§ Resolutions [6th September] reported.
§ First Eight Resolutions agreed to.1771
§ Ninth Resolution read a second time.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I desire to move the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £59, being the amount over-paid to Lord Lingen, the late Secretary to the Treasury. Sir, the Treasury is an Office which is very strict in interpreting Regulations and Acts of Parliament in respect of the claim of Civil servants in subordinate positions; but when it comes to the question of the interests of Members of the Treasury Office itself, or when it is a question of personal interests of high-placed Civil servants in any of the principal Offices of the State, then we find that a totally different standard is applied in gauging the merits or claims of individuals. It is easy to dismiss Dockyard labourers without pensions. It is easy to re-organize an office of secondary importance, and get rid of a number of lowly placed men on terms which inflict great hardship on the majority of them; but no case of re-organization of the Secretary of State's Office has been heard of in which the Heads of that Office were not materially benefited by the change, and no system of retirement in the Secretary of State's Office, or in the Treasury itself, has yet come under public notice in which the officers concerned were not treated in the most liberal manner. But, Sir, in the case of Lord Lingen an exceptionally strong course was taken by the Secretary in dealing with the claim for pension. Lord Lingen is an officer of 38 years' service. When he retired the other day he was entitled, under the ordinary Rules of the Service, to draw a pension equal to 38–60ths of his last year's salary; but instead of that the Treasury gave him a pension equal to two-thirds of his salary, and they attempted to justify the increased amount by representing that many years ago he had acted as an Examiner. Now, at the time he so acted there was no power in the Treasury to take into account the special qualifications which he possessed in that character with a view to an increase in his pension. But in the Superannuation Act of 1859 a clause—Clause 4 —was introduced which provided that it should be lawful for the Examiners of the Treasury from time to time to appoint persons possessing professional or other peculiar qualities not ordinarily acquired in the Public Service at a later period 1772 than the rule which ordinarily obtained in the Service. Now, what did the Treasury do when Lord Lingen retired? They bethought themselves of the fact that he had years before been an Examiner in a Public Department, and they made that clause of the Act of 1859 and the Order made under it retrospective. That was really going beyond the intentions of the Act. The increased allowance to Lord Lingen was objected by the Comptroller and Auditor General in the following words:—This sub-head also includes the pension of £1,668 13s. 4d., equivalent to 40–60ths of salary on retirement, granted to Lord Lingen, late Permanent Secretary to the Treasury. Lord Lingen's actual service amounted to 38 years, to which had been added the years on account of professional qualification as an Examiner in the Education Department. Under the Treasury Warrant of 1863, issued in accordance with the terms of Clause 4 of the Superannuation Act of 1859, as Lord Lingen had ceased to be an Examiner the three years before the issue of this Warrant, and as I have been advised that the Warrant issued under this Act is not retrospective in its action, I feel constrained to take exception to that portion of the pension allowed in respect of these two years; and I am, therefore, unable to consider that the sum of £57 0s. 9d. paid an account thereof during the year 1885–6 as properly charged against the Vote.Well, Sir, the matter having been reported upon by the Comptroller and Auditor General, it came before the Public Accounts Committee; and the Chairman asked a question of Mr. Hamilton, the Representative of the Treasury in the matter. Mr. Hamilton's answer was—It is a question, as to the interpretation of the Treasury Warrant, as to whether a retrospective effect should be given under that Warrant or not.It was thought at the time at the Treasury that a retrospective effect should be given to it. This Treasury officer said—I think wrongfully so; and I think that the Comptroller and Auditor General is quite right in his contention that the Treasury had no business to give retrospective effect to that Warrant. But so far as this particular case is concerned it would have had no material effect; because, considering what the services of Lord Lingen have been to the State, the Treasury would probably not have hesitated in submitting a case to Parliament for a special pension. Therefore, the difficulty would have been got over in that way had he not made up his official service of 40 years.Then Mr. Hamilton is asked—"That is, if Parliament had taken the same view 1773 as the Treasury officials?" "No;" he said—The 9th section of the Superannuation Act gives the Treasury power to grant pensions for special services without the special consent of Parliament.Then he was further asked—And if the Treasury had a discretionary authority which they desired to obtain, they would, in that case, have allowed the full pension?His answer was—They would have allowed the full pension; but they would have stated the facts to Parliament with a full explanation.A further question put was this—If I understand you aright, you admit that the contention of the Comptroller and Auditor General is correct, that the Warrant under which it is sought to cover this higher pension in reality has no retrospective effect, and ought not to have any retrospective effect?Mr. Hamilton's reply was, "That is so." Then the situation is simply this—that the Treasury, in order to serve Lord Lingen, a Treasury official, give a retrospective effect to a Warrant which, in point of fact, has no retrospective effect at all. On the strength of that Warrant they have given him a pension to which he is entitled; but they say— "If we are not entitled to do it in one way, then, at any rate, under another clause of the Act we could, if he had proceeded under it, have been able to effect the same object by laying a special statement before Parliament as to the eminent services rendered by Lord Lingen to the Treasury." But, Sir, the Treasury has not been able to, or at any rate in point of fact, to lay before Parliament this detailed statement of the eminent services of Lord Lingen. Therefore they are not entitled, under Section 9 of the Act in question, to give the special pension, neither are they entitled under Clause 4, and the Warrant issued under its provisions, to give him the larger pension which has been objected to by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The pension, therefore, which is paid to Lord Lingen is clearly illegal. I venture to contend that not only is it illegal, but that it is also improper and altogether indecorous and unseemly. I desire to speak with all due respect of Lord Lingen. He is a gentleman who has been in the Civil Service for a long time, and he has discharged his duties presumably to the 1774 best of his power; but I do protest against the Treasury coming forward and claiming that Lord Lingen, in his long career in the Public Service, has manifested any special qualification whatsoever which justified any exceptional treatment of him in the shape of pension. But I say, further than that, that the giving to Lord Lingen of a pension to which he is not legally entitled, at the same time that you treat in so inconsiderate and harsh a manner unimportant members of the Civil Service, can only result in one thing, and that is a deepening conviction in the Civil Service that the Service is not properly worked or supervised; but that it is worked harshly, and that it is worked unjustly—I do not say corruptly—in respect of men in high positions. Lord Lingen was in a high position—he was at headquarters. He, of all men in the Service, signalized himself for years by the harshness and the stringency with which he treated everybody in the Civil Service. If there was any possibility of cutting down an allowance, if there was any means of construing the Regulations in a niggardly spirit, Lord Lingen was sure to adopt that view. The whole of his record is of the same description. The whole of his reputation, however well - established, after years of experience through the various branches of administration, can leave no ground for doubt as to the tone of thought in respect of appointments of Civil servants generally, unless they happen to hold high places. His own case came in for consideration, and what do we find '? Why, that a mere job has been perpetrated in his favour—a job which, if it had been perpetrated in respect of someone else, Lord Lingen would have been the first to object to. What is there to be said in justification of what has been done? Absolutely nothing. The thing is illegal, the thing is improper, and is calculated to work very unjustly upon every rank of the Civil Service. Under these circumstances, I admit that it is a very invidious thing to do, because I have had personal relations with Lord Lingen. Still, I do not think it right that a statement of this kind, involving a charge of the nature I have described, should be allowed to pass without challenge in this House; and, therefore, I beg to move the reduction of this Vote. I do not know exactly the proper way 1775 to put my Motion; but I think the Question is, "That this House agree with the Committee in the said Resolution." If I am in Order I will move that the House do require the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £59.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out "£246,082," and insert "£246,023."— (Mr. Arthur O'Connor.)
§ Question proposed, "That' £210,082' stand part of the Resolution."
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
Sir, the hon. Gentleman who has raised this question has made use of some very strong language, and has insinuated that the pension granted to Lord Lingen was granted to him, not on account of his services, nor on account of the justice of the case, but because he was a Treasury officer. Sir, I believe that charges, if I may call them so—more unfounded insinuations founded on a less basis—never were made in this House. The hon. Member has said that the Comptroller and Auditor General called attention to this matter, and he has recited the circumstances in which the Comptroller and Auditor General did so; but the hon. Member did not represent what the Public Accounts Committee stated in answer to the Comptroller and Auditor General. The Public Accounts Committee, in considering the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, stated in their Report in regard to Lord Lingen's pension that the point as to whether this sum of £57 0s. 9d. was a proper charge turned upon the question as to whether a retrospective effect could be given to the Treasury Warrant or not.. The Treasury agreed with the Comptroller and Auditor General that it was not competent for them to give retrospective effect to the Treasury Warrant in this particular instance. However, the matter was not of substantial importance, as Lord Lingen's services would, no doubt, have warranted the Treasury in granting him a special pension. Therefore, it was not merely a question of opinion in the Treasury, but it was the opinion of the Public Accounts Committee, who considered the Comptroller and Auditor's objection, that the Treasury would have been justified in granting a special pension to Lord Lingen for his services. The hon. Member made use of these 1776 words—"That the Treasury bethought themselves of this old Warrant." I am sorry that the hon. Member said that. The facts are very simple. Lord Lingen has, I believe, left a reputation at the Treasury which will livelong after him, for his strictness which the hon. Member has alluded to, but strictness in defence of the public purse. He has left a reputation for his strictness and impartiality in the administration of the onerous duties he was called upon to discharge. Sir, Lord Lingen had a get and determined opposition against special pensions. Lord Lingen interpreted special pensions to mean, not pensions which were earned, even although excellently well done, but all services which were special and outside the limit of any particular sphere of duty. Lord Lingen did not claim any special pension; but, following the precedents which had been set before—and I would wish to call the hon. Member's attention to this in proof of what I have stated that it was not that the Treasury bethought themselves of this old Warrant—following the precedent set in Sir Francis Sandford's case—
§ MR. JACKSON
Which he hon. Gentleman has now admitted to be wrong in Lord Lingen's case; but I am pointing out that the pension given to Lord Lingen was not, as the hon. Gentleman suggests, given with the desire to serve him, and it was not that they bethought themselves of this Warrant when the case came under consideration; but the Treasury in the matter were following a precedent which up to that time had never been questioned, and to which no objection had been taken.
§ MR. JACKSON
It was not known; but pensions of this kind had been granted, and had come before the Comptroller and Auditor General, and had passed him. I want to emphasize this point—that the Treasury acted upon precedent, which up to that time had never been questioned, and which the Treasury at that time believed to be perfectly legal. I do not desire to prolong this discussion. I believe that everybody who has come in contact with Lord Lingen, or who knows anything about his services, will endorse the opinion of 1777 the Public Accounts Committee that those services would have justified a special pension. But, Sir, we are not responsible—the Government of that day are responsible for this. I have felt it my duty to say this, because I honestly believe that a Public Service never had a more faithful or diligent servant than it had in Lord Lingen. Lord Lingen's service at the time he retired was 38 years and nine months. Therefore it was a little more than the hon. Member has stated. I have pointed out that the precedent was followed which, up' to that time, had never been questioned; and I believe that had it been proposed to us, as has been suggested by the hon. Member, it would have received the unanimous endorsement of the House. Sir, I should just like to say, further, that the pension which, was awarded to Lord Lingen was endorsed with these words—After the honour which, on gracious acceptance of my advice, Her Majesty has now conferred on Sir Ralph Lingen, I need not supply any less emphatic testimony of his pre-eminent merits.That was signed, or rather initialed, "W. E. G."
§ MR. JACKSON
So far as my knowledge goes, and so far as my experience of the short tenure of the Office I now hold enables me to form an opinion, I am justified in saying that Lord Lingen most thoroughly deserves a pension. The hon. Member questions the pension to the extent of £59. He questions it, I make no doubt, on principle. He questions it, I believe, altogether apart from personal considerations.
§ MR. JACKSON
Well, I have endeavoured to point out that his insinuation that the Treasury have dealt with this case in a special manner, because of Lord Lingen's special connection with the Treasury, is not warranted or justified; and I have endeavoured to show that the Treasury at that time, in acting as they did, and in granting the pension which was given to Lord Lingen, and interpreting the Warrant with the Office which he had previously held, and which the hon. Gentleman knows was subsequently put upon the list of officers entitled to seven years' service on account 1778 of professional qualifications—I have endeavoured to show that the Treasury, in acting in this way, were acting upon precedent. They did not make a precedent to serve the particular case of Lord Lingen; and I honestly believe that they acted, as they thought at the time, in strict accordance with the law. I am certain of this—that, at any rate, they acted in strict accordance with the merits of the case.
§ SIR EDWARD REED (Cardiff)
I cannot allow the fact that a complimentary Minute initialed "W. E. G." —the initials of the late Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone)—should weigh with, me to the extent of barring me from expressing my conviction that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury has given no satisfactory answer to the question raised by the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor). I admit that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury has given an answer to some of the incidental observations made by the hon. Member; but he has given no answer as to the merits of the case; on the contrary, he has set an example which, I confess, I never expected to find set in this House by a Secretary to the Treasury. I never expected to find a Secretary to the Treasury rising in his place to defend the appropriation of an excessive pension to a public officer without any recognition or legal authority whatever.
§ MR. JACKSON
I beg the hon. Baronet's pardon. That which I defended was sanctioned by Parliament adopting the Public Accounts Committee's Report.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
That was a very indirect sanction. It was acknowledged that the form in which the pension was given, and the grounds on which it was given, were illegal.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
Well, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury says it was afterwards discovered to be illegal.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
Well, highly irregular—I am satisfied with that; but, then, one would have thought that there 1779 would have been some step taken to set it right and make it legal and proper. In Committee in this House, over and over again, we have Ministers rising and expressing their inability to strain any point in the slightest degree in favour of the widows and families of poor men who have died in the Public Service; but here we have the Secretary to the Treasury rising at midnight and saying that when, in the case of a high official, they have discovered that he has received an improper pension, they have taken no steps to put it right, and do not intend to do so. That is a state of things which I must say I never expected to hear in this House from a responsible officer of the Treasury.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I have heard the hon. Gentleman with some surprise. It is the practice in the Public Service, and the law of the Public Service, that the Public Accounts should be referred to the Comptroller and Auditor General, and that his Report on these accounts shall be dealt with by the Committee of Public Accounts, which has the authority to allow or disallow, to enforce or the contrary, the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General. In this respect, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury has read out the 77th Article of the Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, in which they refuse to disallow the item in question. They distinctly assert that in this particular instance the matter is not of substantial importance, as Lord Lingen's services would, no doubt, have warranted the Treasury in granting him a special pension. Does the hon. Baronet suggest that it is the duty of the Government to go behind, and to act, independently of, the Report of the Committee of Public Accounts, which is set up by this House as a protection to the public purse, and as a special tribunal to deal with the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General? Why, it would be an act most extraordinary in itself, and which has never, to my knowledge, been attempted to be done by any Government or Party. Reference has been made to the services of Lord Lingen, but it must be borne in mind that Lord Lingen is not a Member of the Party to which the present Government belongs. It must be borne in mind that Lord Lingen did not receive his pension from this Government—that 1780 the pension was not granted by a Treasury to which any Member of the present Government belonged at that time. The Treasury which granted the pension consisted of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler); and I certainly do not accuse any of these right hon. Gentlemen of any desire to deal lightly with the public purse. I believe they had as great a regard for the public purse as we claim to have on this side of the House; but they also had an intimate knowledge of the distinguished services of Lord Lingen.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
Let me point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the Members of the Treasury to whom he refers wore, at the time of the granting of the pension, ignorant of the fact that the thing should not be retrospective.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
They granted it in good faith, no doubt, and in recognition of the valuable services of Lord Lingen. Then the fact transpires that the particular form and method in which it has been granted was open to some doubt, and the whole subject is referred to the Comptroller and Auditor General and to the Committee of Public Accounts, and the Committee of Public Accounts took upon themselves the responsibility of saying that the matter was not one of substantial importance. Does the hon. Member desire to pass a censure on the Committee of Public Accounts, and to say that they have neglected their duty—a majority, or, at any rate, some of them, were neglectful of their duty—to the country, and ought not to have inserted that paragraph in their Report? I believe that substantial justice has been done, and that Lord Lingen's pension has been fully and entirely merited. I served with Lord Lingen at the Treasury during three or four years, and I can bear testimony to his zeal and his devotion to the Public Service. I believe the Public Service never had a servant more thoroughly devoted to their interests than Lord Lingen was in every way; and though it has been remarked that Lord Lingen was indifferent to the claims of the humbler servants of the Crown—
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I think the hon. Gentleman, at least, implied that Lord Lingen had administered the Department very severely.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will do me the justice to refer to my words if they have been taken down.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I did not take down the hon. Gentleman's words; but I do not think I am misrepresenting him when I say that the impression made by his words was that he believed Lord Lingen to have been harsh and severe and strict in his administration where poor men were concerned. Well, Sir, for my own part, I can bear testimony, through intimate acquaintance with Lord Lingen in the daily administration of his Office, to this—that when any hard cases came before him, and the interests of the persons in question were represented to him, he was as humane and considerate as it was possible for a man to be. But I admit—and I think that in this he did no more than his duty—that he insisted on the strict performance of duty, and that he did hold the purse-strings tightly when he thought that an attempt was being made to do an injustice to the country whose servant he was. Never, Sir, has there been a more careful or a more devoted public servant; and if a mistake has been made technically in the form and manner in which this pension has been granted to him, it is abundantly covered by the verdict of the tribunal which the House of Commons has just set up.
§ MR. MASON (Lanark, Mid)
I feel called upon, as a Member of the Public Accounts Committee, to make a few remarks upon this question. I cannot endorse the special pleading which has been given to us by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) in connection with this particular question. I may state that I do not know the merits of Lord Lingen, not having his personal acquaintance. I am not acquainted with the services he has rendered to the State; but I take my position on the ground that we ought to do nothing irregular or illegal. This question should be settled on that basis. I attended the meetings of the Public Accounts Committee most regularly; but I am bound to say that when the Com- 1782 mittee came to consider the question of Lord Lingen's pension I was, unhappily, called away to Scotland in consequence of domestic affliction. But the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) and myself had resolved to oppose the decision of the Committee so far as this Vote was concerned, and we should have done so if we had been present. The Report was, however, sanctioned in my absence, and I believe in the absence of the hon. Member for East Donegal. I do not want to dispute the matter so far as the amount is concerned; but I hold that we are not justified in pressing this Vote on in an illegal manner, even though it has been sanctioned by the Report of the Public Accounts Committee; and I wish, as a Member of the Public Accounts Committee, to state most distinctly that with regard to that particular matter I entirely disagree with it, and that I do that on the ground of principle simply. I do not suppose that this small sum of money which Lord Lingen is to receive can be set against his valuable services; but I mean to say that we ought to do things in a legal and lawful and proper manner, either with respect to the highly-paid servants or the lowly-paid servants—in regard to public officials or in connection with servants of the Houses of Parliament. If this Motion comes to a Division, I shall certainly move to strike out this amount, and I shall do so on the ground of principle, because I cannot agree with the Vote, although a Member of the Public Accounts Committee. There is no Department connected with this House which is not amenable to Parliament; and I think that if the Public Accounts Committee has done wrong, the House has a perfect right to refuse to sanction its decision.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
It is not often that we find the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury in a melting mood; but I thought, if I may say so, that there was quite a tear in his voice while he was referring to the services of Lord Lingen. As an old Civil Service official, I cordially and heartily admit that Lord Lingen was a good public servant. But I venture to think that Lord Lingen cannot possibly complain that his services have not been recognized by the State; and it is absurd to say that he performed anything which deserves the 1783 name of special service. We have been told—and it is quite true—that Lord Lingen was a strict steward of the public purse; and I think that, when his own claim came to be considered, to imitate his strictness would have been the best compliment which could have been paid to him. I am not at all surprised at the conduct of the Treasury in this matter. It is quite consistent with their settled policy, which appears to be based upon a misreading of a Scripture text—Unto him that hath shall be given, and unto him that hath not even that which he seemeth to have shall he taken away.I sincerely hope that the hon. Member for East Donegal will go to a Division on this matter, and if he does I shall have the greatest pleasure in supporting him.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)
I am unwilling to intrude myself upon the House at this late hour; but, having been a Member of the Committee of Public Accounts, I cannot, after what has been said, consent to give a silent vote. Sir, this question was most carefully considered by that Committee. The hon. Member for East Donegal, who has introduced this question, was not himself present when the subject was discussed.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
The Committee on that particular occasion, instead of meeting at 2 o'clock, as was usual, took a Sitting at half-past 12, at which hour it was impossible for me to attend.
§ SIB RICHARD TEMPLE
I regret that we had not the advantage of the attendance of the hon. Member for East Donegal, and of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark (Mr. Mason); but I can assure them both, and I can assure the House, that the question was most carefully considered by the Committee. I wish the hon. Baronet the Member for London University (Sir John Lubbock), who was Chairman on that occasion, were here to bear me out in what I say. I quite admit, in reference to what has been said by the hon. Member for Mid Lanark, that this question ought to be considered strictly with reference to legality. I submit to the House that we considered it in that light. We were aware of the illegality which had occurred, and which was then specifically 1784 discussed; but, on the other hand, we were guided by this consideration—that had that irregularity been known at the time it would have been rectified, because the Treasury had power to grant special pensions. We were thus cognizant of all that has been brought forward by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury this evening— namely, the eminent services which Lord Lingen had for a long series of years rendered to the State; and we thought it would not be worthy of the Representatives of a great nation to raise any further question in the case of such a distinguished servant, especially considering that no real breach of the Regulations had occurred.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 109; Noes 25: Majority 84. [12.15 P.M.]1785
|Addison, J. E. W.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.|
|Aird, J.||Finch, G. H.|
|Ambrose, W.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, E.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Baden-Powell, G. S.||Fitz-Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.|
|Barry, A. H. Smith-||Fetcher, Sir H.|
|Beresford, Lord G. W. De la Poer||Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Bethell,Commander G. R.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Fraser, General C. C.|
|Bigwood, J.||Gedge, S.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Gibson, J. G.|
|Bond, G. H.||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.||Godson, A. F.|
|Boord, T. W.||Goldsworthy, Major- General W. T.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J|
|Brookfield, A. M.||Gray, C. W.|
|Bruce, Lord H.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Burghley, Lord||Hall, C.|
|Caldwell, J.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Carmarthen, Marq. of|
|Charrington, S.||Hamilton, Col. C. E.|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.||Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.|
|Colomb, Capt. J. C. R.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.||Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards-|
|Corry, Sir J. P.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Courtney, L. H.||Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.|
|Davenport, H. T.|
|De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.||Hill, Colonel E. S.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Dimsdale, Baron R.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.||Hunt, F. S.|
|Isaacs, L. H.|
|Egerton, hon. A. de T.||Jackson, W. L.|
|Elton, C. I.||Jeffreys, A, F.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.|
|Eyre, Colonel H.||Kimber, H.|
|King-Harman, right hon. Colonel E. R.||Powell, F. S.|
|Pyne, J. D.|
|Knowles, L.||Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.|
|Lafone, A.||Rasch, Major F. C.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Ritchie, rt. hon. C. T.|
|Lewiaham, right hon. Viscount||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Robertson, W. T.|
|Long, W. H.||Round, J.|
|Macartney, W. G. E.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Macdonald, rt. hon. J. H. A.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Stephens, H. C.|
|Maclure, J. W.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Marriott, rt. hn. W. T.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Matthews, rt. hon. H.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Milvain, T.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Mount, W. G.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|Murdoch, C. T.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Northcote, hon. H. S.|
|Parker, hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Pelly, Sir L.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Plunket,rt. hon. D. R.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Biggar, J. G.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Carew, J. L.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Proyand, A. D.|
|Conway, M.||Reed, Sir E. J.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||Rowlands, T.|
|Cossham, H.||Sexton, T.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Stack, J.|
|Hunter, W. A.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Stewart, H.|
|M'Arthur, W. A.||Sullivan, D.|
|Nolan, Colonel J. P.||Woodall, W.|
|O'Connor, J. (Tipperary)||Mason, S.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Tenth to Seventeenth Resolutions agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £051,848, he granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment daring the year ending on the 31st day of March 1888, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Customs Department
§ —read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I rise to urge on Her Majesty's Government that inquiry should be held into the case of the chief officer of the steamship City of Bristol, who has been dismissed from his employment in consequence of the discovery of contraband cigars in the ship. And I wish, further, to ask on what ground the Government refuse to refund the sum of £20 exacted from the owners of the vessel? I would point out that the officer in question, who has al- 1786 ways borne a respectable character, who has been for 30 years in the Merchant Service, and whom the owners believe to be perfectly innocent, has been utterly ruined in consequence of the representations of the Customs Authorities; and I ask the Government to make inquiry into the circumstances, so that, if possible, he may be restored without delay. I now come to the question of the Customs Authorities in their dealing with Belfast as a Customs port. From inquiries I have made, I find the treatment of the port is unfair in the extreme. I have received a letter from a man of experience in the trade of Belfast, and he states that the regulations of the Customs Department constitute a considerable obstruction to the development of the foreign trade of the port. Another statement is that foreign merchants do not consign cargoes to the port to the extent that they would if the Customs arrangements were better. And, further, not long ago I brought to the notice of the House the case of a firm whose contribution to the revenue was £26,000 a-year, and whose trade had doubled, but who were obliged to make many applications to the Customs Authorities before they could get permission to open a bonded store. The Customs revenue from Belfast has quadrupled in 30 years. The revenue of last year exceeded that of the previous year by £1,30,000; and, in spite of that, the Government added only £500 or £600 a-year to the Customs establishment of the port. Now, Belfast is the third port in the United Kingdom in point of contribution to the revenue; it comes next after London and Liverpool. London gives £10,000,000 to the Customs revenue, and the establishment costs £325,000; Liverpool gives £3,100,000, and the establishment costs £98,000; Belfast comes next with its revenue of £1,600,000 a-year, and what is the present establishment? It is represented by £15,000. The first comparison I make is that in London the cost of collecting the Customs revenue is 3.11; Liverpool, 3.10; and in Belfast it is 0.9; so that every pound of revenue collected in London costs for its collection three and a-half times what it costs in Belfast, and similarly with Liverpool. I want to have it made clear to me why the collection of £1 of revenue at London and Liverpool costs three and 1787 a-half times as much as it costs in Belfast. I maintain that the amount of revenue ought to be a sort of finger post or guide in respect of the cost of the establishment at a port, unless some overwhelming objection is advanced to that principle. After Belfast, the next ports in respect of revenue contribution are Bristol and Glasgow. It has been stated that Belfast derived its Customs revenue almost entirely from one article; but that statement is not correct, because it has a large revenue from spirits and general Customs. But what is to be said in the case of Bristol; where would Bristol be were it not for the duty on tobacco? The revenue of Bristol is £1,000,000, and that of Belfast is £ 1,600,000. Yet the Customs establishment costs £16,238, and Belfast only gets £15,000; so that every £1 of revenue at the former port costs twice as much to collect as the same amount costs at the latter. The revenue at Bristol is easily collected, and neither in respect of the number of articles imported, nor the amount of revenue, is the port on the same footing as Belfast. Then I take the case of Glasgow, which yields £1,000,000 in revenue, and I ask what amount is spent on the establishment? It is £23,000; so that every £1 of revenue collected there costs two and a-half times as much as in Belfast. The revenue at Hull is £116,000 a-year; the Customs establishment there costs £20,000, and the cost of the collection of revenue is 20 times greater than the collection at Belfast. Now, with regard to Dublin. It has been alleged in the case of Belfast that the reason why the Customs establishment there is so small is that the foreign trade there is limited. No doubt, in comparison with the foreign trade at large ports, it is limited, and so is the foreign trade of Dublin; in that respect they both stand on an equality; and, therefore, if the limited extent of its foreign trade were an argument against Belfast, the argument would apply to Dublin. The revenue of Dublin is £850,000 a-year, and the cost of the Customs establishment there is £15,127; so that every £1 of revenue collected at Dublin costs twice as much as at Belfast. Here, then, are two ports in Ireland, with the same amount of foreign trade, and we have the Customs establishment at one as nearly as possible double what it is at the other. 1788 My argument is that Dublin, which stands on an equality with Belfast in point of foreign trade, and at a disparity of one-half in point of revenue, has the same Customs establishment. Leith resembles Belfast, inasmuch as half its revenue is derived from spirits and half from general Customs; its Customs revenue is £500,000, and the cost of the Customs establishment there is £14,600; so that every £1 of revenue collected at Leith costs three times as much as at Belfast. I have now shown that Belfast stands in the third position in respect of revenue, and only seventh in point of establishment, and what I want is an explanation of this discrepancy. How is it that for every 1s. you spend in Belfast you spend relatively £1 in Hull? Now, the Port of Cork resembles Belfast in having a small foreign trade. It yields £ 148,000 a-year to the revenue, and its Customs establishment costs £6,800; so that every £1 of revenue costs for its collection live times as much as it costs at Belfast. I have now gone through the characteristics of some of the principal ports, and have shown that, no matter with what class of ports you compare Belfast, it has only a very small part of the Customs establishment to which it is entitled. We have a Return of 37 principal ports in the United Kingdom, showing the annual revenue collected at each of them, and from that Return I have obtained this extraordinary result. The cost of collection of revenue per cent is as follows:—at Barrow 24, Bristol 4.5, Cardiff 27, Dover 18, Folkestone 15, Grimsby 8, Liverpool 3, London 3, Newhaven 18, Newport 14, Rochester 7, Sunderland 9, Weymouth 20, Shields 6, Dundee 21, Glasgow a little over 2, Grangemouth 20, Leith 4¾, Dublin l¾—the lowest on the list is 1 per cent, and Belfast stands at 0.9. If it could be contended that the Customs establishment was sufficient for the requirements of the Port of Belfast I would make no complaint; but when we have complaints from merchants in the town that foreign merchants are kept from trading with the port because of the deficient establishment, and that traders cannot get from the Government any consideration of their claims to establish bonded stores, then I say that there must be something wrong, and it is time that the whole matter should be looked into. I have 1789 never seen the collector of Customs at Belfast; I know nothing about him, although I believe him to be an efficient officer. Now, with regard to salary. At Glasgow and Bristol, with two-thirds of the yield of revenue of Belfast, and at Hull, with one fourteenth, the collectors have each £800 a-year. At Belfast the collector has £700, and the collector at Dublin the same. Why is that? It is because they are Irish ports. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury smiles; but I can discover no other distinction to account for the disparity. I ask that the collector of Customs at Belfast shall be placed on a level with the collectors at the other ports I have mentioned—Glasgow, Bristol, and Hull. Then with regard to the number of surveyors. At Glasgow there are five surveyors, and one of them is a surveyor of the first class; in Bristol, which contributes two-thirds of the revenue of Belfast, there are only two, and yet one of them is a surveyor of the first class; at Hull there are four surveyors, one of them being of the first class; Leith has three, one of whom is of the first class; but at Belfast, with its enormous return, there are four surveyors, and yet not one of the four is a surveyor of the first class. This, I say, is degrading the port in a manner which is not justifiable, and I ask that one of the surveyors in Belfast should be rated as a surveyor of the first class. If this were done, and if the hon. Gentleman will agree that the collector shall be placed in respect of salary on a level with the collectors at Glasgow, Bristol, and Hull, I would be ready to take it as an earnest that the Government will take the whole matter into consideration; and then, if they are unable to discover some justifiable reason or trace of it for placing Belfast in an inferior position to ports far below it in respect of revenue, I would ask that all the circumstances should be looked into, and that an extension of establishment at Belfast shall take place, and that proportionate to the great and progressive increase of the trade of the port.
§ SIR JAMES CORRY (Armagh, Mid)
I may mention that the case of the steamer City of Bristol, with regard to Customs, was brought to my notice some time ago, and a Petition was presented to the Board of Customs, which I know is under consideration. I wish also to state 1790 that, although I have been connected with the trade of Belfast for 30 years, this is the first time I have heard that foreign merchants were prevented sending their goods there in consequence of the inadequate facilities being given by the Board of Customs. I again say, emphatically, that I have never heard such a complaint before. I am quite aware that we have for a long time been anxious that Belfast should be made a first-class port; but that has nothing to do with the number of surveyors, or with the establishment kept up there by the Board of Customs. I think it only right to say that I have never heard of the claims made by the hon. Member for West Belfast.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
The hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), in bringing forward this question, has spoken of the niggardly and cheeseparing policy of the Government.
§ MR. JACKSON
I may say this is not a new charge; and I will go further, and add that if it is a true charge I am very glad of it. The hon. Gentleman has gone into statistics which I admit at once show that, having regard to revenue, and having regard also to the amount of business done, the Port of Belfast is worked with exceeding economy as compared with some other towns.
§ MK JACKSON
I will say all of them. If the hon. Gentleman had made the economical working of the Customs at Belfast a reason for attacking the extravagance which exists elsewhere, I could very well have understood his doing so, and should, to some extent, have supported him. But the hon. Gentleman has not shown—and the hon. Baronet the Member for Mid Armagh (Sir James Corry) has rather confirmed what I anticipated—that at Belfast there is no lack of staff to do the necessary work, and provide facilities for trade. The hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast has also referred to the question of bonded warehouses; and on this point I would say that it is clearly the duty of the Board of Customs to avoid the increased expenditure which would result from granting further bonding facilities if those already 1791 in existence are ample for the requirements of the past, and I presume that is the case in the present instance. The hon. Gentleman has quoted statistics of revenue and the cost of Customs establishments at various ports; but I am bound to say that the revenue of a port is not necessarily evidence of the staff necessary to be kept there for Customs purposes, or that it can be taken as a sound basis for estimating the services of the staff. The staff which may be necessary for the Customs Department at a particular port is regulated not by the amount of revenue collected, but by the amount of work which the staff is called on to perform, and that work is regulated and determined more by the number of foreign ships which enter the port than by any other circumstance whatever. Take the case of Kirkcaldy, and compare it with Belfast. Looking at Belfast in that light, according to the Return that the hon. Gentleman moved for in the year 1887—that is the year ending the 81st of March, 1887—there were 389 vessels entered under the heading of foreign trade of a tonnage of 251,402 in Belfast. But at Kirkcaldy there were 2,658 vessels with a tonnage of 784,000.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am following my own argument, and I say that the staff required at a port is more determined by the number of foreign vessels than the amount of foreign trade. The House knows very well that it is more important, in the matter of the prevention of smuggling, to look after vessels that came from foreign ports than it is to look after vessels that merely do coasting trade. In Glasgow there are 2,128 vessels, with a total tonnage of 2,282,659 tons. Then Hull has been mentioned, and, following the same line, we may say there are there 5,218 vessels, with a total tonnage of 2,998,368. Therefore, the number of foreign vessels coming into Hull is about sixteen times as great as those entering Belfast. Then Bristol has been mentioned, and there the numbers are, 1,020 foreign vessels, with a tonnage of 744,837 tons. In Leith the number of foreign vessels is 2,365, with a tonnage of 1,227,623 tons. In Cork the number of foreign vessels is 226, and the tonnage 138,644; while in Dublin the figures are 490 foreign vessels, with a tonnage of 286,007 tons. I 1792 mention that as a proof of the necessity of keeping up a large staff in certain cases. The hon. Member has referred to Dublin, and has said that the collector in Dublin has the same salary as the collector at Belfast, and the staff is about the same.
§ MR. JACKSON
I mean the cost is about the same. I am not speaking about the revenue; but I would point out that in Dublin there is what I may call a central office, and that the staff in Dublin discharges duties which cover over parts of Ireland, perhaps, besides Dublin. That, I believe, will account for any increase of cost in the staff as compared with Belfast. The hon. Member has referred to London. Well, it is hardly necessary to point out that London is the centre of the Customs Staff, and that, therefore, to compare the total cost and the percentage of cost in London to that of Belfast is not comparing like with like. I admit that Belfast is worked very economically, having regard to the revenue it produces. The revenue has continued to increase, and one knows perfectly well that in the case of a growing and thriving revenue one can get it more cheaply collected than in the case of a more or less declining revenue. The number of vessels on the foreign trade at Belfast, I am sorry to see, does not show a disposition to increase, because in 1885 the number was 495 in 1886 it was 431, and in 1887 it was 387. The hon. Member has stated that the merchants complain that the trade is impaired there by the restrictions which are put upon it. Well, Sir, I think the House will receive that statement with a certain amount of hesitation, because everybody who is connected with the business here, or who knows anything about the business, must know perfectly well that unless there were very gross misuse of the powers possessed by the Customs no restrictions which could be put upon business could at all interfere with the cargoes to Belfast as compared with Bristol, if Belfast were the best port to send them to. I, quite as much as the hon. Gentleman, would hail with satisfaction the development of the Port of Belfast; but surely the hon. Gentleman will not ask me unnecessarily to increase the cost of the Customs Department in 1793 that port. I can assure him that, as I have already said, I have called the attention of the Customs Authority to the matter. I am sure they will do what they can to give Belfast a proper staff, but I hope I shall not be pressed to make any declaration with regard to the increase of salaries.
§ MR. SEXTON
I should like to ask whether the hon. Gentleman would specially consider the question of placing the collectors and one of the surveyors on the same level with regard to salary as in similar ports in England.
§ MR. JACKSON
I would point out that the collector in England is in the same position as the collector in Dublin. I am afraid I cannot promise any increase in the salary of this officer. I have said that I will call the attention of the Customs Authorities to the matter. I am sure they are all most anxious to do all they can to give Belfast its proper position and status; but I hope the hon. Member will not ask me to give any positive pledge in the matter.
MR. E WART (Belfast, N.)
This subject is one which has engaged the attention of the local bodies in Belfast for some years. There used to be at onetime first, second, and third class ports, and at that time it was of advantage to Belfast that it was not of the first class. But that system of classification has been done away with, and at the present time I believe there is no ground for the allegation that the shipowners of Belfast suffer through not having a first-class collector and a first-class assistant. However, I do think that the case made out is a very strong one for the raising of the salary of the collector and his assistants. There is a very large amount of revenue collected in Belfast, and the principle is recognized that where a great deal of responsibility exists the pay should be in proportion to it. There is serious dissatisfaction felt by the collector in Belfast, and he is very often shifted. We no sooner get a really good man than he wishes to get a larger salary. I do hope that the Government will see their way to raising the salary of the collector and his assistant.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W.)
I rise to call attention to the grievance of a very humble body of public servants. I refer to a certain class of extra messengers in the 1794 Customs. I asked the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury about this business a little while ago, but I think the hon. Gentleman either did not altogether appreciate my question, or he himself was misinformed on the matter, because he said these men were paid 3s. a-day when employed. That is not the class of men to whom I desire to direct his attention. The class I refer to are not "glut men," so called. They are not paid 3s. a day, but 3s. 6d., and their employment is continuous. Their grievance is that on the public holidays, when perforce they are idle, they are not paid, and that actually on the Jubilee Day they were not paid. I am afraid they will have no very pleasant recollection of the Jubilee Day, and their sentiments on the matter can hardly be very loyal. All I ask for is that they should be paid their wages on these four Bank holidays, the Queen's birthday, Christmas Day, and Good Friday, that is, seven days altogether. The grounds on which the claim is based are briefly these. In the first place, as I have indicated, they are not "glut men," employed now and then, but they are servants of the State in constant employment. Secondly, they are men of very long service, some of them having served 29 years, and, having taken the trouble to strike an average, I find that their service averages no less than 17 years. In the third place, these men do precisely the same work as the established messengers of the Customs, who receive from £70 to £100 a-year, and have 16 days' leave in the year. Now, it occurred to me to ask these men when they put their case before me how it was that when a vacancy occurred in the class of established messengers, these extra men were not appointed to fill these vacancies. I am informed by these men that the reason is this. Appointments to the class of established messengers are in the gift of the Treasury. They are made, I am informed, on the nomination of Members of this House, and they constitute, in fact, one of the relics, I may call it, of the old system of patronage. Now, Sir, with regard to the men performing similar functions in other offices—take the case of the extra messengers at the Admiralty—the temporary messengers at the Admiralty have 21s. per week, the same as these 1795 men, but they have also a uniform allowed them, and they have 12 days' annual leave with pay, and 16 days' sick leave. Now, Sir, with regard to the coat which, satisfying the claim of these men, would entail upon the State. There are only 27 of them, and I believe the total cost would be £33 1s. 6d. I submit that no decent private employer would refuse to pay men for public holidays when those men had been 20 or 30 years in his service, and I think I shall have the sympathy of everyone when I say that the State ought not to be less liberal to its servants than private employers. Of course, the logical conclusion to the remarks which I have made would be to propose to add £33 1s. 6d. to the Vote, but I am precluded from adopting that course, and therefore what I propose to do is this, to move to reduce the Vote by £33. I beg to move that the Vote be reduced by that amount.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out "£651,848," and insert" £651.815."— (Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ Question proposed, "That '£651,848,' stand part of Resolution."
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
I do not know that I shall be in Order in discussing the question of the tobacco manufacturers of Ireland under this Vote.
§ MR. JACKSON
I would just say a word in answer to what the hon. Member said upon this question of extra messengers. I am very sorry if I misunderstood in any way the classification of the messengers to which the hon. Gentleman referred in his Question to me some time ago. All I can say is that it was equally misunderstood elsewhere, because the Question of the hon. Member, as printed on the Paper, was transmitted to the Customs Authorities, and it was on their authority that I made the statement that the men were what is known as "glut men." I was referring to a class of men which he had not referred to. I quite admit that, and I admit 1796 that the amount the hon. Gentleman referred to would be very small. The question was brought before the Treasury, and, rightly or wrongly, I am bound to say that my own personal view is very strongly that if allowances of this kind were made to the men in one of the Public Departments, you could not stop at that one Department, but would have to deal with every man who is in the service of the State. Now, that really opened up a prospect of so very large a description, that I hesitated to face it. It would have involved the expenditure of a very large sum, and would have rendered it necessary to have brought in a Supplementary Estimate. It appeared to me to be rather inconsistent that Parliament should be asked to vote a large sum of money for such a purpose. Everybody knows that a Vote was submitted to us for certain necessary alterations which were necessary to be made in the building in which this Assembly is being held, and even that was discussed at a certain length by several hon. Members, and I confess I felt satisfied that I could not consent to any expenditure of the kind proposed by the hon. Member seeing what our position in the matter was.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
If I understood the hon. Gentleman rightly, he did not lay stress on the question of the Jubilee Day, but the complaint of these public servants is that they are, if I may use the expression, docked of an amount of their pay for other public holidays as well, and what I would respectfully suggest to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury is whether it would not be possible to consider their position with a view to rectifying it in another year. I am very far from being anxious to urge on Her Majesty's Government any increase of expenditure, even of so small amount as this, especially when it would involve the consideration of other Departments as well, but I would base the application in this case strictly on the principle the hon. Gentleman has just laid down, that all public servants should be dealt with on the same terms, and equally. I would ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury whether it is the fact, or whether it is not, that the officials in the higher grades of the Public Service have a portion of their salaries deducted on account 1797 of their absence on public holidays, deductions which, I understand, are made from the wages of the class of men under discussion. If that is not the case, I only hope that the hon. Gentleman who has moved this reduction will, another Session, move a reduction, not of this particular amount, but move a much more considerable reduction in respect of those officials occupying higher positions who do not lose any of their pay in consequence of these public holidays.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 110; Noes 17: Majority 93.—(Div. List, No. 406.)
§ [1.10 A.M.]
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ MR. CLANCY) (Dublin Co., N.
I shall not make any apology for drawing attention, even at this late hour of the night (1.15), and even at this late period of the Session, to the subject of the treatment of the Irish roll tobacco manufacturers. If I need not apologize, I may say, apart altogether from the importance of the subject, that this is the only occasion upon which we have had an opportunity of directing attention to the subject. Now, the facts of the case are ridiculously simple. In the Budget statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) on the 21st of April, he announced a reduction of 4d. per 1b. in the duty on manufactured tobacco, and he fixed a month later, the 21st May, as the day on which the new duty was to come into operation. Now, in the case of the manufacture of English roll tobacco, the process of maturing takes only three or four days, so that the rearrangement could not work any injury to those engaged in that manufacture, and no complaint was made by them. They could buy at the old rates almost up to the very day on which the new duty came into operation; and they need incur only a trifling loss, for they could turn out the tobacco, as I say, in three or four days from the date on which they cleared the raw material from the bond. But it was different with the cigar manufacturers of England, and also with the 1798 Irish and Scotch roll tobacco manufacturers. While the English manufacturers of roll tobacco could turn out their article in three or four days, the cigar manufacturers and the Irish and Scotch manufacturers of roll tobacco work according to a system under which the article in each case takes three or four weeks to mature. That is an essential point, and that is the great difference between the two cases. As a consequence of that, if the cigar manufacturers and the Irish and Scotch roll tobacco manufacturers were to continue working between the 21st of April and the 21st of May, and were to continue to pay all that time the old duty, they would be working at a dead loss, for the tobacco manufactured in that time would not be marketable until after the new duty came into operation. I think that is perfectly clear; indeed, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted it in the case of the cigar manufacturers; but he did not admit it in the case of the cigar manufacturers immediately, for I find he was asked a Question on the subject on the 28th April, and then he said he could not understand why this should be the case —namely, why any loss should be incurred in the case even of cigar manufacturers. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that a pistol was presented at his breast by the manufacturers of cigars in England, and he was threatened with wholesale discharges of workmen if he persisted in his proposals as regarded them. Although the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a very brave man, as we all know, he yielded to this threat, and allowed a rebate of 4d. in the 1b. to the cigar manufacturers on all cigars turned out by them during the month previous to the 21st of May. But if he found considerable difficulty in the case of the cigar manufacturers, he found still more difficulty in understanding how loss could be incurred in the case of the Irish and Scotch roll tobacco manufacturers. In the case of these latter, he could not be made to see the point at all. I have been striving to account for this inability to see what appears to me to be a perfectly clear case, and the only reason for it that I can imagine is that it was a dangerous thing in view of the coming elections to disappoint a number of English work- 1799 ing men, or throw them out of employment; whereas in the case of the Irish and Scotch there was no such danger to apprehend, because Ireland and Scotland were already against the Government, and there was nothing to be gained by conciliating either the workmen of Ireland or Scotland. The consequence was that these working men got no advantage whatever, but were denied the advantage given to the cigar manufacturers, although the cases of the two classes of manufacturers were precisely the same. But the right hon. Gentleman said he would give the Irish find Scotch roll tobacco manufacturers a month's grace in which to allow them to reduce their stocks to the lowest possible limits. Well, now, from what has been already said, it will be seen that this concession was absolutely useless. If the Irish and Scotch roll tobacco manufacturers were situated as I have stated the English roll tobacco manufacturers are situated, and required only three or four days in which to mature their tobacco, the loss would be very slight; but the Irish and Scotch manufacturers require three or four weeks in which to mature their article, and consequently they would be obliged to buy every day up to the 21st of May the raw material at the old price, and it would be impossible for them to sell it until after the reduced duty came into operation. That is perfectly clear, and cannot be denied. I do not speak in this matter on behalf of Scotland; but the case of Scotland is on all-fours with that of Ireland. Consequently, the concession which was denied to Ireland was denied to Scotland, and I have no doubt the denial was equally felt by Scotland. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not deny there would be some loss, but he talked in a lofty way about the loss being very insignificant, and one which ought to be easily borne on that account by the manufacturers concerned. Now, if Ireland were like the rich constituency of St. George's, Hanover Square, the loss would not be very keenly felt, But; Ireland is a very poor country, and an injury even of this trifling character is no small thing to Ireland. But the House would, perhaps, like to know the exact loss which Ireland was likely to incur. The Irish manufacturers estimated that the loss to them would be on their stocks £10,000 if they went on 1800 working, and if they ceased working they would be unable to supply the public, and consequently the whole supply of tobacco in Ireland would be disorganized. They estimated the output of Irish roll tobacco at 7,500 rolls per week, on which they reckoned they would lose 6s. 8d. per roll, which would amount to a total loss of £2,500 weekly. The number of hands who would be injured by this loss would be 800 hands employed in Dublin, 700 employed in Belfast, 200 employed in Cork, besides many more employed in other parts of Ireland. Although this loss may appear a small thing to the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald), who represents a University constituency, and who is laughing—
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I did not hear what the hon. Gentleman said. I was speaking to my hon. Friend near me of a totally different matter.
§ MR. CLANCY
I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon. Although this may seem a small matter to Representatives of districts like St, George's, Hanover Square, I repeat that to a poor country like Ireland, where manufactures are declining day by day, whore work is urgently needed, where, according to the contention of the Government itself, nothing is more wanted than employment for the population, this blow at an Irish industry, one of the few industries left, is a very serious matter indeed. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that he did not arrive at this determination until he had admitted a deputation, and had consulted with them, and until he had learned from them—the cigar manufacturers of England, to whom he made the concession to which I have referred—that, their case was different from that of the Irish and Scotch roll tobacco manufacturers. But, Sir, it is a curious fact that on this deputation, which was so unanimous about the case of the manufacturers of cigars being different from that of the Irish and Scotch roll tobacco manufacturers, there was not a single Irishman who could present the case for Ireland. There was no Scotchman on the deputation either. No wonder the deputation was unanimous. The right hon. Gentle- 1801 man the Chancellor of the Exchequer also said that the roll tobacco manufacturers of Ireland could keep up the price of the article; and he referred—if I am informed rightly—to a circular which had been sent to him by one of the largest manufacturers in Ireland, in which it was stated that the price would not be reduced until about the 21st Juno, that is about a month after the reduced duty came into operation. On the basis of this circular from a firm of manufacturers in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman ventured, on the anticipation that the price need not be lowered, and might be kept up for a considerable time after the 21st of May. The House may be glad to learn what the result has been. I have here an account of what the result has been supplied to me by one of the tobacco manufacturers in Cork. I am told that practically nearly all the factories remained idle until the 21st of May, the day upon which the reduced duty came into operation; and the result of that was, of course, that a large number of hands were unemployed, and that when the 21st of May arrived the stocks were very low, and that orders which came in about the 21st of May could not be supplied, Everything was thrown into confusion. The statement of my informant is—We have not been able to supply a single order promptly. Orders have been delayed in some eases from seven to 10 days. From all directions telegrams have been pouring in complaining of the great inconvenience caused by the delay in executing orders.Furthermore, I am informed that the disorganization of the tobacco trade is actually, to some extent, prevalent to the present moment. Instead of the roseate anticipations of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer being realized that is the result. I do not know whether it is any use—I suppose it is not—to ask for any redress on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done his best to ruin the tobacco trade of Ireland; and we are entitled to assume, in face of the distinct warnings which were given to him as to the inevitable result of his policy, it would be very little use now to ask him to do anything to repair the loss and ravage he has caused. There is, however, another matter which I think it is still within his 1802 power to pay attention to; and possibly he may be willing in this respect to make some concession to the tobacco roll manufacturers of Ireland. I refer to the question of moisture. According to the new Moisture Clause, tobacco can legally contain no more than 35 per cent of moisture, including the natural moisture of the raw material. Well, now, every person well knows that in consequence of the heating process every roll of tobacco contains various amounts of moisture. A roll, which on the outside would contain only 30 per cent of moisture, might, if analyzed, be found to contain towards the centre 33 per cent of moisture, and if the analysis were made from the heart of the roll it might be found that the moisture amounted to 35 or 36 per cent. I think it is unreasonable, and not only so, but unjust that the roll tobacco manufacturers should be obliged to lose two or three or four per cent by reason of the necessity of having the heart of the roll containing no more than 35 per cent of moisture. What the manufacturers ask is that some one point should be taken from which a sample should be selected. I do not know whether I have made myself clear to the right hon. Gentleman. I submit to him that since he cannot, or since he is unwilling to do anything to repair the mischief he did by refusing the Irish roll tobacco manufacturers any such rebate as he allowed the cigar manufacturers, he might take this question of moisture into account and save the Irish roll tobacco manufacturers the loss of one, two, three, or four per cent, as the case may be. As I said in the commencement of my remarks, I make no apology for drawing attention to this matter, even at this hour of the night, or at this period of the Session. The manufacture of tobacco is one of the few manufactures which is in any way prosperous in Ireland. It will not be to the credit or the advantage of the Government if it is found that the legislation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) tends to cripple this manufacture.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
One would have thought from the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) that the Government had 1803 been proposing some heavy duties upon the manufacture of tobacco instead of taking the step of reducing those duties. Instead of endeavouring to ruin the tobacco industry of Ireland the Government took a stop which I should have thought would have been considered to be to the interest of both the manufacturer and consumer—namely, a step in the direction of the reduction of the Tobacco Duty. I think everyone who has listened to the speech of the hon. Member must consider that there was great extravagance in his language when he argued that the manufacture of roll tobacco in Ireland had been injured in consequence of the reduction of duty. Now, I assure the hon. Gentleman—though I do not imagine my assurance will carry much weight with him—I regret extremely that the manufacturers of roll tobacco in Ireland, or that any of the industries in Ireland, should consider themselves damaged by the proposals I have had the honour to submit to Parliament. The Government and I have been most anxious to do perfect justice to Ireland in this matter. I should have thought there was evidence in the Budget of my anxiety to be perfectly just to Ireland. I wish to say no more in reply to the taunts of the hon. Gentleman to the effect that the Government have purposely neglected Irish interests in this matter. The hon. Gentleman called attention to the deputation which came to me, and alluded to a remark I made, that in consequence of the assurance I received from that deputation that there was a difference between cigar manufacture and roll tobacco manufacture, I had made a concession to the cigar manufacturers which I had refused to the roll tobacco manufacturers. That is not so; I never made a declaration to that effect. At that time there was a representation made to me by the manufacturers of cut tobacco. The representation made to me was that they stood in a different position to the cigar manufacturers.
§ MR. CLANCY
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I have here a report of his answer to the question, and from beginning to end there is not a single word about the manufacture of cut tobacco.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am speaking of the deputation. I received the deputation, and I remember the circumstances 1804 precisely. I do not know what document the hon. Member alludes to, but I am aware of what took place. The representations which were made to me were made in reply to questions I put, not to the cigar manufacturers, but to the manufacturers of manufactured tobacco. I asked whether their position was analogous to that of the cigar manufacturers, and they assured me that it was not. There was no question of roll tobacco, I say, uppermost at that time. With regard to the concession made to the cigar manufacturers as compared with the manufacturers of roll tobacco there is this difference—in the case of the cigar manufacturers, the moment they suspended their operations the market might have been flooded with foreign cigars paying a lower duty, and the manufacturers would have had no means whatever of recouping themselves. There is no analogous circumstance in the manufacture of roll tobacco in Ireland, which is a speciality in Ireland. Customers keep to that particular article, and there is very little competition, as is shown by the remark of the hon. Member that the manufacturers could not supply the demand when the time arrived. But in the case of the cigar manufacturers, if they had suspended operations from the 21st of April to the 21st of May, they would not have been able to recoup themselves, because they had to compete with the foreign cigars. They would have been obliged to discharge their workmen. There were, I think, 7,000 workmen engaged in that trade, and it would certainly have been a very serious matter if all these men had been discharged, and I repudiate as ridiculous the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman that the concession was prompted by political considerations.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I have got the exact numbers of those discharged. When I heard of the discharges I made inquiries, and I find that in Belfast, for instance, which is one of the largest centres of the tobacco manufacture—
§ MR. CLANCY
Was it from the same gentleman who informed you that the price need not be lowered until the reduced duty came into operation?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am quite prepared that the hon. Gentleman should 1805 interrupt me when he has got anything reasonable to suggest. To whom does he think I should go for information except to the officers of the Inland Revenue who have got the tobacco duty in their charge? I had an official Return made to mo of the number of discharges because I had been threatened with wholesale discharges. At Belfast the total number of men who were discharged was 11, and instead of 800 being discharged in Dublin, I think the number discharged temporarily was 350. It is a curious fact that the quantity of tobacco which was taken out during the month in which I was informed the trade would be stopped was very nearly as great as the quantity taken out in any of the previous months. Therefore, the alarm which took place with regard to the discharge of workmen was quite illusory. I will admit to the hon. Member and to the House that you cannot have any great change, you cannot reduce or increase duty without causing some inconvenience, and possibly some loss to some parties. No one regrets that more than myself, but in this case the number of workmen discharged was greatly exaggerated, and it is also a question whether manufacturers did not take advantage of the opportunity to discharge a certain number of their workmen, and lay the blame at the door of the Government. The hon. Gentleman has referred to a double loss. The House will agree with me that it is hardly fair to speak of a double loss, since, if the manufactories continued operations, the workmen would not lose by being discharged, and if the workmen were discharged the manufacturers would not lose by taking the raw material out of bond at the higher rate of duty. In 1878, when the duty was increased, the manufacturers had an opportunity of making a profit equal to the loss they allege they have now sustained. They had large stocks of tobacco on hand at that time, and when the duty was increased they immediately increased the price to the consumer, and gained a profit which was analogous to the loss they allege they have now sustained. In the particular case to which the hon. Gentleman refers, the demand for the article had not been diminished and the manufacturers had an opportunity of disposing, I trust, profitably of their stock. I certainly would be the 1806 last person to cause any loss to be sustained by any industry in Ireland, but if any loss has been sustained it was due to changes which under the circumstances were unavoidable. Having drawn my attention to this point, the hon. Gentleman is anxious that an average sample should be taken with regard to certain classes of tobacco, and that a certain amount of moisture should be allowed. But we have not alone to consider the interest of the manufacturer but the interest of the consumer in this matter, and accordingly we have decided that the purchaser of an ounce of tobacco is not to pay for more than 35 per cent of moisture. That, I think, is a large allowance. The percentage includes natural moisture, which no doubt the hon. Gentleman will understand may extend to a large quantity in many instances. I am informed that there would be great difficulty as regards taking an average, and may conclude my remarks by saying that it would be contrary to the policy we have pursued to allow more than a maximum of 35 per cent of moisture to be established by law.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) said he would not be prepared to treat lightly any loss that might be incurred by any trade in Ireland; but I am inclined to think that the right hon. Gentleman has treated rather lightly the loss which has been incurred by this trade, when he alluded to the inconvenience which has been sustained. There was something more than inconvenience suffered; there was downright loss. Yet the right hon. Gentleman took care to relieve a certain branch of the trade in England, and the loss they would incur would be quite harmless as compared with that of the trade in Ireland. It is true, as he says, that he gave the latter a month's grace, but that was of no use whatever to men who had to buy on the old rate; because if they did not manufacture they lost their customers, and if they did they lost money. Those who are acquainted with the trade in Ireland will know that there is much competition on the part of the manufacturers on this side of the water, and if the Irish manufacturers had not kept up their stocks, the result would have been that they would have 1807 come into competition with manufacturers in this country who would have established themselves in their trade. I have myself seen the competition which is carried on to a serious extent by people in this country with the traders in Ireland; and I know very well, that owing to it there has been great disturbance in the Irish trade, the effect of which was that some of the Irish traders were obliged to continue manufacturing tobacco at a loss, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Dublin (Mr. Clancy) has pointed out, of 6s. 8d. per roll. Where they did not manufacture, their stocks ran down and they are suffering inconvenience which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not try to compensate in any way. He does not allow the manufacturers any rebate for the inconvenience they have suffered and are now suffering, nor does he allow them any compensation for the loss of 6s. 8d per roll which they were obliged to manufacture. There were over here at the time when this alteration was made many persons connected with the trade in Ireland, and they endeavoured to impress on the Chancellor of the Exchequer the seriousness of the loss they incurred, and we complain that while the right hon. Gentleman took into account and considered the representations made to him by people on this side of the water, he treated lightly, to use his own words, the representations of Irish manufacturers. I think we have a right to complain of this one-sided treatment. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that a profit was made by the manufacturers when the duty was raised in 1878, but I point out that they were obliged to let their customers have a month's supply at the old rate, and as a matter of fact they really made no profit at all at the time referred to. I think my hon. Friend has done well in bringing this subject before the attention of the House, and in showing the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he cannot go on disturbing the trade in Ireland and giving an undue advantage to the trade in this country without his action being called in question.
§ MR. CLANCY
I pointed out that the English traders only took three or four days to mature their tobacco, as against 1808 one month, which is necessary for that purpose in Ireland.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
Exactly; my hon. Friend says that those who manufacture tobacco here mature it in three or four days, and that in Ireland a much longer time is required, and hence it is that the English traders have had an undue advantage in this matter. I repeat that my hon. Friend has done perfectly right in pointing out that the unfair treatment suffered by the manufacturers of tobacco in Ireland at the hands of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ Twentieth to Twenty-second Resolutions agreed to.
That a sum, ' not exceeding' £6,069, 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 repaying to the Civil Contingencies Fund certain Miscellaneous Advances
§ —read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I asked the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Matthews) on a former occasion to lay upon the Table a copy of the Report of the Commission which inquired into the riots at Belfast, but the right hon. Gentleman stated that this document was confidential. I certainly cannot understand why the Report should not be produced. The ratepayers are surely entitled to know what evidence was taken at the inquiry, and what was the Report of the Commission. I have never heard before of a Report of the kind being withheld on the ground alleged, and I would ask the Government for some further explanation that we have not yet received as to why the result of an inquiry of this nature is not placed in the hands of hon. Members. This Vote also contains an item for medical attendance on officers injured in the Belfast riots. There were a large number of men of the police force attended to in hospitals, which are supported by voluntary contributions; and I think it is a great shame that hospitals which 1809 have spent hundreds of pounds in curing the men of the force should not be paid back. I should be greatly pleased to have some explanation on this subject, and for that purpose I move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out "£6,069," and insert "£5,969."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That ' £6,069 ' stand part of the Resolution."
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
I have made some inquiries as to the number of men treated in hospitals, and the Inspector General informs me that there was no extraordinary medical expenditure except £5 5s. for attendance on wounded constables under exceptional services; there was no expenditure incurred with regard to the Constabulary during the riots at Belfast, because they have a service of medical officers paid for by Government. There may be cases in which injured members of the force called in additional aid, but by the rules of the service that aid is not paid for out of the fund. There was the case of three policemen on full pay who paid the regulation hospital charges themselves. We have, therefore, no knowledge that the hospitals were involved in any extra expense; at the same time, I think that if the hospitals were put to any considerable expense, if their resources were straitened or crippled in any way, an account ought to be rendered and the expense repaid.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I am under the impression that the Inquiry at Belfast was conducted in a public manner; and that it was not private at all. The ratepayers and others were allowed to appear before the Commission; but the Reports of these bodies have always been regarded as a confidential document for the guidance of the Privy Council. That I believe was what my right hon. Friend intended to convey; but I will look into the matter, and if it is usual, or if there is a precedent for producing the Report I will endeavour to do so.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Resolution agreed to.