§ (1.) £18,792, to complete the sum for the Colonial Office.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
wished to ask one or two questions of the noble Lord the Financial Secretary to the Treasury before the Vote was put. Upon page 91 of the Estimates, there was an item of £308 for the salary of the Superintendent of the Library. A good many years ago Mr. Woods, who had been employed in Ireland during the Famine years of 1845, 1846 and 1847, and, having done good service in connection with the relief works there, was offered by the Colonial Office, at the instance of the Treasury, the post of Assistant Librarian to the Colonial Office. Mr. Woods, who was in charge of the relief branch of the Boards of Works in Ireland during the period of famine, received a handsome testimonial when he left. He had conducted the drainage and other operations, not only with satisfaction to his official superiors, but to the numerous country gentlemen and others with whom he was brought into communication. By his exertions he greatly contributed to the success of the relief measures; and, in consideration of the services which he rendered, the Treasury desirous of doing what they could for Mr. Woods, offered him the post of Assistant Librarian in the Colonial Office. Upon offering it to him, the Treasury wrote a letter to Mr. Woods, which concluded in these words—Your probable, though not the only possible, advancement will be to the post of Librarian, with a salary of £600, rising to £800 a-year. Such is the position we have to offer you.Some years afterwards, Sir Charles Trevelyan, the Secretary to the Trea- 74 sury, declared that this gentleman had been selected out of regard to his merits and qualifications with the intention that he should obtain better and earlier promotion in consequence of the transfer. Later on, in the year 1870, the Earl of Kimberley, in regard to this particular appointment, used these words—Mr. Woods was always told that the superior office of Librarian, rising from £600 to £800 a-year, would still remain open to him.The Librarian, in course of time, retired, and, instead of Mr. Woods being appointed to succeed, the office was abolished, together with that of Assistant Librarian, held by Mr. Woods, and Mr. Woods received a much less pension than he ought to have been entitled to. Mr. Woods, when he accepted the offer of the Treasury, and went to the Colonial Office as Assistant Librarian, did not obtain any immediate advantage; but it was the prospect of promotion, pointedly and repeatedly held out to him, that induced him to relinquish his post at the Treasury and go to the Colonial Office. At that time there was a Librarian at the Colonial Office as well as an Assistant, and the salary of the Librarian went up to £800 a-year. When the Librarian retired, Mr. Woods found that the Treasury would not keep faith with him; and he found that instead of being appointed to succeed, as he had been distinctly promised, the office was nominally abolished. Mr. Woods had been told over and over again that he might look for the promotion which was admittedly his due. To show that Mr. Woods was not alone in his view of the matter, the words of Lord Carnarvon might be quoted. In 1874 Lord Carnarvon was Secretary of State for the Colonies, and in a letter to the Treasury the noble Lord said that the decision of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, in the case of Mr. Woods, placed that gentleman in a different position from that which he had been led to expect, both in regard to employment and salary. Lord Carnarvon further requested the particular attention of their Lordships to the distinct expectation of promotion held out to Mr. Woods when he relinquished a good position at the Treasury in order to enter the Colonial Office as sub-Librarian. Mr. Woods was over and over again led to expect that whenever the post of Librarian became vacant he would suc- 75 ceed to it. The end of the matter was that the case of Mr. Woods, at the suggestion of that gentleman, was submitted to arbitration. But the arbitration was of a purely illusory character, because when he was prepared to go to arbitration, and submit his case to Earl Cairns, the arbitrator chosen, the Treasury did not allow him to make the statement he desired to make, and it was they only who submitted a case for the adjudication of the arbitrator. Mr. Woods naturally objected to such a one-sided submission, and desired to withdraw from the arbitration; but the Treasury obtained a decision from Earl Cairns. The reference to arbitration did not, he (Mr. O'Connor) was informed, admit of the examination of witnesses in support of Mr. Woods' case. The consequence was that this gentleman, after having faithfully served the public for a great many years, and having, even according to the testimony of the Treasury itself, served it well, found himself debarred from obtaining the post of Librarian at the Colonial Office, which he had naturally thought, from the statements made to him, was his right. Instead of obtaining the advantage he had been taught to expect, he found himself pensioned on a much smaller scale of salary than he had a fair claim to be allowed to go up to; and, at the present moment, the position of Mr. Woods was this—he had lost, in the shape of salary, more than £1,000, and about £120 a-year in pension. He (Mr. O'Connor) wished to add that he had no personal knowledge of Mr. Woods. He had never seen him; but having given to the case all the examination and attention he could, from the materials supplied to him, he was bound to confess that, in his opinion, a very great hardship had been arbitrarily inflicted upon Mr. Woods, and that the Treasury ought to reconsider their position in the matter, if not with regard to the status of Mr. Woods, at any rate with regard to the amount of pension. He (Mr. O'Connor) did not propose to move the reduction of the Vote; but he would ask the Treasury whether they would consent to the printing of the Papers relating to Mr. Woods' case. If the Government side of the matter was such as would bear investigation, he did not see why they should object to the printing of the Papers. He wished further to point out that the abolition of the 76 post of Librarian was, after all, not a genuine abolition; because, in the present Estimates, he found the post revived under the title of "Superintendent of the Library." He did not remember that the item appeared in last year's Estimates; but it was given now, and a sum of £308 attached to it. He trusted that he had stated the case sufficiently to allow the noble Lord the Secretary to the Treasury to answer it.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, he happened to be in the Colonial Office at the time Mr. Woods was appointed. Some Papers had been missed from the Colonial Office, and they had appeared in one of the morning papers. They were documents of great importance, and in consequence of what had occurred, it was considered desirable to remove the Assistant Librarian from his post, but not to dismiss him. Mr. Woods succeeded as Assistant Librarian, having been transferred to the Colonial Office from the Treasury. Certainly, one of the inducements held out to Mr. Woods to make the change was that he would be entitled to promotion to the office of Librarian whenever it became vacant. He, therefore, trusted that the noble Lord opposite (Lord Frederick Cavendish) would look into the case, and endeavour, if possible, to do Mr. Woods justice.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
I was not aware that the case was coming on to-night, or otherwise I would have refreshed my memory. But I think I can say enough to satisfy the Committee that the claims of Mr. Woods is not one that the Government can. entertain. I would venture to say that Mr. Woods has been treated with every consideration, and that he has been granted as large a pension as his services, under the circumstances, entitle him to. His claim to succeed to the post of Librarian could not be entertained, because, if acceded to, it would establish the doctrine that the office was one which Her Majesty's Government were bound to retain permanently. Mr. Woods, no doubt, considered that he had a grievance, and he commenced legal proceedings; but, at the last moment, he came to the conclusion that it was desirable to abandon the legal proceedings. At the request of Mr. Woods the whole case was referred to Lord Cairns—not only as to his legal rights, 77 but as to any equitable right he might have to compensation. The case was put fully before Lord Cairns, who decided that Mr. Woods' claim could not be recognized; and, under these circumstances, I do not think that the case ought to be re-opened.
§ SIR HENRY HOLLAND
said, that he was in the Colonial Office when Mr. Woods was serving in the Office. He was transferred from the Treasury to the post of Assistant Librarian, and, no doubt, he expected to have been made in time Librarian; but he never could have had any absolute claim to such advancement. Indeed, it would be impossible for the Treasury to answer for the organization of any office for all time to come. The hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), who brought the subject forward, said the abolition of the office of Librarian at the Colonial Office had not been altogether bonâ fide. Now, the fact of the matter was this—the whole Office was re-organized, and, with a view to prevent any increase of expenditure, several posts were abolished, among which was that of Librarian. Anything more bonâ fide it was impossible to conceive. It was found quite unnecessary to have a Librarian and an Assistant Librarian, and the present Superintendent of the Library was appointed at £300 a-year, rising to £500. He was sorry that Mr. Woods had not been allowed to go before the arbitrator. He did not think that that gentleman would have been able to prove his case; but it would have been more consistent with the principles of justice that he should have been allowed to appear before Lord Cairns, and state the nature of his grievance personally. If Mr. Woods had had that opportunity afforded to him of fully explaining his case to an impartial arbitrator, they would probably have heard no more of the matter.
§ MR. BIGGAR
remarked, that from all he could gather in reference to the case, Mr. Woods seemed to have been very badly treated. His hon. Friend the Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had already read a few words from a speech of Lord Carnarvon, when Colonial Secretary, when the case was brought before the House of Lords by Lord O'Hagan. Lord Carnarvon dealt with the case upon its merits, and justice and the noble Lord said that in 1859 78 Mr. Woods, who had been at the Treasury for some years, was transferred to the post of Assistant Librarian at the Colonial Office with the distinct expectation that he would succeed in due course to the office of Librarian. Lord Carnarvon added that he had acquiesced, although reluctantly, in the decision at which the Treasury had arrived in reference to the claims of Mr. Woods; but he thought that that gentleman had taken an inadvisable course in taking legal proceedings against the Government. The fact was that Mr. Woods submitted his claim to the Treasury, and finding that he could get no redress, he published the correspondence. It was always considered that a public officer, however harsh the decision against him might be, should submit without placing his grievances before the general public by publishing the correspondence. It appeared that in this case the Government consented to an arbitration; but the arbitration was of a thoroughly illusory character, because the person most interested in the matter did not obtain leave to state his case before the arbitrator. He (Mr. Biggar) had never in his life heard of a more absurd arbitration. Only one party was allowed to appear and be heard before it. If the Treasury really wished that justice should be done, they should have allowed Mr. Woods to appear before Lord Cairns and state his case; and if the decision of Lord Cairns, after having fully heard the case, had then been against him, no doubt Mr. Woods would have been satisfied. It was not possible that he would be satisfied, or would believe that he had not been unjustly treated, when he found that the Government refused to submit anything to the arbitrator beyond their own version of the case. It certainly seemed to him, if the case had been properly represented, that Mr. Woods' application for a fresh hearing should be acceded to, and that the case should be re-opened by a fair and impartial tribunal, before which both parties could be heard.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
very much regretted to hear the statement which had been made by the noble Lord the Secretary to the Treasury. The hon. Baronet the Member for Midhurst (Sir Henry Holland) objected to the statement he (Mr. O'Connor) had made that 79 the abolition of the office of Librarian at the Colonial Office had not been bonâ fide. He had not made the observation with any desire to be offensive, and, as exception was taken to it, he regretted that he had made use of it. All he now asked for was that the Government would consent to print the further Papers which four years ago were ordered by the House of Lords to be printed. The House of Lords consented to print them in the year 1877; but when he applied to the House of Lords for a copy of the Papers he was informed that the entry in the Votes was a Parliamentary fiction, and that, in point of fact, the Papers never had been presented. He believed they had been printed for the official purposes of the Colonial Office, so that it would not be difficult to furnish copies of them if the Government would consent to their being printed. He merely asked now that the Treasury should consent to the production of the Papers, and he had no intention of objecting to the Vote. With regard to what the noble Lord the Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Frederick Cavendish) had said as to the unreasonableness of the expectation that any particular post should be retained for the benefit of a particular individual, a careful perusal of the Estimates for the present year would show that, in many cases, existing offices were kept open for certain officers. Here and there a note would be found appended to a Vote stating that "this post will be abolished on the retirement of the present officer," or words to that effect. All he would say in regard to the abolition of the office of Librarian at the Colonial Office was, that however unnecessary the post was a year ago, or 10 years ago, it was equally unnecessary when Mr. Woods was first appointed. If the Government thought at that time that in consideration of the past services of Mr. Woods he should have a claim to the office of Librarian, when it became vacant, they would be equally justified, when the post became vacant, in fulfilling their promise, and allowing Mr. Woods to hold the office until he had attained the maximum amount of pay he was led to believe he would ultimately reach. As a matter of fact, by the course pursued by the Treasury, Mr. Woods had been deprived of salary to the extent of £ 1,000; and the pension upon which he had been retired, having regard to the rate of pay 80 he ought to have received, was about £120 a-year lower than that which he would have received if he had been allowed to go up to the maximum amount of salary he was induced to believe he would reach. He would again press the Government to print and distribute the Papers relating to the case.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
I am sorry that I cannot accede to the request of the hon. Member. The case has already been fully investigated. Mr. Woods took legal proceedings in order to assert his rights; and he was subsequently, as a matter of favour, allowed to go before an arbitrator. The case has, therefore, been fully gone into, and I do not think it necessary, or desirable, to re-open it.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £16,077, to complete the sum for the Privy Council Office.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £1,355, 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 1882, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Lord Privy Seal.
§ MR. DILLWYN
objected to the Vote, because he believed that the Office of Lord Privy Seal was a sinecure. He had objected to the Vote in other years, and had divided the Committee against it; but he should not take a division this year, because he did not wish to put the Committee to the trouble of a division. He had often entered his protest against the Vote; and, if he took a division, it would only be entering another protest, and wasting the time of the Committee, without obtaining any practical result. He was, however, influenced on this occasion in not taking a division by this consideration—that the Minister who now held the Office had been appointed because he was thoroughly conversant with Irish affairs, and everybody knew there was a great pressure upon the Irish Office at the present moment. Lord Carlingford, the present Lord Privy Seal, was eminently fitted to assist the Irish Office in the legislation now proposed for Ireland; and, under these circumstances, he (Mr. Dillwyn) would content himself with entering a protest against the Vote, 81 without putting the Committee to the trouble of a division.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
wished to have an explanation upon a much smaller matter. He saw that the following note was appended to the Vote:—The Assistant Clerk also draws a pension of £79 6s. 8d. per annum from the Superanuation Vote, as late second class clerk in the Office of Works. His salary has been raised from £105 to £150 per annum.He thought it was wrong that this sort of thing should be allowed. If they had a gentleman who, on account of his age, had been superannuated in another Department, he did not see why he should be employed in the Office of Lord Privy Seal, nor could he imagine why it should have been found necessary to raise the salary of such an officer. He certainly thought the matter required a little explanation.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
The gentleman referred to in the question of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) was removed from the Office of Works, where he received a higher salary than that which he receives in the Privy Seal Office, and it was felt right that he should receive compensation for the loss. He has accordingly been awarded the sum stated in the Vote. The transaction was completed shortly before the present Government came into Office.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
regretted that the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) should be prepared, now that the Liberals were in Office, to take a very different course from that which he took in the year 1879, when the Liberals were out of Office. As he (Mr. O'Connor) was not influenced by any such considerations, he was indisposed to allow the Vote to pass without challenging it. The arguments which the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) two years ago brought to bear against the retention of the Office of Lord Privy Seal had remained unanswered up to the present day. The noble Lord, on that occasion, pointed out that the continuance of this Office, instead of assisting the Public Business, really obstructed it. That was to say, that it acted as an unnecessary check upon the transaction of useful Public Business. No doubt, it might be desirable occasionally to have a Member of the Ministry whose time would not 82 be wholly occupied with Departmental work; but, in this particular instance, that idea was altogether illusory, the fact being that the majority of noble Lords who had held the Office of Lord Privy Seal had not been remarkable for the assistance they had contributed to the work of the Government. It had been abundantly proved that a considerable amount of positive delay in the transaction of Public Business was occasioned in consequence of the necessity of having certain documents stamped in the Privy Seal Office before being passed by the Great Seal. At the time of the last discussion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Office was a very ancient one, and that it had been handed down through a great number of Cabinets. That, however, was about the only argument the right hon. Gentleman advanced. The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) said he was bound to admit that the Office was a sinecure, and that it ought to be abolished. The hon. Baronet, in the division which followed, accordingly voted in favour of its abolition; and he (Mr. O'Connor) hoped that on this occasion, if the hon. Baronet was in the House, he would vote for its abolition now. He was glad to see that the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) was in his place, because he also voted in 1879 for the abolition of the Office, on the ground that it was a sinecure. And not only did the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department take that course, but he was supported by another hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, the Attorney General (Sir Henry James), who also voted for the abolition of the Office. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. O'Connor) thought he was justified in the determination he had come to of taking a division upon the Vote. He desired, however, to offer a slight hint as to the division, because he thought it would be unjust to nominate as a Teller in support of the Vote the noble Lord the Member for Haverford west (Lord Kensington), who acted as one of the Treasury Whips, that noble Lord having voted in favour of the abolition of the Office, as a sinecure, on the previous occasion. He thought the noble Lord could hardly "tell" for the Government now in support of the Vote, seeing that he had voted for getting rid of the Office, 83 as a sinecure, only two years ago. Moreover, he (Mr. O'Connor) believed that the majority of hon. Members who eat below the Gangway on the opposite side of the House not only spoke, but voted in favour of abolishing the Office of Lord Privy Seal. He would not detain the Committee longer; but he would certainly not only object to the Vote, but take a division against it.
§ MR. DILLWYN
wished to make one observation upon the remarks of the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. O'Connor). The hon. Member asserted that he (Mr. Dillwyn), when the Conservatives were in Office, always divided the Committee against this Vote, but that he took a different course now that the Liberals were in power. He could assure the hon. Member that he had divided against the Vote time after time when the Liberals were in power, as well as when the Conservatives were in Office, and he should do so in future, whenever a division was taken. He thought he had explained the reason why he did not take the initiative on the present occasion.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 144; Noes 44: Majority 100.—(Div. List, No. 342.)
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
rose to Order. He had been informed that two hon. Members who entered the Lobby had not been counted.
§ (4.) £101,933, to complete the sum for the Board of Trade.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, he had a question to ask the Government with respect to the Vote. He wished to know what arrangements had been made for filling up the very important office of Chief of the Statistical Department?
§ MR. EVELYN ASHLEY
said, that, as he understood, the arrangements were incomplete; and he was, therefore, unable to answer the question of the hon. Member.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
thought the hon. Member (Mr. E. Stanhope) was clearly entitled to an answer.
§ MR. A. MOORE
said, he had given Notice of an Amendment, which he trusted it would not be necessary to move. 84 There had been a prolonged debate at an earlier of the Session on the subject of the importation of oleomargarine and other butterine substances; and the question had been brought forward in consequence of the figures of the Board of Trade showing an enormous increase in these importations. It was not his intention to detain the Committee at that hour in discussing a matter which had already been fully gone into on a previous occasion; but he would mention that when he drew the attention of the Board of Trade officials to the fact that these products were coming into the country in great quantities, and that no cognizance was taken of them in the Statistical Department, he had not received from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade a very satisfactory answer. Perhaps, therefore, in the course of the debate upon this Vote, the right hon. Gentleman would be able to reply more completely. The fact was that there was an enormous quantity of the substances in question coming into the country—some in the form of oil, and some in the form of butter, while there was no record of the entries, except under terms that were quite delusive. They were, in fact, entered either as butter or lard. What he desired—and what he believed hon. Members would regard as a matter of very great importance—was that the Department should furnish the fullest information possible with respect to these imports, which were, after importation, sold as butter; and, therefore, he trusted the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade would be able to furnish, upon this subject, a satisfactory explanation, which would preclude the necessity of his moving the Amendment to which he had referred.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade could furnish full information, as to what had been done with respect to Mr. Giffen? He was informed that that gentleman was still partially engaged at the Board of Trade. When he (Viscount Sandon) left the Office, he had made a proposal to the Treasury that Mr. Giffen's position should be very considerably improved. He had felt the advantage of that gentleman's talents to the public, and, therefore, desired they should be 85 retained in the Public Service; and, considering the increase of his duties, and the heavy responsibilities that attached to him, he had proposed to place him in the position of Assistant Secretary. The change of Government then took place, and his right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer felt it would not be right to commit the country to that large change at a time when he was leaving Office. A Minute had been made to that effect. He had no doubt the President of the Board of Trade would be in a position to state to the Committee good reasons for not ac ceding to the proposal with regard to Mr. Giffen. He hoped also that some information might be given, if possible, about the changes which were to be made as to a Department of Agriculture and Commerce. He knew the subject was full of difficulties; but he should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could state what was the scheme of the Government with regard to it. He could not but impress upon the Committee the great importance and use of the Statistical Department.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, with regard to the last question of the noble Viscount (Viscount Sandon), the Prime Minister had some time ago stated that it was then impossible, on account of the pressure of public affairs, either for himself or his Colleagues to give that consideration to the subject which it required; but he proposed to consider it during the Recess, and to take action with regard to it on a future occasion. With regard to Mr. Giffen's position at the Board of Trade, he rather regretted the remarks of the noble Viscount, be cause he had referred to matters which, he considered, were of a confidential character, and quite apart from the subject of the Vote. He believed the noble Viscount would see that there was some inconvenience in referring to the matter, because there arose at once a conflict of testimony on the subject. He was compelled to say that he differed from the view of the case which had been taken by the noble Viscount, and would add that his view was not that taken by Mr. Giffen himself. Mr. Giffen's impression with regard to the matter was, that he had received a distinct promise from the noble Viscount that his position at the Board of Trade should be improved; and he seemed very 86 much aggrieved by the fact that the noble Viscount had left Office without carrying out the pledge which he considered had been given. When Mr. Giffen made that statement, he (Mr. Chamberlain) considered it his duty to ask the noble Viscount privately whether he had given such a pledge; and the noble Viscount stated that he had not done so, or, at all events, that he did not recollect it. He, therefore, considered it impossible to pursue the matter any further. Mr. Giffen had only expressed his view of the affair, and the noble Viscount was, of course, entitled to state his recollection with regard to it. All that he (Mr. Chamberlain) knew officially with reference to the matter was that undoubtedly an application had been made by Mr. Giffen to the noble Viscount, who referred it to the Treasury, and that it was refused by that Department under the late Government. The present Government, therefore, had simply to consider whether they should do something which their Predecessors in Office had distinctly refused to do. They had not finally decided that they would not do what was asked of them. The matter was still under consideration, because he felt, especially after the experience which he had had of Mr. Giffen's value, that it was of importance to the Public Service that his services should be, if possible, retained. He was in communication with the Treasury upon this subject when Mr. Giffen had, as he believed, some offer made to him which he said would greatly improve his position, and which he felt himself justified in accepting; and, accordingly, he asked him (Mr. Chamber lain) to accept his resignation. When a Question was asked in the House by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Stuart Wortley), he stated, in reply, that Mr. Giffen had resigned his position in the Service in order to better his prospects. Subsequently to that changes were contemplated in the Office, which would throw additional work on the Statistical Department, and he had then made another attempt to retain. Mr. Giffen's services, and had so far succeeded that Mr. Giffen had, at all events, temporarily withdrawn his resignation, and his final position with. respect to the Department would not be determined until the question of a Minis try of Commerce and Agriculture was decided.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, as the right hon. Gentleman was about to enter upon another subject, and as reference had been made to the Treasury in connection with this matter, he wished to express his opinion that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong in saying that the application with regard to Mr. Giffen was distinctly refused by the late Government. The matter came before him at the close of the late Administration, and the directions he had given were simply founded on the desire to leave the question open for their Successors. He had not expressed, on the merits of the case, any opinion against the promotion of Mr. Giffen.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
wished to make an explanation in reference to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. As the right hon. Gentleman had said, he had spoken with him (Viscount Sandon) on the subject; and he had told him that he, as his Successor in Office, was perfectly free to take whatever course that was best with respect to it. All that happened with regard to the Treasury was that his right hon. Friend the late Chancellor of the Exchequer had said he did not like to bind his Successors by a change which would involve consider able re-organization in the Department. It seemed to him that the two ac counts of the transaction tallied perfectly well.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, he was sorry in any degree to differ from the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Sandon); but he could not admit that the two accounts actually tallied. He was afraid that the resignation of Mr. Giffen was largely due to his disappointment, owing to a promise which was not fulfilled. He would not enter into any discussion of the statement of the noble Viscount that he had not given any such promise. It was there that the difficulty arose. The noble Viscount had brought the matter before the Treasury in the time of the late Government; but he (Mr. Chamberlain) must remind the noble Viscount that Mr. Giffen's case was brought before him 12months before the late Government went out of Office. There was, consequently, plenty of time at the disposal of the Department; and he could not understand why the matter had been left open to be dealt with by the present Government.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
said, he had done everything in his power to carry out the proposal with regard to Mr. Giffen; but it must be remembered that the Board of Trade could not influence the Treasury in matters of expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chamberlain) had, no doubt, by that time discovered that in such matters he had rather hard masters in the Treasury.
§ MR. OTWAY
said, he did not wish to interfere in the controversy between the President of the Board of Trade and the noble Viscount the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon); but it appeared to him that Mr. Giffen had, at any rate, resigned under the management of the noble Viscount, and with drawn his resignation under that of the right hon. Gentleman. It was an un fortunate thing that the country should lose the services of an official when they became most valuable; and he would be glad to know whether it was in consequence of a refusal to make a reason able advance on the salary enjoyed by Mr. Giffen that he offered to resign and deprive the country of his services. The country would lose the services of a very able and valuable man through what he could not help calling the penurious conduct of the Treasury in not giving proper salaries to their servants. What had they done within the last 10 minutes? He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade took part in the division which had taken place in reference to the Office of Lord Privy Seal; but here they had been granting money for an Office which had been declared by a responsible Minister, when out of Office, to be a sinecure, although, now that he was in Office, that responsible Minister voted for it—they had been voting money for a sinecure Office, and now they were going to lose the services of such a man as Mr. Giffen, because they would not make the addition to his salary which his long service demanded. That might be a very good sport to the Committee; but, out-of-doors, it was looked on as a very serious matter. He considered it most inconsistent to vote a sum of money for an Office that was declared to be a sinecure; and, at the same time, to refuse to treat public servants of value with that consideration which their services deserved.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, they were all delighted to hear from the President of the Board of Trade that he had good hopes of being able to retain the services of such a valuable man as Mr. Giffen; but it should be remembered that this gentleman's resignation did not take place under the régime of his noble Friend (Viscount Sandon), but under that of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain). The noble Viscount had explained that during the time he had held Office he had done his best to induce the Treasury to make an addition to Mr. Giffen's salary, but without success. It was no secret to the Committee that Ministers often made attempts of that kind, which did not succeed. The noble Viscount, however, had done his best; and then the right hon. Gentleman had come into Office and had made similar efforts. The right hon. Gentleman had as much influence with the Treasury as the noble Viscount; and yet he did not seem to have been any more successful; there fore, it could not be said that the resignation was due more to the action of the noble Viscount than to that of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. J. G. Talbot) was not going into the vexed question between different Members of the Liberal Party, whether, in Office, they should continue to vote as they had done out of Office. The matter was one of good taste, and for their own consciences. Mr. Giffen was, undoubtedly, a most valuable public servant; and if his services could be retained, they ought to be, even at the expenditure of a little money by the Treasury.
§ LORD FREDERICK CAVENDISH
said, that the case of the Lord Privy Seal and that of Mr. Giffen stood upon a totally different footing, and should be decided each on its own merits. The Committee should avoid the danger of infusing too much personal matter into the discussion. When an increase of salary was given to a gentleman in Mr. Giffen's position, they must expect to see a large demand made for similar development in the case of the other officials of the Department, and the Under Secretaries at the Board of Trade were numerous. It was only a very few years since Mr. Giffen was appointed at a salary higher than that which had been received by his predecessor. An hon. Member had asked what arrange- 90 ment had been come to, and that question had already been answered. All the questions which had been raised would be most carefully considered by the Cabinet during the Recess. It was probable that great changes would have to be made; and if, in the process of making them, it was found that the position of Mr. Giffen could be improved, he was sure that it would be done. He should be very glad if some arrangement could be made by which the services of Mr. Giffen could be retained.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
wished to know what were the duties of the Translator to the Board of Trade? From a document published by the Chambers of Commerce, it appeared that the translation of the French Treaty was withheld in consequence of the expense to which it would put the country. Well, seeing that they had a Translator at a salary of £400 a-year, he thought the cost of the translation need not have been very great if the Translator had done his duty. What were the duties of the Translators, if they were not to translate documents in the interest of the Board of Trade?
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
The duty of the Translator to the Board of Trade is to translate all such foreign documents as are required. I can assure the hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) that the Translator is fully employed. As to the question of butterine, referred to by the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. A. Moore), the Board of Trade have no control over the classification the Customs adopt of the imported articles referred to. The moment I saw the nature of the Motion of my hon. Friend, I communicated with the Customs on the subject; and I have received a reply from them which, I am afraid, will not be satisfactory to the hon. Member, but which I am bound to put before the Committee. Oleomargarine, they say, is an oil, and when imported in large quantities in that form is classed under the head of animal oil, and not butterine. When, however, it comes over in the more finished form of butterine, which is either animal fat alone or animal fat mixed with a smaller or greater pro portion of pure butter, then it is classified as butter, and the Customs say they do not think it would be practicable or expedient to alter the classification. In the first place, they say it would be ex- 91 tremely difficult to distinguish between pure butter—real butter—and the artificial compound. I do not think they say the analysis would be impossible, but that it would be expensive and difficult. Then they say that all the butter, and butterine products, are perishable, and that if they are detained for any length of time for purposes of analysis they may be rendered valueless. And, lastly, they say that as there is nothing either in appearance, taste, or smell to distinguish butter from butterine, if a test were adopted every consignment of the article called butter which came through the Customs would have to be tested, which would entail enormous labour and expense. I have said this will not be satisfactory to the hon. Member, and I must confess it is not satisfactory to myself. I cannot but believe that we might be able to hit upon some means of distinguishing, with out incurring the difficulty and expense which the Customs suggest. I hope the time will come when the Board of Trade, which has to do with commercial matters in this House, and, above all, with statistical matters concerning the commerce of the country, will have control over the statistics of the country. In the mean time, what I propose to do is to communicate again with the Customs, and suggest that they should appoint some one to meet some representative of the Board of Trade, in order to revise this classification, and see if some bettor plan could not be adopted.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
said, that as to the difficulty suggested in the matter of analysis, he believed it to be simply with out foundation. It was one of the easiest things in the world to distinguish between spurious butters and real butters. The simple test of the application of heat would at once show which was the real and which was the spurious article. The answer which had been given to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade from the Customs was one of the ordinary red-tape replies, suggesting considerable difficulty and declaring the impossibility of any change. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not remain satisfied with the first rebuff he received from another Department. The question was one of great importance, as it affected the health of the whole community. It was impossible to exaggerate the importance of it. 92 Butter came into consumption in every family in the Kingdom; and they had reason to know that, though oleomargarine might not be bad or deleterious in itself, it was mixed with spurious and injurious matter, which could easily spread broadcast all kinds of fearful diseases. Parliament should not remain content unless this matter were taken up and treated as a matter of great importance.
§ MR. A. MOORE
said, he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade for the kind answer he had given. It was clear that, whatever difficulty existed, it was not of the making of the Board of Trade, but of a Department which was not altogether amenable to that House. If large quantities of this oleomargarine were coming into the country in iron casks, there could be no excuse for the Customs not making a distinction between that and other oils. He saw the difficulty of dealing with a beautifully made-up butter, because, in opening and testing it, it might perish; but he would make this remark—that, owing to the Dutch law—and it was from Holland that the best qualities came—every pound wa3 sold under its own name, although next day, perhaps, it was sold in London under another name. He did not consider the answer the hon. Member had received was satisfactory, although he did not blame the right hon. Gentleman.
§ VISCOUNT SANDON
asked whether he would be in Order, at this point, in referring to British seamen at Pernambuco?
§ MR. BIGGAR
thought the answer given by the President of the Board of Trade to the hon. Member opposite (Mr. A. Moore) was very unsatisfactory. There was a large quantity of stuff imported into London from various places under the name of "butter." Some of it came from France, and a large quantity was imported from Holland in casks and fancy packages. It would not keep more than a day or two, and unless it was used at once it became thoroughly rancid and unsaleable. The Customs would not examine the stuff for the protection of the public, lest some of it should get spoilt. There were three kinds of this material; one was a kind of butter, another was a mixture of butter and 93 animal fat, and the third was animal fat by itself. What could be more easy than for the authorities to say that in the bill of lading it should be specified whether the article imported was or was not animal fat, a mixture of butter and animal fat, or butter alone? The cask in which the stuff came should be branded, so as to show what it contained; and in that case they would not have tallow sold for butter, as was often the case at the present time. This matter was most important for two reasons—first of all, because it was dishonest and unfair to the consumer to make him pay the price of butter when the article he was supplied with was really not butter at all. In the next place, it was unfair to agriculturists who had to compete in the market with pure butter. The agriculturist would get a much higher price in the market for his genuine manufactured article had he not to compete with a spurious imitation. The Committee should insist far more strongly than it had done on the Government protecting the consumers and producers of butter in the United Kingdom. The greatest facilities were offered to the manufacturers of this artificial and adulterated stuff; and the agriculturists were allowed to suffer a reduced price of the real article, as well as restrictions placed on the importation of cattle. The Government, he thought, ought to do two things. First, they should throw all the obstacles they could in the way of the importation of this counterfeit butter; and, in the next place, they should exert themselves to see that the poor of London were not imposed upon, and that the stuff, if sold at all, should be sold under its proper name. The Committee knew very well that during three or four months of the year nine-tenths of what was sold in London as butter was not butter at all. It was almost impossible, in point of fact, for good and pure butter to be obtained re tail in London in the spring and winter months; and the Government were not doing their duty in trying to screen a lot of people who were of the vilest description, and who did enormous injury by their conduct.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
urged the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade not to be deterred from a consideration of this subject by the arguments that protection should 94 be given to the consumers in this country. He was quite aware that Protection had an ugly sound in the ears of the right hon. Gentleman opposite; but he trusted that the day was not far distant when it would have a far more ugly sound. The principal reason urged by the President of the Board of Trade for not going further into the matter at present was the difficulty of detecting the difference between the spurious and the real article; but he (Sir Herbert Maxwell) believed researches had been made into the matter, and he was told by men of science that the two substances were chemically identical, or nearly so, but that it was quite possible for experts to detect the difference. He was told that when in a state of liquefaction by heat the real article went into a state which was quite unattainable by the spurious article, and that if it was placed on a hot plate, and subjected to a certain degree of heat, an amount of granulation was produced which could not be got rid of, and which was apparent to the eye of the expert. He thought the excuse of the right hon. Gentleman was unworthy of the great Department he represented. He sheltered himself behind the technical difficulty of ascertaining the difference between the two articles. That was not worthy of him or his Department. Difficulties were meant to be over come; and if the right hon. Gentleman was fully alive to the necessity of over coming this difficulty that would be done.
§ VISCOUNT FOLKESTONE
said, it had been asserted by the answer which the right hon. Gentleman had read from the Customs Department that it was difficult to distinguish between butter and butterine; but he (Viscount Folkestone) wished to point out that even if there was that great difficulty, that very difficulty was in favour of the Motion of which Notice had been given, because if the detection of the difference was difficult to experts who had some know ledge of the matter, it would be far more difficult for consumers, who simply went into the market to buy butter, to distinguish between butter and butterine, and they would be all the more open to fraud from those who passed off the adulterated article. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would quickly do what he had said he would do—namely, devise some plan by which it would be possible for Custom House 95 officers to distinguish between the two articles, so that the consuming public might know what they were getting.
§ MR. DUCKHAM
thought the farmers of England had a right to ask for some measure for placing the spurious article in its proper name before the public. The analytical chemist was employed to detect the adulteration in milk, coffee, and other articles of consumption, and surely he could detect the spurious article which was sold in the name of butter. He had seen advertisements in different papers of butter which was called "Prime American" at 6d. or 8d. per lb., when he had seen that in America butter was quoted at 1s. 6d. and 1s. 8d. per lb. It must be obvious that this was an imposition on consumers in this country; and he thought that whatever the article was, it should be called by its proper name, and not be brought into competition with our own article under a false name.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman is wandering far away from the question. The only question is as to the statistics prepared under the authority of the Board of Trade; and, in reference to that, I have given a reply which I am glad to find is satisfactory—namely, that I will, at the earliest possible moment, endeavour, with the Custom House officers, to devise means by which the classification may be altered and the importation of these things kept separate in the Return. Then, my hon. Friend (Mr. Duckham) raises a totally different question—namely, the desirability of taking care that the retailer shall sell these things under their right name. Everything that legislation can do to secure that has been done already. My hon. Friend points out that the chemist, the expert, and the analyst are employed now to analyze milk; but the same analyst may, under the same circumstances and under the same responsibility, analyze these articles; and there have, as a matter of fact, been a certain number of convictions of retailers for selling butterine as butter. If my hon. Friend has any reason to believe that butter is being sold under a false name in any case, all he has to do is to go to the county authority and the law will give him a remedy.
§ MR. BIGGAR
thought the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had evaded the real point of 96 the case. It was not contended that the law was not sufficiently strong to put down this system of selling adulterated articles, but that the Government had not put the law into operation. It was all very well to say that a few convictions had taken place; but, as a matter of fact, for months in London such a thing as pure butter was hardly to be obtained. It was very well for the Government to enforce laws when it suited their own purpose, and at other times, because it conflicted with something they called Free Trade not to do so. He did not pretend to be a Protectionist himself; but he would protect consumers from spurious goods.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
explained that the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) was entirely mistaken, for, whatever the intentions of the Government might be they had no power in the matter. The execution of the law was left to the local authorities, and not to the Government; it rested entirely with them, and not with the Central Department.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
thought the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had either mistaken the point he brought forward, or the point raised by the hon. Member below him (Mr. A. Moore). His own remarks were addressed, not to the local traffic—not to the sale by the re tailers—but to the importation of an article which was admittedly brought to this country for the purpose of adulteration. There was no known use for the substance known as oleomargarine, except that of being mixed with genuine butter, or else being turned into the article known as butterine. Those were the two sole uses for it. Oleomargarine was coming into this country in largely increasing quantities; and all he asked was that the Board of Trade should show how much of the stuff was introduced, and in what proportion it was increasing.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
would not venture on such a slippery ground as butter or oleomargarine; but he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade a question with regard to fees for professional orders. He saw that there was an amount of £1,400 a-year realized by those fees. The Chief Secretary for Ireland some time ago laid on the Table of the House a Return which showed 97 among other things that the Office of Public Works in Ireland, when it granted a Provisional Order, only charged the absolute expenses; but the Board of Trade, for Provisional Orders which affected Ireland, charged a fee of £35 each towards the expenses, when the draft order was deposited, and from that sum of £35 a fee of £10 10s. was paid by the Board of Trade to counsel for settling the Order, so that it would appear that the Board of Trade made a profit of £24 10s. on every Provisional Order passed affecting Ireland. He wished to ask whether it would not be possible for the Board of Trade to follow the same plan in regard to Orders affecting Ireland as that followed by the Office of Public Works in Ireland? Then, on page 102, the Committee would find a perfectly new matter introduced into this Vote, amounting to £3,100, which consisted of fees to Receivers of Wreck and the Coastguard, with travelling and incidental expenses under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854. 1854 was some time back, and there never had been such a charge as this on the Estimate for these Services. The expenses connected with the Receiver of Wreck's duties had always been defrayed from the proceeds of wrecks, and a Return furnished to the House pursuant to Act of Parliament in connection with the Mercantile Marine Fund showed that the proceeds of the sale of wreck within the year was £3,329; while the fees and commissions received by the Receiver of Wreck amounted to £3,273, making a total of £6,602, which went to the remuneration and contingent expenses of the Receiver of Wreck. He believed that last Session an Act was passed entitled "The Merchant Shipping Fees and Expenses Act," by which the application of the proceeds of wreck to the payment of the Receiver of Wreck was sanctioned; and, that being so, he could not see the necessity of throwing the expenses connected with these Services on this Vote. On the the first page, £3,100 were put down as among extra receipts. That was the same sum as was charged against the public on page 102, so that the public were not at any loss on ac count of this innovation; but, whatever might be put down as extra expenses on the first page of this Vote, the introduction at a later page to a charge of £3,100 saddled this Vote with a per- 98 manent charge of that amount, which could never be got rid of until the officers receiving the money were pensioned. Hitherto, the wreck had paid its own expenses, and the account had year by year diminished, and the fees might be expected to dwindle down to what was just enough to cover the expenses. He thought it was very bad policy to intro duce a sum like this as Exchequer Extra Receipts; and he hoped the Government might have some explanation respecting it beyond anything that he was able to suggest or conceive.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, the hon. Member (Mr. O'Connor) had asked two separate questions. The first was, why the charges in connection with Provisional Orders differed from those which were made in reference to Public Works in Ireland?
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would excuse him while he explained what the real point was. His statement was that, according to the Official Returns furnished by the Chief Secretary for Ire land, the Board of Trade paid a fee of £10 10s. to the counsel consulted in regard to the issue of a Provisional Order; but the Board previously levied a deposit of £35 from the promoters, so that they made a profit of £24 10s. out of every Provisional Order that was issued, whereas the Irish Board of Works charged nothing beyond the absolute expenses.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, he did not know how the hon. Gentleman (Mr. O'Connor) got his information that the Irish Board of Works did not charge anything beyond the actual expenses.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, the hon. Member assumed that because the Board of Trade paid £10 10s. as a fee to counsel, that was the whole cost to the Board. The hon. Member seemed to forget that the Board of Trade had all their office expenses to pay in addition to the fees to counsel. There was no legislation so cheap, so convenient, or that gave rise to so little dissatisfaction subsequently, as this system of legislation by Provisional Orders. The greatest care was taken to see that the Orders were drawn up so as to give as little trouble, and inflict as small an 99 amount of injustice as possible; and he did not believe that the charges made by the Board of Trade had ever been considered excessive by those in whose service the Provisional Orders were issued. In regard to the second point, the hon. Gentleman seemed to attach too much importance to what was, after all, a mere change in the mode of presenting the accounts. The object of the change was to give to the House of Commons more and more detailed information; and the plan had been adopted, for the first time that year, of showing in the Votes the exact amount of the fees charged. There was no fear that the fees would continue to be charged long after the work ceased, because they were apportioned to the work, and all the money received was paid into the Exchequer.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
, in regard to the first point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, wished to remind him that if the Board had office expenses in connection with Provisional Orders be yond the sums paid in the shape of fees to counsel, so also had the Department of Board of Works in Ireland. All he contended was, that if the Board of Works could furnish a Provisional Order, when petitioned for, at the absolute expense they had been put to in connection with it, the same course might be taken by the Board of Trade in similar cases. In regard to the second point, he wished to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that al though, unquestionably, they had now in the Board of Trade Vote, at page 102, a detailed account such as had never been supplied before, yet it was not a question of the sum of money absolutely paid as fees which had been introduced at all. The sum put down was a good round sum of £2,200 for the Receivers, and another sum of £800 for the Coastguard. He understood that that was not a varying sum, but a permanent charge. Personally, he thought that that was a very unsatisfactory, and even dangerous way of giving the information.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he was very much surprised that his hon. Friend the Member for Queen's County (Mr. O'Connor) had raised that debate. His hon. Friend had gone at considerable length into a matter of account, and had 100 attacked what had constantly been pressed upon the Government by Committee of Supply—namely, that in making payments they should set forth what the payments were for, and if they had receipts that they should give them a statement. He believed that that was the best course of checking the public expenditure. It was the course adopted in regard to many other accounts, and he hoped it would be universally adopted. Certainly, if the Government constituted a number of new offices, and suddenly saddled the public with a new charge, there would be ample justification for attacking them; but, in this case, the charges complained of were simply fees that were payable on a certain transaction being completed, and the Committee had before them not the fees actually payable in the course of the year, but an estimate of them given in a round sum. He should like to have some in formation from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade in reference to one of these items—namely, a salary of £1,000, advancing to £1,200, to one of the Assistant Secretaries, who also received £500 a-year for performing the work of auditor in connection with the Metropolis Water Act of 1871. He had no doubt that the duties performed were highly important, and he believed there was a charge made upon the Metropolitan Water Companies to provide the remuneration; but he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman how far the duties this gentleman had to perform under the Metropolitan Companies Water Act interfered with the duties he was called on to fulfil as the salaried officer of a Public Department? As the sum paid by the Metropolitan Water Companies was large, he presumed that the work rendered was substantial; and he should like to know whether the extra work was done during the time which ought to be devoted to the Public Service? He hoped to hear some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, the arrangement to which his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) referred was undoubtedly an anomalous one; but it was one which had been in existence for a good many years, and it had been brought before the Committee each year since it had been entered into. He could not go back to the time the appointment was 101 first made, or state the reasons for it, because he was not in the House at the time. He could only say, in regard to the way in which it worked now, that he believed a great deal of the work was done out of office hours, and in no way interfered with the work done for the Crown. Mr. Stoneham, who performed the two duties, was a very valuable officer, and fully worth the whole of the sum he received from the State for the work rendered to the Department.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
moved that the Chairman, report Progress. It was then half-past 1 o'clock in the morning, and it would be necessary for the House to meet again at 2 in the afternoon. He was sure that the Government would not, under the circumstances, desire to continue the Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Sir Walter B. Barttelot,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock,