HC Deb 14 August 1871 vol 208 cc1616-44

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee).

(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £374,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Control Establishment, Wages, &c., which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.


, on rising to move, according to Notice, on Vote 9, Sub-head D, Police employed under Contagious Diseases Prevention Act, to reduce the amount of the said Vote by the sum of £3,793, said, it was very unsatisfactory to him to bring forward that question for discussion when there were so few hon. Members present. That the Estimates should be considered in such a House was hardly endurable, and he trusted that a similar spectacle would never again be presented to the country. A Report had recently been presented to Parliament on the subject of these Acts, which were passed in 1864, 1866, and 1869, and under which the persons affected by them were placed entirely in the power of the policeman and the doctor, the system enabling the detention of any person who was merely suspected. Last year he protested against existing legislation as being scientifically a mistake, and as being both constitutionally and morally wrong, and the Report of the Royal Commission which had been since appointed to inquire into the subject, and to which he had before referred, fully sustained his allegations. That Report was signed by 23 of the Members, but there were only eight who did not dissent from one or other of the recommendations which it contained. Sixteen were in favour of getting rid of the system of periodical inspection, and eight approved of the proposed return to the system of 1864, and of its extension to the whole of the kingdom. The Report stated that any diminution of disease which might have taken place in the Army and Navy could not be traced with any confidence to the operations of the Act of 1869, and on moral grounds both statutes were objectionable. It recommended a return to the Act of 1864, and its application to the whole kingdom; and agreeing with the Commissioners that if that system were beneficial it ought not to be confined to garrison towns, he argued that if, on the other hand, it was an evil, it would be difficult to say why those towns should be afflicted with it. Periodical examination was an essential part of the system, but he contended there was no evidence that such a practice had diminished disease. For what had all these Acts been passed? To support a system which was objectionable and open to all the objections he urged against it last year, and such legislation had been resorted to in despair of getting rid of the evil. In doing that, he must contend they were licensing for that which was a sin in the sight of God and man, and that the honesty and good feeling of the whole community had unmistakably pronounced itself against this legislation. That was the only sin that was licensed by the law, and hon. Members who had a public duty to perform ought not to sanction it, while hospitals were dealt with in so peculiar a manner. At the present time small-pox hospitals, which were filled with patients who could not avoid disease, were languishing for want of funds, yet the undeserving were protected while the deserving were left to their fate. He came now to a most important point. The provisions of this Act, it was well known, could be better applied to men than women, yet this was a system which he contended would never be endured by the men of this country, in spite of all that was written concerning the "shrieking sisterhood." In fact, he would go so far as to say that no hon. Member would dare to introduce a measure into that House for the purpose of applying it to men. Men were not subject to the Act, because it was notorious that they would not submit to it. It was a case of the law of the stronger. Women were obliged to submit because they had no votes. The law, as it stood, encouraged men to think that they might, for their own purposes, oppress women as they would. Sir Charles Trevelyan had borne testimony against the efficacy of such legislation, and could it be said that the system worked wherever it had been carried out? Had it succeeded in France? No, it had utterly failed, as it also had in Hamburg, in Stockholm, and he believed in Prussia. Father Hyacinthe had protested against it, and said that two evils were eating into the vitals of France—the prolonged celibacy of its soldiers and the legalized prostitution of its women. He was not opposed to a reform in the hospitals, but that might have been done without new Acts of Parliament. If they allowed women to come into hospitals voluntarily, and treated them kindly, they would be grateful, and they would be more amenable to moral teaching than if they were hunted down and exposed to brutal indignity. But instead of that, he must say that he thought the treatment in hospitals had an hardening effect, because the law treated all alike; whereas it was well known that, as in every other circumstance of life, there were well-marked gradations among those pursuing that hateful avocation. Once a woman had the misfortune to fall under the notice of a policeman there was no help for her; the law branded her with the mark of Cain, henceforward only to be known as being subject to the cruel and revolting examinations prescribed by these objectionable statutes. Homes did some good, but Government could not help homes, nor did the Commissioners recommend them. The system was rough, rude, one-sided, and unworthy of a civilized people. Two excuses were given for the maintenance of the law—first, the money value of the soldier; and secondly, the reformation of the women. As to the former, it was not worth considering in a matter of such magnitude; as to the latter, he was not prepared to deny that, after having neglected these wretched women for years, once we cleared the streets of them and sent them into hospitals, some might be reformed. But he maintained that this reformation might be effected without these Acts of Parliament. If the women were induced to go voluntarily into hospitals, and were treated kindly there, much more might be done than by hunting them down by spies and degrading them by Acts of Parliament. It was notorious, notwithstanding all that was said about reformation under the present system, that the greater part of the women who were stated to have been restored to their families and friends returned to their evil courses. Indeed, he had been informed on good authority that the average period during which these wretched creatures prosecuted their miserable profession might be safely fixed at the low period of one year. From a Return laid on the Table last year it was perfectly clear that the longer the system had been tried—as, for instance, at Devonport—the greater the percentage of women who relapsed. But even if he were to admit that some good was done in the way of reclamation, the balance of evil was far greater. Besides, evil ought not to be done that good might follow. But besides the moral objection, there was another. He contended that the Act was unconstitutional, and gave the police a dangerous power. It was objectionable in a moral point of view, and it was objectionable even on the low ground of expediency. The law was so framed that there was no security against a false accusation, and there was no adequate trial to prove that the accusation was false. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich, speaking of the Act of 1864, condemned it on the ground of discretionary powers given to the police. But if that was a good ground of objection to the Act of 1864, it applied, à fortiori, to the Act of 1866. The spirit of our Constitution was that in any case of importance there should be a trial by jury, and not merely on accusation by the police. This was no paltry case of cab fares or the like; the liberty of every woman in England who did not ride in a carriage was involved. All the women of the poorer classes were liable to be accused. ["No!"] He did not say it was likely, he only said that they were liable. It was said that the police had acted moderately, and that the Act had not been abused; but his reply was that the Act was itself an abuse, and that therefore it was impossible to make it a greater abuse in application. Even, however, if that were not the case, he believed that many cases of gross abuse had occurred, and that the police had acted on very insufficient evidence. The real reason of the failure of these Acts in France and in other countries was that the system did not find out the vast majority of those who, according to the system, ought to be subject to it. As long as the examination was confined to one sex, the labour was in vain, and it was cruel to keep up the system in the face of the Report of the Commissioners. Last year 29,500 women were examined, and found free from all disease, and they were going to examine 30,000 more, perhaps, this year, under an Act which he was convinced, when it came to be considered, could not be maintained. In conclusion, he must say that, viewed under whatever aspect they liked, this Act had failed in reaching the source of the evils at which it was aimed; they were condemned by the Report of the Commissioners; and in reference to the legislation which had produced such measures legalizing sin as this, he could only quote the words of the wisest of Monarchs and of men—"Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." He would conclude by moving the reduction of the Vote.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £372,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Control Establishment, Wages, &c., which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive."—(Mr. William Fowler.)


said, he should have been very glad if this discussion could have been postponed for another year, but felt this to be impossible after the answer publicly given to the deputation by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, which had the effect of raising a totally false issue before the country. The right hon. Gentleman said that— A strong feeling had been excited in the public mind by the repetition of statements to the effect that in carrying out these Acts outrages had been committed on innocent and virtuous women, which statements had not been confirmed. If they had been confirmed it would have been the duty of the Government, under any circumstances, at once to repeal the Acts. But the results of inquiry had been to satisfy the Government that the police were not chargeable with any abuse of authority; that there was no foundation for the charges rashly made and repeated; and that they had discharged their difficult and delicate duties with moderation and caution. That answer which the right hon. Gentleman then gave, by treating only of one or two paragraphs in the Report of the Commission, coupled with the fact that discussion had been stifled on the subject in the manner it had, had a tendency to raise a false issue in the country, and would lead the public to believe that what the 600,000 petitioners who petitioned the House last year, and the 500,000 who petitioned this year complained of was gross and outrageous acts on the part of the police. Such was not the fact. What the petitioners—many of them high-minded Christian women—complained of was, that soon after the Acts had passed they had found out by degrees that women were subjected to treatment which no woman, however fallen, however outcast, ought against her will to suffer; that the treatment itself was inflicted not for a good, but for an immoral purpose; and, lastly, that the sexes were not equally dealt with, men being left entirely free from their operation. He thought that if the Acts were to remain in existence, they should, at least, treat both sexes equally. Those points were the burden of their song; and he spoke with knowledge, for he had read all the Petitions printed on the subject. The Commissioners themselves rebuked the tone of argument which had been adopted as much upon one side as on the other, and the disclosures of past Commissions showed that, at least, mistakes in carrying out the Acts were possible. Well, the next matter was the opinion of the Commissioners with respect to the question of fair play between men and women. The reasoning was very singular. They said— There is no comparison to be made between prostitutes and the men who consort with them. With the one sex the offence is committed as a matter of gain; with the other it is an irregular indulgence of a natural appetite. Under any system, even of heathen ethics, he could not find that the tempter was less blameable than the tempted; and according to Christian ethics it certainly was not so. This could not go down with the Government, and he was sure it would not with the country. As he had said before, Christian high-minded women had upon the highest Christian grounds—upon the ground that they should do to others as they would be done by—taken up this question; they had also insisted by these Acts you are recognizing sin, and trying to render sin free from the consequences which the Almighty, whether in mercy to warn, or as a penalty to deter, had attached to that kind of life. He could not understand the reasoning of the Commissioners—16 out of 23 Commissioners had protested against certain parts of the Report—seven of those protested against one part, and six against another part, and yet the whole had signed the Report. The great body of the Commissioners recommended the repeal of the present Act, and that something like the Act of 1864 should be re-enacted; but seven of them protested strongly against that course, on the ground that the Act of 1864 gave a discretionary power to the police to lodge an information before a magistrate, who must hear on oath, against a suspected woman, and they said that that was a dangerous power. Nevertheless, they proposed to substitute for it a power authorizing a policeman of his own will to send any woman he liked to be examined. Neither could he understand how they could in any sense say that the one party was by necessity compelled to sin, and that the other stood in a more favourable position. Such questionable ethics as that could never be upheld, and the reasoning of the Commissioners, therefore, ought not, in his view, to go down with the Government; it certainly would not go down with the country. The Government should take one line or the other. The agitation was now against these Acts, for a large portion of the country had a strong religious feeling on the subject, and he thought the Government would not act wisely to run counter to it. They could not tell how soon it might be against them. Look at the countries from which they had copied this legislation. Were they more moral than this country? No sanitary grounds could justify such legislation; and he should certainly vote with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler), for he had no other way of protesting against the fatal mistake committed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bruce), on a former occasion, when he addressed the House upon the subject. He had not a word to say against hospital accommodation. If they were once to stay their hands against relieving human misery because it was produced by human sin, little indeed would be done. So, he would say—"Throw wide open the doors of your hospitals; but do not seem to give a recognition to that which is against God's law. Do not seem to deal with these women not to deter or reclaim, but to enable them to carry on their vicious practices." The Commissioners advised that in many instances the laws should be more stringently administered; but it was remarkable that they seemed to think more of decency than virtue, and did not say a word about putting down brothels, although the evidence showed that they were the main sources from whence the police derived their information. The tenor of their Report was how to make vice more attractive and less dangerous. He was afraid that they were not treading on safe ground; it seemed to him that they were entering on a course without knowing where it would lead them. However, of this he was certain—that the humbler classes were not deluded by the sophistries put before them, and the House must take care that reform did not come from below. There was nothing in which the corruption of a nation was more marked than when they could not bear to see their own condition placed before their eyes. On the Government rested a vast responsibility. They must base their legislation on the high moral principles of Christianity, and woe, indeed, would it be for the country when they ceased to do so.


said, he very much regretted the vote which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) was about to give, especially as he said it was the result of an answer which had fallen from him on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, no doubt unwillingly, misrepresented him in respect to that answer. What he had said on a previous occasion was that, burdened as the Government were with other important measures, and which they were unable to pass—near as was the end of the Session and imperfect as was the information in their possession, the evidence not being yet before them, they yet would have legislated upon this subject had there been any proof of the assertion so frequently made not in Petitions, but in the publications with which hon. Members were flooded — namely, that many innocent and virtuous women had been dealt with under these Acts. If there had been proof of that statement, it would have been the duty of that House to have legislated at any sacrifice of time with a view to remedy that which was, perhaps, the greatest and gravest charge against these Acts. But there being no proof of that charge, and the Government being solemnly warned by that very Commission, that any changes made should be accompanied by further important legislation, it became the duty of the Government to consider whether it would be right to propose the total repeal of these Acts without substituting the remedial measures recommended. Now, one of the difficulties which the Government had in dealing with that question was the great division of opinion which existed among the Commissioners themselves, differing as they did upon by far the greatest part of the recommendations. But there was one part of their Report as to which the Commissioners were unanimous, and that was the passage in the Report, in which the Commissioners said that the numerous innocent persons who suffered from those evils were surely entitled to consideration, and also expressed a hope that the attempt to stay the progress of a formidable mischief would not be hastily abandoned. [Mr. MUNDELLA said, that that paragraph had been protested against by several Members of the Commission.] Well, he must say he could discover no evidence of any such protest. The Commissioners recommended strong remedial and repressive measures, and, of course, such legislation, before it was adopted, would require very careful examination. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henley) had unintentionally misrepresented the recommendation of the Commissioners in stating that they were in favour of strong proceedings against unfortunate women, but were not in favour of more rigorous measures being taken against those who harboured them. If he would refer again to the Report, he would find that out of 12 different recommendations three suggested more stringent legislation than now existed against the latter class of persons. It was not for him to commit himself now to any opinion for or against the Acts, but he must say that his position was one of great difficulty, and that he was bound to give them, in common with the Government, his most anxious, impartial, and dispassionate consideration. It was an exaggeration to say that those women were hunted down by spies, and liable to be arrested on the mere suspicion of a policeman. It was not the practice of the police to act upon one proof, but upon several concurrent proofs. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) had contrasted the proportions of diseased persons under the more recent Act with those examined under the Act of 1864. But the comparison was between things essentially different. Under the Act of 1864, those only were examined who were, on adequate evidence, suspected of being diseased. Under the Acts of 1866 and 1869, all women proved to be prostitutes were periodically examined, without reference to any immediate suspicion of disease. The consequence necessarily was that the proportion of diseased persons had been greater under the Act of 1864 than under that of 1866. But that fact proved nothing against the policy of the later Act. He was far from saying that those acts might not be open to well-founded objections, but, beyond all question, they had led in certain towns to an enormous diminution of open vice. It was, moreover, a remarkable circumstance that the opposition to those Acts was most vehement the farther off the objectors to them were from the scene of their operations; whereas a large proportion of those who had seen their working in seaport and garrison towns were in their favour. Why was this, unless it was because those Acts had been found to have a salutary deterrent effect; and the Government therefore shrank from sweeping away that legislation without substituting some other safeguards for the benefit of those miserable persons. Wherever these Acts were in force, it would be found that a considerable number of magistrates, of clergymen, of men prominent in good works, were in favour of their continuance. And why so? Because they tended to diminish the numbers of those leading a life of prostitution. By way of illustrating this view, he would refer to the case of Plymouth and Devonport, where only a few years ago there were 200 or 300 girls between the ages of 13 and 15 engaged in this traffic, whereas at the present time the number of such children had been reduced to two; while the total number of prostitutes in that district had been reduced from over 2,000 to under 600. In conclusion he would say that the Government had hesitated at the end of the Session to propose the repeal of Acts that could only be replaced by legislation of a wider bearing and a different character which could not be lightly submitted to the House, and, under those circumstances, they must decline to act upon the advice of his hon. Friend (Mr. W. Fowler). All must admit the difficulty of the situation; but he hoped the majority of the Committee would be of opinion that, in the interest of those wretched creatures themselves, the Government was right in refusing to expose them again to all the dangers from which they had escaped by repealing those Acts without providing any substitute for them.


said, the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. W. Fowler) had treated all facts and all evidence which militated against his own views with great contempt, although whenever any facts or figures appeared to toll in his favour he laid much stress upon them. The hon. Gentleman had, however, to make bricks without straw, for the whole of his straw had been swept away by the Royal Commission. That Commission had to consider whether the Act of 1866 had worked well for the Army and Navy, and whether it was desirable that it should to a certain degree be extended. He thought there could be no doubt, in the face of what appeared, that the present working of the Acts had been beneficial. This subject had been mixed up with women's rights and Bloomerism, for it should be remembered that those who had most actively opposed the Acts objected to an Army and a Navy, and to war altogether; and being of Quaker origin he had been greatly pained to find that the female members of that body had taken up this subject, and had even encouraged women to disobey the law. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Surveyor General of Ordnance, had been subjected to considerable obloquy for having described as a necessity that which was rather inevitable, and to show how hopeless was any attempt to deal with this question, he (Mr. Tipping) need only remind the House that 40 centuries had passed since veiled women sat on the roads of Judea, and that the numbers of such persons in any country had not decreased. Every conceivable means had been tried in order to suppress the evil, but without success, and although the severest measures had been employed they had failed, and only tended to increase it. England and the United States were the only countries in which some such laws did not prevail, and he would remind the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), who thought he could find a model of all the virtues in Germany, that in Prussia the law on this subject was even more stringent than in France, while the President of the Police at Berlin had acknowledged that the evil could not be suppressed by any violent measures, and said that as any attempt to deal with the evil only increased it, tolerance should be exercised under the surveillance of the police. He did not admit the superior morality of this country on the subject, and denied that similar legislation had failed in France, while he was convinced that if the mass of people in this country understood the question they would not be led away by the calumnious misstatements that had been made. He did not believe that the effect of these Acts had been to increase the evil which, as regarded the Metropolis, ranged from Ratcliff Highway to Hyde Park, and he contended that what they sought to check was mainly confined to the lower stratum. The hon. Member for Cambridge had indulged in an ocean of sentimental sack, but had not given the House a pennyworth of fact. Hon. Members, however, should not give way to sentiment, but ought to face the question and admit that, as the evil could not be suppressed, it must either be left alone, or some system must be invented which would enable medical men to grapple with it. They ought not to look so much to what ought to be done with regard to attaining ideal perfection as to what could be effected, and, under all the circumstances, he hoped the House would think that the Acts deserved a further trial. If, after having had that further trial, they should fail to realize the expectations which had been formed of them, then let them be given up.


said, he disclaimed being a supporter of the German system in this matter, and alleged that the witnesses who were examined before the Committee of 1869 were chiefly those who were engaged in the prosecution of the Acts. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department was wrong in supposing that no Member of the recent Commission had objected to the Act of 1864, for seven hon. Gentlemen had signed a dissent from it. As to the Report it was not consistent with itself. It was fought clause by clause, and word by word, just in the same manner as a Bill would be fought in that House. If the spirit of the Report had been adopted by the Home Secretary—if that right hon. Gentleman had suspended the operation of these Acts for a year as the Report recommended, there would have been no necessity for the Motion of his hon. Friend, which it was his intention to support. Every statement read by the Home Secretary as evidence was contradicted by other evidence before the Commission. For instance, the right hon. Gentleman said the police administration had been faultless. What was the power given to the police? It gave them absolute power over the persons of the women, the virtuous as well as the vicious; and though, no doubt, the influence of public opinion and criticism made them very cautious, they must remember that they had none of the women examined before the Commission. Was there no other mode of reducing disease than that of licensing and certificating women for the purposes of prostitution? There was evidence before the Commission that officers and gentlemen drove these women to the examination-rooms, and then when they were examined took them away for their own purposes. With reference to the Commission, only two or three of its Members were at first opposed to these Acts; but after the evidence practically brought home the real effects of these Acts to their minds, the majority of the Commission yielded to the conviction that they could not be maintained. He might, indeed, say that the evidence brought before the Commission was such that Professor Huxley and other eminent gentlemen shrunk from it in disgust. Moreover, the evidence was not in the possession of the House, and there was a disadvantage in a partial discussion on the subject. It had been said there was a possibility of stamping out this disease, but the mind of man never entertained a greater delusion than the idea that this disease could be stamped out; in fact, it was really impossible to do what the Acts contemplated, and therefore they might be said to be perfect failures. His idea was that, instead of aiming at suppression, they should seek as much as possible to prevent that which was the source of the legislation he and his Friends complained of, and seek by the aid of hospitals to ameliorate the condition of the unfortunates engaged in that miserable traffic. When the women were not of full age to be able to judge of the course which they were pursuing, and their parents would not be responsible for them, then it was the duty of the State to interfere, and send them to homes where they could be trained to become industrious members of society, and the parents of those who had allowed them to become prostitutes should be compelled to pay for their maintenance. Instead of that, however, when a girl went "larking" in the streets, the police placed a hand on her shoulder, and she was sent to an examination which lasted for twelve months. The police had power over every woman; and that affected the liberty of virtuous women as well as the immodest. He admitted that the police discharged their duty with good sense, with good temper, and with carefulness; and the medical men were actuated by a desire to reduce the disease. But was there no other mode than that of examining and licensing women? He said, extend, the provision of the Act to the men. Take the woman's accomplice as well as the woman. The agitation could not be put an end to by calling names. The Acts were dead—they could not be maintained—if both sides of the House conspired in their favour the country was against them, and the Legislature would have to abandon them. The evidence of town officials engaged in the administration of the Acts showed that a most demoralizing influence was exercised upon all who had anything to do with them; facts were stated, even in relation to children, which it was impossible to repeat. He appealed to the Secretary of State for War to do his best to rid us of that moral pest—a celibate Army; and, admitting the indiscretion of some who were engaged in this agitation, with which he was wholly unconnected, he warned the Government that there was in the country an intensity of feeling on the subject which was not to be met by charges of excessive zeal.


, referring to the position in which many of them were placed by the issue before them, said, they were asked to obtain, practically, the repeal of certain Acts of the Legislature by the reduction of a Vote in Supply. Nothing could be more inconvenient and worse as a precedent than such a course, because they were not dealing with the subject directly, but were attempting to get rid of a law by a side wind. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had brought before the House evidence from a Report which was not yet before the Committee, and other hon. Members had been doing the same. Now, it was most unfair to ask the Committee to reduce the Vote on evidence not yet before it. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had stated that the Committee of 1869 was appointed for the express purpose of maintaining these Acts in force; but he believed, on the other hand, that the Committee had been as fairly selected as any Committee had ever been, and it was open to parties to bring what evidence they pleased before it. He did not think it a fair course to impugn their decision by the means proposed to be adopted.


, in reply to some remarks of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), said that the one feature of this agitation had been misrepresentation. The hon. Member for Sheffield had made a great point against the Committee in not having examined any evidence except what was in favour of the Acts. But the Committee examined Dr. Simon, and the whole evidence given by him was in spirit opposed to the Acts, and that was only one case among many. A headstrong ecclesiastic like the Dean of Carlisle had stuck at nothing, but taken any evidence which came from the lowest quarter of the kingdom. In what he had said, he merely wished to show that misrepresentation was the badge of the tribe.


said, that if the question before the Committee had been whether the Acts should be totally suspended, he would have hesitated to support the Motion for a reduction of the Vote until he had seen the Report on which the Motion was founded. But the effect of the Motion was to put a stop to the system of periodic examination until the Report was before them. He had read the evidence of last year, and he was astonished that upon the evidence of the Committee of 1869 such Acts should have been recommended to the House, because anything more unsatisfactory than that evidence he had scarcely ever seen. The only conclusion he had come to was that further inquiry was necessary, and the moment that Government agreed to the issuing of a Commission he said to himself that his opposition was at an end until he saw the Report. Well, he had now seen the Report, and he found that 16 out of 23 Members of the Commission had declared against periodic examination, and the question with him was, whether Parliament was justified in continuing a course which had been thus condemned by the majority of the Commission. They were told that there was no time to legislate on the subject; but the matter was one which had excited intense feeling throughout the country, and therefore it was quite idle to say that because there was no time to legislate the system was to be continued. In the town of Southampton persons had been improperly taken before the magistrates, who dismissed the summonses; and 29 persons had gone to prison rather than submit to examination. At any rate, they ought to put a stop to excitement, and that they could do by stopping compulsory examination for a few months. It was on these grounds that he would support the Motion for refusing to give money to maintain the police for the remainder of the present year, who were necessarily employed in discharging that part of the Acts to which he had especially referred.


said, that the last suggestion somewhat surprised him. He thought that notwithstanding all the points on which they differed there was still one on which they might have agreed, and that was that they were not able to form an opinion in the present state of their information. There was strong evidence before them—he had strong evidence before him—that if they took the step proposed they would greatly increase the evil. The Royal Commission recommended measures to put an end to the evil. Would they not, then, give time to the House to see what evidence was to be laid before them? Should the country not have the means of judging before it decided? His right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southampton (Mr. Russell Gurney) had argued that they need not repeal the Acts, and that they had only to suspend the Vote until the question was considered; but that meant that Parliament had imposed statutory obligations upon the Home Secretary and himself, and had deprived them of the money necessary to carry those obligations into effect.

Question put.

The Committee divided: — Ayes 44; Noes 56: Majority 12.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(2.) £1,735,600, Provisions, Forage, Fuel, Transport, and other Services.


said, that as there were some differences in the charges for the movement of troops by railway, &c., he should like to know how they arose?


said, the charges for the conveyance of troops by railway were fixed by Act of Parliament. The Government were, however, negotiating with the railway companies for a reduction of those charges, and he trusted that in the Estimates for next year those charges would be found to be reduced considerably.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £878,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Clothing Establishments, Services, and Supplies, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.


moved the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £100,000. The number of men having been increased by 20,000, the increase in the Vote ought only to have been £145,000, but instead of that the Vote was increased by the sum of £327,037. The Control department was established with a view to reduce the expenditure in items of that description, and he could not say whether the creation of that department had been an improvement on the old system or not, for hitherto there had been no sufficient evidence on the point. Last year the expenditure under the head of Votes 9, 10, 11, and 12, was £3,174,900; but this year the expenditure on those four Votes was £4,804,000, showing an enormous increase. It was impossible to justify that increase in regard to Vote 11; and with regard to Vote 12, the increase there was so much greater that he should, at the proper time, move its reduction by a much larger amount.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £778,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Clothing Establishments, Services, and Supplies, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive."—(Mr. Rylands.)


explained that the increase arose from the augmentation of the Army, the calling out of the Irish Militia, the increase of the Militia, the short service system, under which a greater number of recruits joined annually, and from an augmentation of stock, as it was now proposed to have a supply of clothing on hand, as this was found more convenient than the practice of former years, when no margin was left for such a purpose. With regard to the Control department, in 1868–9 the number of members was 662, and the pay £166,959; in 1869–70 the members were 563, and the pay £142,248; in 1870–1 the members were 483, and the pay £133,992; and in 1871–2 the members were 467, and the pay £131,773. He hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Warrington would not think it necessary to press his Motion.


inquired the present cost per man compared with the year 1866–7?


said, the present annual cost per head for all the services was about £4 9s.


expressed himself dissatisfied with the explanation offered, and urged the Committee to a division, if for no other purpose than to protest against the constant increase of cost per man, upon which, he maintained, some restraint ought to be put.


observed that a considerable portion of the increase of the Vote was stated to arise from the Reserve men, but that could hardly be correct, for the number who accepted short service was limited. When the clothing establishment was first formed, the House was led to believe that the cost of the clothing of the Army would be very much reduced, but he believed that when the clothing was furnished by the colonels the expense to the country was at least 35 per cent less.

Question put.

The Committee divided: — Ayes 27; Noes 73: Majority 46.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,815,800, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Supply, Manufacture, and Repair of Warlike and other Stores for Land and Sea Service, including Establishments of Manufacturing Departments, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.


observed that there was an increase of £995,400 in the Vote, and the items deserved attention. He complained that the charge for gunpowder—namely, £155,815, as compared with £5,000 last year, showed culpable negligence in allowing the stores to run extremely low last year, and by going into the market suddenly raising the price of powder very unnecessarily. He thought there was no justification for buying large stocks of perishable articles which were not immediately required. In another item there was an increase of £144,062. That was for metals, which he understood included the guns for the fortifications. But surely it was not desirable to throw the whole of that charge on one year. There was also an increase of £123,638 on the sum for small arms, and with regard to that item it was his opinion that so large an expenditure should not be devoted to an arm about which there was so much difference of opinion. Altogether, that was an extravagant Vote, and he would therefore move to reduce it by £500,000.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £1,315,800, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for the Supply, Manufacture, and Repair of Warlike and other Stores for Land and Sea Service, including Establishments of Manufacturing Departments, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive."—(Mr. Rylands.)


said, that on a small Army this country—although a manufacturing one—spent more than double the amount allowed by any other nation for warlike stores. He found from a Return that in 1847–8, when they had 9,000 men fewer than they had at present, the total amount of the Army Estimates was £9,500,000; while in 1867–8, it was £14,600,000. They knew that the additional 9,000 troops and additional pay had cost £1,100,000; and the remaining £4,000,000 had gone entirely in the spending departments of the Army. The Committee must pay greater attention to the spending departments of the Army. Three years ago he took up that subject, and he had shown that their expenditure in 15 years had been £8,500,000 greater than the French in the same time. The great fault the House committed was never to ask what had been done with the money voted, and economy never would be practised until they had insisted on having Returns of where the stores went after they were purchased or manufactured. The increase in the manufacturing departments was £1,100,000, and the decrease in the purchase of warlike stores from manufacturers was £300,000, leaving an increase of £800,000. There was no control over the manufacturing department, and there was no idea what was the cost of each article manufactured, and for that reason he had been always opposed to their extension. The French, German, and other nations that had lately been engaged in war, relied more on private enterprize for warlike stores than on their own manufacturing departments. Enormous sums were voted for the capital account of our manufacturing department, and that went on year after year without any control over the expenditure. He hoped that the attention of the constituencies would be directed to the subject.


said, he intended to support the Government in this Vote on two grounds; but, in the first place, he would point out the extreme inconvenience of discussing the Estimates at so late a period of the Session, when it was impossible to do justice to the subject. He should support the Government in the Powder Vote and the Small Arm Vote, because for the last two years the Votes had been starved. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance was doing his duty in those respects like a man, and he would support him. Without, then, discussing which was the best small arm, a breechloading arm was wanted. Last year they had only half a rifle to a man; but he was glad to find that steps had been taken to provide one for every man.


said, he went entirely with the hon. and gallant Gentleman the last speaker (Sir John Hay) against the Estimates being taken again so late as the 14th August, when it was utterly impossible to discuss Estimates of that character; in fact, it was a perfect farce to attempt to do so. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had given positive instructions, during the last two years, to the expending departments to reduce the amount, and they had done so, in order that he might carry out the pledges of economy he made on the hustings at South Lancashire, and the result had been to starve the service for an apparent and not a real economy. It was a disgrace to the country, and it was high time a stop should be put to it for ever. Last year the right hon. Gentleman said there were plenty of guns for the forts that were completed. That was true in one sense; but it was not correct in another. It was true they had the guns; but it was untrue that they had the carriages for them. Under those circumstances, the Government had no right to say that the country was prepared for any emergency. The Estimates had been decreased in two years £2,361,000; but they had been increased that year £2,286,700, irrespective of £600,000 appropriated for the abolition of purchase. That was not a creditable or reputable state of things. He should like to have a distinct understanding as to what was being done with the Martini-Henry rifle. The sole responsibility of that rifle would rest entirely on the head of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Office; and therefore he should like to know if he had altered the manufactory so as to make nothing but Martini-Henrys, and none of the ordinary Snider-Enfield rifles?


said, he did not vote in the last division, and would not do so in the coming one, because he would not take on himself the responsibility of refusing what the Government asked for; but he agreed with other hon. Members with regard to the question of time, in thinking that it was an outrageous thing that Votes of that kind should be brought forward at half-past 12 on the morning of the 15th of August. The Government had, in previous years, claimed credit for effecting a reduction of expenditure; but there really was on those occasions no reduction at all, because what it all came to was, that they had been living upon their old stores. He held in his hand a pamphlet, written by Sir E. Sullivan, which clearly showed this, or, to use a phrase which had been previously referred to, they had been "living on their fat." For instance, in 1869 gunpowder and gun-cotton cost only £6,000. In 1870 the cost was reduced to £5,000; but in 1871 it was increased to £155,815. The Vote for clothing in 1869–70 was £644,868; in 1870–1 it was £551,299; but in 1871–2 it was increased to £878,836. Then horses cost last year £39,000, this year they would cost £139,000. He should like to know now whether the Government were manufacturing guns to put into the hands of their Reserve forces; and also what was the number of ammunition and ambulance waggons in store?


said, the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho), in that style of manner which he alone introduced, had quoted from a pamphlet, of the author of which he (Mr. Cardwell) knew nothing; but he must say that he regretted, quite as much as the noble Lord, that the Estimates were brought forward at so late a period of the year; and he must also say that there were few persons who had contributed to the delay more than the noble Lord himself. A very large part of the expenditure now condemned was attributable to their having furnished 150,000 Snider rifles to the Volunteer force, a course of proceeding which had been strongly demanded by the noble Lord. But ex nihilo nihil fit; if the Government had not got the Sniders, they could not distribute them, and in order to get them a large expenditure had to be incurred. The store of Sniders was larger when the Franco-Prussian War broke out than it was when he came into office, and therefore the hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir John Hay) could hardly find fault in that respect. It was said that £2,000,000 was now required simply to replace stores which they had consumed; but such was not the case. A considerable part of the reduction they had effected was by lessening the colonial military expenditure; and this year they had added nearly £500,000 to the Estimates by increasing the force of Artillery. The noble Lord never objected to that increase of force, and, of course, could not properly object to the increase of cost. Did he mean to say that because they had saved money by reducing the number of black troops on the coast of Africa therefore they should not increase their Artillery force? They could not add 20,000 men to the Army without cost for clothes for them, and an increase of Artillery necessitated an increase of horses. The expenditure of 1867 and 1847 had been contrasted; but to the present Estimates £1,621,900 was the expenditure for their Reserve forces, whilst in 1847 there were no Militia, Volunteers, or Army Reserve. Guns were also much more expensive now than they were in 1847. The largest gun in this last-named year cost not much more than £100, whilst now our largest gun cost £3,572, and each discharge cost something between £12 and £12 12s. The increased charges in respect of gunpowder and gun-cotton were caused by using up old powder preparatory to getting an improved sort of powder, and to gun-cotton not having been required for torpedoes and other things in former years. A change in the kind of small arms had also caused increase under that head.


said, he also was very much dissatisfied with the House having to discuss the Estimates at so late a period of the Session. He admitted that the Ballot Bill and other measures of great importance had been brought forward; but he considered it one of the first duties of the House of Commons to examine the Estimates, which were now larger than they had been for the last six years; and he trusted that in future the Committee of Supply would be closed before the end of July. It was impossible for men who had many other matters of business during the day to attend afterwards and discuss matters in the House for 12 hours, with advantage to themselves or to the country. The other day the House met at a quarter to 4, and went on until about a quarter to 4 the next morning, and even then the Government wanted to go on discussing various Bills. It would be much better to pass a few good Bills and go through the Estimates carefully than to attempt to do what no mortal men were able to do. He thought it very undesirable to include so many matters in one Session, and overwork hon. Members as they had been recently overworked. With respect to the objections raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Colonel Anson), he must say they had not been answered, that 20 years ago the spending departments did not ask for so much as they do at present by £4,000,000. The manufacturing department spent more than it accounted for in the shape of wages; and nearly all articles purchased by the War Department cost the Government more than any private firm would pay for them. At the Admiralty the anchors were now obtained better and cheaper than they were four or five years ago, and he believed that at least £1,000,000 might be saved in the War Department if the Government would carry out, with respect to the Army, the principle upon which they had acted with regard to the Navy, and thus not only encourage economy, but also do good to the public service.


remarked that all the warlike stores manufactured at Woolwich were obtained at a much cheaper rate than they could be supplied by the trade. It was not fair to institute a comparison between the armaments of 1847 and those of the present time. The guns were larger, the charges were heavier, and there was an increase in price in everything connected with them.


thought it was desirable to increase the stock at any price, and he congratulated the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Surveyor General of Ordnance on having taken the bull by the horns, and manufactured powder at a less expense than he could purchase it. No complaint had been made of the Government not going on manufacturing the old sort of powder. The complaint was, that they had ceased to manufacture powder two years ago. He certainly should vote against the Amendment.


observed, that the reason why the Government had not gone on manufacturing powder was, that that kind of powder had been condemned. They were waiting for pebble powder, which was a much better material.


said, he desired to learn whether the sword-bayonet was to be abolished with the Martini-Henry rifle? The proposed sword-bayonet with the rifle, he was told, would be two inches shorter than the present weapon, and the balance also was not as good. He wished to know whether that weapon was to be issued to the whole of the infantry? Another question was, whether the military accounts were to be submitted to the same independent audit as the other accounts?


said, the new sword-bayonet had been recommended by a most competent Committee. It would not, however, be issued in large quantities until it had been thoroughly tested. On the question of the military accounts, he would refer the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy to the Report of the Committee on Public Accounts.


complained that, by the perpetual changes in the form of balance-sheet, anything like a fair comparison between the expenditure for particular purposes in successive years was out of the question.


, after the discussion which had been held, would not trouble the Committee to divide, but would allow his Amendment to be negatived, as a protest.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question put, and agreed to.


said, he would make a formal Motion to report Progress, with a view of eliciting information as to the course of Public Business. The other night the House had been unpleasantly taken by surprise through the Vaccination Bill having been brought on at 3 o'clock in the morning.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again." — (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)


said (it was then ten minutes past 1 o'clock) that opposed Bills would not be brought on after 2.


regretted very much that all the discussion which could be desired had not arisen on the Vaccination Bill. He did not, however, understand that the hon. Baronet (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had any opposition to offer to the Bill. It was, however, a very important measure, and with that, as with others, in the actual state of Public Business, the choice lay between the total loss of the Bill or proceeding with it at an advanced hour.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(5.) £983,800, Works, Buildings, and Repairs.

(6.) £139,700, Military Education.

(7.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £43,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Sundry Miscellaneous Services, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.


said, he must reiterate his objection to the appointment of Captain Wellesley as attaché at St. Petersburg. The justification which had been given of that appointment appeared to him to be wholly insufficient. If this appointment was the first instance of selection on the part of the Commander-in-Chief it was most unsatisfactory. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £600, the salary of Captain Wellesley.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £42,700, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Sundry Miscellaneous Services, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive." — (Mr. Rylands.)


would have preferred the selection of an officer of more experience, and said it was worthy of notice that the first appointment made on the principle of selection had been made the subject of dispute in that House.


said, he would also call attention to the fact that that, the first appointment by selection since the Army Regulation Bill had come before the House, was questioned.


said, he could most conscientiously defend the appointment. Before it was made the matter was referred to the Commander-in-Chief, who sounded eight officers of different ranks and of various branches in the service, and they all refused. All inquiries necessary had been made respecting Captain Wellesley, and the answers were most satisfactory.

Question put.

The Committee divided: — Ayes 13; Noes 56: Majority 43.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(8.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £194,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Salaries and Miscellaneous Expenses of the War Office, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.


moved the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £6,200, his object being to withdraw the salaries of the sinecure colonelcies held by officers on the Staff.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £187,800, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Salaries and Miscellaneous Expenses of the War Office, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive."—(Mr. Anderson.)


opposed the reduction.

Question put.

The Committee divided: — Ayes 12; Noes 57: Majority 45.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(9.) £27,400, Rewards for Distinguished Services, &c.


complained of the long delay that occurred in the distribution of medals.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) £72,800, General Officers Pay.

(11.) £543,600, Reduced and Retired Officers Pay.


complained of the slowness of promotion in the artillery and engineers.

Vote agreed to.

(12.) £155,200, Widows' Pensions, &c.

(13.) £19,900, Pensions for Wounds.

(14.) £33,900, Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals.

(15.) £1,262,900, Out-Pensions.

(16.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £162,900, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Superannuation Allowances, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive.

In answer to Lord ELCHO,


said, that all future enlistments for short service would be without premium.


protested against the pension of Sir William Brown. It was rather hard for the House to be asked to continue a pension to an officer who had been so reported on. He moved the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £800.


said, that the pension of Sir William Brown had been reduced from £1,100 to £800, although he had 41 years' service.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £162,100, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge for Superannuation Allowances, which will come in course of payment from the 1st day of April 1871 to the 31st day of March 1872, inclusive."—(Mr. Rylands.)

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(17.) £18,900, Militia, Yeomanry Cavalry, and Volunteer Corps.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £14,202, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1872, for Tonnage Bounties and Bounties on Slaves, and for Expenses of the Liberated African Department.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

(18.) £603,000, Army Purchase Commission.


asked, in connection with this Vote, if the Secretary of State for War could state the names of the Purchase Commissioners?


replied that he could not, as the names were not yet filled up in the Bill.

(19.) £14,202, to complete the sum for Tonnage Bounties.

(20.) £7,345, Emigration Board.

(21.) £257,972, Superannuations and Retired Allowances.

(22.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £46,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1872, of the Superintendence of Convict Establishments and of the Maintenance of Convicts in Convict Establishments in England and the Colonies.

Whereupon Motion made, and Question put, "That the Item of £31,000 (Purchase of Land), be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Sir James Lawrence.)

The Committee divided: — Ayes 9; Noes 43: Majority 34.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

(23.) £18,703, National Education, Ireland.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.

House adjourned at Four o'clock in the morning.