicity in these matters. That does not rest with me. But it seems to me that when you are doing an act of grace and favour you do not want to publish it to all the world. ["Hear, hear!"] There is a Latin epigram which says, "A man conferred a favour upon me, and published it to all the world, and therefore we are quits." These are never matters of great moment or serious consequence; and if you are to keep the character of this country for observing a comity which has existed for many generations, I do not think it is desirable to depart from the practice which has hitherto been pursued. ["Hear, hear!"] As to the other case quoted of the king of Portugal, there was no claim for the extension of this comity. But in this case the claim was made and was admitted. [Cheers.]
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that the right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that the Public Accounts Committee did not report the thing done as unlawful. They said,—Your Committee are of opinion that when the Treasury decided to countenance what was not only 'extra-statutory' but actually against the law—
*SIR W. HARCOUIRT
Of course. Every cask of wine and every box of cigars for the Ambassador which is passed is against the law in that sense. That is to say, the law orders that the duty shall be collected, and it is not collected.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
But the right lion. Gentleman said that the Committee had not reported that this was against the law.
§ *SIR W. HARCOURT
They state that it is against the law, but they say that they are not called upon to form an opinion on the question of propriety in view of international comity." They recognise the comity, though it is not sanctioned by statute.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that no question of comity was raised with regard to the estate of the King of Portugal, on which duty was paid. He could not understand that the comity depended upon an application being made for its extension. If the payment of the duty was against comity, and it was tendered, it ought to have been 399 refused. It was the fact that this remission in the case of the Czar was done secretly, instead of being done in writing, and the direction of the right hon. Gentleman being given directly. From the moment the decision was taken to excuse the duty not a word in writing passed, and there was nothing from which the Auditor General could have discovered the transaction.
§ *SIR W. HARCOURT
I have pointed out that in the case of the Czar's visit to Balmoral the Treasury was not consulted. You may call that clandestine, if you like. The order was simply sent down. ["Hear, hear!"]
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that lie did not attach the greatest blame to the right hon. Gentleman, but to the officials of the Treasury who undertook to construe the Act of 1894. In declaring that it was unnecessary to take out letters of administration, and, therefore, that no duty was payable, they misled the right hon. Gentleman. The Report of the Inland Revenue to the Treasury was that no one could be allowed to recover the property without taking out letters of administration.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
insisted that the right. hon. Gentleman had been ill-advised, and hoped that in future these remissions would be laid before Parliament.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
I do not think that the Committee will desire to pursue the particular case of non-exaction of duty from the Czar of Russia. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman has made a fair and plain statement of the case; and I think that in all probability the country obtained a greater advantage from the act of courtesy than it would have gained from the exaction of the duty. [Cheers.] Some members of the Committee perhaps desire that we should give some expression of our views with respect to the general recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman opposite as to the impossibility of laying before Parliament a statement of the remissions of duties to Ambassadors or foreign Sovereigns in cases where it has been the rule 400 for generations past that such remissions should be made. Further, I will say that to make a remission to a foreign Sovereign in some exceptional case, and then bring it before Parliament for discussion, might very possibly result in detracting greatly from the grace and courtesy of such remission. [Cheers.] But what Parliament may be jealous of is the action of the Executive—whether the Treasury, the Inland Revenue, or the Customs—not in regard to foreign Sovereigns or Ambassadors, but in regard to Her Majesty's own subjects. ["Hear, hear!"] I entirely accept, as far as Her Majesty's present Government are concerned, the view of the Committee that where the action of the Treasury, or the Inland Revenue, or the Customs, in these matters with regard to Her Majesty's subjects involves some new question of principle, the matter should be frankly submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General, to be reported by him, if he so desires, to the House of Commons. ["Hear, hear!"] That is only in accordance with the old Treasury Minute. But the Committee must not carry that principle too far. Every day, it is not perhaps too much to say, cases of trifling amount occur in the ordinary administration of the Customs and the Inland Revenue—cases in which some claim for duty is made and is not pressed, or perhaps some penalty is waived. In some sense these are remissions. Are they to be reported to the Comptroller and Auditor General? I do not think that it would be the view of the Committee on Public Accounts that matters of that sort should be brought unnecessarily before the notice of Parliament or of the Comptroller and Auditor General. But I fully accept the view that where any remission is made by the Treasury or a subordinate Department involving any new principle or any important amount, that such remission should be submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General.
§ *MR. WEIR,
who was received with cries of "Oh!" asked whether the Secretary to the Treasury intended to continue his dual office as representative of the Treasury and of the Post Office? The right hon. Gentleman's salary of £2,000 was too large while he was dividing his time between the two Departments. [Laughter.] Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman were devoting eight or ten 401 hours a day to the work of one Department only the salary might not be excessive. [Laughter.] It was too great a strain on any one man to, fill two offices, and he thought they were entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman to stick to the duties of Financial Secretary and not to take up the other duties. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would give him any information as to what his intentions were. [Laughter.] He also desired to call attention to the salary of the non-resident British director of the Suez Canal. According to the Vote, he received £800 this year, as against £500 last year, and, in addition, lie received £950 as late Deputy Master of the Mint. A footnote stated that this rate of salary would be reconsidered on a vacancy. Did that mean that the office was to be abolished, or that the salary was to be reduced? He hoped some satisfactory explanation might be given of this matter.
§ DR. CLARK
congratulated the Treasury on the course they had taken in regard to this matter of the Suez Canal directors. Hitherto, they had always sweated "these unfortunate directors, and had themselves appropriated the fees they got from the Canal. Now they were paying the directors a sum equivalent to what they got from the Canal.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid.)
drew attention to, the matter of the Irish Teachers' Pension Fund, and asked that something should be done in the matter of the deficiency which existed.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
Order, order! The general question with regard to the Teachers' Pension Fund does not arise on this Vote. This Vote relates solely to the office.
§ DR. TANNER
said he did not wish to press the matter unduly, but he submitted to the right hon. Gentleman that something should be done.
§ *MR. HANBURY
assured the hon. Member that a large sum was going to be voted to make up the deficiency in the Teachers' Pension Fund.
§ *MR. HANBURY
said the deficiency was made known, he thought, some three 402 or four years ago. To a large extent it arose through some actuarial miscalculations. The deficiency, no doubt, did represent a very large sum, to which the Government were going to contribute several hundreds of thousands of pounds.
§ DR. CLARK
referred to the scale of fees they were paying in England, Ireland, and Scotland. On this Vote they had got three Exchequers, and, as usual, the Irish sum was an extravagant one. Take the principal clerks in three offices. In London and in Dublin these officials began at £700 a year and went on increasing to, £800 a year. He could understand that in London the official might be paid a little more than they paid in the other capitals, but he could not understand why the chief clerk in Edinburgh should begin at only £500 a year, increasing to £600, while the same official in Dublin began at £700 and went on to £800. He thought that at any rate the Edinburgh official ought to be paid an equal amount to the Dublin official. He thought the Treasury ought to see the injustice of the present arrangement. They had been able to level up, to a certain extent, the salaries of the Lord Advocate, the Scotch Solicitor General, and the Scotch Judges, and now they had got to level up the others as well, or give some decent reason for the course they had pursued. This was a national grievance, for every Department in Scotland was underpaid. He seriously objected to having the Scotch Civil Servants in every Department underpaid compared with the Irish and English servants, and getting no compensation for the disparity. It was only fair that the Treasury should give Scotland this money in a certain sum as the Chancellor of the Exchequer did in 1888. It was a most beneficial Measure passed by the present First Lord of the Admiralty when, in lieu of grants he substituted a share of the taxes. He hoped the Treasury would do something in the matter he had referred to.
§ *MR. HENRY KIMBER (Wandsworth)
desired to call attention to two classes of Civil Servants humbler than those the lion. Member for Caithness had referred to, who did not revel in salaries of £500 or £600 a year. One of these was the class of second division clerks who received their appointments under 403 the terms recommended by the Royal Commission as distinguished from those appointed under the Playfair Commission scheme. These clerks, he was told on good authority, had much lower pay. No doubt the State was entitled to obtain its servants on the most reasonable terms, provided that 'those terms were not so low that for them good service could not be rendered. On the terms of their contract these clerks had technically no right to complain, but he would ask the Secretary to the Treasury to examine the grievances of these men, and if it should be found that some of the State servants received remuneration so small that without private means they could not fulfil their duty, or without using their spare hours for extra service, thus rendering their service to the State less valuable, would it not be worth while to offer remuneration that would secure their entire service? In addition to pay there was the question of holidays. For five years after they entered the Service they only had 14 days' leave in the year, besides Christmas Day and the usual public holidays, and in these days of stress and strain this was not sufficient. He hoped if now the larger question of the pay of the Services could not be raised, yet the Secretary to the Treasury would in this appropriate Jubilee year consider whether something could be done for this deserving class of public servants. Another humble class of Civil Servants were the "abstractors," of whom there were a large number in the various Departments. The increment of their pay was at the rate of £2 10s. per annum, the lowest rate of any class of Civil Servants, and after many years they arrived at the maximum of a little over £100. Boy messengers and boy copyists received a larger increment, to the extent of half as much again, and in some cases twice as much. He hoped a promise would be given that these grievances should be considered.
§ *MR. HANBURY
said the Ridley Commission dealt with the whole question of Civil Service establishments, but he did not think his hon. Friend was correct in saying that the Ridley Commission recommended lower salaries than existed under the Playfair scheme. No doubt they started from a. lower minimum, but during the whole of his years 404 of service, supposing a man served after 60, as many men did, he would receive more in salary than a clerk under the Playfair scheme. While Salaries were lower in the early years of service, when they were not so much wanted, higher salaries were paid as men advanced in position in the service. There was great desire to enter the second division, and he thought the Ridley Commission had acted wisely in establishing the new scale. As to holidays, it was true that until they had served five years these clerks only received 14 days at one time, but there were public holidays to the number of about 7 in the year, and in addition, every alternate Saturday, and in some Departments every Saturday was a half holiday. These regulations were framed on the suggestions of the Ridley Commission, which went into the whole question. On the whole they had worked well. There were a good number of applicants for the second division, and he believed those in the Service were thoroughly satisfied. As to the class of "abstractors," his hon. Friend was not quite right in his facts. The maximum pay was not limited to £100, it extended to £150. What was the position of these "abstractors"? Under the recommendations of the Ridley Commission this class of copyists were to be done away with without compensation. The Treasury took a more lenient view, and selecting a number of the best men, put them in a better position than they had ever held before. Up to that time the men had been employed at 10d. an hour. They were not in any way on the permanent establishment, and were not entitled to a pension. A new class of assistant clerks was appointed, and these were allowed to enter the Service at the salaries they were receiving as copyists, with the addition of certain bonuses rising to £150. His hon. Friend had compared the increment they received with that of boy copyists and boy messengers, but it was not a fair comparison. Boy messengers were dismissed when they ceased to be boys, and boy copyists started at a much lower initial salary. The hon. Member for Caithness made a comparison of the salaries paid in Scotland and Ireland; but so far as he had been able to study these matters he was inclined to think 405 that in many instances the difference arose from salaries in Ireland being too high, not those in Scotland too low.
§ *MR. HANBURY
said, of course, the hon. Member knew the general principle upon which salaries were apportioned, No doubt they were calculated on the cost of living in the different countries. But lie would promise to look into the matter and see if the salaries were duly proportioned.
§ MR. PERCY THORNTON (Clapham)
said he was responsible in 1894 for a Motion for the reduction of the Home Office Vote in reference to the position of junior clerks, and he recalled the fact that on that occasion the then Under Secretary (Mr. G. Russell) expressed the opinion that a holiday of 14 days was totally inadequate for junior clerks. An extra week was almost promised by the late Government, and it might be appropriately granted in this Jubilee year.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 7. £83,566, to complete the sum for the Home Office.
§ *SIR C. DILKE
said there were one or two remarks lie had to make upon this Vote. In the first place he would ask the Secretary of State to look into the condition of one of the burial grounds under his authority, which was such as to constitute a grave public scandal. The matter concerned both the Home Office and the Treasury. It was the case of the Brompton cemetery. It concerned both the. Treasury and the Home Office, because the Treasury received the fees for interments, and the Home Office had statutory power to act if the ground was unfit to be used for burials any longer. The case had been frequently mentioned in the House, but instead of getting better things got worse. In private cemeteries interments within 100 yards of dwelling houses could be forbidden by 406 the Home Office, but at Brompton interments were made right under the windows of houses in a crowded neighbourhood. Such an intra-mural cemetery afforded a flagrant example of all the evils which the Statute administered by the Home Office was intended to prevent, and the scandal was all the greater because of the fact that the country was making money out of it. ["Hear, hear!"] The other matter with which he wished to deal at a little greater length concerned the administration of the Factory laws by the Home Secretary. As he should have one or two criticisms to offer, he would say that those criticisms were all on side points. Generally speaking, he had to thank the right hon. Gentleman for, and to congratulate him upon his administration of his office. He thought he had admirably carried on the traditions of his predecessor, and had made no changes in the general conduct of the office. There hall been a continuity of policy in regard to factory and mine inspection, and all other Departments, which was worthy of admiration, and if he said one or two words by way of criticism on a few points of detail, he did not wish to be understood as making any sort of attack on the general administration. ["Hear, hear!"] He wished to point out that in one or two directions there had been a notable tendency to vary what seemed to be the law by a sort of private arrangement between the Home Office and certain great firms. Generally speaking the firms concerned were firms which did a large amount of contract work for various Government Departments, and he could not but think that in some cases the influence of other Departments had been brought to bear—probably without the knowledge of the Home Secretary—upon some of the officials of his Department. It had been represented, perhaps, as being important for the Army or the Navy, or for reasons connected with other Departments, that certain firms should have their work facilitated by occasional relaxation of the law. There seemed to have been instances of this in the cases of the great firm of McCorquodale, and certain firms which contracted with the Government for the supply of tinned meat and tinned provisions. In the 407 stationery works of Messrs. McCorquodale, at Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, there was a large department called the "stores" department. Many examples had been referred to in that House, some in the last Parliament, of the difficulties in administering the Factory Laws caused by the inability of any one to draw a very strict line between what were warehouses and what were factories. They were familiar with the difficulties in this connection with regard to the bottling of beer and the printing of newspapers and other matters. This was a case of the kind. There was a large department at McCorquodale's called "stores," in which work was done which appeared to him plainly to bring that portion of their works within the definition of "factories" in the Factory Acts. As a matter of fact the hours of work in that large department were not the hours prescribed by the Factory laws. Sixty or seventy hours a week had been done by young persons, and in some cases children, and overtime had been worked on more than the statutory number of occasions, namely, 30 days. It was admitted, he thought, that the departments were not brought under any regulation with regard to hours. He believed it was understood in the Home Office that these "stores" departments were not under the Factory Acts, and therefore were not subject to regulations as to hours. But there was in Messrs. McCorquodale's works another department called the "label" department, employing a large number of people, which was admitted to be under the Factory Acts, the work done in which appeared to him to be indistinguishable on any principle from the work carried on in the "stores." What he had to complain of was that the. Home Office must be aware that these portions of the works were on the dividing line between factories and warehouses, because he understood that an arrangement had been come to, a sort of private arrangement outside the Factory Acts, that not more than a certain number of hours were to be worked in future in those departments. That seemed to show that there was a doubt in the minds of the Home Office whether or not these works did come within the Factory Acts; and he was bound to say that he thought these 408 arrangements with regard to hours outside the Act most unsatisfactory. He should not have attached much importance to this case if it stood by itself. But what had occurred with regard to the fishing industry went to show that there was a tendency somewhere in the Home Office to assume to vary the provisions of the law. In the case of the fishing industry the Factory Acts contained a special exception with regard to the gutting of fish on its arrival by boat; but the exception did not apply to the process of tinning or preserving fish. There were great works at the East End of London which did an immense amount of work for the Government. A great deal of fish was tinned which did not come to London by boat at all, but which came by train. These works undoubtedly came under the ordinary factory laws. Yet the Home Office for some time past had refrained from enforcing the law as against them. Questions were put in the House which induced the statement that a private Member was bringing in a Bill on the question, and that, pending legislation, there was to be some arrangement for holding over the cases. He submitted that a private Member's Bill, which had not the remotest chance of becoming law, was not sufficient ground for the Home Office suspending action on the existing law. He believed that several cases had been held over, and no prosecution had been carried through because of some suggested legislation. It appeared to him, as he had said, that these arrangements were most undesirable. The words of the law were perfectly plain. The exception distinctly referred to industries dependent on the arrival of fish by boats, and the language was so clear that it could not possibly apply generally to the tinning and preserving industry at large, and the law ought to be allowed to take its course, and the restrictions as to hours should be applied in the usual way. This was a case of some importance, 409 because a large number and an increasing number of people were employed in these industries, which were working largely for the Government under contract. It was not a matter of the rate of wages paid, because the rates of wages were satisfactory, and in some cases high. But it was a question of the hours of work, which in this fish industry were very cruel hours. Women were employed, some of them all day on Sunday, and the hours were very long; yet the whole of these fish tinning places were treated as outside the provisions of the Factory Acts. To refrain from enforcing the law seemed to him to be a great mistake, entailing serious consequences to a large number of workers. ["Hear, hear!"] Lie would not press the matter any further, but would ask the Home Secretary to inquire into the facts he had mentioned in the case of the McCurquodale works; and with regard to the fish tinning industry he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to assure the House that he intended to allow the law to take its course in future. He wished to conclude, as he had begun, by expressing his warm sympathy with the general administration of the right hon. Gentleman, and his conviction that in the greater portion of his administration he had been guided by the principles which most of those on his (the speaker's) side of the House wished to see carried out. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
wished to draw attention to a matter which was a grievance of some importance to some 15,000 men, hundreds of whom he had the honour to represent. In order to make the matter clear to the Committee, he was compelled to traverse old ground, which he did very reluctantly. The constables of the Metropolitan Police force had laboured lot a number of years under the disadvantage of being supplied with contract boots. Some years ago he drew attention to this fact, and the Government of the 410 day declared that there was no grievance of the kind. But lie proved that the grievance existed, inasmuch as these boots, for which the Government paid 30s. a pair, would not realise in the open market when new one half that value; and he showed that other boots, namely, boots supplied to the troops, and which cost a very much smaller figure, were sold in open market for two-thirds of their value. The Government then gave way on the point that there was no grievance; but they then declared that it would be impossible to carry out his suggestion that the men should receive a bout money allowance instead of contract boots.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
said the question should be raised on the Police Vote; he did not think it could be raised on the Hume Office Vote.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
respectfully submitted that when he moved on a previous occasion, he dealt with it on this Vote.
*THE CHAIRMAN or WAYS AND MEANS
I am not aware of that. I am aware that the matter was dealt with on the Police Vote on a former occasion, and that was the proper place to deal with it.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
I assure you that I did deal with it on this Vote, as the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench (Mr. Asquith) will allow, for I moved that his salary be reduced on that occasion.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
I took opinion at the Table as to which Vote I should bring the matter forward upon, and it was suggested that this was the proper Vote.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I must follow the precedent set myself when I allowed the question to be raised on the Police Vote. I must hold, therefore, that this is nut the proper place to raise it.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TTTE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY,) Lancashire, Blackpool
said that perhaps the- Chairman would permit him to say that the Question just referred to by the hon. Member for Newington was raised this Session by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich upon the Police Vote. What had been done was intended to be for the advantage of the men, who, according to his information, wished to have a money instead of a boot allowance. He was much indebted to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean for what he had said about the administration of the Factory Acts. He believed there ought to be continuity in the administration of such important Acts, and he was glad to think he had achieved some small measure of success in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman. The circumstances of the Brompton Cemetery had not been brought to his notice, but he would inquire into them. The right hon. Baronet seemed to think there had been some influence at work which had induced the Home Office to relax the administration of the Factory Acts with regard to certain establishments. He was not aware of anything of the kind, and certainly he, personally, had never been called upon to decide whether any portion of McCorquodale's works was more properly a warehouse or a factory. The right hon. Baronet illustrated his point by what had been done with reference to some of the fish-curing industries. Directly he entered office his attention was called to what appeared to him to be a slip in the language of the Factory Act of 1878, and a Bill was introduced last Session for the purpose of amending the Act. The workers of the trade, employers as well as employed, have expressed the desire that there should be some slight amendment of the law which would make it clear that they may continue to work certain overtime in cases where it is necessary.
§ *SIR C. DILKE
remarked that what he had said he had said at the wish of the Trade Councils of Grimsby and Aberdeen, 412 who represented a very considerable industry, and they were not at all in favour of any relaxation.
§ *SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
said he had not had a single representation made to him except in favour of retaining the relaxation which had always been allowed. He did not understand that any harm had been done, but he would look into the matter.
§ *MR. WEIR
trusted that the Home Secretary would, through his inspectors, see that cruelty was not inflicted upon dumb animals by means of vivisection experiments. He quoted from a letter written by a well-known medical officer, Mr. Edward Berdol, a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, etc., Tyne-mouth House, Victoria Park Gate. That gentleman wrote under date June 10, 1897,—Certificate A is special for experiments without anæsthetics, and although it is never allowed except for inoculation and similar trivial operation, the licensee does not allow himself to be baulked by such obstacles. He proceeds simply and effectually in the following manner: He desires, let us say, to bore boles in a dog's skull, to tear open the chest and disclose and experiment upon the heart. He gives a whiff of chloroform, enough to swear by, but not enough to interfere with the results of his research. He next gives a little morphia, which he has lately taken to call an anæsthetic. Thus Messrs. Bayliss and Hill in the Journal of Physiology (Vol. xviii. p. 357) say: 'Throughout the experiments morphia was the anæsthetic used.' Everybody knew that morphia was not an anæsthetic at all, but merely a stupefier (nobody would have a tooth extracted under morphia when he could get nitrous oxide gas). Before the preliminary stupefaction had passed off, curare was given, and then no noise, no biting, no scratching, no movements followed; nobody but the experimenter could tell that the creature was not really anæsthetised; and then the vivisector set to work, tearing away bones and muscles, cutting and stimulating nerves, and doing his work without fear of Home Secretary or anyone else. He could swear he had used anæsthetics, and as the animal had no power to express any pain, although suffering unutterable and unimaginable torments, his torturer could go on with his work for six hours and 12 minutes under curare, as was done in the new Museum, Cambridge, as recorded in detail in the Journal of Physiology, Vol. xv., pp. 1–89, 1893.
§ MR. REGINALD McKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
admitted that it was 413 very difficult to accurately define a workshop, but contended the reply the right hon. Gentleman gave him earlier in the Session in respect to places where newspapers were folded and beer bottled was not quite satisfactory. He noticed that the superintendent-inspectorship in the women's department was vacant. Perhaps the Home Secretary would inform the Committee whether it was intended to appoint a new female factory inspector, and, if so, whether it was intended to appoint one of the present inspectors as superintendent. With regard to the question raised by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, it appeared to him most undesirable for a Government Department to enter into any private arrangement with any private firms.
§ MR. McKENNA
understood there was an arrangement that the firms should carry on their business in a particular way.
§ *SIR MATTHEW WHITE RIDLEY
remarked that, with regard to the Question put to him by the hon. Member for North Monmouth as to the definition of a workshop, he could not add anything to the answers he had already given, and which were founded on the best advice that could be supplied him at the Home Office. With respect to the vacancy which had occurred on the staff of the factory inspectorate, they had lost a very valuable public servant by the retirement of the present lady superintendent-inspector. ["Hear, hear!]He was now engaged in going through a formidable list of the names of ladies who were desirous of becoming inspectors. His present intention was not to appoint a superintendent-inspector, but there were two or three points he was considering 414 with the chief Inspector before deciding finally whether there should be a superintendent-inspector or five inspectors of the same grade. He proposed for the present to fill up the vacancy by the appointment of an ordinary inspector. With reference to the allegation as to cruelty in connection with vivisection, he could not believe that the statements which the hon. Member opposite had quoted from a letter were in any degree accurate. On the contrary, he believed they were entirely inaccurate, and he should be extremely sorry to think that such a thing as had been suggested was possible. If the hon. Gentleman would be good enough to let him have the statement of his correspondents he would take care to examine very closely into the truth of the matter. During the course of the last year or two he had had only one or two complaints as to the way the operations were carried on, and as to alleged cruelty and irregularity under the Act. Those charges, however, were not substantiated in any case, and he had reason to believe that the Act was humanely and properly administered; that the two inspectors—one in the south and one in the north—were thoroughly up to their work; that they did pay surprise visits; and that they took every means to secure the efficient carrying out of the Act. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 5. £3,279, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Expenses.—Agreed to.