§ (1.) £26,277, to complete the sum for the Lord Advocate and Criminal Proceedings, Scotland.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
said, that several months ago he gave Notice of the Motion which stood on the Paper in his name for the reduction of this Vote. He had been constrained to take that course owing to the way in which Scotch Business was conducted, and not with any personal reference either to the late or the present Lord Advocate. He proposed now to make a few observations to the Committee in order to point out the inconvenience which arose owing to the position occupied in the House of Commons by the Lord Advocate. The Lord Advocate was purely the Scotch legal officer of the House. When the Secretary for Scot- 349 land was appointed the administrative business of Scotland was placed in the hands of that officer, and the Lord Advocate was simply left in charge of the legal business, occupying a similar position to Scotland to that which was occupied in regard to England by the Attorney General and the Solicitor General. But, nevertheless, the Lord Advocate, although only the Law Officer, had thrust upon him virtually the whole of the administrative business of Scotland in the House of Commons, so that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was placed in this difficulty. He was expected to be familiar with every matter connected with the administration of Scotland upon which the Scotch Members naturally asked questions and wanted information, whereas he knew nothing whatever about the matters he brought before the House, and was simply able to read to the House the answers which had been supplied to him from the Secretary of State's Office. Personally he had no more to do with the administrative business of Scotland than the Attorney or Solicitor General had to do with that of England. His department was entirely separate; he occupied a separate office, and there was no connection between the two. He thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman ought himself to be the first to complain of being put in such a position, because he had to ask the Secretary for Scotland for information on every matter that might be mentioned in the House. He could not give a better illustration of this fact than to point to what occurred in the course of debate on Friday and Saturday last in regard to Scotch Business. Questions were asked as to the intentions of the Government with reference to Scotch Business, and it was naturally expected that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would give an answer. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman remained silent with regard to the questions addressed to him. It was not the fault of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate that he was unable to give a reply; it was the fault of the position in which he was placed. The only person who could give the information was the Secretary for Scotland, and he did not possess a seat in that House.
said, it was obvious that the hon. and learned Gentleman 350 must assign some reason to show that the observations he was making were relevant to the Vote now before the Committee. So far the hon. and learned Gentleman had been complaining that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate did not take a particular course which, by the present arrangements of the Office, he was unable to take.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he wished to show that for all the purposes of the present Vote, the Lord Advocate was simply and solely the legal Officer of the Government, and therefore his impression was that it would be regular to consider the question of his salary. He maintained that, to a great extent, the presence of the Lord Advocate in the House of Commons was unnecessary. The legal work of Scotland was performed in Scotland, and if they were to have there both the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General simply as law officers, they would practically have nothing to do. He presumed that the salary of the Lord Advocate was paid to him under the old condition of things, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman had undoubtedly a great deal of Parliamentary work to do. Before the creation of the Office of Secretary for Scotland he had almost the entire management of Scotch Business in that House, and the salary was paid in reference to that work. He confessed it seemed to him that what they were now doing was paying the Lord Advocate a very high salary for work which was taken out of his hands and done by somebody else, to whom a salary was paid also. The salary paid to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, if he were to be regarded simply as a legal officer, was certainly too high for the work he had to perform in that House. There were one or two matters in reference to the course taken by the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate in that House as to legal matters, of which the Scotch Members had a right to complain—especially in regard to questions of law respecting the legal rights of the public. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had assumed the position that it was no part of his duty to give information to the House upon questions relating to the legal rights of the public in Scotland. That was certainly the attitude of the late Lord Advocate, and he wished to know whether the right hon. and learned 351 Gentleman opposite proposed to take up the same position, seeing that there were various questions now agitating the public mind, such as the foreshore rights, and important fishery rights. He should be glad if the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would tell the Committee whether his Predecessor was instructed by the Secretary for Scotland as to the nature of replies he should give to questions upon legal topics. If such a course had been adopted he could not help thinking that a more improper course could not have been pursued.
§ MR. PROVAND (Glasgow, Blackfriars, &c.)
said, he was of opinion that there was not sufficient work in that House for one Law Officer, much less for two. All that the Lord Advocate had to do was to read out certain replies to questions, which, he presumed, were made up for him at Dover House. What he should like to have an explanation about was, how the Scotch Law Officers succeeded in occupying their time? What was the nature of their employment? There might be some work for the Lord Advocate in Scotland, but he could not see how there could probably be any for him in London. Certainly there was not a sufficient amount of work for both the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General, and perhaps the best solution of the difficulty would be to make an arrangement as to which should remain in London and which stay in Edinburgh. So far as Scotch Legislation was concerned, certainly during the three years he had been in the House, the Scotch Members had received no assistance whatever from the Lord Advocate or from the Solicitor General in the promotion of Bills, except in the case of measures brought in by the Government themselves; they had opposed, as far as they could, all other Business. Every Bill put down by a private Member, with one solitary exception, had been opposed by Her Majesty's Government. During the present year there had been 25 Scotch Bills brought in, 20 by private Members and five by the Government. Not one of them had been passed into law, with one exception.
pointed out that the hon. Member was not discussing any question relative to the Vote for the Office of Lord Advocate.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he could not agree with the hon and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson) with the strictures which he had passed upon the Office of Lord Advocate. His opinion was that the Lord Advocate held an entirely different position in Scotland to that which was held in England by the Attorney General, and that he very much filled the position of Minister of Justice for Scotland. He did not think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should be a mere prosecutor, but it was desirable that he should have regard to the interests of justice on both sides. He therefore could not follow the references which had been made, but, on the contrary, he thought it was the duty of the Secretary for Scotland to consult the Lord Advocate on all questions relating to the administration of justice. And he was far from thinking that the Lord Advocate was overpaid for the important function he was called upon to discharge. Of course, if they took away both legal and administrative duties the Vote ought to be reduced, and in that case only should he be prepared to vote for a reduction. He thought there ought to be a representative of the administrative business of Scotland in that House. One Law Officer was amply sufficient, and he ought to receive a salary, but there ought to be another and a separate officer to discharge duties connected with the administrative Department. In the interests of the Lord Advocate and of the high position he held, it was degrading, he thought, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should be employed as the mere mouthpiece of the Secretary for Scotland. It was an injustice not only to the Lord Advocate, but to Scotland and to the Scotch members, who were fairly entitled to have a Representative in the House of Commons. In that view he should feel inclined to support a Motion for the reduction of the Vote.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, he did not rise for the purpose of prolonging the discussion, but to make an appeal to his hon. Friends around him in regard to the use of the time at their disposal that day. There were two 353 classes of Estimates for consideration—one of them included Votes such as that now before the Committee—Votes which were not of an urgent character, and could be equally well discussed three or four months hence when the Government promised to bring on the Estimates again. But there were other questions of a larger character—such as State aid in regard to the emigration of the crofters, and also the urgent question, especially in connection with the introduction of the Universities Bill next year, of Training Colleges. He would, therefore, appeal to hon. Members on that side of the House not to occupy time by discussing questions which could be satisfactorily disposed of in the spring.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he trusted that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would give the Committee an assurance that during the Recess he would not allow the question of the pollution of the water of Loch Long to escape his attention.
§ MR. WATT (Glasgow, Camlachie)
said, he would also ask the Government during the Recess to consider the relation of the salaries of the Scotch Law Officers in comparison with those of the Law Officers of England. He found that the Attorney General for England received a salary of £12,000 a-year, and the Solicitor General a salary of £8,500, while in the year 1886–7 the Lord Advocate only received £3,500, and the Solicitor General for Scotland £1,173, or about one-half of the salary received by the Solicitor General for Ireland. His own opinion was that the Law Officers of the Crown should be paid entirely by salary, and that they should not have private practice. The present arrangement was not only unfair to the Bar, but disadvantageous to the public. In the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, perhaps some other Member of the Government might be able to give an assurance on the subject.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, he wished to set his face against the supposition that Members on that side of the House had entered into a bargain to dispose of the Scotch Estimates in the course of the present Sitting, on the understanding that no further steps would be taken in regard to the University Bill. With regard to 354 the position of the Lord Advocate, he took a very strong view of the matter without any reference whatever to any mere personal or Party object. His opinions had reference altogether to the position of the Lord Advocate. He thought that in discussing that question they ought to take into consideration that the Lord Advocate was the head of the criminal administration in Scotland. His position was very different from that of the Attorney General in England. The Attorney General in England was not charged with the administrative duties which the Lord Advocate had to discharge in connection with Scotland. It was therefore most important, if the criminal jurisprudence of Scotland was to be attended to properly, that the Lord Advocate should be on the spot where the business was carried on. He therefore strongly protested, in the interests of the Scotch people, against both the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General being in London at the same time, and altogether away from Scotland, the whole criminal jurisprudence of the country being left to manage itself. He wished it to be understood that those remarks applied no more to hon. Gentlemen opposite than to hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House. Both were equally to blame in the matter. What was the object of the training which the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland underwent? It was known perfectly well that they were trained for the Bench, and the first vacancy that occurred in the Court of Session, the Lord Advocate would cease to be a Member of that House, and would find his way upon the Bench. He protested against the principle that a political partizan, whether he sat on one side of the House or the other, should necessarily get to the top of the criminal administration of Scotland or of any other country. He therefore looked upon the bringing up of the Lord Advocate from Scotland to London and taking him away from the higher duties of the Office as prejudicial, not only to the interests of Scotland, but to those of the House of Commons itself. Formerly the whole of the business of Scotland, which now devolved on the Secretary for Scotland, was done by the Lord Advocate. The bringing up of the Solicitor General to the House of Com- 355 mons was only a modern invention. Was it because there was more work to do? Nothing of the kind. There was in reality less to do, and he found all the world over that whenever there was less work to do more people were employed to do it. It was of great disadvantage to Scotland that the Lord Advocate should be in London, because, as a matter of fact, he exercised a certain amount of influence on the legislation of the country, and it was impossible to obtain any alteration of the law except through the Lord Advocate. What was the result? He had a private practice which depended, to a large extent, on the manner in which his influence was exercised on the Writers to the Signet in Scotland, and those Writers to the Signet were the agents of the landed proprietors. In this way it would be found that the whole training and tendency of the Office of Lord Advocate was, in the first place, in the direction of securing the monopoly of the Writers to the Signet. The Bar in Scotland was not made open for everyone, but it was a kind of preserve for the Writers to the Signet, simply on account of their influence with the Lord Advocate, and it was impossible to get any reform except through the Lord Advocate. Again, what happened if they desired to effect any alteration of the law? Probably the Secretary for Scotland, who was a political man, would look at the matter from a political point of view, and would be quite impartial, having no preference whatever for the landed proprietors, but any Act of Parliament passed through that House must be introduced by the Lord Advocate; and whether the person occupying that Office was a Liberal or a Conservative—for he would appeal to hon. Members around him whether it was possible to get a better measure because the Lord Advocate belonged to the Liberal Party—the interests of Scotland were not properly looked after. The whole system, whatever Government was in power, was bad. The entire training of the Lord Advocate was in the direction of holding on to the doctrine of vested right, and the old principle of the landed proprietors' right in the soil, and unless they got rid of his influence it would not be possible to bring about many much-needed reforms. Then, again, there was the Solicitor General for Scotland. He thought it 356 most unfair that both of the Scotch Law Officers should be in the House of Commons while there was so much very important business to do in Scotland itself. The people of Scotland complained bitterly of the present system of centralization, and said that they should at least have the legal administration of the country carried on in Scotland. There was an unanimous feeling that the Administrative Department should be centred in Scotland. It might be contended that it was necessary to have some representation of the Administration in the House of Commons; but if the administrative could not be separated from the legal duties, then let both be carried on in Scotland. No country could ever prosper from which they drew the energy and life of the nation, and centred it somewhere else. The existing system deprived Scotland of political activity, and of that progress which she would otherwise make. Take the case of Italy. What did they find there? It was simply because Italy now possessed political activity that it was making such rapid progress. What was required in Scotland was that they should have men there who would manage the affairs of Scotland, and not have to come up to London to spend the whole of their time here, and be led into habits which were totally at variance with the feelings of the people. [Laughter.] Of course, he meant in this way—that the Lord Advocate could not become so thoroughly acquainted with the views of the Scotch people, which would be more easily ascertained locally than in any other way. The Lord Advocate's Department had a great deal to do; but if he was brought from Scotland, where the work was to be done, there must naturally be a considerable amount of correspondence, and clerks were necessary to conduct it. He saw there was an item in the Votes of this nature, in which the salary of the officer in London was put down at £100, and his expenses at £180. If the Lord Advocate were in Scotland he would do his own work, and the expenses of a clerk here would not be required. He regretted to find that it was the policy of the Government to centre all the administration in London, when it was essential for the interests of Scotland that it should be carried on in that country.
§ SIR GEORGE TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
said, he thought it would be inconvenient to raise the question of the administrative relations of the Lord Advocate's Department with Scotland upon the present Vote. No one was more anxious than himself to extinguish legal jobs, but he owned that he failed to perceive anything of that kind in the present case. It was perfectly clear that there must be a Scotch Legal Adviser in the House of Commons, and as it was necessary that he should sit in the House continuously great inroads must be made upon his private business. It was only right that, from a financial point of view, the fees and salaries should have some relation to the private practice surrendered. He did not wish to inquire too closely into what an able Lord Advocate could earn; but, in his opinion, a salary of something over £3,000 a-year and fees for non-contentious business, which amounted to a few hundreds, did not amount to a sum which would justify them in saying that such Lord Advocates as they had had of late years had been overpaid. On these grounds, and because he wished to establish a principle which would carry them a long way in an economical direction when dealing with Scotch and Irish Votes in the future, he should vote for the Lord Advocate's salary.
§ MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Inverness-shire)
said, he wished to draw attention to the position of the Procurators Fiscal in Scotland. There was a complaint that when the conduct of one of these officers was called in question, the Lord Advocate applied to the person incriminated in order to obtain the information that was necessary to enable him to answer any question upon the subject. Of course, as their own credit was involved, it was only natural, in supplying the right hon. and learned Gentleman with information, that these gentlemen en deavoured to screen themselves as much as possible. In a recent case, where a boy was found dead in the Island of Harris, and there were certain suspicious circumstances connected with another person who had been last in the company of the deceased, the Procurator Fiscal himself never went to make an inquiry until public attention was called to the matter by Questions in that 358 House. He thought that when complaints were made of the conduct of a Procurator Fiscal, the Lord Advocate should employ his Sheriff Court Advocate Depute, as unconnected with the Procurator Fiscal, and as having no interest in the case. Any report made under such circumstances would give satisfaction, which those now made certainly did not.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) had accepted the bait thrown out to the Scotch Members by the Government—namely, that if they would pass the Scotch Estimates that day they would hear no more of the University Bill this Session. As his hon. Friend was strongly opposed to the University Bill, he accepted the proposal of the Government at once and deprecated obstruction. He (Sir George Campbell) hoped they would lose no time in discussing the Estimates, but he should certainly not be influenced by the prospect of getting rid of the University Bill.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON) (Bute)
said, he thought he would best meet the wishes of the Committee if he were to abstain from entering into a discussion upon the general subjects which had been raised in the course of the debate. Of course, it would be impossible to discuss, adequately, the question of the general administration of Scotch Business which had been raised by the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division of Glasgow (Mr. Caldwell) without entering into a subject which had been already debated, and which would assume proportions quite incommensurate with the time at the disposal of the Committee. He would, therefore, only deal with the other important points which had been raised by hon. Members in the course of the debate. He thought it right to say that there appeared to be some misconception as to the position of the Lord Advocate. He was not purely a legal officer, and his functions had not been invaded or encroached upon by the Act of 1885. Nor should he dwell upon the suggestion of the hon. Member for the St. Rollox Division that his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General and himself were not engaged in their proper functions in the House of Commons. He desired to say, once for all, that the administration of criminal justice was 359 attended to, and everything which was of importance came before the Lord Advocate either in Edinburgh or London. The transfer of functions which took place under the Act of 1885 was a transfer from the Home Office to the Office of Secretary for Scotland, and not one from the Office of the Lord Advocate; and he would give no countenance to the idea that he was less responsible, or less assiduously engaged in the administration of criminal justice in Scotland, because he had the honour of a seat in that House. It was not the fact that the introduction of the Solicitor General for Scotland into the House of Commons was novel. One Solicitor General had a seat in the House as far back as 1865. With regard to the case of the man Matheson, which had been repeatedly referred to, following the invariable rule relating to communications between the Home Secretary and the Law Officers of the Crown, he would not state to the House what had taken place between Lord Lothian and the late Lord Advocate on that case. He had been asked to say whether he intended to refuse to give legal opinions to the House. His reply was that he would not be niggardly or parsimonious in stating, when proper occasion arose, the law as he understood it to exist; and that would apply not only to his conduct in the House, but also to the communications which might be made to him by hon. Gentlemen in the Lobby. At the same time it was no part of his duty to answer such inquiries on specific legal questions which had arisen between parties in Scotland, and which really fell within the cognizance of the Courts of Law. The hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) had called attention to the position of the Procurators Fiscal in Scotland, and the communication made to them from time to time. Of course, certain facts were properly within the cognizance of the Procurator Fiscal, but he (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) should always hold himself perfectly free to avail himself of other means of inquiry in the event of the Procurator Fiscal being himself the person implicated. He did not know that it was necessary to enter into any of the smaller topics that had been raised, but the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had referred to one matter of interest—namely, the 360 pollution of the water of Loch Long. The subject would not escape his attention, and he would see that it was carefully inquired into.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had carefully abstained from moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice, and had contented himself with calling attention to what occurred to him might be a difficulty in consequence of the position of the Lord Advocate. He had no desire to prolong the discussion, and he would not, therefore, take a Division upon the Vote. He had not stated that the salary of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was too high, but his observations pointed to the fact that as many of the duties formerly performed by the Lord Advocate were now attached to the new Office of Secretary for Scotland, it might be regarded by some hon. Members as too high.
MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)
said, he had placed upon the Paper a Motion in reference to the burgess fee of two guineas charged in the Burgh of Hamilton in the case of persons who were anxious to obtain representation on the Town Council. He had asked the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate the other day whether the exaction of a fee of that kind was or was not legal, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman evinced an unwillingness to answer the Question. It seemed to him (Mr. Philipps) a very doubtful matter whether the fee was a legal one or not, but he did not complain of the refusal of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate to give an answer. He would, however, further ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he would give a pledge to introduce a short Bill next Session to clear up the matter? The law was in a very doubtful state, and it certainly did appear to be a great hardship upon working men who desired to obtain representation on the Town Council, that the law should be left in a state of uncertainty. It was not to be expected that a working man would go to the expense of litigation in order to have the question settled. It would not be very difficult, he thought, to pass a short Bill through next Session. Certainly no objection would be taken to such a measure on that side of the House, and he hoped the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would agree with him that working men should not 361 be discouraged from standing as candidates for seats on the Governing Body. A good many of the working men in his own constituency took a great interest in local affairs, and wanted to be directly represented on the Town Council. Only one or two days had been devoted this year to Scotch legislation, and as it was impossible for any private Member to have a chance of getting a Bill through, he hoped the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would undertake to introduce a Bill. If such a measure came from the Government Bench it would probably not be opposed, and working men would be greatly encouraged in their efforts to obtain a share of the representation on the Governing Bodies of the country.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, he quite understood the object the hon. Member had in view, and he thought it was most undesirable that there should be any pecuniary obstruction to the entrance of working men into the Town Council; and if it should appear, in the first place, that the Act 39 and 40 Vict. c. 12, still left this fee legally exigible from householders who were constituted burgesses by that Act, and, in the second place, that the fee of two guineas really formed a practical barrier in the way of the constituency being represented by working men if it chose them, the subject would deserve attention. He should not have thought that so small a fee would have been considered objectionable. He could not, however, undertake to clear up legal questions which the parties concerned would not take the trouble to raise in the ordinary way before the Court.
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £33,357 (including a Supplementary sum of £1,850), 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 Courts of Law and Justice in Scotland, and other Legal Charges.
§ MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Inverness-shire)
, in moving the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £500, said, he had to complain that the Solicitor to the Woods and Forests Department in Scotland, a paid official of the Crown, had also acted as the private agent of the 362 parties who had received Crown grants of the salmon fisheries in Loch Morar without the public knowing anything about the matter. The question had been discussed at some length on a former occasion, and, therefore, he would not go into it again. The Crown official was paid upwards of £1,000, and was, at the same time, a member of a firm which was endeavouring to prevent the public from using this sheet of water which they had been using from time immemorial. The proprietors, having obtained a grant of the fishing rights from the Crown, had taken proceedings in Edinburgh to prevent the use of the water by the public. A greater act of aggression had not been committed in modern times. The four persons who were proprietors had succeeded in shutting up a sheet of water 12 miles long, and stopping free traffic across it. The point he wished to urge was that, as this gentleman had taken upon himself to act against the public, he was not entitled to receive a salary from the public. There was another item in the Supplementary Vote of which he should like to have an explanation—namely, the sum of £200 for unexpected costs in a process or proceedings in which the Crown was interested. Those who were acquainted with the history of the principal Vote would remember that some 30 years ago there was a Solicitor to the Woods and Forests who was in the habit of attacking people right and left, in order to run up bills for legal proceedings. In one year the bill of this gentleman amounted to £4,000, and the proceedings were taken in some instances without any authority whatever. The Government could get a very good solicitor for £1,000 a-year who would confine himself to his own particular duties. Under the circumstances he would move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £500.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item E be reduced by £500, part of the charges of the Law Agent in Scotland for the Woods and Forests."—(Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh.)
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD (Lanark, N.E.)
said, the case which had already been discussed partially raised an important point which he earnestly desired to impress upon the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate and the Govern- 363 ment. The allegation was that the Crown was the owner of certain salmon fishery rights of very small value, but which carried with them, along with the ownership, the right of depriving persons of the use of the loch as a means of transit. The loch was almost completely land locked, and, therefore, it was extremely valuable to the inhabitants as a means of transit from one side of the loch to the other in boats. In consequence of the Crown having sold the salmon fishery rights for a very small sum, the new proprietors had deprived the public of this valuable and useful privilege.
pointed out that a general attack upon the administration of the Woods and Forests Department was quite irrelevant to the present Vote. It would, however, be perfectly in Order to raise the question whether the Solicitor to the Woods and Forests should do the business; but the Vote had nothing to do with the administration of the Office.
§ MR. DONALD CRAWFORD
said, the solicitor, as had been pointed out by his hon. Friend (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh), had acted both on the part of the Crown and on the part of the purchasers.
said, it was perfectly legitimate to arraign the Official acts of the Solicitor to the Woods and Forests, but he understood that the hon. and learned Gentleman was entering into the question of the policy pursued by the Department. That would be relevant on the Vote for the Woods and Forests, but not on the present Vote.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
said, he wished to have an assurance from the Government that they would fulfil their promise of a few weeks ago that there would be an investigation, by Committee or otherwise, into the transactions regarding Woods and Forests in Scotland, and the transactions of the agents there as to salmon fishing. He also wished to call attention to the Supplementary Estimate which dealt with the transactions of the Solicitor to the Office of Woods and Forests. If hon. Members would look at it they would find that it was of an unusual character, because the sum asked in the Supplementary Estimate—£1,850—was more than the sum asked in the original Estimate, £1,720. They were told that it was to provide for two 364 unforeseen and special cases that had occurred, and the one in which the largest expenditure had been incurred was connected with certain salmon fishery rights in the North of Scotland. It was a case in which the Office of Woods and Forests had been involved, and in which this gentleman had been acting for them. Seeing that the sum amounted to nearly £2,000, he thought there ought to be some explanation of the matter. He also wished to ask the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate a question with regard to a Bill which dealt with the officers of the Court of Session, which was withdrawn on the 26th of November, along with a number of other Bills. He wished to have some assurance that that Bill would be re-introduced next Session. He would further ask for a promise that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would re-introduce next Session, in time to secure its passing, the Presumption of Life Limitation (Scotland) Amendment Bill, which was a measure to which many people attached considerable importance.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
said, he wished to call attention to the anomalous position of the Crown agent in Scotland. While he served the Crown, he also served private proprietors as well, and was, therefore, unable to give an impartial opinion. What was the precise opinion on which the Commissioners of Woods and Forests acted in selling the fishings at the price they did? He regarded the Solicitor to the Office of Woods and Forests as occupying a very extraordinary and indefensible position. While acting as agent to private persons who were desirous of purchasing particular rights, he was also legal adviser to the Commissioners, who wore asked to dispose of them. There was great reason to suspect that the rights of the public had been sacrificed for those of the proprietors. He should like to know what was the precise opinion given by the Solicitor, and what opinion the Commissioners of Woods and Forests acted upon in selling the Crown rights in the fisheries of Loch Morar? Had they taken any independent advice? He supported the Motion for the reduction of the Vote; and if nothing could be done in the matter now, he hoped that on the next occasion when the Crown rights were to be disposed of the Government would take care that some inde- 365 pendent lawyer in Edinburgh was appointed to act as Crown agent.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he thought the action of the Woods and Forests in these matters had been perfectly scandalous. There were various items in the Vote for the cost of litigation, and he maintained that all actions should be under the control of the Secretary for Scotland, and not under that of a distinct authority in London, who had no respect for the rights, interests, and feelings of the people of Scotland.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he trusted that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and the Secretary for Scotland would in future have more regard for the customary rights of the people of the country.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
said, he was desirous of saying a word or two upon the Sheriffs' Courts, but he was afraid that his remarks would not be in Order until the Amendment now before the Committee had been disposed of.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON) (Bute)
said, he thought it would be better, in view of the presentation of Papers as to Loch Morar, not to discuss that question now. Hon. Gentlemen overrated the importance of the Solicitor in these transactions. This official did not take the initiative, nor was he consulted upon the question whether the grant should or should not be made. Mr. Beith exercised no influence in obtaining this right from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. He had simply carried out the action resolved upon by others. In regard to the question asked by the hon. and learned Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) as to the Supplementary Estimate, the largest part of the expenditure was required for the costs of an action in which the Crown had been unsuccessful. The nature of the case was this. The Crown had an estate in Caithness which was let to a sheep farmer at tenant. Some years ago the Crown gave the tenant permission to change and divert the course of a river, with the re- 366 sult that an injurious effect had been produced upon some land lying lower down. It was a most turbulent stream, and it would appear that some part of the operations had not been carefully managed, and had led to an invasion of the rights of other people. The case was a very complicated one, and the position of the Crown was that they could not free themselves from the engagement they had entered into with their tenant, nor retire from the litigation until their rights were ascertained. It had been a costly case, but the Crown felt that they had no option but to defend it. The rest of the Supplementary Estimate was principally made up of an item in which the Treasury had relieved the Sheriff of Inverness-shire from certain costs to which he had been rendered liable, owing to an error of judgment in the discharge of his official duties. Another item was for the cost of an arbitration in reference to some buildings at Peterhead, and the Crown, as the promoter of the undertaking, had necessarily to bear the expense. The Bill in reference to the officers of the Court of Session had been dropped merely for want of time, but it would probably be introduced again, or some measure somewhat similar, next Session. As regards the Sheriff Clerks' Deputes, that matter had been within the last few weeks under the consideration of the Government, who had felt it necessary to ascertain the views of others interested in the question besides the Sheriffs. It would probably be enough, at present, if he said that the subject had received, and was at present receiving, careful and, he hoped, impartial consideration. The Government would also try to re-introduce, next Session, the Presumption of Life Bill.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow College)
said, that according to the statement of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate the Solicitor to the Office of Woods and Forests, who received a salary of £1,000, did not advise the Commissioners in reference to the sale of the salmon fishing rights at Loch Morar. Under the circumstances he thought they should have some information as to what he was paid for. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said the solicitor was not consulted, and that all that he did was to do the conveyancing for the Commissioners while he was a gent for the 367 proprietors, and acted generally in their interests. He must say that the explanation of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was most unsatisfactory. He saw no charge for legal advice to the Office of Woods and Forests, and he should, therefore, be glad to learn who had advised them as to the title of the Crown, and whether any payment had been made for the advice? He presumed that advice was taken and that it was paid for, and if it was not included in the present Vote where was it to be found? Was it included in the Supplementary Vote of £1,850? He understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that part of that Estimate was to defray the cost of some unsuccessful legal proceedings in which the Sheriff of Inverness had been engaged. He should like to know what particular proceedings the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to?
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
said, he would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Woods and Forests Department had their expenses voted in a separate Vote, and the advice they acted upon was supplied by their own Department. The expenses included in the Vote under discussion were the expenses likely to be incurred in asserting the rights of the Crown where they required to be dealt with in Scotland, and no advice had been given in regard to the exercise of the Crown rights in Scotland, but in London. The action against the Sheriff of Inverness was one in which he was sued for damage for a report which he had sent to the newspapers in reference to some proceedings in Skye. The report would have been privileged if it had been sent to the Commissioners of Supply, but having been sent to the newspapers and published it was held not to be privileged, and the Sheriff incurred certain expenses in consequence of the course he had taken. The Treasury took the matter into consideration, and came to the conclusion that it was a case in which the Sheriff ought to be recouped the cost to which he had been put. It had been incurred, in the discharge of serious duties, owing to a pardonable mistake.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, he wished to point out that the fact that the management of the Woods and Forests was in England was an additional reason for having a Crown Solicitor independent of the proprietors. There should be some official in Scotland competent to advise the Commissioners with regard to questions of title, and they ought not to take the opinion of an agent of the landed proprietor.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Trea-(Mr. Jackson) some time ago informed them that there was some doubt as to the title in the fishing in Loch Morar, and he (Mr. Barclay) wanted to know who had advised the Commissioners of Woods and Forests on that question of title? In the ordinary way it would be the Solicitor to the Treasury, but he submitted that an English Law Officer was scarcely the person most competent to give an opinion upon a question of Scotch law. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had given as an excuse for the low price at which the fishery had been sold that the present proprietor claimed the fishings. Were the Committee to understand that the Solicitor to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests had given an opinion as to the validity of that title, that solicitor being at the time the agent of the proprietor?
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (A LORD of the TREASURY) (Wigton)
said, he had not the least desire to put off the hon. Member for Forfarshire by asking him to wait until the Papers were laid, but he thought the hon. Member would see from the Papers bearing upon this question, which were very voluminous and extended over a long series of years, that the fishery had been sold at a low price, not on account of its doubtful title, though that was considered, but on account of its almost worthlessness. In one letter it was stated that the greatest number of salmon grilse which had ever been killed in the loch in a season was six; therefore, it was only natural that the price agreed on should be a comparatively low one. The transaction had certainly been more advantageous to the Office of Woods and Forests and to the Treasury than to the proprietor. [Mr. J. W. BAROLAY dissented.] The hon. Gentleman opposite shook his head, but that was the result which he (Sir 369 Herbert Maxwell) had arrived at after a careful perusal of the Papers.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 47; Noes 79: Majority 32.—(Div. List, No. 350.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
said, that without any desire to unduly prolong the discussion he desired to raise a question on Item N, though he did not intend to go into it at any length. There was a large expenditure under that head in regard to Sheriffs' Courts and a subject of some interest arose in regard to those Courts. In the right hon. and learned Gentleman the present Lord Advocate they looked forward hopefully to a person who would take an active part in considering some of these questions which had been for a long time agitating the minds of the people of Scotland. Speaking from a commercial point of view, he (Mr. Esslemont) thought he was warranted in saying that considerable dissatisfaction existed owing to the dual Sheriffships in Scotland. They had there a person under the title of Sheriff who practically did no work, and they had another official under the title of Sheriff's Substitute who practically did all the work. In regard to the Substitute, so far as concerned the constituency in which he (Mr. Esslemont) was practically interested, they had been singularly fortunate in having extremely able and well qualified gentlemen in that Office; and this remark applied to the Sheriffs as well as to the Substitutes; but they saw no reason, from anything which existed in Sheriffs' Courts, why all the wisdom of the Judge might not be embodied in the Substitute to whom the cases were at first relegated. It was a matter which was not disputed that in many cases—he would not say in most cases—the Sheriff's Substitute was the more able Judge of the two. The right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would not pretend to say that there was any claim of superiority in the Sheriffs themselves. Now, the Scotch people contended that these Courts should be constituted on the 370 most simple and effective principle; and if Sheriffs' Substitutes were underpaid men and were not the most qualified, and if there was anything in their appointment which made them in any sense inferior Judges, the defect ought to be looked into, but, at any rate, they saw no reason why they should be at the expense of these double Courts. The litigants were not led into very great expense. An appeal to the Sheriff was not a costly affair, but it really decided nothing. It was a case of shuttlecock and battledore. Some persons respected the Sheriff's opinion more than the Substitute's, and others respected the Substitute's opinion more than the Sheriff's. The thing led to the Court of Appeal all the same. Speaking commercially, he believed the commercial community of Scotland were dissatisfied and wanted this matter looked into. He did not wish to do more at the present moment than to speak from a commercial point of view, and to ask the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate to give this matter his consideration. He would give the right hon and learned Gentleman notice that he would on the earliest opportunity next Session raise this question in some form in the House.
§ DR. CAMERON
said, this was a very tempting question, and he had been very glad to hear what his hon. Friend had had to say on the subject. He would point out, however, that Sub-head N. did not include the salary of either Sheriff or Sheriff's Substitute. The only item concerning Sheriffs was under Subhead D, and he would, therefore, ask the Chairman whether, under the circumstances, it was in Order to continue on this topic? But he wished to call the attention of the Committee to a novel and what appeared to him most dangerous departure, which had just been referred to in connection with the Supplementary Vote. They were told that a part of the £1,800 Supplementary Estimate which they were to be called upon to vote over and above the original Estimate was caused by costs amounting to over £1,100, arising out of two "special unforeseen cases," and they were told that one of these cases was the action against the Sheriff Principal of Inverness. Now, the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate had given an explanation—and he (Dr. Cameron) utterly dissented from that explanation—setting forth the facts of the case. 371 As a matter of fact, Sheriff Ivory had been engaged in an expedition, and had written a Report on that expedition to the then Lord Advocate. That was a confidential communication. It contained very grave accusations against certain individuals. It was Sheriff Ivory's duty, doubtless, to send that Report to the Lord Advocate, but before it could reach the Lord Advocate, and without the Lord Advocate's leave or sanction, and directly in the teeth of the wish of the Home Secretary, he published that confidential Report in The Scotsman newspaper. Sheriff Ivory knew that in doing so he was doing wrong, because he not only published the Report, but published with it the assertion that this Report had on such and such a day been laid before the Commissioners of Supply. That was false. He (Dr. Cameron) had at once asked the Lord Advocate at what date the Commissioners of Supply had sat, and he had ascertained that they had not sat on the date mentioned by Sheriff Ivory at all. They found, therefore, that the document had been published without the slightest right, on the part of Sheriff Ivory, in The Scotsman newspaper, and before it had reached the hands of the Lord Advocate. Well, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had said that if this document had been communicated to the newspapers as a Report of the Commissioners of Supply for Inverness-shire it would be privileged. But it had no business to be communicated to the Commissioners of Supply of Inverness-shire at all. It was a confidential Report addressed to the Lord Advocate, and it was for the Minister for Scotland to judge whether or not the document should be given to the public at all. At that time the Home Secretary was the Minister for Scotland, and he (Dr. Cameron) had asked him whether the document published was really what it purported to be, and whether, if it were so, he would give it to the House in the form of a Return, and the right hon. Gentleman had absolutely declined to do so. Now, if Sheriff Ivory had done his duty, this document would have served its purpose as a confidential Report, and would have done no harm to anyone, As it was, the slanderous assertions contained in it were published far and wide throughout the country, and the result was that an action was brought against 372 Sheriff Ivory by a person interested in the matter—a common civil action. Privilege was pleaded, but the plea was one which would not hold water for a moment, and then Sheriff Ivory compromised the case for £25. Well, there was nothing in that—it was not a matter which concerned the Crown one iota. He believed the then Government refused to pay the money for Sheriff Ivory; at any rate, there were loud complaints in some Edinburgh newspapers because the Government had left Sheriff Ivory in the lurch, and had not paid his expenses. They were told in the Estimates that this item was "unforeseen," but those expenses had been incurred before the last Estimates were framed. Why were they not inserted in the last Estimates, and why were they now put in a lump sum as expenses "arising out of two special unforeseen cases?" "Unforeseen cases," forsooth!—why the thing was known all over Scotland 12 months ago and more. The Government should never have interfered in the matter at all. They had here interfered on behalf of a gentleman who happened to be a Judge, but whose action had been taken entirely upon his own responsibility as an individual, and in no official manner whatever, in dereliction of his ordinary duty by the publication of a private and confidential Report which his superiors had refused to present to the House. Sheriff Ivory threw up the sponge at an early stage, and yet the Government came and asked the Committee to vote £201 on his behalf. He (Dr. Cameron) could understand in a case where Sheriff Ivory had an action brought against him for deeds committed in the discharge of his official duties—he could understand the Government indemnifying him for any expenses to which he had been put, even where his action, acting in an official capacity, had been irregular. He did not know whether Sheriff Ivory had ever attempted to recover his costs from the other side, but if the Court had upheld him it would have been right for the Government to pay his expenses; but in this case the matter was totally different. He had been guilty of a gross dereliction of duty and had lost his case, having seen fit to slander people under cover of an untruth, with which the Government had no concern whatever. To come forward now and ask the House 373 to pay this £201 under such circumstances was a most invidious and impolitic thing. There was no one in Scotland who, by his high handed proceedings, and by his disregard of the feelings of the people, had brought himself more into unpopularity than Sheriff Ivory. That, however, had nothing to do with the present question. What he (Dr. Cameron) wanted to know was, whether they were for the first time to come forward and gratuitously pay Sheriff Ivory's expenses in an action for slander, of which Sheriff Ivory had been guilty directly in the teeth of the desire of the then Home Secretary? He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £200, which would be about the sum paid.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item E (Charges of the Law Agent in Scotland), be reduced by £200, part of the Expenses allowed to the Sheriff of Inverness-shire."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ MR. CALDWELL
said, he perfectly agreed with all that had been said by the hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow on this matter. No doubt it was the duty of the Crown to defend an official whenever his official conduct was called in question, and to defend him for anything done in the exercise of his official duties. The ground of the action in the present case, however, was that Sheriff Ivory had acted outside his official duty. If Sheriff Ivory had only done his duty in this matter there would have been no occasion for the payment of any expenses. Sheriff Ivory could not substantiate his plea of privilege, and therefore there was no more call upon the Government to pay the expenses of his action than there would be to pay the expenses of any non-official person.
§ DR. MCDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)
said, he wished to know what grounds Sheriff Ivory gave for publishing his Report? Did he know he was wrong in publishing it, or was he unaware of that fact? If he did not know he was wrong, he possessed very little knowledge indeed of his duties, and was not fit for the position he occupied. For his own part, he (Dr. McDonald) was inclined to give this interpretation of the facts—that Sheriff Ivory was "possessed" for the time being. He had believed he had a Heaven sent mission 374 to go and put down what he called "the rebellion in Skye," and he thought he could do nothing at all to exceed his duties. Unfortunately, he was backed up by the Lord Advocate of the day.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he thought that paying this amount out of the public funds was altogether an unprecedented proceeding. The expenses had been incurred through a gross dereliction of duty on the part of Sheriff Ivory in making public a strictly private document. Sheriff Ivory's object evidently was to glorify himself and the work he had done in the pacification of Skye. Well, the people of Scotland generally had a very different opinion of Sheriff Ivory's work. They considered that he had greatly exceeded his duty, and had created a great deal of ill-feeling in the West of Scotland; and it was too bad now for the Government to ask them to pay money to indemnify this man for his high-handed and illegal proceedings. Sheriff Ivory had gone out of his way to slander certain individuals, and to make public a private report which he had drawn up in his official capacity. By so doing he had shown himself unfit for the position he occupied.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he thought the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was mistaken in saying that this money was paid to cover a dereliction of duty. It would, perhaps, be well at the outset to admit that there might have been an error of judgment, and that there was probably an error of judgment on the part of Sheriff Ivory; but, so far as he (Mr. Jackson) was able to gather from the Papers, there was a singular agreement on the part of successive Lord Advocates who had been brought into contact with this gentleman, that, having most delicate and difficult duties to perform, he discharged them conscientiously and creditably. Most unquestionably, at the time he made the statements which led to the action, he was under the impression—and this had been affirmed by the Lord Advocate of the day, who had stated that he believed Sheriff Ivory was bonâ fide under the impression at the time—that he had the express sanction of the Lord Advocate to make the statement which led to the action. The Lord Advocate, he need scarcely remind the Committee, 375 was the right hon. and learned Member for Clackmannan (Mr. J. B. Balfour). The Treasury was appealed to in this matter, and the case was most carefully investigated by two very competent officers, whose judgment he was sure the Committee could rely upon. They came to the conclusion that Sheriff Ivory made his statement in the bonâ fide belief that the Lord Advocate had given his sanction to it. The statement led to an action, and in the opinion of the Treasury, when an action was brought against a public servant, that public servant was entitled to the protection of the State. Sheriff Ivory might have been, and probably was, guilty of an error of judgment in making the statement he did. The Treasury were prepared to admit that, but the hon. Member for Glasgow would recognize that it would be undesirable to relax the rule and take away from public servants the protection given to them in the discharge of their duty. If, in the course of the discharge of official duties, actions were brought against public servants—and in this case Sheriff Ivory bonâ fide believed that he was entitled to take the course he did—then, unquestionably, the servants of the State were entitled to protection. The Committee might think that the State dealt with its servants in some cases very liberally, but he assured hon. Members that in this case the Treasury had examined the Papers with the utmost care, and obtained the evidence of persons concerned, and came to the conclusion that a case had been made out for the payment of Sheriff Ivory's expenses.
§ MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
said, he thought that no one would be disposed to dispute that Sheriff Ivory desired to act conscientiously, but that he had discharged his duty well was not, at any rate, the opinion of the majority of the people of Scotland. This official had unquestionably been guilty of a great error of judgment. However, the present question was as to paying a sum of money to indemnify a person against damages inflicted upon him for the defamation of the character of a private individual. No doubt it was not desirable to have the rule relaxed under which Executive officers were indemnified in case of actions brought against them for whatever they might have done in an official capacity, 376 but he did not think the Government should protect an official for what he did outside the discharge of his official duties, and certainly not for taking the unprecedented step of making public a private and confidential document. It had not been shown to the Committee how far the Lord Advocate had given his sanction to the publication of the Report. He (Mr. E. T. Reid) did not know that the Lord Advocate could give that sanction—at any rate, how was it that the Sheriff was led to believe that the Lord Advocate had given his sanction? One was, of course, sorry to see an action brought against a person at any time, but it might happen to anyone to be placed in Sheriff Ivory's position of being guilty of an error of judgment. When a man got outside his official functions he was no longer an official person, and was not entitled to have any of his expenses paid by the State.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, he was going to make a suggestion which, perhaps, would remove part of the difficulty. The question of Sheriff Ivory's conduct in this particular matter was an old story. It took place some years ago; but he was bound to say that until now, at the end of the year 1888, on the Supplementary Estimates, they had never had an idea that any payment was to be made to this gentleman to recoup him for the costs in the action which had been brought against him. On the face of it, therefore, and without the fullest and clearest explanation, the Voteought to be refused. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) had, however, made a statement in perfect good faith that the Committee were bound to accept from him, and he (Mr. Childers) would suggest that the Vote should not be negatived, but should be withdrawn for a time, and that, in the meantime, Papers should be laid on the Table, showing what correspondence had taken place with regard to this action and pecuniary claim, and showing what Sheriff Ivory's position in the matter had been—what promises had been made to him, and what were the answers to those promises. The item under discussion could be inserted in the Estimates for next year, which were now being prepared, and then there would be a full opportunity for dis- 377 ussing this matter with the facts before the Committee. He threw this out as a suggestion, not at all of a hostile character, and he hoped the Government would accept it. It was a question now, as he said, some years old, and it would make very little difference whether the money was paid now or next year.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he was very much indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for making the suggestion, which would save time at this particular period. He would, however, make a modification in the proposal, which he thought the right hon. Gentleman would not disagree with. There would, no doubt, be some Supplementary Estimates to introduce when the House met again before the end of the financial year, and he thought it would be more regular to deal with this matter in the present financial year; and he, therefore, proposed that the Vote should be taken in the next Supplementary Estimates. He believed that if hon. Members were really in possession of the facts which had been brought before the Treasury, they would exonerate the Treasury from any charge of having dealt otherwise than fairly and equitably with Sheriff Ivory under the circumstances. However, he should have no reason to complain if the Committee should prefer that the item should be withdrawn and put into a further Supplementary Estimate, instead of being passed now.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, no doubt the Scotch Members would be ready to accept that proposal. He wished, however, to call attention to the fact that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury was responsible for the Supplementary Estimates, and that this Estimate was drawn in such a way that it was only by accident that they had discovered the meaning of the item they were discussing. It was only through a question which he had addressed to the Government that they had found it out. He maintained that when payments of this kind were made, further particulars ought to be given on the face of the Estimate than were to be found in such statements as "two special and unforeseen cases."
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman would see that this Estimate was necessarily prepared in the Scotch Office, and that, except for some special reason, the Treasury always followed the Department which prepared the Estimate in the first instance. He only said this by way of explanation, because, of course, he accepted all the responsibility for the way in which the Estimates were prepared.
§ MR. CHILDERS
The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury will, of course, lay upon the Table Papers explanatory of this matter.
§ DR. CAMERON
The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury will, perhaps, move to reduce the Vote himself. Might I ask if this money has been paid?
§ DR. CAMERON
said, he desired to point out that the Lord Advocate had denied that he had given Sheriff Ivory authority to publish the Report. However, even if the Lord Advocate had given that authority, it would not have made any difference in the legal aspect of the matter. The document would not have been privileged until it had been submitted to Parliament. He thought the Treasury should have looked into this matter, and taken account of the circumstances before they sanctioned the payment. He could not help thinking that if the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury paid a little more attention to the Scotch affairs which he had to administer he would save himself considerable trouble, and probably save the country some expense.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that in point of form it would, perhaps, be as well to withdraw the Vote and propose it in a reduced form, otherwise it might be said that the reduction had been final, as the result of a hostile Motion.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Original Question, as amended, proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £33,157 (including a Supplementary sum of £1,650), be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will coma in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Courts of Law and Justice in Scotland, and other Legal Charges.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said, he wished to call attention to the sum of £650 charged for the preparation of Bills in Parliament in connection with the Lord Advocate's Office. The Legal Secretary to the Lord Advocate received a salary of £500 a-year; but in addition to that he was to receive this £650 for the preparation of Bills in Parliament. He thought that was an excessive sum to pay, seeing that only one Bill had been passed for Scotland this Session—namely, the Bail Bill. He thought that no Scotch Bills should be brought forward unless the Government were prepared to go on with them; and it certainly was no use to pay a large sum of money for the preparation of Bills simply for the purpose of putting them away in pigeon-holes. He did not wish to reduce the Vote, but simply to call attention to the fact that they were paying £650 for the preparation of a Bill consisting of one page and a-half.
§ MR. MACDONALD CAMERON (Wick, &c.)
said, he maintained that they must have a man of experience to draft their Bills and to attend to this Parliamentary work, whether there were only one, or two, or three Bills which passed during the year. If a man undertook work for the Government he expected to make an income as good, or nearly as good, as that which he might obtain in his profession. They must have an able man to prepare these Bills, and it was absurd to talk of reducing a man's pay because he did not do as much work as they would like him to do.
§ MR. CALDWELL
said, that the Legal Secretary was already paid a salary of £500 a-year, and, besides that, was probably allowed to do some extra work. This £650 was altogether an extra charge.
§ Original Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ (3.) £15,627, to complete the sum for the Register House Department, Edinburgh.
§ MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Inverness-shire)
said, that he thought the Item for the Office of Registry of Deeds required some consideration. In 1881 a Departmental Inquiry took place, and a Report was submitted to the effect that the work of the Department was not of an important character, and might be performed by clerks of a superior order, and recommending that the in- 380 erior clerks should receive from £200 a-year upwards. The Treasury had issued a Minute giving effect to the recommendations of the Report of this Departmental Inquiry in nearly every instance. It was stated that the duties of the head officials were not of a very onerous character, and that they were to be sent to other offices when vacancies occurred. That was in 1881; but in 1885 the chief officer died, and instead of transferring his successor to some other office a person in the Department was promoted to the vacant post, and matters remained so up to the present time, except that the position of the junior officers was worse than before. Although the work did not require high officials to superintend it, it involved a large amount of clerical labour and regularity. Four thousand deeds were registered annually; and through the inattention of the Registrar no less than 40 volumes of the Register were incomplete. There was nepotism in this office, not that vacancies were given to the friends of higher officials, but vacancies were created for the friends of higher officials to be put into. He drew attention to this matter in no hostile spirit, but because he desired that close inquiry should be made into the circumstances.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, the hon. Member was perfectly justified in expressing the opinion that inquiry into this Department would be beneficial. An inquiry had taken place into the organization of the Sasines Office, but the other Department was not examined into at the time, as vacancies had to be filled up in the Sasines Office, and it was essential not to delay the Report. He would take care, however, that what the hon. Member had said about the Registry of Deeds should be looked into. When the Committee had dealt with the other matter the question of the Registry of Deeds Office would be considered.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £2,831, to complete the sum for the Crofters' Commission.
§ (5.) £237, to complete the sum for Police, Counties and Burghs, Scotland.
§ DR. MCDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)
said, he wished to ask an explanation of 381 his constituency during the past 12 months. He wished to have some explanation from the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate as to the appointment of Chief Inspector Gordon, of Ross-shire. Chief Inspector Eraser, it would perhaps be remembered, had been appointed to Stirlingshire, or was about to be appointed five years ago, but when his appointment came up for ratification the Lord Advocate of the day refused to assent to it, because Chief Inspector Fraser had overstated his age by one year. Well, he should like to know whether Chief Inspecter Gordon had not overstated his age by one year, and if it was not intended to treat him in the same way that Chief Inspector Fraser had been treated?
said, he did not think this subject could be discussed under the present Vote. The question the hon. Gentleman had asked the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate was one which would come under the Lord Advocate's Vote. This Vote had reference merely to the pay of Inspectors, and the contribution of certain charges connected with the county police. It was impossible, in connection with that contribution, to raise a question as to the administration of a particular Police Force.
§ DR. MCDONALD
asked, whether he could move to reduce the Vote by the salary of this Chief Inspector?
§ Vote agreed to.
(6.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £44,538, 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 Expenses of the Prison Commissioners for Scotland, and of the Prisons under their control, including the Maintenance of Criminal Lunatics and the Preparation of Judicial Statistics.
§ MR. J. C. BOLTON (Stirling)
said, he should like to ask the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate to be good enough to say whether he had now reconsidered the position of chaplains in Scotch prisons, as compared with the position of chaplains in English prisons? He believed that in answer to a ques- 382 an occurrence which had taken place in tion put by the hon. Member for Caithness some time last spring the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) had stated that this matter should have favourable consideration. If the hon. Gentleman had considered the position of Scotch chaplains, perhaps he would state to the Committee the result of his deliberations.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he thought this point had been made a subject of debate on the English Prisons Vote quite recently, and it was in the recollection of the Committee that he then promised, in answer to an appeal made to him by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers), that between that time and the next Estimates he would consider whether, in connection with the English Prisons Vote, some alteration should be made. He must remark, however, that from his position as Secretary to the Treasury it would suit him much better to reduce the Vote for English chaplains than to raise the Vote for Scotch chaplains. Therefore, he hoped that the hon. Member for Stirling would take it from him that the matter would be carefully considered. He did not, however, wish to be taken as holding out a hope that the salaries of Scotch chaplains would be raised. He thought he could invent a remedy much better than that.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
said, he rose before the hon. Gentleman who had an Amendment on the Paper because he had a larger reduction to move, and should probably be out of Order if he proposed it after the hon. Gentleman. This Vote was one which eminently deserved the attention of the House. Ten years ago there were some 50 or 60 prisons in Scotland, but now the number had been reduced to 15. There had been a change of machinery with the object of producing economy. The number of prisoners now estimated for was 2,500, as against 3,400 10 years ago, and yet the estimated cost had risen from £81,000 10 years ago to £107,000 that day. The increase of expense in this Department was something prodigious, and quite unaccountable. It was said that the reduction in the number of prisoners was owing to the adoption of a new system; but 383 that was altogether absurd, the influences which had been at work lessening crime having been education and the spreading of temperance. That was no reason, however, why it should cost more now to maintain 2,500 prisoners than it did formerly to maintain 3,300. What rendered this matter pressing and important was that the enormous increase of expense which had attended the administration of the Prisons Department in Scotland had been also attended with constantly increasing dissatisfaction. In 1878–9 the total cost per prisoner, excluding cost of new buildings, was £21 per head, but it had now risen to £30; and, whereas the cost of management in Edinburgh in 1876 was only £1,300, it was now £1,700. Other expenses had risen in like manner, and the amount proposed to be spent on new buildings was something appalling. Since 1879 up to last year £250,000 had been expended, and there was still £125,000 to be spent. Everything seemed to have run up in the same ratio. Superannuation allowances, which in 1873 were £1,300, were now £2,500. They had got two Inspectors at £700 a-year each, besides travelling expenses—two Inspectors to inspect 15 prisons containing a little over 2,500 prisoners. What would they say of a Factory Inspector who received £700 a-year as salary and £300 as travelling expenses, and whose duties were to inspect factories employing about 1,250 people? It might be said that there was no Government money expended in connection with factories, but take matters in which Government money was spent—take, for instance, school inspection. What would they say of a School Inspector being appointed at a salary of £700 a-year with travelling expenses, bringing up his total receipts to £1,000, who only inspected a school population of 1,250 congregated in 7½ schools? Take the inspection of the police. The Government charge in connection with police was very large—about £150,000, and there were some 40,000 men scattered all over the country to be inspected, and yet a single Inspector did the work of inspection. The principal feature connected with this matter was that, whilst they had this enormous increase of expenditure, they had universal discontent excited by the method the administration 384 was carried on. Public Bodies, for instance, were discontented, and were protesting in every direction. A number of prisons had been closed. Take the case of the Cupar Prison. That was admitted to be one of the best managed prisons in Scotland. Forty years ago a large sum of money was spent in building the prison, but in 1887 the establishment was handed over to the Government. He supposed that now Cupar was expected to buy the place back again. There was great discontent prevailing amongst the higher class of prison officials. They declared that, under the new system, all the fat posts were given to military men. It was said that, out of 12 appointments in connection with Scotch prisons, eight were held by military men receiving over £5,000 in salaries. The warders were dissatisfied almost over the whole of Scotland. His hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) intended to bring forward the case of the Perth warders. Their case was not peculiar, because similar complaints had proceeded from the new prison at Barlinnie, in the neighbourhood of Glasgow. That prison contained no proper accommodation for the warders. The result was they were obliged to live 2½ miles from their work. They had to rise at half-past 4 in the morning in order to get to the prison before 6 o'clock, and once a week, or three times a fortnight, they were obliged to sleep a night in the prison. They had to be absent two days and one night from home without any provision being made for them to procure a warm meal during the time. They complained that their treatment during that time was infinitely worse than that of the prisoners themselves. Then there had been repeated remonstrances as to the change which had taken place in connection with discharged prisoners. Formerly their fares used to be paid from Barlinnie to Glasgow. Now the prisoners were simply discharged at Barlinnie. It had been necessary to make some economy, and it had been effected in the paltry item of cab fares. The men had to walk the country roads to the alarm of the inhabitants. In those parts, in consequence, the number of constables had had to be increased. On account of the closing of a number of prisons, the cost of transporting prisoners had been enormously increased. In 1878, 385 under the old system, the cost of conveying the prisoners from one place to another was £1,000, but now it was over £7,000. He had shown that the general public were dissatisfied and that they were incommoded by the petty economy which had been resorted to. He had shown that warders and higher officials were dissatisfied at the administration under the present system. He now came to the case of the prisoners themselves. Owing to the number of prisons shut up, prisoners were obliged to be taken—untried prisoners often were obliged to be taken—to prisons at a distance, and were, therefore, removed from easy access to their solicitors. In certain cases they were removed as far as 100 miles from the place of their abode. In the olden days prisoners were confined in some place near and had easy access to their law advisers. That was now no longer the case. So grave was this scandal that it had called forth strong protest, not from the prisoners, but from the Procurators of one or two towns and the Procurator Fiscals of Scotland. When they had public officials interfering on behalf of prisoners and declaring that an injustice was being done by the system, it showed that there must be something very materially wrong. The diminution in the number of prisons had also involved in many localities the expense of providing new police cells in which prisoners, on their sentence for trifling offences, were confined. It was said that in certain districts, where the authorities did not wish to go to the expense of providing accommodation, trifling offenders were allowed to go undealt with, because there was no proper means of punishing them. To keep men for seven or 14 days without proper supervision was a system of administration which could not be defended. He maintained that the remedy for this state of things was to make the Prison Department a Department of the Scotch Office. Here, again, the whole work could be done perfectly well by an Inspector under the Scotch Office, and an enormous amount of saving, besides a great amount of efficiency, might be effected. The matter was one of very great importance. Probably, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate would consent to the appointment of a Committee to inquire 386 into the causes of this enormous increase, and of the great dissatisfaction which prevailed, that would meet the case; but if the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate did not do so, he (Dr. Cameron) would suggest the amalgamation of the Department with the Scotch Office. As compared with the period, not only prior to the Prisons Act of 1877, but for some years subsequently, the increase of expenditure had been enormous, besides which, as he had explained, there was universal dissatisfaction. Believing that a saving of at least £5,000 a-year might be effected by the amalgamation he proposed, he moved to reduce the Vote by £5,000. Of course, as he had said, if the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate would grant a Parliamentary inquiry, he would not press his Motion.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £39,538 be granted for the said Service."—(Dr. Cameron.)
§ MR. C. S. PARKER (Perth)
said, he was most anxious to save the time of the Committee, and for that reason, on the general question raised by his hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), he should say nothing, except that the administration of prisons by the Commissioners was not giving satisfaction in Scotland, and especially was not giving satisfaction within the Service itself. He wished to move a reduction of the salaries of the Commissioners on account of the way in which they had treated certain officers of Her Majesty's General Prison at Perth. He brought the charge first and chiefly against the Prison Commissioners, and that was why he desired a reduction of their salaries, unless he received satisfaction, but also, in a minor degree, against the Secretary for Scotland and his advisers, and, in a very considerable degree, against the officers of Her Majesty's Treasury. What happened was this: Sixteen of the prison officers had binding contracts, which he believed could be enforced in a Court of Law, as to what their salary and emoluments should be. The contract was that they should receive the same scale of salary as was given to similar officers in England, but with free quarters. The Treasury at first said that free quarters were not in the contracts. He said, "Let the 387 contracts be examined." But also the Treasury took up another line. He was speaking of the Treasury before the present Government came into power. The Treasury argued that, even supposing the contract was binding upon others, it was not binding upon them, because they had never sanctioned free quarters. His answer to that was that there was an authorized scale of salaries, carefully considered by the Treasury, and that in that scale of salaries free quarters were allowed in a prison. Whether the highest prison authority in Scotland had power or not to grant free quarters, or whether, as was suggested, it was at the discretion of the Treasury to say, "We shall not allow it," at all events the Treasury did not interfere when free quarters were given. These men enjoyed free quarters for some years, and discharged their duties to the full satisfaction of the Governor. Suddenly, upon the appointment of a new Commissioner, it was sprung upon them that they were to be deprived of free quarters, which were reckoned to be equal to one-twelfth of their remuneration. It was now nearly three years since he took up this matter as a breach of faith, and he had met with great courtesy at the Scotch Office and at the Treasury. He had had long conversations and correspondence, and of the 16 officers aggrieved 12 had received redress, but not until after 18 months' delay. He knew that the Scotch Department were in a difficult position, because they had to deal with the Treasury. He supposed they felt that since redress had been given in 12 out of the 16 cases, they ought not to press matters further. He would not press matters further if it was a question of anything but justice. This was a question of breach of faith and of injustice, and, as far as he was informed, he did not know any reason why a few officers should be deprived of the redress given to their 12 colleagues. Some of the officers who had not received redress were amongst the oldest in the Service. He believed it would be no longer argued that the contracts of the Prison Commissioners were ultra vires; but it would be said that these men had had promotion, and that promotion cancelled contracts. He believed, if they were to go into details, they would find that on each occasion of promotion a new contract was made, and that new 388 contract ought to be fulfilled. The new Commissioner, upon his arrival, looked round to see where any economy could be effected. He might have been quite right in saying, "Here is a case where the warders have on the whole a higher scale of remuneration than the warders in any other part of the service, because they have these free quarters. Therefore let us make a saving here in the future." Where, he thought, the new Commissioner made a grave blunder was in not remembering that they must look at the rights of individuals serving under contracts. He had a further serious complaint to make against the Commissioners, and that was, that when these poor men protested—each man wrote out his own case—it was impossible for them even to get from their Governor any information as to whether their documents had really gone before the Secretary for Scotland. Throughout there had been great inclination to withhold information, at all events from the men directly concerned, although he (Mr. C. S. Parker) had received much courtesy. What he hoped Her Majesty's Government would be disposed to do in this matter was not to regard this matter as finally closed. It might be officially closed between the Scotch Department and the Treasury, but he could not accept this as final. If one received three-quarters of justice he ought to stand out for the other fourth. It could not be for the public interest to economise by breaking contracts. True economy consisted quite as much in spending where they ought to spend as in saving where they ought to save. He trusted he would be told on behalf of the Government, that although they would of course argue their view on this question further, they would not regard it as finally closed, but would give him the information which he asked, as to why the few remaining officers were left without redress, and allow him to put the facts again before them.
§ MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities)
said, there was one question he desired to put to his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson). The hon. Gentleman had told them that the case of the chaplains would receive the attention of the Treasury. He wished to ask if the case of the prison surgeons also would be considered. These officers had grie- 389 vances—their work was the same as that of those in similar positions in England and Ireland, but their remuneration was considerably less. He hoped that the medical officers would have their case considered by the Treasury before the next Estimates were framed.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
said, he had to complain that the Vote for the convicts employed in connection with the harbour works at Peterhead did not appear under the head of charges incurred in the making of Peterhead Harbour. The public ought to know the vast amount of money that Harbour was costing.
§ MR. ASHER (Elgin, &c.)
said, he would remind the Committee that this matter had been again and again under the consideration of Parliament, and that Parliament had solemnly decided that there should be a prison for convicts erected at Peterhead. That decision was arrived at very long ago, and the prison was well on towards completion. They were certainly not justified in going into the general question as to whether it was right that convicts should be employed during the period of their detention in the execution of public works. It had been conclusively established that the effect of the policy had been largely to diminish the number of men lapsing into crime after their discharge from convict prisons. The men became familiarized with work, and upon their release were able to take their place among the labourers of the country, and able to get employment much more easily than they otherwise would do. He confessed he was surprised his hon. and gallant friend should re-open this question, which had been considered again and again by successive Committees of the House.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he had studiously abstained from doing the very thing his hon. and learned Friend accused him of doing. He abstained from objecting to the construction of Peterhead Harbour. The House of Commons and the people of England would soon discover the vast expense of that harbour, and he had merely stated that the Vote for the convict prison at Peterhead ought to appear under the head of Peterhead Harbour.
§ MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
said, he had a word to say with 390 regard to the item of £3,250 for the ordinary repairs of buildings. He apprehended that under that head came the charge for the alterations of prisons. The experience he had gathered with regard to one of the largest prisons in the whole of Scotland was that enormous alterations were made without any regard to the promotion of economy or efficiency. No doubt efficiency was studied to a certain extent, but he maintained that alterations were made, buildings were taken down and others were put up, without the attainment of the real thing the Prison Commissioners had in view. Much more careful supervision ought to be given to this matter, so that in future no alterations in buildings should take place without the fullest consideration being given to the subject.
§ MR. J. SINCLAIR (Ayr Burghs)
said, he desired to direct attention to one particular case which came under this Vote. It was very useful in matters of this kind to have discussions regarding mismanagement and was to upon a large scale in connection with administration, but sometimes it was quite as useful to discuss a particular case in which they could see both mismanagement and waste. He thought he found both in one of the allowances granted under this Vote—namely, the allowance of £50 in lieu of a house to the Governor of the Ayr Prison. The Governor was appointed some five years ago, and a very special and peculiar arrangement seemed to have been made with him. It was to the effect that he should not be required to live in the Governor's house within the walls, but that instead of doing so he should be allowed £50 for house rent outside. That was an arrangement which he (Mr. J. Sinclair) thought could not be defended. It was not made on account of any peculiar or special qualifications on the Governor's part, but for reasons into which he (Mr. J. Sinclair) preferred not to enter. This was the only case in the whole of Scotland of such an allowance to a Governor. The case was quite unique, and the feeling entertained by a great many people acquainted with the facts of the case was that if the place was not good enough for the man, the man was too good for the place. No allegation could be made that the house was not a good 391 one. It stood upon an esplanade adjoining the sea beach, and there could be obtained from it a view of the Firth of Clyde and the beautiful mountains of Arran. With this house all previous Governors had been perfectly content; they had all resided there, and no complaint had been made by them. Now, what had happened? Within the last year very expensive alterations and repairs had been made on the house. He would like to know if it was at the instance of the Governor, because if so, it was to be presumed that he said to the Prison Commissioners, "Repair the house, and I shall come and live in it." In that case it would be interesting to note his subsequent conduct. If, on the other hand, the alterations and repairs were made at the instance of the Commissioners of their own accord, the Committee would see the Commissioners were spending a large sum of money upon the repair of the house when they knew that under their agreement with the Governor he had not occupied the house, was not occupying it now, and never intended to occupy it as long as he was in that office. Surely that was a waste of money—he would not hesitate to call it both wanton and needless. The alterations and repairs had been made at a cost very closely approaching £600. The house had been made very much better than it was before, if not up to the luxurious taste of the Governor. Why, then, did not the Governor reside in it, as all his predecessors had done? He still resided without the walls, and had no intention of entering the place. He (Mr. J. Sinclair) had two questions to put upon this point—namely, were the Prison Commissioners justified in spending this large sum of money in alterations and repairs when they were aware that, under the arrangement or bargain made, the Governor would not reside within the walls of the prison at all, or, on the other hand, having repaired and altered the building, and made it comfortable, if not luxurious, were they justified in continuing the allowance of £50 to the Governor? This matter did not affect the Prison Commissioners or the Governor alone, because what was the consequence of the Governor residing outside the prison? Some of the warders, who, otherwise, would reside outside entirely, had to take their turn week by 392 week, residing within the walls, because the Governor did not do so. They got no extra pay for that—he supposed it was considered part of their duty, but he did not think they should be expected to do this. They might reasonably say, if the Governor does not reside within the walls, why should we do so; are we to have additional labour thrown upon us simply because the Governor declines to sleep in the Governor's house within the prison? He trusted the hon. and learned Lord Advocate would say why these repairs were made when there was no intention on the part of the Governor to occupy the house at all, and why public money should be wasted to the extent even of £50, as long as the Governor of Ayr Prison lived or continued to occupy his present office.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
said, he was glad the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) had brought the question of the treatment of the Perth warders before the Committee. His observation and study of the case enabled him to say that absolutely every word his hon. Friend had stated was perfectly correct. The grievances which his hon. Friend had stated, and which he had been pressing on the attention of the Government for several years past, were real grievances, though they might appear small and unimportant. He considered that the economies made in this case by the Prison Commissioners were all of a mean, pettifogging, and paltry character, and that while they had secured a minimum of benefit, they had produced a maximum of worry and discomfort to the warders of Perth. They had brought about the impression that there had been a breach of faith and a breach of the contract under which the men entered the service. The warders had every right to consideration at the hands of the Government. They were performing difficult duties, involving great labour, if not danger, and he thought their position ought to be made as secure as possible. He trusted, therefore, that the Government would take his hon. Friend's appeal into careful consideration, and might be able to see their way to remove the grievances of these deserving and hard-working men. There was a little point he desired to raise with regard to the Barlinnie Prison. He understood that that establishment 393 contained 700 people, and that the duties of the Governor were of a very continuous and very harassing nature. The poor man was obliged to be on duty every day of the week, including Sunday, and had no opportunity whatever for rest and relaxation. In connection with the prison system of Scotland there was a seething mass of discomfort which affected every one, from Governors, chaplains, doctors, and warders, and even to the prisoners themselves. The best remedy, in his opinion, would be to adopt the practical suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron), and let the whole question be inquired into by a Parliamentary Committee.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON) (Bute)
said, that they must bear in mind in considering the present prison system of Scotland that it had only been in force since the passing of the Act of 1878, and that the policy of that Act, having been deliberately adopted, must, in the mean time, be followed to its consequences. He thought that a close investigation would satisfy hon. Gentlemen that those consequences were beneficial both as regarded the better efficiency and the discipline of the establishments, and even as regarded economy. He impressed on the Committee that to take any steps such as the appointment of a Committee now would be really to throw out of gear a system which had barely been adopted to the full. The whole scheme of the Act of 1878 involved the suppression of the smaller local prisons and the concentration of prisoners in a comparatively small number of large prisons. That was the necessarily essential feature of the scheme. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) had said that even worse than expense was discontent. The hon. Gentleman could not be amazed that there was discontent in the various places where prisons were suppressed as an essential condition of the new system, because prisons in a number of small towns involved a certain amount of employment, the withdrawal of which necessarily gave rise to discontent. Nay, more, the withdrawal of administration from the Local Authorities was not a measure altogether popular with those who enjoyed the exercise of administrative power, and it 394 therefore created a certain amount of dissatisfaction and discontent. As to the question of expense, he must point out to the hon. Member the central fact in the administration of the new system. The prison at Barlinnie, of which much had been said, was built with 800 cells, and had only approached completion during the present year. That was the centre of the new system, and without that being in full play one could not appreciate or appraise the financial results of the change. It was, therefore, altogether premature to take the figures in this transition stage as a fair criterion of the result as it would be when once the complete substitution of the one system for the other had taken place. Perhaps he ought incidentally to mention that the Barlinnie Prison in some parts was not actually completed. As he had mentioned the Barlinnie Prison, he might be allowed to say that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the College Division was not in possession of the latest information as to the system of releasing prisoners. Prisoners were now released, not at Barlinnie, but at Glasgow. He thought it was very desirable the Prison Commissioners should take means of informing the public, not through the interference of a Committee of the House of Commons, but through the publication of figures, of the real results of the system. It was very expedient that that should be done, but the Committee ought to carefully keep in mind that when a sweeping, general charge of increased expenditure was made, it was necessary to ascertain what were the elements in the expenditure. If any hon. Member would go over the figures in this case he would find that a number of burdens had been imposed upon this Service which were entirely new since the earlier period, the statistics of which the hon. Gentleman quoted as a standard of economy. Many hon. Gentlemen were aware that by a decision of the Courts of England the cost of the conveyance of prisoners from the bar of a Court to the prisons now fell upon the Prisons Vote. That was quite a new thing, and accounted for about £2,000 a-year. Then in these Estimates, again, the bringing of remanded prisoners had been transferred from the Criminal Vote to the Prisons Vote. Accordingly, there they had on the two items an increased charge on 395 this Vote of £3,000, which accounted to a large extent for the increase in which the hon. Gentleman was so much concerned. Furthermore, a new Treasury scheme had come into effect, and that action involved the annual expenditure of more than £1,000. He merely mentioned this for the purpose of showing that there was no ground for apprehension that there was any want of economy. There was another feature bearing in the same direction, which also illustrated what he had already said as to the prematureness of considering at present the financial results of the new system. As he had said, the full operation of Barlinnie was essential to the complete development of the new system, and when they found that since Barlinnie had been in existence the cost of maintenance, which was so large and prominent an item, had been going down, the Committee would see that that was a much safer criterion or indication to go upon than the aggregate amount of expenditure which involved the construction of new prisons. One or two specific grievances had been stated. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Ayr Burghs (Mr. J. Sinclair) had said that there was now a Governor's house, but that it was not occupied, the Governor receiving an allowance of £50 for a residence outside. But there were negotiations as to the transfer of the Governor to another place, and the instance referred to was merely one where, owing to temporary arrangements, it was impossible to make the Governor comply with the rule, which would be enforced in the case of a new Governor. Accordingly he begged the hon. Member not to cite this as a typical instance of extravagance. [Mr. J. SINCLAIR: What about the repairs?] The House had been put in proper repair, and stood for the reception of anyone to whom the Commissioners were not pledged as to the provision of a residence elsewhere, His hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcudbright (Mr. Mark Stewart) had made observations respecting reconstruction of buildings, which should receive due consideration at the hands of the Prison Commissioners. The hon. Member for the College Division of Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) had said that there was dissatisfaction on all sides, even amongst the prisoners themselves. The hon. 396 Gentleman was himself responsible for legislation passed with a view of giving increased access by prisoners to their agents at the stage of examination before the magistrate. Here, again, was another instance of the increased expenditure which fell upon the new system. At Duke Street, in Glasgow, a considerable amount of expenditure had been incurred, owing to the necessity of providing improved facilities of access of prisoners to their agents. There was no indisposition on the part of the managing body to incur expense in facilitating due communication of prisoners with their agents. When the hon. Gentleman referred to the more general question of the increased distances prisoners had to go, he (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) could only fall back on the general observation with which he started—namely, that that was one of the necessities of the system deliberately adopted by Parliament in 1878, and which was only now coming into full effect. The questions raised by the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) and his hon. Friend the Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Mr. J. A. Campbell) would be dealt with by the Secretary to the Treasury.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, that an important question surrounded the expenditure upon prisons under the new system. Some years ago he had experience both of the English and Scotch systems, and he begged the Scotch Department not to lay the flattering unction to their souls that the new system was any pretext whatever for increased expenditure. It had not been so in England, where the new system had been consistent with, and, indeed, had caused, very great economy. He could not charge his memory at that moment with the figure; but, if he remembered rightly, between £50,000 and £100,000 was saved in consequence of the greater concentration of prisoners. The new system was no excuse whatever for any increase of expenditure. On the contrary, it was very bad administration that was accompanied with any large increase of expenditure. That was, anyhow, his experience. He had a great deal of knowledge of the Scotch administration of prisons down to 1885, and he was sorry to say that the Scotch administration of prisons compared very unfavour- 397 ably with that of the English prisons, especially in regard to the matter of expenditure. At that time the building of the great prison at Edinburgh was going on, and he remembered perfectly well having to address strong remonstrances to the prison Department in Scotland upon the subject.
§ MR. J.P. B. ROBERTSON
said, that in complete conformity with what the right hon. Gentleman had just said, the charge for maintenance had decreased, and was going down since the new system had come fairly into operation.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
said, he desired to draw the attention of the Lord Advocate to the difference in the prison statistics of Scotland as compared with those of England and Ireland. In England and Ireland the statistics were absolutely uniform; and, therefore, an hon. Member could easily compare them one with another. The prison statistics of Scotland, however, had no relation to those of England and Ireland; and it was impossible for one to study the statistics—especially statistics relating to education—to see whether education was reducing crime in Scotland. He hoped the Lord Advocate would consider whether it was not possible to bring the statistics of the three parts of the United Kingdom into uniformity.
§ DR. CAMERON
said, he did not feel justified, after the reply made by the Lord Advocate, in asking to withdraw his Motion for a reduction of the Vote. As a matter of fact, the cost of maintaining 2,500 prisoners in Scotland was much greater than the cost of maintaining one-third more than that number 10 years ago. He could not be content with the Lord Advocate's statement; and, as a protest, he must ask the Committee to divide.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, that he might, perhaps, be allowed to say a word in answer to the remarks of the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker). The question of the warders of Perth had been most carefully considered; and, as the hon. Member had pointed out, it had practically been reduced to a question of three warders. The position taken up by the Treasury was that the Treasury had assented to the proposal which had been made by the Secretary for Scotland. The hon. 398 Member would hardly expect the Treasury to initiate additional charges. Although it might be true—he did not admit it, because it was not on the Papers, and therefore he had no means of verifying it—although it might he true that promises, either verbal or written, were made to the warders some time ago, the Treasury held that the position of these men to-day was better than it was at the time when the promises, if they were made, were made, even taking into account the payment for quarters, which the men were now called upon to make. It had always been held, he believed, that promotion counted in some way as a fresh contract to a man already in the Service. He impressed upon the hon. Member that it could not be shown that the men were to-day in a worse position than they would have been supposing the promises which were alleged to have been made had been carried out. He did not wish to say that the last word had been spoken on this question, because he was perfectly willing, if the hon. Member would come and see him, to endeavour to convince him that the Treasury were perfectly correct in the matter. If the hon. Gentleman was able to show that such was not the fact, the Treasury would gladly reconsider the matter. His hon. Friend the Member for the Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Mr. J. A. Campbell) asked him whether his answer to the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. J. C. Bolton) had reference to the chaplains only, or also applied to the case of the surgeons? He (Mr. Jackson) did not want the Committee to suppose that he was contemplating any general increase of salaries. What he had promised was that the question should be carefully considered; and it was rather with a view of considering whether they were not paying the English prison surgeons more than they ought to pay. He might say that as regarded the surgeons, certainly at Barlinnie, something ought to be done. Indeed, he might go so far as to say, without making any promise, that the Treasury would not shut out of their consideration the case of the prison surgeons of Scotland.
§ MR. C. S. PARKER
said, he gladly accepted the hon. Gentleman's offer to examine with him the case of the Perth warders. He would only add that the point he should endeavour to estab- 399 lish would be that on promotion a fresh bargain was made, and that that bargain had been broken. It was no answer to say that the men were in a better position now than they once were. Men naturally expected to rise in the Service. The case of the chief warder was a particularly hard one. Having been promoted for long and faithful service, no doubt he was in a better position than eleven years ago. But that was not the question. The question simply was—whether a fresh contract was not made on promotion, and some years later broken?
§ Question put,
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 68; Noes 103: Majority 35.—(Div. List, No. 351.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.