(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,247 (including a Supplementary sum of £500), 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 1889, for the Salaries and
Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary for Scotland and Subordinate Officers.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
, in rising to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £1,000, being one-half of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland, said, that he was sorry to find it his duty to call the attention of the Committee to the Office of Secretary for Scotland. It would be remembered that he did so upon this Vote last year, but he was induced to refrain from pressing the Motion to a Division on account of the representation then made that great changes were going to take place in the Office, and that if another year were allowed to elapse the Committee would have no cause to complain of the way in which Scotch affairs were administered, Another year had now elapsed and nothing whatever had been done. He confessed that he entertained a feeling, which he believed was shared generally by hon. Members from Scotland, of keen disappointment at the course which had been taken in regard to the conduct of Scotch Business by the Marquess of Lothian and the Scotch Department generally. The Office of Secretary for Scotland was instituted for the purpose of introducing into the Government of the country what was supposed to be a better state of things. It had not been, so far, as successful as the old state of affairs; indeed, he questioned whether the Committee ought not to come to a decision that the Office, as at present constituted, was an utter and absolute failure. The Secretary for Scotland had most important duties to Derform. In his hands was placed, practically, the whole of the administration of Scotland, and when they found a Minister occupying so important a position in connection with a very important part of the United Kingdom, it was certainly to be expected that they would find, in the course of an entire Session of Parliament, some signs of energy, activity, and departmental progress, showing that something was being lone on the part of the Office. If nothing was to be done at all by the Secretary or Scotland, by whom were Scotch affairs to be administered? Everybody knew that the present Secretary for Scotland, since he had occupied the Office, had lone little or nothing to advance those natters which so loudly called for reform, or any of those questions which were 1779 urgently demanding legislation in Scotland. What had been done since the discussion of this Vote last year? There were one or two most important matters which ought to have been undertaken by the Secretary of State, matters which he might either have brought before Parliament personally, or caused to be brought before it; but what had the Secretary for Scotland brought before Parliament last year. The only measures supplied by the Scotch Office were rechauffés. Two old Bills which had been shunted had been introduced. The Scotch University Bill, which had been in the Stocks for many years, and the Burgh Police Bill, which had been in existence almost as many years as the remarkable number of clauses it contained. Those two legislative measure had, so far as Parliament was concerned, comprised the whole of the action of the Secretary for Scotland in the direction of legislative affairs during the Parliamentary year, and, even with regard to those measures, absolutely nothing had been done. This absence of progress everybody in the House would agree did not arise from any lack of questions that ought to be taken in hand by Lord Lothian. He must know perfectly well, as every hon. Member who represented a Scotch constituency knew, that there were a great number of burning and pressing questions at the present moment in Scotland which imperatively demanded the attention of Parliament. In order to show the inaction of the Secretary for Scotland he would now call the attention of the Committee to one or two matters, with a view of illustrating what he meant. They were none of them questions of a Party or a controversial character. In the first place, he would not enter into the question of land, because that would at once be treated as a Party question. He was satisfied that nobody in Scotland would expect that a Tory Government would be likely to bring in a Bill for reforming the Scotch Land Laws. He would not, therefore, enter into that question, because he never entertained the slightest anticipation that any reform in that direction would come from the Tory Party. If they ever did anything in the matter it would simply be as a bribe to the electors to induce them to believe that they were ardent and earnest land reformers. He would pass on to a 1780 question of common interest—namely, the question of the great fishing industry of Scotland. He represented a constituency that was deeply interested in that question. It was one of the largest industries in Scotland, and in many localities one of the most important. Now, there were one or two matters connected with that important industry which he maintained it was the bounden duty of a Minister representing Scotland, as the Marquess of Lothian did, to take in hand and bring under the attention of Parliament. Every man must take an interest in the lives of our fishermen, but it was perfectly well mown that, owing to the condition of the harbours in Scotland, a great number of the lives of our fishermen were sacrificed simply because the harbour accommodation was insufficient. That was a point upon which no question could arise, and on which there could be no considerable debate. He would call attention to the first Report of the Fishery Board upon this subject, and it would be found that on the 15th page the Board made this statement—It is of the utmost importance that boats, more especially on their arrival from distant fishing grounds, should he able to get into harbour at all states of the tide, so that herrings may at once be landed and curing operations take place. There is always risk of bad weather when the boats are at sea, and consequent danger of not being able to run into harbour at any time. Circumstances frequently occur to prevent thom doing so, and it is estimated that the loss at Peterhead alone, in a single season, consequent upon the insufficient harbour accommodation before the improvements were made, was £60,000. It is further well known that the terrible disaster which took place on the East Coast of Scotland in October, 1881, when so many lives were lost, would have been greatly lessened if there had been better harbour accommodation. In some instances the fishermen were drowned just outside the harbour in consequence of being unable to get in.That statement bore out the painful story of the administration of Scotch affairs by the Government and by the Secretary for Scotland. He thought that if there was one question more important than another for the Government to take in hand it was this. The matter had been brought before them for several years, in the Report presented in 1883, and emphasized in subsequent Reports, of the Scotch Fishery Board, intimating to the Government that Scotch legislation was absolutely 1781 necessary. He repeated, therefore, that if there was any question of importance that ought to engage the Minister of Scotland, it was that some legislation should be immediately devised for the purpose of making the Scotch fishery harbours, which were known to be totally inadequate for the present size of the boats, more efficient for the purpose for which they were intended, so as to prevent the constant loss of life that occurred, owing to the fishermen not being able to enter the harbours at all states of the tide. What had been the result of the absence of legislation? He would ask the Committee and Lord Lothian to look at the loss of life that occurred on the Scotch coast among those engaged in fishing operations last year. It was stated that in 1886 156 persons connected with the fisheries of Scotland were drowned off the coast. That was a very large number, and was greatly in excess of the loss in the previous year. It must also be borne in mind that it occurred among fishermen who were comparatively close to the shore. There could be no question to hon. Members who represented fishing constituencies that an inquiry in regard to these deaths would show that a number of them had occurred solely in consequence of the deficiency of harbour accommodation. Questions had been asked over and over again of the Lord Advocate whether anything could be done, and the stereotyped answer had been that the matter was engaging the serious attention of the Government. He thought that the Scotch Members ought not to submit to that kind of answer any longer, and the time had now come when they ought to call the Secretary for Scotland to account on the matter. He was the proper person to call to account, because he had the control of the administration. There was another matter he should like to mention in regard to this point, which bore upon the Report of the Fishery Board. Not only had there been this large loss of life, but it appeared that the fishermen themselves had lost in nets and gear and in boats a sum amounting to £51,000 off the coast of Scotland, a large part of which might have been saved if there had been proper harbour accommodation. What was required was harbour accommodation for larger sized boats. To 1782 legislate upon the question might occasion a little trouble and require some care, but surely it was not beyond the common range of statesmanship which persons in the position of Lord Lothian were supposed to possess. There was another matter in regard to the fishing interest of which the fishermen bitterly complained, and which had already been brought before the House—namely, the question of bait. He regretted that important questions of this nature should have to be brought forward over and over again until the Secretary for Scotland was stirred into activity. In this case a Royal Commission had been asked for to inquire into the private rights which were alleged to exist in the mussel beds of Scotland. The fishermen had found that in dredging for mussels, which was absolutely necessary for them in order to enable them to carry on their industry, that they were interfered with by landed proprietors, who claimed certain rights. Now, he had come to the conclusion that until they got rid of these so-called private rights, they would never be able to deal with this bait question satisfactorily. He had made a representation personally to Lord Lothian on the subject. He regretted very much that that representation was made in Lord Lothian's private room at Whitehall, because he thought that if a public representation had been made, a little more action might have been taken in the matter by the Executive. One of the complaints against the Scotch Government was that they shut up the Secretary for Scotland in a private room at Whitehall, where nobody could approach him, and, consequently, he was not open to that criticism which was brought to bear upon other public officials. Lord Lothian told him frankly in his private room that he declined to encourage an inquiry into the private rights of the landed property, because if an inquiry were granted as to mussels, one would be demanded as to the salmon fishery rights. He might be told that the mussel question was the last one upon which they ought to blame the action of Lord Lothian, because Lord Lothian, after the numerous appeals which had been made to him, had appointed a Commission to inquire into the question. He (Mr. Anderson) was thankful for small mercies, and he thanked Lord 1783 Lothian accordingly for what he had done. The noble Lord had appointed a Commission presided over by the right hon. Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks), and that Commission was now engaged in holding an inquiry which would undoubtedly be of great use and benefit to the country. The Commission had already inquired as to the cause of the falling-off of the supply; but what he wished to accentuate was that, owing to the action of Lord Lothian, it was very much to be feared that the efforts of the Commission would be rendered abortive, because they were not to be allowed to inquire into the private rights which were found to exist in various localities, and unless such an inquiry were instituted nothing practical would ever be done. When the Commission presented their Report he was afraid it would be found that, before any practical legislation could take place, it would be necessary to appoint another Royal Commission with much more extensive powers, so that the matter might be taken in hand root and branch. He thought that the fishermen of Scotland had a real grievance, and the remarks he had made were only a fair criticism of the action of the Secretary for Scotland in regard to the fishing interests. There was another matter upon which he desired to say a word. The Secretary for Scotland had certain administrative duties to perform, and one of those duties consisted in extending the time for fishing, when representations were made to him that the close time which was fixed for the use of salmon nets at the mouths of the estuaries ought to be extended. There were, of course, a great number of persons engaged in the salmon fisheries of Scotland; it was a very large industry, but it often happened that, owing to the lateness of the season, or from various causes, the fish did not come up very early in the year, and the consequence was that the lessees, and the men employed in the fisheries, had a bad season. That had been the case this year; and in regard to the River Tay, after reading the reports in the newspapers, he was not astonished to find that Lord Lothian had been applied to by the lessees to extend the time for a week, 10 days, or a fortnight. There had been a very bad season, the fish had not come up, 1784 and an application was made for an extension of time. After a communication had taken place between the lessees and the Secretary for Scotland they were given to understand that the time would be extended for a week or 10 days; but, to make sure that this was so, one of the lessees went to the Office of the Secretary for Scotland, at Dover House, to ascertain that there could be no doubt about it. Of course, in the event of an extension, it would be necessary to incur considerable expense in engaging men and so forth. When the lessee came up to London he discovered that Lord Lothian had left town, but he was informed at the Office that the matter was all right; that the time would be extended; that an order had been prepared, which was just going to be despatched for Lord Lothian's signature, and that there would be no difficulty on the subject. The lessee returned a contented man; but a day or two after he received a communication from Lord Lothian signifying that he did not intend, under any circumstances, to extend the close time. This intimation had created much disturbance in the district. It had led, he was sorry to say, to poaching and an assertion of the rights of the fishermen; indeed it had led to the deaths of two fishermen. He thought that such a matter ought not to have occurred in connection with a Public Department. There was another matter in respect of which the Government had given distinct pledges, and he presumed they were made with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Secretary for Scotland. He referred to the re-organization of the Scotch Fishery Board. Everybody knew that it was inefficient, and it ought to be reconstituted. The late Lord Advocate admitted that the subject was engaging the attention of the Government.
said, that much of what the hon. and learned Gentleman was bringing forward would be more relevant upon the Vote for the Fishery Board.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he would reserve any further remarks upon these questions until the Vote for the Fishery Board was reached. His object had been simply to point out that Lord Lothian hitherto had not introduced, either into that House or the House of Lords, a measure which the Government 1785 themselves admitted to be urgently needed. His complaint with regard to the Secretary for Scotland was that, although those questions relating to the Scotch Fisheries, one or two of which he had dealt with, were most important to the people of Scotland, and ought to be brought before Parliament, no attempt had been made to legislate upon them. In dealing with this Vote the Committee had to consider who was the person responsible for this neglect; he himself looked upon the Secretary for Scotland as solely responsible for all the delay and difficulty that took place in the management of Scotch affairs on the part of the Government. He thought he was right in saying that Lord Lothian was the person whom they ought to hold responsible, and whose conduct they ought to criticize in discussing the Vote. It had already been brought to the attention of Lord Lothian, who had the administration of Scotland in his hands, that legislation on these subjects was imperatively demanded. Under such circumstances it was the duty of Lord Lothian to go to his Colleagues and say, "I have certain Bills ready which must be introduced into Parliament, and you must allow a reasonable portion of the time of Parliament for their consideration, in order that they may be passed into law." He held that that was the duty of the Secretary for Scotland. Had Lord Lothian done that? If he had not, then he maintained that the noble Lord had been wanting in energy, zeal, and capacity in carrying out the duties of his office. They were told that this Session was to be a Session devoted to English and Scotch Business, and he was curious to hear what portion of it had been devoted to anything that was of interest to Scotland. He would go further; he thought it was the duty of Lord Lothian, being a salaried officer appointed to look after the affairs of Scotland, when he was told by Lord Salisbury and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) that no time could be given for the consideration of Scotch affairs, to have resigned his Office. That would have been a public-spirited act upon his part, and, as a public-spirited official occupying a high position, he ought to have taken that course. He ought not to have consented, at the instance of Lord Salisbury, or the right hon. Gentleman 1786 the First Lord of the Treasury, to be put on one side, but he ought to have asserted the dignity of his Office, and insisted upon means being placed at his disposal to carry out his duties as an efficient and capable Minister. He (Mr. Anderson) might have directed the attention of the Committee to various other matters connected with Scotland to which the Secretary for Scotland's Office might have devoted attention, but he thought that he had brought sufficient facts before the Committee to justify the action he took in challenging the salary of the Secretary for Scotland. Although he would not go the length of saying that the action of Lord Lothian had been wholly and entirely unsatisfactory, he felt it incumbent upon him to make a protest upon this Vote as to the course which had been taken, and he would, therefore, move that the salary of the Secretary for Scotland be reduced by the sum of £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £1,000, part of the Salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Mr. Anderson.)
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeenshire, E.)
said, he wished to say a few words in support of the Motion which had been moved by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson). He wished to explain to the Committee that some years ago the state of Scotch Business led to such dissatisfaction in Scotland that it was deemed necessary to constitute this Office. He was sure he spoke the mind of his ion. Colleagues when he said that the Office was created in order to give encouragement to the people of Scotland that their affairs would be better administered, but he was bound to say, in support of what had been said by his hon. and learned Friend, that had the people of Scotland understood that their Representative in the Executive would neither have a seat in that House nor in the Cabinet, they would have hesitated very much before they consented to go to the expense of creating any such Office. He believed that the creation of the Office had added a sum of about £10,000 to the expense of the Executive of Scotland, and, although he was a party to the creation of the Office, he felt bound to say that he looked upon the money as having been thrown away, 1787 and that they got nothing whatever for the additional expense of the Executive. Indeed, they were absolutely more badly off now than they were before a Secretary for Scotland had been appointed. Their position was this. They had no one whatever responsible for Scotch Business, and it would be a great deal better for them if they were put back again to their original position, so that they might be able to hold the Secretary of State, or some official connected with the Government, responsible. They had an Executive at Dover House, to whom, as Members of the House of Commons, they had practically no access whatever. The Lord Advocate was supposed to be the Representative of Scotland in that House, but he occupied an anomalous position. He had no responsibility, and simply attended in his place to give the answers of the Secretary for Scotland which were prepared for him in Dover House. He had no power whatever to influence the Executive, or to give effect to the wishes of the Scotch people, and all that the Executive did was to oppose and block the Representatives of the Scotch people, who desired the legislation of that House. The evident order and direction of the Government was that nothing should be done for Scotland, that Scotch Bills, seeing that they might help the work of Scotland, and the Government being against Scotland, should be kept back. He had the honour of introducing a Bill which very keenly affected the constituencies of Scotland. That Bill was brought on, and he obtained the first private Members' day for the second reading, but the Government took that day for urgent Business of their own. They took it on the suggestion from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that another day would be given in return for it, and if they had had the Secretary for Scotland in the House of Commons with a seat in the Cabinet that promise would have been fulfilled. As it was, he had been put off from day to day with promises and fair answers. He had even taken the exceptional course of getting a memorial signed by the Scotch Members, and handing it to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, asking that a day should be fixed. What came of it? Another fair promise was made, and in the end this Scotch Bill, together with other 1788 Scotch Bills, had to be withdrawn on account of the opposition shown to it by the Executive of Scotland. It was notorious that the great majority of the Scotch people were in favour of the Bill, and it might have been passed into law with an hour's discussion, save for the fact that it was introduced by a Member of the Opposition; yet it never had an opportunity of being brought forward. The Chairman had ruled, and ruled very properly, that matters connected with the Fishery Board should be brought up upon the Fishery Vote, but perhaps he would be excused if he explained that all the orders which came from the Fishery Board, and all the actions of the Fishery Board, were under the direction and control of the Secretary for Scotland. The Fishery Board might propose anything they liked, and they had proposed many things in regard to the fishing industry, but they had to come to Dover House and lay their schemes at the feet of the Secretary for Scotland, who, in many instances, paid no attention to them. That was the reason why the Scotch Members were obliged to refer to Business connected with Scotland upon this Vote. In obedience to the wishes of the Scotch people, and in the belief that it would give a larger control over Scotch affairs to the Scotch people, the Office of Secretary for Scotland had been constituted. It was found now that the result had been simply to promote a few more things to lay in the Scotch Office, and to close the mouths of the Scotch Representatives, instead of encouraging legislation by placing more power in their hands. For that reason he thought the Secretary for Scotland ought not to receive a salary until the people of Scotland received some return for their money. Reference had been made to the arrears of legislation for Scotland; there had been a most interesting question raised as to the propriety of extending provisions of the Crofters' Act. He represented personally in that House a larger number of crofters than any other Member, and he and his Colleague represented nearly the whole of those who got the benefit of the present Crofters' Act. They had endeavoured to find an opportunity for two years to discuss the question of extending that Act, and last year they received a fair promise that Parliament 1789 was not for another year to be devoted solely to the discussion of Irish Questions. Nevertheless, the Session had now passed, and no effort had been made to extend the Scotch Crofters' Act to any other counties in Scotland. Attention had been drawn to the deplorable condition of the fishermen on the coast of Scotland in regard to their holdings, and a request had been made that they should be dealt with under the Crofters Act as the holdings of the Crofters had been dealt with in the highland counties. He received a letter only yesterday from a gentleman high in office who was greatly responsible for preserving the peace in the North of Scotland, who wrote to call attention to certain circumstances in reference to the treatment of fishermen in regard to their holdings, and to say that the position of affairs was becoming critical and dangerous, yet the Executive, critical as the state of affairs might be, had paid no attention to it. There had been three Bills brought in in regard to the fisheries, but they were blocked after 12 o'clock, and, therefore, could not be discussed, although the Members who had introduced the measures were backed up by hon. Members on the other side of the House. On the 10th of April last year they were informed, in a Report from the Fishery Board, that a Bill had been actually prepared by the Board, that it was urgently needed, and that the Executive had been asked to undertake it. That Bill had never received the slightest attention whatever, but had been kept at Dover House, for which they paid so highly, to the detriment of this great industry. Not a word had been heard of this measure since. There was another matter to which he desired to call attention. He had had the honour to sit for 16 days on a Committee with 13 of his Scotch Colleagues. They dealt with a very large Bill; certain objections to some of its provisions were taken by an hon. Member who was a supporter of the Government, and an enormous number of Amendments were placed on the Paper which had nothing to do with the Bill; and the hon. Gentleman had nothing to do with the Bill, but had re presented a city where the Bill had been entirely inoperative. Having sat for 16 days the Committee presented their Re port, and the Lord Advocate gave him to understand that the Bill would come 1790 on for discussion two or three days before the Recess. When that period arrived they were again entreated to postpone the Bill, and a promise was then made that it should be taken up in the Autumn Session. He need scarcely say that nothing had been heard of it since, and the Scotch Members, if they expected that it would come on, had been labouring under a delusion and a snare. The only result was that the 16 weary days in which the Committee sat had been thrown away and nothing had been done, although there was a kind of intimation that next year the subject matter of the Bill would be dealt with in connection with the Bill for Local Government. He would not refer to the Scotch University Bill, because that would he better referred to by other hon. Members, but he did complain of the course pursued by the Government in not having offered the House an opportunity of discussing the matter. They were certainly led to understand that the Bill would be discussed, but it now appeared that no Scotch legislation whatever was to take place. When he entered the House he entered it as the proud Representative of a large constituency, believing that, as the Representative of that constituency, he would have some place in the House of Commons, and that Scotland had a recognized position in the Union. He found that that was altogether a delusion. The Scotch Members were in that House voted down by the dominant Party belonging to England. They were closured by the rules of the House and were told that the Government must claim the whole time of the House. His position as a Scotch Representative was a most humiliating one, and he felt that he would be doing his duty more to his constituents if he were outside the House instead of inside of it. The feeling in Scotland in regard to the neglect of Scotch Business was becoming very much embittered, and it was leading to the demand for Home Rule for that country, where the people now cared less for the British Parliament than they had done ever since the Union. He did not enter the House as a Scotch Home Ruler, but as a Representative of the entire United Kingdom; but he dared not go to Scotland now and declare that he was against Home Rule for Scotland. His constituents would not accept such an 1791 intimation, for Home Rule was now the first question in Scotland. A feeling in favour of Home Rule was pervading the Scotch people, and they were more determined than they had ever been to get rid of this constant neglect of Scotch Business. He was sorry to have to make a complaint in such strong language. He would have been willing to have given a generous share of the time of the House to the consideration of English and Irish Business, but he certainly had not expected that after expending an additional sum, amounting to something like £10,000 a-year, upon the Scotch Executive, no respect whatever would be paid to the wishes of the Scotch Representatives.
§ MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)
said, he congratulated his hon. Friend opposite on having made a speech that might actually be called moderate and temperate in comparison with the speech which preceded it. They had to go to Englishmen representing Scotch constituencies if they desired to see real exaggeration of tone. The hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson), in the extraordinary exaggeration of his attitude with regard to Scotch affairs, always reminded him of the sort of person who might be seen in a kilt at Carlisle Railway Station, and who might be known from that fact alone to be nothing more or less than a cockney tourist. However, there was a sub-stratum of truth in what had been said. There were two questions connected with the office of Secretary for Scotland which deserved careful consideration, but which ought to be kept entirely distinct. The first was—whether the holder of that office ought invariably to be in the House of Commons; and the second was—whether he ought invariably to be a Member of the Cabinet. He regarded the latter question as infinitely the more important of the two. As a general rule he would be glad to see the Secretary for Scotland a Member of the House of Commons, where he was more likely to be in touch with the Representatives of the people than if he sat in the other House and had to depend entirely upon hearsay evidence; but he earnestly trusted that he might not be considered as in any way impugning the admirable manner in which Lord Lothian discharged the onerous duties of his Office. 1792 The fact that that noble Lord was not more successful in bringing forward Scotch legislation was due to his not being a Member of the Cabinet. The hon. Member opposite said that Lord Lothian ought to stand up for the dignity of his Office, but the hon. Member should recollect that it was almost impossible for a Member of the Government outside the Cabinet ever to get what he wanted for his Department. He had been for a considerable time a Civil servant himself, and private Secretary to a foreign Secretary, and subsequently private Secretary to a Prime Minister. His experience in those capacities told him that it was absolutely impossible to expect that any Department, however important, the Chief of which was not in the Cabinet, could by any possibility get fair play. As a matter of fact this stood to reason. Supposing, for instance, there was a question of money to be granted for emigration from congested districts or for making harbours, the purse-strings of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were infinitely more handy to the touch of a Colleague in the Cabinet than to that of one who was outside the Cabinet. Again, if it was a question of getting precedence for this Bill or that Bill—for a Bill relating to Scotland or a Bill relating to other parts of the Empire—the First Lord of the Treasury could be far more easily bombarded and captured by one who had the opportunity of attacking him at close quarters than by one who had to fire at him from afar. They were told that next Session was to be eminently a Scotch Session. When they had an Irish Session it was considered necessary that there should be three Members of the Cabinet representing Ireland—namely, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Earl Cadogan, and the Chief Secretary. Surely, then, in these circumstances, it was not making too terrible a demand on the Government to press most earnestly for the addition to the Cabinet of the Secretary for Scotland.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith, &c.)
said, he very much doubted whether, if the Secretary for Scotland had been in the Cabinet during the past year, Scotch Business would have attracted much more attention than it had done. He did not think very much depended upon that fact. 1793 therefore, he doubted whether, under the present system, even if Scotland had a Secretary in the Cabinet, the conduct of Scotch affairs would be much better, from a Scotch point of view, than the conduct of Irish affairs had been with three Members of the Government representing Ireland in the Cabinet. Matters had gone a good deal beyond the point of placing the Secretary for Scotland in the Cabinet or not. It would have been impossible for Scotch Members to have allowed this Vote to pass without making some comment upon the conduct of Scotch affairs during the past year. He had heard the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury refer more than once to the dignity of the House, and its duty to the country in regard to the conduct of Public Business; but he did not think that the right hon. Gentleman could assert that the House of Commons had done its duty towards Scotland during the present Parliament. There had been absolutely no Scotch Business brought forward. They had plenty of work to do; but they could not get their meal brought from the mill, and, therefore, it was necessary that they should make some comment on the Executive, who were responsible for the conduct of Scotch Business. He had nothing personal to say against the Secretary for Scotland himself. He regarded the noble Lord as the Member of a Government which rendered him incapable of doing any good for Scotland. The noble Lord was simply the victim of a very pernicious system. The systematic neglect of Scotch Business had been going on during the past four years, which was the period during which he had had an acquaintance with the conduct of affairs in that House. But there was less excuse at the present time for the conduct of the Government than might have been made before. It was not so long since they endeavoured to secure the consent of the Government to the appointment of a Grand Committee of Scotch Members to consider Scotch Bills. That was a very moderate demand, but it was rejected. Probably a demand would now be made of a much more extreme character, because the patience of the Scotch people was very nearly exhausted by what had been done in the past. The question of Home Rule in Scotland had begun to take a 1794 prominent place, and was rapidly becoming a question of a very practical kind. The indignation which the neglect of Scotch Business had produced would provoke a demand for a very radical change in the conduct of Scotch affairs. There was no question in Scotland of ceasing to recognize their responsibility as citizens of the British Empire; but, side by side with the performance of their duty as Imperial Representatives, the Scottish Members intended to see that the interests of their country should not be further neglected, and, whatever proposal was made, they should support it rather than see the Business neglected as in the past.
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
said, he desired to say a few words upon the conduct of Scotch Business in reference to the present Vote. He had given notice of his intention to call attention to the subject, and he had a Motion on the paper in reference to the Vote for the Lord Advocate, but he thought it would be more convenient, as the matter had already been raised on the present Vote, that he should say a few words now. He promised the Committee that they should be but few, and that they would be temperate and moderate in their tone. He wished, if possible, to convince Her Majesty's Government on the testimony of hon. Members on that side of the House, who had no desire to obstruct the Business of the House or to make any charge against the Government which was founded on any Party consideration, that the neglect of Scottish Business had indeed become a very grave question indeed. His chief reason in referring to the matter was one which had already been referred to in the course of the debate—namely, that if the Government thought that they were saving a little time just now by refusing to enter upon Scottish Business, he could assure them that they were laying up for themselves a very disagreeable question in the future, which would make demands on the time of the House far in excess of the moderate demands now being made. He noticed that the advancing claims of Home Rule for Scotland had been mentioned, and the hon. Member for Wigtonshire (Sir Herbert Maxwell) smiled, as if they were visionary and unreal. If it was imagined that this 1795 was not a serious and growing question a great mistake would be made. It might well be that for that reason Members sitting on that side of the House might look for some Party advantage, owing to the neglect of Scotch Business, and as far as that went, they might derive a certain amount of Party advantage. But he believed that the systematic neglect of Scottish Business would be visited on the Government by the constituencies of Scotland, and probably, if the matter were put before them, by the people of this part of the Island too. Unfortunately the Scotch Members could derive but small consolation from that circumstance, because the consequences of this neglect of Scotch Business were so grave that they would do harm to more than the Party now sitting on the Government Benches—they were sowing the wind and they would reap the whirlwind. Unfortunately, the whirlwind would develop; for the Government were not solely to blame for the present state of matters. Could the Government give a satisfactory explanation of the reason why the House was sitting in the middle of December, and that scarcely an hour had been given to the consideration of Scottish affairs? It might be urged that Liberal Governments were equally to blame in this matter. He had acknowledged that this was so, but their record compared favourably with that of the present Government. During the period from 1880 to 1885 there were passed the Entail Bill, the Educational Endowments Bill, a Bill for the establishment of the Fishery Board, and a Bill for the creation of the Secretary for Scotland, which, although passed by the present Government, was introduced by their Predecessors. What, on the other hand, was the record of the present Government? He blamed the Government on this account—that the Bills they had brought forward were not pushed to a conclusion. He did not blame them for bringing in old Bills drafted by their Predecessors, because it might be fairly assumed that they dealt with subjects on which legislation was most required, and, therefore, they were right in taking them up and improving them as much as they could in the hope of bringing them to a final conclusion. But what was the history of Scotch legislation year after year? 1796 Some of the measures to which reference had been made had been actually mentioned in the Queen's Speech, as was the case with the Universities Bill. But, as they all knew, when the end of the Session approached, Scotch Business was dropped, and the Scotch Members naturally ceased to have any faith in the promises of the Government on the subject. They knew what the real reason of the impossibility to deal with Scotch Business was. In the present congested state of Business it ought to be recognized as an axiom that a certain small amount of time for Scotch Business ought to be the first charge on the time of Parliament. Instead of that the Scottish Representatives were treated as mortgagees, whose claims had to rank after all other claims had been satisfied. They knew what a creditor placed in such a position had to expect. There was another creditor, whose claims were always recognized to the full—Ireland. If the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, who was himself a Scotchman, and might occasionally say a good word on behalf of Scotland, if the present Minister for Ireland asked for the time of the House it was given to him in unstinted measure. Even if he wished to pass a Parliamentary Under Secretary Bill eight days were allowed for the consideration of the measure.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
Only five days, or rather portions of five days.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, the statement was entirely inaccurate. Only on five occasions was it before the House regularly, and only on one occasion did it occupy an uninterrupted Sitting.
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD
said, that he, of course, accepted the correction of the right hon. Gentleman, who was much better informed than he was. Five days, then, were spent in discussing the Parliamentary Under Secretary Bill, and then it was dropped. He protested against five days of precious time being wasted for the gratification of temper, for it was nothing else, and for no public object whatever, while the wants of 4,000,000 of loyal people were being neglected in order to please the caprice of an individual Minister. He might say the same with respect to 1797 the Ashbourne Act. The House was asked to undertake the Sitting, in which they were now engaged, at great inconvenience and trouble, and at an unusual period, for the purpose of passing the Estimates and not for the purpose of legislation. It was constantly stated in the House, and the Government had full warning that if they attempted to deal with such an obnoxious measure as Lord Ashbourne's Act they would be resisted, and it was well understood that a compromise might easily be arrived at which would tide the matter over until next Session.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he regretted to interrupt the hon. and learned Member again, but he had distinctly stated in the House that he was informed, on the highest authority, that no compromise would be entertained by the Opposition. He had stated that to the House on his own personal authority, and he was astonished that the hon. and learned Member should have been ignorant of the fact.
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD
said he must again accept the correction of the right hon. Gentleman, but he would take leave to point out that a letter had appeared in the public prints from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) which put a different complexion upon the matter from that which had just been given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Nor must it be forgotten that while that while the Land Purchase Bill was under discussion there was an Amendment on the Paper to limit the sum of money to be advanced to £1,500,000. If that Amendment had been accepted the discussion which lasted so long would have been avoided. But when a Bill of that kind was brought in, the House was compelled to discuss it de die in diem, the 12 o'clock rule was suspended, the whole power of the Government was brought into play in order to force down the throats of a panting, struggling Nation legislation which they abhorred, while all the time a loyal people like the Scotch, who simply wished a moderate amount of time for the transaction of their business, were either neglected altogether or attended to last. He appealed to the fairness of the Government and to hon. Members who were sitting on the other side of the House, whether there was 1798 any justification for this course of procedure, or whether such a cynical refusal to pay attention to Scotch Business was likely to continue without serious consequences. In the event of the establishment of Home Rule for Scotland the loss to Scotland would be irreparable; but he must admit to himself that the conduct of the Government was making that a possibility and almost a probability. They knew what the promises of the Government in reference to Scotch legislation were worth. He did not suppose they were made in bad faith, or that Scotch Business was neglected out of malice prepense. Unfortunately it was too much the custom for the Government to make any promise when they wanted the time of the House for their own purposes, but when the time for redeeming the promise came they were careless whether they fulfilled it or not. A Local Government Bill had been passed for England, and no doubt they would have one for Scotland. If the Scotch legislation on the subject were a mere sequence or tail of the English legislation, they would get it. But as regarded other matters vital to Scotland, for the settlement of which they had long been waiting, such as legislation relating to the Universities, the Burgh police, and the fisheries, he had no confidence or belief that they would hear any more of those measures at all. It was a subject upon which every Scotch Member felt deeply, and one upon which they were entitled to enlarge without being accused of diffuseness or of wasting the time of the House. But he was anxious that the Scotch Members should set a good example and make the best use of the very short time allotted to them for Scotch business. He thought the Government would admit the truth of his remarks, and he hoped they would take them to heart and give them their serious attention. While he was not prepared to support the reduction of this Vote, he thought the Scotch Members had a great injustice to complain of, and that the Government had been guilty of a gross dereliction of their first duties.
§ SIR ARCHIBALD CAMPBELL (Renfrew, W.)
said, he could not allow the debate to close without saying a few words to point out the position occupied by those who represented Scotch Constituencies in that House. He believed 1799 there could be no doubt that their Business was neglected very much indeed. There was a growing feeling among the people of Scotland that they had a right to see their business conducted in a better manner than it was at present. He must say, however, that the Government during the last two years had been placed in a most difficult position. The first year was devoted almost entirely to Ireland, and yet they passed three measures connected with Scotland—the Technical Education Act, the Secretary for Scotland Act, the Criminal Procedure Act, and another, whereas the Liberal Government which preceded them only passed four measures in four years. As long as the Scotch Members were in that House, and he trusted they would be there as long as the British Empire existed, they ought to have more time for the consideration of Scotch Business. He felt very deeply the position in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) was placed. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's hands were very much tied, and he was satisfied that it was not the fault of the right hon. Gentleman that Scotch Business had not been brought forward. They all knew the great interest he had taken in the Universities Bill, and the two sections in Scotland were now united in regard to it. [Cries of "No, no!"] He believed there had been a deputation recently where the lion lay down with the lamb, and it was said that all parties were agreed now about the Universities Bill. So also with regard to the Burgh Police Bill. The details were now thoroughly understood, and he thought the Government should afford the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate an opportunity of passing the measure into law. He was further of opinion that it was absolutely necessary that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the Cabinet. A great deal had been said as to the neglect of Scotch Business by the Government bringing about in Scotland a feeling in favour of Home Rule, and he admitted that if their affairs were not more considered there would be much difficulty in making the Scotch people believe that their interests had been properly looked after. He believed there was no desire on the part of the Government to snub Scotland. 1800 It was owing to the obstruction with which they had been met, and the waste of time of the House that they had been prevented from pushing Scotch Business forward. He trusted that they would be more fortunate next Session, and that in future they would not be open to the charge of neglecting Scotch Business.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
said, that hon. Members had lamented the absence of the Secretary for Scotland from the Cabinet; but he thought there were grounds for hope that he would soon be there. In last year's Appropriation Accounts attention was called to an item of £150 for the salary of the private secretary to the Secretary of State, and it was then explained that the salary of the private secretary of a Cabinet Minister was £300, but in the case of a Minister not in the Cabinet it was only £150, and, therefore, there was a saving of one-half. Looking at the Estimates this year, he saw that the private secretary's salary was put down at £300, and he looked upon it as a clear indication that it was intended to give Lord Lothian Cabinet rank. The hon. Member for South Lanarkshire (Mr. Hozier), who had been private secretary to a Foreign Secretary and a Prime Minister, had made a statement which he had hardly expected from him. The hon. Member said that, in his opinion, it was of infinitely more importance that the Secretary for Scotland should have a seat in the House of Commons than that he should be in the Cabinet. To his (Dr. Cameron's) mind it was absolutely immaterial whether he had a seat in the Cabinet or not, so long as he had not a seat in that House, and the Scotch Members were unable to bring to bear upon him an expression of public opinion. No doubt there were certain nominal Representatives of Scotland in the House of Lords, but their views and advice, as a rule, on almost every subject, were diametrically opposed to those of the people of Scotland generally. The Scotch Peers, however, were so unconcerned about our affairs that he believed a vacancy which had existed in the Scottish Peerage for many months had not yet been filled up—so little did the House of Lords care for Scotch representation. For his own part, he thought that they might have too much Scotch legislation, especially if it were bad 1801 legislation; and, for his own part, be would rather have King Log than King Stork. When he saw a Bill of 300 clauses dealing with a large number of crimes and enacting penalties, and heard complaints that it was not being pressed forward rapidly, he confessed that he had not much sympathy with those who complained. He was afraid that if they legislated too hurriedly they might find themselves in the position of his hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen, who said he had been most eager to get a Secretary for Scotland, but did not seem to appreciate the Office now that he had got it. His hon. Friend, or the hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn, told them that if Lord Lothian had a proper appreciation of the dignity of the Office he would resign. According to The Scotsman newspaper, which was said to be in the confidence of the noble Lord, the little concession he had got from the Government had been obtained by a threat of resigning. They were told that in reference to the crofter emigration the noble Lord had said that if he did not get a grant from the Government he would place his resignation in their hands, and that it was that threat which induced them to put their hands into their pockets. The real neglect of Scotch Business arose in consequence of the period of the Session at which they were asked to discuss the Estimates. They were told that the Government were anxious to make progress with Scotch Business, and that no snub was intended to the Secretary for Scotland. What was the history of the Estimates now under discussion? At the beginning of the Session the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) announced that the Scotch Estimates would be proceeded with next after the English Estimates. That arrangement held good for weeks, and the Scotch Members made their arrangements accordingly; but, subsequently, on the suggestion of an Irish Member, the right hon. Gentleman threw that arrangement overboard. So little did the Government consult the convenience of the Scotch Members that when they were asked if, under the circumstances, they would not say in what order they would take the Scotch Estimates, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would 1802 not condescend to give an answer to the question. If that were not a snub to the Scotch Representatives it certainly appeared to be very like one. He believed that the Secretary for Scotland, if he was to be of any use, must be in the House of Commons, and accessible to the questions of Scotch Members. For the present state of things there was a divided responsibility, and it was not possible to get satisfaction for reasonable demands. The Office was a costly one. The cost of it was something like £16,000 a-year. He did not grudge the amount, but to make the Department a reality they must annex to it a number of those Edinburgh Boards, the business of which might be much better administered from the Scotch Office. In that way a saving would be effected which would go far to make up for the cost of the Office. The Board of Supervision cost something like £10,000 a-year, and there were in addition the Prisons Board, for which a good deal might be said, the Fishery Board, which had already been alluded to, and the Lunacy Board. The whole of these might be affiliated to the Scotch Office. If they wished to make the Scotch Office valuable they should concentrate in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland, who should be a Member of the House of Commons, the whole of the Scotch Business. It had been done already to a certain extent, but he desired to see the concentration carried further. What he complained of was that if they wanted to ask a question in regard to the salmon fisheries or the foreshores they had to apply to the Commissioner of Woods and Forests or to the Secretary to the Treasury, who had recently shown himself not aware of the commonest facts concerning the publication and registration of titles in Scotland. If they desired to bring the opinion of the Scotch Representatives to bear on a case of she beening carried on by licences from the Inland Revenue, against the law of Scotland, and against the decision of the Scotch magistrates, they had to appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, with, he was bound to admit, very little effect. All they were told was that by giving information they might obtain the reward given to the informer. In the case of some repairs being required at a cathedral, they had to apply to the 1803 First Commissioner of Works, while in order to get a child out of an industrial school it was necessary to go to the Home Secretary; and if they desired to put a question concerning the vaccination grant it must be addressed to the President of the Local Government Board. If it was a question of drawing grants, the Minister to whom they were obliged to appeal for redress was the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. He did not think there was so much reason to complain of the neglect of Scotch legislation this Session as others supposed. He had great suspicion of Bills which were weighed by the stone. If the Government brought in Bills of that kind and expected them to pass without discussion they would find themselves mistaken. It would be a scandal if the Burgh Police Bill were passed in that way in a couple of Sittings. The little legislation they had was got through in a most unsatisfactory way. To attempt to dispose of the Universities Bill in the last days of the Session would have been a positive insult to Scotland and to the Scotch Representatives. There was a Bail Bill which swept away the habeas corpus of Scotland, and it had never been discussed in that House for five minutes. It was sent to a Grand Committee, consisting, to a large extent, of Representatives from other parts of the Kingdom. The whole thing was got through in a couple of hours; it came down to that House and became law; and thus, as he had said, Scotland lost her habeas corpus. He thought there were grounds of complaint against the attitude assumed by the Government towards legislation attempted by private Members, notwithstanding the fact that such legislation might be endorsed by the overwhelming opinion of the Scotch Representatives. Not only in this but in other Sessions the Government stifled and put an end to all attempts at legislation of that kind. They would neither legislate themselves nor allow others to do it for them. They had more right to complain of the little opportunity afforded to them this Session for the discussion of Scotch matters, and especially Scotch grievances, than they had to complain of the absence of Scotch legislation. He believed things would never go on smoothly until the Secretary for Scotland had a seat in that 1804 House. Then, and then only, would he be able to see what the Scotch Representatives desired. If they went to a Division he should support the Motion for the reduction of the Vote.
§ MR. W. P. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)
said, that there was one remark of the hon. Member for North-East Lanark which was well worthy of attention—that there should be a first charge to a small amount of the time of the House for Scotch Business. He hoped the Government would in future, instead of taking English, Irish, and Scotch Estimates separately, when they began with a class, go through with it, so that English, Scotch, and Irish Estimates in that class would be disposed of in regular succession. In that case these complaints of one nationality suffering at the expense of another would not occur again. A great deal had been said as to the Secretary for Scotland being in the Cabinet, and being a Member of that House. It should be remembered, however, that the position of Member of the Cabinet was utterly-unknown to legislation. It was a matter for the consideration of the Prime Minister whether his Cabinet was to be large or small, and there were certain Offices which were not always represented in it. Take, for example, the Office of President of the Local Government Board. He thought the present holder of the Office was, with one exception, the first who had been a Member of the Cabinet, and sometimes the Chief Secretary for Ireland was a Member of the Cabinet and sometimes he was not. It would be most useful that the Secretary for Scotland should be in the Cabinet, but he did not think they could look forward to a holder of the Office being invariably one of Cabinet rank. It was also said, and therein he quite concurred, that it was desirable the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the House of Commons. But when the Bill creating this Office was introduced, not by a Conservative, but by a Liberal Government, it was an open secret that it was not intended that the first holder of the Office should be a Member of the House of Commons. He hoped, when the present holder of the Office was promoted to another, that the Secretary for Scotland would be a Member of the House of Commons. He did not think the Government were to be blamed for what 1805 had happened with regard to Scotch Business this Session; many circumstances had combined to produce the stagnation; but he trusted that the Session which would commence early next year would be distinctly a Scotch Session.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
said, the matter was a very important one, and he was afraid that the only way in which they could secure a discussion of Scoth Business was to move the reduction of the Vote. He thought a great object would have been effected if they had succeeded that night in impressing the Government with the seriousness of the situation. The most remarkable feature of the debate was the unanimity with which hon. Members on the Government side of the House had joined their testimony to that of Members on the Opposition side. The hon. Baronet the Member for West Renfrew (Sir Archibald Campbell) had remarked that if Scotch Business was allowed to drift in the direction in which they were drifting now, the question of Home Rule might become a serious one. Like his hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Esslemont) he (Mr. Haldane) had been reluctant, when the question of Scotch Home Rule was first started, to give it any countenance; but now the question was not whether that was to be an accepted policy with the great bulk of the people, but what form it was to take. Some talked of local Government and others of a local Parliament, but all were agreed that there must be a very large transfer of Scotch Business to Scotland. He hoped the time would come when the Government would no longer take up Session after Session with Irish Business, but when they would be able to secure the discussion of Scottish affairs. He was afraid that the promise of legislation next year would remain as unfulfilled as the promise of last Session, and that next Session would again be occupied with Irish questions. In moving reductions of the Vote they did not make any strictures upon those who were responsible for the Scotch Administration. He believed that no individuals were more desirous than the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate and Lord Lothian to pay proper attention to Scotch Business Certain Bills had been brought forward which, on the whole, were useful. There 1806 were some features in the Scotch Universities Bill which made it by far the best measure on the subject ever introduced. But on the question of land in Scotland, although a radical measure was brought forward with regard to England, no such measure was even proposed for Scotland. He believed the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was a friend to land reform, but he had no opportunity and no support from his Colleagues. The Agricultural Holdings Bill, which passed five years ago, required amendment in several particulars, and there was a further question in relation to the extension of powers for the acquisition of land by Public Bodies. Some of these subjects might form part of the Local Government Bill of next year, but there was a question in regard to land which seemed to him to be of urgent importance—namely, the question of customary rights. Rights which had existed for centuries in Scotland were being disregarded day after day, and the value of land was becoming depreciated in consequence. It ought to have been legislated upon long ago and safeguarded. Another matter which had sprung up more recently was the mistaken policy which underlay the sale of the salmon rights to private individuals. The Government seemed to him to be not alive to the extent of the agitation which had arisen in Scotland against the disregard of the customary rights. The State was wrong in the matter, and, having made a mistake, should rectify it without throwing the burden upon private individuals. If the Government gave a larger title to land to private individuals than custom gave them, they would find themselves face to face with a serious difficulty, and would have imposed upon them the burden of getting rid of claims which they ought never to have sanctioned. Unless there was legislation on the subject in a large and comprehensive spirit, before very long there would be a feeling in Scotland which would make it very difficult to give fair play to the landlord class. He had observed indications of this feeling and the growth of this sentiment in a great many directions. He had risen principally for the purpose of calling attention to this matter. He believed the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was 1807 willing to do something in regard to it, and he regretted that the Government had hitherto neglected the great opportunities they might have had of bringing forward sound measures of legislation for Scotland.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
said, he desired briefly to impress upon Her Majesty's Government how extremely desirable it was that the Secretary for Scotland should have a seat in that House. In saying this he had no desire to make any reflection on the Secretary for Scotland. So far as he could judge and any experience he had had went, Lord Lothian was extremely anxious to do what was right and fair in any matter brought before him, but he supposed that the noble Lord was too much under the influence of the Parliament House in Edinburgh. What was wanted was that the Secretary for Scotland should act a good deal more on his own responsibility than he did at present, and attend less to the counsel he received from the Parliament House in Edinburgh. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocates who had had seats in that House seemed to him to consider it more their duty to defend the officials in Scotland, and the Legal Profession generally, than to redress the grievous complaints addressed to them by the Scotch Members. He did not think that while the Secretary for Soot-land had a seat in the other House he was in a position to do justice to Scotland. He had not the same opportunity of coming into contact with the Representatives of the people as if he had a seat in the House of Commons, and could be made to understand the feelings of the Scotch people on various questions. He desired to see the position of the Secretary for Scotland very largely strengthened, and the Edinburgh Boards abolished, and created into Departments under the Secretary for Scotland in Edinburgh. At present he, as a Scotch Member, did not know how far the Secretary for Scotland was responsible for these Boards and to what extent they were independent. It was, therefore, most desirable that they should be converted into Departments for which the Secretary for Scotland would be responsible. He trusted the Government would be able next Session to fulfil the pledges they were disposed to give now; and he hoped that a considerable 1808 portion or next Session would be devoted to the consideration of Scotch Business. So far as the Scotch Universities Bill was concerned, it was quite true that it had received very little attention in the House, but much discussion had been going on, both inside and out of the House, among Members and the people generally, that very great progress had been made towards settling the Bill and improving the form in which it was originally introduced. He trusted that next Session further progress would be made, and that the Bill would be passed. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was now acquainted with the objections hon. Members from Scotland had to the Bill, and he hoped would be prepared to meet them.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON) (Bute)
said, it was satisfactory to gather from the speeches of hon. Members from Scotland, in the course of the discussion, that there was but little complaint as to the discharge of the administrative duties falling to the Secretary for Scotland. Certain specific points were to be raised; but the general administration of his noble Friend had, he thought, escaped censure to a remarkable and satisfactory extent. Turning to the Parliamentary situation in relation to Scotch Business, he was not aware that there was any Party in the House which pronounced that situation at this moment to be satisfactory. Certainly it was not the view of the Government, and the Government had been most anxious during the part of the Session which was passed, and they had not even yet resigned all hope of doing something to make a practical use of such time as was available to improve Scotch legislation. He was not disposed, especially in Committee of Supply, to raise any question as to the proper proportion in which blame ought to be distributed for the present situation; but, at the same time, it was only fair to say that, to a large extent, the efforts which the Government had made had necessarily depended on a general co-operation from all sections of the House; and if any hon. Gentleman would look back on some parts of the Session, he would observe that there had been golden opportunities, not of long duration of time, to make some progress, and they had been allowed to pass, not through the fault of the Government. He desired now to 1809 say one or two words in regard to the comments which had been made upon the absence of legislation. With regard to the two measures mainly commented upon, it was true that the Burgh Police Bill and the Universities Bill were not yet passed into law; but he had not observed that there was unanimity in the speeches delivered on the other side of the House as to the merits of those Bills. The hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) said that as far as the present Session was concerned there was nothing to regret in the failure of the Government to pass those Bilk.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, he thought the hon. Member would recollect saying that he abstained from commenting on the Universities Bill, but there was no occasion for regret that the measure had not been passed this Session. In regard to that Bill, the views of the Government had always been that as a general concurrence of academical parties had been obtained there ought not to be much difficulty in carrying that measure through. When the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury consented to devote some of the time of the House to the consideration of the measure, in deference to a suggestion which came from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), the proposal of the Government was not accepted by hon. Members opposite. Therefore, the Government could not take upon themselves the blame in regard to that measure. As regarded the Burgh Police Bill, if hon. Members considered the nature of the legislation into which they were required to embark, and the minute details and particulars which it necessarily involved, it was impossible to suppose that the time of the House could have been occupied with it in the Autumn Session, especially when they bore in mind the rate of progress which had been made with legislation in the summer months. When they came to specific complaints as to the mismanagement of Scotch Business, he could not see that there was anything to complain of, and he did not consider that there 1810 was any general agreement on the part of the hon. Gentleman who spoke. At the same time, the Government completely sympathized with the natural feeling of disappointment which existed in all parts of the House, and he was authorized to say that the proposals of legislation affecting Scotland, which would be presented to Parliament next Session, would have a high and an early place in the programme of the Government, He hoped the House would realize that the present Parliamentary situation had arisen from emergencies produced by causes entirely extraneous to the policy of the Government in regard to these measures of legislation for Scotland. Two hon. Gentlemen opposite, representing North-Eastern Counties, had directed attention to the fisheries question. He would not infringe the ruling of the Chair by referring to any question involved in the Fishery Vote that would come on shortly. He had no doubt legislation might be devised for improving the condition of the harbours of Scotland; but at the same time hon. Members would observe, in the first place, that there was an existing machinery to, and that was the funds at the disposal of the Fishery Board; but, in the second place, such measures, if they were to be extensive, would involve a large expenditure of money. Therefore, before the Government were censured in that connection, he thought it was rather necessary for hon. Gentlemen to give an assurance that there was general agreement, not only among the classes specially interested, but among the community generally, that legislation of this kind, involving large expenditure, would be generally acceptable to, and approved by, the people of the country. With regard to the question of bait, he thought that the suggestion that the Secretary for Scotland had been remiss in not proposing legislation in the matter had hardly a place, when it was remembered that that question was now being matured by a Committee of Inquiry, presided over by a Gentleman whose knowledge of the matter was as conspicuous as the right hon. Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Marjoribanks). He thought it was most desirable that the full resources and strength of Scotch Members should be put forward to promote Scotch legislation, and not merely by controversial methods. He did not 1811 regret the discussion which had taken place. It had cleared the air, and had shown that there were various points on which hon. Members generally felt that legislation would he beneficial; but he was afraid that they had not yet reached a stage when it would be wise and prudent for the Government to take them up and submit measures to Parliament for carrying them out. He hoped that when there were measures of a social kind to be passed, Members of Parliament would feel that it was possible, avoiding controversy, to co-operate to secure those objects. He trusted that the Committee, having heard the expressions of opinion, which were not confined to one part of the House, as to the need for Scotland receiving full legislative attention, would now proceed to grant the salary of the Secretary for Scotland,
§ DR. CAMERON
said, he wished to hear something about the increase of the salary of the Private Secretary to Lord Lothian. Was it an indication that the noble Lord was going into the Cabinet?
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, £300 was put on the Estimates in accordance with the usual practice in cases in which the salary actually required might either be that or a lesser sum. In conclusion, he hoped that no emergency would tempt any section of Scotch Members into encouraging what would be a scheme so detrimental to the greatness of their common country as that which had been darkly hinted at during the discussion.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
said, he thought English Members who were not conversant with Scotch proceedings must recognize that there was behind the speech of Scotch Members a very unanimous and strong feeling of the Scotch people, and only Scotch Members could know how strong that feeling was. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had, in a certain number of sentences, spoken about the state of Scotch Business. He hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would think he was only speaking in a complimentary way when he said that a speech coining from so able, industrious, and so practical a speaker as himself showed how very deep was this feeling to which he had referred. He thought the right hon. 1812 and learned Gentleman dropped an expression about there having been certain periods of time adequate for carrying on the Scotch Business during the Session, if only the Scotch Members had been willing to use them. He was not aware to what time the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred, unless it was to the stages of the Appropriation Bill, an offer which, he must know, did not mend the Government case. It was quite true that among the Representatives of a country like Scotland there must be some divergence of opinion about particular Bills, but surely that was no reason for the Government meeting that difficulty by giving them no Bills at all. It was of great importance that the House should follow up this subject with the protest of a Division, because, amongst other reasons, the Government had brought in a Bill extending the powers of the Secretary for Scotland, but to that Bill an Amendment was moved, and, in the course of a long discussion, very great discontent was expressed by Scotch Members both in regard to the position of the Secretary for Scotland and with regard to the consequent effect on Scotch Business; and on the assurance of the Government that the matter would be amended, Scotch Members had withdrawn their opposition and allowed the Bill to pass. But here at the end, not only of the Session, but after 12 months, they found themselves in just as bad a position as before, and he said that if they allowed the present occasion to pass without taking a Division which would really express the opinion of what he believed to be the majority of Scotch Members, they would be at the end of 1889 as badly off as they were at present. That was the proper method of expressing their disapprobation of the present state of things and their desire to amend them. This was the only opportunity they would have of going into the question, and he said that the Constitutional method of expressing discontent with the Scotch Administration in the House was by moving a reduction of salary. That was the course taken with regard to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and in that case he thought it was quite understood, on both sides of the House, that it would give expression to the opinion of those who voted for it, that they did not approve the action of the Government. But if there was one subject on which 1813 there was unanimity in the debate, it was the personal feeling of hon. Members of that House, and he could find no stronger words than those used by his brother Members to express this sense of the courtesy of Lord Lothian, who had always been most attentive to the representations made to him. He (Sir George Trevelyan) did not think that they should move the reduction of the Vote by a very large sum, which would really mark almost personal disapprobation on the part of the House. He saw that the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) had a Notice on the Paper to reduce the Vote by the sum of £100, and he thought there were many hon. Members who would vote for that sum as a means of expressing their opinion on public matters who would not be inclined to vote for a larger sum, which would express almost a personal objection. In the first place, Scotch Members thought that the Scotch Secretary should be a Member of the House of Commons. It was quite impossible that any Minister could keep himself au courant with the feeling of the country which he was supposed to govern unless he was in constant daily and friendly intercourse with the Representatives of that country in the House of Commons. Much as he had learned in reading, and much as he had learned in that House, he had learned twice as much by daily colloquy with Members of the House of Commons. He invited the Committee to imagine the effect of having the Irish Secretary in the House of Lords. Next year he supposed the social matters to which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had referred might embody themselves in a Local Government Bill for Scotland, and, if so, let the Committee imagine a Local Government Bill being introduced, not by an administrator, but by a gentleman of the Long Robe, who, after all, occupied the same position towards the Scotch Government as the Attorney General occupied towards the English Government. What would have been the effect had the Local Government, Bill for England been brought in and supported in debate by the Solicitor General and the Attorney General for England? In the second place, by voting for this Motion they would express their opinion that the Scotch Secretary ought to be in the Cabinet. His hon. Friend the Member for the Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro Ferguson) 1814 had made a somewhat sweeping charge in saying that during the four years he had been in Parliament Scotch Business had been entirely neglected. He thought his hon. Friend must remember that in the Session of 1886, when every minute that could be spared from legislation—from that great Bill which was a political catastrophe—was given to Scotland. During that Session there was a Scotch Secretary in the Cabinet, and he ventured to say that this fact had a great deal to do with the time given to Scotch Business. The hon. Member said that a Cabinet Minister was unknown to Scotch legislation, and that was one reason why they could not get their wishes embodied in the Bill of last year. The third and strongest reason for supporting the Amendment was the neglect of Scotch Business. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had said that he hoped that when social measures relating to Scotland were brought forward Scotch Members would lay aside all Party feeling and do their best to forward the measure. He (Sir George Trevelyan) was sure they would do so if they had an opportunity; but what opportunity had they got? It was not a question of Scotch measures being brought forward, but what had spread the desire in Scotland for a great Constitutional change was the neglect of the wishes of the Scotch people. On the 24th of April this year, when the question of extending the Crofters' Act was brought forward, 30 Scotch Members voted for initiating such legislation, and 10 voted against it. Yet on that occasion an enormous number of English Members came into the House and voted down the Scotch majority on what was no new principle of legislation, but on a principle which Parliament had already approved—they voted that the Scotch Members who were in favour of the legislation should not have their own way in the matter. Then there were two other Bills, one for extending to other counties of Scotland the advantages of the Crofters' Act, the other a Bill of his hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), an excellent Bill, to alter the anomalies which stood in the way of giving the people direct representation on parochial boards. There was no Scotch Minister who understood or was supposed to represent the real feelings 1815 of the Scotch people on this matter. The burden of the debate fell on an hon. Gentleman who was not a Scotch Member at all, but then Secretary for Ireland, and whatever any hon. Members on that side might say against that Gentleman, none of them would say that he had not enough business of his own to attend to. He believed that if they had had the Scotch Secretary in the House, and could have conversed with him in the lobbies, one, if not both, of those moderate Bills would have become law. On the ground, therefore, that the Scotch Secretary was not a Member of the Cabinet, that he was not a Member of the House of Commons, and that Scotch Business had been neglected, he trusted that the majority of the Scotch Members would vote for the smaller reduction, and that his hon. and learned Friend would consent to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he hoped that nothing could be gathered from his observations which would imply that he did not desire to speak of the Secretary for Scotland in the highest possible terms. His objection was to the way in which Scotch Business was carried on, and he would gladly accede to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Motion, and substitute for it a Motion to reduce the Vote by the sum of £100.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £100, part of the Salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Mr. Anderson.)
§ MR. A. E. D. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)
said, he did not dispute that any hon. Gentleman or right hon. Gentleman had a right to put forward for himself the views which actuated him in moving the reduction of the Vote, but he altogether disputed that the right hon. Gentleman below him had the right to decide for others than himself exactly what the Vote should be. In his opinion, to reduce the Vote even by a small sum would mean a great deal more than the right hon. Gentleman said, because the effect of the Vote would be to declare that the position of Scotch Business was due to the bad administration of the Government in that House. He asked whether the present state of Business applied to Scotch Business only. [An hon. MEMBER: Yes.] 1816 The hon. Member had very little regard probably for the improvement legislation promised for England, but he (Mr. A. E. D. Elliot) maintained that the loss of Bills was not due to the way in which the Government had arranged their affairs; it was absolutely notorious that Scotch Members had not had time to manage Scotch Business, and that English Members had not had time to get through English Business because of the outrageous and preposterous waste of time which had occurred in the discussion of other matters. When hon. Members came down to Committee of Supply, and pointed out that Scotland was grumbling because the Scotch Secretary was not in that House or in the Cabinet, they were simply prolonging the great difficulty with which the House had to deal. The right hon. Gentleman below him had pointed out some particulars in which he thought the Scotch Office might be improved, and he had said that, judging from his own experience, he had learned twice as much, of the wishes of the people of Scotland by friendly intercourse in the Lobby than from any other source. The right hon. Gentleman had been Secretary for Ireland as well as Secretary for Scotland, and he was not aware, although he enjoyed those colloquies in the Lobby, that he got on very well with hon. Members from Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said his fellow Members were outvoted by a crowd of English Members, but the Union involved this, that occasionally the Members of one country would be outvoted by the Members for the other country. His right hon. Friend was acquainted with history, and he would be aware that there was nothing exceptional with regard to Scotland in this respect; he must be aware that Scotch Members had been constantly outvoted on the subject of Scotch Business in that House with reference to police and other matters, and that the very Government of the day had sometimes been in power against the will of the majority of Scotch Members. On the other hand, he maintained that constantly on great Party Bills, the Liberal majority which carried those Bills had been made up by English Members. That was a very important matter, and it was one which he thought they were bound to remember—namely, 1817 that this grievance applied to every locality in the community; it was a necessity which came from the Union. [Cheers; and an hon. MEMBER: Quite so.] He thought that truism hardly merited the cheers which greeted it. How otherwise were they to compose their Representative Body? However they arranged it, one locality was sure to be outvoted. Of course, if they could not combine together, and if Scotland and England could not act together as one Nation, then, no doubt, the case for the Union fell to the ground; but that had not been the case for two centuries, and it was not the belief of the people of Scotland that it would happen. He would not refer further to this matter, nor did he wish to wander from the point in hand, but he desired to recall the attention of the Committee to the exact point upon which they were asked to vote. They were asked to say that it was especially unsatisfactory, and that he maintained was contrary to fact, that this delay and neglect of Scotch Business was the fault of the Government, and not the fault of those who intentionally or unintentionally consumed or wasted the time of the House.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he did not wish to take part in this debate, because he wished to raise a special question upon it himself; but the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had rather thrown a little dust in the eyes of the Committee which he wished to clear away. His (Dr. Clark's) complaint, and that of his hon. Friends, was that no Scotch measures had been brought in on the principle of measures brought in for England, and which the Government had promised this Session should be brought in for England. The Government had taken up nearly all the time of the Session in such a way that private Members had no opportunity of amending the law. If the Government had brought in Bills, even if they had not passed, he could understand the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. R. D. Elliot), but their complaint was that the Government did not bring in the Bills. An Allotment Bill was brought in for England, and Scotch Members attempted to get the same rights for the Scotch ploughmen as were given to the English agricultural labourers. A pledge was 1818 given by the Government that a Bill should be brought in, but nothing of the kind was done, and England, therefore, was far in advance of Scotland in this matter. Then, with regard to the Fishery Board, they had an absolute pledge from the Government that a Bill would be brought in to restrict this Board, but there again the pledge had been broken. Then there was another fact to which he wished to call attention. A Returning Officers' Bill for Scotland was brought forward, on which nearly all Scotch Members were agreed, whereupon the Government blocked every effort of private Members to bring that Bill in, although they themselves had promised to introduce a measure upon the subject. The consequence of this was that there was a law in England on this subject which could be appealed to, but no such law in Scotland. Then, on matters relating to public health Scotland was about 20 years behind England; Bills had been promised to amend the Scotch Public Health Act, none of which had been brought forward that Session. Further, Bills had been brought in on the important subject of trawling by the hon. and gallant Member for Argyllshire (Colonel Malcolm) and by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Esslemont); the Government had been informed of the necessity of legislation in this matter, but the Secretary for Scotland had got the Government blocker to block the Bill.
§ DR. CLARK
said, upon all these questions the Scotch Members were generally agreed, but the Government would give them no opportunity of bringing them before the House. He himself would like to see a Scotch Police Bill passed, and he thought the Government might have given Scotch Members one day to consider a measure about which all the Burghs of Scotland had been anxious for over seven years. With regard to the Scotch Universities Bill he thought it would be an insult to hon. Members to bring that forward between the stages of the Appropriation. Bill, and he knew that nine-tenths of the Scotch Members would not put forward that proposal as one which the House should consider for a moment. By that Bill they would change one of the articles of the Union, and the House were asked 1819 to do that between the stages of the Appropriation Bill. They were going to put education in Scotland in the hands of an irresponsible Body and take away control from the House of Commons. He should oppose that Bill, and do everything he could to prevent it being brought forward at the time proposed, for he would be no party to rushing through that House important measures at the end of the Session, when Members would hardly know what they were doing. Scotch Members simply asked for a fair share of the time of the House, and that they could not get; they complained that English Members always came in and voted against them, who knew as much about what they voted for as they did of politics in the moon.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, the hon. and learned Member for Box-burgh (Mr. A. E. D. Elliot) had a happy way of consoling Scotch Members for the total neglect of Scotch Business of a legislative character, and for the mismanagement of matters relating to administration. The hon. and learned Member put forward the argument that the grievance of Scotland was not special or peculiar, but that it was shared by England also, and he attributed the grievance of both countries to the intrusion of Irish affairs; but there was this important difference, that if English legislation was neglected, the English people, at all events, got some value for their money. They had the consolation of carrying out their views in Ireland, while the Scotch Members saw carried out a policy which they abhorred, and which the people of Scotland also abhorred and condemned. Therefore, although the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman might console himself, it was no consolation to the people of Scotland or to him. Let them not exaggerate the precise amount of blame due to Her Majesty's Government, and particularly to the responsible Head of Her Majesty's Government. He recognized that there were many subjects on which it was impossible that the Government could legislate for Scotland, and simply for the reason that the Government were supported by 10 Tory Members for Scotland, and were opposed by the rest of the Representatives of the people of that country. He could not admit that Members of the Scotch Universities were Representatives 1820 of the Scotch people. That was a fact that could not be got over, and they could not blame the Government for neglect of Business arising from that fact, but they must blame the Constitution under which Scotch Members conducted their business under the control of an Imperial Parliament. He thought the Government were to blame for this—that there were measures, not of a Party character, which they might have introduced, and which ought to have introduced, which they promised to introduce, and which they did not introduce. Several such measures had been mentioned in the course of the evening, and there were three promised in the Speech from the Throne. There was the question of Education in Scotland, which subject naturally excited considerable interest in that country, but no such Bill had been introduced. Then a Police Bill was brought forward at the latter part of the Session; it passed through Committee, and could have passed through the House had they had two or three days for its consideration. He protested against the idea that the Police Bill could not have been carried without consideration, but he believed that two days would have been ample for the consideration of the few points in dispute, and, therefore, that it would have been in the power of the Government to pass the Bill this year. Again, the Scotch University Bill had been relegated to short intervals between the different stages of the Appropriation Bill. The right, hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate said that the action of the Government in putting off that Bill to the last moment was due to the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Southern Division of Edinburgh (Mr. Childers). That right hon. Gentleman was not present to answer for himself, but he could not help observing, with reference to the remarks made about the valuable assistance which Scotch Members were likely to obtain from the presence of English Members, that even though Scotland had saved the poor Gentleman from shipwreck, by giving him a seat for Edinburgh, and, consequently, a seat in that House, the right hon. Gentleman was not a Scotch graduate; and he thought that the knowledge which he possessed was not of a character which would justify the Government in ignoring 1821 the opinion of the rest of Scotch Members and relying entirely upon that of the right hon. Gentleman. Could anything be more monstrous than bringing in a Scotch University Bill during the stages of the Appropriation Bill? But the Committee must remember that the Government were not masters of the time of the House or of the stages of the Appropriation Bill; and, therefore, they were really offering Scotch Members the remnants, or portions of days, which they could not even guarantee for consideration of this important Bill. He would like to point out how reprehensible had been the action of the Government if they seriously meant to press forward this measure. The Government had been warned early in the Session that the Commission they proposed to intrust with the duty of forming new lines for Scotch Universities had been framed in a manner which did not possess the confidence of anyone interested in the measure in that House.
said, he must point out to the hon. Member that he could not discuss the details of a Bill.
§ MR. HUNTER
said, he would not allude to the details of the Bill, but the questions relating to Theological Chairs, extra teaching, questions of finance, and other matters, were of the greatest importance to Scotch Universities, and required to be thoroughly discussed in that House; they were subjects on which probably Scotch Members might agree eventually, but they could not arrive at that agreement without considerable discussion, or without considerable modifications of the Bill. The enumeration of those subjects brought him to a point on which he did not intend to enlarge, further than to say that several hon. Members had expressed their opinion that it was undesirable that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the House of Lords. It was utterly impossible that Scotch Members could discuss matters with any noble Lord in the other House, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) that, if it had been Lord Rosebery or any other Peer who had been appointed on their side, he should have opposed the proposal. It was, however, not only highly inexpedient 1822 but even intolerable that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the House of Lords, living in an atmosphere outside that of Members of Parliament, so that it was impossible for them to discuss Scotch measures with him. If the Marquess of Lothian had been in the House of Commons he might have introduced measures that would have had a chance of passing with short discussions. These remarks did not imply any personal censure; he would have made them if the Scotch Secretary had been the Earl of Rosebery, and the grievance was that the Scotch Secretary did not sit in that House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman complained that Scotch Members had not raised any objections to the administrative part of the Office of Lord Lothian, but there was one point to which he would refer—namely, that the Secretary for Scotland, without consultation with Members of that House, and without giving them any opportunity of expressing their opinion, on his own responsibility, had spent a large sum of money in the expatriation of Scotch crofters. He thought it was one of the striking proofs of the deplorable mismanagement of Scotch Business that this step, although taken months ago, had never been brought before the House, and even at the present time hon. Members had never had an opportunity of considering a question which was a large matter of public policy. If this were a small matter, he should not have said a word about it, but this initiation of a policy of State Aided Emigration was one of serious importance, and should not have been undertaken by any Minister without first having ascertained the opinion of the House of Commons. The hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh seemed to think that the Scotch people should make allies for the management of their own Business. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would go down and tell his constituents that the Scotch people were incapable of managing their own Business.
§ MR. HUNTER
The hon. and learned Gentleman might perhaps draw a distinction between what he said and the description he had now given of it. He (Mr. Hunter) was glad that the hon. and learned Member had nailed his flag to 1823 the mast as an anti-Home Ruler. He rejoiced that Liberal Unionists were doing this, for they would soon find themselves in the same position as anti-Nationalists in the South of Ireland.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said he desired to appeal to the Committee and to point out that the time at their disposal was of much value. Scotch Members were usually considered to be a practical body of men, who took a sensible view of the Business immediately before them and desired to make progress. That was the second discussion they had had this Session on Scotch Business. He was far from saying that some of the observations of hon. Members were not fully justified, but there were circumstances to which he would not refer that had prevented the time being allotted to that Business which the Government desired. The value of the lesson which the House and the Government had learned was for the future, and he ventured to say that it was not desirable to expend further time on this question at present. The experience they had gained this Session would make it absolutely necessary to reconsider the arrangements for the disposal of public time next Session and the whole arrangement of Public Business. There was no doubt about that, and he had already indicated it by many observations which had fallen from him. One hon. Gentleman had complained that the Scotch Estimates were taken altogether. He admitted that he made that arrangement, fully believing that it was one which would meet with the approval of Scotch Members, and, whatever difference of opinion might exist between Gentlemen on opposite sides of the House, he hoped that at least he should have credit for desiring to make such an arrangement as would afford hon. Members the opportunity which they had a right to, of expressing their views. He had objected over and over again to the postponement of the Estimates, and the Government regarded it as absolutely necessary to make provision for their consideration in the earlier part of next Session. They intended to push on Scotch Business, and he said that, having regard to the responsibility of the position in which the Government were now placed. Under those circumstances was it necessary to proceed 1824 with an examination of the past, which had already occupied two days in the Summer Session, and had that night occupied three or four hours? He admitted that the present circumstances were deplorable, but he declined to enter upon a full explanation of the causes, which had produced them, because he did not desire to excite fresh controversy. The House had a great deal of work to do, and he asked hon. Gentlemen whether they agreed with or differed from him to endeavour, if possible, to give consideration to the Business before the Committee.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to forget that this Motion was not merely a protest against the alleged waste of time in that House; it involved two other questions distinctly enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan). He should not have risen had he not had a subsequent Motion on the Paper which had nothing to do with Government Business at all. He intended to move to reduce the Vote by the whole salary of the Secretary for Scotland, because he wished to protest against the Secretary for Scotland being a Member of the House of Lords, and, because he had always protested against the Head of any Department of Government being in the House of Lords. He held that every Representative of the Executive Government ought to be in the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division would forgive him for saying that, from his point of view, the course he proposed to take was more logical than that which he had suggested. He joined heartily in what the right hon. Gentleman had said with regard to Lord Lothian, and might remark that no expression of dissent from his opinion had come from anyone in the House. The other alternative of reducing the Vote by £5 was also, in his opinion, less logical for the purpose in view than the proposal to vote against the whole salary. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had insisted in regarding the present Motion as raising the question of the mismanagement of Scotch Business in that House, and, no doubt, that point was involved in it; but the 1825 right hon. Gentleman was himself to blame if it were made the chief issue. He did not want to indulge in any recrimination; but there was one point on which the Government must be held responsible for the mismanagement of Scotch Business. They were the absolute masters of the House; they had a large majority to support them, and they could do what they pleased with the time of the House. They had acquired unparalleled powers for the management of Scotch Business, which, however, they had shown themselves unwilling to push, and, not having done so, they were themselves to blame, because they were urged to make those powers stronger by himself and other Members. The plain fact was that they had yielded too much to Irish threats and pressure. There was no doubt that Ireland had absorbed that Session a large share of the time of the House, and it was Scotland that had suffered in consequence; but he did not think it could be fairly said, with the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. E. D. Elliot), that England had suffered also, because an immense share of the time of the House had been given to a Bill of the highest importance to the people of England. It was absurd, therefore, to say that the complaint of Scotch Members was not justified, or that Scotland was not a sufferer from the undue preference given to Irish and English Business. His complaint was, not that the Government had refused to legislate for Scotland, because he had no desire to see them legislate for Scotland at all; but if they intended to legislate for Scotland they ought to pay Scotch Members the compliment of bringing on the Business when it could be fully and adequately discussed, and not ask them to snatch at those golden opportunities to which the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had referred. He considered that the difficulties into which the Government had got themselves was their desire to legislate, not for Scotland, but for the United Kingdom at large. There was a craze for legislation besetting that House, and although it had been more felt on that side of the House, yet it extended to the other; so that each Party might go to the country and say that they had done more work than the other. It was to this craze that he believed the Government 1826 had yielded, and it was that which had caused the delay of which he and his hon. Friends complained.
§ MR. ASHER (Elgin, &c.)
said, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had fully apprehended the magnitude of the issues which were involved in this discussion. It was perfectly true that they desired to make a protest against the unsatisfactory state of Public Business at the present time, but, for his part, he hoped that by this discussion and Division they would secure some amendment of the system in future. He disclaimed any desire whatever to censure the noble Lord the Secretary for Scotland, or others who were assisting him in the conduct of Scotch affairs; but they were Members of the Government, and as such they must share the responsibility with the Government for the unsatisfactory position in which Scotch Business then was. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. R. D. Elliot) said—and he agreed with him—that if they did not intend to censure individual officials constituting the Executive for Scotland, then the vote would be meaningless, unless they laid the blame on the Government. He confessed that he did intend, by the vote he was about to give, to place the whole responsibility for the unsatisfactory state of Scotch Business upon the Government. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate had admitted that the state of matters was about as unsatisfactory as it could possibly be; but he said that this was due to causes extraneous to the policy of the Government. Now they on that side could not assent to that view, for one of the chief causes unquestionably was the course adopted by the Government in regard to Ireland, of which the Liberal Party strongly disapproved. But he had risen chiefly for the purpose of calling attention to a point more closely connected with this subject than the Irish policy of the Government, and it was this—their opposition to the Motion made at a very early period of the Session to have a Grand Committee constituted for the consideration of Scotch Bills. His conviction was that Session after Session would pass, and the same unsatisfactory state of matters would be found to exist as now, unless the House would agree to apply the principle of delegation in some form 1827 or other to the conduct of Scotch Business. What was the situation at this moment? The whole of the time of the House was taken by the Government; and everyone would agree with him that there were a number of questions urgently requiring legislation in Scotland. Many of these questions belonged to the class alluded to by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, as questions which did not arouse keen Party feeling; but at this moment it was impossible to do anything in the way of legislation in any one of these questions. The whole time of the House was taken by the Government, private Members were paralyzed, and the Government did not introduce measures dealing with these subjects at all; and in his opinion, until some means were devised for getting legislation summarily adopted in the House, they would never get legislation of the kind to which he was referring, Let them take, for instance, the matter referred to by the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Esslemont)—namely, the title of fishermen to their houses. There were a large number of fishermen who built their houses on the land near the sea coast without any title at all, relying upon a continued right of occupation at the same rent, which the law did not sanction. After building their houses, if the landlord thought fit, he might require them to leave or to agree to what they considered hard terms. This was a matter which should be dealt with, and there were many other instances of a similar kind. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had said in the course of his remarks that he had indicated more than once an intention to make material changes in the conduct of Business next Session. They were all glad to hear that, but he (Mr. Asher) could not say that he had discovered in the announcement an indication of any intention which would have the slightest effect in expediting legislation for Scotland. If the Government were going to give them a Local Government Bill for Scotland next Session, the Government would require the whole time of the House for the conduct of that Bill, and what was to become of all the minor matters upon which legislation was required, and which, for want of time, they could not deal with now? He felt that if the Government would 1828 indicate now that they would reconsider their position with reference to the constitution of a Grand Committee for the consideration of Scotch Bills, and Scotch Bills alone, they would do more to facilitate the passing of this Vote than by any other course they could adopt. The Scotch people were very much interested in this matter. The keenness with which it had been pressed by the Scotch Members was an indication of what was the state of feeling in the minds of those they represented there. They saw a stupendous amount of dissatisfaction with the treatment of Scotland in that House at that moment, and they saw more than that—namely, a determination on the part of the people by every legitimate means to secure an effectual remedy in that direction. It seemed to him to be a very mild remedy, against which it would be difficult to suggest any serious objection, that there should be constituted a Grand Committee for the purpose of dealing with Scotch Bills. Their experience had shown them that the Bills which came back to the House from the Grand Committees passed through and became law without taking up any appreciable time of the House.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, he did not intend to speak at any length, but he only rose with reference to a matter which he was informed had taken place during his absence from the House. He had been called out to attend to important business, and had only now returned. He understood that it had been stated that in making a suggestion at the early part of the Session—a good many weeks ago now—across the Table to the First Lord of the Treasury about the Scotch University Bill, he (Mr. Childers) had said that he spoke on behalf of the Scotch Members—and he believed that it had also been stated that he had renewed the suggestion outside the House. That was not, in the slightest degree, the case. What he had said was that he thought a debate on the Scotch University Bill while the Appropriation Bill was going through its stages was desirable. He did not profess on that occasion to speak for Scotch Members, and he had said so on two occasions since. He understood, however, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate had imputed to him that he had said that he represented 1829 on the matter the whole of the Scotch Members.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that he had not made that imputation. All he had done was to point out that a suggestion which was described by the hon. Member for the College Division as an insult to the Scotch Members had originated, not on that (the Front Ministerial) Bench, but on the Bench opposite.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, he had spoken on his own account alone, but since he had made the suggestion he had received support from a large number of Scotch Members. He thought it desirable that this should be clearly understood by the House. On the question now under discussion he entirely supported the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Asher). He believed that a Grand Committee upon Scotch Business would be the means of getting through a vast amount of work, but, in his opinion, nothing would stop the block of Business in the House before they passed a measure giving Home Rule for Ireland. He said nothing about Scotland in this respect—Scotland did not block the way. Members from Scotland spoke briefly; but what had taken up so much of the time of the House had been Irish Business. He was clearly convinced that they would never be able to make satisfactory progress with the Business of Parliament until they had passed an Irish Home Rule Bill, when local Irish affairs could be dealt with at Dublin.
§ MR. FINLAY (Inverness, &c.)
said, he desired to make one or two remarks upon the speeech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) as he did not wish the vote he was about to give to be misunderstood. His right hon. Friend had given three reasons for voting for the Motion to reduce the Vote; and one of those reasons was that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of that House. He quite agreed with his right hon. Friend that there would be great convenience in having the Secretary for Scotland a Member of that House, but he would ask his right hon. Friend to consider whether he was prepared to carry that principle to the logical development which it obtained at the hands of the hon. and learned 1830 Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson). The right hon. Gentleman was asking the Committee to affirm the principle that the country was not to have the advantage of the service in any of the great offices of State of any man who happened to be a Member of the other House. He (Mr. Finlay) respectfully submitted to his right hon. Friend that he ought to be cautious in asking for the support of Members who might be influenced by his opinion on a vote of this kind, on a ground of that sort, as it might have consequences which might be attended with great inconvenience so long as they had a House of Commons. The second reason given by his right hon. Friend for the vote he intended to give was that the Scotch Secretary ought to be in the Cabinet. On that point he certainly agreed with his right hon. Friend. He certainly thought the Secretary for Scotland ought to be in the Cabinet. He had said so over and over again, and he hoped that the Secretary for Scotland would be in the Cabinet before long. But it was not the fault of Lord Lothian that he was not in the Cabinet; and he failed to see why on earth, because that nobleman was not in the Cabinet, they were to vote for reducing his salary. The third reason given by his right hon. Friend was this—that the state of Scotch Business was very unsatisfactory. With that he (Mr. Finlay) agreed. He went further than that, and thought that the state of Business in the country was generally at present very unsatisfactory. The hon. Member for Northampton had expressed deep regret, which no doubt he honestly felt, at the unsatisfactory condition of Public Business by proposing that the House should adjourn, and should thereby waste another day in addition to the many already wasted this Session. The hon. and learned Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Asher) used somewhat inflated language when he said that there was a stupendous amount of disssatisfaction in Scotland with the progress of Scotch Business. The people of Scotland were possessed of a reasonable amount of common sense, and they perfectly realized that Scotland in this matter only shared the fate of England. Cries of "No, no!"] Well, one great measure had been passed for England which had necessarily taken a great deal 1831 of time, but could any hon. Member seriously say, looking at the Bills which had been brought forward for England, that the state of English Business was not as satisfactory as the state of Scotch Business? He was not going to follow his hon. and learned Friend into the tempting subject of a Scotch Committee, as he apprehended that debate upon that subject might be indefinitely prolonged, as it might be pointed out that the establishment of a Grand Committee for Scotland would involve the appointment of Grand Committees for England, Ireland, and Wales. Nor was he going to follow the right hon. Gentleman before him (Mr. Childers) into the question as to whether the Business of the country could ever be satisfactorily disposed of until Home Rule was introduced in Ireland. These were subjects too great to be introduced into a debate of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow (Sir George Trevelyan) said that he did not blame anyone for the unsatisfactory state of Public Business. Why, then, were they to vote for an Amendment which would really be a Vote of Censure on the Government, seeing that no blame attached to them in the matter?
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
said, none of them had any doubt at all as to the side upon which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Inverness Burghs (Mr. Finlay) or the hon. and learned Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. E. D. Elliot) would vote, but it seemed to him they were driven into a strange corner when they brought forward as a reason for not voting for the Amendment that the Government had so utterly made a mess of English Business. That was a very strange reason to give for not voting for this proposal, which was really only a protest against the mismanagement of Scotch Business. It seemed to him that all through the country they had heard a very different tale from hon. Gentlemen who sat on the opposite side of the House. Those hon. Gentlemen never ceased telling their constituents and the people generally what a fine Government they were, and what an amount of Business they had done for England this Session. The supporters of the Ministry throughout the country would have to choose between their Representatives 1832 on that (the Opposition) side, who said that the Government had done nothing at all, and that England was in the same plight as Scotland, or in a worse plight, or else they had to acknowledge that they had been misinformed by their dearest and best friends on the other side. It seemed to him that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had given them a very curious reason for supporting his proposal when he said that the University Bill should be proceeded with this Session. What he had told them was that there was an extraordinary concurrence on the part of academical authorities in support of the Bill. Now it seemed to him (Mr. Marjoribanks) to bring forward in regard to reform—
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
I said nothing of the kind. I said there was a remarkable concurrence of opinion amongst academical parties, which the right hon. Member will admit is somewhat different from academical authorities.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS
said, he thought the House knew pretty well what were the ordinary political inclination of academical parties. Academical parties were anxious for the reform of the Scotch Universities, and when that was so it was only fair to believe that the academical parties believed that the whip was going to be very much tempered for their backs. For his part, he had no reason to object to pressing forward the Universities Bill, but he thought they should look with some suspicion upon the matter when they saw that the people who were to be reformed were so very anxious for the reform. An appeal had been made to him (Mr. Marjoribanks) with regard to the bait question. He did not think the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Anderson) took a very fair view of what Lord Lothian had done in regard to that question. The Committee he had the honour to be Chairman of had the fullest power to examine into private rights. They were not instructed to decide as to the title of such private rights, but they had the fullest power to examine what rights existed, and to report as to the best way of dealing with them. He did not, therefore, see that there was any reason in connection with this matter to find fault with Lord Lothian's administration.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, it seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, after giving them two days for Scotch Estimates had now repented of his promise. It had hardly passed 7 o'clock when the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the time had come to take a Division, and had seemed to threaten the clôture. He (Sir George Campbell) did not think the time had come when the Government should clôture Scotch Members. He would not go back upon past history, because all he could have said on that subject had been much better said by others, and with regard to the general question, therefore, he would only say one word. Although it had already fallen from other speakers, he might be allowed to say one word upon the subject of a Grand Committee for Scotland, as he had for several years pressed it upon the attention of the House. He had always thought that a great step in advance might be made in the way of satisfying the people of Scotland if they had a Grand Committee which would thresh out Scotch questions and present them to the House in a digested form, especially if the Committee could deal with subjects more freely than in the stiff and formal way which they did at present. He would express entire concurrence with the hon. and learned Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson) that their principal objection to the present state of things as regarded the Secretary for Scotland was, that he was not in the House of Commons. It was a great inconvenience to have a Secretary for Scotland who was not in the House of Commons. They wanted a Secretary for Scotland to nag and worry until they got what they wanted from him. No doubt the Secretary for Scotland was very ably represented in the House of Commons by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate. Some Lord Advocates were better and some worse. He was ready to confess that the right hon. Gentleman the present Lord Advocate was one of the best, and he expected that they would have great satisfaction from him; but the position of the Lord Advocate in regard to the Secretary for Scotland reminded him a good deal of the position of an agent to an Irish landlord. They probably most of them knew the story of the Irish landlord who said to 1834 his agent—"You may tell them they will not intimidate me by shooting you." The Secretary for Scotland was in the position of the Irish landlord, and probably would say they could not drive him from his position by worrying the Lord Advocate, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman was there for the purpose of being worried. The neglect of Scotch Business had been very great. He had desired to bring forward a question of Scotch education. He desired to bring about an increase of the grant, but when the Education Estimates came forward he should be unable to move to obtain an increase in that grant. He would, therefore, ask upon this Vote whether the Secretary for Scotland was personally responsible to the degree to which he was rather inclined to think the noble Lord was responsible for the present condition of things with regard to the drawing grant? If he was responsible it would be a good reason for cutting down his pay. As to the drawing grant the people of Scotland had a particular grievance. The School Education Code was so drawn—
This question cannot be discussed on the present Vote, but must be raised on the Education Vote.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he submitted to the Chairman's ruling, but he only wished to raise the question in this way. He wanted to know if the Secretary for Scotland was personally responsible for not having obtained for Scotland the same sum for educational purposes, proportionately, as had been obtained for England? They had had a debate on the Education Vote on a former occasion, and had been given to understand that the matter rested with the Secretary for Scotland, and that if he applied for an increase it would probably be given to him. It was only in that sense that he (Sir George Campbell) hoped that the right hon. and learned Lord. Advocate would be able to tell them whether the Secretary for Scotland was prepared to obtain that grant, which the Scotch Members were unable to obtain under the Scotch Education Vote. Then he would like to ask if the Secretary for Scotland was consulted upon the question of the sale of fishing and salmon rights and other popular rights in Scotland—
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 112: Majority 32.—(Div. List, No. 337.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. CHILDERS
When last year the Bill for the Secretary for Scotland was under discussion, words were inserted under which the administration of the Prerogative of Mercy might be transferred from the Secretary of State for the Home Department to the Secretary for Scotland. I am aware that for some time that transfer was not effected, and I wish to know whether or not it has now fully taken place?
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
There is no doubt about the matter. The right hon. Gentleman will find that by the Act of 1887 all the powers vested in the Home Secretary were transferred to the Secretary for Scotland, with certain exceptions. The prerogative of mercy was not included in the exceptions.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he wished to draw the attention of the Committee to a miscarriage of justice which had occurred in Scotland. He desired to know why the Government were refusing a free pardon and compensation to Hugh Matheson for a gross injustice which he had suffered? The facts of the case were these. Some time ago there was an attempt made by the people of the township of Clashmore to place their cattle in a field which had previously been a portion of the township, but had been taken away from the township and added to a certain farm. Of course, it was an illegal act to attempt to place cattle on land taken out of the township by people who had no claim to that land, but certain persons persisted in doing so, and a riot occurred. According to the evidence given upon the trial a number of women, and some men dressed in women's clothes, with their faces blackened and with turbans round their heads, persisted in driving the farmer's cattle out of his field in order to place theirs in the field in the place of the others. These people thought the field ought to belong to them. Several persons were arrested for this and brought up for trial in Edinburgh. Now, the trial was of a very curious 1836 character. The witnesses were Gaelic-speaking people, and though they could speak some English and could answer "Yes" or "No" in that language, yet there were certain questions put to them which they could not answer "Yes" or "No," and to which they desired to reply in their native tongue. The Judge, Lord Craighill, said to them—You must try to answer the questions in some way or other in English, or I will send you to prison.These people, it seemed, were to be sent to prison for the crime of being unable to speak a foreign language. The result of this bullying on the part of the Judge—
§ DR. CLARK
Well, the result of this action of the Judge, and of the action of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, who was prosecuting and who told the witnesses that they were lying, was that the witnesses were unable to give evidence before the Court; and certain of the prisoners were brought in by the majority as guilty. They were recommended to mercy, and the Judge showed his appreciation of that recommendation by sending the people to prison for 12 months—the men for 12 and the women for nine months. This punishment was inflicted because the people had endeavoured, by the means he had pointed out, to get back land which had been unjustly taken from them and given to the farmer who occupied it—a very common thing in the Highlands. The result of this operation had been described to the House by the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) and his hon. Friend who represented the County of Sutherland (Mr. A. Sutherland). Those hon. Members had brought forward evidence from disinterested persons, collected by Mr. Donald Mackay, to show that the man Matheson was entirely innocent—to show that whilst some of the men and women had been guilty, this man, at any rate, was innocent, and the affidavits of these people had been brought before the notice of the Secretary for Scotland along with the evidence given at the trial. There were three witnesses for the defence at the trial, who gave evidence to show that Matheson was nine miles away at the time the riot occurred. Two of the witnesses for the prosecution 1837 were the farmer whose land the rioters endeavoured to put the cattle upon, and the sub-factor. The sub-factor had been assaulted, and he at first swore that Matheson struck him. Afterwards, however, he said he could not swear to the fact that Matheson had struck him, but he was under the impression that it was a man dressed in woman's clothes that had done so. On this evidence Matheson was convicted, and he (Dr. Clark) wanted to bring before the Scotch Office the fact that, so far as Matheson was concerned, he was perfectly innocent, and had been imprisoned for a crime of which he knew nothing until it had occurred. Well, after the imprisonment of this man, his friends offered to produce evidence which should prove his innocence if protection were given to those people who confessed to having been rioters and to having taken part in the riot. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, however, to whom this representation was made, replied that it would be preposterous to give an indemnity from punishment to the guilty parties, and had expressed surprise that the men who declared they were guilty did not come forward to secure the release of a man whom they alleged to be innocent, if it was really true that a case of mistaken identity had occurred. The friends of Matheson eventually managed to bring forward the man for whom Matheson had been mistaken—namely, a man named M'Leod, who had struck the blow which was supposed to have been struck by Matheson. This man had come forward and had been tried for the offence, and had been convicted, and was now a prisoner; and yet the Government, with all these facts before them, and with the sworn affidavits of 16 people—with the parties in prison also making affidavits and declaring that this man had nothing to do with the rioting, but was miles away at the time—refused to give this man, who bad already suffered six months' imprisonment, a free pardon, or any compensation for the period he had suffered in prison, and for being struck off the Royal Naval Reserve. Although the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had been unable to find that this man had belonged to the Naval Reserve, the man had shown his discharge, and had proved the fact when giving evidence before the Crofters' Commission. Sheriff 1838 Brown had seen it. Powerful and overwhelming evidence—evidence which had convinced all the jury who had tried the case as to the innocence of Matbeson—had been brought before the Secretary for Scotland, but yet he refused to take from the man the stigma which his imprisonment had imprinted upon him, and to give him a free pardon. It was true that the people of the district from which Matheson came did not think there was any stigma in his having been in prison, for they believed that the rioting which had occurred, and for which their friends had been punished, had been the only possible way in which the Crofters' Commission could be brought to them. This riot had had the effect of bringing the Commission to the district, and the result of the Clash-more riot was that the crofters were getting some addition to their holdings, for he was glad to say they were getting about 800 acres. People in that district were now getting back land which had been taken from them generations ago. They did not believe that the slightest stigma attached to Matheson, and the other men in prison would shortly go home and would be welcomed with enthusiasm and treated as heroes. He believed the Government had entrapped the poor fellow M'Leod, who was now in prison, and they wanted to entrap one or two others in the same way. But after the action he bad taken, and after the manner in which he had treated Matheson, the Secretary for Scotland might give up all hope of being able to get any more rioters to come forward and acknowledge their guilt. The Government had got ore man, and in regard to him had not kept faithfully the pledges and promises they made. They had got the man in prison under false pretences, and had demonstrated to Scotch juries that there was not very much satisfaction to be got from the present Scotch Office if mistakes were made. He (Dr. Clark) desired to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate the reason why he refused a free pardon to this man Matheson, who had evidently been convicted under a mistake, his identity being confused with that of the man M'Leod who had struck the sub-factor Gordon. M'Leod admitted striking Gordon, and had done everything that the Secretary for Scotland asked should be done in 1839 order to bring about the release of Matheson. Matheson, however, although he had been released, had not received a free pardon, nor had he been offered compensation for his wrongful imprisonment. As he had said, only two men gave evidence at the trial against Matheson. One of these men knew Matheson, but the other had not seen him before. There was a difference in height between M'Leod and Matheson, and the fact that the man who had attacked Gordon was in woman's clothes would make him appear much taller. As far as the beards of the men were concerned, they were somewhat similar, and one man was very likely to be mistaken for the other. Notwithstanding these facts, there was to be no free pardon and no compensation. Lord Lothian, by remitting one-half the sentence of Matheson, had undone the punishment so far as be could, but he had not made full recompense to the man. Why should not Matheson be reinstated in society in the position he occupied before his wrongful imprisonment, and why should he not receive compensation for the injury which had been done him?
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
said, that he should have liked to have heard the reply of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate before rising to speak upon this question, which was one that had given rise to a good deal of feeling in Scotland. The only thing he wished to say, in supplementing the observations which had fallen from his hon. Friend (Dr. Clark), was this. It was within the knowledge of the people who had interested themselves in this case that a considerable correspondence bad gone on between the Scotch Office and the relatives and friends of Matheson as to the identity of the men, and during that correspondence undoubtedly the Secretary for Scotland had taken up the position that if the man M'Leod surrendered himself, and was prepared to make a confession that he was the person who assaulted Gordon, Matheson should be liberated. If they read the letter written by Lord Lothian on this subject on the 3rd of June, they would see that his Lordship said that if any individual should give himself up to justice as being truly the person who did what the jury had held that Matheson bad done, and this could be proved to be the fact, Matheson would not be kept 1840 in prison. On the 9th of July, Lord Lothian wrote to the effect that every effort should be made to induce the man who stated himself to be the real offender to surrender himself to justice atonce, in order that his statement might be proved, and that if the statement of such men should be proved to be true, Matheson, of course, should be liberated. Well, what was asked for by Lord Lothian had taken place. The man M'Leod had surrendered himself, and was now in prison. He was convicted, on his own confession, of the assault for which Hugh Matheson was sent to gaol. Matheson having been liberated in this way, how was it that the Secretary for Scotland could say Matheson had been set free because he (Lord Lothian) believed he had received sufficient punishment? The noble Lord did not state, however, for what offence Matheson had received sufficient punishment. Lord Lothian's contention, as shown in his two letters, was that M'Leod should surrender himself for the offence for which Matheson was in prison. M'Leod had surrendered himself, and Matheson was liberated. But the Secretary for Scotland at once used words to show that Matheson was not being liberated for having been guiltless of any offence, but of his having been guilty of some offence other than assaulting Gordon, and having been sufficiently punished for it. This seemed to be a great hardship upon Matheson. The man had been imprisoned for a specific act; another man had surrendered himself as guilty of that act, and, proof having been given in the trial of his statement, he had been imprisoned. Why, then, had not Matheson received a free pardon? Hon. Members of that House were placed at a considerable disadvantage in discussing the subject. They were not in possession of the full correspondence which had taken place between the Scotch Office and those who had interested themselves on behalf of Matheson, but it certainly did appear that the man who had been induced to surrender on the word of the Secretary for Scotland should be treated as innocent.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that he had been willing to rise at once to answer the questions which had been put to him; but he had desired to hear any other observations which hon. Members might have to make. He rose now 1841 the more readily, because he thought it was evident, from the speeches of both hon. Members opposite, that they were not in possession, of the complete facts of the case regarding either the trial or the correspondence which the hon. and learned Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) had referred to. It was quite an error to suppose that the offence for which Matheson was sent to gaol was one which was committed by one person only. On the contrary, the offence for which the conviction was given was the offence of rioting, and a plurality of persons was necessarily involved. As a matter of fact, it was proved that there were three men involved in the affray in question. Matheson and another man had been tried. Matheson was convicted, and the other man acquitted. After the conviction of Matheson it was said, with more or less confidence, that Matheson was not guilty, and that he had been mistaken in the affray for a person of the name of M'Leod. That, as he (Mr. Buchanan) said, was stated with confidence to the Secretary for Scotland. And his noble Friend had taken this course. He had been supplied with a certain number of documents referred to by the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark). At a certain stage of the consideration of the case the noble Lord was informed that M'Leod was willing to give himself up, and it would appear on investigation that Matheson had been mistaken for M'Leod. But the Committee would observe this—that the guilt of M'Leod by no means involved the innocence of Matheson; and the Secretary for Scotland was satisfied that no mistake had taken place. The hon. and learned Member for West Edinburgh had referred to a letter from the Secretary for Scotland relating to this affair, and he would bear him (the Lord Advocate) out when he said that the noble Lord had stated that if M'Leod would give himself up, and if it was proved that he committed the act for which Matheson was convicted, Matheson would be liberated. That was quite right, but what the right hon. and learned Gentleman had overlooked was that it was not only necessary to make out a case of mistaken identity, but to prove that only one of the men was involved in the affray. It did not appear, however, that both men were not involved in the assault, which 1842 was committed by three men, and not by one. The question had been raised by the hon. Member for Caithness; and he (the Lord Advocate) was bound to say that that hon. Gentleman had allowed himself a breadth of colour in stating the facts which did not contribute to a judicial consideration of the merits of the case. The hon. Member said that it was sworn on behalf of Matheson that he was nine miles away from the scene of the riot when the riot occurred. So far from that being the case, the place where be was stated to have been at the time of the riot was only half-a-mile away. Then, again, the hon. Member declared that, on behalf of Matheson, 16 affidavits were tendered to the Secretary for Scotland. As a matter of fact, the affidavits which were sent up to the Secretary for Scotland were 11 in the first place, and five in the second place. The plea of alibi had been set up at the trial, the jury having disbelieved the witnesses called to prove it. Under the circumstances the Committee would see that there was a strong position for the conviction, and that strong evidence of the innocence of Matheson was necessary before the Secretary for Scotland could take the step of altogether upsetting the verdict on the ground which had been submitted to and negotiated by a jury. The statement that 16 people gave evidence of Matheson's innocence was an exaggeration and a quite unintentional misrepresentation regarding this case. This was how the matter stood. Three of the persons who had made affidavits were persons who had been sent to prison, another was the sister of the accused, another one was a person adverse to the theory of alibi, and the evidence of two others related to a comparatively collateral part of the case.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, be took in those in the four who had been tried, three of whom were convicted. Therefore, when the Committee was asked to accept a statement of this kind—namely, that the man was nine miles away when an occurrence in which he was said to have taken part took place, and that 16 people had made affidavits in his favour, he really thought 1843 that the hon. Member scarcely exhibited the caution which the Committee should require before consenting to pass a Vote of Censure on the Government, for their exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy of the Crown. He would go a little further. The tradition as to the exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy was—and he should no doubt be borne out in saying this by the right hon. Gentleman opposite—that the minister who exercised it did not profess to discuss the whole grounds and materials upon which he offered advice to the Crown. That, he believed, was the well-established precedent of the Ministry who were responsible for the exercise of the Prerogative of the Crown. He was within his right in pointing out the facts proved at the trial, and beyond and behind that he would state on his responsibility that the Secretary for Scotland satisfied himself that this was not a case in which there had been a miscarriage of justice. The evidence at the trial showed that the man Matheson had appeared on the scene at about 3 o'clock, but the evidence served up again for the consideration of the Secretary for Scotland went to show that from 12 o'clock until 3 Matheson was in the house of a certain Hector Mackenzie. Seeing that the house was only half-a-mile from the scene of the rioting, it was very possible that a slight discrepancy in the matter might have crept in, and that Matheson might easily have been present at the riot. An attempt to sustain the alibi had been made, by showing that Matheson had gone to another house, and had remained there from 3 to 4 o'clock, but that attempt had failed. There was no reason whatever to suppose there had been an error of identity; and he said this for this reason—that, according to the statement of his friends, Matheson was five inches taller than the man for whom he was mistaken. He assured the Committee that his noble Friend the Secretary for Scotland gave this case most anxious consideration, and that at the request of the friends of Matheson he delayed his decision upon it. He had fully considered the representations made on behalf of Matheson, but, acting on his responsibility, he had refused Her Majesty's pardon.
§ MR. ASHER (Elgin, &c.)
said, he rose with some regret to take part in 1844 the discussion, because he knew that the administration of the Criminal Law in Scotland was always conducted in a manner so fair to accused persons and to prisoners that it was with great hesitation that one could arrive at the conclusion that, even on one occasion, there had been a deviation from that uniform system. But, on the other hand, he was bound to say that the circumstances of the present case appeared to him to call for hostile criticism with regard to the course which had been pursued. He agreed with his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate that the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy was a duty of an extremely delicate character, and it was one the discharge of which must very largely rest upon the responsibility of the Minister to whom that duty for the time was attached. But this case appeared to him to stand distinct from most cases in which the Prerogative was either exercised, or in which the exercise of the Prerogative was demanded, beause to a very large extent the public knew the circumstances calling for the exercise of the Prerogative. In this case a man named Matheson was convicted of having taken part in a riot on a certain occasion at Clashmore, and he was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment. Since the sentence was passed a person of the name of M'Leod had come forward, and volunteered the confession that he was the person who took part in the riot, and that Matheson was not there at all, and upon that confession the Crown put him on his trial for taking part in the riot. He admitted his guilt, and received a sentence of six months' imprisonment, which he was now undergoing—[An hon. MEMBER: Three months.]—three months' imprisonment, which he was now undergoing. Following upon the confession, trial, and sentence of M'Leod, the Secretary for Scotland released Matheson.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that that was quite an inaccurate statement. It was not upon the confession that his noble Friend the Secretary for Scotland remitted the remaining part of Matheson's sentence, but because he thought, considering the excellent effect the confession had had upon the state of the Highlands, the period of imprisonment already undergone might suffice.
§ MR. ASHER
said, if that was so, it was unfortunate that undoubtedly correspondence took place between the Secretary for Scotland and certain persons representing Matheson, which related to the question of M'Leod's confession, and the effect of the confession upon the detention of Matheson. The facts were beyond all question; that Matheson was convicted; that M'Leod afterwards came forward and said that he was the guilty man, and that Matheson was not at the riot; that M'Leod was tried upon his confession, convicted and sentenced, and that Matheson was then released.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, he begged to inform his hon. and learned Friend that the release of Matheson took place before the trial of M'Leod.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
Certainly; his noble Friend released Matheson on the ground that the period of punishment already undergone would suffice, looking to the circumstances, and the state of the country.
§ MR. ASHER
said, it was extremely unfortunate that the confession of M'Leod should have been followed by the release of Matheson in such a way as to produce an impression in the public mind, shared by those who were accustomed to consider these matters, that there was an undoubted connection between the two, if that was not the case. But the matter went a little deeper than that. It was quite true that Matheson was tried for taking part in a crime which was usually participated in by a great number of people; but was there any doubt at all that M'Leod was convicted of having been in the place where it was believed Matheson was, and that there was a case of mistaken identity as between Matheson and M'Leod? His right hon. and learned Friend had said that the jury had fully weighed the evidence of the person who swore that the man he saw in the field, disguised as a woman, was Matheson. But a person now came forward and said he 1846 was the man, and that Matheson was not there at all. Under the circumstances, it appeared to him (Mr. Asher) that the Secretary for Scotland would have been acting more in the interests of the administration of justice in Scotland if he had accompanied the release of Matheson with a pardon. There could be no doubt that the impression prevailed in the public mind that M'Leod was now undergoing punishment for the offence of which Matheson was convicted, and he could not imagine anything more detrimental to the interests of justice than that it should be supposed that, under these circumstances, a pardon was withheld from the person who was believed to have been improperly convicted. Matheson's release immediately after M'Leod's confession justified the public in taking that view. Passing away from the question of the desirability of granting a free pardon to Matheson, he could not agree with what had been said by the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), by way of justification for the riot in which Matheson was convicted of taking a part. He certainly did not approve of any such method of vindicating their rights on the part of the Highland people of Scotland. But, on the other hand, he thought it was most important, with regard to the administration of the law, which ought to be both temperate and firm, that there should not be a shadow of ground given to the people for supposing that a free pardon would be withheld from a person who had been improperly convicted. In short, the people ought to be thoroughly satisfied that those who had charge of the administration of the law in Scotland were anxious to put any person improperly convicted precisely in the same position as if he had never been convicted at all.
§ MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Inverness-shire)
said, he listened very carefully to the speech of the Lord Advocate, and he was sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had left the impression upon his mind that he had entirely failed to answer the points raised by his hon. Friend (Dr. Clark). The hon. and learned Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) had referred to certain correspondence which had taken place between the Secretary for Scotland and certain persons interested in the case of 1847 Matheson. In that correspondence it was distinctly laid down by the authorities that if the real criminal came forward Matheson would be released. It was perfectly clear, therefore, that there was a bargain between the Secretary for Scotland and the friends of Hugh Matheson. M'Leod said that he was the wrong-doer, and surrendered himself to justice. How had he surrendered himself? The Lord Advocate had chosen to deal with this matter as if there were several persons guilty of rioting, and that several persons might be convicted of rioting. Quite true; but that was altogether opposed to the point at issue. M'Leod surrendered himself, not as one of those engaged in the riot, but as a person in lieu of the person who had been erroneously convicted. That seemed, therefore, to make it perfectly clear that the moment M'Leod surrendered himself, or the moment he was convicted for the offence, Matheson should have received a free pardon. There was another important feature about the case, and it was that no evidence had been brought forward against M'Leod, who had simply been convicted on his own confession. Would the Lord Advocate say what was the declaration of the man M'Leod when he was first brought up? Was there or was there not in that declaration a statement that he, M'Leod, was the person who committed the assault on the man Gordon, and that Matheson was not there at all? Those were circumstances which made him hope that his hon. Friend the Member for Caithness would go to a Division.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
said, that the Lord Advocate had very truly and very properly said that a jury was the best judge of facts. The right hon. and learned Gentleman added that a jury, with the facts before them, had found Hugh Matheson guilty. The Lord Advocate, however, had altogether suppressed the fact that 13 of the same jury, having learned of M'Leod's surrender, had altogether changed their opinion, and, in consequence of the new piece of evidence, signed a Memorial to the Secretary for Scotland that a pardon be granted to Hugh Matheson, and declaring that had they had M'Leod's confession before them at the trial they never would have convicted Matheson. What was 1848 the evidence upon which Matheson was convicted? There were three Crown witnesses examined; one was a sub-factor, Mr. Gordon, who swore to Hugh Matheson's identity; the second was a Mr. Kerr, who said he had never seen Matheson before, but that he saw the face of the man whose head was wrapped up in shawls; and the third said he did not see Matheson. The evidence of the second witness, who certainly saw the man, was very weak indeed. Last February, in the course of some remarks he (Dr. Cameron) addressed to the House, he read a letter from two clergymen saying that it was the opinion of the people of the district that Hugh Matheson had been wrongfully convicted. The Lord Advocate would not admit that there was anything in the statement made by the inhabitants of the district. He (Dr. Cameron) wrote to the clergymen, asking them to get sworn depositions, and they did get a number of such depositions, which were handed to the Secretary for Scotland. He (Dr. Cameron) complained, in the first place, of the delay that occurred in the investigation of these declarations. The receipt of the declarations was acknowledged on the 15th of March, and two or three weeks afterwards he got a letter from a clergyman of the district, stating that a Government official had visited Clashmore on the 27th, and had interrogated five men who were said to have been blackened and to have taken part in the row. He said he believed that all these men told the official that, to the best of their belief and knowledge, Matheson was innocent. He (Dr. Cameron) strongly denounced the course pursued by the criminal authorities in this matter. It was their business to do justice to Matheson—if he were guilty to punish him, if he were innocent to pardon him. Their duty was to administer justice, and not to wreak vengeance upon the wrong man. Throughout the whole proceedings, however, they appear to have made the liberation of Matheson dependent upon some other man giving himself up. From the very beginning M'Leod was willing to give himself up, and he (Dr. Cameron) understood that some proposition was made to the Lord Advocate on the subject. On the 17th of March, however, the Crown Agent wrote, stating that the Lord Advocate could not agree to 1849 take M'Leod in place of Matheson; but, doubtless, if the real person admitted his guilt and was convicted, he would not receive a more severe sentence than he would have if he had been the man originally convicted. It was also added in the letter that if the Scottish Secretary was convinced of the mistaken identity of Matheson, he would be willing to advise the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. M'Leod gave himself up, and his statement was that he had committed the crime for which Matheson had been imprisoned, and that Matheson was not there. The Lord Advocate had spoken of the declarations which had been made. There were, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman had said, 11 statutory declarations sent in in all. Among them were two from Matheson's fellow-prisoners, women who had been convicted for the same offence. They declared that they knew the men who had been engaged in the riot, and that Matheson was not one of them. That, now, was supported by the declaration of M'Leod; then, again, Angus M'Leod, a fisherman, declared that on the afternoon of the day of the riot he was thatching a house, and that he saw the rioting party return, and that he saw Hugh Matheson come from William Matheson's in another direction about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Assuming the evidence of Angus M'Leod to be correct, the time between 3 and 4 o'clock was not entirely accounted for; but the ex-Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) said at the trial that Matheson's entrance on the road was fixed at about half-past 3 o'clock; Matheson, therefore, had only half-an-hour in which to disguise himself in women's clothes, blacken his face, and go round by a circuitous route. He asked hon. Members to remember this—and it was a fact which had not been mentioned in the House before—that Hugh was anything but a favourite in the district. He had had shown to him again and again letters from leading members of the local Land League, declaring that Matheson never took any part with them; that they did not care about his imprisonment, and that his being in prison was a much better service to their cause than his liberation could possibly be. But now the Lord Advocate said that Matheson's liberation had nothing to do with M'Leod's confession; and that 1850 Lord Lothian liberated Matheson simply becase he thought, owing to the effect his imprisonment had had in the Highlands, his liberation might safely be permitted. In May last he (Dr. Cameron) and half-a-dozen other Scotch Members went on a deputation to Lord Lothian on the subject, and the noble Lord then told them that he could not see his way to act on the declarations then laid before him. He said he had submitted them to the Judge, but, of course, could not say what had transpired. He added, however, that he intended to treat the case of the women entirely different from that of the men, and that that was why he had written his letter. The right hon. Gentleman treated the statement of the prisoners as of no account; but what could be more explicit and deserving of credit than the declarations of the two females who were undergoing punishment? They had, at any rate, no interest in the matter, and yet from first to last, as he was told, they declared that they knew the men who had taken part in the riot, and that Matheson was not amongst them. Now, M'Leod made the same declaration, and in the face of that fact there was Lord Lothian's own letter, and it appeared to him (Dr. Cameron), from these circumstances, that it was a breach of faith to withhold the pardon from Matheson. The fact appeared to be overlooked that Matheson at present was stigmatized as a criminal. Probably that would not affect the man's social status at Clashmore, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate would hardly say that it made no difference whether a man was regarded as a criminal or not. What he (Dr. Cameron) and his Friends desired was that if the man was innocent, as he believed him to be, and as the evidence overwhelmingly showed him to be, and had convinced even the jury who tried him, he should be freed from the stigma of criminality. A case had occurred in England only the other day on all-fours with the case of Matheson. Two men had been convicted of burglary, and imprisoned, but 10 years afterwards a man came forward and swore that he and another were the guilty parties, and, proof of the allegation having been tendered, the men who were in gaol were liberated, a free pardon was given to them, and they were handsomely compensated for their sufferings. In the 1851 ease of Matheson 13 of the jury who tried him declared, when the new evidence was brought before them, that if they had heard that evidence at the time of the trial they would have found Matheson not guilty, and that, in his (Dr. Cameron's) opinion, constituted one of the best arguments in favour of conferring a free pardon upon the man. It was impossible to appeal to the Judge who tried the case, as he was now dead. If, however, he had been alive, and on hearing the new evidence had declared that if those statements had been forthcoming at the trial Matheson would not have been convicted, the Secretary for Scotland would, no doubt, immediately grant a free pardon. The Judge, however, being dead, the next highest authority connected with the trial—namely, the jury—had expressed themselves to that effect, and surely his Lordship should in like manner carry out their views. The decision the Government had arrived at in the matter seemed a very unsatisfactory one, and not at all in accordance with the promise made by Lord Lothian in his letter. There had been only one amongst 11 witnesses whose statement did not accord with those of the rest. The evidence of the other 10 tallied perfectly, and that, taken with the evidence of Matheson's fellow prisoners, would seem perfectly conclusive. M'Leod had, no doubt, come forward under the influence of the ministers of the district and through the extraordinary conscientiousness and God-fearing disposition of the people of the district. He had come forward to make this act of reparation for the sake of a man whom he in all probability regarded as a sneak and a coward, and who was so regarded by the majority of the people of Clashmore. When he (Dr. Cameron) spoke about the influence of the ministers and the conscientious and God-fearing disposition of the people of the district he spoke of a fact which was known to nearly all the Scotch Members in the House. These men had extraordinarily bigoted ideas on many points of religion. They were extraordinarily attached to what they considered to be the true tenets of religion, and their ideas on the Land Question, and any action that those ideas might prompt, were altogether removed from the ordinary motives that guided criminals. No one would ever dream of treating these 1852 people as ordinary criminals, or treating their word as they would treat the word of a burglar or pickpocket. Now, a remarkably long delay had taken place in investigating this matter. The Secretary for Scotland had failed in doing his duty when he neglected to have the evidence, which was placed before him on the 15th of March, examined into immediately. So long as he could shield himself behind the opinion of the Judge he was unassailable, but now that the Judge was dead he would have occupied a much stronger position if he had allowed himself to be guided by the opinion of the jury who originally tried Matheson.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, it seemed to him that the facts of this case were very simple. A bargain seemed to have been entered into between the Secretary for Scotland and Hugh Matheson's relations, to the effect that if the man M'Leod, for whom Matheson appeared to have been mistaken, surrendered himself, and proved that a mistake had taken place, Matheson would be immediately liberated. The result of that bargain was that M'Leod was induced to come forward. There could be no question about that. But for the circumstances of that bargain M'Leod never would have come forward, and would not have been tried and put in prison. According to Scotch law a man could be proved guilty on his own confession, or the Crown could itself prove a case against such a man in the usual way. If the Crown had any doubt as to there being collusion between M'Leod and the relatives of Matheson, they would have been quite within their right in refusing to accept the plea and in sending the man for trial in the usual way. But what did the Crown do? The Crown accepted the plea that M'Leod was guilty of the offence for which Matheson was imprisoned, and in accepting that confession he (Mr. Caldwell) maintained that the Government were bound to accept it with all its surrounding circumstances. They could not accept one part of the conditions and reject another part. He submitted that Matheson, having in effect been proved innocent, was entitled to a free pardon, and to compensation for his imprisonment. The matter seemed to him to lie in a nutshell. If the Crown could prove that 1853 M'Leod took part in the riot, but that Matheson was there as well, they would have good ground for their attitude, but they could prove no such thing, the confession of M'Leod being that he had committed the offence, and that Matheson was not present on the occasion. No doubt the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, with his wonderful command of legal phraseology, could back out of anything, even a prisoner's confession; but, at any rate, the Committee, in view of the fact that M'Leod had confessed himself guilty, would hardly believe that he had done so to clear a man as guilty as himself. Regard must be had to the object of M'Leod in coming forward. He certainly thought that the clemency of the Crown in this case ought to be extended to Matheson.
§ MR. ANGUS SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)
said, he took as much interest in this subject as any other Member in the House, as the man Matheson happened to be a constituent of his. He knew the man intimately, and made bold to say that he no more belonged to the criminal class than he (Mr. Angus Sutherland) himself, or than the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate did. That this was no ordinary case was sufficiently proved by the fact that it had been brought before the House, and that so many Scotch Members had taken an interest in it, and he maintained that, primâ facie, there was ample evidence that the man Matheson was a subject peculiarly fitted for the exercise of the Royal clemency. At any rate, he trusted that the Lord Advocate would give him (Mr. Angus Sutherland) credit for being more anxious to maintain that respect which was due to the law than to further the case of Matheson. Indeed, he himself had much greater interest in the maintenance of law and order in the Highlands than the Government could have. Under these circumstances, and with the intimate knowledge he had of the people of Clashmore and the facts connected with Matheson's imprisonment, he declared that the interests of law and order would be much better served by the extension of the Prerogative of Mercy to Matheson and the grant of a free pardon than by the refusal of the Government to take that course. If Matheson was guilty of the crime of which he was 1854 convicted, he ought to have been required to serve the full term of his sentence; if innocent, he ought to receive a free pardon. Now, he desired to refer to some statements made by the Lord Advocate himself. To some it would appear, from the declarations they had heard, that a very serious riot had taken place at Clashmore, from the frequency with which the word riot had been used. As a matter of fact, however, as counsel in the case had stated, the rioters consisted of nine, three stirks, and three of Her Majesty's lieges, and the disorder consisted mainly in the throwing of a few handfuls of mud. The circumstances which led to the disorder were of such a nature that, if anything could justify any interference on the part of the people, they did. As the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) had pointed out, the point in dispute had been conceded by a tribunal appointed by the House—namely, the Crofters' Commission. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate had made some remarks as to the means of identification of the rioters; but who were the parties who identified them? Why, the three persons who had made the complaint—or rather two of these persons—and the prisoners were brought into Dingwall and shown to these persons in order that they might be identified. He did not know whether that was in accordance with law, but, at any rate, it did not appear to be in accordance with common sense and justice. Of these witnesses, one said that he had never seen Matheson before, and the other declared that Matheson was so disguised that he did not know him. Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there had not been 16 depositions, but only 11 and 5—they did not wish to make much of that. The right hon. and learned Gentleman bad made a great deal of the statement of the hon. Member for Caithness that Matheson was nine miles away from the scene of the riot when it occurred, when, according to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it was, as a matter of fact, only claimed for Matheson that he was half-a-mile away. No doubt the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted accurately what was said in the Court, but he (Mr. Angus Sutherland) knew the district, and could assure the Committee that the house Matheson was 1855 said to have been in at the time of the riot was a mile away from the scene of disorder. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, knowing the weakness of his own case, and feeling it, had dwelt upon these two slips of the hon. Member for Caithness at some length. He (Mr. Angus Sutherland) did not blame the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but, at the same time, he thought it would have been better for the right hon. Gentleman to have confined himself to stating the grounds upon which the Secretary for Scotland had failed to see that there was a case for the exercise of the Royal clemency. If the Secretary for Scotland was a Court of Appeal, they ought to know on what grounds it was stated that there was no reason to suppose that there had been a miscarriage of justice in this case. The Lord Advocate had commented upon the fact that the materials presented to the Secretary for Scotland on the case were faulty; but he (Mr. Angus Sutherland) did not know on what ground it was alleged that these materials were faulty. They might have not been in proper form, but if the facts narrated in them were such as had really transpired, he did not think much formality should be regarded in the matter. It must be remembered that the Secretary for Scotland had vested in him all the powers which hitherto were vested in the Home Secretary, and the refusal to grant the Royal clemency to Matheson seemed to be the first fruits of the change. These could hardly be regarded as very satisfactory fruits. Everyone concerned knew that Matheson was innocent, and the action of the Government in allowing him to leave gaol after serving half the term for which he was sentenced showed that they also believed him to be unjustly convicted. It was no light thing for an innocent man to be sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, and to serve six months of the term, nor was it a light thing for him to leave gaol with the stigma of imprisonment upon him. This man's health had been ruined; he had been dismissed from Her Majesty's Service, and whatever might have been the man's character in the district to which he belonged, it was desirable that his character should be, as far as possible, vindicated; and it was still more desirable that the character of the law should be vindicated. This case 1856 was an ample illustration of the way in which the forms of the law had been strained in order to get convictions. Counsel at the trial had declared their opinion of what was taking place in emphatic terms. One learned gentleman said he had never heard witnesses so abused and bullied before. One of the witnesses had been reluctant to give hearsay evidence, though the Judge said he was bound to do it, and it said a great deal for the man that rather than give such evidence by force he was prepared to submit to any penalty that the law might impose. A deliberate attempt was made over and over again to use the Court for the purposes of intimidation. Such was the feeling entertained by the people who were present at the trial at the way in which the case was conducted, that the Judge had ultimately to order the Court to be cleared—a thing unexampled in the whole of his experience in regard to trials in Scotland. It could not be urged on the part of the Secretary for Scotland that he had not time to inquire into these facts. The noble Lord had had ample time, as the subject was one which had occupied the minds of the people of Scotland for a long period, and if it could exercise any influence on the mind of the Lord Advocate, he (Mr. Angus Sutherland) would point out that this affair had not been without direct effect upon Scotch elections. It had had a great effect upon the last election in Edinburgh, and a very material effect upon the election for the Ayr Burghs. It was a great misfortune, so far as law and order in the Highlands of Scotland was concerned, that the Secretary for Scotland had refused to do justice to this man Matheson, from his desire to screen certain officials, whose zeal had outrun their discretion, and who had been anxious to obtain convictions against the Clashmore rioters at any cost. He thought the Secretary for Scotland would be best consulting the dignity of the law, even at that late hour, by reconsidering his decision, and granting a free pardon and compensation to Hugh Matheson for all he had suffered.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he admitted that the Lord Advocate had found two in-accuracies in his statement. He had made a mistake by reading the number 9 for 1, and apparently he had made 1857 some mistake in implying that there had been depositions from 16 different people. The fact was that there were 11 depositions, and then five more, but how many of the five came from the people who had signed depositions before, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not stated.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, a batch of five declarations were first received, and then a batch of 11, three of the latter coming from persons who had sent in the five. Four declarations were from persons themselves incriminated, and one was from Matheson's sister.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that in order to verify the statement of the Lord Advocate the correspondence between the Marquess of Lothian and the friends of Matheson should be laid upon the Table. It was necessary that they should know whether or not the Lord Advocate had made statements utterly the reverse of the truth. [Cries of "Order!"] He did not insinuate, of course, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman knew that the statements he made were untrue. He would remind the Committee that if Matheson was not innocent of the assault upon the sub-factor Gordon three individuals had committed perjury, the only evidence against him being that of a man who said he did not know him, and another man who knew him, but said his face was blacked, that he had one shawl round his head and another muffled round his face. In all 13 persons must have lied to the Secretary for Scotland if Matheson was guilty of the assault upon Gordon. Gordon himself could not swear that his assailant was Matheson, but only said he thought it was. On these facts the Government refused to do justice to Matheson. He knew what they wanted. They wanted to get another man into gaol, but they would not get that, because the people knew now what the intention of the Government was. He warned the Government that they were teaching the Scottish crofters a bad lesson. They were showing them that in order to obtain their rights they must launch into rioting. If that was the kind of education the Government wished to give the Highland people they would get plenty of riots. He trusted, however, that the Scotch Office would be wiser in future than they had been in the past, and 1858 would try to remedy the grievances of these people instead of compelling them to break the law in order to get redress. Under the circumstances, as he could not get a satisfactory answer from the Lord Advocate, he would move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £10.
§ Motion made, and, Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £10, part of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, that the Lord Advocate in the earlier part of his speech had especially appealed to him with reference to the practice in England with regard to the exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, and the point the right hon. and learned Gentleman had raised had been perfectly right. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was perfectly justified in laying down the proposition that the exercise of the Queen's Prerogative should always and only take place on a clear case—in a case where either the Home Secretary in England, or the Secretary for Scotland, or the Viceroy of Ireland were entirely satisfied that it was a proper one for the exercise of the greatest power which anyone of these individuals possessed under the present law. After the appeal the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made to him, he (Mr. Childers) believed it to be his duty to listen to what was said in the course of the debate, and to obtain, so far as he was able to do so, the Papers bearing upon the subject—not Papers laid upon the Table of the House, but such Papers as were procurable by private Members. He had perused these Papers, and given the best attention he could to remarks on the subject of the right hon. and learned Gentleman and all the hon. Members on either side of the House. He was bound to confess that he was very much struck with the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman with regard to dates in this case, and especially as to their non-connection in Lord Lothian's mind between the representations made to him and M'Leod's confession, and, on the other hand, Matheson's release. But it was clear that on the 9th July Lord Lothian said that the Government would make every possible effort to induce the real offender to surrender himself, and that 1859 should his statement prove to be true Matheson's case would he reconsidered. It was to be presumed, therefore, that there must have been a connection between the possible liberation of Matheson and the surrender of a person admitting himself to be guilty. On the 26th July a further communication was made by Lord Lothian, to the effect that a large proportion of the jury strongly thought Matheson should be released. The date of Matheson's release was the 7th of August. Now considering these dates, to all appearance there was a clear connection in Lord Lothian's mind between M'Leod's confession and Matheson's release. Under these circumstances it seemed to him (Mr. Childers) that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not been properly in formed, and that the deliberate intention of Lord Lothian, having received the confession of M'Leod and the strong appeal of the jury and of other persons who had taken part in the case was to do what he had said two or three weeks before he should be prepared to do. On that ground, and not doubting that the Lord Advocate had stated what he believed to be the case, he (Mr. Childers) could not think that the public would be satisfied with matters as they now stood, but that there would be a strong impression that a failure of justice had occurred, and that as it was practically admitted that the real offender had surrendered, the other ought not to remain under a stigma, but ought to be granted a free pardon.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that the right hon. Gentleman's statement certainly deserved the utmost respect, and for that reason only he (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) rose to say one word more. He still believed in the accuracy of the statement he had made. Lord Lothian had been informed that M'Leod proposed to give himself up, and he said that if M'Leod did so, and if it were proved that there had been a mistake, Matheson would be liberated. When, however, M'Leod gave himself up, it turned out, upon investigation, that Matheson had not been mistaken for him, and although M'Leod was guilty it did not follow that Matheson was innocent. The right hon. Gentleman had, in his last sentence, begged the question at issue, which was—whether the guilt of one man implied the innocence 1860 of the other. He (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) had pointed out over and over again, though he was afraid it had escaped the attention of the right hon. Gentleman that all the facts of the case completely admitted of both men being guilty. There was nothing said in Lord Lothian's letters which in the least degree implied that the mere fact of M'Leod's surrender would involve Matheson's release. What was stated was that if it were shown on M'Leod's giving himself up that he was the man for whom Matheson had been mistaken, Matheson would be released. He observed that the right hon. Gentleman. (Mr. Childers) had not said a word as to the merits of the case.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
asked whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate would be able to lay upon the Table of the House the correspondence which had taken place on this subject between the Secretary for Scotland and the friends of Hugh Matheson?
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that it would be contrary to all the rules regulating these delicate matters of the exercise of the Prerogative of the Crown to lay the Correspondence upon the Table.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
Is it the right hon. and learned Gentleman's contention that Matheson was guilty?
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, he had stated over and over again that Matheson was liberated because it was thought that he had been punished sufficiently by undergoing nine months' imprisonment out of 12.
§ MR. HUNTER
said, that the circumstances of this case made him still further regret that the Secretary for Scotland was not in this House. It was very awkward to have this discussion taking place with the Lord Advocate acting as the advocate of an authority who was in "another place." The fact of Matheson being released at the end of three fourths of his imprisonment showed that the Government did not believe him guilty, and as they did not believe him guilty they ought to give him a free pardon. It was impossible to entertain any doubt of the fact 1861 that the Government had entered into a bargain with M'Leod to release Matheson on his (M'Leod's) confessing himself guilty of the offence.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he understood the position of the Crown to be that they wanted to punish two more people besides Matheson, there having been three men on the field on the occasion of the riot. If Matheson was innocent they wanted another guilty one, but he (Dr. Clark) could assure the Government that there would be no more traffic in this direction. M'Leod had come to Edinburgh from Sutherland, about 300 miles, to give himself up, but the authorities had refused to take him, so that he had had to go back home again.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
thought this was a case in which the Secretary for Scotland had been misled by his advisers. He was not going to enter into the merits of the case, but from the letters which had been quoted to the House it seemed to him that there had been a clear and honourable understanding that if M'Leod came forward and confessed himself guilty and was convicted, the other man would be liberated. Possibly, putting Lord Lothian's letters into the hands of a lawyer, it might be held that technically his Lordship was not bound to liberate Matheson unless some other condition which did not appear on the face of the case were fulfilled. It appeared to him (Mr. J. W. Barclay), however, that the honourable understanding in Lord Lothian's letter was that if M'Leod came forward and was convicted, his statement being found to be true, Matheson would be liberated. It was also clear that following that liberation a free pardon should be given. With all desire to do justice to Lord Lothian, he thought that his Lordship, in this matter, had fallen short of the fulfilment of an honourable understanding and had not been as good as his word.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
Hon. Gentlemen will agree that it is a very difficult thing to discuss these cases of the Prerogative of Mercy in this House, and that this is scarcely the tribunal to which an appeal should be made. If on the Vote for the Secretary for Scotland every case in which an application has been made for the exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy, 1862 and every case where that Prerogative has not been exercised, is discussed, it will be impossible to see how we can come to a conclusion upon the Vote. Looking at the amount of interest attaching to some of the Scotch Votes still remaining to be passed, and at the length of time which has been devoted to the discussion of the present Vote, I feel bound to say that the time is come when I think the Committee ought to come to a conclusion upon the whole matter.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
said, he hoped the fact of an Irish Member availing himself of one of the privileges of the Union by intervening for a short time in this debate would not be considered an intrusion. He was as much a Home Ruler for other parts of the United Kingdom as for Ireland, and he should not interfere at all in this discussion if, in the first place, he had not some acquaintance with Scotland, and, in the next place, if he had not received a letter giving him some particulars with regard to this case and asking him to say a few words upon it. Even in the annals of Ireland he was not acquainted with a grosser case of miscarriage of justice than that which had occurred in this case of Hugh Matheson. It appeared that at the trial of Matheson three witnesses were examined for the prosecution. One of the three swore that he could not say that Matheson was in the riot at all. One of the other two witnesses, the sub-factor, swore that Matheson had knocked him down, but, in cross-examination, he said that although he believed it was Matheson who knocked him down he could not swear to it. The third witness positively identified Matheson as having been one of the rioters, but this witness had never seen Matheson before, and never saw him again until 10 days after the time on which he declared he had seen him attacking the man Gordon. Moreover, this witness, who was unacquainted with Matheson, said that the man he saw was dressed in woman's clothes and was otherwise disguised. He (Mr. Clancy) contended that upon such testimony as this they should not even hang a dog. For the Lord Advocate to cast aside, in the light way he did, the evidence of 13 independent witnesses in proof of an alibi was to cast an insult upon the whole of Scotland which he was surprised the Scotch Members had not resented 1863 much more strongly than they had done. The Lord Advocate had forgotten to state that two of the persons concerned were accepted as witnesses for the Crown, and that the Procurator Fiscal had endeavoured to get two of the women to turn Crown witnesses, and, having done this, the Lord Advocate, with the audacity of an Irish Attorney General, came down to the House and threw ridicule upon the case made out on behalf of Matheson. Whilst listening to the debate, he (Mr. Clancy) was bound to say that he almost thought he was listening to an Irish discussion. There was strong evidence on one side and special pleading on the other, with the Scotch Secretary holding out against the majority of the Scotch Members, just as an Irish Chief Secretary was in the habit of holding out against the majority of the Irish Members; and there was the circumstance that, finally, the individual charged with the conduct of Scotch Business in this House wound up with a deliberate insult to the whole people of Scotland. He gathered that the real objection to doing justice in this matter was to avoid throwing a slur upon the packed jury which convicted Matheson. ["Oh, oh!"] A Unionist below him said there was no packed jury in Scotland, but he was afraid that this hon. Member was not an impartial witness. From what he had read, the fact was that Judge Craighill, who tried Matheson, bullied the jury into their verdict.
Order, order! As I have already pointed out, such language cannot be applied in this House to one of Her Majesty's Judges.
§ MR. CLANCY
said, he had not the slightest hesitation in withdrawing the words if they were out of Order, but he thought that he would be at liberty to repeat what he had read in a Scotch newspaper. He thought that in this case right was on the side of the accused, and that it was, whether it was in Scotland or Ireland or England, that 20 guilty men should escape rather than that one innocent man should be punished. It would be inflicting a lasting injury upon the administration of justice and weakening respect for the law if an innocent man were punished and the impression were conveyed that the administration of justice was tainted.
§ Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 127; Noes 68: Majority 59.—(Div. List, No. 338.)
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 78; Noes 134: Majority 56.—(Div. List, No. 339.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed, "That the Original Question be now put."
said, the Amendment which had been moved applied to item A, in which there was very little else than the salary of the Secretary of State; but it was possible some debate might arise on the other matter contained in the Sub-Head, and he would, therefore, not put the motion.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he desired to have some information with regard to the Supplementary Vote for £500, the greater part of which appeared to be for the purpose of providing for an increase of staff during the illness of the Assistant Under Secretary. He found that the staff of the Secretary of State consisted of Secretary, Under Secretary, and Assistant Under Secretary. There seemed to be very few clerks—indeed, a somewhat inefficient staff—and that the higher officials of the Department were engaged at salaries of £1,500 and £1,000 a-year in doing clerk's work. He should have thought that during the illness of the Under Secretary there would have been some increase of the ordinary staff, and that it would not be necessary to provide, at the public expense, a substitute for him.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, that a Departmental Inquiry with regard to the Scotch Office had taken place, and it showed that for the work which ought to be done in the Scotch Office some addition to the staff was necessary. This had been made in the case of the lower division clerks. But in addition to that the Treasury had for six months sanctioned the lending of a clerk by the Home Office to the Scotch Office, and 1865 the sum in question was necessary to meet the payment that would have to be made in consequence. The arrangement was a temporary one, and extended to the end of December, and in the meantime an endeavour would be made to meet the necessities of the Scotch Office in the best and most economical manner.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
asked if they were to understand that, an addition having been made to the staff, there was no increase of pay? It was most undesirable that there should be increase of pay provided by Supplementary Estimate.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that no portion of the Supplementary Estimate was for increase of pay to the existing staff.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said, he wished to call attention to the curious anomaly in the rate of pay of clerks in the Scotch Office. The assistant secretaries began with a salary of £220, which incresed by £20 per annum up to £600. It seemed an extraordinary thing that these officials should receive as a maximum three times their original salary. Then the salaries of the lower division clerks began at £150 and increased by £15 a-year to £250; so that the older they got the more pay they received. He contended that the difference between the maximum and minimum pay was utterly disproportionate, and that in any re-arrangement of the Office which might take place, the question of salaries should be re-considered. He thought that a man who received £200 a-year at first should not receive more than a maximum salary of £300, and, if that were done, the staff might be increased without adding to the expense. There was no doubt that the staff was far too small for the amount of work that had to be done.
§ MR. THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
asked, if the sum on the Estimate was paid in addition to the emolument which the clerk lent to the Scotch Office received from the Home Office.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the clerk referred to did not get double pay. There were other clerks in the Home Office to take the position of this particular clerk, who had been selected as especially fife for the work, and had, he believed, given great satisfaction.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, he would point out to the hon. Gentleman the Member for the St. Rollox Division 1866 of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell) that the same system with regard to salaries prevailed at the Home Office, Foreign Office, and in other Departments as that which was in operation in the Scotch Office. There were many instances of commencing salaries of £200 ending with a maximum of £600.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £2,376, 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 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer in Exchequer, Scotland, of certain Officers in Scotland, and other Charges formerly on the Hereditary Revenue.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, in the present state of business he did not wish unnecessarily to take up time, but he objected to retaining on the Votes amounts for the payment of Heralds, Lyon King-at-Arms, Pursuivants, Historiographer, and other useless personages, and he should therefore move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £900, which represented their salaries.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,476, be granted for the said Service."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ MR. HUNTER
said, he could not imagine any subject that would be more gratifying to the people of Scotland than to know that Section 37 of the 13th of Victoria was to be repealed. He was not altogether in favour of striking out all the items named by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, but if the Committee went to a Division he should vote against them. He trusted, however, that the Government would give an assurance that the question of Lyon King-at-Arms would be considered, and then he thought that the Committee would be spared the necessity of taking up time by dividing against the Vote.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (A LORD of the TREASURY) (Wigton)
said, the Historiographer was constantly at work. He admitted that the office was archaic, but it offered one of those rewards which from time to time had been given by all civilized Governments in 1867 recognition of literary merit, and it was a reward to which men having that qualification might legitimately aspire. The question raised by the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) was an extremely complicated one, and he had more than once, with limited success, endeavoured to explain it in Committee. But he might point out that against the charge which appeared on the Vote for the Lyon King-at-Arms there had to be set the fees paid into the Exchequer for stamps on patents of creation of orders of knighthood, over which the Lyon King-at-Arms—one of the most ancient officers in Scotland—still presided. Whether it was desirable that the office should be maintained was, of course, a matter for the judgment of the House. It could not, at all events, be said that it cost the public anything; and if the hon. Gentleman would consult with him he would show that, so far from that being the case, there was a considerable gain.
§ MR. HUNTER
said, he did not consider the answer of the hon. Baronet satisfactory, because he could not admit that the office of Lyon King-at-Arms cost nothing. If fees had to be paid by gentlemen who obtained patents of knighthood, there was no reason why they should not pay them into the Exchequer. The office was a perfect absurdity, and he thought it was due to the people of Scotland that they should protest against the Vote; and unless the hon. Baronet could give an assurance that before next year this ancient office, which had lasted long enough, would be entombed, they would perhaps have more to say upon the question.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he understood that the charge for the Historiographer was only another way of giving an extra pension to the Deputy Clerk of Session. The right to publish the Bible in Scotland was, he understood, given to a certain individual. He thought there was room for reduction here, and that they were entitled to know what was done for the money charged for the Bible Board.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he hoped the Government would say that the Historiographer would be required to employ his talents in illustrating the history of Scotland, in which there were many obscurities, and that he would not be allowed to draw this 1868 money for nothing. Then he would like to know what was done for the amount paid to the Royal Archers?
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said that £20 was all that the Royal Archers received in recognition of their ancient office. With regard to the Bible Board, the Committee would recollect that last year a Committee was appointed to inquire into the constitution of the Board. He had fully expected to have the Report of the Committee before that time, but for some reason, of which he had not been informed, it had not yet been made. He thought, however, that by next year he would be able to give the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) a satisfactory assurance on the question he had raised.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 69; Noes 166: Majority 97.—(Div. List, No. 340.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum not exceeding £7,427, 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 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Fishery Board in Scotland, and for Grants in Aid of Piers or Quays.
§ MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)
said, he desired to approach this Vote in a perfectly friendly spirit. He did not want to move any reduction, but merely some suggestions, which, he believed, would be of advantage to the Board itself, and also to the fishing interest of Scotland. The value of the fish landed on the Scotch coast amounted to no less than £2,000,000 sterling, and, to give a further example, the value of the fish landed on the coast of Aberdeenshire, one of the largest Counties in Scotland, amounted to a greater sum than the entire agricultural rental of the County. He believed that they had got the right system in having a central Board; but he could not say that he believed the constitution of the present Board to be as satisfactory and as useful as it might be. He believed they would do better if they had a considerable representation of fishermen on the Board, and he believed also that the Board would be better, stronger, and more useful if there were some reduction of the legal element upon it. There were upon the 1869 Board no less than three Sheriffs who were ex officio members. He thought that the Board should have legal members upon it, but that one Sheriff would be sufficient. He desired that the Board should be a strong one, able to hold its own and lay down and enforce regulations, and that it should not be a Board liable to be influenced unduly one way or the other by different sections of the fishing community, and, therefore, he wanted to see it not a weak and shifting body, but a strong and stable one. The Fishery Board, at its origin, was a very different body from what it was at present; it was originally established for the purpose of superintending the branding of herring barrels, but its work had infinitely expanded; it had become much more valuable and useful by that expansion, and was most useful, inasmuch as it had borne the cost in each district of a fishing officer. There were fishing officers distributed all round the coast, together with the Inspectors, and it was the case of these fishing officers that he desired to bring before the Committee. The work of the fishing officers in connection with the superintendence of the branding of herring barrels alone had enormously increased. But the branding of herrings was only a small part of the work of the officers; they had other duties of what he conceived to be of a still more important character laid upon them. In the first place, a vast amount of statistics was collected by the Fishery Board every year, which were made use of by the fishing communities around the coast of Scotland, and this fact would show the laborious character of their work. Then they had to discharge very important duties as a sort of marine police; they had charge of such matters as the numbering and lettering of fishing boats, the care of drifting or derelict buoys and nets, and discharged, moreover, very considerable magisterial functions in cases of damage by trawlers and in other matters. He had a letter in his hand from an officer of the Board, de tailing the work done and the extension which had taken place of the duties of the officers. But, notwithstanding all this increased work, these officers had not had any advance of pay in the last 27 years. He thought that their salaries of £100, rising by an annual increment to £ 180 a-year, were altogether insufficient 1870 for the responsible duties they were called on to perform, and for obtaining fully qualified men; and he, therefore, asked for some assurance from the Government that the question of their position should be taken up with a view to its improvement. He believed that this could be done without any great addition to the national expenditure. He thought that the time had gone by when they should insist that these Commissioners should necessarily be coopers. The time had come when this requirement should be modified, if not entirely dispensed with; and one reason why this was desirable was that apprentices to coopers no longer existed. He was aware of the necessity of being very careful in regard to the size of the barrels, because one of the very points that branding was supposed to insure was that the barrels should be of a certain definite size in order that it might be taken that they contained a certain number of herrings. But in these days any ordinary, intelligent man, using his measures and so forth, could do the work certainly satisfactory without first having gone through an apprenticeship. He also thought there should be some better care taken as to the localities in which these fishery officers were placed. During a recent visit of his on a fishery inquiry to Greenock, he found there were two fishery officers where there was hardly any fish landed at all. So little freedom was given to these officers that he asked one of them—an Assistant Inspector—about the mussel beds in his district, and he said he had not been able to go to them because he should have to apply to the Fishery Board for special orders to do so, and for a special allowance to enable him to do so. It was a most extraordinary thing that they should have an Inspector of the Fishery Board who should not be able to give them any information, from his own personal knowledge, in regard to the mussel beds in his own district because he had not sufficient freedom to enable him to visit those places. Then he desired for a moment to refer to the question of trawling. He wanted to receive some assurance from the Government that they would take the matter up, and that they would insist on the Fishery Board using the powers given them. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate would 1871 admit that the Act had given the Scotch Fishery Board most complete powers to prohibit trawling within the three mile limit. The Board had used that power in certain localities, but what he wanted was that the rule should be applied to the whole of Scotland, and that within the three mile limit around Scotland trawling should be prohibited. He knew that the vast majority of the Members of the Fishery Board were in favour of such an application of the rule, and that what the Fishery Board required now was the support of the House of Commons in giving effect to the Act. The damage done to line fishing by trawlers had been to a considerable extent met by the Act of 1885. Undoubtedly line fishers did get with some considerable case compensation for damage done to their lines by trawlers. But there was one point that had not been considered, and that was that the compensation for the loss of lines did not sufficiently meet the case. It seemed to be entirely forgotten that not only did fishermen lose their lines, but they lost the particular catch of fish on the lines. He thought that, in considering the damage to be awarded against trawlers in these cases, some fair allowance ought to be made for the probable catch of fish for that time of the year which would be on the line. He should like to have some explanation also of what seemed to him to be the very summary way in which two Members of the Fishery Board were removed from the Board last year when certain changes were made—namely, Mr. Grieve and Mr. Maxton Graham, with hardly any explanation, while both of them were very old members of the Board, and had done most valuable services. Lastly, he wished to know whether the Lord Advocate could tell them when he was going to produce the Salmon Fishing Bill which had been promised, a Bill which was to deal with all the salmon fisheries of Scotland. They were entitled to have that Bill introduced as early as possible in order that it might obtain full consideration. There were many other interesting points he would like to raise, but he would content himself by simply referring to these points, upon which he hoped the Lord Advocate would be able to give satisfactory assurances.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
said, he did not approach the discussion of this important question in a controversial spirit, but he was not altogether sure that he should not be justified in moving a reduction of the Vote, because it seemed that unless they did that attention was not sufficiently drawn to fishery matters. There was one matter relating to the constitution of the Board which certainly deserved the censure of the Committee, and that was the payment of a salary of £800 a-year to the Chairman of the Board. It was very curious to find that in the case of a Board which ought to be a practical one, no member was paid except the Chairman. [Dr. CLARK: The Sheriffs are.] His hon. Friend the Member for Caithness said that the Sheriffs were paid, but as far as he (Mr. Anderson) knew, they were not. They had it as a fact, however, that the Board which was constituted for the purpose of attending to the fishing interests of Scotland, and which ought to be composed of practical men connected with fishing, was composed of men who, with the exception of one, received no salary at all. Parliament in its wisdom, when it created the Board, assigned a salary of £800 a-year to the Chairman. That was a very large salary to pay, especially when the fact was borne in mind that the Chairman was not a practical man, that practically he knew nothing about the intricacies of the fishing industry. This was an anomaly which ought to be removed, and it was one of the things which he understood the Government intended to deal with, because the constitution of the Fishery Board had been the subject of discussion on several occasions. The Lord Advocate was probably aware that the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) and the late Lord Advocate (Mr. J. H. A Macdonald) had admitted that the Government considered the constitution of the Board and the powers of the Board ought to be thoroughly considered by the Government. Among other questions to be considered would be that of the salary paid to the Chairman. He had to ask why it had not been thought proper by the Government to bring forward the scheme which they had in their mind, or which they said they had been considering in regard to the re-constitution of the Board. He 1873 was not going too far when he said that even with the added members, Mr. Johnston, Mr. Boyd, and Mr. Anderson Smith, the Board had not given satisfaction to the fishermen of Scotland. People spoke of the Board with a certain amount of ridicule; there was a general feeling among fishermen that the Board was not constituted in the interests of the fishing community. Within the past three years three gentlemen had been added to the Board who had no doubt materially strengthened it, still they had on the Board as elements of weakness three Sheriffs. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwickshire (Mr. Majoribanks) seemed to think that one Sheriff would, be enough; he (Mr. Anderson) thought it better that there should be no Sheriff on the Board. There ought to be on the Board men like Mr. Johnstone, who was a fish-curer of large experience; and, moreover, they ought to have men on the Board to represent the various branches of the fishing industry. Have a trawler, if they liked; have a fish-curer, if they liked; have a line fisherman, and various other persons who represented the different branches of the fishing industry. Upon the question of the re-constitution of the Board, one important matter had arisen which, of course, the fishermen spoke of with some amount of feeling. These people could not afford to give their time to the Board without being paid. The Chairman of the Board was, happily, not in that position, because he was a person perfectly independent of anything of the sort. Fishermen, fish-curers, and various persons whom they ought to have on the Board ought to be paid a fair sum for the time they gave to the duties of the Board. It was quite impossible to get practical people to attend to such matters unless they were paid for the services they performed. Therefore, he thought the best thing to do was to take away from the Chairman the £800 which was paid to him, and distribute it among the other Members of the Board. It was in that sense he proposed to reduce the Vote by striking out the Chairman's salary. Before he made that Motion, he desired to say a word upon the general action the Board had taken. He could not help thinking that, although the Report this year showed an amount of energy not shown before, 1874 which was very satisfactory, and although a very large amount of valuable information had been obtained, and although there were signs of additional work on the part of members of the Board, there were many matters which had not hitherto been dealt by the Fishery Board, and on account of which bitter disappointment was felt in the various fishing districts of Scotland. This chiefly arose, he imagined, from the fact that this was a central Board sitting in Edinburgh, and there were no representative Boards in the various fishing districts. In the re-constitution of the Board he trusted that provision would be made for the establishment of local or district Boards. If there were District Fishery Boards instead of one Central Board, they would have men in the different districts who knew the wants of the district, who had local knowledge, and who would be able to confer with the central body in Edinburgh; they would have local knowledge brought to bear upon the various questions, and they would have the wants of the people of the different localities attended to. The question of trawling had been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwickshire, and that, as everyone knew, was a very vexed question in Scotland. It was a question upon which a Commission had sat, and in regard to which voluminous evidence had been given. He was happy to think that the Fishery Board, judging from their Report and the statements they made as to experiments, were at last coming round to the opinion, which everybody who was well informed on the subject entertained—namely, that trawling did enormous damage to the fishing round the coasts of Scotland. That was great progress, and it was progress which was founded, he was satisfied from his own personal inquiries, upon fact. In regard to the portion of the coast of Scotland which he knew better than any other, he had been able to ascertain from the fishermen themselves that, as soon as trawling had been stopped, the in-shore fishing, especially the line fishing, had enormously increased, and that in places where formerly, while trawlers were at work, people had had great difficulty in getting any fish at all, they now could have a capital take. He could not 1875 understand why there should be a reluctance on the part of the Fishery Board to stop trawling; and he hoped that in the general interest some more active action would be taken by the Board in this matter. He had also to refer to the harbour question. The Lord Advocate had said to-night that something was being done to improve the harbours on the coast of Scotland by the Fishery Board, who had large powers in dealing with harbours. He (Mr. Anderson) had read the Report of the Board, and he could not help thinking that, considering the money expended on the various harbours, the results had been very meagre and miserable. He thought he was correct in saying that the Fishery Board had not given assistance to one-tenth of the harbours applying for it, and he was sorry to find that where they had given assistance they had given it in a very lavish manner. He supposed it was thought necessary, when harbour works were undertaken, to spend a considerable sum of money. The lavish sums granted had swallowed up all the funds at the disposal of the Board, and what he had to ascertain was what were the views of the Government in regard to the question of harbours; because he conceived that, unless the powers of the Fishery Board in regard to harbours were extended, the same thing which had been going on for years would continue to go on and very little real good would be done Unless Parliament placed at the disposal of the Board a much larger sum than at present, it was obvious that the harbour question, which was a most important and vital question to the fishermen of Scotland, would go on dragging its weary length along little cared for by this Government, or, perhaps, by the next Government. He impressed upon the Committee that this was a matter of the most serious importance to the fishing industry. The lives of many fisher men were sacrificed year by year, for want of harbour accommodation, in a manner which would astonish people who chose to investigate the subject. There was another matter in regard to which he thought the action of the Board ought to be criticized. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Berwick shire had referred to the question of the bait or mussel beds. The question might not be thought to be of importance 1876 by Members of the Government; but it was of vast importance to the fishermen, and he intended to make a few remarks upon it, for the purpose, if possible, of making the Government see the importance of it. Upon the bait question, no doubt, very valuable remarks were made in the Report of the Board, and he hoped that some good results would spring from the inquiries by the Commission at present sitting. In his opinion, the Fishery Board had altogether overlooked the importance of the subject. Everyone who had inquired into the subject of bait found that in many parts of Scotland it was absolutely impossible for the fishermen to obtain bait except at exorbitant prices. They had, for instance, to pay 1s. 6d. or 2s. a basket for their bait, and the price they paid was frequently more than the value of the catch by line fishing. It might seem a trivial matter, but it was to these fishermen of the greatest importance. Upon this question of bait their livelihood depended, and he could not help thinking that the energies of the Fishery Board ought to be still further directed, to the matter. He considered that upon the Fishery Question we ought to take advantage of the example set by the United States. Fishery matters in this country were dealt with in a most shabby and niggardly manner. Each successive Government seemed to think it was a matter of no importance, and fishermen were left to take care of their own interests and to go on in their own way. In the United States things were different. An enormous sum of money was spent annually out of the United States Treasury expressly for the purpose of developing the fishing industry, and promoting its prosperity by making experiments. He was sure he was not far wrong in saying that a sum of between £50,000 and £60,000 was at the present moment paid out of the Treasury of the United States for the purpose of developing and improving the fishing industry. That was an example we ought to follow to a great extent. Not many months ago he asked the Government whether they would not spend £1,000 in making experiments similar to those made by the Fishery Board in the United States. It was conceded, as it must be conceded by everyone who looked into the matter, that 1877 by artificial culture fish of every kind could be enormously increased at very small cost, and he did not think it was extravagant in him to ask the Government to sanction the expenditure of so small a sum as £1,000 for the making of so important an experiment. The Answer he received was that, although the experiment might be very desirable, the Government did not see their way to adopt the suggestion. The same evening, however, the House of Commons was asked to vote £1,500,000 for the defence of the coaling stations. He never registered a vote with greater pleasure than he registered his vote against the expenditure on the coaling stations, because he thought that if the Government would not contribute so small a sum as £1,000 for so excellent an experiment as he referred to, and which had had great results in the United States, the leas said about the coaling stations the better. The well-being of our fishermen was a subject in which he took great interest. They carried on a most dangerous and precarious calling, and he could not help thinking that the fishermen had not had that consideration which they deserved. With these remarks, which, he was afraid, had been somewhat unduly prolonged, and for the reason he stated at the commencement, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by the amount of £800, the salary of the Chairman of the Scotch Fishery Board.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by the sum of £800, the Salary of the Chairman."—(Mr. Anderson.)
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
said, that as it was impossible to discuss properly the Vote in the time which remained to them to-night, he presumed they would have an opportunity to-morrow of doing so. Perhaps, however, he might refer briefly to one or two of the details of the Vote, in the hope of receiving a reply from the Lord Advocate to-morrow. He noticed that under Sub-head H a sum of £2,000 was taken for the Scientific Department of the Fishery Board, but that no particulars of the expenditure were given.
Order! An Amendment has been moved with reference to the salary of the Chairman of 1878 the Board. The discussion must be confined to the Amendment.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
said, that he would, of course, confine his remarks to the Amendment. He could not help thinking that the Amendment went somewhat too far; in fact, he thought that if his hon. Friend (Mr. Anderson) wished to raise the question he would raise it better by proposing a smaller salary.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported to-morrow; Committee also report progress; to sit again to-morrow.