§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
, in rising to move—That 56,950 men and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services fur the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, including 12,400 Royal Marines,said: Sir, I wish to commence the observations I have to make in moving these Estimates by stating to the Committee precisely how they compare with those which it was my duty to propose 363 last year. The net amount required to be voted for the Service of 1884–5 is £10,811,770, or a decrease of £87,730 below the total amount that has been voted for the current year. If, however, we exclude the Supplementary Estimate for Military Operations in Egypt, and contrast the normal Estimates for the two years, the sum at present exceeds that which was asked for last year by £59,470. But hon. Members will observe that we anticipate a falling-off in the amount of receipts which we are allowed to use in aid of the Votes to the extent of £41,817, so that the total sum available for the Service, whether derived from Votes of Parliament or Appropriations-in-Aid, will be £11,595,711, as compared with £11,578,058—a difference in favour of next year of £17,653. It is by this amount only that the resources placed at our disposal, if these Estimates receive the approval of Parliament, will be increased. In connection with a comparison of the Votes there are two small points to which I may, in passing, allude. I mentioned last year that we provided a reduced sum for Teams in the Dockyards, according to a plan by which the War Department would undertake the duty with military transport horses. This arrangement, which would have been advantageous, has not been found practicable; so that we have this year to resume the charge, amounting to over £8,000. The second matter is that Votes 1 and 2 have been disturbed by the transfer, under Treasury direction, to the Wages Vote of a sum of £37,500 for money allowances in lieu of gratuitous clothing, and in aid of boys' kits, hitherto charged under the Victuals and Clothing Vote. This is a mere matter of accounting which makes no difference in the expenditure under the two Votes. Sir, in moving this Vote for the number of Seaman and Marines, it will be my duty, in the first place, to invite the attention of the Committee to several questions affecting the personnel of the Navy. When I made a similar Motion last year, I availed myself of the opportunity to express the high sense entertained by my Colleagues at the Board of Admiralty of the manner in which the Navy had discharged the duties entrusted to it during their recent military operations in Egypt. And now it is again my privilege to propose this Vote to the Committee while we have under our eyes a still fresher 364 evidence of the sterling and versatile qualities possessed by the officers and men who make up this noble Service. This is not the time, of course, to review recent events; but I am sure the Committee will share the admiration we feel for the conduct of the Naval Force while engaged in operations which, though limited in extent, have been, in many particulars, exceptionally trying and difficult. At the same time, I may give expression to the deep regret with which we have heard of the loss of some of our gallant seamen and Marines, and of four officers—Lieutenants Royds, Almack, Montresor, and yet another who, it was hoped, would have lived to carry, in the third generation, into the highest ranks of the British Navy the honoured and familiar name of Houston Stewart. With regard to the general conduct and character of the seaman of the Navy, the reports received have been highly satisfactory. Commanders-in-Chief on Foreign Stations have expressed warm admiration of the physical qualities of crews sent out to recommissioned ships, and there is comparatively little complaint of drunkenness and misconduct, the only dark spot being a tendency, especially on the part of the younger men, to insubordinate conduct towards their superior officers. I may, perhaps, quote one or two of the most recent testimonies we have received. A report concerning some drafts who were stopped on their way home, and landed at Port Said, says that the men were of fine physique, and presented a smart and creditable appearance; that from the 16th to the 24th of February there was only one case of drunkenness or disorder; that the usual leave was given; and that the behaviour of the men on leave was very good. Again, General Earle reports of 500 blue-jackets recently lauded at Alexandria that their "conduct was irreproachable." And I may be allowed to read an extract from a letter from Lord John Hay, which is equally satisfactory. Writing to Lord Northbrook, he says—The accident to Euphrates has made the business of transferring crews somewhat inconvenient. But for the presence of Thunderer and Orion we would have been obliged to put some-of the men into bilitary barracks. However, the only paid-off crew is Superb's, and they are so well behaved that they have only 50 men on the General Leave List; and I am able, therefore, to give leave to almost all of the ship's company, oven to-day (Christmas). I mention 365 this, because when yon hear so much doubt expressed about discipline in the Fleet, think what would have happened in former days if you had let a paid-off ship's company loose on Christmas Day.In a subsequent letter, referring to the same subject, he says—The Superb's paid-off crew did not commit themselves any way, either afloat or ashore, so far as I have ascertained; this is creditable for Christmas Day.I believe that no words I could use would be so effective as these simple facts as to the conduct of men—we have no reason to suppose exceptional men—in trying circumstances; and they show how excellent is the stamp of those who now man our Foot. In order fully to maintain their number, the Committee will observe that we propose to increase by 150 the number of boys to be trained, while the reduction of seamen is in the non-combatant classes of domestics, &c., and is in large measure duo to the withdrawal of the London at Zanzibar. Now, Sir, there can be little doubt that it is the petty officers upon whom mainly depend the sound spirit and high tone of the men of our Fleet. The expression "backbone" does not somehow appear so appropriate when speaking of sailors as when speaking of soldiers, because there are people who think that a soldier should be all backbone, whereas a sailor should be all arms and legs. But if we may apply the word not to the individual, but to the Service, we may truly say that the petty officers and chief petty officers are the backbone of the Navy. It is not too much to say of them that they are the most all-round highly trained men in the lower ranks of Her Majesty's Service. They require to be steady in conduct, patient in temper, unswerving in obedience, cool-headed in command. At the same time, they must be of quick intelligence, in order that they may be able to master and to practice, not only the noble old-fashioned art of seamanship, but the less poetical and more intricate forms which are assumed by the manifold development of modern science when applied to purposes of war. Now, Sir, some time ago the Admiralty received Memorials, bringing forward most temperately and reasonably certain points in which the petty officers thought their position ought to be improved. These Memorials were carefully considered with a desire not only to recognize the just claims of this class, and to offer 366 every necessary inducement to men to qualify for higher ratings, but also to stimulate competition, and raise gradually to the highest point the standard of qualification. We have, accordingly, provided for an improved rate of pay to seamen petty officers and chief petty officers, based on the principle of giving ii reward to men of meritorious character, who have kept their rate for some years. The seamen petty officer of the second class will receive 2s. a-day, instead of 1s, 11d., as at present. The first class will commence at their present rate of 2s. 2d.; but after four years' service as such will receive an increment of 3d. making 2s. 5d. The chief petty officer's initial rate will be raised from 2s. 7d. to 2s. 8d., and after three years he will receive an increment of 6d., making his ultimate rate of pay 3s. 2d., instead of 2s. 9d., as at present.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
May I ask if this increment will commence from the date of their appointment as chief petty officers?
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
From the date of their appointment. These proposals affect continuous-service men of the seamen class, and do not apply to the artificer class, whoso remuneration, must be regulated by the market value of labour, the only exception being the case of the armourers. This is a class of growing importance, owing to the more complicated naval artillery now in use; and it is necessary to attract good men to the Service. With this view it is proposed to establish a new rating of armourer's mate, who would be a second class petty officer, intermediate between the armourer and armourer's crew, with pay of 2s. 8d. a-day. Further, the attention of the Board has been directed to the signalmen. They will, in common with others of the seamen class, profit by the proposals I have described; but there are two reasons why it appears desirable to give some additional advantage to them. In the first place, with the growing prominence in naval tactics of fleet evolulutions under steam, it becomes important to secure the service of superior men for signal duties; and, in the second place, the nature of their employment precludes them from sharing in the special allowances given to other seamen for gunnery and torpedo qualifications. We, therefore, intend to grant them some improvement in pay, 367 probably dependent on special qualification; but as the details have not yet been approved by the Treasury, I am am unable to describe our proposals definitely. The cost of the increases of pay which I have just enumerated will be somewhat in excess of £9,000 a-year. Before I pass from the petty officers and seamen, I must mention another subject which intimately concerns the comfort of the men and the efficiency of the Service—namely, that of the sick berth staff of the Navy and the nursing staff in the naval hospitals. The Board appointed a Committee to inquire into it; and this Committee, under the able presidence of Admiral Sir Anthony Hoskins, have submitted a Report which shall be laid upon the Table. They represent that the present arrangements for nursing the sick in the Navy afloat and in hospitals are unanimously pronounced to be unsatisfactory, especially in that the men who act as nurses are without any previous knowledge or training, and that: there is no practical guarantee of their competence. For the present male civilian nurses they recommend that a trained sick berth staff be substituted. This staff they propose should be recruited from boys, as far as possible taken from Greenwich Hospital School, and subjected to the usual training in seamanship in the training ships. From the training ships they would pass to Haslar Hospital for special instruction in their duties, and thence, if found fit, receive their rating as sick berth attendants and enter the regular nursing service. Promotion to higher ratings and: increases of pay will follow upon exanimation and good character. An important point is that each man will be called upon to do a fair share of home and foreign service in ships and hospitals, and that on return from foreign service the men will be employed in hospitals and harbour ships alternately, thus being usefully and economically occupied and acquiring improved training, instead of being exposed to the injurious influence of the comparatively idle life led by the spare sick berth staff at present. With regard to hospitals, the Committee recommend that a staff of the best class of lady nurses be employed in certain hospitals to superintend the nursing duties and to train the boys for this first appointment. This scheme, in its general outline, the Admiralty have decided to adopt, and money for its gra- 368 dual introduction is provided in these Estimates. I feel sure that the change of system will commend itself to all who are interested either in the efficiency and health of our seamen, or in the largo general question of the treatment of the sick. It has also been represented to us that the warrant officers of the Navy, a most deserving class of officers, laboured under disadvantages in certain respects. This case also has been carefully inquired into; and while we are unable to recognize the necessity of any change in their special instance, affecting pay, retirement, or widows' pensions, there are certain points in which we either have met or propose to meet the views expressed to us. They will be allotted a largely increased number of Greenwich Hospital pensions for officers on the Retired List; their orphans will be admitted to a right to compassionate allowances similar to that of other ranks in the Navy; and a definite relative rank with the Army has been assigned to them. I believe that these are advantages which will be fully valued by the warrant officers. I pass now to the higher commissioned ranks, as to which I would say that it is necessary to look carefully from time to time to the state of the lists of executive officers as to employment and promotion. The zeal, ability, and high accomplishments of those who now fill those ranks cannot be too highly praised; and by all accounts we never had better officers to command ships, or better junior officers coming on to succeed them, than at the present time. Now, Sir, in reviewing the position of the various ranks, our opinion is that the right policy is to meet such hardships as may arise without making any unnecessary changes. Since the last important revision of the Lists in 1870 some modifications have been made, especially in 1875; but the scheme then adopted is, on the whole, working well, and there is no desire to make any substantial alteration. With regard to the Admirals' List, it must, of course, exceed the number actually required to provide officers for employment, because the flow of promotion from below depends upon the number of retirements by age and casualties producing vacancies in it. The consequence is, that while there is sufficient choice, many good officers are inevitably left unemployed. As to the captains, there was, in 1882 and 1883, a certain stagnation in promotion to flag 369 rank; but this year and hereafter the vacancies will occur at a rate of five or six a-year, which is sufficient. Although young captains are left unemployed, perhaps, longer than is desirable, on the whole the state of the Captains' List is satisfactory. It certainly should not be increased, and it would not be wise to reduce it in numbers. The Commanders' List is in a better condition, both as to promotion and employment, than probably at any former time. Of the lieutenants, the same cannot be said. This is, perhaps, the most important rank in the Service, containing many excellent officers of long service, who are well worthy of promotion, and naturally expect it. But they cannot all, or nearly all, be promoted without unduly crowding the list of commanders; besides, it is essential, in the interest of the Service, that some of the younger officers of the rank should be promoted. The present Board of Admiralty have done much to improve the prospects of the older lieutenants. In 1881 the number of annual promotions to commanders was increased from 20 to 25, further than which it was not right to go. The number of superior Coastguard appointments has also been increased by six. But we recognize the fact that something more is required. After all, it comes to this, that, as in the corresponding rank of major in the Army, many good officers must retire. But we do not wish to increase the number of retirements, nor to raise the inducements, which are sufficient. Besides, the officers are doing excellent work; and in the event of a war occurring, every man on the Lieutenants' List would be required. We have, therefore, decided to make a substantial increase in the pay of lieutenants of 10 years' standing, which will, we trust, be taken as some recognition of the value attached to their services. The precise effect is this. The pay of a lieutenant of over 10 years' seniority, with seven years' service in that rank, of which three have been in a ship of war at sea, will be 12s., exclusive of his ordinary extra allowances. As to half-pay, he will have a certain advantage in attaining the 8s. 6d. rate. This will make no alteration in the principles upon which promotions have hitherto been made, according to which long service has always been duly recognized as giving a fair claim, although not to the exclusion of the selection of younger men. 370 Before leaving these personal questions there is one other subject to which I must allude. It is a matter which Lord Northbrook and his Colleagues deem to be of the highest importance to the efficiency of the Naval Service—namely, the establishment at the Admiralty of a small but definitely organized Intelligence Department. I believe that successive Boards of Admiralty had felt the want of a systematic mode of collecting foreign intelligence, and the Committee which inquired into the Secretary's Department in 1879 recognized the great importance of the subject. Its importance has, in fact, greatly increased of recent years, and the difficulty of securing the most recent information has increased also. The changes which have been introduced in ships and guns, and in the power of ships to keep the sea, the consequent alteration, in the naval value of individual ports, the increased facility of communication and movement, all combine with many other circumstances to render it more than ever necessary for the Board of Admiralty to have every information ready at hand, and available for immediate Use in connection with naval operations in all parts of the world. The Intelligence Department of the Army—itself, by the way, only a creation of some 10 years ago—will no doubt be, as it has been, of immense use for naval purposes; but we have felt that we require, besides, to have the assistance of an officer acquainted with, and able to handle, subjects of a purely naval character. Lord Northbrook has, therefore, appointed an Intelligence Committee, consisting of the Senior Naval Lord, a naval officer appointed for three years for this special service, an officer of Royal Marines attached to the Committee, and a gentleman from the higher Division of the Admiralty Office. The necessary provision for this new Department has been made under the Admiralty Vote. Turning now to the great question of the building and maintenance of ships, I would recall to the Committee the extent of the proposals which I submitted for approval last year. I estimated that we should spend in wages under the Dockyard Vote £504,659 for now construction, and £443,484 for repairs, while under the Contract Vote for Ships and Machinery the expenditure would be £1,031,300, making a total sum of £1,979,443. With this amount we expected to complete 7,143 371 tons of unarmoured ships, including those which are known as protected ships, and 12,281 tons of iron-clads, or 19,424 tons in all. Now, I am glad to be able to inform the Committee that this result has been nearly attained, and in the case of iron-clad ships exceeded. What we now believe that we shall have accomplished by the end of this month is to have built in the financial year 19,059 tons in all, of which 12,548 will be armoured and 6,551 unarmoured. Although, however, this satisfactory result has been secured, its distribution is somewhat different from that which was intended, because less has been built by contract and more in the Dockyards, the Benbow, which, as the Committee is aware, is under construction in a private yard, having been delayed, owing to circumstances which I shall explain when I come to speak of individual ships. These figures prove that we have accomplished on unarmoured ships quite as much work as—indeed, rather more than—we anticipated. Hon. Members, however, who were present during the consideration of Vote 6 last year may remember that there was some discussion as to the value of this mode of computation by tons. By a ton, in this sense, is not meant a ton of displacement, but a unit determined by the proportion between the total ultimate cost of the ship, measured by the labour spent on her, and the weight of the ship in tons; and the weak point of this mode of computation obviously is, that as one of the elements in it—namely, the cost of the ship—is subject to variation and uncertainty, the unit which depends upon that element may also vary in value. The matter could not be more clearly explained than in a passage in the Report of the Into Accountant General of the Navy, published with the Navy Accounts in 1881, which passage I would ask leave to quote, although it is somewhat lengthy, as I think it most desirable that the Committee should fully understand the point. Sir Robert Hamilton says—The ton as a standard of measurement of proposed constructive work is used to arrive at a certain estimate of the cost of an assumed quantity of work. When a ship is designed the number of tons weight is estimated, and the total labour required in her construction is also estimated. The money value of the labour, divided by the number of tons, gives the cost per ton in labour. This forms the measure of the progress of the ship, and, according to the 372 amount expended for labour on her, she is said to have had added to her so many tons. But, if the cost has been under or over-estimated, a correction has to be made so as to bring the calculated into harmony with the realized tonnage. In fact, what is called a ton is not, strictly speaking, a ton at all, but merely a convenient expression for money spent or to be spent. It is possible to state what amount of money is spent on labour on a ship, and after the vessel is actually completed to state the actual tons weight of hull constricted; but the figures which represent the tons about to be added to that ship, or which, during her construction, are calculated to have been added, are only approximate.The Committee will perceive that the effect of this mode of computing is, that if, as a ship advances towards completion, it becomes apparent, as, unfortunately, it frequently does, that her cost will exceed the estimate originally formed, it follows that what has been called a ton was not really a ton, and that when the ship is completed we shall have built a greater number of so-called tons than are comprised in the total weight of the vessel. Well, Sir, I frankly expressed last year my opinion of this system of calculation, and I confess that the further my experience and investigation of the subject extend, the more reason do I find to avoid ascribing a too scrupulous and definite degree of accuracy to this measure of shipbuilding progress. But I can assure the Committee that, although not mathematically and essentially accurate, it is, at least, perfectly honest. The statements in these estimates of tonnage built in the present year, or expected to be built in the coming year, are made up in the Department by the same persons and on identically the same basis as all the similar statements submitted in past years; and if we are to maintain empower of comparing year with year, it is imperative that the system, however imperfect it may be, should remain unaltered. Any correction that might be called for in the figures for one year would be due to fluctuations in the value of a ton, not only during that year itself, but in previous years, whoso figures also would be in turn subject to correction, and so we should have to go back indefinitely. On the whole, although I have thought it right to make these criticisms, my opinion is that the system which has been so long followed may be allowed to continue; and it is the belief of those who administer it, that although it may fall short of theoretical accuracy, 373 it furnishes a true and equitable representation of the work which from year to year is done in building ships for the Navy. As, therefore, the iron-clad tonnage now estimated to have been added to the Fleet in this year is 12,548 tons, as compared with 11,321 tons which we announced our intention of building, and with 11,321 tons built in the previous year, I think I may claim that the present Board of Admiralty has carried out in this year that process of steadily and gradually raising the armoured strength of the Navy which they have announced as their uniform policy since their accession to Office. With regard to individual ships, the printed programme indicates the progress which we anticipate, and as to many of them I have little of interest to say. In many cases their progress is subject to occasional interruption and hindrance on account of difficulties which arise from new requirements or alterations suggested by the experience or inventive skill of our professional advisers. That such delays are costly, that they are to be lamented, and that prudent administration will carefully guard against them, and when they cannot be resisted will yield to them only with extreme reluctance, I most fully admit; but there are many cases in which we cannot complain of them. It is a matter on which no strict rule can be followed, and of which a broad and practical view should be taken. If it is unwise and wasteful both of time and money to depart unnecessarily from original designs, it would, on the other hand, be the height of folly to shut the door against improvements, or to insist upon a hasty and premature settlement of disputed points in respect either to ships or to their armaments. I make these observations, not because I have any unusual delay to excuse at this time, when, on the contrary, I believe we are rapidly overcoming its main causes, but because we often hear the delay of a ship's completion spoken of as being in itself a crime. Of its evils we are fully sensible, and of the necessity of checking them; but it must not be forgotten that duo deliberation, at least, is justifiable in order to complete in the most perfect form each of those huge engines of warfare which our Dockyards produce for the service of the country. Hon. Members will observe that steady progress is being made with the Admiral class generally. 374 The Collingwood, will very soon be brought to Portsmouth; and without any delay a trial will be made both of her speed and also of the working of her barbette mountings. The knowledge thus gained will be of the greatest use as a guide in the completion of the other vessels of the class; and this is one of the advantages of having on hand two or more ships of similar type. In the case of the Colossus, for instance, the delays as to her conning tower and the mode of loading her guns have been serious, and we have therefore decided to advance her and to keep back the sister ship, the Edinburgh, in order that our experience in the one ship may obviate the danger of having to do and undo work in the other. The Colossus has her new heavy guns on board, and a tedious alteration in her 6-inch armament, arising out of the introduction of the Vavasseur system of mounting, is now settled. These two ships, I would add, give the most excellent promise as regards speed. Similarly, it is proposed to advance the Impérieuse before her sister, the Warspite, both of which vessels have been launched during the year, and it was intended that the former ship should be completed next year; but this may be somewhat affected by the loss at sea of one of her sets of boilers, which has occurred since the programme was prepared. I have already alluded to the fact that the Benbow has been retarded in the hands of the contractor, partly from reasons connected with her building and the manufacture of her armour, and partly in consequence of her novel armament. As I informed the Committee last year, she will carry two heavy steel guns of the Elswick pattern, weighing 110 tons, and discharging a projectile of 1,800 lbs. The details are now settled, so that there will be no further hindrance on this account. So much, Sir, for the vessels named in the programme last year, the progress in which I feel sure the Committee will consider most satisfactory. But, it is not only thus that we have been better than our promise; besides these, we have thought it right to lay down and make a certain progress with a now iron-clad ship at Chatham. She is named the Hero, and will be almost exactly a second Conqueror. The Conqueror, which is now completed, has so fully realized the expectations of her designers, that we considered we could not make a more 375 useful addition to the Navy than by repeating her. This is the only new armoured ship that I have definitely to announce to the Committee on this occasion, although it is our intention later in the coming year to lay clown a new ironclad at Portsmouth, whoso exact type is not yet finally settled. I am thus led to the consideration of our proposals for the future. Some of those I have already indicated. The Colossus will, we hope, be completed, and also the Impérieusé; the other armoured vessels will be advanced steadily. I come next to the class of protected ships, of which two are under construction at Chatham. Of these Merseys, as they may be called, after the first which was laid down, we propose to build three more—one at Devonport and two at Pembroke. The fact that we contemplate building five of such vessels is a proof of the value, which, on the opinion of our highest professional advisers, we attach to them; and I would point out that ships of this class have this conspicuous merit, that they are distinctly capable of being effectively employed on two alternative uses. They are admirably suited by their size, speed, and other qualities for service as cruisers, and for ordinary peace duties on foreign stations, while, on the other hand, if mounted with heavy armour-piercing guns, it may be, I think, safely claimed for them that they would be in the fullest sense effective battle ships, and would be most formidable aids to our larger iron-clads in a naval engagement. We therefore consider that we could make no proposal more worthy of the support of this Committee than the increase of the number of these most valuable vessels. If hon. Members will now turn to Appendix No. 20 in the Estimates, they will find a list of the now ships which it is proposed to build in private yards, concerning which I should like to say a very few words, and I would first call their attention to the torpedo cruiser to be named the Scout, the contract for which has been taken by a Clyde firm. She will be a vessel of 1,430 tons; 220 feet in length, and 31 feet in beam; with a coal capacity of 300 tons, which, in case of necessity, may be filled up to 450 tons, which would enable her to steam at 10 knots speed, 4,600 knots and 7,000 knots respectively; her estimated speed with forced draught will be 16 knots; and she will curry a light armament of guns 376 and machine guns, but will be chiefly formidable owing to her power in torpedo discharge. She is designed for the employment of the Whitehead torpedo, and, in fact, she represents the cheapest vessel that can be produced for this service with the speed I have named, and with sea-going qualities. The question of constructing such a vessel has been hindered in solution by difficulties regarding the under-water discharge of torpedoes at full speed; and for the settlement of this important question the Polyphemus has afforded us the means for the most valuable experiments and investigation, great, progress having been made in overcoming the difficulties of the problem. The Scout is entirely open and unprotected, and protection would, of course, greatly increase the weight and cost of the vessel. I need hardly dwell upon the two despatch vessels which are to be built on the Tyne.
MR. CAMPBELL - BANNEEMAN
I can answer that question, I think; they will have a 1,400-ton displacement. They will be of the class of the Salamis, Lively, and Enchantress; but will be capable, if suitably armed, of being used for the same sort of purpose as the Scout. In the list of proposals also appears a torpedo depot ship, which is indicated as a new Hecla. The Hecla, as the Committee knows, was purchased out of the Vote of Credit in 1878, from a mercantile firm, for whom it had been built, and was converted and fitted as a torped and submarine mine depot and factory ship. If a ship is to be built to fulfil these duties the first condition will be that she should have a speed much higher than the Hecla's, which is only 12 knots. It is obvious that a vessel not only valuable in herself, but containing so valuable a cargo, and unable from the very condition of things to fight in her own defence, must owe her safety mainly to her speed. The new vessel, if built, would be of the merchant ship type, with her machinery and steering gear protected against light shell and machine guns. She would carry, besides a store of torpedoes, a number of first class torpedo boats—that is, boats of 18 to 20 knots speed, capable of going 1,000 knots with their own fuel—and she would be provided with hydraulic cranes by which to lower these boats at 377 sea when required. This is a description of a very interesting new departure in shipbuilding; but I wish candidly to: state to the Committee that, although we have inserted this item in the programme, we have not yet finally decided to proceed with it; the sum taken is only enough for a commencement, and we do not require to come to a decision until later in the year. There are high naval authorities who attach the greatest importance to such a vessel, who consider that she would, with her power of launching first-class torpedo boats, be a most invaluable auxiliary to a fleet of iron-clads. There are others who fear that, with her vulnerability and with the extreme value of her cargo, she would be a source of danger and anxiety more than equivalent to her usefulness; who doubt the feasibility of lowering boats of the length of first-class torpedo boats in any but exceptionally favourable states of the sea; and who hold that the money she would cost would be far better expended in multiplying torpedo ships of the Scout class which I have just described. I have thought it best frankly to indicate the various conflicting opinions which are under the consideration of the Board. I may mention, what I think my hon. Friend (Sir Thomas Brassey) stated earlier in the evening, that money is provided for adding, by contract, a superstructure to the Cyclops similar to that which has been placed upon the Hecaté; but we have thought it prudent not to proceed with it until the Hecaté has been tried at sea, probably with the Reserve Squadron in its summer cruise. The general result of our proposal for the coming year is this. We intend to build of iron-clad ships, 10,500 tons in the Dockyards, and 2,114 by contract; and of unarmourcd, 5,555 tons in the Dockyard, and 2,510 by contract; giving a total, armoured and unarmourcd, Dockyard and contract, of 20,679 tons. The wages to be spent in the Dockyards on the advancement of ships will be £541,202, and the amount of contract work—including materials and wages—£309,750. The wages to be spent in the Dockyards on repairs will be £419,840. This question of the repairs of Her Majesty's ships, and the best way of conducting and controlling them, is one to which my noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty has given much atten- 378 tion, and he has had in this the valuable assistance of Mr. Barnaby, the Chief Constructor of the Navy, who, by a re-arrangement of the work of his Department, has been brought of recent months into more direct connection than formerly with the work of the Dockyards. At the same time, we are anxious to satisfy ourselves how far the conditions under which we invite contracts from the private trade are such as to secure us the best results. On these two points Lord Northbrook has resolved to invite a small Committee of gentlemen experienced in the general shipbuilding trade of the country to advise the Admiralty, and we anticipate much assistance from them. I do not know that I need detain the Committee by any further remarks on shipbuilding topics; but I cannot leave the subject without saying something as to the questions we have had under our consideration affecting the officers and workmen in the Constructing Department. A year and a-half ago we had received a number of Memorials from classes and individuals in the Dockyards on the subject of their pay and the other conditions of their service, and I undertook that they should have an opportunity afforded of personally stating their case. Nothing could be more satisfactory to the Board than the way in which the views of the men were laid before us; but, to our great regret, circumstances have hindered us in coming to a decision on the cases submitted. The principal circumstance was this—that a Committee, ably presided over by my hon. Friend the Civil Lord, which was engaged in considering an improved organization of the whole Constructors' Department, submitted a Report which recommended, amongst other things, a radical change in the whole status and position of one of the most important classes in the Dockyards—namely, the leading men of shipwrights. When this Report had been duly considered and approved, so far as its own recommendations went, we had further to consider how the changes it proposed would affect other trades and ranks among the workmen; and this has been found so complicated a matter that, although no unnecessary delay has occurred, I am still unable to say that the questions raised have been fully decided. From our present position, I have no doubt that before the 379 Dockyard Vote is reached the matter so long pending will be concluded. Until the main classes were dealt with, it was obviously undesirable to deal with even minor and collateral cases. I think it right, however, to say that whatever changes my hon. Friend will be able then to announce, a general increase of pay will not be included in them. We were not able to see that there was any case for such an increase when the matter was first taken in hand, and the present condition of the labour market furnishes even less justification. I am sorry that we are thus compelled to intimate a further delay, but I trust it will be short and final. Sir, I fear that I have exhausted the patience of the Committee; but I have yet a few words to say on the subject of armament. My noble Friend the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) made a statement on Monday night of the progress made by his Department in supplying guns for the Navy. The progress made during the past year is, however, not to be measured by the number of guns actually manufactured; while we are engaged in a large re-armament, the advance made towards settlement of patterns and types is the most important matter, and in this I am glad to say an immense stride has been made during this year. I may remind the Committee that four years ago little or nothing had been done in this country in preparing for an alteration of armament. Other countries had been quicker to recognize the necessity, which arose not so much from any advantage of breech-loading over muzzle-loading as from the employment of slow-burning powder, entailing for its due consumption a great length of gun. Breech-loading guns of the old type have no advantage whatever over muzzle-loaders, while the latter have the great merit of simplicity. But guns of the new type are two or three times as long as the old; in one case, the pattern we have adopted has a length of 36 calibres; and it is this which makes breech-loading indispensable. Well, Sir, the Government, shortly after we came into office, recognizing the greatness of the task, and anxious to avoid mistakes, appointed an Ordnance Committee to advise them. This step may have had the immediate effect of causing delay; but the result has abundantly justified 380 it, because the details of the problem are now being rapidly solved, and we have the confidence which arises from thorough consideration. With regard to the lighter armament, the Committee are aware that there has long been a controversy regarding machine guns, which were originally designed mainly as a weapon against torpedo boats, but have now come into more extended use. Some Navies have adopted machine shell guns, while in our Service a bullet-firing gun has been preferred. We are now able to supplement our machine gun armament by a quick-firing shell gun, which we believe will be a formidable and useful weapon. It will be a breech-loading gun, firing a 6 lb. shell, capable of firing 10 aimed shots a-minute with considerable range, and penetration sufficient to pierce an ordinary ship's side. Of those guns 200 have been ordered for the coming year. The actual position of affairs is this. There are two guns of this kind—tho Hodgkiss and the Nordenfelt—that are very nearly equal in merit, and the Ordinance Committee have had considerable difficulty in saying which is the better of the two. We have determined to take half of the one and half of the other—as we thought it desirable to have an alternative gun, and to be sure of obtaining a supply—on the condition that the ammunition should be interchangeable. I have now referred to all the points to which I wished to allude, and, thanking the Committee for their patient attention, I beg to move the Vote.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,That 56,950 men and boys be employed for the Sea and Coast Guard Services for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885, including 12,400 Royal Marines."—(Mr. Campbell-Bannerman.)
MR. A. F. EGEETON
said, that at that late period of the night it would be impossible in any detail to criticize the very clear statement of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, or to go into the many very important subjects which had been placed before the Committee. There were one or two points, however, upon which he would venture to make a few remarks to the Committee. In the first place, he wished to say a word with regard to the remarks with which the hon. Member commenced—namely, his 381 graceful allusion to the naval services which had been rendered by our seamen and their officers in Egypt. For his own part—and he was sure on the part also of hon. Members sitting on the Opposition side, as well as of hon. Members opposite—he might say that he looked with the greatest admiration on the manner in which these services had been rendered, and that it was with the deepest regret that he had learnt of the loss of three gallant officers. [An hon. MEMBER: No; four.] Yes; that four gallant officers had fallen, albeit, so gloriously, in the performance of their duty. The next point the hon. Gentleman touched on was the question of the good conduct generally of the blue-jackets and Marines during the past year. He (Mr. A. F. Egerton) was sorry that the hon. Member, when he referred to that good conduct this evening, had not remembered to touch upon the subject to which attention had been drawn by the hon. Member for the City of York (Sir Frederick Milner). Probably the hon. Member had forgotten, while he was making his speech, that those remarks had been made by the hon. Member for York.
MR. A. F. EGERTON
The hon. Member did not allude particularly to what fell from the hon. Member for York.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I answered the hon. Baronet earlier in the Sitting. I made a long speech before introducing the Estimates.
MR. A. F. EGERTON
said, that, such being the case, he would pass from the subject, merely observing that what had happened showed the justice of the statement it had been his (Mr. A. F. Egerton's) duty to make some four or five years ago—and a very unpleasant duty it was—in defence of the punishment of the lash. He was sorry to say that he had been compelled to defend the infliction of that punishment on several occasions. He was afraid, how-over, that no punishment had yet been invented to satisfactorily take its place, and that the punishments which had been substituted, whether or not they had led to excessive hardships, had, at any rate, failed to produce the effects which had been expected of them. The 382 next subject that the hon. Gentleman had touched upon was the various increases in the rates of pay in certain branches of the Service; and no doubt the Committee on the whole would consider the hon. Gentleman's statement a very satisfactory one. They must take that statement, of course, on the authority of the Board of Admiralty, who must have carefully investigated all the details of the subject. It was absolutely necessary that we should have a good article; and it must be satisfactory to the Committee, who had to pay for it, to know that we were getting that good article. But there was one point with regard to warrant officers upon which he would like a little further explanation. In the time of the late Government there was a question frequently brought forward which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) had recognized as the harbour-ships question. Were the new rates of pay to apply to all the warrant officers, or only to those in seagoing ships, and not to those in harbour ships? He believed in the time of the late Government there was a different rate of pay to warrant officers on harbour services to those in sea-going ships. As to the increase of the lieutenants' pay, the state of the Lieutenants' List had been the crux of every succeeding Board of Admiralty for the last 20 or 30 years. He was happy to say that something had been done to alleviate the hard case of the lieutenants, although, of course, he knew it was impossible that all officers of that class in the Service could expect to reach a higher grade. With regard to the Intelligence Department, he thought his right hon. Friend (Mr. W. H. Smith) might well congratulate himself on the adoption of the new system by the present Board, because, when the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was in Office, he had that subject seriously under his consideration, and he had begun to take stops to create such a Department. He was happy to find that those steps had been followed out, and that the new system would be brought into action by the present Board. At this time of night it was impossible to enter at any length into the shipbuilding programme of the Admiralty. That must be deferred to a future occasion; but there was one point in connection with these Estimates; which was rather remarkable, and re- 383 quired explanation. If the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Admiralty would look at pages 191 and 204 of the Estimates, he would find that the latter page showed upwards of £2,000 less than page 201. He could not understand how that discrepancy had arisen, and he thought the two Estimates ought to be prepared from the same basis; but this discrepancy was prima facié inexplicable, although, no doubt, the hon. Member might be able to explain it. While on the subject of ship-building, he wished to make some remarks on the difference between the time taken to build an iron-clad in a Royal Dockyard and the time required in a private yard. That was a matter which seemed to him to be of some importance. It had always struck him, as a humble subordinate member of the Board of Admiralty, that the Dockyards took an inordinate time to build an iron-clad. He would not speak of the Inflexible, for that was an exceptional case. It took seven or eight years to construct, but it was attacked in a serious manner in the House of Commons, and great delay took place in consequence; but, generally speaking, a ship took, at least, one-third more time to build in a Royal Dockyard than it did in a private yard. He ventured to think, though with the greatest possible respect for the able Professional Department of the Admiralty, that this must be owing, to some extent, to a want of decision in the initiatory stage of the building of an iron-clad. He assumed that, when a private shipbuilder received an order for an iron-clad, he had all his plans cut and dried, and at once proceeded to build the ship as ordered, and his plans were not much interfered with—at any rate, if he was building for a Foreign Power and not for the British Government. But as to the building of an iron-clad in a Royal Dockyard, the hon. Member knew as well as he did what went on. The iron-clad was commenced, and when she had been in progress for about a year-and-a-half certain modifications were introduced by order of the Board and by the advice of the professional advisers, very wisely, no doubt, and the result was that she would be a better ship when she came out of the deck than what she was first intended to be; but still he ventured to think that speed was or ought to be an element of con- 384 siderafion in regard to the building of ships. But, perhaps, it might, sometimes be wise not to strive after absolute perfection, as we seemed to do, and that it would be better if ships were turned out in a shorter period than they now were. I That was all he had to say at present as to the programme for shipbuilding; but he might have more to say upon it when the Committee came to consider Votes 6 and 10 in detail. There was one other I point which was not touched upon by the hon. Gentleman, but with regard to which he should like some explanation. That was the question of the naval cadets. There seemed to have been, at the last examination on board the Britannia, a large failure to pass on the part of the cadets; and, in fact, it was alleged that the naval cadets at present were inferior in ability to those of the last two or three years. He should like to know whether there was any truth in that allegation, and if there was any reason to be assigned for this circumstance—whether the curriculum was placed higher than it ought to be, or whether the class of naval cadets recently admitted was of an inferior stamp? These were points upon which he wished to address the Committee at this stage of the discussion. He thought, on the whole, that the Committee would be satisfied that the Admiralty were making the best use of their resources. Individually, he should be very glad to see another £500,000 added to the Estimates for shipbuilding, and he did not think the country would object to that additional expenditure; but he thought the programme, as far as it went, would be considered satisfactory by the Committee.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, with reference to the case of the warrant officers, a concession was made to them in 1881, which was before he came into Office, and what he proposed now was to give them the other advantages of which he had spoken. He did not think there was actually any discrepancy between the figures on page 191 and 204.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, the real fact was that, if the tons built in 1883 were compared with the tons built in 1884, it might be shown that instead of 11,400 tons, only 9,325 tons had been built. If the figures were compared with a Return issued last year, showing the Estimate 385 for 1833, it would be found that the advance made was only 9,325 tons, instead of 11,400 tons given in the present Estimates. But it was impossible to go into these matters now, and he thought it would be better to give the Vote now, and arrange for a discussion at a proper time.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Member opposite (Mr. A. Egerton) as to the delays in building ships; but he thought the hon. Member was wrong in supposing that the Constructive Department or the Professional Advisers were to blame. In the building of a ship the Naval officers had to be satisfied that it contained all the latest improvements; and it was very likely the Constructive Department would prefer that those officers should be kept away from the ship. With regard to the cadets, he had laid on the Table the oilier day a Report of the Examiners on the last occasion; and that showed that, although there were one or two points upon which the cadets did not reach the level of ordinary school boys, yet, on the whole, the examinations were satisfactory, and in some respects the Examiners spoke very highly of the performances of the cadets. There was no reason for the implication that the cadets were falling off.
LORD HENEY LENNOX
said, he only wished to make a few observations at this hour of the night: but he wished to remark that it was unusual for the Representative of the Admiralty to answer questions of hon. Members, when he knew that there were other Members wishing to speak. He considered—and when the time came he hoped to prove—that these Estimates were most inefficient, and most misleading to the public, as to the strength of our Navy, and as to what was being added to it. So far as he could make out, the Admiralty were going to complete two iron-clads in the year—one of the first class, and one armoured cruiser. The Estimates had only been in the hands of Members six days, and in that time it was difficult to master a document of that kind. Then, as far as he could see, the Government did not intend to lay down more than one first-class iron-clad at Portsmouth, and there was only to be an advance of 375 tons, which was scarcely enough for the preliminary business of laying her 386 down. Altogether, he considered these Estimates so inefficient, that he should have liked, if he possibly could, to have an opportunity of addressing the Committee upon them at an earlier hour. It was no fault of the hon. Gentleman that he had not had that opportunity, for the hon. Gentleman had applied himself till 11 o'clock to making statements—a most inconvenient plan—and all he could say was that he hoped the hon. Gentleman would undertake, in some such way as he did last year, that an opportunity for discussion should be given. If that were done, then these Estimates would come up again at a no very distant period, and so the House would be able to discuss the policy of the Government. He believed his hon. Friend near him agreed with him on this point.
§ MR. CAMPBELL - BANNERMAN
said, with regard to the complaint with, which the noble Lord began his remarks, that it was often the most convenient course for the Representative of the Ministry to rise and reply to particular points as they were raised, instead of waiting to answer several questions together. The noble Lord had found fault with the Admiralty for only laying down one iron-clad this year; but the noble Lord had altogether omitted the ship that was begun last year, and which they had not promised. Instead of hiving it down at the beginning of the new year, they had laid it down at the end of last year; so that there were really two iron-clads in progress which were not in progress last year. With regard to the resumption of the debate, it was not for him to make any engagement as to Vote 2, for that could only be done by the general agreement of the Committee; but, although he was very sensible of the inconvenience of the proceeding, still it was made compulsory upon the Government, and if the Committee would agree to the Vote, the debate could be resumed at a later day.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, the question was, when the discussion would take place. If the Vote was given to-night, then there ought to be an early discussion, as there was last year. It would probably be in the power of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give an engagement to that effect. The subject of the Navy was of far too much importance to be hurried.
§ MR. STEWART MACLIVER
said, there was last year some misunderstand- 387 ing as to the course of procedure; and he wished to know under what Vote attention could be called to the position of the naval engineers and engine-room artificers?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
asked whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer could give some assurance as to the date or the period within which the discussion would be resumed?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
It is impossible to name a date; but I am in a position to say that on an early day, before Whitsuntide, we will take care that the debate shall be resumed. After what has fallen from the Chairman as to Vote 1, I hope the Committee will agree to give the Votes for the men and for boys upon this understanding.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he hoped the Committee would now assent to the Vote, upon the understanding which had been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was, no doubt, exceedingly inconvenient that the statement of the Secretary to the Admiralty should have been made to-night, and that no discussion whatever should be taken upon it for, perhaps, a couple of months; but still the necessities of the Public Service seemed to require that the Committee should forego for the present the most useful and important discussion that would have, at some time or other, to be raised. Under these circumstances, and on the understanding suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he thought the Committee ought to give way.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his extremely fair statement—a statement that was both fair and reasonable.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £2,671,800, Wages, &c. to Seamen and Marines.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,531,050, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885. viz.:—
|CLASS I.—PUBLIC WORKS AND BUILDINGS.|
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Grounds.||20,000|
|Houses of Parliament||7,000|
|Public Offices Site||5,000|
|Furniture of Public Offices||2,000|
|Revenue Department Buildings||50,000|
|County Court Buildings||6,000|
|Metropolitan Police Courts||1,500|
|Sheriff Court Houses, Scotland||3,000|
|New Courts of Justice., &c.||5,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||50,000|
|Science and Art Department Buildings||4,000|
|British Museum Buildings||2,000|
|Natural History Museum||1,000|
|Harbours, &c. under Board of Trade||1,500|
|Rates on Government Property (Great Britain and Ireland)||75,000|
|Metropolitan Fire Brigade||2,500|
|Disturnpiked and Main Roads (England and Wales)||20,00|
|Disturnpiked Roads (Scotland)||5,000|
|Royal University Buildings||500|
|Science and Art Buildings, Dublin||500|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||8,000|
|CLASS II.—SALARIES AND EXPENSES OF CIVIL DEPARTMENTS.|
|House of Lords, Offices||6,000|
|House of Commons, Offices||6,000|
|Treasury, including Parliamentary Counsel||10,000|
|Home Office and Subordinate Departments||15,000|
|Privy Council Office and Subordinate Departments||4,000|
|Privy Seal Office||250|
|Board of Trade and Subordinate Departments||25,000|
|Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade||500|
|Charity Commission (including Endowed Schools Department)||6,000|
|Civil Service Commission||7,000|
|Exchequer and Audit Department||9,000|
|Friendly Societies, Registry||1,500|
|Land Commission for England||4,000|
|Local Government Board||50,000|
|Mint (including Coinage)||20,000|
|National Debt Office||2,500|
|Paymaster General's Office||4,500|
|Public Works Loan Commission||1,500|
|CLASS IV.—EDUCATION, SCIENCE, AND ART.|
|Science and Art Department||60,000|
|National Portrait Gallery||600|
|Learned Societies, &c.||3,500|
|University Colleges, Wales||2,000|
|Deep Sea Exploring Expedition (Report)||1,000|
|Transit of Venus, 1882||100|
|Historical Portrait Gallery|
|Teachers' Pension Office||500|
|Endowed Schools Commissioners||200|
|Royal Irish Academy||600|
|CLASS V.—FOREIGN AND COLONIAL SERVICES.|
|Suppression of the Slave Trade||3,000|
|Tonnage Bounties, &c||2,000|
|Suez Canal (British Directors)||400|
|Colonies, Grants in Aid||5,000|
|South Africa and St. Helena||1,000|
|Subsidies to Telegraph Companies||9,000|
|Cyprus, Grant in Aid|
|Fortune Bay Fishery Claims|
|CLASS VI.—NON-EFFECTIVE AND CHARITABLE SERVICES.|
|Superannuation and Retired Allowances||120,000|
|Merchant Seamen's Fund Pensions, &c||1,000|
|Pauper Lunatics, England|
|Pauper Lunatics, Scotland|
|Pauper Lunatics, Ireland||50,000|
|Hospitals and Infirmaries, Ireland||4,000|
|Friendly Societies Deficiency|
|Miscellaneous Charitable and other Allowances, Great Britain||500|
|Miscellaneous Charitable and other Allowances, Ireland||600|
|Commutation of Annuities|
|Total for Civil Services||£2,841,050|
|Post Office Packet Service||120,000|
|Post Office Telegraphs||270,000|
|Total for Revenue Departments||£690,000|
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, that after the engagement which had just been made in the case of the Navy Estimates, and the similar engagement made a few days ago in the case of the Army Estimates, there ought to be some engagement entered into by the Government now that the Civil Service Estimates should be brought on within the same period of time—namely, before Whitsuntide. It was very inconvenient that these Votes on Account for all the great Services of the State should be brought on at the very latest possible moment which would fulfil the requirements of the law. He really did not know whether the Public Service had not now arrived at such a point that some shortening of the process by which the Ways and Means Bill passed through Parliament might not be advantageously made. Everybody must see that though the practice of the House was founded upon the most careful anxiety to secure the proper discharge of its financial duty to the country, yet the time required to carry out all the Forms of the House was so considerable that the House was placed in a most ridiculous position sometimes, and had to vote millions of money in this way without any opportunity for inquiry or consideration. If the Government desired to take a Vote on Account for two months, which he thought was rather a long period—though, no doubt, if a Vote for that period was not granted a second would have to be asked for—he thought that some pledge should be given that Committee of Supply should be resumed on the Civil Service Estimates on some comparatively early day. He would remind his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there was no opportunity for bringing forward questions of a general character which was at all analogous to the opportunity afforded by Supply.
§ MR. HEALY
wished to remind the Committee that the time was now nearly half-past 1 o'clock in the morning. He thought the Government had had enough of All-night Sittings for one week, without asking them on Thursday to renew such distressing experiences. He and his Friends had a series of discussions and complaints to bring forward on various Irish Votes; and, of course, such matters might lead to a very long discussion. He would, therefore, ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it was at all a reasonable thing to begin, at half-past 1 in the morning, to take a Vote of this kind, which involved an expenditure of £3,000,000, and travelled over all the various classes of the Estimates? If a Tory Government were in Office and were to propose to do such a thing there would be the most indignant protests from the Liberals. If the Government wanted the money some arrangement should be made whereby a pledge should be given to the Irish Members that they would have some reasonable opportunity of discussing Irish matters—such, for instance, as the question which was raised this afternoon in regard to the Queen's College at Cork. The Irish Members also wished to have an opportunity of debating the instructions issued by the National Board in Ireland; and they wanted, further, to discuss the operations under the Land Act, and the suppression of public meetings by the police. All these matters were pertinent to the Vote now asked for. Of course, they were quite prepared for some statement on behalf of the Government that they really required the money; but the Committee should not be asked to vote it without an opportunity for discussing these things. It was absurd and preposterous to expect them to discuss them with any satisfaction at this hour of the morning; and he hoped to hear from the Government some statement as to the way in which they proposed to afford facilities for bringing on these subjects.
§ MR. ARTHUK ARNOLD
said, he rose to move that the Vote he reduced by the sum of £500, that being the amount charged for certain Irish electoral statistics which had been ordered by the House of Lords. On the 7th of February the Earl of Limerick moved in the House of Lords for certain statistics showing the number of lands, tene- 393 ments, and hereditaments in Ireland in each county or borough, and the number of inhabited houses in each county, city, or borough in Ireland, and showing also the different classes of rating. The main object of the Return—indeed, the only point about it—lay in the desire that it should show the different classes of rating of the various properties. The granting of that Return was opposed by Lord Carlingford on the part of the Government, and the reason which that noble Lord gave for opposing it was that the officers who would be charged with the preparation of the work in Ireland were engaged in other important duties, and could not undertake the work satisfactorily. Lord Carlingford stated that the Return could not be compiled for two months, and that the carrying of the Motion would be highly inconvenient. Lord Limerick, nevertheless, persisted in taking a Division, and succeeded in defeating Her Majesty's Government in five votes. Under these circumstances, a Vote for the cost of preparing these Returns had been presented by the Government in the Estimates laid before the Committee. He (Mr. Arthur Arnold) would only state very briefty the objections which, as it appeared to him, this House ought to entertain against granting such a Vote. They had to bear in mind that in this House there were 103 Members from Ireland; and although this question of the extension of the franchise in Ireland had been a very prominent subject for the last year or two, no Motion whatever had been made for electoral statistics of this sort in this House by any Member representing an Irish constituency. Last year there was on the Paper an elaborate Motion for a Return of electoral statistics; but not a single Irish Member proposed an Amendment on that Motion, with the view of getting what the Earl of Limerick asked for in the House of Lords. He thought the Irish Members, in their own self-defence, ought to protest against proceedings which so palpably condemned their own conduct; for was it to be supposed, if these Returns were really required, that every one of 103 Irish Members would, have failed to make a Motion on the subject? But the main reason why he would impress on the Committee that the item for covering the cost of these Returns should not be granted was that 394 the Return asked for was positively and entirely useless. It was useless for the reason that since Lord Beaconsfield most wisely and justly resolved to have the Act of 1867 upon a rating qualification, without any regard whatever to the amount of the rating or the assessment, there had not been a single Motion made in this House for a Return of electoral statistics based upon this sub-division into rating qualifications. Why was that so? Because such a Return would have been entirely useless. The Act of 1876 established the principle that a rated dwelling of any rateable value would confer the franchise; and, therefore, from that time forth, such Returns as Lord Limerick had obtained were of no value whatever. No doubt, before 1876, it was not unfrequent to have Returns moved for in this House which would show the different rating values; but since that time there had been no such Returns moved for, and none presented, a fact which showed that there was no desire on the part of any single Member of this House—English, Scotch, or Irish—to obtain any Return of the kind. He would not say a word as to the question of privilege involved in what appeared to be the initiation by the House of Lords of a Money Vote; and he would not dwell on the reproach conveyed by this Return upon the Irish Members of this House, who seemed to be treated as though they had neglected their duty to their constituents. But he based his opposition to this item in the Vote mainly and entirely upon the absolute uselessness and worthlessuess of the Return which had been ordered by the other House. He asked every Member to do his duty to his constituents by not consenting to waste the public money. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the reduction of the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,530,550, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1885."—(Mr. Arthur Arnold.)
§ MR. PLUNKET
desired to say a word or two on the most extraordinary Motion which had just been made. When he first heard of the proposal, he could not think it was quite serious, nor, indeed, until he saw the hon. Gentleman rise to support it. He would notice some of the 395 arguments which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward. In the first place, the hon. Member said it would be a reproach to the Irish Members to pass this item in the Vote, because they had taken no earlier action in the matter.
§ MR. PLUNKET
repeated, that they were charged with taking no earlier action. He would like to say, upon that point, that the Irish Members had no idea whatever, until they saw it introduced in the Government Bill, that the Ministry intended to propose the extension of the household franchise to all the counties and boroughs in Ireland; and, under these circumstances, it would have been absurd to base a demand for a Parliamentary Return upon an abstract question of franchise. What was the hon. Gentleman's other objection? It was that there was no necessity for this Return at all. The hon. Gentleman had stated that there never had been a suggestion made that such a Return should be moved for since the Reform Bill of 1867 or 1868. But the hon. Gentleman had forgotten that several Returns on the subject had been provided to the two Houses of Parliament; and, therefore, that argument, oven if it were true, came to nothing; though, as a matter of fact, it was wholly inaccurate, for Returns had been moved for by Mr. Pim, the late Member for Dublin, as well as by other Members. Now, the present Return had been ordered by the House of Lords; and it was intended to procure some information which many hon. Members of this House considered would be of the utmost importance in the debates which were about to take place on Reform. He refused to say, by anticipation, whether the policy of the Government was right or wrong in regard to the adoption of this sweeping measure of household franchise; but it was clear that they could not debate it unless they knew what the real character of the Reform was likely to be, and what practical result it would produce in Ireland. It was a great sign of weakness, in the case of the hon. Member, that he should try, by a Motion of this kind, in an empty House, at half-past 1 o'clock in the morning, to deprive hon. Members of the opportunity which might be afforded them by the granting of this Return. he did not like to use the 396 word "unfair;" but it was clearly most unusual to do such a thing of so serious a character.
§ MR. PLUNKET
Because there was no necessity. It was moved for and obtained almost on the first day of the Session in the other House. How was the Motion met when it was made by the Earl of Limerick? The Government resisted it; but the only ground on which they opposed it was that, at the time it was moved for, it would entail some further work on certain officials in Ireland, who at that moment would be unable to perform it. But that was nearly two months ago. No doubt, the desire was to procure the Return in less than two months. It would have been very valuable if it could have been laid before Parliament before the second reading of the Franchise Bill was brought on; but it was absolutely essential that they should have it for the purpose of further debate on the measure in Committee. Unless they had it, they would be acting in the dark—not knowing where they were going. The only difficulty which caused objection to the granting of the Return in the House of Lords had now disappeared. It was stated, at the time the Motion was made, that the officials concerned were busily engaged, and that the preparation of the Return would interfere with their other business; and it was said—"You cannot have it for two months." But that ground of objection had now passed away, and the heavy engagement of the officials no longer existed. It would, therefore, be possible, according to the very terms of the statement which Lord Carlingford then made, to have the Return completed now; and it was a monstrous thing that, after Parliament bad ordered a Return of this kind, a Motion of this sort should be brought forward, and based on the most flimsy arguments ever heard, for no other purpose than to deprive the House of Commons of information which was absolutely vital to the fair discussion of this important question. He trusted that the Government would not support the Motion which had just been made.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, no one in the House would accuse him of support- 397 ing this Vote because the Return would be such as to induce this or the other House to view with, disfavour the Bill extending the franchise to the counties. The Government were undoubtedly, as the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) said they ought to be, content with the statistics they had already got; but it by no means followed that they should look too narrowly at the request of the other House for fresh statistics. It was not quite the case, as his hon. Friend (Mr. Arthur Arnold) said, that statistics of this sort had not been in question since Lord Beaconsfield extended household suffrage to boroughs. The Return which the House of Lords asked for was, in fact, the continuance of a Return that was granted to Mr. Pim, the late Member for Dublin. That Return was examined, and examined with some interest, by the Members of the present Government with reference to the Franchise Bill which was now before the House. Mr. Ball Green was requested by them to make an approximate Return of the ratings in the Irish counties—they did not require more than an approximate Return, because they believed in the principle of household suffrage which was laid down by Lord Beaconsfield. The Return which Mr. Ball Green made dealt with a good many of the most representative counties in Ireland, and it was of a nature to fully justify them; but the House of Lords preferred to have a more comprehensive set of statistics, from which, however, they could not gather results that the Government could not gather from their exceptionally correct Return; but, out of courtesy to the Upper House, hon. Gentlemen ought not to refuse this money. It was for the Upper House to say what information they wanted in order to decide upon a Bill which would, he hoped, at no long period be presented to them. Those of them who were in Parliament in 1860 could not but remember very vividly the enormous number of Returns that were asked for, even in the House of Commons, before a very moderate extension of the franchise was granted. The House of Commons had been content with the Return which was moved by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold), one of the most comprehensive and, at the same time, concise Returns relating to the sub- 398 ject that was ever laid before the House of Commons; but, at the same time, if the Upper House, in its wisdom, desired to have statistics in a more complete and comprehensive form than the Government had obtained, the House of Commons would do ill to refuse to vote the necessary money. It would be a decided act of discourtesy by this House towards the other House that a Return which this House asked for and obtained not very many years back should be refused to the Upper House now. The reasons they would give for refusing the money would be quite inadequate; and he, as one of the very oldest friends of the franchise question in the House of Commons, should be sorry to see the Bill extending the franchise to counties go to the Upper House, coupled with a distinct refusal to grant to the Upper House the convenience of a Return which the House of Commons asked for since household suffrage came into operation.
§ MR. HEALY
said, it was a fortunate thing that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan) had spoken at an hour of the morning when the Press could not report his words; because what would Lord Carlingford think to-morrow if he were to read the right hon. Gentleman's speech? When did the Government get this additional light on the question? When did their minds become open to the necessity of the Return? Lord Carlingford's speech, in "another place," was as strong in opposition to the Return as the Chief Secretary's speech was in favour of it. The right hon. Gentleman said they ought not to refuse the Return, because it would be discourteous to the Upper House to do so. Was there ever such an argument? They were not to refuse any Amendments made to the Franchise Bill, because it would be discourteous to the Upper House. Was that the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? No; of course not; that would not exactly suit the convenience of the Government. If a proposition were carried in the House of Lords, in spite of Lord Granville and the Members of the Government in that House, it would be found, when the proposal came down to the House of Commons, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was willing to support it by speech and vote. That 399 thoroughly illustrated the character of thie Gentleman they had to come in contact with in dealing with Irish affairs. The right hon. Gentleman absolutely ran counter to Lord Carlingford on this question; he tore up every argument that noble Lord made, and threw to the wind the whole case on, which the Government rested. He could not but blush for the right hon. Gentleman in his position. He (Mr. Healy) cared little whether the Return was presented or not. If the statistics were to be prepared for Ireland, let similar ones be prepared for England. [An hon. MEMBER: we do not want them.] Exactly so. Neither did the Irish; but they were forced clown their throats. Why should they not be forced down the throats of the English? Because the House of Lords believed there was a majority in Ireland unfavourable to the extension of the franchise to the Irish counties. What compensation was to be obtained for the presentation of this Return? He was at a loss to know by what means they could be able to give their Lordships a rebuff for the absurd Return they had asked for, except by voting for the Motion. He was only sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was so inconsistent as not to defeat in the House of Commons what his own Cabinet Ministers and his official superiors had endeavoured to defeat in the House of Lords.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, there was a large number of Irish Members, some of whom were Conservatives, in the House of Commons. If this Return was necessary, why did not an Irish Member in this House propose it? If, when a Liberal Government was in power, the Conservatives were to go to the House of Lords, and, in defiance of the Liberals in that House, obtain a Vote, and if the Members of the House of Commons were then to be told by the Liberal Government that the Vote was not to be refused, because it would be discourteous to the Upper House, what, in the name of Heaven, was the use of having a Liberal Government? The Government were perpetually knocking under to the Conservatives in this House; and now they were prepared to knock under to the Conservatives in the House of Lords. Lord Carlingford strongly opposed the Return, and said it would be months before it could be obtained. 400 Everyone could understand why the Return was asked for in the House of Lords. It was for the purpose of delaying the Franchise Bill, because if, when the Bill went to the Upper House, the Return had not been presented, their Lordships would say—"But we have not got this Return; we must wait;" and they would make it an excuse for not, passing the Bill, or for throwing out that portion of it which related to Ireland. He hoped the Government would show a little backbone, and would oppose the Return. [Cries of "Divide!] It was all very well to cry "Divide!" but it was not right hon. Members should have to go down on their knees whenever the question of voting away the money of the taxpayer came up. There were a few Gentlemen calling themselves Radicals, and hailing from some Scotch borough or county, who were always ready to go down on their knees to the House of Lords and vote money away whenever they were asked. He had always protested against the practice, and he should continue to do so.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he joined with his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary on the versatility of his abilities. The arguments which were brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman in favour of the Return were of a most flimsy and trivial character. Why had not the Government put their foot down, and declared that, if it rested with them, every occupier of a house in Ireland as well as in England should have a vote? He was surprised at the Conservative Party taking up this position. Had the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) carefully studied the writings and speeches of Lord Beaconsfield, he would have known that that statesman gave up the idea that the voting was to be regulated by differential rating. The House of Lords insisted upon this Return for the purpose, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), of delay. What good could the Return do? It could not be ready for months, so Lord Carlingford said. [An hon. MEMBER: Two months.] Well, two months were months. He presumed that the Government had not been audacious enough to order the Re- 401 turn to be prepared without, first of all, having obtained sanction of the House of Commons. If the Return could not be obtained for two months, three or four months ago, it could not be obtained in less than two months now, even if money were voted to-night. The second reading of the Franchise Bill was put down for Monday next. He did not imagine it would be passed that night, because he had the greatest confidence in the unexhaustible power of speaking against time which hon. Gentlemen on the Conservative Benches possessed. If the second reading of the Franchise Bill were passed in the House of Commons, even within a week or two, what would they want with this Return? The principle would have been affirmed, and this Assembly would have declared its opinion long before the Return could be presented. The House of Commons ought not to be put in the position of waiting the pleasure of the House of Lords until they got a Return which could be of no real value to them.
MR. ILLING WORTH
said, he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) might have been a little more communicative by explaining to the House why the House of Lords wanted this Return. There was, perhaps, something in what the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) said—namely, that it would be, in some degree, discourteous to the House of Lords to refuse to grant the money for the preparation of the Return. He (Mr. Illing-worth) thought that, upon the whole, they had better allow the Vote to pass. If there was any information contained in the Return which their Lordships could avail themselves of, let them do it. He thought the Return would prove very strong evidence in favour of extending household suffrage to Ireland, because the more humiliating the Return was as to the miserable ratings which prevailed in Ireland the more conclusive was the case that they required a revolution of affairs in that country. Perhaps it would not be desirable to furnish the House of Lords with any frivolous excuse for obstructing or defeating the Reform Bill; and, therefore, if their Lordships could get any comfort from the Return, the House of Commons would act wisely in granting it.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, they had heard something about discourtesy which might be shown to the House of Lords if this Return were refused. Were the House of Lords so very careful to be courteous to the House of Commons? Did the House of Lords show a very great desire to be courteous to the House of Commons with reference-to measures upon which the Government felt strongly, and which were passed through the Lower House by large majorities, but which were most unceremoniously kicked out by their Lordships? Take, for instance, the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. That was a measure which the Government believed to be of much importance, a largo measure of policy with regard to Ireland, and it was passed by a considerable majority in the House of Commons. The courtesy of the House of Lords was conclusively shown by the vigorous manner in which they kicked that Bill out. Had it come to this—that the Conservative minority in the House of Commons, when they could not get what they desired, called in the aid of their big brother the House of Lords, where the Conservative Party were dominant? They would have to be discourteous to the House of Lords. The House of Lords was very discourteous to the House of Commons. The House of Lords was hostile to measures that the majority of the House of Commons believed to be just and necessary both for Ireland and for England. It was notorious that the House of Lords was in flagrant opposition to the views of the majority of the House of Commons, especially with regard to matters relating to Ireland. Upon the very next opportunity the House of Lords would be discourteous to the House of Commons; and yet, forsooth, the Commons were to deal with them in a polite style! The House of Lords refused the House of Commons Acts of Parliament, and the House of Commons must refuse them this Return. He did not understand the propriety, or the decency, or the necessity for the course recommended by the Government. He thought it rather paltry on the part of the Government and on the part of the House of Commons to show this delicacy with regard to the other House of Parliament. The House of Lords wanted this Return simply and solely to furnish itself with 403 ammunition to fetter the House of Commons in its action. He did not understand at all why they were to bow courteously to the House of Lords, and hand over what they wanted for the purpose of striking at the majority in that House, and for the purpose of striking at the Government itself. For his own part, he liked to deal with an enemy as an enemy, and with a friend as a friend. In this matter the House of Lords was neither a friend to the Government nor to the House of Commons; and he failed to see any good reason for acting in the manner proposed by the Government on this occasion.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 43; Noes 85: Majority 42.—(Div. List, No. 48.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, with reference to the question as to whether the Government would give a similar pledge with regard to the Navy Estimates to that given in the case of the Army Estimates, it would be their duty to give a day for discussion during the period indicated in the case of the latter Estimates. The hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had asked him whether the Government could give some further time for the consideration of the Civil Service Vote on Account, with regard to which he said there were some six or seven important questions to be discussed the practice, as long as he had sat in that House, had been not to take any debate on a Vote on Account with reference to matters of current expenditure, on the understanding that it did not cover any new charge, as any such question must be discussed on the Estimates themselves. If it were the case that every detail of the current expenditure could be discussed upon a Vote on Account, it would be obviously 404 impossible to carry on the Business of the House; and, therefore, all that the Government could do was, with great respect, to resist such a proposal, and to ask the Committee to carry out in the present instance the former practice of the House.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman had deprecated what he described as the pernicious practice of discussing upon Votes on Account questions which arose upon the Estimates themselves. If this were a pernicious practice, he would remind the Committee that it was a practice initiated by the present Government. Irish Members objected to the custom of supplanting and setting aside the regular Constitutional discussion of the Estimates by the mean and furtive method of asking for a Vote on Account, and relegating that discussion to a period when no real discussion could be taken—namely, to the month of July or August. He wished to point out that the Government were asking for two-thirds of £1,000,000 in connection with the Public Service in Ireland at half-past 2 o'clock in the morning. What, answer was it to him, when he said that several important questions with reference to Ireland were involved, to reply that those questions could not be considered because the Vote on Account covered no new charge? The salary of the Chief Secretary was no new charge. It was the same that was paid to his Predecessors 10 or 12 years ago, no doubt; but if they had cause to find fault with the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman within the next six months, what answer was it to them to say that the charge was an old one? It was an answer of a most shallow character. Altogether there were nine or ten Votes on which he thought it desirable to bring forward a discussion as to the policy of Her Majesty's Government, although he did not think it would be necessary to have a separate, or a very long debate, on them. All he desired to say could be very well brought within the limits and compass of a single debate—at a Morning Sitting, for instance. At any rate, it was very unreasonable to ask for two-thirds of £1.000,000 at 20 minutes after 2 o'clock in the morning. He held that the settled and recognized charges for 405 the Government in Ireland involved payments which the Irish Members, in the performance of their public duty, felt bound to call in question. He would press on the Government the desirability of giving them au opportunity for the consideration of the policy Constitutionally involved in the Vote of this sum of money. If the Government refused this reasonable concession, he knew very well what public feeling and public sentiment would declare about it in Ireland, and what the opinion of hon. Members sitting near him would be on the matter.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH
paid, he agreed with what had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few moments ago—namely, that if all matters connected with the Civil Service Estimates were to be discussed on these Votes on Account they would never get to the end of the Session. He, however, did think that one observation of the hon. Member who had just sat down, with regard to the manner in which the present Government had substituted Votes on Account for regular Supply, was perfectly justified. No doubt, it was justifiable that the Government should ask for a Vote on Account with which to commence the financial year; but he did not think it right that they should ask for repeated Votes on Account as they had done. The promise of the Prime Minister would not be redeemed merely by putting down Civil Service Estimates, and by a night's discussion on such Motions as could be then brought forward before going into Committee. What he understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to mean was that a full night should be given to a discussion of the Estimates in Committee of Supply itself before asking for a fresh Vote on Account. As to what the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had said, if he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) might venture to make a suggestion, it would be this—it was not for him to say whether the hon. Member, and those who agreed with him, were or were not justified in wishing to discuss this Vote on Account; but if it were agreed to do so, might it not be possible to discuss the matter on Report, if the Report were the first Order tomorrow? That would cause no delay in including the Vote in the Ways and Means Bill.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, that, having looked at the Paper for to-morrow, he found it would be absolutely impossible.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
Because there are such a number of Questions on the Paper.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, that the Morning Sitting to-morrow was for the Cattle Diseases Bill, and other subjects that were down on the Paper; and there would be nothing to be gained by putting the matter off until then. What he rose to say was that they should fulfil literally the promises they had given just now—namely, that there should be one full day for the discussion of the Estimates after Easter.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he would suggest that the Government should give Saturday for the discussion of this particular question. If they did that, hon. Members who did not wish to attend could stay away, and Members who felt a particular interest in certain Votes could come and have an opportunity of discussing them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had spoken as if these Votes on Account were things that were desirable, and that the House did not need any opportunity of discussing them; but every genuine and Constitutional Liberal amongst them would say that it ought to be rendered difficult for the Government to carry such Votes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that if they discussed all these questions there would be no time to consider them adequately. So that it came to this—a Bill was presented to them, and they were told—"You have no time to discuss these things; you must pay the money without looking into them." They were told that the money must be voted at once, so that the matter might be settled, and that the 407 discussion on the Vote could be taken at the time the Government had fixed; but it would be found that the time that suited the Government was the end of the Session, when hon. Members had neither the patience nor the temper for these debates. It came to this—that at the beginning of the Session it was too early to discuss these matters, and at the end of the Session it was too late, so that an end was put to discussion altogether. He sincerely hoped that the House would resist this sort of principle and this sort of practice.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, that the hon. Member (Mr. Justin McCarthy), following in the wake of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), had forgotten the extreme stringency of the financial rule winch required such proceedings as the Government now proposed. The hon. Member knew perfectly well that at the beginning of the year no Department had the money to go on with, for the reason that all that was in hand on the 31st of March had to be paid back into the Exchequer. It was necessary to begin the year anew; and, therefore, at the beginning of the New Year it was essential that they should have a Vote on Account; and it was absurd to say that this practice was introduced now for the first time, for, as a matter of fact, it had been in existence for 20 years. Before the contention of the hon. Member was conceded, they would have to consider the small space of time during which these Votes could be given. They must be given in time to pass the different sums of money before the 31st of March; and it would be impossible, with that duty before them, to conceive the House of Commons entering with any detail upon an examination of the different items which were comprised in a Vote on Account. That would be, in principle, to carry on the discussion on Votes of Supply for 10 days or a fortnight—it would be impossible. He agreed that it was not right to go on multiplying Votes on Account, and that it was right to impress on the Government the desirability of avoiding that practice. The present Government, however, had not been singular in the course they had taken as to Votes on Account. ("Mr. WARTON: They have—very.] He (Mr. Courtney) was afraid the hon. and learned Member was not aware of the deeds of the last Govern- 408 ment—that they had endeavoured to got a Vote on Account for three months instead of two, and that they had come for a second Vote within three weeks of receiving the first. A third Vote on Account was unusual, he admitted. The Committee must remember the limited number of days they had for the discussion of Supply. Hon. Members must have some regard to proportion. If they would appropriate their time in some ratio to the work to be done, they might avoid three Votes on Account; but if they were to have three nights on the first class, it was, he maintained, impossible to avoid repeated Votes on Account. It would be impossible to take the discussion on Saturday, as had been proposed, in time to get the Votes included in the Ways and Means Bill. To-morrow would be the latest date for the Report, if there were a Sitting on Saturday. The Report would be taken to-morrow, the First Reading of the Ways and Means Bill on Saturday, the Second Reading on Monday, the Committee stage on Tuesday, and the Third Reading on Wednesday, together with the First Reading in the House of Lords. The House of Lords would be asked to sit on Wednesday—an unusual day for them to meet—the three remaining stages would be passed on Thursday, and the Royal Assent would be received on Friday.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the hon. Member declared it was impossible for them to discuss these subjects in detail, because they would not have time to do it. Why would they not have time? Why could they not do in an orderly and methodical manner that which they were now doing piecemeal? What was the most important work of this House? Was it not to discuss the £60,000,000 of expenditure? They did not scruple to spend 30 days in passing Coercion Acts; but they begrudged the time necessary to discuss the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that five or six questions could not be discussed on Votes on Account, otherwise it would render the taking of those Votes impossible. And so said he (Mr. Healy). These Votes on Account should be rendered impossible—they were unconstitutional—things of modern growth. It did not convince him to say—"If you discuss Votes on Account you will render them impos- 409 sible"—let them be impossible. To that he should agree with all his he art. What was the House of Commons? It was an Assembly representing the people; and to his mind it was much more necessary for them to discuss, in the interest of the taxpayer, how this £3,500,000 was to be spent, than for them to discuss the second reading of the Cattle Diseases Bill. There had grown up, on the part of Ministers, a feeling the vary reverse of that which had made the liberties of the country the expression. It used to be said that money was everything; but now the Government wanted them to vote it as a matter of course. The people were represented here as a check upon the Crown; the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the other Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench were engaged in spending the money of the people in the interest of the Crown; therefore, the Committee had a perfect right to look upon them with suspicion. He denied the right of the Government to put a pistol at the heads of hon. Members when they asked for this money. In former times games of this kind were received in a very different manner; and though the Sovereign, on this occasion, was represented by a very polite Minister, he saw no reason why the Committee should be led away by him. If the Chief Secretary did not make it the desire of his life——
I must point out that the hon. Member is wandering away from the Question before the Committee.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the Question, or part of it, was the salary of the Chief Secretary; therefore he was entitled to discuss the right hon. Gentleman's dealings with Ireland. They began this discussion upon a different matter; and he should very much like to know whether, in voting this £3,500,000, it was the ruling of the Chair that they could only discuss one part of the expenditure involved, because otherwise he should discuss the action of the Chief Secretary in bringing about this debate. He had been endeavouring to point out that if Irish grievances were met as English grievances were, there would be no difficulty in the matter, and to show that the Chief Secretary's only anxiety was to bowl over the Irish Members in defence of the particular class of whom he was 410 champion. The bent of the right hon. Gentleman's mind seemed to be to justify everything done by his subordinates—it seemed to go to his soul to admit that anything which the Executive had done in Ireland was wrong; and even his literary skill was strained to the utmost in the endeavour to conceal the fact that the allegations made by the Irish Members were true. Was that the spirit which the right hon. Gentleman addressed to English questions? No; because English Members would not tolerate it. When, however, he had a majority at his back, he thought he could deal with Irishmen and Irish questions as he liked. [Cries "Order!"] What was the point of Order? He very much regretted that the Government did not see their way to giving some time for the discussion of this subject. He and his hon. Friends were not in any unreasonable mood; but they thought that that hour of the morning—half-past 3—was not the time for going into the subject. There was one subject they were specially anxious to discuss, and that was the Queen's College, Cork. The Cork papers went to press at 3 o'clock, and not a word could appear of what now took place in this House. The Business of this House was to deal with the grievances of the people, and it was for that purpose the people sent Representatives here; but what good could be done by going into this question at this hour? He put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he would deal with an English question in this way; and he must ask the Government to give some further time, and at an earlier hour, for this discussion. They were not in an unreasonable mood unless driven to the wall, and then they could fight as well as anybody else.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, it was obvious that the Report of these Votes must be taken some time tomorrow. In the ordinary way the Report would be put down for an Evening Sitting; but why should not the Government having promised to take the Cattle Disease Bill as the second Order of the Day, put down the Report third? There were no Notices as Amendments to the Report of Supply, and there was no reason to suppose that any would be put down. The Irish Members were anxious to discuss the Votes 411 on the Report; and he could not suppose that the Bills which the Government seemed disposed to put down after the Cattle Bill—namely, the Sunday Closing Bill and the Elections (Hours of Poll) Bill—were of such importance as Supply. It seamed to him that if the Government wished to obtain this Vote, and to give the Irish Members an opportunity of discussing what they wished to consider, they would put down the Report of Supply after the Cattle Bill.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, hon. Members would have the fullest opportunity for discussing these matters when the real Vote was taken; and if they would; trust him he would do his utmost to insure their having an opportunity of discussing the particular points to which attention had been called. He could not say more than that. As to the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet, the matter stood thus—After the Cattle Disease Bill they intended to take the Elections (Hours of Poll) Bill, and the Revision of Juries (Dublin) Bill next. So far as the Elections (Hours of Poll) Bill was concerned, the Government were willing to put that down third; but as they wished to accommodate themselves to the feeling of the House, it was really a question for hon. Members on the other side to decide, by saying which they would prefer to take first. They were prepared to put the Report of Supply second; and that, he hoped, would give hon. Members a full opportunity of discussing it.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that, considering the circumstances, the last statement of the right hon. Gentleman went further in the direction of reasonableness than his first statement; but it was of importance to Members to know at what stage of the Session they would be able to discuss the question. He would not ask for a date; but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would indicate the week.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. CHILDERS)
said, it would be premature to do that now; but he would do his utmost to arrange for the Vote so to come on that hon. Members should have a full opportunity of discussion.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.412
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.