§ (1.) £27,969, to complete the sum for the House of Commons Offices.
§ Mr. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I do not want to detain the Committee; but there is one point which—though the Government will not be able to take action with regard to it this year—I should like to ask them to consider favourably in framing the Estimates for next Session. A good deal with which I do not agree has been said about the salaries of the higher officials of the House of Commons; but there are many lower officials, such as messengers, extra messengers, persons who see to the evidence of witnesses given before the Committees upstairs being corrected and sent out, and other minor attendants, as those in the cloak room, who seem to me to be miserably underpaid, and to be as much worthy of the attention of the Government as those whose case has been discussed. I direct the attention of the Government to the claims of these persons, in order that those claims may not be entirely lost sight of.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I wish to add a few words to what has been said by the hon. Member for Northampton with reference to the case of the extra messenger. I believe the staff of messengers consists of 18 officers, 12 of whom are placed in one division, and who have salaries rising by annual increments of £10 a-year to a maximum of £200. There are six others, who are not in this favourable position, although they wear the same uniform and really perform the same duties, and who are required to have the same capacity and to be in attendance during the same number of hours. I am at a loss to understand why a distinction is made between one class of these messengers and the other class. As I say, they all seem to have the same capacity, and it 1015 certainly would seem as though the distinction should be abolished, and that the whole 18 should be placed upon terms of equality. I wish to testify to the able and efficient manner in which all these officers discharge their duties. In order to raise the six messengers who are in a less favourable position to equal terms with the others, the Government would only be called upon to spend an additional £60 a-year; and I trust that, looking at the nature of the duties they have to perform, the Committee will favourably consider their case. We know these messengers have to be long hours in attendance. We know that, at however late an hour the Speaker may finally leave the Chair, they have to be in attendance on Select Committees the next day. I certainly think there is no class of public servants who deserve more consideration than these messengers.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
There is one point which has escaped the attention of the Committee up to the present, and it is that up to within two or three years ago, whenever there was a specially long Sitting of the House, the messengers received an extra payment of 5s. or 10s. That system appears now to have ceased—or, at any rate, it has been revived only once this Session, although we have had a number of late Sittings. I do not know why that system should be abolished. I understand that we have 12 messengers who start at a salary of £100 a-year each, and receive annual increments of £10 until the salary reaches £200 a-year; but that the other six do not receive these annual increments until they are advanced into the ranks of the first 12. I cannot see that the fact of a man dying in one class makes the slightest difference in the value of the services of the man who fills the vacancy from the smaller number, six, seeing that all the 18 men have to perform precisely the same duties. I should like to know upon what ground the distinction can be defended, and I should also like to know why this practice of paying the men 5s. or 10s. as a recompense for their extra labour when the House sits very late has been abolished for the last two or three years? It seems to me a very reasonable thing to make these extra payments, and I certainly think we ought not to be so niggardly in our remuneration of those officers, particularly when 1016 we remember how freely we pay money for officials in the House of Lords.
§ Several hon. MEMBERS: Reply, reply!
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £34,045, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1888, for the Salaries and Expenses in the Department of Her Majesty's Treasury, and in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
Upon this Vote I venture to put a question to the Government which, perhaps, it would have been better to have put generally on the Vote on Account to-day, because it concerns the Civil Service Estimates; but as the Treasury are in charge of all these Estimates, perhaps this is a fitting opportunity for me to obtain the information I desire. Last year the Government thought fit to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the different Departments of the Civil Service. Now, that Commission has been sitting and taking evidence for some months, and as yet there is nothing to show as a result of their labours. I believe that, as a matter of fact, they have finished the investigation they undertook with regard to the War Office, and that the evidence with regard to that Department is to be submitted to Parliament before long. But at the rate of progress which has been realized up to now, it does appear as though a very long time, probably several years, will be consumed before anything like a definitive Report is presented with regard to the Civil Service at large. Now, Sir, the amount involved in these Civil Service Estimates is exceedingly great, very many millions per annum; and the Government themselves have, in regard to several Departments, already manifested a determination not to await a Report or Reports of that Commission. They have, in regard to the Inland Revenue and other Departments, already undertaken departmental re-organization and curtailment; and, that being the case, I think I shall be justified in asking the Government—either the First Lord of the Treasury or the Chancellor of the Exchequer—what is the policy the Government have decided to follow in 1017 regard to the Civil Service at large, pending the issue of the Report of the Royal Commission? There are a number of very pressing questions which have been raised from time to time in connection with this matter. First of all, I would take the question of the distribution of work as between different public Departments. I would say nothing of the War Office or of the Admiralty; but, simply confining my observations to the Civil Service Department, I would point out that as between such Offices as the Home Office, the Local Government Board, the Privy Council Office, and the Board of Trade, there is an allocation and distribution of work which, in many respects, is hardly intelligible. Now, it is perfectly clear that a long time—years—must elapse before any Royal Commission or any body of investigators can arrive at any authoritative opinion as to the advisability of disturbing the system which at present obtains. To illustrate the matter by one small point: within the last year or year and a-half there has been a transfer from the Home Office to another of the Departments of the work connected with sea fisheries. That alone would afford an illustration of the way in which work done in one Department could be done just as well in another. This brings mo to the general conclusion, which I think is not a strained conclusion, that there is room for great economy and simplification of work, and reduction in the existing establishments, through the simple process of grouping together all the work of a similar character which is now distributed amongst different Departments; and inasmuch as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer defended in his place some little time ago the decision of the Government to adopt such reforms as appear necessary and opportune in respect to the Inland Revenue Department, I do not think it is too much to ask the Government to entertain, even pending the Report of the Royal Commission, such questions as the simplification of the administrative work of each of the Departments of the State in the matters I have referred to. There is another question. The Treasury has discovered that the Estimates of the Inland Revenue Department submitted last year were unnecessarily large. The noble 1018 Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), when Chancellor of the Exchequer, was challenged by myself with regard to certain vacancies. He admitted that pay was asked for a number of officers who did not exist, and the Estimates have been amended this year in accordance with the facts of the case. A number of different "rides," as they are called in the Inland Revenue Department, have been got rid of.
I must say that I fail to see how the hon. Gentleman connects the subject he is now discussing with the Vote under consideration.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
I shall be happy, Sir, to explain to you, or to endeavour to explain the connection. The Treasury is concerned with the control and check of the Civil Service Departments, and whenever any organization or re-organization is proposed by any Department, application is necessarily made to the Treasury in connection with it. Now, what I complain of is, that the Treasury does not exercise, and has never exercised, that check and that control in a proper and efficient manner. That is the reason why the Civil Service Estimates at large, and in almost every single instance, are inflated beyond the figure which represents the necessary increase, and I was challenging the general policy of the Treasury in its capacity of a central office concerned in the administration of the public Departments.
The Treasury has no such control as that attributed to it. The Treasury can advise any Department; but, speaking from ray own experience, I know that the Treasury has no such power as that to which the hon. Member refers.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Of course, Sir, I do not ask you to throw the light of your own experience upon this matter, seeing that yours is the position of moderator and director of the debates in Committee. I would ask the right lion. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is not a fact —as admitted, at any rate, by his subordinates—that whenever organization or re-organization is proposed by any Department application must necessarily be made to the Treasury for the assent and consent to the changes which are pro- 1019 posed, and to the expenditure which these changes involve? Now, with regard to the Customs and Inland Revenue, I wish to submit to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that it is evidently their best policy to take steps to reduce that expenditure, which, to a certain extent, they can control, in connection with this Department—for I maintain that they have the right of exercising control, their consent being necessary before changes can be made. The Office is immediately under the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose salary comes under this Vote.
This is altogether an abuse of the privilege of discussion on this Vote. The question the hon. Member is now raising can be properly raised on the Inland Revenue Vote, and should not be raised on the Vote now before us.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Very well, Sir, I will at once submit to your ruling, however unexpectedly it comes upon me. At any rate, I shall be in Order, I trust, in asking the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer what decision the Treasury has come to in regard to the position of the members of the lower division of the Civil Service, and what decision the Treasury has come to with regard to the position of the writers? These are matters which have been brought up in the form of questions before the First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer several times during the present Session. The position of these different classes of men is a matter of great public importance. It affects the whole question of the administration of the Civil Service. Now, Sir, these clerks are, to a great extent, at the disposal of the Treasury Authorities. The Treasury have admitted the grievance under which the writers have laboured, and a Treasury Minute was issued some time ago, holding out to the writers some apparent prospect of an amelioration of their position. Well, the position of the writers has not been ameliorated at all. The been which was offered was of an illusory and almost mocking character; but I understand that the Treasury have decided that the class of writers shall be extinguished as soon as possible. I shall be in Order, perhaps, in asking the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to inform the Committee what steps the 1020 Treasury mean to take in the future with regard to the writers that at present exist—how many it is proposed to remove from the Service; how many it is proposed to admit to the ranks of the lower division; and finally, I would ask if the Treasury have decided to suspend all appointments to the upper division of the Civil Service, pending the Report of the Royal Commission; and whether, for reasons of economy and reasonable administration, the Treasury will consent to suspend all appointments to the upper division, or will consent to fill them only by men promoted from the lower division? I would ask whether there is any reason to suppose that the lower division men are not perfectly competent to perform all the duties of the staff, and whether they would not be able to fill the superior staff appointments? Well, I do not wish to trespass by one hair's-breadth beyond that which is the fair latitude which ought to be allowed in discussion of this kind; but I ask these questions because a very large number of men are interested, keenly interested, in the answers which are to be given to them, and because I am perfectly satisfied that a very large field of economy is open to the Treasury in these respects. The Treasury is supposed to supervise the whole Civil Service; but, as a matter of fact, that Department has been allowed for years past to re-organize itself. I maintain that, as in the case of an important and elaborate piece of machinery, you would appoint an engineer-in-chief, whose business it would be to control, and supervise, and manage every part of the machinery, so the Treasury ought to have an officer whose special duty it should be to go over and examine into and report upon every Department of the Public Service. No such officer exists, and it appears to me to be ridiculous to vote away such sums of money as are presented in these pages, when it is plain that this duty is glaringly neglected. You have a number of clerks with salaries ranging up to £900. You have some whose incomes go up to £600, and on page 88 you will find in another Department that the salaries are paid on a similar scale. All these are very good allowances to the men at the Treasury itself; but there is no earthly reason why the Treasury should not have upon its staff some competent person whose duty it should. 1021 be to overhaul all the other Departments of the State. I complain that you do not provide such an officer, and that the consequence is that the different establishments of other Departments are altogether incomplete. I say nothing about the pay of the Treasury Staff itself, which I think unnecessarily high and extravagant; but while we are prepared to vote some £59,000 or £60,000 for the Treasury, I think we ought to be able to provide out of that the salary of an officer to discharge the important duties I have indicated.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Perhaps the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will answer a question I desire to put to him when replying to the hon. Member who has just sat down. I should like him to say whose duty it is at the Treasury to check the payments that are made, in order to see that they are not made without authority. Sir Reginald Welby stated in his evidence, with regard to a sum of £630 14s. 2d., that there was a gap in the authority for that payment for 45 years. Being asked as to whose duty it was to call attention to that payment, as there was no authority for it, he answered that he did not know whose duty it was. I would ask the Financial Secretary to the Treasury if he can say whose duty it is to check such payments, and to see that such payments are not made without authority?
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
There is one item which I think no one will be disposed to call in question, and that is the salary of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. That Gentleman certainly earns his salary; but the voting of this sum would be more gratifying to me if I had not to accompany it with the reflection that other Government officials do not earn their salaries. I would put a question to him with regard to the position of the Civil Service writers in Dublin. I put a question to him on this subject some time ago; but he was probably too busy to answer me, and I received no reply. I know some officials who are recommended for promotion amongst these writers; but in no single case has the desired promotion followed the recommendation. I think we are on-titled to be informed why the Treasury, having issued a Minute providing for promotion, not a solitary promotion to a clerkship has been made in the whole division of writers. If the hon. Gen- 1022 tleman will be good enough to turn to the bottom of page 59, he will find there a large sum for fees to counsel for assisting Parliamentary counsel in the drafting of bills. Now, I find that there is a permanent Parliamentary counsel employed at a salary of £2,500, and that he has an assistant Parliamentary counsel who is paid a salary of not less than £1,200 a-year. I should have thought the gentlemen paid such salaries as those would have been able to do any drafting that the Government may require, yet we find that other counsel are to be paid large sums for the purpose of assisting those gentlemen to draw up Bills. At any rate there is an item for fees to counsel. Now, if there were a flux of legislation going on in the House of Commons, I could quite understand that the regular staff would require to be augmented; but it seems to me that the regular staff of Parliamentary counsel are doing little or nothing this year. The only Bill worth talking about which they have produced this year is the Coercion Bill, and that, I assume, was drafted by the Irish draftsman who gets a salary of £750 a-year. I presume he would draw up this Bill; at any rate, if he did not, the salary he receives appears to me to be thrown away. The journeys of this distinguished official between London and Dublin seem to be so numerous that an additional sum of £800 is charged to cover his expenses; and even this does not seem to be enough, because I find that he has an additional allowance of £700. He receives from the public purse, therefore, £2,250 a-year. Now, I should like to know when this official drew up the Irish Coercion Bill?.,
Order, order! It is obviously premature to discuss that question under the present Vote.
§ MR. SEXTON
I want to know if the Treasury counsel drew up the Irish Bill or not? If they did, they show very little work for the sum put down hero; but it is for the Government to show whether they did the work or not. As I pointed out, there has obviously been very little work done this Session; and I should like to know what Bills the official Secretary to the Treasury expects to have drawn between this time and March next, and whether he does not think that the officials who receive a regular salary for drafting Bills will be 1023 able to draft the Bills which he expects will be passed? It is puzzling to me why these large sums should be paid for extra counsel, when the Government already have a large staff at the Treasury. I think the official Secretary ought really to lay upon the Table some Return showing what payments were granted by the Treasury, what Bills are drafted, and showing exactly how this matter stands; as also the Bills the Government expect to introduce or to have drafted between this and next March.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
In regard to the question asked by the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), I may say that the Treasury Minute is being carried out as fast as it can be carried out. I am quite sure that if hon. Members know the amount of work which has to pass through the Treasury, they would have a little more sympathy than they sometimes express for that Department. The Treasury Minute stated statistically that a certain number of writers of admitted credit would, after due consideration, be promoted to the lower division. What the Treasury has done has been this. They first invited from the several Departments recommendations as to those writers who were engaged upon the work which entitled them first to consideration in promotion to the lower division; and they also desired these heads of Departments to make a statement of the merits of these individuals. As hon. Members know very well, there has been nothing proposed that this country has been more particular in regard to than that the members of the Civil Service should be admitted on examination on Civil Service certificates. Now, what does this Minute mean—this boon to the writers which, to a certain degree, has been ridiculed in this House, notwithstanding that it has imposed an additional charge on the State of more than £6,000 a-year? Why, it means that it is now laid down, as a principle, that a certain number of writers of admitted merit shall be promoted to the lower division. The Treasury have invited recommendations from the heads of Departments; they have received those recommendations; they have appointed an officer of the Treasury to investigate those recommendations and to report upon them, and the Treasury 1024 have declared it to be desirable that no promotions shall be made to the lower division until the whole of the cases are complete. That is the sole reason of the delay. [Mr. SEXTON: When was that?] I am afraid to pledge myself to particular dates; but if the hon. Member will accept my assurance, I can assure him of this—that I have personally taken the greatest interest in this question, because the important and difficult duty of piloting these negotiations through has devolved upon me. I have not only taken the greatest interest in this question, but I am pressing it forward to the best of my ability; and I hope, certainly, in the course of a week or two, to be in a position to make a final statement as to these writers. Therefore, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, so far as the case of these writers is concerned, it has been fully considered, with a desire not only to do justice, but to give the people concerned every benefit of employment which can be offered. Then reference has been made to the higher division. There, again, you have the same question to consider. It has been held by the Treasury that it is a most valuable principle that they should maintain the examinations which have been laid down as necessary to pass into that division. But there is no bar against a lower division clerk passing into a higher division except the bar of the examination. Well, Sir, is it desirable to remove that bar? I do not think that the House of Commons will be disposed to say that promotion by mere seniority, or promotion without due qualification, from one division to another should be permitted. Then, with regard to Parliamentary draftsmen. It is true, as has been stated, that there are but two permanent counsel employed; but I would point out to the Committee that these men are not engaged simply and entirely upon the Bills which are introduced into this House, and certainly not entirely upon the Bills which are introduced into the House by Her Majesty's Government. They have to take into account the Bills which are introduced into the House of Lords by the Government; they have to take into account the Bills that are to be introduced into this House by the Government; and there is an enormous amount of work which devolves upon these Parliamentary counsel 1025 —or, if I might use another term, these Parliamentary draftsmen—in advising the Government not only according to the Bills which the Government themselves introduce into Parliament, but with respect to every Private Bill introduced into either House affecting the Treasury or the Government in any way. These gentlemen have to interest themselves in the framing and amending Bills which seem to be likely to proceed in either House; and certainly, speaking from some acquaintance with these gentlemen, I am prepared to say that I think the work which they perform is more than satisfactory. I can assure hon. Members that were it not for the assistance which these gentlemen have placed at our disposal from time to time, it would be absolutely impossible for the Government to keep in touch with the progress and introduction of Bills in this House. Therefore, I hope that, so far as the question of Parliamentary counsel or draftsmen is concerned, my statement may be accepted that they are full of work. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) asked whose duty it is at the Treasury to show that payments are properly made. He referred to an answer given by the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury—I suppose from evidence that official gave before the Select Committee in connection with which the hon. Member has taken an active part. Well, Sir, it is rather difficult to answer questions of that sort put in that general way, unless one knows precisely the particulars—
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I was referring to a sum of £16,215 charged on the Consolidated Fund. An item of £630 14s. 2d. was directed to cease in a certain year; but which did not cease in that year. Although the money has since been paid, there is a gap in the responsibility for that payment.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think the Committee will see that it is difficult to answer a question as to a gap of that sort without Notice—a gap which occurred between the years 1839 and 1842. I think Sir Reginald Welby admitted—and if it is necessary I must admit also —that between the years 1839 and 1842 some gap did occur in connection with this payment as has been stated by the hon. Member; but I think that the Treasury of to-day can hardly be held 1026 accountable for what occurred in the year 1839.
§ MR. JACKSON
Well, I admit I am not prepared to answer a question like this. I suppose it is rather a question of being able to prove the necessary authority having been given at that particular time.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
I am afraid I have not explained myself with sufficient clearness. There is a specific Treasury Minute directing that a sum of £630 14s. 2d., which is part of a sum of £16,215, should cease to be paid on the 5th of April, 1841; but, notwithstanding that Treasury Minute directing that this sum should cease to be paid, the payment is still continued, and has continued without authority from that day to this.
§ MR. JACKSON
Well, as I have said, it is particularly difficult to give any explanation without having any knowledge of the matter. I will, however, promise the hon. Member that, so far as I can, I will inquire into the subject and inform my mind upon it. I hope I have now answered all the questions which were put to me. [Mr. ARTHUR O'CONNOR: Not as to the writers.] the hon. Member for East Donegal seems to think that the rule which was adopted in regard to the writers is an illusory one; but I trust that it will not prove illusory. The Treasury is desirous of promoting economy, and, in regard to the hon. Member's reference to the principle of the extinguishing of the class of writers, I would reply that I am not prepared to say that the writers would be extinguished. But I will tell the hon. Member what I believe to be the policy of the Treasury. The Treasury believe that the class of writers who have hitherto been employed can, in the future, be replaced by boy clerks. They believe that the work can in that way be done with equal efficiency, and, at the same time, with increased economy. There is, however, no desire to inflict any injustice upon anyone. There is no desire to force the writers out of the Service, or to exchange them in this way; 1027 but the Treasury believes it to be its duty to do what it can, when fresh appointments are concerned, to promote both efficiency and economy by substituting boy clerks as much as they can for men.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his answer as far as it goes; but I must point out that he omitted to answer one question, and that is as to the appointment to the upper classes of lower division clerks in the Civil Service. We are well aware that there is in many Departments a redundancy of upper division clerks. These men are not all wanted in the Departments in which they are so redundant, and many of them can be as easily replaced by lower division clerks as writers can be replaced by boy clerks. We go on, however, paying hundreds and hundreds of pounds a-year for what can be done by clerks receiving one-sixth of the pay. There are in one Department half-a-dozen men in one room, all doing the same work. One of these men happens to be a higher division clerk, and for that reason he is drawing more pay for the work he is doing than all the other men put together, although, as I say, they are all doing the same work. There are men in the Civil Service who are only receiving 10d. an hour, and yet who are and who have been engaged for years in an extremely important work, whilst men working within a few yards of them are paid hundreds and hundreds of pounds a-year for doing what any boy at 6s. a-week could do equally well. I ask the hon. Member whether the Treasury will take cognizance of the redundancy of higher division clerks in certain Departments, and will take measures to transfer them to other Departments where men of that status are more required? I ask him whether he will see that the Treasury does that, instead of from time to time increasing appointments amongst the upper division clerks? I ask him whether, in making additions to the upper division, when those additions cannot be effected by transferring from one Department to another, he will take care to see that the claims of the lower division and the claims of the writers who have been employed upon confidential work will be properly considered? I ask him to do what he can to bring about the promotion of these men. When men who are 1028 only paid 10d. an hour have been employed upon superior and responsible work I certainly think they have a claim for any better appointments that may be in the gift of the Government. I think the Government should not overlook their claims when there are vacancies to fill up for the filling of which these men have proved their suitability. I maintain that if the Government would adopt that policy all round they would save tens of thousands of pounds a-year. I believe it would be an easy thing to effect the saving of £250,000 a-year in the Civil Service Estimates, and I say this with a perfect knowledge of what I am speaking of. As a matter of fact, the Treasury goes on keeping up redundant officials in some Departments, largely overpaying a great number of men, and in other branches of the Service underpaying most deserving clerks.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
The Treasury are especially anxious, and so are Her Majesty's Government as a whole, to avoid creating any new appointments where they can possibly be avoided. I think if the new appointments in the upper division were enumerated, it would be seen that very few entries indeed have taken place during the past few years. We hope to be able to continue to reduce the number of new appointments. We are as sensible as any other Members of the House of the extreme necessity of reducing redundant establishments, and my personal attention has been directed to the subject in several cases. I am bound to say that the subject is greatly complicated by the very difficult question of pensions. In several cases where it has been possible to make large reductions of the numbers employed, I have myself been questioned in this House, because this course involved a certain amount of pensioning of those clerks who were dispensed with. But we see the possibility of reducing the number of clerks in many of the Government establishments, and that policy is one we are very anxious to follow up. So far as it can be done we should certainly be disposed and most willing to avail ourselves of existing labour in order to fill these posts as they become vacant. I must, however, point out to the hon. Member that promotions from lower to higher 1029 grades involve the complicated question of examinations. At the present moment the examinations for higher grades are open to men employed in lower grades of the service up to a certain age. I do not know to what extent the hon. Gentleman would wish to see examinations done away with. To do away with them all it seems to me would be a very serious step. While we should be anxious to utilize all existing labour and to promote all existing clerks, yet, practically, at the same time, it seems to me essential to keep up the standard of examination which we have deliberately adopted as part of our Civil Service system. I am perfectly in accord with the hon. Gentleman in his object—namely, the reduction, as far as possible, of redundant officials, and, at the same time, the promotion of capable men already in the service to higher positions.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have missed the point I was anxious to urge. It is this—there is a considerable number of men who are redundant. In some directions appointments are being filled up by appointments from outside, and my contention is that those appointments ought to be filled up as far as possible by men already in the Civil Service. Then you have the pension list. I object to pensions altogether. I think the pension list is a mistake, and I do not see why men should be put on it when the Office in which they are serving happens to be reorganized. The principle I am anxious to see enforced, and which I have advocated for many years, is the principle of the transfer of men from one Department to another. If an officer is not wanted in the 46th regiment, let him be appointed to the 56th. I cannot see why a man whose services are not required at Pall Mall or at Whitehall should not be employed in the Customs, when there is a vacancy, and vice versâ. As a matter of fact, the subordinate offices in the Civil Service and in the Accounts Branch can be filled by any man of ordinary education. The system of reconstruction which at present obtains floods the pension list with a number of men in middle life who are fit for 20 years' work. With regard to the question of examining, I beg to say that that examination may be necessary to give some kind of status, some kind 1030 of superior character to those who have charge of large and important Departments of the State, but that it is not so necessary in the case of the great bulk of the Civil servants who have work of a simple and routine character to do. Most of the men who are in the highest positions at the present time are men who entered the Service 25 or 30 years ago, when the standard of examination was considerably lower than that which you exact from the lower division clerks of the present day. In reality, comparing examination with examination, the lower division clerks of the present day are, educationally speaking, of quite as high a status as the higher division clerks, who entered the Service some years ago, and who are now at the top of the tree, and are doing the best work and giving every satisfaction. I maintain that the real gauge of a man's fitness is his capacity to do the work. I say that if a man has been found to do efficient work for five or six years, it is simply nonsense to say that because he may fail at any examination to got as many marks as some other person in an examination held some time before, that, therefore, he must be kept at a maximum of £200 a-year, although doing the same work, and doing it quite as efficiently, as a man who is paid £400 or £600, but who has succeeded in getting a few more marks. To carry the principle or the fetish of the examination to that extent is to do a substantial injustice for the sake of a mere phrase or effect.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
I would throw out a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by which he would find it easy to get rid of the difficulties of the present situation, and it is that he should establish a system under which, in the future, persons entering the Civil Service should be informed that they should not look forward to pensions. Wages should be paid at the market price, as in connection with mercantile concerns. The whole difficulty at present arises from the question of the pension which Civil servants should be allowed when they retire. That might have been a problem difficult of solution in the last century; but now, when there are such ample means for persons to insure their lives, or buy annuities in the Post Office Savings Bank, no such difficulty arises.
I must remind the hon. Baronet that the question of pensions is altogether outside this matter.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
I desire to say a word or two about a matter which has already been mentioned and, in reference to which it seems to me that the answer of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) is most unsatisfactory. I allude to the payment of Parliamentary counsel who draft Government Bills. The item is a very large one. There is one of these Parliamentary Counsel who receives £3,000, and he is assisted by another who receives £2,000. I must ask the Committee to think what that means for a moment. Those sums represent very large salaries. They involve the employment of two counsel, who, of course, are counsel of eminence; but we know pretty well what the year's drafting for the Government must be. Anyone who knows anything about drafting must be aware that the number of Bills these two gentlemen could draw up in the course of a year is something tremendous. Of course, they are not engaged for the whole year in drafting; but even if they are only engaged for a reasonable period, the number of Bills they could get out would, I say, be tremendous. When I come to look at the Bills that are produced by the Treasury and the Government, I entirely fail to see how these Government draftsmen can have occupied their time. I would remind the Committee of this that very often Bills which come before us are reproduced year after year, and involve no labour, and certainly ought to involve no extra Parliamentary grant. Take, for instance, the Bill regulating railway and canal traffic. That Bill has been introduced I do not know how often. I dare say that measure, in its inception and original drafting, occupied some time; probably it was one of those Bills which required extra assistance; but such Bills as this cannot be said to have necessitated this call for over £2,000 in excess of the amount paid for the Parliamentary draftsmen. When you have a Bill of that kind to bring forward within a very short space of time in order to save the credit of the Government, probably it is necessary to call in extra assistance and to pay for it somewhat recklessly. It is necessary at times, no 1032 doubt, to proceed regardless of expense. I know that sort of hurry and pressure exists; but the Railway and Canal Traffic Bill has been re-introduced this year into the House of Lords in almost the same shape as it was drawn in a previous year. I should very much like to know what the Bills are for which the charge contained in this Estimate is made. We have had no information from the Secretary to the Treasury upon the point. I hold that the payment of these large salaries to these two permanent draftsmen ought to be sufficient to meet the ordinary requirements of Government Bills. I presume that at the time these gentlemen were appointed it was contemplated that the sum would be sufficient, and I am certain that if they properly looked after their work it would be found sufficient, and there would be no necessity to call in extra assistance. Looking at the extraordinary lethargy the Government have shown in bringing forward Bills latterly, I should like to have some explanation of the extraordinary burst of energy which seems now to have come upon them to necessitate this large extra expenditure in the preparation of Bills. The whole matter certainly requires some explanation. I want to know, first, as to what the Government have done within the first few months of this year. The First Lord of the Treasury, when asked about the Bills which have been promised, says that he has every hope and belief that consistently with public business these Bills will be produced; but I have much doubt whether the measures will ever be prepared. You have the Local Government Bill, which is to be the great crowning evidence of the credit of the Government. Has that Bill been prepared?
§ MR. ANDERSON
May I ask if the Scotch Bills are included in this Vote? I should like to hear what other Bills have been prepared. Perphaps we shall hear that. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer looks excessively good-humoured about it, but I want to know what Bills it is proposed to introduce in the future. Pro- 1033 bably in incurring this large expense the Government are laying plans for startling us with a large amount of legislation. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite seem to think this a laughing matter. They would spend the money of the country regardless of the opinion of the public; but to my mind this is an important matter, and one which ought to be carefully examined. It seems to me that it is our duty to consider whether this expenditure is absolutely necessary. Knowing what I do of Parliamentary drafting, I am at a loss to account for this heavy expenditure, and unless a satisfactory explanation is given of this item, I shall move to reduce the Vote for the purpose of taking a Division upon it.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
What the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down appears to be more certain about than anything else is his precise knowledge as to the Bills which the Government have had drawn up. He challenged us with regard to certain Bills, expressing great scepticism, although it was stated most distinctly that those measures had been prepared. The hon. and learned Gentleman says that he has had great experience of Parliamentary drafting—
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Well, the hon. and learned Member has had some experience of Parliamentary drafting, and I dare say he knows that the fees for that drafting are very high; but he makes a great mistake if he does not give the Treasury credit for being just as keen as he is himself to keep down that expenditure. Indeed, I am not sure that if the hon. and learned Member were called in as arbitrator when these fees are to be paid, he would not be found on the side of the Legal Profession rather than on the side of the Treasury. I can assure the hon. and learned Member that in this matter, as well as in most matters, the Treasury are considered to be the greatest possible "screws," and are falling into disrepute almost with every class because they are thought to look too carefully, if not too shabbily, to every item of expense. If the hon. and learned Gentleman knows what Parliamentary drafting is, as he says he does, he will know that to prepare a Local Government Bill, for instance, on a large scale is a task of great importance and very 1034 considerable magnitude. The hon. and learned Gentleman spoke only of Bills introduced into this House; but my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) reminded the Committee that the Parliamentary draftsmen employed by the Government have to examine a large number of measures. The hon. and learned Member seems to have forgotten the Coal Mines Regulation Bill, the Merchandize Marks Bill, the Local Loans Bill, the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, the Tithe Rent Charge Bill, and the Employers' Liability Bill. I cannot enumerate all the Bills which have been introduced and dealt with by the draftsmen; but the hon. and learned Gentleman must know that in this list there must be a great many Bills which escaped his memory when he was speaking. I am bound to admit that there may be some Departments where the work is scarcely sufficient for all those who are employed in them; but the Parliamentary draftsmen have an extremely arduous task, and I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will be good enough to remember that with regard to the assistance provided, Parliamentary drafting is very heavy at particular times, when two men are not sufficient to deal with all the Bills that are going on. The two Bills about which the hon. and learned Member inquired are prepared and are ready to be brought in, and a great many others besides. A large number of Bills with which the House is acquainted have been prepared, and there are others in process of being drafted. There are a great many legislative proposals with which the Government are bound to be prepared; and though I regret that it is necessary to pay so highly for the services of legal gentlemen, it must be remembered that first-class legal gentlemen in every Department receive considerable remuneration. Taking the standing of those employed, their experience and their services, it is not considered that they receive greater or as great remuneration as men of equal rank in the Profession who are engaged in private practice. I hope that, after this explanation, the hon. and learned Gentleman will see that there has been more work done than, from the hasty judgment he was able to form, he imagined. I trust he will not think it necessary to move the reduction of the Vote.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
I must say I think the hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson) has done valuable service in calling attention to this question of Parliamentary drafting. I speak upon this subject not with, any great experience of Parliamentary drafting, but with much experience of having spent hours and days in endeavouring to find out what it is that the Parliamentary draftsmen mean. The Parliamentary draftsmen employed by the Government are, as most of us know, gentlemen of great eminence and ability; but to draw a Bill properly is a matter which can only be successfully accomplished by a man who is thoroughly familiar with the subject he is trying to deal with. Now the Parliamentary draftsmen who are employed by the Treasury receive high salaries. The Treasury do not invariably pay high fees to all classes of individuals they employ; but to many of their permanent officials they pay very extravagant fees. Well, these gentlemen so paid are called on, at a moment's notice, to draft Bills upon, subjects with regard to which they know absolutely nothing. For instance, there is a Bill dealing with real property and land transfer, which has been introduced into the House of Lords, and which is likely to be presented to this House before long. This is a Bill dealing with an extremely technical subject, and is a measure which should only be drawn up by persons who understand all the details of the subject. A conveyancer of eminence and of considerable practice should have been employed to deal with such a matter. The subject is not now handled for the first time, for Lord Cairns dealt with it in 1881 and 1882, his Bills being drawn up by conveyancers—by experts—who were especially qualified, and the result is that we have had on the Statute Book most useful pieces of legislation upon this subject. These experts were paid upon a very small and moderate scale—upon a scale much more modest than that upon which the permanent counsel are paid. They were paid to accomplish a work which they were especially qualified to accomplish, and they carried out their work in an entirely satisfactory manner. That I hold to be the proper method of dealing with the preparation of Bills, and the result of that method compares very 1036 favourably with the preparation of Bills by the permanent draftsmen. The permanent draftsmen are every now and then called upon to deal with subjects at a moment's notice; they draft their Bills mechanically, and no sooner do these measures pass than they are enveloped in a cloud of Amendments which have to be passed. Look at the Amendments introduced into the Land Transfer Bill; look at the Amendments introduced into the Crimes Bill; look at the work which has been entailed simply because draftsmen, notwithstanding that they are men of great ability, are called on hurriedly to deal with subjects of which they know nothing. I hold that it would be of great convenience to the country, and that it would conduce to great saving of both time and money, if the Treasury would act on the principle of employing experts to draft Bills on those subjects with which they are familiar. I should like to see that system introduced. I am glad my hon. and learned Friend has called attention to this subject, because I think the Government would do well to consider whether it is really advisable to continue the system of employing so large a staff of permanent draftsmen instead of a number of experts.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I have no doubt that the Parliamentary draftsmen will have plenty to do while Her Majesty's present Advisers remain in Office, because there is no Bill of theirs that does not undergo innumerable changes before passing into law. I cannot understand, however, why the Government should spend this large sum on permanent draftsmen, and at the same time be compelled to employ outside assistance, paying counsel £1,000 or £1,200 for their services. I think the Government would do well to adopt the course recommended by my hon. and learned Friend below me (Mr. Haldane), that is, to pay a small salary to a permanent official, giving the remainder of the work to experts. As it is, we have a mixture of the two systems—a mixture which contains all the evils of one system and the other; £2,500, I must say, is an extremely good salary, even for a member of the Legal Profession. Why, Sir, we must remember that a Tory legal Member was only a few days ago willing to 1037 resign his seat and his Parliamentary; career for a salary of £1,200 a-year; but here we have Parliamentary counsel enjoying very large incomes who have the honour to be assisted by gentlemen drawing £1,200 a-year. Since the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has come into Office I have not heard him say a word in favour of reducing public expenditure by one penny. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman forgot his economy as well as his Liberalism when he took Office.
§ MR. ANDERSON
With regard to what fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in reply to my remarks, I would remind him that I did not deny that the Government had prepared the Bills which they claimed to have prepared. The salaries of the permanent draftsmen are large, and I think I was right in protesting against extra assistance being brought in because these permanent officials did not do their work. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of certain Bills as though counsel prepared them, but what are the Ministers doing? I should have thought that the chief work of a Minister was to prepare Bills, and that the work of Parliamentary counsel was merely to put these Bills into legal language. I do not wish to occupy the time of the Committee unnecessarily, but I certainly think that this is a matter to which attention should be called, and that I have done no more than is necessary is calling attention to the subject.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
All lawyers, without exception, at this moment get for their work about four times more than it is worth, and Parliamentary draftsmen are no exception to that rule. I do not wish to press this matter any further. I have risen for the purpose of proposing an Amendment, and of moving the reduction of this Vote. There is an Amendment in my name to reduce the Vote by a sum of £6,000, being a reduction of the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury by £3,000, and a reduction of the salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by a similar amount. I feel that I am dealing with very eminent Gentlemen—Gentlemen so eminent, indeed, that it would be almost uncourteous on my part to put them together in one Amendment. Each ought to have his 1038 own Amendment; and I will, therefore, conclude the few remarks I have to offer on the subject by moving the reduction of the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury by the sum of £3,000.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Now, it is really a most important thing, seeing that we are getting more democratic every day, that these political salaries should be revised. They are a relic of an aristocratic age. A good many years ago, everybody knows that the nobility of this country were fighting and quarrelling in order to get Ministerial posts, and those of them who were successful thought that because they were Ministers, they ought to live in exceptional splendour, and save a considerable amount for their children. In modern times, this idea of the right of a Minister, not only to have a large amount to spend, but to accumulate a large amount for his children, is dying out; and I have often seen in abridged histories that we are called upon to thank Providence that our Ministers are so modest in their demands, because Pitt owed £40,000 when he died, although he had enjoyed £10,000 a-year for over 20 years. There is no country in the world where Ministers are so highly paid as in this country. In Germany, for instance, a Minister has about £1,800 per annum. Prince Bismarck, when Minister for Foreign Affairs in Germany, received £2,000 per annum. In the United States the Minister receives £1,200; in France, 60,000 francs, or £2,060, and this is very much less than the salaries enjoyed by the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also many other Secretaries of State. It may be said that in many foreign capitals living is much cheaper than in London. That argument might have held good some years ago, but I doubt whether it could be used with propriety in the present day. Living is certainly dearer in Washington; it is dearer in Paris; and I should say it is just as expensive, or even more expensive, in Berlin. In fact, I do not believe that there is much difference between the necessary expenditure of a person in this country and in any of the great Capitals of Europe. The most remarkable thing which we find in connection with this matter is that in this country there is a distinction drawn between the Ministers 1039 themselves. We have some who get £5,000 a-year, and some who get £2,000 a-year with just as good merit. Everybody knows that there is no distinction in the men, and that it is a matter of haphazard who gets the £2,000 and who gets the £5,000. If we can get the article for £2,000, I cannot see why, in the name of common sense, we should pay £5,000 for it. I would also point out that this difference between the salaries of different Ministers creates a certain amount of jealousy amongst themselves. When a new Ministry is formed—I hardly know what takes place in those lofty regions—but I should imagine that when a new Ministry is formed, there are Gentlemen who are exceedingly anxious to get these places, with the £5,000 a-year salary attached to them. A Gentleman may have been for some years President of the Local Government Board, or President of the Board of Trade, and he may have a familiar acquaintance with questions of commerce and of local government; but, in spite of his exceptional knowledge and experience of either of those subjects, he may say—"I do not care for the Local Government Board or the Board of Trade—I should like to have £5,000 a-year;" and he may be pitched into the Colonial Office, or some such place, of the duties in connection with which he knows nothing. I think the Committee will remember a case of that kind occurring not very long ago—a case of a gentleman being sent to the Colonial Office in that way, not because he knows anything about the Colonies, but because he says—"My means are such that I really must have a place of £5,000 a-year in order to make the two ends meet." Now, I think the salaries of all Ministers, with the exception, perhaps, of those of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, should be the same; and I, therefore, move the reduction of the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury by the sum of £3,000 per annum. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen think that this salary is all the Ministers get. Not a bit of it. When a Minister has been, I think it is five years in Office, he can come forward and say that his means do not allow him to live in a style becoming his position, and he then claims and receives £2,000 or £1,500 per annum for the rest of his life. [Cries of"Name, 1040 name!"] Well, I do not propose to mention names; but I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that I am not in this matter bringing any special Party charge. It will be remembered that I moved the same reduction in the salary of a Gentleman for whom I have the highest political respect—namely, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt). I can assure hon. Gentlemen that even if a Liberal Ministry were in, I should bring forward my Amendment, with, if possible, an additional amount of pleasure, for one always likes to make things comfortable for one's friends. Let us see what is the additional expense to which a person is put owing to the fact of his being in an official position. A Gentleman is appointed a Minister. He has a house to cover him beforehand, and a certain income, and lives in a certain way; well, why should he be called upon to live in a different style after his appointment? The time has gone by when we judged a man by the size of the house in which he lives, the carriages he keeps, or the number of footmen he employs. Neither do we judge people by the number of dinners they give, or the number of persons they invite per annum. It may be said that Ministers have dinners to give, and I do not want to make this a personal matter; but I would ask hon. Gentlemen to go over this matter in their own minds, and ask themselves how many more guests will a man ask to dinner in the course of a year because he is a Minister than he would ask if he were not. Say, he would ask 500 more, and say that they would cost him £2 a-head, which is a very handsome figure, he would then only spend £1,000; and I doubt very much, if you take the average number of persons invited to dinner by Ministers beyond those who would be invited under ordinary circumstances whether they would amount to anything like 500, or that the cost would be anything like so high as £2 per head. Then there are the entertainments—those crushes of the rag-tag-and-bobtail, which are called official entertainments. The idea of these entertainments is a purely Party notion. You have a certain number of the aristocracy at those gatherings, and you invite persons to them whom you wish to impress, and whom you think amenable to reason. I con- 1041 sider that those parties are no more nor less than a species of bribery. I believe that in voting this money on the plea that Ministers have to give parties, you are merely assisting Ministers to bribe their followers to vote for them. I will state what occurred to myself in this matter. The Committee will remember that I voted with the Government in the interests of my hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Bradlaugh), and that before my hon. Friend took his seat we had a great many Divisions. Well, on one occasion I was standing in the Lobby when a Gentleman, a well known Radical, came up to me and said—"I am sorry to say that my conscience will not allow me to vote in favour of Mr. Brad-laugh." "Well," I said, "the Division is to be in five minutes, and I have no time to discuss you and your conscience— what do you want? We want votes very badly now, and I do not know why you should not be a knight as well as other people." I said, "Do you want a knightship?" He replied, "You are entirely mistaken in the person you are speaking to." Upon that I rejoined, "Do you go to parties? Were you at So-and-so's Ministerial party the other day?" "No," said he, "I myself and my family have been very much surprised that we have been left out." I answered at once, "Why did you not tell me? Of course, you ought to have gone, you shall go in future, you shall go to all the parties." About five minutes afterwards I took him with me, family, conscience, bag and baggage, into the Lobby to vote for my hon. Colleague. These people, you know, are anxious to see their names in the Morning Post as attending these Ministerial entertainments. They like to ask each other—"Do you know Lord So-and-so?" and to be able to reply—"Oh, no; I do not know him very well; but I have met him in society in such-and-such a place." I must say I object entirely to voting money in. order to enable Ministers to give those most corrupting parties. We may be told that Ministers are men so exceedingly eminent, that they are such superior persons, that we cannot pay them too much. Well, I admit that in the Cabinet there are generally one or two men who may be termed eminent. But who is the ordinary Minister after all? He is a very common third-rate sort of person, 1042 who may fill a place in the City, but could hardly be called a statesman. He is, perhaps, a good administrator—he does not get into mischief in this House, and performs his duty, which may be somewhat subordinate, requiring no vast amount of intelligence, to the satisfaction of the House. Most unquestionably, however, for £2,000 a-year we have had good Ministers, and that is why I think that £2,000 is sufficient. I believe high salaries themselves are demoralizing. I believe their tendency is to induce all sorts of gentlemen to do all sorts of things to get into the Government, and to do all sorts of things to remain there when once in. I think we ought to take away this temptation from these gentlemen. Now, there are special reasons why the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury should be reduced—and I speak with the greatest respect for the present occupant of that post. [Cries of "Divide!"] I dare say hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like this sort of thing. They like to talk about economy in general, but when it is brought home to them they cry out "Divide!" with the desire of seeing the clôure applied to the Estimates. I can assure hon. Gentlemen that it will not conduce to work being done quickly to raise these silly, foolish, and idle cries. I say that I speak with great respect of the First Lord of the Treasury; but as I have said, the Committee must take into consideration whether there are any special reasons why the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury should be reduced to £2,000 per annum. The First Lord of the Treasury is Leader of the House, and has nothing to do except as Leader of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), I think it was, this Session or last Session, speaking of Lord Salisbury accumulating two Offices, said that the First Lord of the Treasury could do all his work as First Lord of the Treasury in three days; consequently, we have the fact that the present Leader of the House, though it is said he is an able administrator, as a matter of fact that has nothing to administer, and yet receives £5,000 per annum for it. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] Well, does he not? The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury will presently have an opportunity of explaining what his Chief does. All I can say is, that I take the 1043 testimony of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. I see the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) in his place. He is a great advocate of economy, and I should like to know if he is prepared to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was in the wrong when he said that all the administrative duties of the First Lord of the Treasury would not occupy more than three days per annum. It might be argued that the right hon. Gentleman the present First Lord of the Treasury receives his salary of £5,000 per annum as Leader of the House. Well, this has been the case before— generally the First Lord of the Treasury is Prime Minister. Of course, the Prime Minister has an immense amount of work to do. But we have had a case before when the Leader of the House has not been Prime Minister—I refer to the case of Lord John Russell. Lord John Russell performed the duties of Leader of the House for seven months without any salary at all, and then he felt that he ought not to create an Office—for that is practically what it is—of the First Lord of the Treasury at £5,000 per annum, and he became President of the Council, at a salary of £2,000 a-year. I therefore point to that precedent to show the Committee that I am not putting before it anything new when I assert that the First Lord of the Treasury, acting as Leader of the House, ought not to receive £5,000 per annum. But there are other reasons why the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury should not receive £5,000 per annum. I have heard his Departmental speeches, which have been characterized by great ability, at the same time the right hon. Gentleman does not follow the example of former Leaders of this House. It seems to me that he is only got one speech, for he is perpetually telling us this that and the other cannot be done owing to the state of Public Business, or else he gets up and in cabalistic words says—"I beg to move that the Question be now put." That does not require any great intellectual power, and I am sorry that a man of his ability and intellect should be doomed to fulfil such functions; but, at the same time, they are functions he does fulfil, and we should look at it in that light and pay him accord- 1044 ingly. I say that such a mode of leading the House might be performed equally well by a postman who receives His a-week with a possible rise to 25s. I am not saying the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury could not do better; but I am speaking of what he does in this House, and I say, if Lord Russell was satisfied to lead the House for seven months for nothing, and then considered himself adequately remunerated by taking an Office at £2,000 per annum instead of £5,000 per annum, surely for the perfunctory way in which the right hon. Gentleman the present First Lord leads the House I am not going too far when I suggest that his salary should be reduced by £3,000 per annum. There is one thing which I must call upon the House to consider. We, or a great many of us are in an economical vein; we are frequently complaining of the high salaries elsewhere; we complained of the salary received by the Usher of the Black Rod, as out of all proportion to the salaries received for the performance of similar duties in other countries; but how can the House of Commons legitimately complain when it pays Members of its own body who happen to be Ministers far higher salaries than are paid for similar services in other countries. In my opinion we must begin at the head if we are to reduce matters to a democratic level—[A laugh]—the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Sandys) laughs. I can assure him that if ever he becomes First Lord of the Treasury I shall move even a greater reduction in his salary. This is an illustration of how difficult it is for people outside to understand we are sincere with regard to economy. I proposed to reduce the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury—it is not an excessive reduction—and how is that met? By jeers and laughter from Conservatives, that is the way it is met. When they are making vague theoretical speeches to their constituents they are very great about economy; but bring it home to them or their Leaders, and where is their economy then? I am only sorry the Front Opposition Bench is so empty, as I have no doubt right hon. Gentlemen would be delighted to vote with me on this subject if they were here; but, in their absence, I have no doubt I shall have a large number of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House who will vote 1045 with me, and for the sake of decency I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will join with me in bringing home to the people of England the fact that we do not shrink from making reductions when they regard Members of this House, but are prepared to begin, not at the bottom, but at the top, and to commence a period of economy.
Motion made, and Question put,
That Item A of the Salaries, &c, in regard to the Salary of the First Lord of the Treasury, be reduced by the sum of £3,000."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 60; Noes 156: Majority 96.—(Div. List, No. 304.) [10.35 P.M.]
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) will be good enough to allow me to ask him a question. I see he is provided with two Private Secretaries; the Chancellor of the Exchequer is provided with one. I do not wish to call attention to the number of Secretaries, but to remind the right hon. Gentleman that some time ago he was asked about a letter written in his name to a branch habitation of the Primrose League by one of his Private Secretaries. That letter was an impudent and insolent production, and also an unscrupulous letter, and was utterly false. I do not know which Private Secretary was responsible for it, but the young gentleman, whoever he was, took upon himself to make the right hon. Gentleman responsible for accusations against Members of this House, and against the National League and other organizations in Ireland with which they are connected. I scarcely blame the young gentleman, because, before he wrote the letter, men of some political eminence gave political currency to the accusations contained in the letter. But since the speeches of these Gentlemen have been made, the Government have been faced on the floor of this House upon them, and when challenged to give an inquiry, they ran away from the inquiry. That having happened, the question is now in a different position. The Private Secretary responsible for the letter expressed sentiments that the National League in Ireland were directly responsible for crime and outrage. [Cries of "Hear, hear!"] The Secretary was guilty of a falsehood, and anyone who 1046 endorses it is guilty of the same. I want to know whether these Private Secretaries are to be allowed, in the discharge of their functions, for which they are paid a salary by the people—there is one here, I see, with a salary of £300 per annum—to spread broadcast accusations of this kind against the representatives of the National League? When challenged with respect to the letter in question, the right hon. Gentleman told us he knew nothing about it; he said he was not responsible for it. [Sir ROBERT FOWLER: No.] I think the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London has quite enough to be responsible for on his own account; his own character is quite enough for him without undertaking the defence of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, who, I think, may be left to defend himself. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion complained he was not aware of the contents of the letter; and, therefore, if he was not aware of the contents, he was not morally responsible for them, and he promised to make inquiries. I now respectfully ask him what inquiry he made, and what explanation the young gentleman gave of the extraordinary accusations he made in that letter, and what defence he is prepared to give? I hope he will tell the House which young gentleman wrote the letter. In order to open the discussion, I will move to take off £300. I shall never allow men in virtue of their office, men who occupy high offices, to give currency to falsehoods that are levelled against Members of this House. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] If I notice any hon. Gentleman opposite endorsing those falsehoods, we shall have a repetition of the scenes that are not pleasant.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
It is wholly unnecessary to put the Motion which the hon. Member has made. I think I informed the House, when the matter was brought before the House by a Question, that the letter to which the hon. Gentleman referred was written by one of my Private Secretaries, and that I undertook the full responsibility of it. No insult whatever was intended, and I regret that anyone should write anything that is deemed offensive when acting on my behalf. This gentleman was one of the 1047 unpaid Private Secretaries attached to the Office to assist me in the discharge of the important duties for which I am responsible, and, therefore, is in no way concerned in this Vote. I would only say that, in the discharge of my duties, I desire to avoid as much, as possible touching the susceptibilities of, or offending, any hon. Gentleman. I at all times seek to avoid this; and if by any accident an. expression is contained in a letter written, by my direction, or for which I am responsible, I should be exceedingly sorry that it should offend. But in this particular case, no person who is paid by the Vote of this House has written any such letter, or, I believe, offended in the slightest degree against hon. Gentlemen.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
Is the young gentleman who wrote the letter still attached to the Staff of the First Lord of the Treasury?
§ [No reply.]
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
I wish to ask a question of the Secretary to the Treasury with regard to a letter of some considerable importance which was written last year in reference to the Woods and Forests. The gentleman who is concerned is Crown Receiver to the Woods and Forests; but I need not mention his name. This gentleman receives the rents from the Crown farms. He receives a salary something like double that received by the Prime Minister himself, and when we come to the Vote for the Woods and Forests I shall move that it be reduced. But the point I wish to draw the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury to is this. These Crown moneys arising from the Crown farms were paid into his private account for many years, though he received a large sum of money for properly attending to the matter. The Auditor General, in his Report, drew attention to what he considered this most improper conduct, by which the attention of the Treasury was drawn to the matter. Considerable correspondence took place, and the reply of this gentleman to the observations made by the Auditor General was as follows:—My banking account as Receiver is kept with the banking account of my firm. I have not and never had any separate account, and cannot, therefore, produce the bank-book in question.1048 Therefore, though the Auditor General drew attention to the action of this gentleman, and called upon him to produce his bank-book, in order that the audit made by the Auditor General should be properly made, he declined to produce the bank-book, and has declined to make any alteration in the system in which he kept his accounts. This took place last year after a very long discussion lasting over three hours.
§ MR. MOLLOY
I am coming to the point; but it was necessary to make this explanation in order to make it intelligible to the House. The point of my objection is that the Treasury permitted Crown moneys to be used in this way, and, up to last year, had not taken any step in the matter. In reply to the complaint I made last year, the Treasury admitted the very improper way in which the matter had been previously conducted, and promised to examine into the matter. I, therefore, want to ascertain whether this improper system of keeping accounts, which, was allowed to go on last year—whether since last year the Treasury have made such arrangements that these moneys under the control of the Treasury and audited by the Auditor General shall be properly accounted for in the future?
Any Vote connected with the Treasury could be subject to this line of discussion; and I must rule that as this is a matter connected with the Woods and Forests, it must be raised when that Vote is before the House.
§ MR. MOLLOY
The correspondence took place with the Treasury, and it is in reference to the correspondence that I ask the question.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
The hon. Gentleman is quite right; I did promise to look into the matter, and I have done so.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I have now to move the reduction of the salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer by the sum of £3,000, and that would reduce his salary to £2,000 per annum, which I say is sufficient and not an excessive amount for any Minister. I feel it my duty to make his Motion, because, otherwise, the right hon. 1049 Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would think my last Motion was a personal attack upon himself. I believe I am right in saying that next to the First Lord of the Treasury the Chancellor of the Exchequer has the easiest post. [Sir ROBERT FOWLER: Oh, oh!] Yes; I have it on good authority. Though the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London says "Oh, oh !" he has not yet been Chancellor of the Exchequer. I have it from the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer that it is the easiest of the Offices in the Government, excepting that of the First Lord of the Treasury. All he has to do is to look over a quantity of accounts, form in his own mind a scheme of Budget, and bring it into the House. That occupies him some six days, and, under these circumstances, I see no reason why he should have this excessive salary. I have already stated the general principles on which I am going—that we ought to reduce all these salaries that are voted to Gentlemen who occupy prominent positions if we are really in earnest in regard to economy. I see that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is on that Bench. He is certainly one of the ablest speakers in the House, and I should like to know if he would have the kindness to explain why any Minister in this country should receive more than any Minister in any other country for doing precisely the same service—in France, Germany, Austria, and the United States; why our Minister of Finance should be paid more than the Minister of Finance in any of these countries; and why the right hon. Gentleman, who does less work than either the President of the Board of Trade or the President of the Local Government Board, who comes down here for a couple of hours, as do these two other Gentlemen, and who does not speak more frequently than either of these Gentlemen, should receive £5,000 per annum, while they only receive £2,000 per annum? Does the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer consider he is worth two of his Colleagues? He does, I suppose. He defends his salary. I shall be curious to know on what ground, [Cries of "Divide!"] I can assure the hon. Gentleman who cries "Divide!" that he is making a great mistake if he thinks to shorten debate by that silly, assinine cry. I do not assume 1050 for myself a very high position, but it is an insult to the understanding of a jackass to answer by such tomfoolery. [Laughter, and cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I will make an effort, and I hope a successful one, to restrain my emotions, and now beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £3,000 in regard to the salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Motion made, and Question put,
That Item A of the Salaries, &c. in regard to the Salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, be reduced by the sum of £3,000."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 56; Noes 174: Majority 118.—(Div. List, No. 305.) [11.5 P.M.]
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £55,947, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1888, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews), first, a question with regard to Inspectors of Factories, and, secondly, the inspection of mines. Some time ago there was a Coroner's inquest held in London upon the body of a man whose death was caused by lead poisoning; and from the evidence it appeared that though the factory was one in which blue lead was converted into white lead, and the employés were under Home Office regulations, and should have been provided with overalls or clothes fitted to preserve their usual garments from impregnation by lead-dust, the most dangerous form in which lead could be brought into proximity with the human system, yet in this factory, where white paint was made, where white lead was used in the minute form, and where the danger of poisoning was great, the regulations did not prescribe any such protection for the workers, neither as to their clothes, or with regard to washing or the time for necessary ablution before meals were taken. Much white lead-dust was distributed through the atmosphere, 1051 and it was almost impassible for the men to escape the danger of poisoning; consequently, not only had there beep, many deaths, but a great deal of suffering from blood poisoning and pains in the joints and bones arising from this cause. Representations were made as to the necessity of alterations in the rules, and Her Majesty's Inspector promised to have this brought specially before the notice of the Home Office. I desire to ask whether this has been done? Have any regulations been drawn up in respect to the use of white lead in factories, and are they yet in force? The next point upon which I desire information is this. Some months ago inquiry was made of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary whether the Mon-tine Colliery, in the Leinster coal fields, had been left uninspected by the Government Inspector for 17 months? He admitted this was so, but he said the inspection of these mines was as regularly carried out as the inspection in any other district of the United Kingdom. If that is so, it is an admitted fact that many mines in Great Britain and Ireland are not visited by Her Majesty's Inspector for periods of a year and five months. Last autumn the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary admitted, in reply to a Question from these Benches, that in his own opinion the staff of Inspectors of Mines was altogether inadequate, considering the importance and burden of the duties to be discharged, and, personally, he was in favour of increasing the staff of Inspectors; but there was the difficulty from the quarter of the Treasury in the objection to the higher charge necessitated by an increase in the staff. Now, I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he proposes to go through the whole of the financial year with a staff of Inspectors of Mines no stronger than is provided for in these Estimates, which, according to his own admission, is altogether inadequate for the discharge of the duties incumbent on these officials?
§ Mr. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
This Vote contains an item for the salaries and expenses of 56 Inspectors of Factories and Workshops, and I wish to ask how many of these are to be found in Ireland and how many in Belfast? Some time ago I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews) as to whe- 1052 ther a vacancy had arisen in the office of Inspector in Ireland, and he replied there was no such vacancy. There appears, however, to be a strong local idea that such a vacancy has arisen. Perhaps he will clear up this matter on this occasion, and tell how many Inspectors are appointed for duty in Belfast. I have had numerous letters from resident artizans expressing a strong sense of the unsatisfactory nature of the inspection carried on in the Belfast industries, and also a general desire that competent working men should fill the position of Inspectors. It would be interesting to know, of those who out of the 56 are in Ireland, how many are even practically acquainted with the details of the work they are called upon to inspect. There is a large and growing feeling that from the working men Inspectors should be drawn. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can give me the information for which I have asked?
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
I have to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) on a subject to which I have directed attention once or twice, and to which I intend to direct attention as often as possible while I have a seat in this House. I take it that these Inspectors of Mines and Factories are appointed to take care of the welfare of the working people; and I think the Committee will agree that an Inspector cannot properly discharge his duty if he does not understand the language of the people. Now, it has been the tradition of the Home Office hitherto—I do not blame the right hon. Gentleman the present Home Secretary more than his Predecessor, or distinguish between Liberal and Conservative Governments—to ignore the question of language in the appointment of Inspectors for collieries, quarries, mines, and factories. These are appointed on the assumption that the Welsh language is dying out. Now, whether the language will die out or not, or whether it is well that it should, is another subject; but the point to be realized by the Home Office is this—that Welsh does not only now hold the field as the language of the people, but, except perhaps in some of the agricultural districts, the use of it is increasing. In the colliery districts and in the industrial centres of North Wales it is more spoken than ever. Now, I wish to ask 1053 the right hon. Gentleman whether he will give a pledge that, so far us in him lies, he will make knowledge of Welsh a qualification for appointments to the Inspectorships of mines, quarries, and, if possible, of factories, in Wales and Monmouth? I can tell him that he is quite mistaken if he supposes this is unnecessary because the Welsh language is dying out. He and many of his successors will be gathered to their fathers before Welsh ceases to be the language of the Welsh people. Will he give a pledge that, so far as he possibly can, he will appoint to these posts men who understand the language of the workers?
§ Ms. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
I would refer for an instant to the last item in the Vote—the salary and expenses of the Inspector under the Habitual Drunkards' Act. I do so not for the purpose of criticising the amount, which is moderate, but to ask whether the Report of the Inspector has been rendered this year, and what progress has been made in the interesting experiment commenced under this Act? I believe I am right in saying that it was a tentative and experimental measure, and that for the first two or three years after its passing no progress was made. Since then, however, I believe something has been done; and it would be interesting to know the result of this piece of novel legislation, whether experience has developed any improvement in the direction desired, or suggests any alteration in the Act.
§ DR. R. MACDONALD (ROSS and Cromarty)
I have some knowledge of the working of the system of factory inspection; and I know, as a matter of fact, that in the district where I reside, with 300 factories under his charge, it is impossible for the Inspector to make more than two or three visits in the year, for he has a circuit of 20 miles. The consequence is that the Act is not carried out, so far as inspection is concerned. To my certain knowledge not more than 10 per cent of the boys employed in factories are certified to be of the proper age. The Inspector has so much reportorial work to do at home that he has not sufficient time to visit the factory so frequently as he should. I think it would be an easy matter for the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, if he means the Act to be carried out, to appoint working men 1054 Assistant Inspectors, for so far as the employment of children is concerned the Act at present is a sham. When the Inspector visits a factory and finds a boy at work, and may doubt if he is of proper age, and asks how long he has been employed, the boy is taught to say he has only been there a fortnight. By the law employers are allowed to employ young boys for a fortnight in the country and a week in London, and so the Act is evaded on every side. This matter has been brought before the House several times, and under Governments of both Parties; but they do not see their way to the appointment of Under Inspectors. Then, I say, they might as well allow the Act to lapse, for, worked as it is at the present time, it is of no use whatever.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I trust the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will take care to have definite instructions given in reference to breaches of the Truck Act. We should not have had the great difficulty of dealing with this by present legislation, if Inspectors had previously done their duty; If they had not taken upon themselves a dispensing power, allowing wealthy offenders to escape punishment.
§ MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Mr. Matthews) will remember that last autumn this question of the appointment of Inspectors was raised. At that time the right hon. Gentleman gave a full and friendly answer to those who asked him to appoint working men to such posts. He said he had taken steps to appoint one working man Inspector, and whether he succeeded in that or not, he certainly stated that he was friendly to the appointment of working men, that is, so far as he could subject to the examination they would have to pass, and subject to the powers he possessed to make such appointments. I can assure him there is a very strong feeling indeed among working men of all trades in favour of such appointments, and all who are acquainted with the mining districts will be of opinion that it is necessary to have working men Inspectors if the work is to be adequately supervized. I do earnestly hope that the Home Office, whenever vacancies occur, and where it seems at all desirable and possible to have working men Inspectors, will select from among foremen and 1055 leading workmen of experience, men of first rate character, ability, and good education—and there will be no difficulty in finding such—in preference to gentlemen who only begin to understand the work after they are appointed. I am sure if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary signalized the passing of the new Mines Regulations Bill by the appointment of working men Inspectors he would do a most popular thing.
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
I was surprised to hear the somewhat severe criticisms on inspection from the hon. Member for Ross (Dr. R. Macdonald). Speaking from an intimate knowledge of factory work in the West of England, I can say that the inspection is thorough and real, and I doubt if you could find a single child under age employed in the numerous cloth factories there. The work of inspection is carried out minutely. I have no doubt the hon. Member spoke of districts with which he is well acquainted and where the inspection is not so good; and I should like him to inform the Committee more specifically what part of the country it is where the Factory Acts are, as he states, such a sham. Before I sit down I wish to endorse what has been said by previous speakers, that there is a strong and natural desire that, as far as possible, Factory and Mine Inspectors should be chosen from the ranks of the workers and from those who understand the requirements of the workers—
§ DR. R. MACDONALD
Let me explain that I did not, for a moment, say that Inspectors did not do their work; what I meant to say was, that it is a physical impossibility for them to do their work well, they having so much ground to cover, so many factories under their view. From what I know of Factory Inspectors, I must say they are most hard-working men. I do not find fault with the individuals; but with the system by which more work devolves upon the men than it is physically possible for them to carry out. The district I especially referred to was the East End of London.
§ MR. THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
So far as my experience goes, I can say that a most effective inspection of factories is carried out by the present staff; and, so far as Scotland is con- 1056 cerned, I feel sure that a better and a more effective staff of officials does not exist in any part of the United Kingdom.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
I quite agree with my hon. Friend who has just spoken as to the inspection of the factories. The Chief Inspector of his district has also the charge of the whole of the South-East of Scotland. He has under his charge Edinburgh, with all its workshops—there are not many factories there—and he has the whole district of Galashiels, with its large factories. As far as my information goes, I can quite believe with my hon. Friend that the inspection of factories is complete; but there have been very grave complaints from year to year with regard to the workshops that the staff is not adequate for the inspection—that in a great city like Edinburgh, where there are not many manufactories, but a great many workshops, there are continual infractions of the Factory Acts. I believe, with my hon. Friend, that the Chief Inspector does his very best; but the staff is not adequate to the work, and there are believed to be continual infractions the Act. If the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will only consider what it is to have one man having the charge of the whole of the South of Scotland—the Lothians, Berwickshire, the Galashiels district, as well as a large city like Edinburgh, together with Leith, with their innumerable workshops—he will see it is hardly within the power of one man to maintain complete supervision over the whole of that work.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
More than one speaker has referred to the Inpectors of mines, particularly the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), and the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Dr. R. Macdonald); the hon. Member for Selkirk (Mr. Thorburn) and the hon. Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan), who has just spoken, have referred to the Inspectors of factories and workshops, all giving advice of the same kind. With regard to the Inspectors of mines, some remarks of mine in an earlier period of the Session were quoted, in which I am supposed to express the same view as that now expressed by the hon. Member 1057 for East Donegal. I do not think the hon. Member quoted me quite accurately. If my memory serves me accurately, what I said was this—If you inspect frequently or even occasionally, going into every factory and every workshop in the country, it is impossible for the existing staff of Inspectors to do it. If you expect the Inspectors to supervise the minute processes of manufacture and the conduct of these establishments, you would require not two or three times as many, but 10 times as many.But I would ask hon. Gentlemen if we would gain much if we carried inspection to that point? It seems to me it is hopeless to think that inspection can ever be carried to the point of taking the place of the owner's eyes. What you ought to do, and what I agree, perhaps, is not sufficiently done under the present system, is to let the Inspector come, like an angel unawares, and come especially at moments when he is not expected, in order to detect shortcomings. I am afraid we cannot look for an expenditure which would be necessarily involved in enlarging the system of inspection, and which would be beyond the result attained. We cannot look for more than the present system of inspection. We cannot attempt to supersede supervision by the owner himself by constant supervision on the part of the Inspectors. So far as I am able to judge of them—of course, Inspectors, like other men, are not perfect— they do their duty fairly well. A little more of the unexpected, a little more of the surprise about their visits, I have often thought would be very desirable. There is great difficulty in catching those who infringe the law in workshops. All sorts of precautions are taken by those who infringe the law to make everything smooth at the time they expect the Inspector, and I am sorry to say that on the part of the workmen there is an inclination to assist in the infringement of the Act, instead of giving the Inspectors hints upon which they could act. I hope, with a little effort on the part of all those concerned, that even the existing number of Inspectors may bring about a more wholesome terror of the Inspector's visits. The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) has asked me about the Inspectors of Factories and Workshops in Ireland. In Ireland, until quite lately, there have been three Inspectors. I 1058 regret very much that the number is so small, and, if I may say so, it arises from the fact that there are so few establishments in Ireland which require inspection under the Act. Belfast, Dublin, and Cork are the only places where Inspectors are wanted, and so slight is the work and so insufficient to occupy their whole time that one of these Inspectors has been recently withdrawn, and the Factory Inspector at Manchester now takes his place. Thus the answer I gave the other evening that there was no vacancy in Ireland was perfectly correct—Manchester filled the vacancy which occurred. Then the hon. Member for Merionethshire (Mr. T. E. Ellis) asks for the appointment of Welsh-speaking Inspectors of Mines. Well, I have endeavoured to do so. I have only had to deal with one vacancy in Wales, and I delayed the appointment, and cast about in all directions in order to find a man, speaking Welsh, who was also competent. I cannot remember his name at the moment; but the only appointment I think I made in Wales since I held Office was of a man who could speak Welsh, and I had that in view when making the appointment. I do not hope the Welsh language will die out; but I hope it will not be long before English, as a means of communication between Inspector and workmen, should be so general that the accomplishment of being able to speak Welsh will be less necessary than it is at present. I am asked to appoint working men as Inspectors. Again I am speaking from memory; but I think all the appointments of Factory Inspectors I have made have been of workmen. In my own view, it is more desirable to have working men to be Inspectors of Factories than Inspectors of Mines. I have hesitation in appointing a man to be an Inspector of Mines who has not scientific knowledge, because that is a very important thing in an Inspector of Mines, who has to supervise the engineering operations of mines, and give advice regarding large concerns, as to how they could best be managed with safety. However skilful, and however well qualified a workman may be in all the practical parts of mining, and in the supervision of the comfort of the men, you rarely meet a workman who has scientific attainments at his command. But as regards factories, a man 1059 who has gone through a course of labour in a factory is best qualified for factory inspection. With regard to the other fact which the hon. Member for Boss and Cromarty pointed out—namely, that the age of boys was not properly certified, I must remind him that that is not the duty of the Inspector at all. It is the duty of the certifying surgeon.
§ DR. E. MACDONALD
What I meant to say was that these boys were used by the owners of factories and not certified, and if the Inspector came there and found boys not certified, of course he could cause action to be taken. If the Inspector does not go there the boys go on working, and they are not certified by a medical man to the Inspector to save expense.
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
I desire to add my testimony to that of the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Dr. R. Macdonald). I believe it arises from the fact that it is physically impossible for the Inspectors to do the work which they are expected to do. Great injury is going on in consequence of the evasion of the Act in this way in London.
§ MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)
I wish to endorse what has fallen from the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Dr. E. Macdonald), and I also agree with what has fallen from the hon. and learned Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucester (Mr. Winterbotham). I believe the factories in Scotland are as well inspected as they are in England; but the workshops are not. There is a distinction to be drawn between workshops and factories. I do not think the workshops are sufficiently inspected, and I may say the same with regard to mines. I do not consider the mines in Scotland are by any means sufficiently inspected, and that arises to a considerable extent from the inadequate number of Inspectors. You require a much largo staff of Inspectors than you have now. Whatever the expense may be it is far better to have the thing done thoroughly. Inspectors' visits are like angel's visits, "few and far between." They can only be in one place at one time, and unless the staff is sufficient the work cannot be properly done. With regard to the question of scientific attainments on the part of the Inspectors, I think it is important that they should have scientific knowledge; but if you have 1060 regard to that alone, and appoint a man without practical knowledge, it is far worse than appointing a good practical man who knows his work without science. I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will keep that matter in view, and let us have a more thoroughly adequate staff. Then I am convinced many of such accidents as have arisen, resulting in loss of life, and which have arisen from the defects which have been pointed out, will be in a great measure prevented.
§ MR. M'LAREN
With regard to the inspection of the workshops, especially in London, where women are employed, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary expressed himself very favourably towards the appointment of female Inspectors. I would like to ask him if he has been able to do anything in that direction during the last year, or, if not, whether he sees his way to an alteration of the law by which there can be a number of female Inspectors appointed, or whether he will appoint them under the present law to workshops?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I have made inquiries at the Home Office, and I find it is against my power to appoint female Inspectors. It is also pointed out to me that if you have female Inspectors, there will be a difficulty with regard to their covering large districts, and in many places the irregular character of the work would be ill-suited to female Inspectors. I will by no means lose sight of the subject.
§ MR. SEXTON
I asked the right hon. Gentleman three questions, and he has answered only one. I asked, in the first place, what proportion of these Inspectors were composed of working men? The right hon. Gentleman had expressed his intention of appointing working men, and I wish to see how far he has exercised it. He told me, very much to my surprise, that the three Irish Inspectorships had been brought down to two, and we find that one of the three has been appended to Manchester. We know that Ireland is a dependency of the British Crown; but to find it a dependency of Manchester is something new. What part of Ireland does the 1061 Manchester Inspector deal with? Where are the two Irish Inspectors stationed? Is there one stationed at Belfast, and is he a working man? From communications made, I believe the factories and workshops in Belfast, of which there are hundreds, embracing a great variety of industries, and employing a great number of people, would take up the whole time of two Inspectors; and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary that there is great dissatisfaction in Belfast in regard to factory inspection. The visits of the Inspector are few and far between; but, perhaps, they might have some effect if they were skilfully timed.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
There is one Inspector resident at Belfast; there is one Inspector resident at Dublin; and there was one resident at Cork, but it was found he had not enough to do, and, therefore, the Cork district has now been annexed to Manchester. The hon. Member for West Belfast asks how many of the total number of Inspectors are working men. I cannot answer that question at present A number of them -were appointed before my time at the Home Office. I have only appointed, I think, three or four, since I have been in Office, and they have all been working men. I think that answers all the questions now that have been addressed to me.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART-WORTLEY) (Sheffield, Hallam)
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to reply to his question. At present there are six Retreats in existence. This Act has been in existence since 1879, and has been continued from year to year. The last Report of the Inspector was made just 12 months ago, and it unluckily happens that the Report for the last year is only just expected. These establishments are licensed for 86 patients, but they actually have in them only 39 inmates. So far as one can judge, the working of the Act to the limited extent to which it has been adopted is satisfactory, and the Inspector speaks of it as such. It is true amendments in the law are demanded—first and foremost, that the law should be made permanent, and that is a matter which is now occupying the attention of the Government, It is not 1062 fair to expect the licensees to embark in an expenditure under an Act of Parliament continued from year to year. Another point of amendment desired is that the signature of two Justices should not be necessary for the admission of a person to a Retreat. That question is at present surrounded with some difficulty, and is engaging the attention of the Government. With regard to deputy-licensees, I dare say that some concession might be possible. There might be deputy licensees, subject to the same qualifications and appointment, with the consent of the public authority, which licensees themselves have to show. I think this will answer all the questions raised by the hon. Member. On the question of Factory Inspectorships, I may be allowed to remark that the accidents in respect of which fees have been paid show of late years a tendency to decrease. I think that is a fact which may be taken into consideration as bearing upon the energy shown by the existing staff of Inspectors.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has had to answer so many questions that I am not surprised that some of mine have escaped hianotice—namely, with regard to white lead and paint factories, and the regulations now in force for inspecting them, fn regard to the latter point, I beg to say that I by no means misrepresented the answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave last autumn as to the number of Inspectors, for I have been looking over it within the last 48 hours. I remember it very well—I am sorry I have not it byme—and the expression he made use of was that in his own opinion the staff of Inspectors was inadequate for the onerous duties they had to perform, and he went on to say that, so far as he was personally concerned, he would be glad to see the number increased, but the difficulty was with the Treasury, on account of the increased expenditure. That is precisely what I complain of. If the people interested were Bishops or the daughters of well-to-do people, then there would be a great fuss made about anything which imperilled either their safety or their comfort; but the persons concerned here are the children of the poor, and therefore very little attention is paid to the claims put forth on their behalf. What 1063 is involved in the question of efficient inspection? Efficient inspection of places where hundreds and thousands of men are employed in dangerous avocations ought to go on all the year round, and with regard to the angel's visits, they are always timed after an accident has happened. The Coal Mines Inspectors of Scotland always knew where they had to go next, by inquiring where was the last explosion, or where was the last accident. Whoever heard of an Inspector going to one of these mines without an accident? They have not the time to do it. They have two Inspectors in Scotland, and I do not know how many hundreds of mines they have within their jurisdiction. It is physically impossible that they could inspect, even if they did nothing else. It is absolutely necessary, in order that the duties of inspection should be properly carried out, that the number of Inspectors should be materially increased. When you come to consider the lavish way in which this House is invited to vote hundreds of thousands of pounds for services which are of incomparably less importance than this, it does appear to me to be a very strange and unseemly proceeding that an official in the position of the Home Secretary should plead the opposition of the Treasury to a further expenditure of £20,000 or a few tens of thousands for the purpose of appointing men whose inspection might result in the saving of a very large number of lives annually. I would urge upon the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to pluck up a little courage. He is, after all, a Secretary of State. He may have a very humble opinion of himself, but he has the responsibilities of his Office upon him, and it is incumbent upon him to make strong representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to afford him the means for the adequate discharge of the duties he has to look after. These Inspectors are not equal to their work, according to the admission of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary himself. It is his duty to take steps to strengthen their hands and to increase their number; and whatever may be the charge which it is necessary to ask this House to vote, I am perfectly certain the House would readily vote it for the sake of thus adding to the efficiency of our Public Service.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
I would like to say a word in support of my hon. Friend's statement that Inspectors go to places after accidents happen. Two or three weeks ago I was down in one of the largest manufacturing districts of this country, and I took the opportunity of inspecting some of the workshops, and I cross-questioned some of the workmen employed in them. I wont to one particular shop—one example will do as well as many—where there was a very elaborate system of machinery, and whore accidents were of constant occurrence. I asked how it was that accidents took place so often, and I was told by the men that the real cause was in the hurry to get the work done. They were so pressed and the machinery was so complicated that there was almost certain to be an accident. I asked how it was that the Inspector did not see to this, and—I hope this will be a lesson for the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary—the answer was that this Inspector never comes except after an accident has happened. This was the evidence given to me by a most intelligent workman—I do not know whether he was a foreman or not—in charge of these men. I asked if the Inspector's attention was drawn to the dangerous part of the machinery. The workman said—"No; before the Inspector comes that portion of the machinery is removed." I asked why did none of the workmen complain. He said—"If a workman complained, he would not have much work in this place afterwards." This was evidence which I could not doubt. The man had no suspicion of the reason why I put these questions to him. He told me that before the Inspector's visit takes place this dangerous part of the machinery is taken away and hidden, and as soon as the Inspector has gone and the matter is closed that dangerous part of the machinery is put up again. As I said, I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary by that example—very seriously given to me—and which I have not the slightest reason to doubt, to look more carefully into this question of inspection, and do as my hon. Friend suggests. If it is necessary to spend more money, let it be spent, and appoint more Inspectors, not for political purposes as has been done in the past so often—appoint men who are able to de- 1065 tect this deception practised on the part of employers. The men dare not complain, because, if they did, they would not get employment in that particular shop and probably in any other shop where their conduct had been reported.
§ MR. MOLLOY
I have already explained that I do not think it is necessary to give names in this House, and I do not think it is fair. If hon. Members will take my word for it, the district is one in which there is a large system of planing wood by machinery in operation. If the hon. Gentleman is anxious about the district, I have no objection to give it; but, as I have said, I do not think it is fair to ask for these particulars in full House.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
It may be quite true that there are portions of the country where more inspection is required; but however many Inspectors you may have, they will never be able to do their work efficiently unless they receive the co-operation of those for whose benefit they are appointed. I know that in some manufacturing districts there are means made use of for giving the Inspector a hint when something is going wrong; and I cannot help thinking that in this matter referred to by the hon. Member (Mr. Molloy) it might have been possible to bring so serious a breach of the law under the notice of the Inspector.
§ DR. E. MACDONALD (ROSS and Cromarty)
The hon. Member (Mr. Molloy) is under a misapprehension as to portions of machinery being put out of the way, and all that sort of thing, because I can tell him what is the procedure in these cases. When an accident occurs the medical man, who looks after the district, goes and sees the machinery, examines the man and the nature of his wounds, takes the man's evidence, and satisfies himself that the machinery is as it was when the man was wounded. Then he sends in his Report to the Inspector of Factories, so that if the machinery was changed in any way the Inspector could not fail to be aware of it. That is the system, and so far as I know there is nowhere any departure from it. I must say that, in my experi- 1066 ence, accidents are not always reported. I have sometimes found them out by the newspapers after the inquest was held, and I have gone to the works and said —"Did not you have such and such an accident the other day?" The reply has been—"Yes, there was; but we forgot to let you know about it." I have sometimes heard of accidents months afterwards, and they were never reported by the people at the works, and that, perhaps, will explain why in the Reports of the Inspectors the number of accidents are not so frequent as they were. The suggestion I have to make is that at those factories and workshops which are under the inpection of Inspectors of Factories there should be a book kept in which the Inspector should enter his name and the date of his inspection. It would then be a very simple matter to ascertain how many times a factory was inspected; and the Home Office would also know exactly what their Inspectors had done all the year through. I do not think that would be in any way derogatory to the Inspector, and would be a very reasonable and useful improvement of the existing state of things.
§ MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
I should be glad if my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would say in which manner these officials are appointed, and whether there is any principle upon which they are promoted. The chief complaint of hon. Gentlemen opposite seems to be that Inspectors are not appointed who thoroughly understand the works they have to inspect; but that gentlemen are selected who have never had any experience of their work before. We want to know for what reason these men are appointed, and before we pass from this subject I am anxious to know what steps are taken to see that they are capable of doing the work they are appointed to do. In the case of the Welshmen, I am very desirous that their Inspectors, should be men who understand the language of the people.
§ MR. MOLLOY
I am sorry the statement I have just made should not have the full force it deserves. Of course, when I speak of hiding away machinery I do not mean that a considerable piece of a machine was taken away and put in a back cupboard. I will tell the Committee how it is done. In the case I 1067 was speaking of, there is a guard to protect the man's hand when the machinery is in rapid motion. That guard is not used under ordinary circumstances, but after an accident when the report is made and the Inspector comes, this guard is put up. I hope the Home Secretary will believe that the statement I have made is really a correct and a very important one.
§ MR. R. G. C. MOWBRAY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
I just wish to add my testimony to the fact that the provisions of the Factory Acts are evaded in many cases. In certain parts of Lancashire there is a considerable demand for a sensible increase in the number of Factory Inspectors; and I sincerely hope the Government will see their way to doing something in this direction.
§ THE SECRETAEY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
The statement of the hon. Member for the Birr Division of Queen's County (Mr. Molloy) appears to show that if the Inspector had made ten times the number of visits he now makes, and the workmen had shown the same reluctance to give him information, the conspiracy to defeat the Inspector would have been just as successful. What I hope is, that there will be a stronger desire to give information, because if this assistance is withheld, you will never do any good even if you multiplied your Inspectors ever so much. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for the Limehouse Division of the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Norris), I have to say that under the Factory Acts I have absolute power of appointing these Inspectors; and that after I have appointed them, then they go before the Civil Service Commissioners to pass a test examination, which qualifies them for receiving the appointment. If they cannot comply with that condition, they are not appointed. As for the appointments which have fallen vacant since I have been at the Home Office, I have had so many applicants—gentlemen of equal merit—that I have had the greatest possible difficulty in deciding. I have therefore selected five or six-which appeared to me to be the best, and have sent them up for competitive examination. This is the system I shall follow in the future when I have any appointments to make. I am sorry to 1068 say that the task of selection is one of extraordinary difficulty.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I have to draw attention to what appears to be a mere question of account, but is really a matter which has cropped up so often in this House, that it ought to be noticed. Exactly parallel cases have occurred in the Army and Navy Estimates, and we have found, in the Committee upstairs, cases in which sums have been smuggled in under one Vote when they really belonged to another Vote; so that the cost of particular items has been kept down by smuggling the amounts into another Vote. I want to point out that this occurs here in Item No. 4. There are certain people well known in this country as Queen's Messengers, and everyone in this Committee would naturally look for them in the Foreign Office Vote. Well, so they are; there is a sum of £15,000 for them in that Vote. But there is this smuggling process going on here, for in addition to this £15,000 in the Foreign Office Vote, we have another £1,100 amongst the Home Office items. The Committee will see at the bottom of this page that there are five Messengers receiving £150 a-year each, which makes £750, and, in addition, there is £350 for travelling expenses for the Queen's Messengers, making a total of £1,100. I say that this is an attempt to hoodwink the Committee, and I would invite the Home Secretary to explain exactly how these Queen's Messengers are used, and how they are put down in the Home Office Vote. I can understand that their travelling expenses to Dover might possibly come in here; but still I say that they ought properly to be put in the Foreign Office Vote. That is the way all through those Estimates, and that is the way all these Estimates are run up. It is like a tailor who does not like to charge you £4 10s. or £4 15s. for a coat, and so he charges you £3 10s. for the coat, and 15s. for the lining of the sleeves, 10s. for the braiding of the pockets, and so on, and thus makes the price of the coat run up to £4 15s. or £5, whilst if he charged this sum straight off many people would decline to pay it. This process has been carried on to an extraordinary extent in the Army and Navy Estimates, and I consider that to lighten the Foreign Office Vote by putting such sums in the Home Office Vote 1069 is a great abuse of the forms of the House. When I drew the attention of an hon. Member near me to it he would not believe it, and he had to go through both the Votes to convince himself. And so it is with a good many hon. Members. We all know that the Queen's Messengers are employed to go abroad; but I believe there is a good deal of humbug about it, and that the £15,000 which appears in the Foreign Office Vote could very well be cut down to £3,000 or £4,000 a-year. When you have these charges in connection with the Home Office, however, I say it is an anachronism. The telegraph ought, in my opinion, to supersede the Queen's Messengers to a very great extent, and this is a matter which the Committee might very well look into. I bog to move that the Vote be reduced by the sum of £1,100; but, of course, if the Home Secretary gives a proper explanation, I shall be happy to withdraw my Motion. At the present moment, however, I think the best way is to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,100.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The hon. and gallant Member is, I think, under a misapprehension. The Queen's Messengers are frequently employed to carry documents and despatches to Scotland and other places. [Colonel NOLAN: Name the people who carry them.] I cannot give the hon. and gallant Member the names of the Queen's Messengers. There are five Messengers constantly employed in carrying despatches to Her Majesty at Windsor, Osborne, or Balmoral from Ministers; but I cannot give the names. There were originally six; but in 1871 their number was reduced to 5, and it was then arranged that they should receive £150 a-year to cover everything. When you consider how many things—reprieves of prisoners and innumerable documents to which Her Majesty's signature is required—that you have such things almost daily, it will be apparent that the money is required. I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that there is no intention to conceal any expenditure.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
In that case, perhaps, it would be as well to move the reduction of the salary of the Postmaster General when the proper time comes; but I do not intend to do that, because 1070 I think the Postmaster General is a necessary and hard-working official. I cannot understand Queen's Messengers being required when the Post Office can do the work as well. That is, in my belief, the whole fault of these Estimates. I am not afraid of new charges being put upon the Estimates; but what I am afraid of is keeping on the old charges, even if they are 200 or 300 years old. These Queen's Messengers ought to be superseded by Her Majesty's post. They are not more trustworthy than the post, and the post would do the work for £5 a-year which you are now paying £1,100 a-year for. The Home Secretary says these officials are sent to Windsor with the despatches. If the bag were put into the Post Office, it would be conveyed in just the same manner, quite as safely, and perhaps more expeditiously than by the Queen's Messenger. You keep up these expenses partly for the patronage they give, and partly because it is an old custom. I can understand that there may be some reason for employing these men abroad; for there may be some difficulty in sending despatches through foreign post offices; but there is no necessity for it at home. Can the Home Secretary point out the use of these Messengers? If these letters can be committed to the post there is £1,100 a-year saved. You commit writs, even the Writs of this House, to the post, and why cannot you commit the documents intended for Her Majesty? The Home Secretary has totally failed to justify this item of expenditure. I think he is bound to point out why we are to pay £750 for salaries and £350 for travelling expenses for these men. When I moved the reduction of the Vote before, Mr. Courtney, you probably did not notice it; but I now formally move the reduction by £1,100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £54,847, be granted for the said Services."—(Colonel Nolan.)
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I want to make a double appeal—to the Committee on the one hand, and to the First Lord of the Treasury on the other. It is that the Committee should decide on the Amendment and on the Vote now, so that we may proceed with a matter an which there is almost a dis- 1071 inct engagement that we should proceed, and as to which Members have waited here night after night in vain.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
If an engagement has been entered into to report Progress, I have no wish to disturb it, nor do I object to large salaries being paid to the people who deserve them. But it should be known that there are Members of this House who, with regard to the salary now demanded for the Home Secretary, do not merely grudge it, but know that it is ill-deserved. In the face of events which have recently been under the consideration of the British public, I say that this salary should not be paid without the conduct of the Home Secretary being taken into the most thorough consideration by Members of this House; and if the Vote is allowed to pass now, at any rate, the matter will be raised on Report.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Jackson,)— put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again upon Monday next.