§ As amended (by the Standing Committee), considered.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Surrey, Wimbledon)
, on Clause 1, moved an Amendment with 809 the object of describing the officers of the Board of Agriculture to be set up for the purposes of the Bill as small holdings inspectors, and not Commissioners. He said his object in moving the Amendment was to point out that for the purposes of the Bill the appointment of a number of gentlemen who were to be called Commissioners appeared to him wholly unnecessary. For years past the Board of Trade, the Local Government Board, and the Board of Agriculture had been in the habit of appointing additional inspectors for any special purpose which might arise in connection with the working of their Departments, and he failed to see why it was necessary to depart from that well-recognised practice upon the present occasion. Some of these inspectors had been appointed for very long periods and for very important objects. He had one such occasion in mind when, a good many years ago, the Government of the day were employed in extirpating cattle disease from the country. The matter was considered with great care on that occasion by the Board of Agriculture, but it was not thought necessary to call the men who were appointed to deal with the matter by the name of Commissioners. The problem was one which affected the whole of the Kingdom, and was certainly not of less importance than the problem they proposed to deal with by the Bill before the House. These gentlemen, at the time he was referring to, were appointed simply as ordinary inspectors, but they were invested with novel and ample powers, and after many years, involving the expenditure of large sums of money, they were at last successful in accomplishing the object of their appointment. What he wished to know from the Government was whether there was any satisfactory reason or necessity for establishing gentlemen as Commissioners under the Bill. The objections to such appointments was that they gave the idea that for the purpose of the Bill there was to be established a new tribunal, which was to be to some extent, at all events, independent of the Board of Agriculture. He knew quite well that by the words of the Bill these gentlemen were called upon to act under the direction of the Board of Agriculture itself, but that, in his opinion, was but an additional reason for terming them by Some name such as inspectors. In view of the large 810 expenditure the measure would involve, it was desirable to avoid the appointment of a novel tribunal whose members were likely to receive larger salaries than were necessary for inspectors. Another point was that the Board of Agriculture was always represented in that House, but if any question arose in connection with the working of this measure in the country, and upon which hon. Members might wish information, instead of giving notice to the Board and getting an immediate answer, they would have to seek it of this Commissioner who might be miles away, and consequently it would take considerable time before a reply was obtained. He thought the House had a right to some explanation from the Government as to why these gentlemen should be appointed at largo salaries—higher than was necessary—to act as inspectors. For this reason he moved the Amendment in his name.
In page 1, line 8, to leave out from beginning of line to end of line 13, and insert the words, 'The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Board) shall appoint such inspectors for the purposes of this Act, to be called small holdings inspectors, (hereinafter referred to as the inspectors).'"—(Mr. Chaplin.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'shall,' in page 1, line 10, stand part of the Bill."
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. HARCOURT,) Lancashire, Rossendle
said the right hon. Gentleman and himself had discussed this question in that House and upstairs very frequently, and he was afraid he had no information which he could usefully add. The Commissioners appointed under the Bill would not act as a separate tribunal or an independent body, but would act under the direction of the Board of Agriculture. At the same time, they were people who might usefully and properly be invested with more dignity and importance than that implied in the word "inspectors." It should also be observed that these Commissioners were not only inquiry agents of the Government, but in certain circumstances they would exercise semi-executive functions. The right hon. Gentleman had afforded him a precedent for naming these gentlemen as inspectors, but in reply he would give him another, 811 viz., the Commissioner of Labour under the Board of Trade. On the whole, and after most careful consideration, in the drafting of the Bill the Government felt that they must adhere to the description they had given these gentlemen.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
said the Committee upstairs and the House at large wished to know what was to be the number of these gentlemen, and what were to be their actual duties. They had tried to ascertain these facts, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite had kept them very politely in the dark. The hon. Member for Barnstaple wanted to know whether these Commissioners were to be people whose duty it was to satisfy the Board of Agriculture as to the demand or otherwise for small holdings, and had pointed out that in his constituency there were a large number of villagers. Well, in most constituencies there were a good many villagers, and if these Commissioners had to go about the country inquiring into the demand for small holdings, it would be necessary to appoint, not two Commissioners, but 200. If it were necessary to appoint these gentlemen on so large a scale then they should not be called Commissioners but inspectors, because they would be simply carrying out the functions of inspectors. If, however, on the other hand, those gentlemen were to be persons of supreme power who could override the local authorities, then they ought to be people of considerable influence and position, and it should not be part of their duties to go about the country inquiring at each village as to the requirements of the inhabitants for small holdings and allotments. They must either be inspectors of the Board of Agriculture, or people of supreme authority, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman might take the House into his confidence and tell them what these people were really going to be, and also their salaries and their functions.
§ MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W. R., Barkston Ash)
asked whether the time had not arrived when information upon the matter, which had been postponed in the Committee, might be forthcoming. It was the first opportunity the House and the country had had of ascertaining from the rigit hon. Gentleman what the intention of the Bill was. The whole 812 crux of the measure was involved in the work and scope of these Commissioners, and the House had a perfect right to ask for a further explanation. It had been suggested that a large number of these Commissioners would be required. Anyone who considered the cost must see how important it was to the country that they should have further information. The whole thing had been referred to as an agricultural drama at Drury Lane, but he thought the House would agree that it had row become a farce. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to throw some light on the subject.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
said the right hon. Gentleman had used a phrase which he seemed to have inherited from the Secretary for Scotland viz., that he could give no reason for their action except that the Government had carefully considered the matter and thought that what they were doing was the best. However satisfactory a ground to take up that might be for the Government, it did not by any means carry conviction to those who did not happen to see eye to eye with them in the matter. It had always been usual for a Government not only to inform the House that they were going to do a certain thing, but also to state the grounds upon which such action was to be taken. The right hon. Gentleman would see that under the working of the Bill two classes of officers were contemplated, viz., the Commissioners and another body of officers described as "other officers." Was he right in supposing that the last named were to be subordinate in rank and importance to the two or more Commissioners? He conjectured also that the idea of the Government was that the number of Commissioners would not be large—for "two or more" could not mean 200 or 2,000—not more than four or five, or some relatively small number. What was the kind of salaries the Government proposed to give to the Commissioners, and were the "other officers" to be, on the whole, a class that could be described as inspectors? It was essential that the House should understand these things. He quite agreed that it was not fair to press the right hon. Gentleman, until he knew the magnitude of the work, to give them the exact number of these Commissioners, but he thought it was not too much to ask for a 813 general explanation of the Government's scheme—whether it was proposed to put a small hierarchy of gentlemen at the head of a large staff of subordinates, or whether the work was to be done by head officials, and also what salaries were contemplated. The question of salaries was of importance, not merely from the taxpayers' point of view, but because if the House knew the salaries which it was proposed to pay they could tell what class of men the Government thought of appointing to carry out the work. If this information were afforded he thought the House would have a very fair idea of the machinery of the Bill.
§ THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir W. ROBSON, South Shields,)
said the Government could not state the number of officials who would be concerned in carrying out the Bill until they knew what its scope would be, and the same difficulty confronted them when they came to the question of remuneration. At the present stage it was impossible to determine what amount of work would have to be grappled with, and they could not tie themselves down by statutory enactments which were not to be varied. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the phrase "two or more" must mean not many more than two, but he thought that the proper legal construction upon such a phrase was that there should not be less than two, and no limit was put on the word "more." There might be two Commissioners or there might be more; how many more depended upon the work of the Bill as it developed. It was impossible to attempt to organise the staff until they knew the work that staff was required to carry out. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment did not ask so much about the number and salary of the Commissioners; his desire was that they should be called inspectors. He thought, however, everyone would agree that the name "inspector" would not be appropriate to the class of men who would be set up under the Bill. Their duties would be of a character far beyond the work of an ordinary departmental inspector. They would have to inquire into the demand for small holdings and allotments, they would have to submit reports and advise the county council, and they might also be called upon to 814 prepare schemes. Of course, whatever they did would be done under the direction and control of the Board of Agriculture. The whole question was one of organisation of the staff, and the real check upon the Board of Agriculture as to salaries and number of officers would be the Treasury, to whom such matters would be submitted, and by whom they would be closely scrutinised.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
thought the Government might tell them whether the Bill was to be made operative throughout the country within a certain limit of time. If it was to come into operation within a few years then the country might reckon on an enormous expense. If all these elaborate inquiries were to be made in the counties and rural districts of England, inquiry after inquiry and report after report, and all within a reasonable time, then it was nonsense to talk about one or two Commissioners and one or two officers: an army would be required. It would be no difficult matter for the country to realise what the expenditure under the Bill would be if the measure were to become operative within a short period of time. The Bill had been described first as a drama, then as a farce, but he would call it a brilliant piece of political window dressing. The setting up of such a vast machinery at incalculable expense was wholly unnecessary. They might just as well throw the money into the sea. It was a curious thing that the Government, when it had to its hand machinery which only needed a little inexpensive reinforcement, should wish to set up all this remarkable new machinery which partook of the nature of a Land Court and a bureaucracy, and the extent of whose duties no one could define. With a little improvement of the existing machinery an effective system for providing small holdings wherever they were wanted throughout the country could be easily devised.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said he would like the Government to see to it that these Commissioners were not elected only for their technical knowledge of agriculture, which of course was essential, but also for their knowledge of the conditions of rural social life. There was also another point of great importance. He trusted that none 815 of the officers appointed would have the smallest trace of Party connection. He could not imagine anything more hopelessly upsetting to the whole scheme of the Bill than that the Commissioners or whatever they were called, should be connected with any political Party. It would be impossible for them to carry out their duties properly if they were not absolutely free from political bias.
§ * MR. GEORGE FABER (York)
said that when the Bill was before the Committee he had expressed his regret that the right hon. Gentleman did not see fit to adopt a system of inspectors rather than of Commissioners, because if, to use a colloquial expression, he had "stuck" to inspectors, he had the machinery at hand at the Board of Agriculture. What happened under this Bill, however, was that the right hon. Gentleman started by appointing "two or more" Commissioners, the total number being unascertained. He was glad to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer present, because he was sure that with his ideas of economy he would be very much disturbed by the vista of extravagance which was opened up before him in this Bill. If Commissioners were appointed they would have to be paid £1,200 or £1,500 a year, and this sum was not confined to two Commissioners but to "two or more." Surely they were entitled to know how many of them there were to be. In regard to that matter he might remind the right hon. Gentleman of the Scottish Small Landholders Bill. A great deal of abuse had been levelled at the Scottish Bill, he had no doubt rightly, but even from the Scottish Bill they might learn something. What did the Scottish Bill say? Liberty was given to appoint not more than five persons as constituting the Scottish Land Court, and not more than three persons as the Agricultural Commissioners. He would like to pray in aid the provisions of the Scottish Bill, let alone all common sense, and ask why they could not settle in this Bill the number of Commissioners and their salaries. The Bill might say not more than three, or four, or five, but to say "two or more" left the whole matter in the region of speculation and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in absolute uncertainty as to how much expenditure was going to be thrown upon a particular year. His first point then was that it would be better to have inspectors 816 rather than Commissioners. His second point was that they should know what limit there was going to be to the number of Commissioners and what their salaries were to be. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley had said, the present proposal seemed likely to throw a huge expenditure upon the Exchequer.
§ MR. MILDMAY (Devonshire, Totnes)
thought the right hon. gentleman was not justified in keeping the House in the dark on this subject. Surely they had a right to know how many of these Commissioners there were to be. The Government might not be able to give the exact figures between two and 100, but at all events they ought to indicate some figure. Nor did he see why their remuneration should not be stated at this stage. They knew what their duties would be, and it ought not to be impossible to put some bounds to their remuneration. They had, he thought, a right to press for more information. He also agreed that these Commissioners should not be men who had been connected with any political Party warfare, because any appointments of that kind could not fail to wreck the Bill.
§ * MR. HARCOURT
, in reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley, said the Government intended the Bill to be operative within a reasonable limit of time, but he did not share with the right hon. Gentleman the opinion that it would mean the employment of a huge army of officials, nor did he share the feeling that there would be pickings for Party politicians in country districts. He was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman allowed his mind to sink to that level of construction of an Act of Parliament. He was sure there would be no taint of Party considerations about those who were appointed. He would not be responsible for the appointments, but he was sure that the President of the Board of Agriculture and the Secretary to the Treasury would join in the hon. Member's political purism in order to secure an impartial tribunal. The hon. Member wished to know the number of the Commissioners but it was impossible to give it at this stage, but he could give an assurance that their number would be limited by the requirements of the time as they 817 developed. Then the right hon. Gentleman wanted to know something about their remuneration. That was a matter which, of course, must excite the curiousity of the Commissioners themselves when appointed, but it was a question which must be decided by negotiation between the Board of Agriculture and the Treasury, and if the right hon. Gentleman knew as much about the Treasury as he did he need be under no apprehension that the taxpayer would be unduly mulcted.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said he was not a member of the Grand Committee, but he claimed that the Opposition had a right to be fully heard in regard to the Bill. The Amendment commended itself to him for this reason; "Commissioners" was a very large word and might mean anything. It might even mean a separate department, and the establishment of a Land Court. If the Amendment was accepted, these people would only be inspectors of a Department instead of forming a Department themselves. As a taxpayer, he feared he might have to pay more for Commissioners than he would for inspectors.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
owned that he was not altogether free from the apprehensions expressed by the hon. Baronet, having failed to extract any information except that the right hon. Gentleman wished to add to the dignity and importance of the office, the duties of which involved not only judicial inquiry but some administrative functions besides. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman in which he informed them that the number of the Commissioners would be limited to the requirements of the time as they developed did not advance them one iota further than they were before. He would not detain the House as to the duties of the Commissioners, but they wished for some information as to their number and their salaries. In regard to this the right hon. Gentleman had told them nothing. Their number might be quite unlimited. Having done his best to extract information and failed, he had no alternative but to press the Amendment to a division.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR (Sussex, Horsham)
, in supporting the Amendment, 818 said the proposals of the Government seemed to lack elasticity. As for giving the House and country any idea of what the exact position of these gentlemen was to be, for all the information that had been given the right hon. Gentleman might as well not have spoken at all The House was in exactly the same position to-day as when the Bill was introduced. The Commissioners under this Bill could not be compared with the Commissioner of Labour. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman or some member of the Government would give the House some idea of the position I and status of these inspectors, and also I of the number of inspectors it was intended to appoint.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)
thought it was a pity that the House should go to a division without some explanation. As usual they had the Government speaking with half-a-dozen different voices. The House certainly ought to know more about these Commissioners. He personally thought the precedent of the Irish Land Acts should have been followed, and the names of the Commissioners put into the Bill. But at all events they ought to know how many there were to be and what their salaries were to be, and he hoped some member of the Government would give the information.
§ MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said that as the noble Lord who had just sat down had spoken with such an air of sincerity he thought a word or two in explanation ought to be said. If the noble Lord turned to Clause 3, Section 2, he would see: "If the County Council decline to undertake this duty … the Board may direct the Commissioners themselves to prepare one or more draft schemes." His noble friend would see very plainly from that that until it was known whether the county councils declined, it was impossible to say what number of Commissioners would be required.
§ MR. CLAVELL SALTER, (Hants, Basingstoke)
said that what he desired to know was how the Government expected this measure to work. They were going to start two classes of officials, one obviously of a high class and one described as "such other officers as they think fit." It might be assumed, therefore, 819 that the latter would be in a subordinate position. The leading Commissioners were to ascertain in the country districts whether there was any demand for small holdings. They were to report to the Government, and the Government in opposition to the wishes of the county councils might entrust these gentlemen with the preparation of a scheme and ultimately use them as instruments of coercion against the county councils. He therefore desired to know how their work was to be carried out. Was it contemplated by the Government that the Commissioners themselves would do this
§ work? Would they get into communication with the local people, and would they themselves report to the Government? If so, the Commissioners would have to be very numerous. If they were to act through other gentlemen, would the Government say whether those gentlemen whom the Commissioners were entitled to employ and pay would be local persons? He thought they were entitled to an answer on these points.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 159; Noes, 51. (Division List No. 401.)821
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Morse, L. L.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Fuller, John Michael F.||Myer, Horatio|
|Ambrose, Robert||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Napier, T. B.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Gooch, George Peabody||Nicholls, George|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Grant, Corrie||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster|
|Baker, Joseph A, (Finsbury, E.)||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Hall, Frederick||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Beauchamp, E.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Harwood, George||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Haworth, Arthur A.||Pollard, Dr.|
|Bertram, Julius||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Hedges, A. Paget||Pullar, Sir Robert|
|Bowerraan, C. W.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Radford, G. H.|
|Branch, James||Henry, Charles S.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Horniman, Emslie John||Rees, J. D.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Chance Frederick William||Laidlaw, Robert||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Lambert, George||Rose, Charles Day|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lamont, Norman||Rowlands, J.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Runciman, Walter|
|Clough, William||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Lehmann, R. C.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Sears, J. E.|
|Cooper, G. J.||Lough, Thomas||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lupton, Arnold||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Cox, Harold||Lyell, Charles Henry||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Crooks, William||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Crossley, William J.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Snowden, P.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||M'Callum, John M.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||M'Killop, W.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Maddison, Frederick||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Markham, Arthur Basil||Ure, Alexander|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Marnham, F. J.||Verney, F. W.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Massie, J.||Vivian, Henry|
|Essex, R. W.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Molteno, Percy Alport||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Montagu, E. S.||Wardle, George J.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Morrell, Philip||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|White, Luke (York, E. R.)||Wills, Arthur Walters||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|White, Patrick (Meath, North)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)||Whiteley and Mr. J. A.|
|Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)||Winfrey, R.||Pease.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Faber, George Denison (York)||Moore, William|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Gordon, J.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Helmsley, Viscount||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bowles, G. J. Stewart||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hills, J. W.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hunt, Rowland||Turnour, Viscount|
|Cave, George||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingham||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
*MR. CHAPLIN moved to leave out the words "except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act." He explained that this was the first of a series of Amendments to the first five clauses, the object of which was to free the county councils from coercion by the Commissioners. The only exception in the Bill to which the words he proposed to leave out referred was where the Commissioners were acting in the case of any default by the county council when they were required to repay the expenses to the Board. The House was aware of the general effect of the first five clauses, which related entirely to the appointment of the Commissioners and the duties and powers vested in them. Having been appointed under Clause 1, their first duty was to ascertain the extent to which there was a demand for small holdings in the several counties, and also the extent to which that demand could be legitimately satisfied under the Act of 1892 and under the operation of this Act. This was done under Clause 2. Under Clauses 3 and 4 the Commissioners were invested with further powers and further duties; and under Clause 5, after all the necessary operations had been gone through, and the scheme had been presented for small holdings, with the approval and sanction of the Board, the county council were required to give effect to that scheme, and if they refused the Commissioners appointed under this Act were empowered and
would be instructed, muse in need be instructed, by the Board to carry out that scheme themselves. In these circumstances he had been considering in what way these difficulties could possibly be met, because it was to this provision for what he must call coercing the county councils and for spending—quite possibly, as they thought, for squandering—the rates, that they in that part of the House without a single exception took the greatest objection. They regarded it as a new and dangerous, and he believed he should not exaggerate if he said an unconstitutional, departure from all the traditions hitherto accepted in regard to-local government in this country, with the exception of one or two comparatively trifling matters relating to sanitary purposes and the public health. They thought it an entire departure that any Government Department should be empowered to over-ride the wishes and decisions of a great local body like the county council, which, they muse remember, were elected on the widest possible suffrage. The right hon. Gentleman might say, as he had said the other night in Committee, "Oh, but such extreme measures as this are not likely ever to be taken." But if they were not going to use these powers, why on earth should they begin by putting into the Bill such proposals, which were certain to put up the backs of the county councils and prejudice them both against the Government and against the measure
which they were proposing? And there was no use in it. He had pointed out this both on the Second Reading of the Bill, and again upstairs, and he had quoted the well-known case of the Forest of Epping, where powers of a similar character, which were in existence more than fifty years ago under the old Sanitary Act of 1866, were placed by the Secretary of State in the hands of a person with orders to carry out proceedings which the local authority of those days had already refused to undertake. That was attended with such disastrous results that no Government Department from that day to this had ever again attempted for a moment to enforce proceedings of that kind. The Leader of the Opposition had called attention to this, and again and again his right hon. friend had driven this argument home. Not a single Member on the other side of the House, and not a single Member on the Government Bench, had ever attempted to refute it. He felt, therefore, that he was justified in reminding right hon. Gentlemen opposite of the position with which they would be confronted if they ever attempted to coerce the county councils in earnest. He would be told that their Bill would be a failure, possibly a dead letter, without these powers. He thought himself that it was exceedingly probable that in its present form the Bill, even if it became law, was destined to have little, if any, success. He based his opinion on two points at least, though he would not confine himself to two. The principal one was that which they were now discussing, the coercion of the county councils, and the other was one on which he would also have something to say when they came to Clause 6 on compulsory hiring. He did not want to see this Bill a failure. Quite the opposite. He was as anxious as anybody in the House, if it were possible, to see a wise extension of the system of small holdings in all parts of the country wherever the locality and the conditions were favourable. He did not believe for a single moment that the county councils were in the least antagonistic to a reform of this character. On the contrary, he believed that if the Government gave up the attempt to coerce them, and they could see their way to carry out with success the scheme presented to them by
the Board of Agriculture and the conditions were favourable, the great majority of county councils would be just as ready, and willing to proceed in this matter as the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, or even his right hon. friend the Member for the Bordesley Division himself. Why should it be otherwise? There were no people who were better acquainted with the agricultural conditions which prevailed in the whole of the counties of England and Wales than the members of the county councils. They knew just as well as Members of that House, and probably better, what the benefit would be to the interests of their own counties, the country, and the community as a whole, if the rural industry of the Kingdom could be supplemented, especially in certain localities, by the successful cultivation of small holdings in all the various parts of the country. Therefore, he held that the county councils, if they were properly treated, and they were afforded an opportunity of really judging for themselves when and how far schemes of this kind might be made with success, would go into the question with just as much zeal and energy as his right hon. friend opposite. But supposing he was wrong. Then he had placed on the Paper Amendments to several of these clauses to provide an alternative by which they could ensure making the Bill a success if they availed themselves of it. Clause 5, if amended in the way he suggested, would read—
5. (1.) It shall be the duty of a county council to carry into effect any scheme prepared by them or which they elect as hereinafter mentioned to carry into effect, within such time as may be specified in the scheme, or within such further time as may be allowed by the Board, and for that purpose the council may exercise any of the powers conferred on them by the Small Holdings, Act, 1892, or by this Act.
(2.) In the case of a scheme prepared by the Board unless the county council within six months after the confirmation thereof by the Board give notice to the Board that they elect to carry the same into effect the Board may take such steps as may be necessary for carrying the scheme into effect, and shall for the purpose have all the powers of a county council in relation to small holdings under the Small Holdings Act, 1892, and this Act, and those Acts shall apply as if references to the Board were substituted for reference" to a county council:
Provided that the expenses incurred by the Board in the exercise of such powers in
relation to any scheme shall be paid out of the Small Holdings account.
There was already in the Bill a clause giving very considerable powers in this direction. If his Amendment were adopted, the whole of the existing machinery for obtaining information, for the preparation of schemes, for obtaining the approval of the Board for these schemes, and for communicating them to the county councils of the country, would remain absolutely intact. If the change he suggested gave real promise of success and the people desired it, he was confident I the county councils would not decline to accept it, because in a matter of this kind they would infinitely prefer to have the control in their own hands rather than in the hands of any outside authority. If they declined, the remedy provided would be complete. In the first place, the people who desired an operation of this kind would be able to give effect to their wishes in the most legitimate and natural way, because at the next election they could turn out the recalcitrant members who had ignored their wishes and put others in their place. Meantime, the I Board could go on with their scheme with out any delay, and as the Bill was put I forward with the view of promoting a great national object, he could not conceive why there should be any objection I to its being done out of national funds. He believed his Amendment, if accepted, would do more to make the measure really operative and successful in the country than anything else that could be proposed. He hoped all sides of the House would take this question into their most serious and unprejudiced consideration. Unless the Bill were altered in the direction he had indicated, not withstanding all the hopes and anticipations formed of it by its author and his earnest desire for a considerable addition to the small holdings in this country, he was convinced that it would not achieve the object which they desired He begged to move the Amendment standing in his name.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I did not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman on account of the position he occupies in regard to this question and because I desired to hear what he had to say upon this point. I have, however, come to the 826 conclusion that this Amendment is out of order. This Clause lays down that—And all expenses incurred by those Commissioners and officers in the execution of their duties under this Act, to such amount as may be sanctioned by the Treasury shall (except as otherwise expressly provided by this Act) be defrayed out of money provided by Parliament.That exception must refer to Clause 5, paragraph (2), which says—Provided that such expenses as the Board certify to have been incurred by the Commissioners in the exercise of such powers in relation to any scheme shall on demand be repaid to the Board by the county council in default out of the county fund.That was the exception contemplated in Clause 1. This Amendment would cause those expenses instead of being charged on the county council rate, to come out of the Small Holdings Account, and it would relieve the rates at the expense of the national exchequer. That would involve an additional charge on the exchequer, and no such proposal as that can be made upon the Report stage of a Bill.
§ * MR. CHAPLIN
said with great respect he desired to call attention to the fact that there was already in the Bill a subsection which appeared to embody a great deal of what he had suggested in his Amendment. Sub-section (3) of Clause 5 provided that—If it appears to the Board that the carrying out of a scheme under this Act has resulted or is likely to result in a loss, the Board may, with the consent of the Treasury, pay or undertake to pay out of the Snail Holdings Account the whole or any part of that loss.There was also a provision in the Act of 1902 which still held good, to the effect that the county councils were prohibited from acquiring land unless they saw the way to obtain it at a price which would prevent any loss whatever to them. If that provision was retained there could be no loss, and if there was no loss there could be no transfer of charge to Imperial funds. It was upon those two clauses that he desired to ask Mr. Speaker whether his Amendment might still be permissible.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I cannot get over the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman suggested himself, that the effect of this Amendment, together with his other 827 Amendments, is to transfer a charge which the Bill, as it now stands, lays upon the rates. That is the whole point. The right hon. Gentleman is anxious to transfer that charge to the Exchequer, and we cannot do that upon the Report stage of a Bill.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
said the position in which they were placed was really very significant and serious. They had not been allowed to deal with this subject on the Committee Stage because the Bill was sent upstairs. In the opinion of hon. Members on both sides of the House this was the most important and crucial point in the whole measure, and many of I them thought it was on the decision the House came to upon this subject that the success or failure of the Bill was likely to turn. Could any means be suggested by which the enforced silence of the House as a whole might be got over? Could the Government, by recommitting the Bill or otherwise, give them a chance of debating and coming to a conclusion upon the most important, the most difficult, and the most crucial question in the whole Bill?
§ * Mr. HARCOURT
said he would not now proceed to argue the merits of the Amendment. In replying on the whole question, he hoped to be able to say something which might relieve the difficulties which had been felt in this matter. The hon. Baronet the Member for the Chippenham Division had on the Notice Paper an Amendment on the subject with which they were now dealing. He was able to make an announcement to the House, which, he thought, would indirectly carry out the hon. Baronet's suggestion. He had been throughout in close communication with the representatives of the County Councils Association as to the proposals contained in the Bill generally. There were several points which they wished to have altered when the Bill was in Committee. He had met them on practically all those points except one. He had met representatives of the County Councils Association again to-day in conjunction with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and they had considered the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Chippenham Division, which contained the final request put forward by the County Councils Association. It was the 828 only point which he had not been able to meet. He at once told the representatives of the association that it would be out of order to discuss it on the Report stage of the Bill, because it proposed to put a charge on the Executive. But ort behalf of the Government they would make a suggestion to the County Councils Association, and, though he did not wish to pledge them, they gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer and him self the impression that it was satisfactory to them The suggestion was that regulations should be passed in the form of a Treasury Minute, stating exactly the method of action Which would be taken by the Treasury under Subsection (3) of Clause 5. In Committee words were added to the sub-section which he had not intended should be put in, but he intended loyally to accept the Amendment which was made. That subsection dealt with the action which might be taken by the Board of Agriculture in either of two alternative cases. The words of the subsection were—If it appears to the Board that the carrying out of a scheme under this Act has resulted, or is likely to result in a loss, the Board may, with the consent of the Treasury pay or undertake to pay out of the Small Holdings Account the whole or any part of that loss.What the County Councils Association had asked was that there should be some definite pledge that in cases where the county councils had acted themselves, and where they were able to obtain a certificate from the Board of Agriculture that they had acted reasonably, one half of the loss should be paid by the Treasury. He was authorised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that, subject to the precautions and inquiry which would be taken by the Treasury in this matter, and, subject to the limitations they might lay down, they were prepared to issue a Minute which would go to the councils, saying that in those cases they would pay half the losses that might be incurred on receipt of a certificate from the Board of Agriculture that the county council had acted reasonably and taken due precaution, and that the Board were satisfied the loss was irrecoverable. It did not carry out all that was wished on the opposite side, but he thought it satisfied the County Councils Association, whose cordial help, he was most anxious to have after the Bill came into operation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his statement and for the evident desire which moved him to meet the wishes on the Opposition side of the House. He submitted, however, that if the Bill already authorised a payment which was now fixed at a half by the arbitrary action of the Treasury, it was surely open to the House to fix it permanently at a whole.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
, on the point of order, submitted that there was some difference, as regards the potential burden on the Exchequer, between the option the Bill now gave to the Treasury and a compulsion which would operate against the Treasury.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
asked whether he was to understand from the hon. and learned Gentleman that it was within the power of the Treasury to make this concession even supposing it was not in the Bill. If that was so, could the power of the Treasury to pay a half not be extended to pay the whole?
§ * MR. HARCOURT
said the power was in the Bill at the present moment. The subsection which he had already quoted gave the power. What he had proposed to do was perfectly simple. It was to meet the desire of the County Councils Association that the Treasury should state beforehand how they would proceed under this clause. Where the Board were acting in default of county council, the Board of Agriuculture might, with the consent of the Treasury, pay the whole or any part of the loss.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
In regard to the point of order which has been put to me, on the face of it, so far as I have been able to understand it, I do not see how the Treasury can get over the proviso to; paragraph (2) which says—Provided that such expenses of the Commssiners the Board certify to have been incurred by the Commissioners in the exercise of such powers in relation to any scheme shall on demand be repaid to the Board by the county council in default out of the county fund, ….I do not know how the Treasury can go behind that and say that, whatever, happens, they are to pay half.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked whether it would he in order to endeavour 830 to embody in Subsection (3) the substance either of the concession which the right hon. Gentleman had just very courteously made, or, even to go further and say that the concession should cover the whole of the loss to the county council in carrying out the provisions of the Bill. It seemed to him most natural to suppose that if the Treasury could pay a half they could also, if they were willing, pay the whole.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
It seems to me that when Subsection (3) is reached it may be possible to leave out "may" and insert—I put it in common parlance—"shall pay half."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Perhaps we ought to reserve any more detailed questions until we come to the subsection.
§ SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)
said the right hon. Gentleman's proposal, if carried, would leave the matter in a worse position than it was in now. The Amendment would limit the power of the Treasury to pay less than the whole. A county council might undertake a scheme whereby a loss would be incurred, and it was conceivable that the council should bear either the whole or part of the loss. He sincerely hoped that power would be left to the Treasury to pay only part of the loss.
§ * MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
said that the point had not yet been made quite clear. The right hon. Gentleman distinguished between the two cases, the case in which the County Council carried out a scheme and that in which the scheme was carried out by the Commissioners. Would the Treasury Minute apply to both?
§ * MR. HARCOURT
said that where the Commissioners had acted in default of the county council, then the sub-section of the Bill would become operative for this purpose, and there would be no Minute. The Minute applied to the case 831 where the county council was acting without any default. The Minute would then be drawn up and, subject to proofs of due and reasonable precautions being forthcoming, there should be paid one half of the loss.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH moved an Amendment providing that the Commissioners, acting under the directions of the Board, shall, "on the application of any five or more county electors or of the council of any borough or urban or rural district, hold a local inquiry to" ascertain the extent to which there was a demand, either actual or prospective, for small holdings in the several counties, and the extent to which it was reasonably practicable to satisfy the demand. He thought it very important that the Commissioners should not go roaming about the country to see whether there was an actual or prospective demand for small holdings and allotments. It would, he contended, seriously reduce the expenses of the Commissioners if, instead of roaming about the country to stir up a demand for small holdings and allotments, they only went, as provided for by his Amendment, to those places where an application for small holdings or allotments had been made by any five or more county electors, or by the council of any borough or urban or rural district council to hold an inquiry in their locality. He did not think that that would in any way be detrimental to the interest of the Bill or the furtherance of the institution of small holdings and allotments. Unless some such restriction were put in the clause, there would be absolutely false and unreal demands in the country districts for small holdings and allotments. It must be very obvious that if a stranger went to a village and said that if anybody in the village wished to have a small holding or allotment, he thought he would be able to get it for him, everybody in the village would at once say that he would like a small holding or allotment, but the Commissioners would have no means of determining whether these men were in a fit position to take or were capable of working a small holding. It was well known that there were labourers who were perfectly capable of doing so, but, on the other hand, there were others who if put into a small holding or allotment would soon bring disaster 832 upon themselves and on the holding. A public inquiry on the application of five or more county electors, or a borough, urban, or rural district council would be a check on a non-genuine demand. The parish councils knew everybody in the district and they would be able to place before the Commissioners and the County Council itself the names of the people who really wished for small biddings who were of sufficient standing and capable of working them to advantage He hoped the Government would consent to some such words as he had suggested in his Amendment being inserted in the clause. He begged to move.
§ MR. BECKETT (Yorkshire, N.R. Whitby)
seconded the Amendment. He was quite sure that the reason which the hon. Member for Tewkesbury had put before the House would appeal to the Solicitor-General. But there was a further reason why they should consider seriously the Amendment besides that it would lessen the expenses of the Commissioners, and that was that the electors of the county council and the borough and the urban and rural district councils would be better informed as to the reality of any demand for small holdings or allotments than gentlemen who came down from London in the guise of visitors and simply asked if the villagers wanted small allotments.
In page 1, line 24, after the word 'shall' to insert the words 'on the application of any five or more county electors or of the council of any borough or urban or rural district hold a local inquiry to.'"—(Mr. Hicks Beach.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said that the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman would complicate the machinery of the Act while it would be really superfluous. First of all, as the clause now stood, the Commissioners were to ascertain by means of letters, interviews, information from the local authorities, from electors and so forth, whether there was a demand for small holdings in a particular district. Instead of proceeding in this informal manner the hon. Member suggested that the Commissioners should stay their hand until they received an application from five or more electors of county or 833 urban district councils. That would Certainly be a check on the official inquiry, and such procedure had not proved efficient in similar cases. The next point in the Amendment was that there should be a public inquiry by the Commissioners. He thought that would be very undesirable. Under the Bill the Commissioners were to report to the Board, then the county council were to prepare draft schemes, and afterwards a public local inquiry was to be held into the schemes. To introduce another public local inquiry into the machinery of the Bill would be detrimental to its working.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said it seemed to him that the Amendment was a thoroughly reasonable one. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked why they should make this measure more complicated than at present? But surely no complication would arise if there was an application by five or more electors for a public local inquiry. He could not sec that that procedure would be superfluous. It would be only human nature for the Commissioners to make business for themselves in order to justify their existence. If no application was made by five or more electors for an inquiry that would show that there was no demand in the district or parish for small holdings. Did any one mean to maintain that if there was a real demand for small holdings, five electors could not be got together to make it? If they could be got together there would be some confirmation of the action of the Comissioners. The hon. and learned Gentlemen had said that there were to be two inquiries—one when the schemes were being framed and the other when the land was to be taken. But that was a totally different thing. The local inquiry asked for by the Amendment was to ascertain from what transpired at the inquiry whether there was a real demand for small holdings in the district. What objection could there be to that? If it was desired that the Commissioners should get the best information on which to base their report to the Board there was nothing more certain than that they would get by such an inquiry a really true and reliable indication as to the actuality of the demand.
MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)
did not agree with the 834 Solicitor-General in hoping this Amendment would not be pressed, because he-considered that it was essential that there should be a local inquiry. He rather agreed with the Solicitor-General on one point: he did not like the number-five. The introduction of the Bill would create a demand for small holdings, and it was necessary to know whether those who applied for them were able and fitting persons to carry them on. There were many people in the North of England, he knew, who applied, who were not fit to carry on small holdings, or to equip them. There were people who thought that the Government ought not only to give them the land but to equip it. Therefore he thought that there should be a local inquiry as to the fitness of those who came forward.
§ * MR. ESSEX (Gloucestershire, Cirencester)
thought that this somewhat specious Amendment deserved investigation. Of course, it seemed the most natural thing in the world that they should inquire as to which were the districts to which it was desirable that the Bill should be extended, and who were the persons to whom it should be applied. He had directed the attention of his hon. friend to the case of some land which was going into market, where the labourers in the district said they wanted this land cut up into small holdings. They sent to a friend of theirs and asked if he could not do something, this Bill not being passed giving the necessary powers. Their friend went down and saw them and told them that if they wished to get this land cut up into small holdings he would like to know how many of them were willing to sign expressive of a wish to take them. They said fifteen or sixteen. The gentleman undertook to lay the matter before the proper authorities, but in the result he-could only get two persons to send in their names. The reasons the others gave might or might not have been justified, but they said that if they gave in their names not only would they not get the holdings but they would be turned out of their cottages. As he had said, they could only get two-signatories, although in that district small holdings were desired. This, he thought, showed the necessity of an inquiry of such a carefully considered character that in the ascertainment of 835 local needs labouring men should feel they might safely have a voice and opinion though it were against the opinions of the lord of the manor, the squire, or the local estate agent. The necessity for the Bill was shown by the fact that in his own county of Gloucestershire there were now 6,500 fewer people on the land than there were twenty years ago. If this apparently innocent proviso were put in it would, he thought, defeat the ends which they had in view.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
said he had not had the advantage of being a member of the Committee, but he had listened with great interest to the speeches. The speech of the hon. Member for Cirencester led him to a conclusion diametrially opposite to that of the hon. Gentleman, that the labourers feared they would be turned out of their cottages. He was sure that the hon. Member would be the first man to tell the labourers that such fears were unfounded. But supposing there was this fear in the minds of some of the labourers, how were they going to ascertain the demands which existed without inquiry? The fact that these men were shy of expressing their opinion was the very reason for having an inquiry. The Commissioners had to say in what locality the land was desired, in what proximity to other holdings it was desired, and how could they inform themselves unless they had a local inquiry?
§ MR. GIBBS (Bristol, W.)
said that the fact that this matter had been discussed upstairs was no reason why they should not have a discussion upon it in the House. He wished to support the proposal of the hon. Member for Tewkesbury. The Bill, in the absence of local urgency, would stir up men to apply for holdings who could not work them. If a local committee were appointed such as that suggested they would find out more information than by the means laid down in the Bill.
§ * MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
, denied that it was against the interests of landlords that small holdings should be created, and said he would like to come across a landlord holding that view.
§ * MR. COURTHOPE
said he had never discussed the matter with the Crown, bun he had with individual landlords, and their view was not opposed to small holdings. Landlords wanted the men who had left the land back again and they would do any thing to get them back. The reason small holdings had not been established under the Act of 1892 was not that the landlords did not want them, but because owing to the heavy cost of equipment they could not let them at rents at which the would-be holders could make them pay. He was doubtful personally, but he hoped the Bill would bring men back to the land in their thousands and tens of thousands from the point of view of the interest not only of the nation but also of the landlord. He had the misfortune to be a landlord, and he spoke feelingly. It would save the landlord if they could bring the labourers and the yeomen back to the land, and he hoped the Bill would do this. He thought, however, that the demand for small holdings should proceed in the first instance from the locality. It should not be merely created and fostered by people coming from outside. He was perfectly certain that if the people in the locality believed they could profitably cultivate small holdings, they would apply for them, and any demand made in that way would probably be a sound demand after consideration of economic conditions. On the other hand, if Commissioners went from London into a locality and asked this and that person if he would like a piece of land they would perhaps create a false demand and be quite regardless of local and economical conditions. Small holdings would thus be set up which would never have the slightest chance of succeeding. It was in order to prevent that kind of thing that he thought some provision should be put in the Bill to ensure that the demand came from the people in the locality and was not created by Commissioners from outside suggesting to men that it would be nice for them to have a piece of land to cultivate.
§ MR. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)
expressed surprise at the observation of the hon. Member for Cirencester that he could not support the Amendment because he 837 feared if labourers expressed their desire for small holdings they might be turned out of their cottages by their landlords.
§ MR. LAMBTON
said he could hardly follow the distinction, but he would remind the hon Member that Subsection (4) of the Bill provided that if in the course of their inquiries the Commissioners received any information as to the existence of a demand for small holdings they should communicate with the council, so that these unfortunate men, even under the Bill as it stood, would have their petitions made public and, according to the hon. Member, be turned out of their cottages by their landlords.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY
admitted that agricultural labourers, as a class, were very suspicious and extremely reluctant to commit themselves by putting their demands on paper, but it was not for the reason stated by the hon. Member for Cirencester. He however wished to draw attention to a point which had, he thought, been overlooked. Hitherto they had considered this matter from the point of view of those who supported small holdings; he reminded the House that there would probably be a certain number of labourers very much opposed to the acquisition of land for small holdings because it would deprive them of the occupation they already had; they would have in consequence to leave their cottages and find work elsewhere, and though they might be compensated under the Bill they might not think the compensation received as adequate. He therefore thought an inquiry of this sort was necessary because it would give the Commissioners some knowledge of those opposed to small holdings and enable them to hold the balance fairly and act in the interest of the bulk of the community. It was desirable in the interest of all parties that there should be some preliminary inquiry, because the great danger of the Bill was that it would stimulate desires and create false demands.
§ MR. GODFREY BARING (Isle of Wight)
said that if the hon. Member for 838 South-East Durham would go with him he could point out to him many landlords who spoke in the most unmeasured terms of the making of small holdings, and it was those gentlemen whom they had to deal with by legislation. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire had said he was certain there were no villagers so nervous as to think of the results which would follow an agitation for small holdings. The right hon. Gentleman did not display much knowledge of the subject. It was exceedingly dangerous at times for any villagers to take a prominent part. [Cries of "Portsmouth."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite quoted one case where a Liberal landlord had been indiscreet, but how many cases were there where the friends of hon. Gentlemen opposite had been more than indiscreet. [Cries of "Name."] It would take him much too long to give the full catalogue. He believed that a local inquiry would not be the best means of ascertaining the real wishes of the villagers. Villagers who wished to obtain small holdings would have to go before the Commissioners and at a local inquiry would be cross-examined as to their financial means, &c. It would be far better for the Commissioners to go round the district and find out in private conversation if there was a desire for small holdings. A local inquiry would enormously add to the complication and the expense of the Act while the villagers present at it would not be able to do themselves justice.
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN (Shropshire, Oswestry)
suggested that if the Commissioners were to go round the country conversing with all those who might want small holdings there would need to be two or three hundred of them. It would certainly be difficult to calculate the number that would be required. He did not think the hon. Member for Cirencester quite understood the point of his hon. friend's Amendment. He had used this opportunity to raise the question of bad landlords who would illtreat anyone who allowed his voice to be heard. No doubt there would be some such cases. He also agreed that it was not easy to persuade agricultural labourers to put their name to anything on paper. He pointed out that under the Amendment the five requisitionists for a local inquiry need not be actual applicants for small holdings. The object 839 of it was merely to secure that there should exist a bona fide and serious demand.
§ * MR. WINFREY (Norfolk, S.W.)
said there were cases where he thought the Commissioners might wisely move without waiting to be approached by five county electors. He would give the House an example of what had occurred within the last fortnight. He was chairman of the Lincolnshire Small Holdings Committee, who had just taken 700 acres of land from the Crown in a district where he very much questioned that there were five voters to move in the matter of small holdings. The moment they took the farm they received applications by post from people of the surrounding villages desirous of getting small holdings. He conceived that it would be the duty of the Commissioners when they knew that land was coming into the open market or otherwise to visit the surrounding district to find out whether small holdings were wanted, instead of waiting to be moved by five county electors. It would be a pity to tie the hands of the Commissioners in such a case as that. He did not see the value of the Amendment, and he thought the hands of the Commissioners should not be unnecessarily tied.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said that the hon. Member described what the Bill ought to do, but did not. The whole difficulty was that in the mind of the hon. Member, and in the mind of the Government, they mixed up allotments and small holdings. Allotments must always be in the localities where the men were at work. No such conditions applied to small holdings. Therefore instead of making all these elaborate inquiries, let the Commissioners or the county councils do what the hon. Member had just described—let the supply precede the demand. Let them get 600 or 700 acres of land, or whatever was the quantity required, and divide it into small holdings, with homesteads on them, and they would then have nothing to do but publish the conditions on which they were to be sold. Let them do that, and let them have the holdings and houses all ready for occupation, and they would have twenty applicants, ten of whom would be men brought up on the land, and thoroughly good cultivators and suitable men. 840 What they had to do was to see that there was a colony, so that they should have a little community; that was all they had to do; but the supply must precede the applications. If they had waited for Commissioners and inquiries they would not have seen Catshill, which was the bête noir of hon. Members opposite, because it defeated their arguments. He had received scores and scores of letters from all classes of men who had been brought up on the land, but who were now employed as cabdrivers, caretakers, coachmen, etc., in towns. These men all wanted to get back to the land. Some of then, perhaps, had saved a little money, which they were prepared to invest in a holding, but they did not want to be the tenants of any one. They wanted their own land and homesteads to which they could take their families, where they could work and save money, and which they could hand down to those who came after them.
§ * MR. GEORGE ROBERTS (Norwich)
said it had struck him as a very interesting feature of the debate that the landlords should evince such a great love for the labourer. For his part he agreed that there might be good landlords as well as bad landlords, but he would respectfully point out that the good landlords had nothing to fear under this Bill. It was not good enough to tell them there were no such persons as bad landlords in existence. Some of them knew that there were landlords who exercised their powers in a very arbitrary fashion. He was reminded of one remark made by the hon. Member for the Rye Division. In conjunction with other Members the hon. Gentleman sadly lamented the migration of agricultural labourers into the towns and presumably into other countries.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is going a very long way beyond the Amendment, which simply lays down that application is to be made by five county electors.
§ * MR. GEORGE ROBERTS
said the Amendment proposed that the incentive must come from within the parish itself. 841 For his part, one of the most attractive features of the Bill was the provision for the work of the Commissioners. He thought they were all agreed there was great national need that the land of the country should be cultivated, and he hoped that the appointment of Commissioners would have the effect of creating a demand for land and that they would not need to wait for the demand first to emanate from the labouring classes. He agreed that it was a great disaster that the agricultural population should be so depleted, but he felt that had the landlords made the lot of the agricultural labourer more attractive, and given him better remuneration, they would not be lamenting to the same degree the migration from the rural districts to the towns. The labourer was reticent and diffident, which was largely due to the fact that he had been kept in a state of subjection. Those who were acquainted with village life knew full well that there was a strong objection on the part of the agricultural labourer to communicating with the powers that be; but if Commissioners made inquiries he thought they would be enabled to find out that the labourers wanted land. He believed that they would be quite willing to take small plots of land and cultivate them. The duty of these Commissioners should be to help to create a desire on the part of the agricultural population to till the soil, which, in his opinion, was essential for the well-being of the community.
§ * MR. LEIF JONES (Westmoreland, Appleby)
said he was afraid there was not much hope of inducing the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment, which he ventured to think would really serve no useful purpose in the Bill. As the hon. Member had shown, there was hardly any county in England in which five electors would not be willing to come forward and ask that there should be such an inquiry. That condition being so easily fulfilled, rendered the Amendment useless for the purpose for which it was designed. He suspected that the emphasis should be put on the words "local inquiry." The Amendment would make a local inquiry compulsory in every case, but there must be cases within the experience of hon. Members where it was more desirable that there should be private than public inquiry. It would be wiser that the Commissioners should be left 842 free to get their information in their own way. There could be no earthly object in forcing a public inquiry in every case. The Commissioners would be sensible men with agricultural knowledge, and if they could get information in other ways without holding an inquiry why should they not be allowed to do so? Another argument against the Amendment was that it would insert another cause of delay in the Bill. The danger was that too long a time might elapse between the demand for holdings and the getting of them. They wanted to shorten the process and not to lengthen it. He appealed to the House to reject the Amendment.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down thought the Amendment was not likely to have any effect; if that were so, he failed to see why there should be such extraordinary opposition to it.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
thought it was more likely to expedite matters than not, because five county electors, if they had anything to do with the land, could ask for an inquiry at once. If, on the other hand, the Commissioners went about until somebody approached them, and until something had been said, the probability was that greater delay would occur. But a little side-light had been thrown on the matter by the hon. Member for Norwich, who said the Commissioners would help to create a desire for small holdings among agricultural labourers. He thought the object of the Bill was to satisfy a great desire already existing among the people to get land, which desire could not be satisfied. But if the desire did not exist what was the use of creating it? Did the hon. Member opposite want the Commissioners to run about trying to induce people to take land? They appeared to be so afraid that the demand for small holdings would be so small that, to quote an elegant phrase used by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, unless the people were well gingered the results of the Bill would not be satisfactory. It had been said that there was a danger of the agricultural labourer being turned out of his cottage. Even when this 843 scheme had been set up the agricultural labourer would be exposed to the same danger, because if he took a holding there would still be the extraordinary hostility of the powers that be. He did not think there was anything in that argument at all. He should support the Amendment of his hon. friend.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 62; Noes, 221. (Division List No. 402.)845
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Faber, George Denison (York)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Fell, Arthur||Moore, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Fletcher, J. S.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Forster, Henry William||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gordon, J.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gretton, John||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Helmsley, Viscount||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffs'h.|
|Cave, George||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hunt, Rowland||Thomson, W. Mitchell (Lanark)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Turnour, Viscount|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Keswick, William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Hicks Beach and Mr. Beckett.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cleland, J. W.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clough, William||Gibb, James (Harrow)|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Clynes, J. R.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Glover, Thomas|
|Alden, Percy||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Grant, Corrie|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Cooper, G. J.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E Grinst'd)||Hall, Frederick|
|Baker, Joseph. A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cox, Harold||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Crooks, William||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Crossley, William J.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Curran, Peter Francis||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Bell, Richard||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Bertram, Julius||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd)||Duckworth, James||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Black, Arthur W.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hudson, Walter|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Erskine, David C.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Branch, James||Essex, R. W.||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Esslemont, George Birnie||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Everett, R. Lacey||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Fenwick, Charles||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Ferens, T. R.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Ffrench, Peter||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Chance, Frederick William||Findlay, Alexander||Kelley, George D.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lambert, George|
|Lamont, Norman||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Snowden, P.|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Lehmann, R. C.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Paulton, James Mellor||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Lough, Thomas||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Lupton, Arnold||Philipps, Owen C (Pembroke)||Summerbell, T.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pollard, Dr.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Lynch, H. B.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Pullar, Sir Robert||Thorne, William|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Radford, G. H.||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Mackarness, Frederic C.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Ure, Alexander|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Verney, F. W.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Rees, J. D.||Vivian, Henry|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rendall, Athelstan||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Killop, W.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wald, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Maddison, Frederick||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wardle, George J.|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Massie, J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Rogers, F. E. Newman||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Rose, Charles Day||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Rowlands, J.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Montagu, E. S.||Runciman, Walter||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Morrell, Philip||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Morse, L. L.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sears, J. E.||Winfrey, R.|
|Myer, Horatio||Seely, Colonel||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Napier, T. B.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Nicholls, George||Shipman, Dr. John G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Nolan, Joseph||Simon, John Allsebrook|
§ MR. COURTHOPE moved to amend that part of the clause which provides that the Commissioners shall ascertain the extent to which there is a demand, "either actual or prospective," for small holdings by leaving out the words quoted. The House had just decided that the initiation should come from the Commissioners, and they had now to consider the scope of the inquiry which they desired them to carry out. The Bill would read better if the words "either actual or prospective" were omitted. On the Committee the Solicitor-General said that the words were necessary because it was not sufficient that there should simply be a locally expressed demand: they should find out whether there was a want, a desire, or a need. All those things were included in the simple words "a demand for small holdings." Who could say that in the future there would not be a prospective demand for small holdings? They might come down to Sussex or Kent and say, "Before very long there 846 will be a protectionist Government in power, hops will be protected, and everyone will want small holdings." It ought not to be possible for the Commissioners to base their report upon the dim possibilities of the uncertain future. The words "either actual or prospective" were unnecessary, and he thought it would be dangerous to leave them in the clause. He begged to move.
§ MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W. R., Barkston Ash)
said that the omission of those words was moved in Committee, but the right hen. Gentleman in charge of the Bill told them there was need for the words, because if once the opportunity was given for considering the prospective demand that demand would soon become an actual demand. But surely the demand for these holdings existed without the insertion of such words as these? Unless a demand was an actual demand it should not be considered at all. No one could possibly tell what the prospective demand was going to be. 847 A great many people thought that they wanted land, but when it came to a concrete case and they were asked if they were prepared to pay for it their opinion very rapidly changed. He would like to know how the Government thought a prospective demand was going to be gauged. They might get a good season when everybody supposed that agriculture was the best thing in the world, but then might come a bad season when nobody would want to take land. They had a curious illustration of this in the Allotments Act. When that Act was passed everyone wanted allotments. But what had happened now? In a vast number of cases the allotments had gone begging. People had taken them for a year or two and then, finding that the land was not fertile and the allotments did not pay, had given them up. He could give them many instances of this nature. They were very clear cases of the way in which a demand might at one time look very promising and at another time be almost nonexistent. If the Commissioners only had to consider the existing demand it would be far more satisfactory than the provisions of the clause. The clause, as it stood, put a duty upon Commissioners to consider prospective demands, and it would almost compel them to create a demand. He differed from hon. Members who said they wished to see a demand created; he did not believe that at present a demand existed in the sense that some Members believed. To create an artificial demand would be a most unfortunate thing, and inflict a great injustice and hardship upon those concerned.
In page 1, lines 24 and 25 to leave out the words 'either actual or prospective.'"—(Mr. Courthope.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ * MR. HARCOURT
hoped the House would retain these words because they were of a wide and embracing character, and he believed they would be of great advantage to the Commissioners and villagers concerned. It was desirable that the Commissioners should take a general view of the wishes of the districts to which they went. It 848 was quite true that in Committee he spoke of the prospective demand crystallising into an actual demand. If the hon. Member opposite knew something of chemistry he would know that before a body crystallised it was in solution. He wished to avoid any hard legal definition which might cause difficulty hereafter as to what was and what was not a demand. He wished the Commissioners to take the whole circumstances into con sideration. He was sure that the hon. Member for Barkston Ash was a faithful follower of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley Division. The right hon. Gentleman said on the last Amendment that the supply of small holdings and allotments should precede the demand; he therefore went further than the clause as drawn at present. It was of great importance that the Commissioners should inquire whether Mr. Smith and Mr. Brown wanted small holdings, and whether they would take them if they could get them.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said this matter had been discussed before, but they had never been able to got a definition of what was meant by a prospective demand. The right hon. Gentleman liked the words "either prospective or actual demand" because they were of a wide and embracing character. What was a prospective demand and how was it to be ascertained? He thought the Government were proposing to put a difficult duty on the Commissioners.
§ * MR. LEIF JONES
said he would give the right hon. Gentleman a definition of a prospective demand. He would suggest that a prospective demand was not very different from a present need. Barefooted children constituted, he thought, a prospective demand for boots. [An HON. MEMBER: They have a present demand.] That depended on whether there were boots to be bought, and means to buy them with. A good healthy thirst would in the eyes of some hon. Members indicate a prospective demand for beer. All manufacturers set themselves to supply a prospective and not an actual demand. That was precisely what the Commissioners would do under this Bill. They would consider all the circumstances of the case, and they would not establish a scheme until they saw that there was a 849 prospect of an actual demand for small holdings.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
asked whether the Solicitor-General adopted the definition of a prospective demand which the hon. Member had given. He would have thought that each of the cases instanced by the hon. Member represented a present need. When the Commissioners visited a district they would say: "This is a desirable spot. The land hereabout is suited for small holdings and we do not doubt that applicants for small holdings can be found in the district or imported from elsewhere. We shall establish fifty or sixty small holdings to meet the prospective demand which we think will arise." Did the "prospective demand" cover such speculative possibilities? If so, it was very wide, and he would like the Solicitor-General to give on his legal authority a definition of what a "prospective demand" in law was.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
said there was not very much law in the phrase at all. The word "demand" without the qualifying words "actual or prospective" would be very vague, and it would be susceptible of an extremely narrow construction. It might perfectly well be that the Commissioners without the directions contained in the clause might take into account only such demand as had explicitly expressed itself. They might say that there must be certain specified persons making a perfectly explicit demand for small holdings, and that was the only kind of demand which they could take into account. With the words "actual and prospective" in the clause the Commissioners would not merely take into account the demand, which might be, if he might so say, lying in wait, but also the fact that when once the supply was indicated a great many persons who had not expressed a demand would begin to make a demand. They would take that into account in determining their scheme. There might, no doubt, be a demand in several counties, but there was nothing to prevent them making inquiry in different villages round about. The Commissioners might see that there was very little local demand in one place, but that there was a demand elsewhere in the county. For instance, there might be a demand in the neighbourhood of industrial centres on the part of townsmen for small holdings and allotments, and the 850 Commissioners would consider it part of their duty to inquire into that demand, and that demand ought to be reported to the Board for consideration.
§ * MR. GEORGE FABER
said that the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the measure had given for adhering to the words of the Bill were, amongst others, that they were wide and embracing, and that he objected to give a legal definition of them. The right hon. Gentlemen had on a previous Amendment pathetically be seeched him not to take him across the border; and he almost trembled in venturing once again to allude to the Scottish Small Holdings Bill. He would refer the right hon. Gentleman to Clause 7, Subsection 3 of that Bill. Scotsmen were a canny race and understood how to deal with facts. The words of that subsection were: "If the Commission is satisfied that there is a demand for small holdings"—that the demand existed. There was nothing about "a prospective demand." The Minister in charge of this Bill evidently knew nothing about that clause in the Scottish Bill. The Minister in charge of the Scottish Bill had no desire whatever that there should be any question of a "prospective demand." Why should the principle adopted in the two Bills be different? They had been discussing the meaning of the words "prospective demand." The hon. Member for the Appleby Division had put it in a most interesting way when he said that when children were barefooted there was a prospective demand for boots. He himself would put it that there was an actual demand for boots. He would say that where a young man and a young woman got married there would be a prospective demand for boots. [Cries of "Oh, oh.]" He would not pursue that illustration further. The next illustration used by the hon. Gentleman was that where any one wanted a glass of beer—
§ * MR. LEIF JONES
said that he put it that some hon. Gentleman might regard thirst as a prospective demand for beer; he should regard it as a demand for water.
§ MR. GEORGE FABER
said that he knew the hon. Gentleman himself was 851 enamoured of water; but he must say that if a man was thirsty there was an actual not a prospective demand for either beer or water. Surely these Commissioners ought to deal with actualities: they should go about the country and ascertain whether there was a demand and deal with facts. Otherwise the authorities would involve themselves in speculation and perhaps in danger. He would take another illustration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer a month ago talked about the value of Consols, which were then standing at 84¼, and said that they had touched bottom and that they would go up. That was a prospective sise, but to-day so far from finding that Consols had gone up they were now quoted at 81¼. Surely, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer was liable to err, the Commissioners might be liable to err if they came to the conclusion that there was a prospective demand for small holdings. The Commissioners would make a Report to the Board that there was a prospective demand for small holdings, and schemes would be directed to be made. The local authority might entirely disagree with the Commissioners and with the Board and say that there was no such demand, but the local authorty, according to the machinery of the Bill, would be obliged to go on. An order would be made for the acquisition of land, tenants would be given notice to quit their holdings and then suddenly the Board would turn round, after all this expense had been incurred, and say that a mistake had been made, and there was no actual but only a prospective demand for small holdings. He was not putting an exaggerated case. It would involve the local authorities in a jumble and a mess and perhaps in heavy loss. In toe name of common sense they should content themselves with dealing with facts. Let the Commissioners deal with facts and say yes or no whether there was an actual demand, and not dip into the future. He venture to impress on the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the measure that he should accommodate this section to the section in the Scottish Bill and strike out the word "prospective."
MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E. R., Holderness)
thought the right hon. Gentleman had given no answer 852 at all to the arguments in favour of the Amendment, and even after the speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor-General the Government had not made out the slightest reason for the retention of these words. The hon. and learned Gentleman told the House that "prospective" was a very vague term. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] He certainly thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman said so. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his verdict. If he declined to do so, why did he refuse the last Amendment? He defied anyone to know whether there was likely to be a "prospective demand" unless a local inquiry were held.
§ COLONEL KENYON SLANEY
said that as to "prospective demand" there might be a general idea in a certain neighbourhood that a railway was likely to be run through the district, and based on that possibility a certain number of applications might be made for small holdings. But would the Commissioners be entitled to report that there was a genuine prospective demand for small holdings? Or supposing a new market was opened up in the neighbourhood of a port or some large local development took place which would create in the future a demand for land for small holdings, would that be a prospective demand which the county council ought to provide for? Or if there was an idea in a district that a large measure of tariff reform was likely to come into existence, he could understand that there might be a large demand for allotments. Would the Commissioners be entitled to say that based on such a possibility, if not the certainty in the future, small holdings should be created? He thought that the demand for small holdings ought to be based on existing facts, and that they should not go into the realms of the future. He therefore thought there was a good deal to be said for the Amendment.
§ MR. VIVIAN (Birkenhead)
said the Tariff Commission existed, as he understood, to create a supply of labour. The point of this Bill was to create a supply of land for small holdings. He wondered the hon. Gentleman should object to provide for a prospective demand for land for small holdings when they 853 asked for tariff reform to create a prospective demand for labour.
§ MR. E. GARDNER (Berkshire, Wokingham)
said it would be a cruel thing to keep this power of taking land hanging over the heads of people who were at present cultivating it. These
|Abraham William (Cork, N. E.)||Fuller, John Michael F.||M'Kenna, Ht. Hon. Reginald|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Fullerton, Hugh||M'Killop, W.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Maddison, Frederick|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Glover, Thomas||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Alden, Percy||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Gooch, George Peabody||Marks, G Croydon (Launceston)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Massie, J.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Hall, Frederick||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Montagu, E. S.|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Morrell, Philip|
|Beauchamp, E.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r.)||Morse, L. L.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Bell, Richard||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Myer, Horatio|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Haworth, Arthur A.||Napier, T. B.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Nicholls, George|
|Bertram, Julius||Hedges, A. Paget||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Black, Arthur W.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Henry, Charles S.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Higham, John Sharp||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Branch, James||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Holden, E. Hopkinson||O'Donnel, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Horniman, Emslie John||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, (Leek)|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Hudson, Walter||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Chance, Frederick William||Hyde, Clarendon||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Pollard, Dr.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Jardine, Sir J.||Price, C. K. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Cleland, J. W.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Radford, G. H.|
|Clough, William||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Rees, J. D.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Kekewich, Sir George||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Cox, Harold||Kelley, George D.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Laidlaw, Robert||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Crooks, William||Lambert, George||Roberts Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Crossley, William J.||Lamont, Norman||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lehmann, R. C.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lever, A Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Duckworth, James||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rowlands, J.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Lewis, John Herbert||Runciman, Walter|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lough, Thomas||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Erskine, David C.||Lupton, Arnold||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne|
|Essex, R. W.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Sears, J. E.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lynch, H. B.||Seely, Colonel|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Fenwick, Charles||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Mackarness, Frederick C.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Findlay, Alexander||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||M'Callum, John M.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
§ people should know exactly how they stand.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided—Aves, 216; Noes, 63. (Division List No. 403.)855
|Snowden, P.||Vivian, Henry||Wiles, Thomas|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)||Walters, John Tudor||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Stanley, Hn. A. Lyluph (Chesh.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Wardle, George J.||Winfrey, R.|
|Summerbell, T.||Waterlow, D. S.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Sutherland, J. E.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Weir, James Galloway||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Thorne, William||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Torrance, Sir A. M.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Ure, Alexander||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Verney, F. W.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Acland-Hood. Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Craik, Sir Henry||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Ashley, W. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Aubrey-Fleteher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Du Cros, Harvey||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Balcarres, Lord||Faber, George Denison (York)||Moore, William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Forster, Henry William||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Gordon, J.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gretton, John||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Helmsley, Viscount||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Starkey, John R.|
|Cave, George||Hills, J. W.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Turnour, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Keswick, William||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Courthope and Mr. Hunt.|
§ Mr. HARCOURT moved an Amendment providing that the Commissioners in ascertaining the demand for small holdings "shall confer with the county councils and" may employ or co-operate with such authorities, associations, and persons as they think best qualified to assist them.
In page 2, line 3, after the word 'purpose,' to insert the words 'shall confer with the county councils and.'"—(Mr. Harcourt.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be their inserted."
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
asked whether the expression county, councils would include the councils of county boroughs. He would like to allude to the case of a place in his own constituency known as Catshill, where small holdings were being carried out. As soon as the local demand in that district was satisfied there was a demand 856 from people in Birmingham who had been born at Catshill but had come to Birmingham, worked and saved money, and who would like to go back to the land. Which council was intended to work this Bill, and on whose behalf would action be taken? Would the city authority or the county authority take action for the reinstatement of these people on the land, and on which authority would the risk fall? His desire was, and he was sure the House would appreciate it, that these people who came from Catshill should get their small holdings if they were shown to be suitable, and they might through this clause get in them the most excellent class of tenant. Surely if there was any risk or speculation about it their own county councils ought to take the risk and not the county council into whose district they were moving. Would the risk fall on the Birmingham authority in whose district there was this prospective demand or the County Council of Worcester on whom the liability would fall?
§ Mr. HARCOURT said that for all the purposes of the Act the council of a county borough was a county council. It was necessary that a city like Birmingham should be able to provide small holdings for its own people beyond its own area, and for that purpose there was a clause put into the Bill permitting them to acquire land outside their own boundaries. Of course the liability would be its own. The words he had put in were to allow the Commissioners to work freely with all and every county council.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ *VISCOUNT MORPETH (Birmingham, S.) moved to leave out the words "employ or" in that part of the clause which provides that, in order to ascertain the demand for small holdings, the Commissioners may employ or co-operate with authorities, associations, and persons. He said that these words might have a most undesirable result if left in the Bill. He and those who thought with him had no objection to the Commissioners cooperating with county councils or with associations, but that they should have a right to employ them left the door open to all sorts of abuses. It was conceivable that there might have been an election in the district fought upon the question of small holdings, and that the party which advocated small holdings had been beaten The Commissioners might come into that district and employ those in favour of small holdings over the heads of the electorate who in the main were against them. Such a possibility clearly showed that the Government had no regard for the wishes of the electorate and did not trust them in the least. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had found fault with the right hon. Member for the Bordesley Division because he suggested there might be pickings in the Bill, but in this clause there certainly might arise scandals of that sort, and it was the duty of the House so to legislate as to prevent any such scandal taking place. While the county councils, the representatives of the people, would not be empowered to pay their sub-committees, persons who were not representative of the locality might be paid by the Commissioners. "How would the appointments be made? The Com- 858 missioners must depend on local advice—probably that of the local Member of Parliament. It was already claimed that Members of Parliament should have the right to recommend for the commission of the peace persons who had assisted them in their contests, but here men were to receive money payments. There was the gravest danger that the persons appointed would not be those whom the locality would have selected.
§ MR. COURTHOPE
seconded the Amendment. He thought payment and voluntary cooperation should not be mixed up in this way. If there was a power to employ and pay he was perfectly certain that situations would arise in which persons who otherwise had voluntarily assisted would naturally, when they saw they could get something out of it, stand out and refuse to do anything unless they were paid. It would be better that this clause should be confined to voluntary cooperation with those who were able and willing to give assistance.
In page 2, lines 3 and 4, to leave out the word 'employ or.'"—(Viscount Morpeth.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ SIR W. ROBSON
thought the noble Lord had taken a very highly coloured view of what was possible under the Bill. The Amendment, if accepted, would have the effect of robbing the Commissioners of any power to employ a person who they thought would be able to assist them. Nothing was further from the minds of those who drafted the clause than that it should carry such extraordinary powers as the noble Lord thought it would. He could not accept the Amendment, as he did not think it would be reasonable to deprive the Commissioners of this power.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the hon. and learned Gentleman had confined himself entirely to the employment of persons and had said nothing as to the employment of associations. The hon. and learned Member was aware that there were associations in existence, for assisting people to small holdings, which 859 were now frankly political. Was it comtemplated that it should be possible to employ an association of that kind, that the Government should pay what was practically a subsidy to what had hitherto been a voluntary association acting in harmony with the views of one political party. By employing such an association the Government would be practically making a subscription to the organisation of one Party. The right to employ and pay ought to be confined to persons.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said the right hon. Gentleman opposite had been rather sarcastic with regard to some remarks which he had made as to the danger comprised in such a section as this. He had no desire to cast any reflection on the Commissioners of the Board of Agriculture, but appointments would be made in many centres if the Bill was to be operative, and the Commissioners of the Board of Agriculture could not know what was going on. The appointments made would not be by the Commissioners directly but by sub-Commissioners who occupied an inferior position to the Commissioners. Therefore he asserted that the appointments would be political, and though the payment would be small the appointments would follow the political complexion of the Members of Parliament or the organisation. They were dealing with public money. It was not like the case in which a committee of the county council was appointed, because that committee was not paid. The committee, in this instance, was indirectly appointed from London. Very few knew anything about it, and consequently somebody in a district might be appointed to a position for which he was perhaps not qualified, at any rate in the eyes of those who were politically opposed to the class to which he belonged. The words might not only give rise to a vast expenditure of public money, but open up unnecessary expenditure. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen opposite would try to justify such a feature as this. They had been silent, nearly every one of them, about the objections which had been offered, but their silence was the best admission of the justice of those objections. The guillotine stifled discussion in that House and in the Committee upstairs, but they could not stifle discussion in the country. All these things would have to come out. But he urged, in the case of these 860 expenses, that the greater part of them would fall on the rent which the poor agricultural labourer had to pay; therefore the less they could make those expenses the better, and there was no necessity whatever for them. All his hon. friends opposite bad been voting to pile up the burden of expenses on the backs of the men who would have to pay it in the form of rent. The proposal was another illustrasion of what they had been engaged in doing for some time past—piling up a burden for the poor agricultural labourer to bear.
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said the expenses of the Agricultural Commissioners would be paid out of the Small Holdings Fund.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said that came on the taxes; they could not dispute it. His hon. friend was perfectly right—it was a perfectly unnecessary expense. They were opening the door to an immense amount of expenditure and political demoralisation, and therefore he hoped that the Government would consent to this Amendment.
§ * MR. WINFREY
said the right hon. Gentleman had read into the words something which they really did not imply. To his mind it would be a great pity if, in trying to focus the demand for small holdings, and to secure suitable land, the Commissioners were not permitted to employ persons to assist them. It had fallen to his own lot the other day to have personal experience in this matter. He had to look over a farm with a view to letting it out for small holdings. It struck him that the land was very suitable for fruit culture, but he dared not on his own initiative declare it to be so. Therefore he called to his assistance a practical man, who came a distance of fifty miles to examine the subsoil. He was advised by him that the soil was suitable for strawberry and raspberry growing. He paid the man a guinea for his day and his expenses. It would be a man of that class, he imagined, whom the Commissioners would employ from time to time to assist them in getting hold not only of the right holdings but also the right class of men to cultivate them. He thought it would be a great pity if the words "may employ" were left out of the 861 Bill, and he hoped the noble Lord would not press his Amendment.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said he did not think the hon. Member who had just sat down had at all met the objection raised to these words. The argument might have been more appropriate if it had been a question whether the land was suitable for small holdings or not. But the object of this clause was something totally different. What in this case had to be inquired into was the demand there would be for small holdings in any district, and how far that demand could be reasonably satisfied under the existing Act. He did not see that it was necessary for that purpose to employ associations, for instance. There were many associations for the promotion of small holdings existing in the country, and he knew that they entered into their work with great zeal and earnestness, and with the idea, in which they always believed, that it was probably the object of the greatest importance in the present day. He did not think that by employing associations of that kind they were sure to get very reliable information as to the demand that existed in different parts of the country. He thought that it was hardly within the limits of human nature, occupied as they were, that they should not take a rather highly coloured view, he would not put it higher than that of the situation, and with their ardent aspirations for the promotion of the system, he thought it was quite possible they might be likely to give an exceedingly misleading description to the Commissioners. For that reason he thought it desirable to remove the words "may employ" from the clause, and in any case he would move with regard to the word "associations."
§ Mr. LAMBTON
asked whether the this clause the Commissioners might employ county authorities, or the education authority, or the finance committee, or highways board, or any other committee of the county council. He maintained that as the clause stood they might employ any county authority.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
said the hon. Member had put a practical question as to the assistance to be given to the Commissioners. Under the very next 862 sub-section it was the duty of the local authorities, county councils, committees, and so forth, to give the Commissioners all the assistance and information in their power.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.E., Thirsk)
said that, having heard the answer of the hon. and learned Gentleman, it seemed to him that the question arose why it was necessary to insert the word "authority." If the authorities had to co-operate with the Commissioners, why put it in the Bill? It had no meaning, and it ought to be eliminated. He did not think that anyone on the Government side of the House had in any way answered the argument of the noble Lord who moved the Amendment, or had attempted to show that great abuse and evils would not flow from the use of the power to obtain help. It was not only a waste of money, but it seemed to him that it opened the door very widely to a great amount of jobbery and of fictitious work to keep the movement alive merely for the purpose of giving, jobs to these men. All Members of that House knew very well the sort of society which existed merely for the purpose of paying the secretary's salary, and he was afraid that posts might be created, if this power were given, the only advantage of which would accrue to the persons who were paid salaries. The Solicitor-General seemed to imagine that if these words were deleted from the clause it would not be within the competency of the Commissioners to employ anybody in any capacity, not even a cabman or anyone to run errands for them. He was sure that was not the fact, and that it was not necessary to provide by Act of Parliament for the ordinary spheres of employment which such a body as the Commissioners would have to use. Having regard to the fact that this provision might cause great abuse in the rural districts, and also weaken the value of the information, which would be much bettor if voluntarily given, he sincerely supported the Amendment.
§ MR. GIBBS (Bristol, W.)
said he heartily associated himself with his hon. friend who had moved the Amendment. He thought that it was most dangerous to offer this employment, and, that it would result in numerous people being sent about. Surely if there was any 863 great desire in the country for small holdings people would not hesitate to come forward and make their applications.
§ * Mr. VERNEY (Buckinghamshire, N.)
said that no one would suggest that a Government Department should waste money in employing anybody who would not be a substantial advantage. If it was suggested that the Commissioners were going to roam about the country employing anybody they liked on all sorts of occasions, and associations besides, that was something which it had not entered into the brain of the wildest opponent of this Bill to imagine. What was meant was that the employment should have reference to one thing only, and that was the inquiry as to what demand there was for small holdings. Surely when these gentlemen were to come under the Board of Agriculture, that Department might be trusted as to their employment. He could quite imagine a small association of a very humble kind, the secretary of which would be a person of great importance in prosecuting such an inquiry as was contemplated, and he could not understand what harm would arise when it was realised that such employment would be "under the direction of the Board of Agriculture."
§ SIR W. ROBSON
said it would be undesirable to debar the Commissioners from employing people who had been formed into an association for the purpose of assisting them in this inquiry. It would indicate distrust of the Commissioners, which should be avoided.
§ Amendment, and he did not need any question of authorities or associations to justify him in supporting this proposal. They all desired that this Bill should work with as little difficulty and friction and as much success as possible. If they wished the Bill to be a failure and a source of bitterness and strife, they could not do better than retain the words which it was proposed to omit. Quite apart from these words the practical working of the measure would be attended with much heart-burning, jealousy, and personal difficulties of all kinds in the country districts, not only on the part of those from whom the land was taken, but also of those amongst whom it was going to be divided. He referred to such questions as how was the land to be divided? Who was to have the largest piece? Who was to have the best piece, or the best equipped piece? Personal feelings of bitterness would be engendered, and political questions would arise. All that was inevitable; but if they desired to multiply those evils tenfold they only needed to add to them the possibility of making personal profit by the transactions. A small minority would be able to override the desires of their neighbours, and insist upon small holdings at the expense of their neighbours. If they wanted to make this a perpetual fount of bitterness, they could do so by making it possible for a person not only to override his neighbours, but also to put money in his own pocket at the same time.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 209; Noes, 57. (Division List No. 404.)
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Erskine, David C.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Essex, R. W.||Lewis, John Herbert||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rowlands, J.|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Lupton, Arnold||Runciman, Walter|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lyell, Charles Henry||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lynch, H. B.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-und.-Lyne|
|Findlay, Alexander||Macdonald, J. M (Falkirk B'ghs)||Sears, J. E.|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Seely, Colonel|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Fullerton, Hugh||MacVengh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John||M'Callum, John M.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Glover, Thomas||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Maddison, Frederick||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Gooch, George Peabody||Mallet, Charles E.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Snowden, P.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Markham, Arthur Basil||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Hall, Frederick||Marnham, F. J.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Massie, J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harmsworth, R. L (Caithn'ss-sh.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Summerbell, T.|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E||Montagu, E. S.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Morrell, Philip||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Morse, L. L.||Thorne, William|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Myer, Horatio||Ure, Alexander|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W||Napier, T. B.||Verney, F. W.|
|Henry, Charles S.||Nicholls, George||Vivian, Henry|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nicholson, Charles N (Doncast'r||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Nolan, Joseph||Walters, John Tudor|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Ward, W. Dudley (South'mpton|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Paulton, James Mellor||Wardle, George J.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Hudson, Walter||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Hyde, Clarendon||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Pollard, Dr.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Price, C E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Radford, G. H.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Rees, J. D.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Kelley, George D.||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Winfrey, R.|
|Lambert, George||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Lamont, Norman||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Whiteley and Sir. J. A. Pease.|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birningh'm||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hills, J. W.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Craik, Sir Henry||Hunt, Rowland|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Keswick, William|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Du Cros, Harvey||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Fell, Arthur||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Fletcher, J. S.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Cave, George||Forster, Henry William||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Moore, William|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Gordon, J.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Peace, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Starkey, John R.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ronaldshay, Earl of||Turnour, Viscount||Viscount Morpeth and Mr. George D. Faber.|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Valentia, Viscount|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
§ MR. CHAPLIN moved to omit "associations" from the bodies whom the Commissioners may employ or co-operate with in ascertaining the demand for small holdings and the extent to which it can be satisfied.
In page 2, line 4, to leave out the word 'associations.'"—(Mr. Chaplin.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'associations' stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir W. ROBSON
said he had no doubt that what was contemplated by the draftsmen was that it should be in the power of the Commissioners to co-operate with those associations, and the effect of the Amendment would be to deprive them of that power, which was undesirable.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
hoped the Government would reconsider this point. He did not know what associations the Government had in their minds, but there were a number of associations which were distinctly political organisations, and it should not be open to the Commissioners to employ these associations or to the Government to subsidise associations of a political character. In connection with the work of placing the names of qualified voters on the register, associations and individuals Were allowed to co-operate, and to spend money if they liked, but I public authorities were not allowed to pay to political associations the expenses they incurred in so doing. There was no more reason why they should allow a Government Department to subsidise a political association in this case than in the other. It might be answered that a county association was not a political association. That might be so, but what he did know was that there were allotments associations which were distinctly political organisations. His right hon. friend the Member for the Bordesley Division was the founder of an association, and when he had the misfortune to differ from the Liberal Party on the subject of Home Rule he was turned out of the 868 chairmanship of the association which he had formed. The right hon. Gentleman formed another association, and he himself was the first hon. secretary of it. Both of these associations were of a political character. Would it not be a scandal that either should be subsidised by the Government? These associations had done good work hitherto with the voluntary subscriptions they had been able to get from people interested. Let them continue to do that work, but subscriptions of public money should not be given to political associations under cover that it was payment for the work they did in the spread of small holdings. He thought words could be introduced to make it possible for the Commissioners to co-operate with the associations, while not leaving it in their power to pay them.
§ MR. MADDISON (Burnley)
said the right hon. Gentleman had assumed that all these associations were political. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Not at all."] He had admitted that the two allotments associations to which he referred were political. He reminded the right hon. Gentleman of a large organisation which existed merely for the purpose of promoting agriculture. Upon that organisation there were men of all shades of political opinion.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that was true, and the co-operation of that body could be secured without any payment. He did not wish to prevent the Government or the Commissioners cooperating with any of these bodies. What he said was that it would be a scandal that they should pay political associations.
§ MR. MADDISON
said there was one large body, and there were probably more, which would co-operate helpfully when the Bill came into operation, and which could not by any stretch of imagination be called political He did not wish to make any political capital out of this. He was very glad that the Solicitor-General had not consented to take out the word "associations." There were undoubtedly associations connected with agriculture which 869 could not by any stretch of imagination be called political.
§ * SIR SAMUEL SCOTT (Marylebone, W.)
suggested that in order to carry out what they all desired, namely, that there should be no opportunity for giving a subsidy to any political association, the word "co-operate" should alone be used. He deeply regretted that the right hon. Gentleman should have left it open to the Commissioners to pay money to an association.
§ MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle)
said he was strongly inclined to support the view expressed by the hon. Member for Burnley. In recent years tenant farmers' associations had been formed, and they had a lot of valuable information concerning the position of agriculture in their districts. He failed to see why the Commissioners should not be in a position, not only to invite all the information these associations could give, but to call them to any inquiry which might be held. These were not rich associations like trade unions; they were dependent on the contributions of their own few members, and occasionally, he was sorry to say, on the patronage of some of the agents of the lauded interest in their particular districts. But still they were trying to do good work for agriculture. He thought the Commissioners should have power to pay the necessary train fares in order to secure the attendance of the representatives of the associations at any inquiries hold for the purpose of getting information. He would say that in some cases not only the train fares should be allowed, but also a day's pay. He thought if the word "employ" were struck out, and only the word "cooperate" left, there might be an opportunity to quibble over the payment of such expenses as he had referred to.
§ MR. COURTHOPE
said he would like to re-echo what the hon. Member had said about tenant farmers' associations. The associations in their corporate capacity did not want to be paid. They would gladly co-operate with the representatives of the county councils. He appealed to the Government to introduce some change into the clause in another place, so that there might be no confusion between co-operating with and employing 870 an association. There were many urgent reasons why confusion should not be introduced between co-operating with and employing an association.
§ MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said that the Amendment related not to the employment, but to the associations themselves. In his opinion it was most vital for the successful working of the Act that every encouragement should be given to people who were enthusiastic believers in small holdings, and who thought that a new heaven was to be brought down to a new earth by getting the land into the hands of small men. There were economic difficulties in the way of that, and every moral assistance and enthusiasm would be required behind the Act to make it largely and successfully operative. In his opinion those people in every county who believed in the gospel of small holdings should be encouraged to associate themselves in the work of organisation, and in teaching the people the right lines on which to proceed. On these grounds he thought they must retain the word "associations" in the Bill.
§ * MR. GEORGE FABER
said he had not the slightest objection to associations, but to their employment for money. The reason why he objected to the Commissioners employing these associations for money was that the Commissioners were not local men, but would move everywhere, north, south, east and west, to ascertain what was the demand for small holdings. In the course of their peregrinations they might employ an association to co-operate with them. But there were many different kinds of associations—political and agricultural—and there was no harm in any of them in themselves; but the point was, was it desirable by this Bill to enable the Commissioners to employ them for money? The Commissioners would be strangers to the locality, and they might in ignorance employ for money an association having a distinct political flavour about it. He wanted the Bill to work; but human beings were human beings, and it was much better to stereotype in an Act of Parliament what might or might not be done. The Commissioners would be as liable to err as anyone else; and if they employed to co-operate with them associations which had a political flavour 871 about them, then "the fat would be in the fire." People would be sure to say that the Commissioners had come down to employ for money associations of such and such a political Party. That was not desirable in the interests of anyone when they wanted the Bill to work peaceably. He thought that "associations" might with propriety have remained in the clause, if the previous words "may employ" had been struck out, but this had not been done.
§ Mr. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said he rather sympathised with the hon. Member, and was gratified that he objected to employ associations for money. He hoped the hon. Member would pursue the same idea, and let them have the land, of which there was plenty to spare, without the money.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
pointed out that there was another clause in the Bill which dealt directly with the promotion by county
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.||Holden, E. Hopkinson|
|Alden, Percy||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Dobson, Thomas W.||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hudson, Walter|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Beauchamp, E.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Essex, R. W.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea|
|Bell, Richard||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Evans, Samuel T.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Benn, W. (Tw'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Everett, R. Lacey||Kelley, George D.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Fenwick, Charles||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Bertram, Julius||Ferens, T. R.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, R'mf'd||Ffrench, Peter||Lamont, Norman|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Findlay, Alexander||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Black, Arthur W.||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Fullerton, Hugh||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accringt'n|
|Brace, William||Glover, Thomas||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Branch, James||Gooch, George Peabody||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hall, Frederick||Lough, Thomas|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Lupton, Arnold|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Cleland, J. W.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Lynch, H. B.|
|Clough, William||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W||Haworth, Arthur A.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grn'st'd||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Maddison, Frederick|
|Cox, Harold||Hazleton, Richard||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Hedges, A. Paget||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Crooks, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Crossley, William J.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Henry, Charles S.||Marnham, F. J.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Higham, John Sharp||Massie, J.|
§ councils of societies whose object was to further the system of small holdings. He thought their object would be equally gained if "associations" were omitted from the present clause. Clause 39 set forth that "a county council may promote the formation of and assist cooperative societies and credit banks, or societies having for their object, or one of their objects, the furtherance of the provision and successful cultivation of small holdings or allotments." He thought that when they were considering the general question as to the extent to which there was a legitimate demand for small holdings, if they were to ask for information from associations for the promotion of small holdings, that would not unnaturally lead to very highly coloured and misleading representations being made to the Commissioners.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 195; Noes, 44. (Division List No. 405.)
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Ure, Alexander|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Verney, F. W.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'd||Vivian, Henry|
|Montagu, E. S.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Montgomery, H. G.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Walters, John Tudor|
|Morse, L. L.||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rowlands, J.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Myer, Moratio||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Ward, W. Dudley (South'mpton|
|Napier, T. B.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wardle, George J.|
|Nicholls, George||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Sears, J. E.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Norton, Capt, Cecil William||Seely, Colonel||Weir, James Galloway|
|O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Sherwell, Arthur James||White, George (Norfolk)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Shipman, Dr. John G.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Silcock, Thomas Ball||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Simon, John Allsebrook||Whiteley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Wiles, Thomas|
|Pollard, Dr.||Snowden, P.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central||Stanger, H. Y.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Radford, G. H.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Raphael, Herbert H.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Steadman, W. C.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Winfrey, R.|
|Rees, J. D.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Summerbell, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mp'n||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Ridsdale, E. A.||Thorne, William|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Fletcher, J. S.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Forster, Henry William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bridgman, W. Clive||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Cave, George||Gordon, J.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wor.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Helmsley, Viscount||Starkey, John R.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingham||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hunt, Rowland||Turnour, Viscount|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Magnus, Sir Philip||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Middlemore, John Thogmorton||Viscount Valentia.|
§ MR. LANE-FOX moved to amend Clause 2 by inserting at page 2, line 21, after "urban," the words "or rural." He merely wished to move this as a protest, and for the purpose of contending that rural councils were quite as capable of receiving information and assisting in this work as any urban district council. He knew that it had been the object of hon. Gentlemen opposite to make out that the work of the rural councils had been retrograde and of very small value, and he quite admitted that some of the evidence which came before the Committee which sat last year went to establish that, and that in consequence the recommendation taking away the power from the rural councils was passed. He, however, was one of the 874 Members who differed from that recommendation; it seemed to him that the rural councils were a valuable asset. Later on in the Bill there was a proposal to take away power from the rural councils and transfer it to the urban district councils. He could not discuss that now, from the point of view of order, but they might not reach that provision under the peculiar arrangements of the Government in regard to business, and the debate of it might be shut out by the guillotine. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see that it was worth his while to secure the co-operation of all the elected bodies in the country, and he thought he would do far better under the rural district councils than under the urban district councils, 875 especially if he enlisted the sympathies of the farmer class on the first-named authorities.
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN
seconded the Amendment, which, he said, could not do any harm and would probably do a great deal of good. He objected to this invidious distinction being drawn between the higher and the lower bodies. If the right hon. Gentleman could not accept the Amendment he hoped he would give some good reason for not doing so.
In page 2, line 21, after the word 'urban,' to insert the words 'or rural.'"—(Mr. Lane-Fox).
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ * MR. HARCOURT
said he had attempted to make it quite clear to the House why the rural district councils must be omitted from the Bill. The Commissioners acquired information, and as under the Bill the rural district councils were deprived of their powers it would be useless to send that information to them. The reason why the rural district council had been deprived of its small holdings powers was that it had been unable or unwilling to exercise them to any considerable extent. During the period that rural councils had established small holdings to the extent of 243 acres, the parish councils had provided 15,000 acres. It was therefore desirable that this power should be removed from; the rural councils.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
thought the Amendment should not be proposed at this particular point, but considered that the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat unfair to the rural district councils. He had quoted some figures, but appeared to forget that the rural district councils had not been provided with the powers of compulsion. Moreover, he had not done full justice to the work which the rural district councils had done either through their clerks or themselves. They had been instrumental in inducing landlords to provide allotments in a large number of cases of which no record was kept. He did not think the light hon. Gentleman, therefore, was entitled to 876 throw any aspersions upon the rural district councils, and he wished to enter a protest against the statements which had been made.
§ MR. LANE-FOX said he did not wish to delay the House, but he had raised this point at this stage because they might not be able to discuss it later on He wished to say, however, that the aspersions which the right hon. Gentleman had passed upon rural district councils were entirely unfounded.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *VISCOUNT MORPETH moved to substitute for the first subsection of Clause 3 a new subsection providing that when the Board state, or the county council are of opinion, that it is desirable that a scheme shall be made, the county council may prepare one or more draft schemes for the provision of small holdings in their county. The Amendment raised what he thought the right hon. Gentleman would admit was a vital point. The effect of it was to give the county council a freer hand by not requiring them (as the Bill proposed) to have regard to the proposals of the Commissioners in framing schemes, and provide that there should be no power to override the council and set up over them an authority which was non-elective. His contention was that if the right bon. Gentleman adopted the Amendment and gave the county councils real power to obtain small holdings and allotments he would obtain better results than by, in the first instance, trying to force them and then having recourse to a central authority. Speaking on a previous Amendment he had pointed out that there was a great deal of lip service about the local self-government of this country which was not carried out in actual practice. The county council under his proposal would be in the position of having the chief voice in the question of whether or not small holdings were to be set up in their area, whereas as the Bill now stood it was not administered by means of local self-government, the hand which worked the machine being that of the central authority. Anybody who had the slightest acquaintance with local government could detail many instances of the interference which took place with the decisions of the local 877 authorities by the central authorities. There was no point too small for interference on the part of the central authorities, and local government, as now understood, appeared to be giving power to local authorities with one hand and with the other taking it away and handing it over to the central authorities. The right hon. Gentleman proposed in the Bill to give the county councils the power of preparing schemes, but he evidently mistrusted the county councils and thought it desirable to give the chief power to the central authority. If this power had been a concurrent power there might have been something to be said for it. The right hon. Gentleman having ostensibly given the control to the local authority had given power to the Commissioners acting under the Board of Agriculture to override the county councils and upon their own motion to say, "You shall do this, and if you do not we will do it, and possibly at your expense." Owing to the unfortunate position in which the House was placed they were debarred from discussing the financial question and could only refer to it. But if the right hon. Gentleman said in the minutes he proposed to issue that when the Commissioners acting after the default of the county council made a failure, they should pay the whole of the expenses of the experiment, which the ratepayers had already told them would not succeed, that would alleviate the position to some extent. He therefore urged the Minister in charge of the Bill to check any attempt to charge those who warned the central authority that they were making a mistake and whose warning was disregarded. If the whole of the cost of such an experiment was levied on the ratepayers it would give rise to such a spirit of discontent that the Bill would not come into operation in the country districts for many years. To attempt to coerce the authority when their opinion did not square with that of the Government could only lead to disappointment. Such a power was tried under the old School Board Act, but it was dropped under the Act of 1902. It was very singular that all attempts to whittle away the power of local authorities should come from the Government Front Bench. He disagreed with the argument that this was analogous to the working of the Act dealing with defaulting education authorities. 878 In that case the defaulting education authorities had broken the law. In this case there was no question of violating a statute, it was merely a question of whether in the opinion of the local authority small holdings would be desirable in their locality and whether the the demand for small holdings could be met without loss to the ratepayers. Although he did not dare to hope that the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment, they were bound to protest against the adoption of a principle which had been tried in the past and found to be unworkable and contrary to the principles of good self-government, and to warn the right hon. Gentleman that he was not adopting the right course to obtain the object he had in view. He begged to move.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
, in seconding the Amendment, said he looked upon this as the second coercive step in the Bill. He had always understood the maxim of the Liberal Party to be "Trust the people." When the county councils and parish councils were first started everybody was lead to believe that the respective county councils represented the true wishes of the people. The right hon. Gentleman, when introducing the Bill, said there was no better landlords than the county councils, because they were the most popularly elected bodies in the county, and were the direct representatives of the people. That being so, why not trust them; but the Government, instead of trusting them, put this power in the measure to enable the Commissioners to coerce the county councils when their opinion did not coincide with that of the Board of Agriculture. The Commissioners were to go about the country and inquire as to the demand for small holdings and report to the Board of Agriculture. That report would be sent down to the county council, and in this section it was laid down that it was the duty of the county council to draft the scheme. If the Government trusted the county council, and the county council were to carry this out, the initiative ought to be left with them to see if there was a demand for small holdings. They ought to frame their own report and provide their own scheme, and only when they failed to produce a scheme ought the Board of Agriculture to step in. If it was neces- 879 sary for the Board of Agriculture to step in and usurp the duties of the county council, the Commissioners ought to carry out their scheme out of the Imperial funds and not out of the rates. He therefore supported the Amendment of his noble friend, and trusted the Government would see their way to accept it.
In page 2, line 23, to leave out Sub-section (1) of Clause 3, and insert the words—'(1) When the Board state or the county council are of opinion that it is desirable that a scheme shall be made, the county council may prepare one or more draft schemes for the provision of small holdings in their county.'"—(Viscount Morpeth.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'after,' in page 2, line 23, stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said the noble Lord had moved an Amendment which omitted altogether from the Bill the duty imposed on the county council and would leave their action purely optional. The omission of the duty from the Bill would carry with it the omission of any action in default. This was a vital point in the Bill. What he desired was to get the work done where it was desirable and necessary. The noble Lord had spoken of over-bearing the county council by superior force, and of coercing the county council. The Government had done nothing of the sort. They had merely provided an alternative body to act where the county council declined. As he had already said on the introduction of the Bill, where the Board acted in default of the county council, and where it was proved the Board was wrong and the county council right, it was in the highest degree improbable that the expenditure would be charged on the rates; but there might be duties entailed on the central authority by default of the county councils. The noble Lord had said there had been a great deal of lip-service rendered to local self-government On these debates, but he believed the result of the Bill would be to render great and real service to the county councils. He hoped that the effect of the Bill would be to democratise the county councils and make them really representative. He was surprised that it should be said that his action on the Bill was designed 880 to "put up the backs" of the county councils. The noble Lord was a member of the County Councils Association, and would admit that he had endeavoured to meet that body by making a practical concession to them, though not exactly in the form they wanted it; but they were satisfied with the considerable concession which by leave of the Chancellor of the Exchequer he had been able to make that day, viz., the payment by the Treasury of half of any loss which might be entailed upon county councils in acting on their own account. He could not say that he had deliberately, or intentionally, or even innocently "put up the backs" of the county councils against this scheme. He had been desirous throughout of consulting the county councils, and he wished to get the most support he could from the best representative body they had in the country in order that they might have local control and management of these matters. It was only for what he believed would be rare cases that he had provided this machinery.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
said he agreed with part of what the right hon. Gentleman had said, that there should be power for the Commissioners to proceed in some other way if the county council refused to act or do their duty. If the right hon. Gentleman would frankly and fairly meet them with the promise that, where the central authority acted instead of the county council, and it turned out that they incurred a loss, the Treasury should pay that loss, then he would not vote for the Amendment, but as the right hon. Gentleman did not see fit to take what seemed to him to be the only fair course, he would support his noble friend's proposal.
§ MR. LANE-FOX
said the right hon. Gentleman, he thought nor intentionally, had misrepresented the argument of his noble friend in moving the Amendment. His noble friend had not said that the right hon. Gentleman had "put up the backs" of the county councils. Everyone would admit that the right hon. Gentleman in the discussions on the Bill had been most anxious to meet them, and that he had done his best to meet the objections of the representatives of county councils. But nevertheless the right hon. Gentleman's proposal would have the effect 881 of "putting up the backs" of the county Councils, and there he agreed with his noble friend. The right hon. Gentleman did not like the word "coercion," but he did not see how the operation could be otherwise described. As long as this position between the county councils and the central authority was retained there would be a tendency in individual cases to "put up their backs." He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Everett, R. Lacey||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Fenwick, Charles||Lynch, H. B.|
|Alden, Percy||Ferens, T. R.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Ffrench, Peter||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Findlay, Alexander||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Fuller, John Michael F.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Fullerton, Hugh||M'Callum, John M.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Glover, Thomas||M'Killop, W.|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Gooch, George Peabody||Maddison, Frederick|
|Beauchamp, E.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Hall, Frederick||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Bell, Richard||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Marnham, F. J.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Massie, J.|
|Bertram, Julius||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hedges, A. Paget||Montagu, E. S.|
|Brace, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Morse, L. L.|
|Branch, James||Henry, Charles S.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Higham, John Sharp||Myer, Horatio|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Napier, T. B.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Nicholls, George|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Horniman, Emslie John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Cleland, J. W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Clough, William||Hudson, Walter||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Hyde, Clarendon||O'Kelly, James (Rosecommon, N.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jardine, Sir J.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J (S. Pancras, W.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Cox, Harold||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pollard, Dr.|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Crooks, William||Kekewich, Sir George||Radford, G. H|
|Crossley, William J.||Kelley, George D.||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Laidlaw, Robert||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Rees, J. D.|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N||Lambert, George||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lamont, Norman||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Leese, Sir Joseph F (Accrington)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Erskine, David C.||Lewis, John Herbert||Robertson, Sir (Scott Bradf'rd|
|Essex, R. W.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lough, Thomas||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Lupton, Arnold||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
§ eliminate as far as he could, even at that late stage, any question of the coercion of elective bodies, because he was perfectly certain that on the attitude which he adopted with regarded to those bodies depended the success of the Bill. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider the matter.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 208; Noes, 46. (Division List No. 406.)
|Rowlands, J.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Summerbell, T.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne)||Sutherland, J. E.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Sears, J. E.||Tayor, Austen (East Toxteth)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Seely, Colonel||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Thorne, William||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Torrance, Sir A. M.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Ure, Alexander||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Simon, John Allsebrook||Verney, F. W.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Vivian, Henry||Winfrey, R.|
|Snowden, P.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Walters, John Tudor||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F.||Faber, George Denison (York)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, W. M. G. (Petersfield)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fletcher, J. S.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Forster, Henry William||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gardner, Ernest (Berks., East)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Gordon, J.||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Starkey, John R.|
|Cave, George||Helmsley, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Thomson, W Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hills, J. W.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingham||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hunt, Rowland||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Hicks Beach and Mr. Lane-Fox.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Magnus, Sir Philip|
§ MR. CAVE
pointed out that the clause gave the Board power to make such modifications in the report of the Commissioners as they thought desirable, and moved to substitute "observations" for "modifications." He thought the Board ought not to be allowed to alter the report before sending it on to the county council, but they might make observations upon it.
In page 2, line 27, to leave out the word 'modifications,' and to insert the word 'observations.'"—(Mr. Cave.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'modifications' stand part of the clause."
§ Mr. HARCOURT
said it was very desirable in many ways for the Board to have power to modify the report. He would be willing to accept after "modifications" the words "or observations," if that would content the hon. Member.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that surely the Board ought not to send to the county council as the Commissioners' report anything that was not their report, and perhaps to foist upon the Commissioners opinions which were not theirs.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that he had altered several clauses on this point at the request of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
On the Committee. There he had altered the tenor of several clauses. The clause was left in the form in which it stood because it was considered that if the Commissioners' report contained any observations which might be true in themselves but offensive to the county council the Board should have power to modify it.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
thanked the right hon. Gentleman, and 885 said he considered that his explanation was quite satisfactory.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 2, line 27, after the word 'modifications,' to insert the words 'or observations.'"—(Mr. Cave.)
§ Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
In page 2, line 30, to leave out the words from 'aforesaid' to the end of the subsection."—(Mr. George Faber.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ Mr. HARCOURT
said that even if these words were surplusage he did not think they could do any harm, and he would prefer to retain them.
§ Mr. GEORGE FABER said that although he could hardly accept the reason given for retaining the words as satisfactory he would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN moved to leave out the words "if any" from the portion of the clause which provides that in preparing draft schemes the council shall have regard to the proposals "(if any)" of the Commissioners indicated in the Report. Those words were not only surplusage, but they were insulting to the intelligence of the Commissioners and the Board.
In page 2, line 31, to leave out the words 'if any.'"—(Mr. Bridgeman.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. HARCOURT
thought the words might well remain. He could conceive of circumstances under which no definite proposal was likely to be made in the report. This was not a question of the details of a scheme; there might be cases in which county councils were per- 886 fectly willing to act if they had a free hand, and in which they did not wish to have details prescribed to them.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. LANE-FOX moved to leave out Subsection (2). He protested against the procedure proposed in the subsection for over-riding the county council. He was himself a member of a county council with the majority of which he sometimes could not agree, but at the same time he did wish that those who represented the voice of the people who sent them there should be over-ridden by any irresponsible body.
In page 2, line 33, to leave out Subsection (2)."—(Mr. Lane-Fox.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words of the subsection to the word 'to' in line 33 stand part of the Bill."
§ Sir. W. ROBSON
said that this subsection referred to a point which had been very much discussed, namely, the alternative action which might be taken by the Board where a council did not go on with seeking to provide small holdings. As the point had already been dealt with he would not repeat the arguments in favour of the subsection. The Government regarded it as providing alternative action. There was a great difference between alternative action and coercion. Under coercion they compelled a body to do that which they did not desire to do, but under the alternative action they were not compelled to do anything. The Board did it themselves and made the county council pay.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said that it was perfectly true that there was a difference between alternative action and coercion, but the hon. and learned Gentleman must remember that the whole of the scheme contained in the first five clauses of the Bill rested on the coercion which sooner or later 887 he intended to apply to the county councils. That was a principle to which he and his friends were totally opposed. In the case of a body like the county council, elected on the widest possible suffrage, they thought it was totally wrong that any Government Department should over-ride them and set their
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Fenwick, Charles||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Ferens, T. R.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||M'Killop, W.|
|Alden, Percy||Ffench, Peter||M' Micking, Major G.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Findlay, Alexander||Maddison, Frederick|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Fuller, John Michael F.||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Fullerton, Hugh||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Glover, Thomas||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Gooch, George Peabody||Marnham, F. J.|
|Barlow, Sir John E. (Somerset)||Grant, Corrie||Massie, J.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Hall, Frederick||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Bell, Richard||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Montagu, E. S.|
|Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Morse, L. L.|
|Bertram, Julius||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire. N. E.||Morton, Alhpeus Cleophas|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Haworth, Arthur A.||Myer, Horatio|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Napier, T. B.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Hedges, A. Paget||Nicholls, George|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Brace, William||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Henry, Charles S.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Branch, James||Higham, John Sharp||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Holden, E. Hopkinson||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)|
|Chance, Frederick William||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Horniman, Emslie John||Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham)||Hudson, Walter||Pollard, Dr.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Hyde, Clarendon||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Clough, William||Jardine, Sir J.||Radford, G. H.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')|
|Collins, Sir W m. J. (S. Pancras, W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rees, J. D.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Kearley, Hudson E.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Cox, Harold||Kekewich, Sir George||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Kelley, George D.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Crooks, William||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Crossley, William J.||Laidlaw, Robert||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Lambert, George||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lamont, Norman||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Duncan, C. I (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Rowlands, J.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lough, Thomas||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Erskine, David C.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Scott, A. M. (Ashton-under-Lyne|
|Essex, R. W.||Lynch, H. B.||Sears, J. E.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Seddon, J.|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Seely, Colonel|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
§ wishes at naught by compelling them to pay for a project of which they entirely disapproved.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 215; Noes, 54. (Division List No. 407.)
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Simon, John Allsebrook||Thorne, William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Torrance, Sir A. M.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Snowden, P.||Ure, Alexander||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Verney, F. W.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)||Vivian, Henry||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Walters, John Tudor||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Winfrey, R.|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Summerbell, T.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Sutherland, J. E.||Wedgwood, Josiah C|
|Acland, Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir A lex. F.||Courthope, G. Loyd||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Craik, Sir Henry||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Ashley, W. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. Akers-||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Faber, George Denison (York)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fell, Arthur||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fletcher, J. S.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Forster, Henry William||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Ronldshay, Earl of|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gordon, J.||Starkey John R.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Gretton, John||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cave, George||Helmsley, Viscount||Turnour, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Hornby, Sir William Herny|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hunt, Rowland||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Lane-Fox and Mr. Beckett.|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J (Birmingham)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
In page 2, lines 23 and 24, to leave out the words after considering the report and such representations as aforesaid, as respects any county.'"—(Mr. H. Chaplin.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR said he hoped that this Amendment would be accepted without discussion. He made this appeal to hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House because there was an Amendment of great importance which ought to have received discussion, but which, owing to circumstances of which they were all aware, could not be discussed at all at present. He thought that they should leave without much debate other questions which were not of first-class importance.
§ Amendment agreed to.890
In page 3, line 1, to leave out the word 'amount,' and insert the word 'quantity.'
In page 3, line 7, to leave out the word 'amount,' and insert the word 'quantity.'"—(Mr. Harcourt.)
§ Amendments agreed to.
In page 3, line 30, after the word 'and' to insert the words 'may in any case.'"—(Mr. Harcourt.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Mr. HARCOURT
said that he proposed the insertion of these words in fulfilment of a promise made in Committee in order that the Board might hold an inquiry even if the county council did not ask for it.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
, in moving to omit Clause 5, said that the House would remember that at an earlier 891 stage of the discussion that evening there was a debate upon the financial relations which might exist between the Board of Agriculture on the one side, and the county councils on the other, in relation to the creation of small holdings. Various points of great importance were raised before Mr. Speaker, who ruled that the Amendment was not one which came within the rule governing the procedure on the Report stage. He need not say that that was a ruling which had a most serious bearing on the debate, and it would no doubt be followed by rulings of similar tenor which would prevent the whole House, on the only occasion on which the details of a measure came before the whole House, from dealing with the matter at all. That was a most serious condition of affairs, especially considered in relation to the fact that questions of social reform would during this Parliament largely occupy the attention of the House of Commons. All questions of social reform must touch closely the relations of Imperial and local finance, and if such questions were really to be excluded from debate on the only occasion on which the House as a whole could discuss the details of a Bill, it was quite manifest that unintentionally and without any sinister design the new rules curtailed the liberty of hon. Members on both sides to a degree which was really of the most vital and serious import to those who desired to see the House have some control over its legislation. The Minister in charge of the Bill made a statement which could only be made by leave, and the substantial difference between the Government and a large section of opinion on both sides was this—Were they or were they not so to frame this Bill that its provisions were to be carried out over the head of the county councils, but at the expense of the ratepayers? If the Bill ceased to work, was the policy of creating small holdings to come to an end? He hoped not. But was there any way of avoiding that result except to say that where the Board of Agriculture, acting under the direct control of the Government, wished to carry out the creation of small holdings, and did not find a harmonious co-partner in that effort in the county council in whose district the land was situated, and the Board wished to overrule the county council, the only way to do it was at the 892 cost of the general community? It was not for him to discuss that policy at the present moment, but he asked, could the Government, give the House an opportunity to discuss the point? The House was precluded by Mr. Speaker's ruling and by the traditions of the House from laying down the rule that the Treasury must do what in the Bill it might do. The Government should provide a chance of discussing what was the central problem of this agricultural question, for no point which had been raised in connection with the Bill was comparable in importance with the question now being discussed. He urged the Government, therefore, to consent to re-commit the Bill for the purpose of discussing this special question. They could not discuss it at that stage owing to their rules, and there was only one way in which they could debate it, and that was by the Government consenting to re-commit the Bill before their discussions upon it came to an end, and he earnestly pressed that policy upon them after the guillotine Resolutions had been carried out. It would not involve any waste of time if on Friday next the Government consented to re-commit the Bill. The Third Reading would have to take place under the guillotine rule at five o'clock, and therefore not by a single quarter of an hour would the proceedings on the Bill be prolonged if the Government made a favourable response to the appeal which he was then making. He thought they ought to make that favourable response. It was not in order for him to discuss the merits of the proposal, but it was in order for him, he thought, to ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to give them, at length, his view of the present financial position under it and to say if he received with any favour the proposal that he should on Friday next re-commit the Bill for the purpose of meeting the views which were expressed in the Committee upstairs but which had never been before the House for five minutes. In order that the right hon. Gentleman might make a statement on the matter he begged to move to omit Clause 5.
In page 4, line 1, to leave out Clause 5.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out to the word 'on' in page 4, line 1, stand part of the Bill."893
§ * MR. HARCOURT
said that this point was not a new one and had been prominent in their debates for many years. The matter was referred to the Grand Committees under their former rules, but of course it was obvious that certain proposals which had been suggested that afternoon which would impose fresh charges or rates would be beyond the scope of the Resolutions of the House regulating either the Committee or the Report stages. What the right hon. Gentleman specially desired was that he should describe the financial proposals of the Bill and the proposals which the Government had allowed him to make in respect of them. He could not assent to the right hon. Gentleman's proposal that they should recommit the Bill, but it would he open to the right hon. Gentleman to take a division later which would probably meet his views. The discussion on Clause 5 as it came from upstairs arose out of a concession made by himself. Subsection (3) was not in the Bill originally. It was introduced to make clear what he had always intended—that where the Board were acting in: default of a county council, the Board should have the power not to demand the repayment of losses. Then an Amendment was carried against the Government asserting the power of the Board to pay the losses incurred even by a county council acting on its own initiative, and he had accepted that decision of the Committee. A Treasury Minute, as he had stated that afternoon to a deputation of the County Councils Association, would be issued giving a general and detailed indication to the county councils of the lines on which the Treasury were prepared to act where a loss had been incurred by a county council acting on its own behalf. From the information which he had received, he was sure that this considerable concession would give great satisfaction to the representatives of the county councils.
§ SIR J. DICKSON-POYNDER (Wiltshire, Chippenham)
said that the question now seemed to be merely one of drafting, and he thought the proposal thrown out for the consideration of the Government was an eminently reasonable one as it would not involve any extra expenditure of time. The Leader of the Opposition had said he would forego certain extra time for the discussion of other subjects in order 894 to allow the Bill to be recommitted and Clause 5 drafted in a proper form taking it in conjunction with the Treasury Minute. At present the Bill was drafted in a very ambiguous form. It suggested that sums should be granted by the Treasury, and then that those sums should be refunded by the county council. Anyone who dealt with this clause from the point of view of the county councils would find themselves in great difficulty and confusion. He hoped that his right hon. friend would allow She Bill to be recommitted and redrafted in the spirit of the Minute, which he said was to be issued by the Treasury, so that the clause might not conflict with the Minute. It would be very much better from the drafting point of view and would save a great deal of confusion which might otherwise arise.
§ MR. COURTHOPE
also joined in the appeal that the right hon. Gentleman Would allow the Bill to be recommitted for the purpose of dealing with this matter. It would be quite impossible for the county councils to deal with the question satisfactorily unless that were done. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the question arose because he himself inserted Subsection (3), but that statement was not quite correct, because that subsection as it at present stood was due not entirely but in part, and in a very important part, to his hon. friend the Member for Kingston. It was moved in Committee, and carried against the Government.
§ MR. COURTHOPE
said he did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to say so, but at any rate the result of the proceedings was that Subsection (3) was introduced in its present form, and that it was quite impossible to work Clause 5 as it stood; it was absolutely essential that it should be amended in some reasonable manner, so that it might be possible for the county councils to administer the Act as the House would wish them to administer it.
§ MR. ADKINS (Lancashire, Middleton)
said that as one of the members of the deputation from the County Councils, he might say that they appreciated the substantial concessions which had been 895 made by the right hon. Gentleman during the two discussions they had had. He was bound to say in fairness to the right hon. Gentleman that the Treasury Minutes mentioned by him were substantially in accord with the resolution passed by the County Council Association with only one dissentient. While expressing their view that they would be glad to get further concessions, they recognised that the pledge to all county councils that, if they obtained certificates from the Board of Agriculture, half any loss incurred would be met by the Treasury was a fair compromise. He thought the House should be satisfied with the assurance already received, and that the words of the First Commissioner should be interpreted as a pledge that he intended to carry out the suggestions made. Those who were prepared to acquiesce in the Treasury Minute did so because they knew they could trust those responsible.
§ * MR. CAVE
said they entirely trusted the assurances of the right hon. Gentleman that a Minute would be issued dealing with cases in which a county council had carried out a scheme, but he was rather anxious about the position of a county council which had, as the right hon. Gentleman would say, "defaulted," and had thereupon had a scheme carried out by the Commissioners. As the clause stood, the whole expense incurred by the Commissioners in such a case would have to be repaid by the county council to the Commissioners, and it was not clearly stated that the board might remit a part of such expense. He thought that the clause should be modified so as to make the county council liable only for such expense as the board certified "to be properly payable by the county council." Further, if a county council refused to carry out a scheme because they expected that it would entail a loss and the Commissioners stepped in and carried it out, and if loss did occur, it was, as the clause stood, entirely within the discretion of the Board whether they allowed or repaid a farthing to the county council. He thought that in such a case the Board should be bound to allow or make good the loss.
§ Mr. HARCOURT
said he was not prepared to make Subsection (3) manda- 896 tory, because he thought the House might well be satisfied to leave the matter to the discretion of the Board and the Treasury. He had always held that under such circumstances as the hon. and learned Gentleman had just outlined it was impossible to imagine that the cost would be charged on or recovered from the county council by the Board and the Treasury. He would be prepared to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kingston to insert after "scheme" the words "and to be properly payable by the County Council."
§ * MR. WEDGWOOD (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
said he profoundly regretted that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to allow an Amendment carried against the Government in Committee to remain part of the Bill. The Amendment, carried by twenty-two to twenty-one in Committee, enabled the Board of Agriculture, when they could get the assent of the Treasury, to transfer any loss which might arise under the Act from the ratepayers of the county to the taxpayers. On the broad ground that they ought not to transfer a charge from the ratepayers to the taxpayers he regretted that the Government were accepting the Amendment. If the charge was taken off the county ratepayers and transferred to the taxpayers, it meant that it was taken off the shoulders of the landowners and transferred to the shoulders of the working classes throughout the country. It had been a matter of debate in the House for many years as to who paid the rates in the country. Liberal Members, when sitting on the other side, maintained that the rates were paid by, and incident on, the landlords, although paid by the tenants in the first instance. He remembered ten years ago indignant protests being made by Liberal Members then in the House against grants by means of gold paid by the Exchequer for relief of the local rates, and now this was another case of transferring, as the Conservatives did when they were in power, charges which naturally and rightly fell on the ratepayers in country districts to the shoulders of the taxpayers. As a Liberal, when in power as in Opposition—and there were many Ministerialists in agreement with him—he protested against a Liberal Government 897 transferring a charge which had fallen on the local rates and the landlords to the taxpayers.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said he could not help remarking what muse be obvious to everyone, what a commentary that discussion was upon the present system under which they prosecuted their business. Here they were engaged in discussing a subject in which both sides of the House were deeply interested, yet they had to deal with it under the pressure of the few minutes left to them before the guillotine was applied. He did not propose to dwell upon that; he rose to express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman in all the circumstances would reconsider his refusal to agree to the recommittal of the Bill. They all appreciated the right hon. Gentleman's readiness to make the Treasury Minutes on this subject, which, however, as he understood him, he might possibly be prevented from submitting to them at the present time; but he could not help recollecting that to some extent at all events the advantage of that offer was discounted by the statement of Mr. Speaker that afternoon—and he had the greatest respect for any statement which he offered to the House—that he at least was unable to see how that offer could be carried out within the terms of the Bill. If that were so—and he thought that they ought to pay great respect to that expression of opinion—surely it was an additional reason why the right hon. Gentleman should agree to the proposal made by his right hon. friend that the Bill should be recommitted on Friday next, in order that they might have an opportunity of carefully considering this question instead of having to dispose of it in a few minutes. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had appreciated what had fallen from his right hon. friend that if the proposal were adopted to recommit the Bill not a single moment of time would be lost. They on that side of the House would be perfectly prepared and willing to sacrifice any time to which they might be otherwise be entitled for the discussion of the Third Reading of the Bill. Under all the circumstances he thought they were entitled to make this appeal to the Government, and he hoped the Government would not finally refuse.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
said he quite recognised the moderation of what the right hon. Gentleman had said, but he would ask the House not to recommit the Bill. He did not know how far such a course would fit in with the guillotine Resolution, as it was called, but even assuming that it would, there was ample power under the Bill as it stood for the Treasury to do that which the right hon. Gentleman wished. No further statutory authority was needed to carry out what his right hon. friend, with his own assent on behalf of the Treasury, had undertaken to do in explicit terms. The time which remained would be better occupied, he thought, if the hon. and learned Member for Kingston would move his Amendment, which would make the clause clearer.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
said he was very sorry that the right hon. Gentleman could not accept the Motion to recommit the Bill. It was quite clear from what he had said that both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Commissioner of Works were prepared to meet the case and pay out of the Imperial Exchequer the expenses incurred by the Commissioners where the county council was in default.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR said he desired, with the leave of the House, to withdraw the Amendment he had moved, in order that the hon. Member for Kingston might move his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
In page 4, line 17, after the word 'scheme,' to insert the words 'and to be properly payable by the county council.'"—(Mr. Cave.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted "
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not seem to realise what he was doing. He was, in fact, giving a premium to a county council to go in default. ["No."] Yes, if a county council were obstinate and were in default and any loss were incurred, the Treasury would pay the whole of it, and therefore, instead of its being to the interest of every county council to work the Bill for all it was worth, it would be 899 to their interest to allow themselves to be put in default. Whether the scheme turned out successfully or whether it turned out a failure, the loss might not fall on the ratepayers, but be borne by the Exchequer. That was the result of the clause in the form in which the Government had now cast it. He could only say that he regretted this equally from the point of view of the Exchequer and from the point of view of the smooth working of the Bill. Surely they wanted to see the county council put the Bill in force with a reasonable prospect of success rather than that an outside authority should come down and override them.
And, it being half-past Ten of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 9th August, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill, as amended, to be further considered To-morrow.