(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £31,846, 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 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Officers of the House of Lords.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he hoped that, as they had now wasted a considerable amount of time, they were about to proceed to business. It seemed to him almost providential that on the day they resumed the consideration of the Civil Service Estimates the very first Vote should be that which the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair had just proposed to the Committee. There were a good many details in the Vote to which exception might be taken, as the salaries of the officers of the House of Lords were much larger than those of the corresponding officers in the House of Commons. For instance, the Black Rod received a salary of £2,000 a-year, whereas the Serjeant-at-Arms received only £1,200. The Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod received £1,000; the Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms only £800. The First Clerk in the House of Lords £2,500; the First Clerk in the House of Commons £2,000; the Second Clerk in the House of Lords £2,000; while the Second Clerk in the House of Commons only received £1,500. There was no reason why these discrepancies should exist. But he did not propose to attack the Vote upon these minor items, because he was going to ask the House to refuse the entire Vote. He had given Notice of his intention to move the reduction of the Vote to a sum which would have been sufficient for a librarian and a housekeeper; but he found already that £12,000 had been voted, and he thought the exigencies of the case would be better met by asking the House to refuse the remainder of the Vote. If a Vote were brought before the House for a picture gallery, containing pictures nobody cared to see, the Committee would absolutely refuse to pass it; but how much more reason was there to refuse a Vote for officers to fulfil functions which were considered pernicious to the whole country? He had no desire to speak with disrespect of the House of Lords. It was a co-ordinate branch of Parliament, and as long as it remained so it ought not to be spoken of with disrespect. It was composed of gentlemen who, individually, were perfectly honest and honourable men; 760 but he thought they were men who possessed very little wisdom, and who were exceedingly narrow-minded in their particular capacity. [Cries of "Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen said "Oh!" but that was a matter of opinion, and it was certainly the opinion of most of those who agreed with him. He did not complain of them for looking after their own interests like other gentlemen. They owned hereditary rank; they were in the House of Lords as Legislators by the mere accident of birth, and they were taken almost exclusively from one class of the community—namely, the great landed proprietors. That being the case, they only looked after their own interests—the interests of land; and not only did they look after their own interests, but, as their interests were bound up with things as they were, they wished things to remain precisely as they were. History showed that they had been opposed in every single instance to Liberal measures, and they must continue to be opposed to Liberal measures from the very nature of their existence. He was himself personally in favour of one Chamber; but it was not necessary that hon. Gentlemen should entertain that view in order to vote with him on this occasion. He understood quite well the argument in favour of having two Chambers. He could easily understand another House composed of hereditary members of the aristocracy. He did not himself think that it was desirable; but he could understand why other Gentlemen thought it was. If, for instance, all those gentlemen were what Burke represented that the Members of the House of Commons should be in his famous letter to the Duke of Bedford, he thought the theoretical objection to an hereditary House of Peers might be differently weighted by the practical advantage of having such excellent and good men as Legislators. But in this country we had Party government, and in the House of Lords there were Party men. That must be so as long as they had persons who belonged to one Party or the other. They must have ambitious Leaders in the House of Lords, who were naturally anxious to acquire power, when the occasion demanded, to rally to themselves the support of obscure Peers who had the instincts of Conservatism in them, and who were able to dominate the will 761 of the House of Commons unless that will went with them. It was all very well when a Conservative Ministry was in power. The machine worked admirably then, because both Houses were in unison; but when a Liberal Ministry was in power and responsible for the administration of the country, how was it possible to pass measures in the House of Commons, and also in the House of Lords, where there was a Party majority against them? They all knew what occurred. He presumed that in the Cabinet, when any measure was brought forward, someone said—"You must do so and so in order to carry it in the House of Lords." The result was that measures were emasculated from their very birth before they came into either House of Parliament. They then went up to the House of Lords. The House of Lords, as a general rule, was too clever to throw out a Bill except on rare occasions; but they proceeded to cut out certain parts of the Bill, and to add other provisions by way of amendment, and then sent the Bill down again to the House of Commons. In that way it became a matter of compromise, and it was not necessary for the House of Lords to throw out the whole of a Bill if the House of Commons would consent to yield upon certain points, the Lords yielding upon others. The result was, that when a Liberal Ministry was in power that Liberal Ministry found itself unable to carry out its own views and opinions in regard to the Government of the country. The House of Lords could do more than that. Being composed essentially of Party men, it could force a Dissolution of the House of Commons whenever it wished. [Cries of "No!"] He said "Yes," although hon. Gentlemen said "No." He would suppose a case. Let them suppose a Reform Bill brought in; let them suppose that it was sent up to the House of Lords, and then thrown out again; let them suppose a third Session, and a Reform Bill thrown out again.
I have been waiting for some time to see how the hon. Member proposes to connect the observations he is now making with the Vote for the payment of salaries now before the Committee. The Vote is for the salaries of the officers of the House of Lords, and has nothing to do with the political power enjoyed by the House 762 of Lords itself as part of the Constitution of the country. I must, therefore, ask the hon. Member to direct his observations to the Question before the Committee, which is the Vote for the payment of salaries of certain officials of the House of Lords.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he could perceive how it was. The Chairman had not yet seen how he was going to connect his observations with the Vote before the Committee. Now he was not going to ask the House to abolish the House of Lords on this occasion; but what he wished to say was that the country regarded the retention of the House of Lords, as a Second Chamber, as a pernicious principle.
I must point out to the hon. Member that, by the courtesy of Parliament, Members in each House are called upon to speak with respect of Members of the other House.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would not think of using in that House language of a disrespectful character in regard to the Members of the other House; but out of the House he would use what language he liked. [Cries of "Name!"] Out of that House he claimed his right as an Englishman, and he considered that he was at perfect liberty to go before his countrymen and attack any Institution which impeded and prevented the progress of the country. If that was not allowed in the House itself, how was he to explain the ground on which he objected to the Vote? Could it be said that if a Vote were brought forward for the payment of officials in charge of a picture gallery that they could not discuss the pictures in that gallery? If that was the ruling of the Chair he had nothing more to say, and he would only remark, with regard to the salaries of the officers of the House of Lords, that he was simply expressing an opinion as to the necessity of retaining those officials. If any hon. Member wished to know what the opinion of the country was let him go to a Liberal meeting, and he would find a general feeling that in the view of the people of the country no money was no utterly wasted, and worse than wasted, than the £31,000 which was now spent on the officials of the House of Lords. If they asked why, all he could say was that he was not permitted to inform them. He knew that many of these officials individually were 763 excellent and worthy men; but somehow the country had come to the conclusion that the money of the nation could not be worse spent than upon these officers. As, however, he was precluded from going into this matter, and as the House of Commons was obliged to vote upon these salaries without expressing an opinion as to the necessity of the officials themselves, he would take a Division upon the Vote without saying another word.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) intended, as he understood, to object to the whole of the Vote, and the consequence of rejecting the Vote would be that, so far as the House of Lords was dependent upon it, it would have to rely upon voluntary contributions. Thus, if the Motion of his hon. Friend were carried, they would have to witness the scandalous spectacle of the House of Lords putting out a notice that for the future prosecution of Business they were dependent on voluntary contributions. He could hardly think that that was a stop which the House could contemplate with any sense of justice. Already the Committee had passed one Vote to provide the House of Lords with fuel, and with candles; and, having gone so far, he thought they ought not to withhold the Vote which had reference to the salaries of the officers of the House. If his hon. Friend had made his appeal to the Committee on the ground of extravagance in regard to the payment of the officers of the House of Lords, and had proposed a reduction of the Vote on that ground, he would have been disposed to agree with him, and would have been quite ready to support him on a Division, because it was somewhat remarkable that while the expenditure for the officials of the House of Lords was £43,000 a-year, the officials of the House of Commons, who had to work during very much longer hours, and were required to perform much more extended functions, only cost the country £51,000. From that comparison the Committee must see that there was room for a considerable reduction of expenditure in the salaries and expenses of the officers of the House of Lords. He hoped the hon. Member for Northampton would forgive him if he ventured to say that his hon. Friend had taken up a somewhat unreasonable 764 position. If his hon. Friend would substitute for his present proposal a more reasonable Motion to reduce the Vote by by £1,000 or £2,000, he would be happy to support it.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
said, the hon. Member for Northampton commenced his remarks by saying that it was almost a godsend in the present position of affairs that this Vote, in connection with the House of Lords, was the first to come before the Committee.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
said, it was not necessary for the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) to have been so very impatient, as he would have an opportunity by-and-bye of addressing the Committee himself. The country would now have some idea of the depth of low comedy to which the antipathy of a certain section of the House towards the House of Lords extended, and of its really artificial nature. The proposal now before the Committee was to refuse the necessary means for allowing the Business of the House of Lords to be carried on. According to the ideas of hon. Gentlemen opposite there should be no coals provided for the Opposition Lobby in this House, and that when a Liberal Ministry were in power every facility should be withdrawn from their opponents for carrying on an Opposition. If hon. Members were consistent, why did they not make a direct proposal to that effect? The Motion of the hon. Member for Northampton rested on the assumption that everybody who opposed the measures of a Liberal Government must be starved into subjection, or made to die of cold. Now, he belonged to those who believed the presumption was that Liberal measures were bad until the contrary was made apparent.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
said, he hoped the Committee would not even treat seriously a Motion which proposed to reduce the Vote for services which had already been rendered, especially as 765 the hon. Gentleman himself admitted that there must be a Second Chamber.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, he would not trespass at any length upon the time of the Committee; but he wished to call the attention of the Treasury Bench to a particular point connected with this Vote. It was this—that the accommodation provided for the Members of the House of Commons in the House of Lords might be very materially improved. In the House of Commons they provided comfortable Galleries for the Peers, and they were always pleased to see Members of the House of Lords when they came down. [Cries of "Oh!"] Well, speaking for himself, he was always pleased to see them. But when he went up to the Upper House, he found that the accommodation provided for the House of Commons was of the most inferior description.
I may point out that the hon. Member is now discussing matters which would be more appropriately referred to upon another Vote.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, he differed from the views which had been expressed by his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), and he hoped that the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) would go to a Division upon the subject. With regard to the remark made by the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) as to the discussion commencing in low comedy, he thought it would not end in low comedy. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Northampton, and he would not hesitate to disallow the provision for coal and fuel, because it appeared to him that the House of Lords were now providing themselves with a material which was calculated to do away altogether with the necessity for a supply of that kind.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
wished to point out to hon. Members opposite that a salary of £4,000 was paid under this Vote to the Lord Chancellor for the performance of certain functions in the House of Lords. Some years ago an arrangement was made in reference to the salary of the Lord Chancellor, by which that noble and learned Lord became entitled to receive £6,000 from the Consolidated Fund, and £4,000 under the present Vote. Therefore, if the reduction proposed by the 766 hon. Member for Northampton of the whole Vote, or the partial reduction suggested by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), were agreed to, the result would be that the country would be deprived of the services of its principal Law Officer. In their haste to do something disagreeable to the House of Peers, hon. Members opposite had entirely overlooked the fact that the salary of the principal Judicial Officer of the country was included in the Vote. It would, therefore, be a great misfortune if hon. Members below the Gangway were to succeed in their efforts.
§ MR. RYLANDS
wished to draw the attention of the Committee to two points—one was that the general expenditure on account of this Vote was very excessive, and the next was that the rate of payment was higher for the officials connected with the House of Lords than for those who were connected with the House of Commons. He thought, in the interests of economy, there might be a considerable reduction in these items; but, at the same time, he could not support the proposal of the hon. Member for Northampton, because he thought it right to point out that towards the amount of money they were asked to vote they received something like £30,000 a-year in the shape of fees for duties performed by the House of Lords. Having received fees to that extent, they were only called upon in reality to pay the charges which exceeded that sum. At the same time, he was of opinion that the salaries paid were higher than they ought to be; and as he was not indisposed to make a definite reduction, he would move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £30,846, 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 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Officers of the House of Lords."—(Mr. Rylands.)
§ MR. HEALY
said, he was surprised that the Committee had had no explanation of this Vote from the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, because he was sure that hon. Members would have listened with great delight to his defence of the House of Lords, and his justification of the Estimate now presented to the Com- 767 mittee for their assent. He confessed that he had waited for some time in order that they might have had a suitable reply to the arguments addressed to the House against this Vote by hon. and Radical Gentlemen of a revolutionary frame of mind like the hon. Member for Northampton. He should have listened with pleasure to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, if he had felt it his duty to defend the Vote, and if he had passed a suitable eulogium on the purposes for which the Committee were asked to pay the money. He was disappointed in finding that it was left to an hon. Member like the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) to take a statesmanlike view of the question. He was surprised to find that the sentiments of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) did not more widely prevail in that part of the House, and that there were some Gentlemen who, whatever might be the fate of certain measures to which they were deeply attached, were still willing to stand by the necessity of paying adequate salaries to a number of gentlemen they did not know anything about, and for doing they did not know what. It was gratifying to find such general patriotism. He thought, however, that the Committee were somewhat embarrassed by the series of rulings which the Chairman had just delivered, and he presumed that the House would now be called upon to vote the items included in the Estimate seriatim. The first item was that for the Lord Chancellor. Well, suppose they began with the salary of the Lord Chancellor. He would ask, did the hon. Member for Northampton object to the Lord Chancellor? He should be surprised if the hon. Gentleman objected to a noble and learned Lord who performed such great public duties as the Lord Chancellor. They all know that the Lord Chancellor presided over the Assembly which the hon. Gentleman had criticized, and he presumed that it would not be out of Order for any hon. Gentleman to address himself to the question whether the Lord Chancellor was an absolute necessity to the House of Lords. He would not say that it was desirable for hon. Members to address themselves to the question whether the House of Lords was an absolute necessity to the Lord Chancellor, because that would be out of Order, but they might discuss whether the Lord 768 Chancellor was necessary to the House of Lords. Of course, that proposition was necessarily somewhat involved; but he should say, if he were asked to give his own opinion as to the necessity of a Lord Chancellor, that he was not necessary at all, or, at all events, he was very dear at £4,000 a-year. In his opinion, that noble and learned Lord did not do a sufficient amount of work to justify the payment of that large sum of money. They knew that the Speaker of the House of Commons had to sit here for very long hours; and if he were to enter into a comparison of the utility of a Speaker of the House of Commons and contrast it with the value of a Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords, he thought the balance to the credit of the Speaker would be very considerable. Therefore, if the economical mind of the hon. Member for Northampton had been stirred by the payment made in regard to the Lord Chancellor, he presumed the hon. Gentleman would have been in Order in asking for some defence of the Vote now before the Committee. What did the Lord Chancellor do to entitle him to £4,000 a-year? The noble and learned Lord sat in the Cabinet. Was it for that that he got £4,000 a-year? Probably, and he said it with all respect, there were some Members of the Liberal Government who were worth even £4,000 a-year. No doubt, there were many Members of the Tory Party who would say they were not; and, perhaps, if they were to have a good Lord Chancellor, or if they wanted a Lord Chancellor at all, they would not be able to get a good one for much less than £4,000 a-year. It was said that the hon. Member for Northampton did not recognize the serious bearing of a question of this kind, and that if they wanted to have a Lord Chancellor they must be prepared to pay for him. The next Vote was an item for the Sergeant-at-Arms in attendance on the Lord Chancellor. He had been so impressed by the ruling which had been given by the Chair, that he found it difficult to criticize the Vote in any other way without incurring the censure of the right hon. Gentleman, which he very greatly wished to avoid. Well, the next item was for the Serjeant-at-Arms in attendance on the Lord Chancellor. He would like to hear the Secretary to the Treasury discuss the relative value of the amount of work done by the Ser- 769 jeant-at-Arms in attendance upon the Lord Chancellor as compared with that performed by the Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons. Was this officer really worth £1,500 a-year. He understood that the Serjeant-at-Arms sat in the House of Lords only for a very limited period—that the House met at a quarter past 4, and that it generally disposed of all its work by a quarter past 5; on the other hand, the Serjeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons came down to the House at 4 o'clock, and was frequently in attendance until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. These were facts which might induce some hon. Members to support a reduction of the Vote in the sense which had been moved by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), and probably many of them would rather take a Division against the Vote as a whole; but, unfortunately, he must confess that he had considerable difficulty in dealing with this Vote in consequence of the ruling of the Chair.
The hon. Member has entirely misunderstood what I said. It is quite competent for the Committee to discuss the duties performed by the officers of the House of Lords, and to submit any proposal for diminishing the salaries; but what I stated was that this Committee has no power to interfere with the constitution of Parliament, and that by the courtesy of Parliament Members of this Chamber are bound to speak with respect of Members of the other Chamber.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he thought he had been very respectful indeed; but he considered it necessary to discuss this question on the utility of the Vote as a whole. If they were expected in that House to speak with respect and to act with respect towards Gentlemen in "another place," he thought it was not unreasonable to discuss the converse of that proposition—namely, how Gentlemen in "another place" acted in respect of Members of the House of Commons. If that were so, he was certainly prepared to say that the House of Lords had not acted with very marked respect towards the House of Commons. [Cries of "Order!"] He hoped that hon. Members would kindly hear him, because he was bound to discuss the Vote, so far as 770 the House of Lords was concerned, in reference to its utility, and he must discuss the utility of it in reference to the utility of the institution for which it was voted. Of course, he did not propose to discuss the Constitution of the country; but what he said was that they were entitled to receive that relative amount of respect for which they paid £43,000 a-year, and that they were as much entitled to receive respect from the House of Lords as the House of Lords was entitled to receive respect from them. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that the House of Commons paid a considerable amount of money for the House of Lords, while the House of Lords paid nothing for them. That was an additional reason why they were entitled to expect more utility from an institution they were required to pay so largely for. This was not the first time, he thought, that a Motion of this kind had been moved; and, that being so, the general ruling of the Chair on the subject was somewhat novel, and was scarcely guided by the authority of the right hon. Gentleman's Predecessors. He found that the House of Lords paid their Chief Clerk, or, as he was styled, the "Clerk of Parliaments," £2,500 a-year. Now, he would ask any hon. Member who was acquainted with the House of Lords whether there was the same amount of complicated work performed by the Clerks in "another place" as there was in the House of Commons? Of course, they knew that they had exceptionally valuable officials in that House, who were extremely able and learned men. Probably they were equally able and learned in "another place;" but he certainly thought he had heard complaints of the way in which some of these gentlemen in the House of Commons dealt with the Business of the House; and if that were so, it would be quite in Order to discuss the question. There might, however, be an opportunity afforded of discussing it on the next Vote; and he would, therefore, prefer to postpone his observations in regard to that subject until they came to that Vote. On glancing over the present Vote he found that there were a number of extremely large salaries paid. Of course, he was not going to ask for an explanation in regard to every item; but he saw they were paying £2,000 for a Black Rod, and he thought that sum was 771 really more than such an official ought to be entitled to. He was strongly of opinion that they could got a Black Rod for less than £2,000 a-year. Then, again, there was a Yeoman Usher of the Black Rod, who received £1,000 a-year, while the principal door-keeper had £600. He thought those amounts were very large, and perhaps it was the largeness of the salaries paid that induced the House of Lords to take up an aggressive attitude towards the House of Commons. Probably, if the salaries paid in the House of Lords were not of this large and voluptuous character they would not find the same amount of aggressiveness prevailing there as that which was exhibited at the present moment. If they voted down all the salaries for that Assembly, what would be the position of the case? Why, that their Lordships would not be able to go down to the House of Peers at all if they had not these men to guard them, especially after what had recently occurred. In paying large salaries of this kind they should consider the effect it had. The effect of paying large salaries induced noble Lords to go down to the House of Lords and place themselves under the protection of Clerks of Parliaments, Reading Clerks, Clerks Assistants, Black Rods, Yeoman Ushers of the Black Rod, and so on; but if the salaries were refused, they would have no one to manage their affairs, and the result would be that they and their official Staff would melt away altogether. He, therefore, believed that the refusal of Supplies to the House of Lords would have an excellent effect. If the staff of policemen were reduced, for example, either their Lordships would not come down, or they would be more likely to acquiesce in the decisions of those who paid their officers, and it would be found easier for the House of Commons to pass their measures. They might, in fact, have payment by results. The Black Rod now got £2,000 a-year. He would suggest, then, that the next time it was necessary to summon an Autumn Session, or when the Estimates were next presented, and they found everything going on unsatisfactorily, they should reduce the salary of the Black Rod by £ 1,000 a-year. He did not mean to say that that was exactly the way to meet the crisis which now existed; but why should they pay a 772 large sum of money for keeping up an institution of this kind which had no effect whatever except to thwart the legislation of the House of Commons. They were now paying £43,000 a-year; why not begin to cut it down to £30,000, then to £20,000, next to £10,000, and, finally, from £10,000 to £5,000 or £1,000, and reduce the Lords and their officials to bread-and-water salaries? The discipline thus brought about would have a marvellous effect, and their Lordships would be much more inclined to acquiesce in matters of reform that were passed by the House of Commons.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, he hoped that the hon. Member for Northampton would go to a Division, and regretted that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman had not been received with that earnestness by hon. Members below the Gangway which the hon. Member was entitled to expect, seeing that the Motion was only the logical conclusion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister when he attacked the House of Lords the other day. This was the Vote under which the salaries of the House of Lords were paid. The Prime Minister had declared that the House of Commons were entitled to act by themselves without regard to the House of Lords. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton had at once taken the matter up, and had put, in a practical shape, exactly what the Prime Minister proposed. He hoped, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen opposite would support the hon. Member; and he trusted that the hon. Gentleman would insist upon a Division, in order to show whether his Friends were prepared to support the Prime Minister in the only logical conclusion at which they could arrive. For his own part, he certainly should not vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Northampton; but he should walk out of the House. He should like to leave the Front Bench opposite and hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to get out of the difficulty in the best way they could. As he said, the only logical conclusion they could come to in regard to the agitation against the House of Lords was to support the hon. Member if they were really in earnest; and if they were not, let them throw him over, and show the country that this was only a humbugging agita- 773 tion which they were afraid to carry to a practical issue.
Does the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) propose to reduce the Vote by the sum of £1,000?
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, it seemed to him an extraordinary thing that no Member of the Government had risen to offer at least a justification or defence of the Vote. No doubt, there was much in the Vote which did require justification and defence, because it comprised money jobs and sinecures. He would take the case of the Assistant Accountant, who received a salary of £350 a-year for the performance of merely nominal duties. Who was the Assistant Accountant? It appeared from the foot-note that he was an old man who was on the retired list of Admirals; that he was provided with an official residence; and that he received fees as an officer of the Order of the Garter. There were many things which it would be as well for the Secretary to the Treasury to explain to the Committee. No such system was pursued in the House of Commons, and it was the duty of the hon. Gentleman to explain or justify the system adopted in the House of Lords.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, the hon. Member had expressed his disappointment that he (Mr. Courtney) had not risen earlier in the debate; but it appeared to him that it would have been altogether irregular on his part if he had risen to reply to the observations of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), seeing that they had been ruled by the Chairman to be out of Order. The question of the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) was in a different position, because it related to a financial matter to which the attention of the Committee might be properly directed. He might say, however, that the hon. Member had only made a cursory examination of the Estimates, and had not perfectly mastered the details of which he complained. He thought the hon. Gentleman had somewhat confused the emoluments of the Assistant Accountant with those received by the Black Rod, who was an Admiral, and was also in receipt of fees for his 774 own use. He ought to explain that the salaries in the House of Lords were originally paid by fees received by that House; but some time ago an arrangement was made with the Treasury, who received the fees, and with the House of Commons, who voted the salaries. For some time the fees received were quite equal to the salaries paid; but of late years they had not reached the amount of the salaries. For instance, the fees this year amounted to £30,000, against an expenditure which reached £43,000. In 1882–3 the receipts were £39,000, which were very nearly equal to the salaries voted in that year. As the fees now received by the House of Lords were handed over to the Exchequer, it was a matter of delicacy to interfere with the salaries paid by the House of Lords, and which were fixed by statute. The matter, however, would not be lost sight of; and as the attention of the Committee had been directed to the apparently excessive nature of the salaries, he would endeavour to ascertain, from time to time, what steps might be taken to reduce the amounts paid to a more reasonable limit. He was under the impression that on the last occasion the Office of the Black Rod became vacant there was a Committee which sat upon the Office, and effected a considerable reduction. He hoped it would not be forgotten that all these salaries were originally paid by fees, and that the fees now received by the Treasury, although they did not quite meet the expenditure, very largely contributed towards it.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he should like to know what the nature of the fees received by the House of Lords was, because a large amount of the legal business of the House of Lords consisted of Scotch appeals. As, at all events, it was admitted that the fees received did not fully meet the expenditure in the House of Lords, and as it was further admitted that the salaries paid were extravagant, and as there was no reason why there should be any extravagance, he should certainly vote for the reduction of the Estimate.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, he was not disposed, after the remarks of the Secretary to the Treasury, to persist in the Motion for a reduction of the Vote; but he hoped the paring down which had been commenced would be continued. He did not know how far the Treasury had 775 any influence over the Committee upon the Office of Black Rod; but he was afraid it was very slight indeed. Great dissatisfaction had been expressed in the House of Commons against the extravagant expenditure in the House of Lords, and he thought it might be met by some other reduction.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
intimated that, as his hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had withdrawn his Motion, he would propose the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £30,846, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the Bum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the House of Lords."—(Mr. Arthur Arnold.)
MR. JUSTIN HUNTLY
M'CARTHY said, it seemed to him that the Government ought to receive with gratitude the suggestions of his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) and the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), as they would get them out of a serious difficulty. He thought the country would be disappointed if the Treasury Bench failed to set a good example by following the opponents of this Vote into the Division Lobby.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, his hon. Friend proposed to reduce the Vote by the sum of £1,000, and the Chairman had put the Question, "That the sum of £30,846 be granted to Her Majesty." In the event of that Vote being rejected, would the Committee have an opportunity of voting upon the whole sum?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had asked the question because other hon. Members might wish to move further reductions.
First of all, I shall put the reduced sum, and then, in the event of that Motion being rejected, I shall have to put the Original Question for the entire sum.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: — Ayes 33; Noes 138: Majority 105.—(Div. List, No. 156.)776
§ Original Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 147; Noes 23: Majority 124.—(Div. List, No. 157.)
§ (2.) £36,388, to complete the sum for the House of Commons Offices.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
said, he wished to make an appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, whom he was glad to see in his place, to consider whether the salaries of the officers of the House were commensurate with the duties which they performed? They had heard a great deal as to the salaries of the officers in "another place" being too large; but he did not believe that that was the case. On the contrary, he believed that the officers of the House of Lords were not more than adequately remunerated. There was, however, no doubt that the officers of the House of Commons had a great deal harder work to discharge than the officers in the other House of Parliament. He did not consider that the time during which the two Houses sat was any index of the amount of labour which the officers of either House had to undergo, because he apprehended that the officers of the House of Lords had to work when their Lordships were not sitting; but, as he had said before, there was no doubt that the officers of the House of Commons worked harder than the officers of the other House. The question was, therefore, whether the officers of the House of Commons should not be placed on larger salaries? He thought they should be, and therefore he appealed to Her Majesty's Government as to whether they could not increase the present salaries? He had made this appeal on former occasions, and to a previous Financial Secretary to the Treasury whose untimely death they all deplored; and he thought it was now time for the Government to consider whether they were doing justice to a body of men who were doing worthy service, and to whom the House was largely indebted. A great deal of extra work was sometimes thrown upon these officers. Two years ago there was an Autumn Session, and year after year the hours in this House became later and later, and while Members of the House could remain or leave as they pleased the officers of the House were obliged to stay till the House adjourned. Under these circumstances, he hoped 777 the Government would see their way to increasing the salaries of these officials.
§ MR. HEALY
said, no one could have received more courtesy from the Clerks at the Table than he had; but he wished to say that in his view, instead of those gentlemen having the power of revising Questions to be put upon the Paper, there ought to be a Committee for dealing with such matters. As there were no rules for the guidance of Members as to what they ought or ought not to ask, it was, he thought, too much to say that the Clerks at the Table should have such absolute discretion; and, therefore, he thought there should be a small Committee appointed each Session to whom such matters might be referred. The work and labour thrown on the Clerks at the Table by Irish Members he admitted was enormous; and it must be so when local friction arose almost every day, upon which there must be conflict between Members and the officials. Either Rules of the House should be drawn up, so that a Member might know what to do, or else Members should be allowed to put down Questions in their own way. The Speaker was at all times open to be advised by the officials especially when the Speaker or Chairman was new and could not be expected to have 20 or 30 years' experience; but he objected to Members having to depend on opinions supplied by the officials. What he should like to have was a Standing Committee, so that Members might be able to appeal to a competent body who should have written Rules to guide them. The present Speaker was comparatively new and inexperienced, and was bound to resort to the Clerks continually for advice and information, and that practically gave the officers of the House control over Members. He thought a Committee appointed by the House would be far more valuable as a last resource; and if Members thought there was any point that was not sufficiently brought out would be able to debate it on the appointment of this Committee. At present if the Chairman decided one way there was no appeal, because everyone knew what was the consequence of coming into collision with the Chairman, and was careful to avoid that. But if a Committee was appointed it could not be said that a Member was denouncing the infallibility of the Chairman; and, therefore, he would suggest 778 that great inconvenience would be avoided if a Committee of this kind was appointed. The officials of the House were naturally anxious to get on with the work of the House; and when Members wished to bring grievances before the House they took a different view of the functions of the House, and might consider it far more important to pass Bills which the country did not want, such as the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, or the Sunday Closing Bill, than to consider the grievances of Members. He would like to know whether in another Session the Government would consider this idea of the appointment of a Committee of Referees to whom questions of dispute could be submitted. This matter concerned Conservative Members as well as Irish Members. Liberal Members dare not ask any Questions at all; but when they were in Opposition, as he trusted they would be after the General Election—and he should do his best to put them in that position—they would, no doubt, display great activity, and come into conflict with the authorities, and then they would find it a very agreeable thing to have a Committee of this kind. Therefore, he hoped the House would consider this question, not in a Party spirit, but with a view to relieving the Clerks of functions which must sometimes lead to conflict. It was too much to say that when the Speaker was new and inexperienced the House must be the sole guardian of its own Order. That could not be. It was not the Members of the House who decided everything, and the Speaker, with whom the decision rested, had no rules to guide him. It was no use for the Liberal Party to get up a cry because Questions were asked; for if there were grievances, those grievances must, and would, break out. The Government wished to shut up everything; they wanted to have their own way; and if they could not have it, then they accused Members of Obstruction. It would also be well to have a Committee to whom questions of Privilege and other matters with respect to personal questions and disputes could be referred, instead of having unseemly wrangles such as there had been.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
I will say a few words upon the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor, 779 and the hon. Member for Monaghan. The Lord Mayor has suggested that it would be desirable to raise the salaries of the officials of this House; and he has said, rightly enough, that it is not in the power of any private Member to propose to raise those salaries without the sanction of the House. The House is, probably, not aware that the salaries of the officials are specially regulated by Statute. There is under the Statute a Committee, consisting of Mr. Speaker, the Home Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Master of the Rolls—if he be a Member of the House—the Attorney General, and the Solicitor General, by whom the salaries of the officers of this House are regulated, although, of course, the salaries can be reduced in Supply when the Vote for the salaries comes on. It is not the function of the Treasury to deal with these salaries, although the Treasury may deal with some of the allowances. Therefore, if the question of increasing the salaries of the officers of the House should be raised, that would be considered, in the first place, by that special Committee—and, as a matter of fact, I have acted on this Committee with both the late Speaker and the present Speaker; and if it should be the opinion of the Committee that any particular salaries ought to be increased or decreased, provision is made accordingly. As to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), putting aside some of his remarks, I am bound to say that the hon. Member stated the case very fairly. He admitted that Members came very constantly to the Clerks at the Table, and received from them every courtesy and assistance. But he suggests that the Clerks at the Table, in dealing with Questions proposed to be put by hon. Members, would really be benefited by the assistance of a Committee appointed by this House, and that before these Questions appeared on the Paper the Committee should decide whether any alterations should be made in them, and the form the Questions should take. The putting of Questions occupies much more of the time of the House than formerly; but I fear there would be nothing gained, but, on the contrary, much time lost, by having a Committee to supervise the wording of Questions. I have great doubt whether, practically, many cases have arisen in which the 780 decision of the Speaker as to the propriety of particular words would have been overruled by a Committee of the House. The hon. Member talked about the infallibility of the Speaker being recognized by the present practice, as if he were a Pope; but this is not so. Indeed, there are two opinions about the infallibility of the Pope; and it is sometimes held that it is subject to the review of a General Council. Undoubtedly, the decisions of the Speaker are strictly subject to the review of the House; the Speaker cannot decide on any question of this sort finally, for it is always in the power of the House to overrule such a decision. I remember that the late Dr. Kenealy, in a matter of this kind, did contest the decision of the Speaker, and the House affirmed the decision of the then Speaker. But I would put it to the House whether—I was going to say in its own interest, but I would say in the interest of those who ask a large proportion of the Questions—anything would be gained by the proposal? Now what happens about Questions? The great majority of them are put on the Paper the day before they have to be answered. In some cases hon. Gentlemen give two or three days' Notice—sometimes even longer; but a very large proportion of the Questions put at Question time only appear on the Paper that morning. I do not know that it is the case with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Healy); but some of the hon. Members who sit on the Front Bench below the Gangway opposite express a good deal of dissatisfaction if a Minister is not able, almost off-hand, or, at any rate, within a few hours after he receives Notice of a Question, to give an answer to it. Now, what will be the position of hon. Members who are in the habit of asking Questions if, instead of their Questions being dealt with promptly, as they are now by the Speaker on the representation of the Clerk at the Table, they have to go before a Select Committee? They could not possibly go before a Committee except on Notice. Moreover, I do not think it is practicable to expect Members of the House to form a Select Committee to meet every day to consider Questions put on the Paper the day before. I cannot, therefore, help thinking that if the proposal were adopted it would cause great inconvenience and delay to the Questioners. 781 I doubt whether it will not be better, as a matter of public convenience, to leave things as they are now. My impression is that the change would result in such great inconvenience that the House would very soon revert to the present practice. The hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) will recognize that the subject is a perfectly new one, and that I am only answering his remarks by stating what, at the first blush, appears to me to be the difficulty which surrounds it. I should be sorry offhand to give a final opinion pledging the Government on the subject; but my first impression is that the House would dislike the change which the hon. Member proposes. I hope, therefore, the House will not be committed to such a change until Mr. Speaker, and the Government, and those who are in the habit of asking Questions, have had more opportunity of considering the proposal.
§ MR. STORER
said, he did not rise so much to oppose this particular Vote, because he felt, as he was sure other hon. Members felt, that the officers of the House fully deserved the salaries they at present enjoyed, as to express his surprise that the ultra-Liberal Members who sat below the Ministerial Gangway appeared to have abnegated altogether their functions of keeping that inspection over the expenditure of the House, which was their profession, and which ought to be their practice. Nowadays there were only 20 or 30 Liberals who were found to go into the Lobby in favour of any question of retrenchment. He reminded this Liberal Ministry who entered Office on the promise of retrenchment that the time was rapidly approaching when all the Votes would be inspected by the country in a very different sense in which they had hitherto been inspected. In view of the present depressed condition of trade and agriculture, the people of the country were surprised that a considerable reduction had not taken place in official salaries. That a revision of every salary from the highest to the lowest would have to take place before long if things continued as at present there was little doubt. Land was yielding now one-third less profit than at any previous period. When wheat was the staple commodity as much as 56s. a-quarter was received; but now it only yielded 36s. a-quarter. The 782 people would, before long, demand that official salaries and the general expenditure of the country should be reduced in a like proportion. He did not wish to obstruct the Vote, but merely to impress these facts upon the minds of hon. Members.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he agreed in the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy). He fully recognized the courtesy of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had met the proposal of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Healy); but the difficulty still remained. Undoubtedly some such plan as had been suggested would have to be devised in order to meet the difficulty in question, which was growing in proportions every day. He confessed that when he compared the Standing Order which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had read with the ruling of the Chair on several occasions, he felt himself in a greater difficulty than ever in reference to the putting of Questions. He did not wish to complain in any way of the ruling of the Chair as to whether Questions came within the Standing Order or not; but he could not help saying that when the ruling of the Chair was against him, an hon. Member felt it very bitterly. Only a few days ago he endeavoured to put on the Notice Paper a Question which he believed in strict accordance with the Rules of the House. He measured those Rules by Questions he had seen on the Paper from time to time, and he did all he could to bring his Question strictly within the lines of other Questions he had seen. The Question he wished to put raised a subject of considerable importance affecting a large class of people in Ireland. It was a subject of the most urgent public importance, and with the permission of the Committee he would briefly describe it. For some time there had been a considerable feeling in Dublin with regard to proselytizing efforts, which were made in connection with certain Homes, and he wished to ask a Question with regard to an excursion, given by one of the Homes, with which the family of a Judge was connected, and in which a County Court Judge had actually participated. The County Court Judge and others had induced a Protestant clergyman to preach on the occasion of the ex- 783 cursion to Roman Catholic children. He (Mr. Harrington) took the matter up because he considered the Judge had been guilty of gross misconduct, and he thought it was a fitting subject on which to put a Question. He was, however, precluded from putting a Question; and, strange to say, while he was endeavouring to ask the Question, the Judge was sitting in judgment upon one of the proselytizing Homes for having detained a Catholic child against the consent of her parents. He (Mr. Harrington) did not complain. There was simply a difference of opinion between him and the Speaker and the Clerks at the Table as to whether the Question was admissible. Certainly, had there been any Rules to which he could have had recourse so as to bring his Question within the limits of Order, he should have been glad to have complied with them. Though he did all he could to adapt the Question to the Forms of the House, he was precluded from putting it, or even any part of it. He did not hesitate to say that there would really have been a saving of time had he been allowed to ask the Question; because now he should feel bound to move, at the proper time, to disallow the salary of the Judge in question.
§ Mr. DIXON-HARTLAND
said, he noticed an item of £429 for police attendance on both Houses of Parliament. Was that a charge for police attendance inside or outside the House? Of course, as far as the House and Palace Yard were concerned, hon. Members had every reason to thank the police for the way in which they discharged their duties; but the police stationed just outside Palace Yard were very negligent in the performance of their duties. At the commencement of every Session they heard that the approaches to the House were to be kept open for Members; but his experience was that hon. Members very often ran great risk to life and limb in approaching the House. Just outside Palace Yard there was usually a great concourse of vehicles; but the police did nothing at all to facilitate the passage of Members to the House. He should, therefore, like to know whether this Vote included anything for the police stationed outside the House, because if it did, he should be inclined to move to reduce the Vote.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, the Vote only applied to the services of the police 784 within the House; but the complaint of the hon. Gentleman as to the conduct of the police outside Palace Yard was certainly inconsistent with his (Mr. Courtney's) experience.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he was much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the courteous manner in which he had met his (Mr. Healy's) proposal. Of course, the proposal he made was only intended to apply to Questions about which there was any dispute. He would like to make a suggestion with regard to another matter which foil upon the Vote for the House. He thought some readier means ought to be adopted of allowing strangers to communicate with Members. Very often half-an-hour elapsed before a card or note was delivered to a Member. He would like to know whether that was the fault of the staff—whether there were sufficient attendants? He scarcely thought there were. Again, if a Member was wanted there was no knowing where to find him. Surely some system might be devised by which it would be possible to let a stranger know at once where to find a Member, or where to deliver a card to him. Again, there was another matter which was worthy the attention of the authorities of the House. Members were frequently put to a great deal of trouble with regard to the Notices given in the House. He was of opinion that there should be a series of printed Notices. For instance, the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) must find it a very inconvenient thing to be continually writing out blocks to Bills. He (Mr. Healy) did not see why the hon. and learned Gentleman should not have forms at his disposal, and in the same way forms might be provided for Questions. At present, Members were required to write out, perhaps half-a-dozen times a day, the full heading, "I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland," or, "I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade," just as the case might be. There were forms for admission to the Strangers' Gallery and the Ladies' Gallery; surely it would be a small matter for Her Majesty's Stationery or Printing Department to supply forms for Questions and other Notices, which could be procured in the Library or Lobbies of the House. The supply of such forms 785 would save a great deal of labour, especially to such an energetic and hardworking Member as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton), who really was most constant in his attendance, and went through more labour than any half-a-dozen other Members put together. What he (Mr. Healy) suggested was a very small matter, involving very little expense; and therefore he trusted his proposal would receive the favourable consideration of the Secretary to the Treasury or the First Commissioner of Works.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that in this Vote there were a number of small items for fire-lighters, watchmen, and others. He believed that a salary of £500 a-year was paid to the Surveyor of the Sanitary Arrangements of the House. Now, it appeared to him that that was a sinecure appointment. [Mr. COURTNEY: Buildings in Class I.] Yes; but this was not a building, but a man, and he received a salary. That salary should be provided for in this Vote; and if it had been, he should have asked the Secretary to the Treasury if the Inspector of the Sanitary Arrangements of the House ever visited the House at all; and, if he did, how often a week?
said, the hon. Gentleman was not entitled to refer to the official mentioned, inasmuch as the salary was not included in this Vote.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he was objecting to the defective form in which the Vote was submitted to the Committee. He complained that an item which ought to appear did not appear in the Vote, and that in consequence he was precluded from doing what he wished.
§ MR. COURTNEY
explained that the form of the Vote was more correct as it stood. This officer was attached to the building, and was a person whom he had frequently seen about the House.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £39,609, to complete the sum for the Treasury.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
asked what the Treasury proposed to do with regard to other classes of Civil Service Estimates, such as the Votes for writers; and also what they would do with respect to the division of clerks?
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, that a Parliamentary Paper, issued during the last few days, dealt with the question of the lower division of clerks, and gave particulars as to the decision of the Treasury. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), a full list of persons receiving pensions under the Vote in question had been issued until recently; but it had been thought sufficient to give in future the annual additions to the list and omissions from it.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he regarded this matter of including the pensioners as one of the greatest importance. It was very important, in his opinion, that the public should be able to see this list, and the question of expense was too small to be worth considering. He, therefore, hoped there would be some further explanation on this point. The hon. Member had said that a reform was instituted by himself; but the reform had been carried too far in the case of Mr. Corrie Connellan. It was monstrous that this list of pensioners should be hidden away in a lumber room, and he hoped the Government would give a satisfactory explanation; otherwise he would be obliged to push the matter a little further.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he thought the hon. Member for Monaghan was quite right, for Members were perfectly entitled to know who these pensioners were. If this information was given, he thought it probable that more money would be saved a year than the information would cost for printing.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that as he was unable to obtain the courtesy of a reply from the hon. Gentleman, he thought Progress had better be reported, so that the hon. Gentleman might have time to consider the matter and make up his mind upon it. Unless the hon. Gentleman could give some assurance upon the matter, he should make this Motion.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said he accepted the promise of the Secretary to the Treasury as reasonable, and was in favour 787 of a change from the new to the old system. He thought the House should exercise supervision over the various Departments as far as possible within reasonable limits.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.