(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £69,017, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum
necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Subordinate Departments.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he had not caught what this Vote was for; it seemed to be a very large sum, and, therefore, he should like to know the purpose for which it was to be voted.
It is to complete the sum necessary for salaries and expenses connected with the Board of Trade.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he had no wish to divide the Committee upon the Vote; but there were one or two matters upon which he should like to have an explanation from the President of the Board of Trade. In the first place, he wished to call attention to the neglect of the Department in enforcing the carrying of lime juice upon all British vessels leaving the ports of this country. Was it true that prosecutions could not be maintained against the masters of British vessels when such vessels were voyaging between two ports, each of which were outside the United Kingdom, though they might have committed an offence against the Act which required them to carry lime juice or other antiscorbutic when the crew were on salt provisions? If that was so, he thought the Board of Trade ought to introduce legislation to extend its powers. He believed that in the case of the ship Killeena, the Board had underrated their powers. Another question to which he desired to call the attention of the Department was the preparation of labour statistics. He complained that down to the present time there had been no attempt to obtain the periodical Returns which were promised when Parliament sanctioned the creation of the Department. The Office was created in 1886, but nothing had as yet been done to furnish the periodical statistics which would alone be useful both to employer and employed. Now there had, however, been a Return published, which was of considerable interest—namely, the Return of wages paid during the past half-century. But the value of this was rather for comparison with the past. The Returns which had been given as to the rate of wages in Belgium was exceedingly valuable, and 441 so also was the Return in reference to Trades Unions; but this last, from its incompleteness, it was useless in its present form for practical purposes. He was afraid, unless more of the men who were employed co-operated with the Department in making these statistics, that the Returns themselves would be of very little value. He trusted that the Board would make some effort to comply with the wishes of Parliament, and he hoped Trades Unions would more actively assist. He was told that out of the 312 trade societies applied to by the Board of Trade, only 58 had sent in any raplies at all, and the bulk of those 58 were useless. He thought it would be a most unfortunate thing for the country if they failed to get those Returns. With Labour Representatives sitting in that House it ought to be understood that the men who appealed to Parliament for assistance ought to co-operate with Parliament in making that assistance useful. In the various States of America both the employers and the employed were compelled to give those Returns, and they had proved to be of great value. The employers held back from making the Returns nothing like to the same extent as the employés. Although only a small number of Returns had been received, a large portion of them came from the employers, and very few from the men. He hoped that the President of the Board of Trade would be able to assure the Committee that something more would be done there. Trade disputes were aggravated by the misrepresentations which were made and the misapprehensions which existed as to the rate of wages and the cost of living, owing to the absence of those Returns. The late President of the Board of Trade (Lord Stanley of Preston) had given him an assurance that this Department of the Board would be made effective, and it was to be regretted that the country should have had to pay for the cost of creating the Department with such small practical result.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)
said, he also had to ask for some satisfactory assurance as to the supply of lime juice and other antiscorbutics to British ships trading at foreign ports. He trusted that measures would be taken to prevent the masters of vessels from escaping liability.
§ MR. A. H. DYKE ACLAND (York, W. R., Rotherham)
said, he had watched 442 with considerable interest the working of the Labour Bureau, which might render valuable service by following the chief labour disputes which occurred in the course of the year, and reporting upon them. In order to do that, it would be necessary to supply the Department with the local newspapers in which the progress of those disputes was recorded. In the course of a year or two, a careful Report might be prepared of the chief labour disputes which took place from year to year; but unless the Department had information from the local Press it would be impossible to follow the disputes. It was obvious that the Department could not take any Party side in the matter. But it was a matter of regret to find that no record was kept even of the letters which passed between the masters and the men. He thought that a permanent record would be of great value in future years to those who studied these economical and industrial questions.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
said, that he was anxious to see lime juice carried on all voyages, and the requirement could be enforced in the case of voyages commenced from the ports of this country; but he was afraid there would be practical difficulties in extending the requirement to British ships sailing between foreign ports, where it might be alleged that the necessary supply of lime juice was not obtainable. If he found, on further inquiry, that the requirement could be extended so as to meet all cases, he would endeavour to effect that object; but at present he did not think that it could be done. As regarded the statistics of the Labour Bureau, he thanked the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) for calling the attention of the Committee to the matter. He was anxious that the Bureau should be a reality. He admitted that the publications which had hitherto proceeded from it had not been so full as they might have been, and that it might have been made more useful to Parliament and to working men; but one difficulty was the question of cost. It was his intention to look carefully into the matter and probably to make proposals for extending the work of the Bureau which he hoped would be favourably entertained by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was sure the hon. 443 Member for Northampton did not mean to cast any reflection on the head of the Bureau. [Mr. BRADLAUGH]: Not at all.] He believed that the Labour Correspondent (Mr. Burnett) had done all that could be done with the staff at his disposal, and he should like to mention what had been done by Mr. Burnett since he was appointed Labour Correspondent of the Board of Trade in October, 1886. He was a Member of a Committee on Government Manufacturing Establishments, which occupied 70 days. He was also a Member of the Committee of the Emigrants' Information Office. In the beginning of 1887, he made a special Report on immigration at the East End, which was issued as a Parliamentary Paper. In 1887, he also made a special report on Trades Unions, and another on the sweating system and the collection of wages statistics. In 1888, he had been engaged upon a second special Report on Trade Unions, which was nearly ready. He had also made a special Report on the cost of living, which was in the printer's hands; and a special Report on strikes and lock-outs in the previous year was in preparation. He made a monthly Report to the Board of Trade on the state of the labour market, of which a summary was published at frequent intervals in The Board of Trade Journal. And a special Report on wages and hours of labour of labourers in Kent and Sussex was published in The Board of Trade Journal in November, 1887. All that was possible should be done to secure that the Office was supplied with the fullest information; but he was afraid the searching of local newspapers was more than could be expected.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he had answered the question; but he had a suspicion that the staff supposed to be devoted to the work of the Bureau was employed for purposes that did not appear in the results of its labours. In many of the States of the United States a less costly Bureau produced more voluminous annual Returns, and certainly more ought to be done in this country, and with better results, considering the amount charged for the work in the Estimates. If more money was required, pressure ought to be put upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A single torpedo, for instance, 444 might be given up, and a portion of the money spent for this Department. He was afraid that the amount voted for the collection of labour statistics was not sufficient for the work. He did not attribute the smallest blame to Mr. Burnett, who was a loyal servant to the public, nor had he any wish to blame the President of the Board of Trade or his Predecessor. He was afraid that the permanent staff used the men who ought to be employed in collecting these statistics for other work.
§ MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)
asked, whether anything had been done with regard to signalling at sea, since the United States Congress passed an Act empowering the Government to enter into an International Congress on the subject? A large class of persons in this country were very much interested in obtaining information upon the matter. There was a wish on the part of captains to have a code of signals for use in fogs, as well as when vessels were in sight. He wished to know whether the Departmental Committee which the Board of Trade appointed some time ago, and which consisted of men of experience in these matters, would be empowered to join with any similar Body appointed by the Government of the United States, who, with this country, were principally concerned in the question? He should be glad to learn what steps were intended to be taken in that direction? He also wished to know what had been done with a view of securing safety upon the railways? Some time ago the President of the Board of Trade undertook to introduce a clause into the Railway Rates Bill, now before the Grand Committee, requiring the Railway Companies to furnish statistics in regard to overtime. He also desired to learn whether the Board of Trade would take power to require Railway Companies to furnish particulars as to coupling appliances and to casualties occurring in their use, so that useful conclusions might be drawn from the comparison of different systems? Among other things, the Railway Companies should be directed to furnish the Board of Trade with particulars as to the tyres used by the different Companies, and the different forms of brake. On some railways the coupling-pole had been adopted, while on others it had not. He thought it was of the greatest importance that the Board of Trade should 445 take steps to compel the railways to adopt the best means for securing safety.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said, he wished to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the resignation of Mr. Rothery, the Wreck Commissioner. The services of Mr. Rothery had been of great value for many years in eliciting the causes of casualties at sea, for his inquiries had been conducted with eminent skill and diligence. Mr. Rothery had now retired, and he wished to know if the Government proposed to appoint a successor to that valuable public servant, and whether they intended to continue the office of Wreck Commissioner? Some cases had recently occurred in which it was desirable that inquiries should be made without delay.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, the matter was, no doubt, of considerable importance, and was now under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. No decision had yet been arrived at on the subject, but it would not be long delayed. There were some reasons, he thought, in favour of making a fresh arrangement with regard to the work done by the Wreck Commissioner. In regard to the points raised by the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire (Mr. Channing), he quite agreed that they ought to obtain full information as to the use of coupling appliances before they attempted to legislate upon the subject. The Board of Trade already possessed certain information upon the question, and he would consider the matter in connection with the clause which would be inserted in the Railway and Canal Traffic Bill.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, the Wreck Commissioner was appointed under an Act of Parliament, and, if the Government made any new arrangement, it would be necessary to bring in a Bill in that House. He therefore ventured to hope that, under the circumstances, the Government would speedily come to a decision. The subject had been carefully considered by the Commission on Lights at Sea, and that Commission was in the main in favour of maintaining the office of Wreck Commissioner. While he thought that some alteration might be made in the duties attached to the office, he could not come to the conclusion that a suc- 446 cessor ought not to be appointed. Perhaps some alteration might be made in the nature of the duties. Some portion of the work might be taken away, and some of the powers now enjoyed by the Wreck Commissioner, especially in reference to the certificates of masters, might be reduced. The office might be constituted an office of Inquiry rather than one to which final powers were attached. He did not ask the right hon. Gentleman to deal at present with the Law of Insurance, but he hoped that during the Recess he would consider the subject of the loss of life at sea with the view of legislating upon it in the next Session.
§ MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
trusted that the pressure would be continued upon the Railway Companies to prevent long hours and overtime on the part of their servants, so as to relieve them of the physical strain they were frequently compelled to endure. As a rule he would not encourage interference on the part of the Central Government, and probably they would be entering upon a dangerous task if they were to prescribe the particular appliances that were to be used by Railway Companies. But the return recently laid before the House respecting working hours would be admitted to be most unsatisfactory, and demanded the vigilant attention of the Board of Trade.
§ MR. ROWNTREE (Scarborough)
said, he hoped that the Government would supply further information with regard to the Sea Fisheries of the country. He did not blame the President of the Board of Trade or the officials employed in the Department; but he believed that annual statistics and memoranda were supplied to the Board, and he wished to know whether they could not be published for the advantage of the public? He had been told that Reports of the Inspectors and statistics with regard to the quantity of fish brought into the country were not obtainable this year. He thought that such statistics ought to be obtained, and it would be a great advantage to include them in the annual Report of the Inspectors. At present, two distinct documents were issued at two different times, which had no relation to each other, and, although they had no relation to each other, he thought it would be better to give them together. He was glad to say that the annual Report this 447 year gave more useful information than the Report of last year. The Inspector of Fisheries, however, stated in the concluding paragraph of the annual Report that the Harbour Department had not been able to obtain all the information it desired. When they compared the Reports on Sea Fisheries in England with those of Scotland, Ireland, and the United States, they would agree that there was room for much further improvement, and that it was urgently called for by the great and important fishing industry of this country.
§ MR. WIGGIN (Staffordshire, Handsworth)
said, he could assure the hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottinghamshire (Mr. J. E. Ellis) that no one was more anxious to limit the working hours of railway servants than the Railway Directors. There were, however, times in which it was impossible to avoid keeping men at work beyond the stated hour. Trains had frequently to be run into sidings and were required to remain there for 12 or 14 hours at a time without being moved. Those occurrences it was impossible to avoid, and therefore from time to time there was a considerable increase beyond the regular working hours. He could assure the hon. Member that that was a constant subject of anxiety to the Railway Directors, and that they were most desirable of bringing the working hours of their servants within reasonable limits.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said, there could be no doubt that the Railway Directors were desirous of limiting the hours of their servants. He thought, however, that it was the duty of the Committee to demand information on the subject. The Return they had had a few weeks ago of the hours beyond 12 at which railway servants were employed was an exceedingly useful one, and it was desirable to give a practical Return of that kind. He thought, for instance, there ought to be one every quarter, in order to show how many railway servants had been working for more than 12 hours a-day out of the 24. Such a Return would throw full light upon the matter, and public opinion might then be expressed on the subject. He asked the President of the Board of Trade to furnish a Return giving particulars as to overtime worked by railway servants.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that it was certainly his intention in future to require an Overtime Return to be made periodically. He did not doubt for a moment that the Railway Companies were anxious to reduce overtime as far as possible, but he could not help thinking that there was more overtime than was necessary. The production of the periodical Return might tend to reduce it.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, there appeared to be on this Estimate a stereotyped sum of £15,000 for the legal expenses of Merchant Shipping Department. He should like to know whether something could not be done by careful examination to reduce those charges?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he would make inquiry into the matter.
§ DR. TANNER
said, he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade to a subject he had mentioned last year on going into Committee of Supply. He brought the matter forward now, because the right hon. Gentleman had expressed his desire to make the Labour Bureau a reality instead of a sham. He thought it would be for the benefit of those unfortunate persons who were compelled to occupy the steerage of an emigrant ship, if the officers of the Board of Trade would see that more complete medical provision and more adequate hospital accommodation was supplied on board such vessels. The right hon. Gentleman must be aware of the great difficulty which the Board had had to contend with on account of the antagonism of the shipping interest. The rules laid down had been conceived in a benevolent spirit, and, if acted upon, would be highly beneficial to the emigrants. He certainly thought that because they happened to be poor their health and comfort should not be neglected. He was satisfied, now that he had mentioned the matter to the right hon. Gentleman, that he would do everything in his power to see that there should be no further cause of complaint. He had brought the matter under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman's Predecessor at the Board of Trade last year, and he then received an assurance that the Board would do their best to see that the rules and regulations were carried out, not only in the letter, but in 449 the spirit. The matter was one which had been made the subject of comment by The British Medical Journal, who strongly condemned the want of system that now prevailed. The arrangements on board ocean-going steamers were at the present moment scandalous. He had taken the opportunity of endeavouring to bring under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman some of the various points that were connected with the matter in a series of Questions; but he was sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman did not appear to be fully alive to the gravity of the situation. He had also, in previous years, called the attention of the Board of Trade to this subject; but no efficient action had been taken. The right hon. Gentleman asked him to make a definite statement, and give names. He would give the statement, but not the names. The right hon. Gentleman had said that, according to the rules and regulations of the Board of Trade, the hospital accommodation was intended to be kept entirely apart; but sometimes the scanty space was taken away to provide berths for the officers and others. There were carried on board these large vessels upwards of 1,200 people, besides, perhaps, 100 seamen; and from that the importance of his contention would be seen. The consequence of the machinery breaking down would, of course, be serious in a certain sense; but the breaking out of an epidemic on board with these imperfect medical resources would be not only a national disaster, but constitute a stain on the national character. An event of the kind was by no means impossible, and it was to prevent such a calamity that he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman seriously to take up this matter. He could tell the right hon. Gentleman that on board these ships there were practically no hospitals. There was the evidence of medical men to prove the truth of that statement; but he would not give their names, because, if he did so, they would be sent adrift and Boycotted. The right hon. Gentleman would, therefore, see the difficulty of affording him such statistics as he had asked for the other evening. As compared with the size of the ships, the hospitals were very small. Even on such large vessels as the Servia, Umbria, and Etruria, which carried sometimes 2,000 people, there were only six berths set apart for hos- 450 pital accommodation. Several medical officers had told him that it was absolutely impossible to prevent cases of men, women, and children coming on board suffering from illness which might, in course of time, develop into an epidemic. It was impossible for men who had to inspect 1,000 emigrants to go into every case, as the right hon. Gentleman knew as well as he did. In point of fact, the mode of inspection at Queenstown was very similar to the process which hon. Members went through at passing the turnstile in the Lobby—the Inspectors merely looked at the passengers and passed them on. He had known instances in which the hospitals were occupied by stokers, engineers, and officers of the ship, and even of cases more scandalous, where the steerage passengers had been left without the hospital accommodation provided by the Board of Trade, in order that the space might be let to first-class passengers, to enable the owners to screw a little more profit out of the voyage. What guarantee was there, when a ship had passed the Emigration Office and cleared out of Queenstown for New York and the officers had left the ship, that the hospitals would not be utilized for other purposes by the captain of the ship? The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that the captain had supreme power on board, and that if he ordered the hospital to be used for other purpose than was intended he would be obeyed. What would be the result of the doctor reporting that at New York? The right hon. Gentleman had told them that the emigration officers in New York looked into these matters; but when pressed for Reports from the responsible officers in New York, he was unable to give any but the vague statement that the officers looked after the health of the passengers. He (Dr. Tanner) dared not give the right hon. Gentleman the names of the persons who had given him information, because they would lose their situations; but he would leave him to deal with this very serious public scandal. Again, the hospitals were always located in a part of the ship which was of the least utility to the owners, for the purpose of turning an honest penny. In the major part of the American liners, the hospitals were in such a place that, supposing a patient was seized with epilepsy or apoplexy, it would be impossible to convey him to 451 the hospital, because he would have to go along the open deck exposed to all the vicissitudes of the weather. Last week a case had occurred where a man, who was being passed along an exposed portion of the deck, was caught by a sea and his leg broken. If the man had died, he maintained that the Board of Trade would be directly responsible, because it would have been owing to the negligence of the rules and regulations which they laid down.
§ MR. AIRD (Paddington, N.)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
said, there might be some answer made to the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Tanner), and he would, therefore, not put the Motion; but he would impress on the hon. Gentleman the desirability of not repeating his observations.
§ DR. TANNER
said, this was a matter of great importance to the people of the country. It appeared by the Return which had been placed in the hands of all hon. Members that there had been a great increase of emigration in the years 1886 and 1887, and he said it was only a matter of common decency that Her Majesty's Government should see that emigrants were landed safely on foreign shores. The right hon. Gentleman had stated last year that a special surgeon's cabin was fitted up on board the ships as a surgery—he was quoting from Hansard—but he would merely tell the right hon. Gentleman that that was not the case. In 96 per cent of those vessels there was no such thing as a special surgeon's cabin, and the medicines had either to be kept in the hospital or in the cabin of the medical man. With regard to sanitation, he pointed out that in the week before last 300 people were battened down in consequence of the weather on board one ship, and the consequence of the absence of accommodation was such that he would only relate them to the right hon. Gentleman personally. Then, again, those ships often brought back cattle, and, owing to the circumstance that they had to return to America at once to make money for the owners, the part of the vessel in which the cattle were carried was frequently re-converted into steerage accommodation without being properly cleansed. He should not dwell any longer upon these matters; but, in 452 the interest of common humanity, he would not be doing his duty to those who were going to try to earn a livelihood in a foreign land if he did not bring these matters forward and claim for those on whose behalf he spoke the sympathy of the right hon. Gentleman, with a view to the prevention of what was nothing less than an outrage and scandal.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he had replied, to the best of his ability, to several questions which the hon. Gentleman had addressed to him in the past few weeks, and he had done so after careful inquiry of the Shipping Companies and the Inspectors of the Board of Trade. He had not been able to find any confirmation of the statements of the hon. Member. The hon. Gentleman complained that the regulations of the Board of Trade in reference to hospital accommodation on board the ships were not carried out. Now, he thought the hon. Gentleman, to some extent, confused the ships engaged in the ordinary passenger traffic with others engaged in the emigrant traffic. The regulations of the Board of Trade applied only to the latter. The Inspectors of the Board of Trade had to take care that the rules laid down in reference to these matters were carried out, and certainly he would do his best to secure that they did their duty in that respect. He believed that they did their duty; but if the hon. Gentleman would give him any special facts to the contrary he would promise him complete inquiry. He had no doubt that it was necessary, from time to time, to see that the local Inspectors properly carried out their work, and he would take care that this was done. It might be that after the ship left port, having passed the Board of Trade Inspectors, the hospital accommodation was used for other purposes. That was contrary to the rules of the Board of Trade; and he pointed out that it was only by the sanction of the medical officer that the accommodation could be devoted to other purposes than that for which it was intended. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, alleged that the medical officers absolutely neglected their duties.
§ DR. TANNER
said, on the contrary, he maintained that they did their duty as well as they could. If they attempted to report the breaches of the Board of Trade Regulations which occurred on 453 board ship, they would be dismissed from their employment.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he had promised the hon. Member that if any offence could be brought before him which would warrant the prosecution of any Company or individual their prosecution should take place. More than that he could not say. If, however, the hon. Member made general charges without giving particular information, how was it possible for him to act? He trusted the Committee would now be allowed to proceed with other Business.
§ DR. TANNER
said, it was impossible for these poor people to complain.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, they might complain to the British Consul when they arrived.
§ DR. TANNER
said, the right hon. Gentleman would know that these poor emigrants were not accustomed to large cities. When they arrived in New York they were hustled about like sheep, and had no opportunity of making complaint. In the case of cabin passengers, he could understand that complaints might be made and attended to. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to do exactly as was done in the case of emigrants to Australia from this country—that was to say, to pay the medical officers a small stipend, and make them responsible for the health of the emigrants under their charge. There would then be none of those breaches of regulations, which were now so common in the case of emigrants to America.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said, a few years ago the then President of the Board of Trade had allowed the salvage on coal to be increased from one-third to two-thirds. The sailors and fishermen were extremely grateful for the concession, which gratitude might, in their case, also be regarded as a lively sense of increased salvage to be given; and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could not increase the rate of salvage on anchors, many of which were lying about the Estuary of the Thames? Under the present system, sailors got nothing out of a salvage.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
said, the right hon. Gentleman had given a good earnest of his intention to deal with cases of neglect of the Board of Trade Regulations; but he (Mr. J. O'Connor) must emphasize the fact that 454 it was impossible for emigrants to bring particular cases of hardship before the Department. He asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would lay on the Table a general statement of the custom of the Shipping Companies as bearing of the question of accommodation? His hon. Friend (Dr. Tanner) had pointed out that no medical man on board the vessels would have the courage to make a statement against his employers, because he knew that the result would be his own dismissal; and, therefore, it seemed to him almost impossible that the hardships which undoubtedly existed, and which he had himself seen, could be brought under the notice of the Board of Trade in the precise manner which the right hon. Gentleman asked for. That being so, he would ask him whether, if a primâ facie case were placed before him, he would make inquiries into it, with a view to the protection, in the sense referred to, of the emigrants?
§ DR. TANNER
asked if the right hon. Gentleman would give a Return of the amount of accommodation for steerage passengers in the liners, and also of the steamers which carried cattle as well as passengers?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, if any such case as that suggested by the hon. Member for South Tipperary (Mr. J. O'Connor) were laid before him, it should be thoroughly investigated. It would be impossible to institute any inquiries into such charges unless the names of the ships were given, although he would be sorry to require anything that would injure any officers. He had not had any Notice of the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for South-East Essex (Major Rasch), and perhaps he would communicate with him further on the matter.
§ MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)
said, he protested against the idea that Gentlemen on either side of the House were to be held responsible for investigations into general matters, with regard to which no one would give either name or date.
§ DR. TANNER
said, he wished to point out that there were some amounts which were not specified in the Estimates—namely, law charges in connection with the Patent Act of 1883, Life Assurance Companies Act, 1870, Harbour Transfer Act 1862, and others. These were small points, no doubt; but 455 they were important in regard to Estimates which were supposed to convey to hon. Members the absolute amount of money spent on the various Departments, and which were not always so accurate as the public were led to believe; and before the Vote was passed he would ask the right hon. Gentleman for some explanation.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
All the charges are on the Paper.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 266; Noes 84: Majority 182.—(Div. List, No. 194.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That a sum, not exceeding £69,017, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 301; Noes 62: Majority 239.—(Div. List, No. 195.)
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £6, 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 meeting the Deficiency of Income from Fees, &c., for the requirements of the Board of Trade, under 'The Bankruptcy Act, 1883.'
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, although the sum now taken was very small, it was no reason why the Committee should not exercise any control over the Bankruptcy Fees. Accordingly, he thought the Committee was entitled to the fullest information with reference to the subheads under which were included Contingencies, Stationery, and Law Charges.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
said, that this Vote really covered a much larger sum than appeared on the Paper. The largest sum shown in the Estimates was £110,000. Well, that did not represent anything like the amount of money which was actually received in connection with the Bankruptcy Vote. The amount in the Estimates gave a balance which represented a fictitious statement of accounts. The total expenditure, as shown on page 1 of the Estimates, was £110,000 odd, and that was met by fees received under 456 the Bankruptcy Act, 1883; but, as a matter of fact, the Bankruptcy Fees Account did not represent, or anything like represent, the amounts of money actually paid in fees by suitors and parties under the Bankruptcy Act, 1883. Under that Act a very considerable amount of Bankruptcy business, in fact, the great body of Bankruptcy business was handed over to the County Courts. Now, in the County Courts there was no distinction between the fees paid for ordinary business in connection, for instance, with actions to recover the value of goods sold and delivered and Bankruptcy business; and neither the County Courts nor the Board of Trade, nor, so far as he knew, the Treasury appeared to be in full possession of information as to the amount of fees paid in the County Courts for Bankruptcy business. Under these circumstances, it was clear that the sum of £110,000 shown on the Estimates was insufficient to show what amount those engaged in Bankruptcy business had to disburse in Bankruptcy fees. The first question he would ask was whether the Treasury had obtained the information requested by the Public Accounts' Committee, and asked for in a Question put in the House, as to the amount of money which had been received in connection with Bankruptcy in the County Courts? Then he would further ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) what was the total amount recovered from bankrupts' estates which went to the Fees Fund Account under the 77th section of the Bankruptcy Act, as represented by the sum received by the Exchequer from the County Courts? Then, he would also ask, what amount these fees had had to supply to meet the cost of new works—works which in connection with other branches of legal business should really have been paid for by the Exchequer—because he held—and he challenged denial of this at the hands of the Government—that so large an amount of money was taken from bankrupts' estates, in the shape of fees and otherwise, that the bankrupts' creditors were practically defrauded of a large portion of the money which ought to be given to them as distributed assets? He hoped he had made his point clear. He desired to ascertain the amount of stamps and fees in connection with the Bankruptcy business in the County Courts; 457 also the amount of money spent out of the sum realized for assets in Bankruptcy on public purposes; and, coming to the details of the Vote, he wished to say that it bore upon it an item which was entirely new. Sub-head E had for postages a sum of £2,872 which had never been charged, at any rate as a separate item, in this Vote before. Under most of the other Sub-heads there was an increase; but under Sub-head B, giving some details as to how money was spent, they were told that there were four Assistant Official Receivers at a salary of £500 a-year each. Now, as a matter of fact, there were not four Official Receivers. There were only three, and the Government knew that very well, because there were only three Official Receivers last year and the year before, and they were actually drawing now, and not for the first time, £500 for an official who did not exist. He remembered some years ago pointing out a precisely similar thing in connection with the Official Referees of the Supreme Court, and it took them three-quarters of an hour to induce the Government to abandon a charge of £1,500 for an officer who did not then exist, and who had not existed for several years. Well, here was a precisely similar case. He thought he had better not raise any more points, for fear of confusing the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury; but he hoped, at any rate, that the hon. Member would address himself to the three points he (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had ventured to submit to him.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, the main point the hon. Gentleman had called attention to had reference to the receipts on the Bankruptcy Account, and he (Mr. Jackson) had, he thought, answered a question in that House on the subject once or twice before. The hon. Member had correctly stated that a question on this point was raised before the Public Accounts Committee. Well, he (Mr. Jackson) had made an inquiry as to whether a separate account could be stated, and he was informed that the details could not be given because the amounts were taken in stamps, which were purchased by solicitors from time to time, and there were no separate records kept of amounts. Nor was he sure that they could possibly keep such 458 an account of the amount of fees taken in Bankruptcy work. He supposed the item accounted for just that amount of business which was done in stamps to affix to Bankruptcy documents and paid for in the ordinary way. He had been anxious to obtain the information asked for, and had applied for it in the proper quarter, and what he had stated was the answer he received. Then the hon. Gentleman asked what sum of money was spent out of Bankruptcy fees on works for the Public Service? He was afraid he could not quite answer that question, because he did not exactly appreciate what the point of it was. The hon. Gentleman was aware that the Government had undertaken to build some offices, and the site had to be purchased, the buildings erected, and this, no doubt, would be done out of the funds which stood to the credit of the account. As to the three Receivers, he did not know whether his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade could answer more definitely, though he believed it was a matter more for him than for the Secretary to the Treasury. The hon. Member (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) knew perfectly well that if money was voted in the Estimates for services which were not performed the money would not be paid for those services.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that was precisely the answer he got from the late Lord Frederick Cavendish, some years ago, when he questioned him in regard to money charged for an Official Referee who did not exist. But this was not the way in which public money ought to be voted in the House. It was rather singular that such laxity should prevail in the system of keeping accounts, looking at the very detailed statement they had put before them, showing every single official employed down to the poor man who had only 30s. a-week, which details were supplied to them in order that they might see the way in which the money was actually spent. But the question of the existence or non-existence of this Official Receiver was not a question which the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury himself or the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade could be expected to be well informed. Information, however, could easily be ascertained from any official directory. It could be seen by anyone making 459 inquiries that there were only three Assistant Official Receivers, and yet four were charged for, as was the case last year also. As the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury said, the money would have to be repaid if not spent in paying the salary of the fourth Official Receiver, but the account was defective to that extent; and his point was that there ought not to be such laxity in these matters. It was extremely dangerous to allow laxity to take place in statements of account. The figures before the House showed this to be the case. There was an increase of no less than 10 per cent on the total Vote this year. The total amount was £110,000, of which £10,000 was an increment last year, and this small sum of £9 taken now represented something like £300,000 a-year taken from insolvents' estates which had to be dealt with by the Official Receivers—£300, 000 taken not from wealthy people, but from creditors who had already suffered heavily by reason of the failure of their debtors, and every one of whom ought to be protected from overcharge in being saddled with this expenditure. In these Estimates the Government constantly took sums for services which ought not to be charged to the creditors. He should like to know how much money was to be spent upon new works out of this Vote? He did not know but that they might assume that £150,000 or £200,000 would be a moderate amount to take for the new buildings. But £200,000 was really two years' balance of the Bankruptcy Fee Fund, and the whole of that was to be taken out of the pockets of creditors who had already been unduly and remorselessly fleeced by the present system of Bankruptcy fees. He submitted that it was reasonable that the fees taken in Bankruptcy should be decreased, so that bankrupts' estates might go more than they did at present to the creditors to whom they belonged. As to this Vote, he wished to draw the attention of the Committee to another point in it, and that was that they had in connection with this Bankruptcy business a system which did not obtain anywhere else. They had, as would be seen on page 122, an Official Receiver with a large clerical staff. Now, this "clerical staff" was not managed as the clerical staff of the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office, or the War Office. 460 The War Minister did not come down to that House and ask for £20,000 a-year for his clerical staff, but he set down in black and white the details of the Department, showing the amount of assistance he needed for the salary paid to each individual, so that the Committee knew what it was they were voting. But, in the case to which he was drawing attention, they did not know what they were voting for. They were told that this Official Receiver required a sum of £8,000 a-year for clerical assistance, but no details were given. Well, he protested against such a method of submitting Estimates to the Committee. How was this £8,000 dealt with? How was it expended? How was it shown to be necessary? He did not see that the antecedents of the Chief Official Receiver in Bankruptcy was sufficient to justify a large sum like this being handed over to him for these services any more than the political antecedents of, say, the First Lord of the Admiralty, or the right hon. Gentleman the War Minister, would justify him, even in his own eyes, in coming to the House, and saying—"I want clerical assistance at the rate of, say, £30,000 a-year." If that were so, and these officials would not be allowed to act in that way, neither should the Chief Receiver be allowed so to act? The same evil obtained in connection with the Solicitor. He also gave no details. He did not tell them whether he had one, two, or 10 clerks, but merely said he wanted £1,240 a-year. This year this official wanted more money than he asked for last year, but the Treasury submitted no Estimate to the Committee giving any information of a trust-worthy and practical kind. And why was this? Simply because it was not Treasury money which was being expended. If this was Treasury money they would have details given to them, just as they had in connection with the War Office and the Admiralty Estimates. As the money was to be taken out of the pockets of the unfortunate creditors of insolvents, the Treasury was satisfied with a very perfunctory discharge of their duty on the part of those intrusted with the disbursement of this money. The Treasury was perfectly satisfied if the Fee Fund came up to a tolerable amount. But this system was not fair; indeed, it did not appear 461 to him (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) to be honest.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, there was a question arising on this Vote on page 121, which certainly was not clear to his mind, and he did not know whether the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote would be able to examine into it. On page 121 it was stated that the whole amount of fees and investments was £168,700, the interest on the investments being as much as £25,000. He inferred from that that the fees in the first place were largely in excess of the amount of money actually disbursed on the maintenance of the Department, and that they must have been so for some years past, or else he could not understand how so large a sum as £25,000 accrued as interest on money invested. What was evident from the item, at least, as he read it, was, that while these fees and interest on money invested amounted to £168,700, the amount actually required—actually spent—in 1888–9 was only £110,400, leaving, therefore, a sum of between £50,000 and £60,000 as a balance—a sum with regard to which he should like to have some further information. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) would be able to explain whether he (Mr. Conybeare) was correct in the assumption, and would give them some information about this large surplus. He should also like to know why the item immediately above that to which he had referred—namely, £9,146—was entered in a different Vote—that was to say, why this item was given when provision was also made in another Estimate for similar expenditure in connection with the Civil Service? It seemed to him very inconvenient that they should have to refer to two sets of Estimates in a matter of this kind, and he failed to see why the two charges should not come in one Estimate. He thought it would also be interesting if they could have some information given to them as to the comparative percentage of expenditure under the new Bankruptcy system as compared with the percentage under the old system—that was to say, he should like to have some information as to whether the cost of administering the new Act was greater or less than the administration of the old Bankruptcy Law used to be. He did not know 462 whether the hon. Gentleman had any information which would throw light upon this subject. He entirely agreed with the observations which had been made by his hon. Friend (Mr. Arthur O'Connor), and he thought that unless a satisfactory explanation was given to the Committee on the points the hon. Member had raised it would be their duty to challenge a Division upon the Vote.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he must ask the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to give an answer to the questions he had put to him. He would ask the hon. Gentleman further with regard to the rent of rooms for meetings. He presumed the nine cases mentioned on page 123 were places where meetings could be held. Every one of these places had got public buildings attached to it, and he certainly thought that creditors under the Bankruptcy Act were entitled to have the advantage of the occupation of any public room either at Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, and so on. He asked for information on these subheads as to how this money was spent. The answer the hon. Member had given as to the fees paid into the County Courts was one of those answers submitted to the hon. Member by officials, for which he was not personally responsible; but he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) could assure the hon. Gentleman that the answer was a very delusive one. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) thought there should be some means of classifying these receipts in the form of Bankruptcy fees. He had no doubt that the gentlemen who took the fees could classify them if they chose. If there were any difficulty in the matter, why not insist upon the use of special Bankruptcy stamps? He was surprised to see fees amounting to so much as £200,000, but he had no doubt that the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) was correct in the statement that he had made.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not think that he had intentionally neglected to answer his question. He certainly would undertake to make inquiries as to the practicability of giving the details asked for, because he himself thought it desirable they should be given, as far as they could be, in the interests of the 463 Public Service. The hon. Member for East Donegal had spoken about the fees, and appeared to be under the impression that what was charged was much in excess of the expenses, and that, therefore, the Government were taking out of the pockets of those who made bad debts a larger sum than was necessary. Well, according to the information he (Mr. Jackson) had received, that view was hardly borne out by the facts. He noticed that, taking the total receipts in fees and stamps from the years 1883–4 to 1886–7, the amount was £649,936.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
What does this represent?
§ MR. JACKSON
The total amounts of receipts. He was taking a particular period to illustrate the point in question.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Whence are these receipts gathered; what receipts are they?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the receipts were gathered from the amounts paid in fees in the Bankruptcy Court, and the amount paid in stamps so far as the Bankruptcy Department was concerned. The total receipts were £649,936, and the total expenditure £625,496, leaving a balance of £24,440.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
That is a balance of £6,000 a-year?
§ MR. JACKSON
Yes; up to that time. He might say that the Treasury had always held it to be the intention of the Bankruptcy Act that the total expenditure should be covered by the fees charged, and certainly the experience they had had up to the present would hardly justify them in saying that the fees should be reduced—they were hardly sufficient to warrant them in coming to a decision as to whether or not the fees should be decreased. The statement obtained up to the 31st March, 1887, showed the total amount of receipts to be £201,000, whereas the expenditure was £181,000, showing a profit for the year of £20,000. The hon. Member had referred to the charges which appeared on the face of the Estimates as charges which were borne under other Votes; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman opposite would confirm him when he said that this arrangement was effected at the expressed wish of the House, and that 464 that information was given with the view of stating as clearly as possible the cost of the Service. The reason the account was rendered in this form was that it was considered much better to concentrate under one Department all charges, so that they might be under one head. A reference was given to the particular items.
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) a simple question which he did not think the right hon. Baronet would find it difficult to answer. He hoped the right hon. Baronet would be able to tell the Committee what would be the future position of those clerks in the Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade in the Chief Official Receiver's Office—who were engaged for the first time when the re-organization took place—immediately after the new Bankruptcy Act passed into law? As the right hon. Baronet knew very well these clerks were not on the establishment of the Civil Service, but were paid out of a lump sum which appeared on the Estimates as an allowance for additional clerical assistance. These particular men felt that they were really suffering under a very great grievance. They say they were tempted into the Service by delusive hopes, which were held out to them of promotion and advancement—hopes held out almost amounting to false pretences. Many of these people asserted, and he believed what they said was not disputed, that they had occupied, previous to joining, positions of large emolument under private firms. At present they did not know from day to day where they might in the future be placed. They were ignorant as to whether from this year they would be retained in office at all, and, very naturally, they objected to this precarious position into which, they said, they had been forced in direct contradiction to the statements made to them when they accepted their positions in this particular Office. They were told that they would probably get early promotion, as there was every desire to make this branch as efficient as it could be. Doubtless the right hon. Baronet had come to some decision as to retention of these men, and as to what their position would be in the future—whether they would be 465 on the Establishment or not. He (Mr. Lawson) should like to know whether the right hon. Baronet had come to any decision?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
said, he would refer first to the point raised by the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall (Mr. Conybeare) as to the relative costs of proceedings under the present Bankruptcy Act, and under the old Bankruptcy system. He thought that if the hon. Member would refer to the Return; which was presented to the House on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), he would see a careful comparison drawn up showing the number of cases and the percentage of costs to the gross assets, which spoke very favourably for the present system of bankruptcy. He would refer the hon. Member to that Return for details, and the hon. Member, he thought, would find that what he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) said was borne out by it. As to the point the hon. Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) had raised, he looked upon the subject from another point of view to that of the hon. Gentleman. He could quite understand the anxiety of these clerks for the settlement of their case; but the Committee must remember that that settlement, if it involved their being placed on the same footing as other servants, would entail the giving of the right to pension, and he did not want to do that until he was quite satisfied that the number to which that right was given did not exceed that which it would be necessary permanently to maintain. These gentlemen had only been engaged at first temporarily, and he thought they all fully understood their position. He did not think there was any ground for the suggestion of a grievance which the hon. Gentleman had made. He admitted that sooner or later the matter must be permanently settled. When the period for which this temporary arrangement had been made had expired, no time would be lost in going into the matter and settling it.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he was afraid these clerks had been distinctly tempted into the Service by the inducement put before them that they would be placed upon the Establishment; and they declared that the offer was made to them 466 by the responsible head. They alleged—and he thought with great reason—that it was utterly impossible for them to resume the duties in which they were engaged in connection with private firms before they entered the service of the Bankruptcy Department.
§ SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
said, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) had told them that he would give them next year details with regard to this Vote. He was surprised the hon. Member had not been able to give them the details now. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would be able to give them next year a satisfactory answer to the points raised by the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) in regard to the additional clerical assistance charged for by the Official Receiver and by the Solicitor. There was a large increment this year over the Estimate last year, and he trusted that when these details were taken in hand all those responsible for them then would go thoroughly into the whole matter, and satisfy themselves as to the details of the receipts and expenditure. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of the difficulty of obtaining an account of the money received by way of fees; but surely it must be easy to obtain such an account. Though the fees were in the shape of stamps, these stamps would be affixed to documents which were on record, and reference could be made to them in order to ascertain the amount paid.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, that he had great doubts as to the possibility of obtaining any accurate statement as to the amount of the receipts from stamps under the present system. He had made some inquiries on a kindred subject as affecting the High Court of Judicature, and he had ascertained that it was quite impossible, looking at the manner in which stamps were dealt with now, to ascertain as between one Court and another—say, between the Court of Queen's Bench and the Chancery Division—what were the receipts in each particular case; and he fancied the same thing applied in the case of County Courts. He believed it would be quite impossible to discriminate in the County Courts how much was received for stamps in connection with bankruptcy and how much in connection with other business. It 467 seemed to him that the only way really to arrive at a just knowledge as to what was the produce of this part of legal business was by having a distinct stamp for the different classes of work.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, it was only fair to state that the working of the Bankruptcy Act of 1883 had left a small profit of something like £6,000 a-year. As to the charges being excessively high, if there was any ground for the allegation—if it was the fact that the Government were making a large profit out of the working of the Bankruptcy Act—then he thought that the charges ought to be reduced in the interest of the traders of the country; but that the charges were not excessively high was proved by the smallness of the margin of profit, and he did not think, looking at the smallness of this margin, that it would be possible to reduce the charges. But there was another satisfactory evidence as to the reasonableness of the charges. In the Return moved for by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and circulated on May 1 last year, it was shown most conclusively that the cost of working the new system of Bankruptcy reduced the charges to the traders of something like 50 per cent. as compared with the former cost of Bankruptcy proceedings. Then there was another very great advantage. There had been an enormous reduction in the amount of time occupied in the performance of Bankruptcy duties, which had been of incalculable benefit to creditors. He knew something of the working of the Bankruptcy Act, and he could safely say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham had never, in his (Mr. Mundella's) opinion, done a better piece of service to the country than in the passing of the new Act. The Act worked admirably, and he believed that it had had a restraining influence upon over-trading, and that influence would be increased by what was done last year in the extension of the Act by bringing composition deeds under registration. He certainly thought that bankruptcy ought to pay its own way, and that they ought not to conduct the business of the trade of the country at the expense of the country. He believed that, on the whole, the Bankruptcy Act was economically administered and 468 with great ability by those at the head of the Department. The accounts might be set out more in detail; but he would undertake to say that, so far from there being a lavish expenditure, the Treasury were very careful in keeping down the expenditure, and were as close-fisted in this as in other matters as they possibly could be. He did not think anybody had ever found the Treasury a very easy master in these matters, or that anybody who had dealings with the Treasury could be lavish in expenditure without being immediately checked and brought to account for it. As to the Receivers, it had been found very difficult to fix some of their duties, and the Treasury had been unwilling to recognize the whole staff as permanently upon the Establishment, as it did not wish to extend the pensions. There was something to be said on behalf of the members of the staff; but the right hon. Baronet was justified in saying that the whole circumstances of the case required to be carefully considered before he could make any definite arrangement as to rendering the staff permanent.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, that, notwithstanding what they were told from both Front Benches, he still was under the impression that there had been considerable laxity in the matter of these fees, and that the House had not been furnished with that information which it had a right to expect. He hoped that the points which had been raised would be thoroughly investigated. He understood that the clerical assistance was a matter of contract allowances. Well, he should like to know who fixed the £8,000 which was given to the Official Receiver for clerical assistance? Whose duty was it to take care that the Official Receiver did not make money out of this arrangement? Who was responsible for making sure that the sum paid was a right one, and that it was properly expended? Then, take the case of the Treasury. Last year the Treasury Solicitor's allowance for clerks was £1,100. It seemed that this was not a fixed sum, for this year the amount asked for in the Estimate was £1,240. He should like to know who fixed that increase to the Treasury Solicitor for clerical assistance?
§ MR. JACKSON
This official is not the Solicitor to the Treasury.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
Yes; it was the Solicitor to the Official Receiver, What he wanted to know was, who checked these allowances? He saw in the Accounts that the salaried Official Receivers had allowances for clerks and messengers. One appointed for Chester had a salary of £700, but he received £1,150 more under the head of allowances for clerks and messengers. Then, again, it was an extraordinary thing that the account of allowances for stationery should be divided; and he thought that this account should appear either in connection with the Bankruptcy Department or the Stationery Department, and not in connection with both. They had an item under both Departments, and there seemed in this matter to have been an increase of £1,550 in the present year. He should like to know if an account was rendered to the Treasury of that expenditure, or whether it was a contract allowance? If it was a contract allowance, who fixed it?
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that, as to the question just put to him, he could only assure the hon. Gentleman that these charges were very carefully looked into by the Board of Trade and by the Treasury—these charges with regard to the allowance made to the Official Receivers for clerical assistance, in order to see, first, that the sum was not too much, and, secondly, that it was properly distributed. If a permanent establishment were settled, it would appear in a shape that would be much more satisfactory to those who took an interest in the Vote. He would explain, in reference to the latter questions of the hon. Member, that the increase under Sub-heads E, F, and G, for stationery, was really no increase at all. What had happened was this—the account for postage and contingencies and stationery used formerly to be charged to bankrupts' estates, and deducted from the estates before they were divided among the creditors. Now the amount was placed on the Vote, and fees were charged which more than recouped the Vote for the expenditure. This was a more correct system of account.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, the right hon. Baronet had answered some of the questions which had been put, but had not yet answered the last question of 470 the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) as to the extra receipts. He did not, for a moment, dispute the benefits which, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) had pointed out, had resulted from the new Act. He did not ask any questions in order to impugn the working of the new Act, but in order that they might get a little more light upon these items which they had been criticizing. He did not ask these questions in any hostile spirit, but in order to obtain information; and he would be obliged if the right hon. Baronet would explain what had been brought to his attention lately—namely, what was the meaning of the extra receipts, from which it appeared that the fees produced £137,000 and interest on investments £25,000, or a total of £168,700? These sums appeared as receipts. One would have thought that a portion of that would have been applied to the maintenance of the Department; but, instead of that, this charge amounted to £1,100,400. Therefore, it appeared to his lay mind that there was a profit of £58,000. Under Sub-head H., for Law Charges, there was an amount of £2,000. He wanted to know what these Law Charges were, because, under Sub-head B., the solicitor got £1,200, and there was another item for clerks to the solicitor of £1,240?
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
asked the right hon. Baronet whether this £25,000 interest was on money invested—money which, being capitalized, would represent £833,000? Had any portion of that sum been received from fees paid by suitors, or did it represent amounts received from bankrupts' estates? If it had come from the latter, it was excessive.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, there had been a small profit in the working of the system, as had been explained by his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury; but the Committee must remember that there were several charges of considerable amount—for instance, remuneration to County Registrars, £29,000—which were charged against the fees received, besides the items included in the Vote. If hon. Members of the Committee would refer to the last Report of the Board of Trade which had been laid before the Houses of Parlia- 471 ment, they would find a full account of receipts and expenditure on account of Bankruptcy proceedings up to March 31st, 1887. A similar account would be presented for the year ending the 31st March this year. Without looking at this, it would be almost impossible for hon. Members to appreciate the items for fees. As to the £2,000 for Law Charges, it was impossible to give more than a rough estimate what these charges would amount to. The charge was for legal services in connection with Bankruptcy cases, and, of course, the amount of the item depended upon the amount of such work done. The amount in the account might not be reached, or it might be exceeded in the course of the year.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, it was to be regretted that, whenever a suggestion was made from those (the Opposition) Benches, however well founded, or whenever a question was addressed to a Minister from those Benches, whatever might be its nature, the official Representatives of the Government for the time being appeared to think it absolutely necessary to throw themselves into a defensive attitude and assume an air of antagonism to the question. He (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) thought it would be much more sensible, and much more to the advantage of the public, if Ministers would make some real attempt to judge the merits of the suggestions made, instead of assuming that the person who made the inquiry intended to do something to damage the Government. He protested that, in making the observations he had made, he had no idea of attacking either the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade or the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he did not infer that.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
No; but Ministers, in discharge of their official duties, acted as though it was necessary to oppose everything suggested on that (the Opposition) side of the House. His (Mr. Arthur O'Connor's) proposal was dictated from the very document which the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade said was absolutely necessary to the understanding of the Vote. He should not have thought of rising in his place to make observations about this Estimate 472 if he had not previously seen and studied the Report to which the right hon. Baronet referred. What did the Report tell him? Why, that out of £4,500,000 odd received as creditors' property in connection with bankruptcy in the Superior Courts—not in the County Courts—there had been distributed amongst creditors only £3,781,000. There was a balance of £739,000. What had been done with that money? It was not held by the Bankruptcy Department, but was handed over to the Treasury. Besides that sum there was another sum of £209,000 recovered from the trustees under the old Bankruptcy Act of 1869, to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) referred a little time ago. The conduct of those trustees, under the old Act, had been extremely bad—perfectly indefensible. They had frittered away the money of the bankrupts in a most shameful manner; but what was the use of talking about that? Any reference to the conduct of the old trustees, and to the working of the old Act, was simply taking away the mind of the Committee from that which it ought to consider at this time. There was a sum of £1,049,000 in the hands of the Treasury for investment, and the Treasury obtained from that, or should obtain from it if properly invested, £40,000 a year. That was the first item in the statement of accounts referred to by the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade. What was the next item? £69,000 for fees received in cash, and the next item was the amount received by the Inland Revenue for Bankruptcy stamps—£73,000. And that was not all, but there were dividends and other moneys invested under Section 6 of the Bankruptcy Act of 1883, which brought in £21,000 a-year. Therefore they had on the debtor side of the account incomes represented to the extent of £210,000. Then there were the outgoing items, and, amongst other things, an item in connection with the Registrar's Account of the County Court. This was £183,000 a-year, in spite of the inclusion of £29,000 which had been referred to. That showed that in the course of one year, not taking into account a single farthing of the fees put into the County Courts, they had £20,000 a-year more than they need 473 have. They had the profits from the invested assets, and then they went and taxed the creditors' property, the fees which they charged amounting to £20,000 a-year. They had also to add to that all the money they received in the County Courts, and what was the result of the inclusion? Why, that all their Bankruptcy fees were 33 per cent at least higher than they need be for the purpose of discharging the whole of the Bankruptcy business of the country. This was the case so far as Bankruptcy assets were concerned, without charging a single farthing of the expense to the Exchequer. And, further than this, he maintained that it was not fair to the general creditor, whose assets they were dealing with, that they should continue this high rate of fees, which was simply eating up their Bankruptcy Fee Account until it had reached more than £1,000,000 of permanent investments. He did not think the right hon. Baronet had met the case at all, and he sincerely hoped that in reconsidering the position—which reconsideration the right hon. Gentleman said was to take place during the Recess—he would have regard to the accumulation of money which was not in the hands of the Board of Trade, but paid over to the Treasury for investment, and which was more than sufficient to meet all the reasonable charges which bankrupts' estates ought to be put to.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he would say for himself, and the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, that, so far from receiving the suggestions and the questions of the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) in the spirit in which the hon. Gentleman supposed, they thought his comments were worthy of serious attention. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was not at all satisfied with the mode in which the Accounts were at present presented to the House; and he would, before next year, have them fully considered with the view of their being presented in what he hoped would be a better and simpler way. With regard to the point of detail the hon. Gentleman alluded to—namely, inclusion in the Estimate of a charge for six Official Receivers, whereas only five had been appointed.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
The charge is for four, and only three were appointed.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, that two extra Official Receivers had been appointed this year, which made five on the Establishment, whilst six were charged for. He thought it a mistake to take a Vote for a larger number of Receivers than were employed; and if, on inquiry, he found it was not intended to fill up the vacancy the Vote should be amended next year.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, that he did not wonder at his hon. Friend the Member for East Donegal complaining of a charge being made for an Official Receiver who, as a matter of fact, was not appointed. He thought the best thing which could be done to assist the Secretary to the Treasury in this matter would be to move the reduction of the Vote by the £500 which was charged for the man who did not exist. Last year hon. Members had complained of this very item, and the same excuse was then made as was now tendered, and they had taken it for granted then that this year, at least, the Treasury officials would not come to the House and ask for this £500. Seemingly, however, they had come again, and he thought that if they went back before last year they would find that in previous years the same amount had been charged. As the Government were charging for a man who had no existence, he thought it was the duty of the Committee to move a reduction to the extent of £500.
§ MR. MOLLOY
I do, Sir.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item B, £19,608, for Chief Official Receiver's Department, be reduced by £500."—(Mr. Molloy.)
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, that it was necessary to check this practice of asking for money for officials who did not exist, because if money were granted under these circumstances for an official who had no existence, they would soon find that a person would be obtained to fill the vacancy. He cordially supported his hon. Friend in this Motion.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he hoped the Motion would not be pressed. Two Official Receivers had been appointed this year, so that it was possible that all who were charged for in the Estimate might be needed. There was a tendency to substitute the payment of these Receivers by salary rather 475 than by fee; and that system, if properly developed, would, he thought, be found to lead to a very desirable result. If the money now voted was not considered necessary it would not be spent.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that the same answer was given to hon. Members year after year. They were always told that if the money voted was not required it would be returned; but they knew that in many cases money voted in that House was not devoted to the purpose for which it was voted, but to some other purpose. However, as a matter of compliment to the right hon. Baronet, he would withdraw his Motion. He did, however, think it a monstrous thing that charges of this kind should be inserted in the Estimates.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
said, he thought, after what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, ample reason had been shown why the Vote should not be passed at all. He understood the right hon. Baronet to admit that these accounts were in a most unsatisfactory condition. ["No, no!"] Yes; he understood the right hon. Baronet the President of the Board of Trade to admit that five months ago.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
No. What I said was, that it might be possible to have these Accounts presented in a simpler and a better form.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, that was tantamount to saying that the Votes at present were presented in a very unsatisfactory form. ["No, no!"] At any rate, he (Mr. Anderson) thought they were in a very unsatisfactory form. The right hon. Baronet had referred to an item of £2,000 for Law Charges. Well, some hon. Members, he thought, had understood that when there was an Official Law Department the charges for legal business would appear under that Department. They did not expect to see a charge such as this under the Bankruptcy Department. The item was the same as one they had had last year; and if the expenditure was the same why was not the amount smaller?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman evidently did not understand that this £2,000 was a sum taken for legal assistance under the Bankruptcy Act, which assistance depended upon the amount of Bank- 476 ruptcy business performed. No exact estimate could be given at the commencement of the year, and it was absolutely impossible to give any details of the sub-head, as it was never known what charges would come in course of payment in connection with Bankruptcy estates. It was impossible to say what the amount would be. As a matter of fact, the Treasury was desirous of having this amount reduced from £2,000 to £1,500. The Treasury had made a representation to the Board of Trade on the matter, and the answer they had received from the Board of Trade was that the expenditure of the preceding year, so far as the Board of Trade could judge, would be slightly increased in the coming year. On that understanding it had been found impossible to keep the charge at the £1,500 fixed last year.
§ MR. ANDERSON
asked where they found the details?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, they would be found in the Appropriation Accounts.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, they could not trace the money which had been appropriated during the past year, and there ought to be some indication in the Accounts to show where the money had gone. There was, however, no trace of it. Surely the Government ought to be able to tell the Committee how it was spent last year. Hon. Members looked into the Accounts for information, but obtained none, and he thought it highly unsatisfactory that they should be called upon to vote, in this wholesale manner, considerable sums for Law Charges.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he was sorry he had not made his meaning clear. The hon. Member was aware that this was not an Estimate for last year; but for the current year, and if he would turn to the Appropriation Accounts of last year he would find all the details he asked for duly set forth. He need hardly remind the hon. Gentleman that the Appropriation Accounts were accounts which were vouched for and certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General. With respect to the item for Law Charges he had already endeavoured to point out that this was an estimated sum to cover the different Law Charges of the year. Of course, it was quite impossible to give any details as to what those charges would be until they arose.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.477
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £24,701, 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 Charity Commission for England and Wales, including the Endowed Schools Department.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said, that, in the first place, he desired to ask Her Majesty's Government what was the salary of the First or Chief Commissioner? On page 125, they found an item of £2,000, the salary of the Chief Commissioner. Then, again, on page 126, they found that the Chief Commissioner of the Endowed Schools Department was paid a salary of £1,200 a-year. On the same page there was an item of £1,200 for the Commissioner of the City of London Parochial Charitable Department. What he wanted to know from the Secretary to the Treasury was, whether the Chief Commissioner was the same person in all three of these instances, or whether the Chief Commissioner only received a salary of £2,000, and was paid no part of the £1,200 for the Endowed Schools Department, and no part of the £1,200 for the City of London Parochial Charitable Department?
§ MR. JACKSON
They are entirely separate.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
They are separate Commissioners?
§ MR. JACKSON
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, that he now wished to take the opportunity of drawing the attention of the Committee to the condition of the charities in the parish of Colwich, in the county of Stafford. Some 66 years ago or more—in 1822—there were 10 charities. Originally there were 12; but at the time he mentioned two of them had been lost. The Charity Commission administered these charities, or had been under the impression for many years that they administered them; but by 1887 two more of the charities had been lost. These charities had ceased in rather a curious manner to exist. If the Committee would only go into the matter, they would find that a whole village was swept away.
Order, order! Unless the hon. Baronet is going to connect these charities with the Charity Commission he cannot refer to them.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, that there was an inquiry last year into these charities. He thought they were connected with the Charity Commission, because the accounts had sometimes been sent up to the Commissioners. He confessed that he could not see with what object that had been done. For four years no accounts had been sent up, and when accounts were sent up they were found to be incorrect, though not by the Charity Commissioners. When the parishioners took notice of these things last year they found that the accounts were all wrong, and that many sums of money had been misappropriated by the vicar and the churchwarden. The accounts which were sent up to the Commission for a series of years were inaccurate. They were not even added up correctly. The parishioners contended that a sum of £600 had been misappropriated. They also contended that the vicar of the parish had misappropriated on one occasion £10, and on another occasion £16, and that in one case he had overpaid a sum of 10s. In fact, the whole of these accounts were rendered in such a loose manner that they were quite incomprehensible. What he charged the Commissioners with was neglect of duty. The accounts gave a totally false impression, and the Commissioners took no steps to check them. It was a curious fact that in the parish of Colwich, 229 years ago—in the year 1659—a Nonconformist minister, who had been ejected from his living, gave a considerable charity for the poor of the parish. But this charity, which he believed brought in annually about £80, had been administered by the vicar, not for the benefit of the deserving poor of the parish, but for the benefit of the poor, or rather of people who belonged to the Church of England, who were regular attendants of the Church of England, who belonged to a club administered by the vicar, and whose children went to the Church of England Sunday School. The whole of these matters had been thoroughly investigated by the parishioners, and the parishioners succeeded in getting one of the Charity Commission Inspectors to come down in June, 1887. The whole question had been thoroughly threshed out, and the parishioners had been waiting ever since for a scheme. The 479 parishioners promulgated a scheme, according to which the majority of the trustees or managers should be elected by the ratepayers. That was in accordance with a Motion which he (Sir John Swinburne) was instrumental in passing in the House of Commons two years ago. The Charity Commissioners, however, did not send down a scheme, and the parishioners had written to him on several occasions concerning the matter. He received, only two days ago, a copy of a scheme which the Charity Commissioners had framed.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, that the scheme promulgated by the Charity Commissioners set the wishes of the parishioners, and the expressed opinion of the House of Commons entirely on one side. It was proposed in the scheme that there should be nine trustees—that the ex officio trustees should be two in number, the co-opted trustees three, and the representative trustees four. It would thus be seen that the ex officio and co-opted trustees would be in a majority upon the Board. Furthermore, the representative trustees were to be elected in vestry assembled. The parishioners were very desirous that the representative trustees should be elected by ballot, and that the ballot should be kept open until such an hour that the working classes, who were really most interested in the matter, could vote without losing half-a-day's work. To give the Committee an idea of how badly the plan of unelected trustees worked, he would cite the case of the Lowe Charity at Lichfield. In 1886 he put as much pressure as he could on the Charity Commissioners to get a majority of the trustees of that charity elected by the ratepayers. The Commissioners resisted the proposal, notwithstanding that a numerously signed Petition asking them to have the trustees elected by the ratepayers was presented to them. He held in his hand the accounts of Lowe's Charity for last year. A very curious fact was that the accounts were audited by one of the trustees themselves. He thought the hon. and learned Attorney General would agree with him that trustees and managers of public trusts ought to manage the trusts in the same 480 way as they would if the property were their own. The trustees of Lowe's Charity spent last year £438, and the cost of management was £51 19s., or about 12 per cent. The steward was a gentleman belonging to an eminent firm of solicitors in the City of Lichfield, and he received a salary of £30 per annum. He, however, did not manage the estate, but hired other people to do the work. There was a law bill of £29, and, strange to say, the bill was charged by the firm of solicitors, of whom one was the steward receiving £30 for managing the estate. There were charges for a variety of professional men, and actually a man was paid for serving out coal. This was in consequence, he maintained, of the charity being administered, not by elected trustees, but by trustees appointed by the Charity Commissioners, and appointed in pursuance of the hateful system of co-option by the Town Council. He was not going to say that in many large cities, such as Liverpool, Birmingham, and Newcastle, where there were large Town Councils, they might not have in those Bodies a number of people quite suitable for trustees or managers of charities; but, as a rule, they might rest assured, in regard to many Town Councils, that the system of co-option was a very injudicious one. What the parishioners all over England wanted in regard to their charities was that they should have the power of electing the majority of the managers of the charities by ballot, and that the election should be held at an hour when working men could attend. Among other strange items in the accounts of Lowe's Charity there was an item of 10s. 6d. for a cheque book. That was a remarkable item; because it proved the accounts were paid by cheque on a bank. There was a balance to the credit of the charity at the commencement of the year of £376, and at the end of the year of £388. But there was nothing put to the credit of the charity for interest. He presumed the money rested at a bank; but where it rested or who got the interest upon the permanent credit balance of nearly £400 was not clear at all. He maintained that the interest upon the deposits, however small, ought to go to the charity. With regard to most of the charities, the Commissioners appointed people as managers who took little or no trouble at all in the matter. 481 Let him illustrate this point. In 1822, two charities at Colwich were lost, and in 1887 two more had disappeared. The owners of the land upon whom the charities were charged distinctly declined to give any information or to pay the charity. Only a few days ago, he was in Lichfield in connection with an inquiry as to what were termed the municipal charities. There were a number of charities in the City of Lichfield which were called the Munster Charities. They were lumped together and managed by the Town Council. A few days before the Commissioner came down, the trustees appointed by the Town Council did not know that a scheme had been promulgated with respect to the management of these charities some 45 years ago; in 1843 a scheme for the management of these charities had been framed by the Court of Chancery, and then it came out, also, that they had totally lost one of the charities. They had never looked after it, and the land upon which the charity was charged had been sold, and the purchaser declined to pay the rentcharge. The matter simply came to this—that the present owner of the land said to the trustees, "If you can prove to me your title, I will pay; if not, I won't." Year after year, charities were being lost in almost every parish in England. There was one way in which he knew charities were frequently absorbed. The land might lie in the middle of a parish, and the squire—
Order, order! I have already pointed out to the hon. Baronet that he cannot enter into an examination of special charities. He must connect his observations with the Charity Commissioners.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, that in that case his illustrations must be very much reduced. What he particularly wanted to impress upon the Committee was that the system of appointing managers and trustees led to the maladministration of charities, which resulted in many cases in charities being absolutely lost. He maintained that, in future, the trustees of charities ought to be elected by the ratepayers. Ten years ago he got an Endowed Schools Scheme passed, by which a majority of the trustees were elected. That system had worked exceedingly well. The scheme which had been promulgated by the 482 Charity Commissioners with respect to the charities of Colwich, provided that, in future, the co-opted trustees should be persons residing or carrying on business in or near the parish. What the ratepayers wanted, however, was that the men who were their trustees should be actually parishioners. He earnestly hoped the Committee would take these matters to heart, because they were creating considerable heart-burning in every parish in England. The ratepayers in the parish were indignant that they had no power to administer their own charities which they saw were being abused in every possible way. In the case of Colwich it was found that each child who attended Sunday School was paid ½d. per Sunday out of charity money. The vicar, therefore, was really buying the religious belief of these children. The people of Colwich asked that the trustees of their charities should be representative; at all events, they asked for a scheme in accordance with the Motion which the House of Commons passed two years ago. He did not wish to say anything against the vicar of Colwich. He never saw that gentleman, and he had no doubt he administered the charities according to his own lights, and in the interests of his own religion. But the charities were intended for every poor and deserving person in the parish. Charities, as he had said, were constantly being lost. In the parish of Gateshead, in the North of England, 12 charities, bringing in £60 a-year, had been lost. He was, however, afraid that after the ruling of the Chairman, he could not trespass upon the time of the Committee by giving them any further illustrations. He therefore concluded by moving that the salary of the Chief Commissioner be reduced by £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item A, £25,346, for Salaries and Wages, be reduced by £1,000."—(Sir John Swinburne.)
MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
said, he thought it would be as well to reply at once to the speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir John Swinburne). The hon. Baronet had brought forward two cases, the case of the Colwich Charities and that of Lowe's Charity. He was sorry that the hon. Baronet had given 483 no Notice at all of the fact that he was going to bring this matter under the notice of the Committee.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, that his Motion had been on the Notice Paper for 15 days.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, the Commissioners had 31,000 charities to deal with, and from the Notice of the hon. Baronet it was impossible to say which of the 31,000 he intended to deal with. Now, the Colwich scheme had only just been completed, and there was full opportunity for the hon. Baronet, if be disapproved of any of the provisions of the scheme, to bring the matter before the House. [Sir JOHN SWINBURNE: It is a charity scheme.] If that was so, the hon. Baronet would not have that opportunity. With regard to Lowe's Charity, he believed that the scheme was framed six years ago.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to correct him. The scheme was framed two years ago, in direct opposition to the Motion of the House of Commons.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, that what the hon. Baronet had now said only showed the great inconvenience caused by him not giving any Notice whatever as to the particular charities to which he intended to call attention. The hon. Baronet had made a great point of the fact that he carried a Resolution of the House of Commons declaring that on all charitable trusts a majority of representative governors should be placed. He (Mr. J. W. Lowther) believed it was a fact that at a very early hour in the morning, in a thin House, such a Resolution was carried. But he must remind the hon. Baronet that very shortly afterwards, he believed in the following year, the Endowed Schools Committee sat, and that, after sitting for two years, they reported to the effect that they failed to satisfy themselves that the Resolution of the hon. Baronet could be practically carried into effect. The Committee went on to report that it was very desirable to give to the people a large share in the direct management of charities. He was happy to be able to tell the hon. Baronet that since that time it had been the universal custom to insert in schemes of the kind a provision that a large share in the management of charities should be given to direct represen- 484 tatives of the people. That was even so in the case of the Colwich scheme to which the hon. Baronet had referred. In that scheme two only of the trustees were ex officio, four were representative, and three were co-opted. He thought that four out of nine might be taken as a very fair, a very substantial, and, to use the words of the Committee, "a large share" in the management of that charity. The hon. Baronet had also referred to the accounts of charities. He (Mr. J. W. Lowther) had already said that the Commissioners had 31,000 charities to deal with. All those charities sent their accounts to the Office; but the Commissioners had no power to audit any of the accounts. The Charity Commissioners had applied to the House for powers of audit; but such powers had, for a variety of reasons, been refused. Therefore, it was not in the least surprising that one should find, as the hon. Baronet did, that in one instance 10s. had been improperly paid, or paid to the wrong person. The accounts of the charities were sent to the Office, and from time to time it became very material in framing schemes to examine the accounts which were sent, but, as he had stated, the Commissioners had no power to audit the accounts. The hon. Baronet had also said that a great many charities were lost. That was perfectly true. The hon. Baronet the Member for the Ilkeston Division of Derbyshire (Sir Walter Foster) had before the House now a Bill entitled "The Charities Restitution Bill," the object of which was to enable charities which were lost to be recovered. He ventured to point out to the hon. Baronet (Sir John Swinburne) that if the House of Commons chose to diminish the powers of the Charity Commissioners, a great many more charities would be lost in future than had been lost hitherto. In a great many instances, charities had been recovered through the intervention of the Charity Commissioners. With regard to the ex officio trustees in the Colwich case, he was not aware that any objection had been taken; but the universal practice of the Commissioners was that if objections were taken when the names of the persons about to be appointed were published, those objections were fully considered by the Commissioners before the appointments took place.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, that the whole point of his argument was that the Charity Commissioners were proceeding upon the principle of appointing only a minority of representative trustees. What he claimed was that they should appoint a majority of representative trustees. He did not think that any better proof of the utter uselessness of the Charity Commissioners could be given than what the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. W. Lowther) had just now stated—namely, that the Commissioners were totally unable to check any of the accounts sent to them. If accounts were not sent up, the Commissioners took no notice of the fact, and even when accounts were sent up they did not take the trouble to see that they were correctly added up.
§ MR. COURTNEY KENNY (York, W.R., Barnsley)
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to one case in a particular locality; but, in doing so, he should endeavour to conform strictly to the ruling the Chairman had given. The charity to which he referred was the most important charity that had been created since the establishment of the Commission. He meant the College founded by the late Mr. Holloway for the higher education of women, at Egham, near Windsor. The charity was important, because the gift of Mr. Holloway amounted to upwards of £750,000 sterling. The wealth of the College would grow in a few years to be much greater. They all knew, from the example of the foundation of Owens College—which in its first 30 years received new endowments that multiplied the original gift fivefold—how rapidly the wealth of an institution grew when a founder devoted an endowment to any purpose which was in harmony with the current popular feeling at the time. Mr. Holloway was remarkable, not only for the munificence with which he founded this College, but for the rare foresight of the provisions he laid down for its direction. It was not only that he connected this great gift with the most remarkable educational movement of our time—the movement for the higher education of women—but that he directed that this education should be conducted on the lines which were most in harmony with the thought of the present day. He directed, for example, that the subjects of instruction should be in harmony with modern ideas, that no undue weight 486 should be given to classical learning. He desired that the teaching should be administered by those who were themselves young and thus familiar with modern education. He directed that no professor, teacher, or principal of the College should ever be appointed at an age above that of 40. A most remarkable feature of the endowment was the character with which Mr. Holloway invested the College in relation to the religious difficulty. He declared that the College should be emphatically an undenominational and unsectarian one; not merely in the sense in which the ancient Universities might possibly be called unsectarian, Universities which had an established faith, but with a Conscience Clause. In the deed of foundation, Mr. Holloway provided, first of all, that no religious test should be imposed upon any student, professor, or teacher, or officer of the College. He provided, secondly, that in the College no permanent chaplain should ever be appointed and no arrangement be made which would identify the College in any way with any particular sect or denomination of Christians. And yet, having taken that course, Mr. Holloway did not simplify matters by following such an example as that of the University of London, and solving the religious problem by avoiding religion; but he decided to stamp upon the College a remarkably distinct religious character; declaring it to be his earnest desire that the religious teaching of the school, though free from any sectarian influence, should be such as to impress forcibly the minds of the students. He (Mr. Courtney Kenny) begged to call the attention of the Committee to the difficulty of that course, as shown by the educational discussions of the last 40 years; and he believed it would be shown in the educational discussions which would occupy a great part, if not of this Session, at any rate, of the next. They had found it a matter of the utmost difficulty to render even primary education a matter thoroughly unsectarian. There were many hon. Members opposite who insisted that the impossibility of undenominational teaching was so great that education, even in primary schools, must be strictly denominational. There were, again, hon. Members on his own side of the House who asserted the difficulty to be so great that they thought it necessary that education, even in primary 487 schools, should be absolutely secular. Now, let them see how much greater that difficulty became when it had to be faced in a school such as they were I now dealing with; a place not for the I education of children, but for those who were approaching mature years; a place not for the education of day scholars, but where the students were resident, and where the whole care of their life was entrusted to the hands of the Governing Body. A problem so great as that made it necessary that Mr. Holloway should meet the difficulty by establishing a Governing Body of a peculiarly skilful character. It was necessary to make provision that the Governors should be men who could steer the College successfully between the rocks and shoals it had to face; and also that they should be men whose position and known impartiality would command the confidence of the different churches from which the students were drawn. Now, Mr. Holloway showed foresight by the means he took to provide how the Governing Body of this College should be established. For he did it by relying on that representative principle of which so much had been said in the discussion which had taken place already on this Vote. Mr. Holloway determined that the mainspring of the government of his College should be derived from five great Public Bodies, Bodies of an absolutely unsectarian character, Bodies of a municipal or of a national character. To the Education Department, to the absolutely national and unsectarian University—the University of London, and to the Town Councils of Reading and Windsor and the Aldermen of the City of London, Mr. Holloway entrusted the power of nominating five of the Governing Body of the College. The five Governors thus to be appointed were to have the power to co-opt into their number four more. And the remaining three Governors, who made up the 12, were in future generations to be co-opted also by the general Governing Body. But, in the first instance, Mr. Holloway reserved to himself the appointment of these three; and the three were not only to be Governors but Trustees, in whom the College and its site were to be vested. Mr. Holloway, in the deed of foundation, provided—That the management and government of the College shall be vested in 12 Governors, including three Trustees for the time being of the 488 College estate; all of the Trustees shall, in the first instance, be appointed by the founder.Throughout the rest of the deed, distinction between the three Governors who were Trustees, and the other nine Governors who were not, was most carefully drawn; the terms 'Governor' and 'Trustee' being in no clause used as synonymous. What happened? Mr. Holloway, after establishing this foundation and after appointing the three Trustees, died. The other nine Governors who were to manage this unsectarian College were still unappointed. After Mr. Holloway's death, the three Trustees who were already in existence—two of them, he believed, were nephews of Mr. Holloway's wife—applied to the Charity Commissioners to take up the task of completing the number of the Governing Body. The Charity Commissioners, acting at the instance of these three gentlemen, did so; and he submitted to the Committee that the action of the Charity Commissioners in doing that was wholly illegal, without jurisdiction, and void. He made that submission on the simple ground that Mr. Holloway reserved to himself no power but that of appointing the three Governors who were to be also Trustees; that he reserved to himself no right to appoint any of the other Governors, but he himself provided the machinery by which five Public Bodies were to call into existence five of the Governors, and then the eight were to co-opt the remainder. He did not know in what manner the Charity Commissioners might attempt to justify their departure from the language of the foundation deed. The powers of the Commissioners were no greater than those exercised by the Chancery Division. He saw the hon. and learned Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster) in his place, and he appealed to the hon. and learned Gentleman whether it was not a recognized principle that the Chancery Division would not exercise the power of appointing Governors to any charity when there already existed persons possessing the right of appointment, and competent to exercise that right, and not having refused to exercise it? Perhaps they would be told that night, on behalf of the Charity Commissioners, that though the language of the deed of foundation was clear, they sought to vary that language by evidence which they might possess of the Founder's intention. But if they 489 set up that defence, he maintained that their action was none the less illegal; for, under the 5th section of the Charitable Trusts Act, they were forbidden to exercise their power of appointing Trustees in any case involving contentious matter, or any special question of law or fact which might be one more fit to be adjudicated on by a Court of Law. He believed there was no lawyer in the House who would rise in his place and say that the attempt to vary the language of a deed by reference to evidence derived from other sources was other than a problem of law so difficult that it could not be entrusted to one of the Departments of the State, but was a matter to be adjudicated upon by a Judicial Court. But leaving these legal questions, which he knew could not be adequately discussed by the Committee in the absence of Papers, he submitted to the Committee that even if the Charity Commissioners had authority to appoint the nine Governors, the appointments which they did make were impolitic, inexpedient, and unjust. He said that for two reasons. First of all, in making the appointments, they ignored that principle of representation which Mr. Holloway had set in the forefront of his deed. The Charity Commissioners did not, in their Order, pretend to be departing from Mr. Holloway's intentions. The Order said—It is desirable that the full body of Governors shall be constituted as nearly as may be in accordance with the intentions of the founder as declared in the deed of foundation.That intention was that the five Public Bodies—the Education Department, the University of London, the Aldermen of London, and the Town Councils of Windsor and Reading—should be the mainspring of the whole foundation. It was most important that that intention should be carried out on the occasion of appointing the first set of Governors, the men who would start the College, who would appoint its staff, and who would impress upon it its original character and mode of working. But the Charity Commissioners departed from the intentions of the Founder. They did not communicate with the five Bodies. They ignored the five great Bodies to whom the nation had a right to look as a guarantee for the due preservation of that undenominational character which the Founder wished to stamp on the College. They left the 490 whole choice to Mr. Holloway's three Trustees; and appointed nine gentlemen nominated by them. It was true that in the Order of Appointment, the Charity Commissioners did preserve the legal fiction of attending to the Founder's intention, by calling five of these nominees "representative" Governors, and allotting them to the five Bodies. But what a satire the Charity Commissioners passed upon the principle of representation when they told off Prince Christian as the representative of the Education Department, his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury as the representative of the eminently unecclesiastical University of London, and Lord Granville as the representative of the Aldermen of the City of London. He admitted that Mr. Holloway's Trustees, in making the selection they did, made a selection which was eminently calculated to confer great social advantages upon themselves, inasmuch as they were now brought in contact with a Royal Prince, an Archbishop, an Earl, a Baron, a Privy Councillor, and a Dean. He did not pretend to lodge a single complaint of unfitness against any one of the nine distinguished individuals whom the Charity Commissioners selected; but his contention was purely and simply this—that the selection of the whole, taken as a whole, was bad—as bad setting aside the representative principle, and bad as imperilling also the undenominational character of the College, and with respect to that which was of equal importance, the confidence of the nation in the preservation of that undenominational character. It was admitted in the House some four months ago, when the matter was raised by the hon. Member for the Rugby Division of Warwickshire (Mr. Cobb), that the Governing Body of this uniquely unsectarian Foundation consisted of members of the Established Church. He did not lay great stress on that; but he did lay stress on this—that of the 12 Governors three were actually officials of that Church—his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Windsor, and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester—men committed by their office to exercise their influence in the interest of the Church of England. He was not certain what defence would be urged that night on behalf of the Commission; but he had obtained a little inkling of it from the answer the hon. 491 Member for the Penrith Division of Cumberland (Mr. J. W. Lowther) gave when the matter was raised in February by the hon. Member (Mr. Cobb). It would, no doubt, be said that some—he did not know which—of the nine gentlemen were gentlemen who were held in high esteem by the Founder, and whom he would not have been sorry to see fill the position of Governors. If that statement was made once again, he hoped it would be made with the clearness and precision which so important a defence demanded. He hoped that they would hear whether there existed a scrap of written evidence to justify that statement, and to override the clear inference of the emphatic language of the deed of foundation. He hoped they would hear more than that—that they would hear that the feelings of Mr. Holloway towards these gentlemen were not fluctuating, but lasting. He hoped also they would hear precisely which of the nine Governors were included in this defence. What he particularly wished to put to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. W. Lowther) was, were the three ecclesiastical or quasi-ecclesiastical Governors amongst those whom Mr. Holloway was said to have selected? If they were not, then what could justify the Charity Commissioners in putting these ecclesiastical officials upon this unsectarian Board of Governors? If they were amongst those who were selected by Mr. Holloway, then he maintained it was doubly important for the Charity Commissioners to counter-balance their influence, and establish public confidence in the impartiality of the Body by setting against the three officials of one Church other officials equally prominent, drawn from some of the other Churches of the land. There was another ground of defence. It was said by the hon. Member (Mr. J. W. Lowther), in his answer last February, that the Charity Commissioners, in making these appointments, knew nothing of the religious views of the persons they appointed. He was very glad to have had that answer; because he believed there were hon. Members around him who would find their constituents receive with very great satisfaction, and perhaps with very great surprise, the statement that the Charity Commissioners always ignored sectarian feelings in the appointment of Governors. But when he heard that state- 492 ment, he was reminded of the Committee on Educational Endowments, in 1886, to which the hon. Member (Mr. J. W. Lowther) had already alluded, the Committee upon which he (Mr. Courtney Kenny) had a seat, and which reviewed the action of the Charity Commissioners. That Committee had the advantage of having very valuable evidence given to them by the Commissioners themselves, and, amongst others, by no less distinguished a litterateur than Sir George Young. That gentleman was asked about the establishment of the Governing Bodies of denominational schools, and he said, in his answer to Question 750, that it was certainly the custom of the Charity Commissioners to provide that the majority of such Bodies should belong to the denomination interested. If this provision could be so carefully made in denominational schools, why not in undenominational ones? Now there was another defence which had been set up. It had been said that notice of the proposal to appoint these nine gentlemen was given in the daily papers, and that no objection had been raised to them. But no one reading the advertisement columns of The Times would know anything about the conditions which the founder had laid down, as to undenominationalism and as to representation, and therefore no one was likely to object to the distinguished persons whose names were advertised. He should have had much greater satisfaction in bringing forward the subject that evening, and the Committee would have been better able to follow his argument, if the Returns which he had asked for, of a copy of the deed of foundation, had been furnished to the House; but objection had been made to that proposal on the ground of the expense. That expense would not be one day's income of the College. On the question of expense he could not help remembering that the whole basis on which the Charity Commissioners carried out their work lay in the Returns which Lord Brougham's Commission obtained 50 years ago with regard to the whole of the charities of the country, and which were got at the expense of three months' income of the charities concerned. There was another point to which he desired to draw attention—namely, that the same disregard of the Founder's written intentions, the same haste in interfering with this most 493 important of all modern foundations, had been manifested a second time by the Commissioners, in dealing with another part of the foundation deed. For, although Mr. Holloway had desired that the lady principal, the resident professors, and the teachers of the College should, at the time when they were appointed, be under 40 years of age and in full youthful vigour, the Governors, within four months of their own appointment, applied to the Charity Commissioners to relax the rules in favour of a lady who, he frankly admitted, was admirably fitted to discharge the duties that would be imposed upon her. But the Charity Commissioners had abrogated the rule altogether, not merely for the single case of this lady, but for all appointments, for all time. He submitted to the Committee that the true province of all great endowments was to try new experiments, and that the Founder was entitled to have some opportunity given for a trial of the experiment he had in view, even if it were novel and unpromising. And Mr. Holloway's rule of a limit of age was neither unpromising nor even novel—yet the Commissioners had set it aside before it had had a single trial. He had felt it his duty to bring these matters under the notice of the Committee, and to enter his protest against this impolitic and indefensible interference with the intentions of an enlightened and munificent Founder, almost before he was yet cold in his grave.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, he thought he ought at once to reply to the speech of the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down. On the whole the hon. and learned Member had stated the facts of the foundation correctly, but he would pardon him if he said he had fallen into an error in saying that Mr. Holloway appointed three trustees.
§ MR. COURTNEY KENNY
said, he held in his hand the foundation deed which showed the accuracy of his statement.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, he was perfectly correct Messrs. Martin and Driver, the two trustees to whom the property of the College was bequeathed, had shortly after the death of the founder proceeded to elect the third trustee. These two gentlemen were not only relations of the founder but were his trusted advisers 494 during his life and his executors on his death. Mr. Holloway having died without making the first appointment which he contemplated making to the governorship of the College, those two gentlemen came to the Charity Commissioners and said, "We ask you to make this a workable scheme and to put yourselves in the position of the founder, and to appoint the remaining Governors. "They came to the Charity Commissioners with a list of names, several of whom they stated had been specifically selected for the office of Governor by the founder Mr. Holloway himself. In these circumstances the Charity Commissioners had not felt it to be their duty to go about inquiring into the religious views of the gentlemen whose names had been submitted to them by the executors of the Founder of the College. It was perfectly true that they did not make any such inquiries into their religious views. Three of these gentlemen whose names appeared upon the list were obviously members of the Church of England, but the Charity Comsioners thought that this was not a very large proportion for the Church of England to have upon a Body of 12 Governors. In the first instance, he might say there were among the other names on the list those of the late Mr. Samuel Morley and Lord Charles Bruce, who had been for many years Members of that House, and also Members of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). When one of those Gentlemen died and the other declined to act, their places were taken by the Dean of Winsdor, who was an eminently suitable person to appoint because he resided in the immediate neighbourhood of the College, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). He thought that no one would say that the interests of the great Nonconformist Body would not be amply looked after by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. and learned Member had challenged him to state precisely the ground on which the Charity Commissioners alleged that these gentleman were selected by the founder. He had in his hand a copy of a letter written by Mr. Greenwell—the solicitor to Mr. Holloway's executors—which stated that the names on the list in question had been selected principally having regard to the founder's wishes. A great deal of 495 the discussion on the Charity Commission was conducted by personal interview, and he could only say that what was stated in that letter was supplemented at the interviews which took place at the office of the Commissioners. The hon. and learned Member said that sufficient notice was not given of the names; but the fact was that they had been published frequently in The Times, Daily News, and Standard, on several days in June, 1886. The hon. and learned Member said that no one would notice an advertisement of that sort. But he would point out, on the contrary, that a great number of objections were taken by people who said that it was desirable on a peculiar trust of this sort that women should be appointed as Governors. That was a very reasonable objection; but the answer was, "The Founder in his deed has specially forbidden that any women should be appointed Governors." Therefore, it was hardly fair to say that the advertisements were in some corner or loose sheets of The Times or other papers where they did not attract notice. The hon. and learned Member then said that the Commissioners acted illegally in appointing these Governors; but that was a matter, of law and the Commissioners thought that they had acted legally. He would point out that if the hon. and learned Member thought that the Commissioners were acting illegally at the time, there was under the Charitable Trusts Acts ample machinery to enable him to appeal at once to the Court of Chancery and upset the scheme, and there had been no appeal to that summary procedure. This, in fact, was the first objection that had been made, with the exception of a question asked of him some months ago. In conclusion, he pointed out that the hon. and learned Member himself made no objection to the manner in which Nonconformist students were treated in the College. He did not believe any such objection could be made, or, at any rate, if made could be sustained. The hon. and learned Member had complained of the fact that a lady over 40 years of ago had been appointed. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield, who was a Governor of this Charity, was better able than he to answer on that question; but he understood that numerous meetings were held by the Governors and that 496 numerous applications for the appointment were received; that these were carefully considered and that the Commissioners came to the conclusion that none of the applicants were properly qualified to fill this very important position. The Governors, therefore, applied to the Charity Commissioners for a scheme, and at their instance the Commissioners altered the foundation deed in this respect. Again, the Charity Commissioners had gone out of their way to give publicity to the fact that this foundation scheme was being altered. Not only did they advertize the fact that they were about to make this scheme, but they gave notice that they were about to appoint this particular lady as principal. Therefore, they had doubly given full notice of everything they had done, and no objection had been taken by the hon. and learned Member or any of his Friends on that occasion. He ventured to think that he had now made a complete answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman. They contended that they could not inquire into the religious views of persons who were about to be appointed, and had they done so they had no means of enforcing their inquiries. Supposing they had written to any gentleman and asked what were his religious views, he might have declined to tell them, and they would have been in the same position as before. The Committee would, therefore, see that such inquiries were impracticable, especially in this case, because they were gentlemen whom they believed had been specially selected by the Founder himself, and all of whom had been recommended to them by his trusted advisers and his executors.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, he thought that no graver charge had for a long time been made against gentlemen occupying an official position than had been made that evening by the hon. and learned Member for the Barnsley Division of York (Mr. Courtney Kenny) against the action of the Charity Commissioners in the case of Mr. Holloway's College. But that was not the only ground on which they were raising objection to the Vote at the present time, and he was anxious to go back to the question raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Lichfield Division of Staffordshire (Sir John Swinburne). The hon. Baronet, two years ago, had got the House to adopt the Resolution 497 which he had read as representing the pinion of the House, that in all cases where any scheme for a charity was to be adopted the Charity Commissioners ought to provide for the majority of the trustees or managers being elected by the ratepayers in the locality in which the charity existed. Now, the charge was that the Charity Commissioners had never taken the slightest notice of that Resolution so far as he was aware, but that in every case ex officio and co-optative members were in the majority. No sooner had the Resolution been passed by that House than a scheme was propounded by the Charity Commissioners. It was a scheme for Michael Lowe's Charity in the City of Lichfield, and it provided that the trustees of the Charity should be 12 in number, of whom five should be representative. Within three months another scheme was received for Colwich in Staffordshire, where a similar provision was made—namely, that the Body should consist of nine persons, four only being representative. The hon. Baronet had complained that the Charity Commissioners had paid no attention whatever to the principle expressed by that House in the Resolution to which he had referred. Of course, he was aware that they were not bound to obey an opinion expressed in the Resolution, because the House of Commons was not a judicial Court; but still they had good reason, he thought, to complain when they were asked to pay for the Charity Commissioners by a Vote of the House of Commons, that they paid no attention whatever to the opinion somewhat lately expressed by the Representatives of the people, out of whose pockets that pay came. He thought that complaint deserved a little more attention than it had received from the hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. J. W. Lowther). That hon. Member said that sufficient notice had not been given of the charges which the hon. Baronet was about to bring; he had referred to the 31,000 Charities which the Commissioners had to superintend, and said that the hon. Baronet had succeeded in getting this Resolution passed in a thin House in the early morning. But the hon. Baronet had also complained that the accounts were not audited, and the hon. Member replied that no power was given to the Charity Commissioners to audit the accounts. Now, if the majority of the 498 Governors were elected in the neighbourhood, those in the neighbourhood, would take care to see that the accounts were kept properly. The only safeguard for the preservation of public charities was to awaken public opinion, and it had often been successfully contended in that House of late years that the right method of securing any institution for the public was to give the people a large control over it. That was what they wished to do, and they complained that the Charity Commissioners paid no attention to their representations. He should, therefore, vote with the hon. Baronet for the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £1,000. But he admitted that the case brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for the Barnsley Division was somewhat more grave than that which had been noticed by the hon. Baronet. The hon. Member for Penrith had not, in his opinion, made a more successful defence in regard to that matter than in the other case. He said there were certain trustees appointed by the Founder, and that those trustees told the Commissioners that several of the gentlemen who were afterwards appointed Governors were favoured by the Founder; he said there was also a letter of the solicitor to the executors to the effect that the Founder would have approved these appointments. But these were only impressions on the mind of the individuals who made the statement, and they might very well be mistaken. There was a letter in the hands of a former Member of that House written by the Founder to one of the trustees of the Institution, in which he proposed that the whole of the Governors should be appointed by the London University and the rest of the Corporations mentioned by his hon. Friend. It was very easy to ascertain whether that letter existed or not, and he contended that it was much better evidence than the opinion of the solicitor or the other trustees. But they had further evidence on the subject; in the 7th clause of the Deed of Foundation there was a provision that no arrangement should be made which should identify the College in any way with any particular sect or denomination of Christians. Those words were exceedingly strong, and yet surely to appoint the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Windsor, and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester, all of them prominent 499 members of the Church of England, was to identify the College in a very clear and substantial way with the Established Denomination in this country. He thought that no one could read over the various sections of the Deed of Foundation without realizing how near it lay to the heart of the Founder that he at least might succeed in founding an Institution which should be entirely independent of all sectarian limitations whatever; and he (Mr. Picton) could not but think it a very unworthy action that the representatives of a great ecclesiastical corporation should take advantage of the fact that the Founder had died before naming those who were to be appointed Governors of the Institution, and by all sorts of quibbles—for he could give them no other name—should seek to justify a mode of action which, in equity, ought to be regarded as a distinct violation of the plainly indicated purpose of the Founder. Take the case of the disregard of the Founder's wishes as to the appointment of a lady principal and other teachers; he evidently regarded it as most important that the lady principal should not be over 40 years of age when she was appointed. That involved a principle open to dispute; doubtless there were many ladies over 40 years of age who were exceedingly energetic, and in every way fitted for a position of this kind. They had heard a good deal about the sacredness of the wishes of pious Founders, and if a pious Founder 500 years ago had left money for a College for the Church of England, there was no chance of his wishes being set aside in these days; but here was a pious Founder who was only lately deceased, whose living words were remembered, and whose whole character lived in the remembrance of his friends. No one disputed that he held certain opinions, and that he desired to establish an unsectarian Institution, which should be ruled and taught by those in the prime of life, and yet he was scarcely cold in his grave before, at the instance of those who wished to appoint a lady principal distinguished for her devotion to the principles of the Church of England, the Commissioners said—"We will ignore the will of the Founder, and you can do just as you like so long as what you do makes for the advantage of the Established Church." Suppose it had been proposed to override the intention of the Founder in the interest of a 500 Nonconformist or Roman Catholic Institution, did anyone imagine that this would have been allowed? Everyone saw that it was the object of the Church of England to get hold of this splendid Institution, so that by encroachments, such as had been already accomplished, it might be made a sectarian Institution. He earnestly protested against anything of the kind being done. Of course, inquiries were not made about the religious belief of the Governors, because it was notorious what their belief was. Why was it that no one thought of nominating Mr. Spurgeon, or the Rev. Dr. Allen, or Dr. Dale, of Birmingham, the President of the Methodist College, or any other well known Nonconformist? He said that the course pursued showed a desire to ignore and pass over the wishes of the Founder that this should be an unsectarian scheme, and he hoped his hon. Friend would go to a Division in order that they might see who in that House was in favour of stealing the money of pious Founders for the purpose of endowing the very richest and most luxurious Church in the world.
§ MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said, as he was the only Governor of the Charity in question in the House, he thought he might be allowed to offer some remarks on the subject before the Committee. It could hardly be accepted by hon. Members, if, as the last Governor of the Charity appointed, he did not say something in reply to the statement made by his hon. Friend. He was not conscious of having done anything in the nature of stealing an endowment for the Church, and it might be thought that his position would be a guarantee against his being actuated by any such motive. During the five years he had been at the Council Office he was repeatedly asked to become one of the Trustees of the College, but he felt that while he was in the Ministry he could not fulfil the duties of trusteeship, and therefore he declined to be nominated; but he had repeatedly requested Mr. Fitch to visit the College, and give whatever advice and assistance he could to the trustees. After he had left the Council Office, he heard no more of the matter until the death of his lamented friend, 501 MR. Samuel Morley, when he was asked if he would take Mr. Morley's place as one of the Governors of the Body. He was not asked what his religious opinions were, nor did he ask what were the religious opinions of others, although, of course, no inquiry was needed with regard to the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Dean of Windsor, who was a distinguished ornament to the Church and a man of great liberality of mind, besides living on the spot, or the Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester. One of those who came to him repeatedly was a Member of that House for many years, and had always voted for the Disestablishment of the Church; he had no idea that that Member was a Churchman then, and did not know whether he was one now. He referred to Mr. Chadwick, formerly a Member for Macclesfield, who was always a supporter of religious equality and who enjoyed the confidence of Mr. Holloway in this very matter. As to the other trustees, he had supposed some were not Churchmen, but if all were Churchmen he felt certain it was purely a matter of accident, and that they had not been selected to secure predominance for the Church of England. He, for one, would be glad to see Nonconformity well represented by Dr. Allon or anyone of educational experience. But he could assure the Committee and the hon. Member who had raised this question, that he honestly believed there had been no selection whatever of men except for their education, knowledge, experience, and capacity. His hon. Friend he thought had fallen into an error with reference to the appointment to fill vacant Governorships. When vacancies took place they would be filled up by the President of the Council, the Court of Aldermen, the University of London, the Town Councils of Reading and Windsor, so that there was no doubt that the intention of the Founder would be carried out by these high representative Bodies. The hon. and learned Member for the Barnsley Division of York (Mr. Courtney Kenny) said the Commissioners had violated the intentions of the Founder by appointing a lady principal of over 40 years of age; and that that intention had been set aside in order to secure the appointment of a lady of High Church principles. He (Mr. Mundella) had to say that the Governors advertised for a principal of 502 under 40 years of age; that advertisement appeared for more than a month; many applications were received, and when they were considered it was found that while the Governors could get professors and teachers to fill up the subordinate positions among persons under 40 years of age, they were unable to find one entirely qualified for the high and important post of lady principal within that limit. They were, therefore, obliged to go to the Charity Commissioners and ask them to set them free. The Charity Commissioners allowed the Governors to take off the limitation, and in reply to other advertisements 70 applications were received; from these, 10 selections were made, and the whole body of the Governors saw the selected candidates before they selected a lady who was facile princeps, and the age of that lady who was by far the best among the candidates was 41½ years. Then his hon. Friend said that the College ought to be undenominational, and that it was specially laid down that there should be no religious test. There had been no religious test; the Governors put no question to any teachers who came to them, but they said to the teachers, "Whatever may be your religious views there shall be no proselytizing in this College." To that rule they had adhered, and he assured the Committee that so long as he had been Governor of the College there had been no violation in this respect of the will of the Founder. His hon. Friend had suggested that the provisions of the scheme in this matter had been set aside for all time. But, as a fact, they had simply left themselves free to choose the very ablest principal; and what they were anxious to do was strictly to carry out the Founder's will in that respect. He (the Founder) had laid it down that the College was to be conducted as a Christian house, that no permanent chaplain was to be appointed, that services should be regularly conducted, and that the principals should open the proceedings with a service every day. Now, that was strictly done, and he would like just to tell the House what had been the result, so far as they had gone, and how they had conducted the College under what was suggested to be a very sectarian management. Two-thirds of the students were members of the Church of England, but there were also among the students, Methodists, Quakers, Con- 503 gregationalists, Baptists, and Unitarians and the principal said—My unvarying practice in the case of the Nonconformist students is to ascertain the exact wishes of the parents with regard to Sunday service, and to see that those wishes are carried out.Consequently, the College paid for seats in the Congregational and other chapels for the use of the students. The principal continued—The only definite teaching is a lecture on Holy Scriptures given by me once a week, and the subject lately has been the 'Prophetical books of the Old Testament in connection with the history of the New.' I invariably ascertain whether the students' parents object to them attending such a lecture. At the request of the students I have also held a Bible class for them on Sunday afternoons.That was from a letter which the Lady Principal addressed to him (Mr. Mundella) on the preceding Monday, and she further stated that they had at least nine Nonconformist students in regular attendance at their own chapels, and the letter continued—Recently one came to me and expressed on behalf of her fellow Nonconformist students how much they all regretted the unfair statements which were being made, and how entirely they repudiated the idea that they were at any disadvantage in the College or had any grievance. She asked my leave to write a letter to the newspapers to that effect, and told me she had the permission of her father—himself a Nonconformist minister—to do so if I would let her. I thought it wiser not to give her leave.As to the teachers, they had three—English, French, and Scotch—in the College, and, so far as he was concerned, he could not say whether they were Church of England or Nonconformist. He suspected that, at any rate, one was a Presbyterian; he could not say what the French teacher was, for he had made no inquiry. He was sure that this College, although it was conducted as the Founder wished, as an orderly, Christian household, was not conducted in any respect as a sectarian College. There was nothing sectarian about the Institution, and he protested in his place in that House that so long as he had the honour of being connected with it, there should be nothing sectarian in its management.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, he thought that nearly the whole of the speech just delivered had been a case of special pleading, dealing altogether with questions quite outside the mark. No charge had been brought 504 upon that side of the House that, so far as matters had gone in the Institution, there had been anything sectarian developed. But the whole question was, that in an Institution which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Courtney Kenny) rightly regarded as almost unique—probably there were other Institutions in the North of England where the same scrupulosity was observed to keep clear from everything sectarian—the Board of Governors was composed solely of members of the Church of England. The House, then, could not be surprised that those who stood up for religious equality and non-interference in matters of religious opinion, should show themselves very sensitive, and, more than that, determined on every necessary occasion, where infractions of the principle had been indulged, to bring them to the notice of Parliament and of the country. Some hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House seemed to imagine that half-an-hour's discussion on the matter was sufficient, and suggested that the closure should be put in operation; but he might say, without any arrogance, that on any occasion, without anything like a tithe of the interest which was manifested in this matter, on any occasion where one-sidedness and unfairness were complained of, there would be a sufficient number of Members ready to stand forward, at any amount of personal inconvenience and obloquy, to ensure a proper consideration of the matter. Now, he wished to ask his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mundella) this question. If it had been an Institution of the unsectarian character which he claimed that College to be, with all possible safeguards around it, and if the trustees had by any accident whatever been, say, of the Wesleyan persuasion, would not the Church of England have been up in arms from its highest dignitary down to its most humble member, in order to redress such a scandalous disregard of the fairness of the case? He was not speaking without long experience in that matter. He had sat on two Endowed School Commissions, and had heard evidence unblushingly given as to the way in which in Church of England institutions care was taken to exclude, in the most rigid form, any Nonconformist Governor. Why, then, in such a case as this, should they not insist upon redress? The Institution was 505 admittedly of a non-sectarian character. Why should all the Governors belong to the Church of England? Surely six of the seats would not be too many to divide among the large and important denominations which existed in this country; why, the proportion would be very small indeed. He was sorry to say that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Penrith Division of Cumberland. (Mr. J. W. Lowther) did not in his speech attempt to grapple with the case. It was very easy to say that the Charity Commissioners had not gone beyond their legal powers, and he might have had good reason for avoiding the other points raised; but there was one matter as to which he was not sufficiently candid with the House. He said that some of the gentlemen who had been appointed had been nominated by Mr. Holloway himself. But did that apply to all the Governors? If not, then did it not devolve upon the Commission to take care that the whole Governing Body did not belong to one religious denomination in this country?
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
I said that all the Governors were selected, and that their names were given to the Commission by Mr. Holloway's executors, and the Commission was told that several of them had been selected by Mr. Holloway himself.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, that that only applied to some, and it was of the greatest importance to know who were those gentlemen. Was the Archbishop of Canterbury specially selected by Mr. Holloway?
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
Were the Dean of Windsor or the Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester specially selected? He considered it was incumbent on the Charity Commission to see that gentlemen of other denominations, and of equal standing with the Primate, were chosen, for it was repugnant that those belonging to one religious denomination should absolutely disregard the right of every other denomination. It was nonsense to say that these men were eminently qualified. He did not dispute the fitness of any one of them. But that was begging the question, and attempting to throw dust into their eyes. It was, however, a useless operation. He knew too well, from ex- 506 perience gained on committees, to be satisfied by that. He knew what the Commissioners could and would do. They did not hesitate to inquire into the religious professions of anybody where a Church of England Institution was in question, and it was only in cases in the opposite direction that they became blind. He could only say that what had been done in the case of the appointments connected with this College was a great misfortune, and his right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield would have satisfied that side of the House far more completely if he had not attempted to go into the way in which the Institution was managed in the blush of its youth, and if he had expressed manfully, and with more aptitude than he did, that he thought it a misfortune, in the interests of the Institution—and as far as the rights of a great body of Her Majesty's subjects were concerned—that an Institution of that character should be so weighted. The right hon. Gentleman had asked if it were intended to be suggested that he should resign. Well, if the question had been put to him (Mr. Illingworth), he would have replied that the right hon. Gentleman would have done himself infinite honour if he had said to the Governors—"We cannot work this Institution with the government constituted as it is, and if none others will resign I will set an example and do so. "There was an eminent Nonconformist, of whom that House and the country was very proud—his friend, the late Mr. Samuel Morley. He was a Governor; but he died. Why was care not taken to fill his place with another Nonconformist, so as to give some confidence to the people that the Institution should be secured against the inevitable bias which surrounded it at the present moment? He was speaking that which he strongly felt; he wanted no sectarian advantage for any denomination; but those who had raised that question would not be satisfied unless they secured, on the part of the Charity Commissioners, greater care in these matters in the future. He ventured to hope that the result of this discussion would be that when they presented their claims to equal rights for all denominations, those claims would not be ignored. They had had an example in past years in that House of the tendency of one Party to monopolize everything, and it 507 had only been by long and persistent struggles that they had got their feet within the threshold. He hoped that those on his side of the House would in future discredit and disown everything that partook of the nature of a job.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
said, he did not desire to prolong the discussion, nor to follow the hon. Member (Mr. Illingworth) in the acrimonious speech which he had addressed to the House.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH
said, he disclaimed altogether anything like an acrimonious spirit. He admired the eloquence of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Mundella) in addressing himself to every difficult subject before the House upon which he felt strongly; but he did not accuse him of an acrimonious spirit on such occasions. He (Mr. Illingworth) wished to disclaim anything but the profoundest gratitude for the services the right hon. Gentleman was rendering the Institution in question. Notwithstanding anything the right hon. Gentleman might feel in the matter, he (Mr. Illingworth) trusted he would devote himself to the difficult work in connection with the College in the future as earnestly as he had done in the past.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he accepted at once his hon. Friend's disclaimer; but the hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the proper course for him (Mr. Mundella) to take would have been to resign, and that statement would appear to make him (Mr. Mundella) as objectionable on the Governing Body of the College as others whom the hon. Member had condemned. The hon. Gentleman had stated that after the death of Mr. Samuel Morley some other eminent Nonconformist should have been asked to take his place. Well, it would be as well that the Committeee should be aware of the fact that, after Mr. Samuel Morley died, the Authorities went to his son and asked him to take his late father's place. He believed they went to him (Mr. Mundella) in a mistake, and if he had done wrong in accepting the appointment, of course he must submit to his hon. Friend's condemnation. The Committee might rely upon it that he (Mr. Mundella) was not a person who would be likely to endeavour to advance the interests of one section of the community unfairly, and they should remember that he had been the man who pressed upon Lord Spencer the desira- 508 bility of appointing a Nonconformist on the Charity Commission, which, as a matter of fact, the noble Earl had done. That was one instance upon which he (Mr. Mundella) could claim to have shown a desire to do justice to Nonconformists, and he could give another 100 instances if necessary. He was a Governor of the College in question with a view of carrying out, in the fullest manner, the spirit and the intentions of the Founder; and he must express his regret that there were not some eminent Nonconformists on the Governing Body. He should be very glad to see them there, and he hoped that when the next vacancy occurred the University of London would appoint somebody to fill it who would satisfy the wishes of his hon. Friend. But, whether they did so or not, he was sure, from what he knew of the majority of his colleagues, that nobody was more anxious than they were to see the work of the College carried out in a fair and unsectarian spirit, and in such a spirit he was sure it would be carried out as long as he and his present colleagues formed the Governing Body.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he wished to make an appeal to the Committee to terminate this discussion. He thought he might reasonably do so, seeing that now more than two hours had been devoted to it. He must say that, so far as he had any experience of the Charity Commission, all the Commissioners desired to do their duty without regard to sectarianism. He was sure if there had been any mistake made in this matter, it had been without any desire to forward the interests of the Church of England, but simply for the purpose of carrying out what was believed to be the intentions of the Founder, and that it had been done in absolute good faith. Whether that was so or not, he ventured to ask the Committee to consider whether they had not sufficiently discussed the question however important—[Cries of "No, no!"]—having due regard to other Business which the House had to transact as well as to the functions they had to discharge in connection with the voting of public money? Was it possible for them to do their duty in regard to the Estimates now before the Committee if they were to devote hours for the consideration of a question which could be raised in a Court of Law, if the 509 legality of the matter was questioned, and which might be raised in other ways and at other times? He ventured to think that the Committee would do well not to defeat the Vote before it, but to do all they could to promote the Business they were called upon to transact. He did not in the slightest degree under-value the importance of the questions which had been raised by the hon. Gentleman. For himself, he deeply regretted the feeling which had been imported into the discussion, because he did not think it tended to the advantage of education or the interests of the House. He thought that some hon. Gentlemen had made use of references and expressions which, on calmer reflection and fuller knowledge of the subject, they would probably regret. But he would not enter into that matter. The question they had now before them was practically whether the Charity Commissioners deserved to be censured for their exercise of the discretion which was vested in them, or whether they had acted with good faith and without abuse? He honestly thought that they deserved no such censure, and he hoped the Committee would now come to a decision on the question.
§ MR. BYRON REED (Bradford, E.)
said, he thought he might now claim to move that the Question be now put.
said, the point immediately under discussion touched a very small portion of the Vote, and it would be altogether premature, therefore, and no economy of time to put the clôture upon the whole Vote.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, that the hon. Gentleman was confusing matters—that was to say, the original Vote and the specific Amendment which had been moved, when he considered that the Question should be put. He (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had taken no part in the discussion hitherto, nor did he intend to do so. But there were other questions with regard to the Vote. He himself had been waiting ever since 8 o'clock in the evening with the intention of raising a very important question, and he could assure the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Reed), whose experience in connection with Committee of Supply was limited, that any attempt to move the clôture in Supply, except after full discussion, would be resisted to the uttermost. He could assure the hon. 510 Member that, so far from saving the time of the House, anybody who had the slightest experience of the House knew that proceedings in Supply would be protracted if a policy of this kind were adopted.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said, that with respect to the religious part of his view, the hon. Member for Penrith (Mr. T. W. Lowther) had told them that the Charity Commissioners never inquired into the religious views of the trustees. In fact, he led them to believe that they waived the religious views of the trustees, and merely appointed those men whom they believed to be the best to exercise authority. Well, with the permission of the House, he (Sir John Swinburne) desired to point out that, in one of the last schemes the Commissioners had formulated, having to appoint ex officio trustees, they had nominated two incumbents of benefices—clergymen of the Church of England. Therefore, the administration of the Charity in question was to be settled according to the views of two prominent clergymen of the Church of England. ["Hear, hear!"] The Solicitor General cheered that statement, and he (Sir John Swinburne) was glad to hear it. No doubt, the hon. and learned Gentleman was an excellent Churchman, but what was the real state of things? Why, that although some £200 a-year had been spent, nearly two-thirds were intended by the Founder to be spent upon deserving poor, and not one pound out of the £200 was left for persons of the Church of England.
§ MR. EDWARD CROSSLEY (York, W.R., Sowerby)
said, he would not detain the Committee for more than a few moments, but he wished to add his emphatic protest to the way in which the Charity Commissioners had dealt with this important scheme. The wishes of the Founder had been clearly stated, but those wishes had been distinctly ignored by the Charity Commissioners. The Commissioners had taken the ipse dixit of certain nephews of the testator instead of being guided by the deed of endowment. Mr. Samuel Morley, no doubt, represented the Nonconformist Body when he lived, and they were told that on his death his son was asked to accept the vacancy caused by his death. Well, it was a question whether Mr. Samuel Morley's 511 son would have acted as a Nonconformist, because, as a matter of fact, he (Mr. Crossley) knew him to be a Churchman? But there were other eminent Dissenters in this country besides Mr. Samuel Morley who might have been appointed on that Gentleman's death, and yet the vacancy occasioned by Mr. Morley's death was filled not by the right hon. Gentleman who had lately spoken (Mr. Mundella), but by a Dean of the Church of England. Speaking as a Nonconformist, he (Mr. Crossley) ventured to say that that Body would not rest satisfied until they found on the Governing Body of this Institution at least two staunch, intelligent, and able Nonconformists. Now, they were told that there was a Nonconformist Charity Commissioner. Well, he should like to know what this gentleman was doing in reference to this endowment. He should think he must have been asleep; and for the Charity Commissioners to say that they made no inquiry into the religious opinions of the Governors they chose was to him a most absurd statement, and one which required a great amount of credulity on the part of those who accepted it. He contended that when they had before them such a deed of endowment as that relating to the College in question, and such a foundation as this, it was their solemn duty, on behalf of the public, to scan the characters and views of the gentlemen they appointed as Governors in order to see that they were gentlemen who would maintain the Institution in its unsectarian character. It was their public duty to comply with the intentions of the Founder, and if they had not done so it was a dereliction of duty, and it was the duty of the Committee, as representing the public of the country, to call them to order on the present occasion.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said, he could not allow the Vote to pass without expressing a very emphatic protest against the action of the Charity Commissioners towards the working classes in the United Kingdom. The Charity Commissioners had two modes of treatment, one they meted out to the wealthy classes and the other to the poorer classes of the country. He hoped he would not be accused of endeavouring to set class against class—that was a stereotyped phrase their enemies 512 frequently used—if he endeavoured to show that the action of the Charity Commissioners was calculated to produce a result of that description. With the permission of the Committee, he would take two typical cases in which the Charity Commissioners had interfered, and he thought that reference to these cases would be quite sufficient to enable him to prove his contention—namely, that the Charity Commission had two modes of treatment, one for the rich and the other for the poor. The first case he desired to refer to was that of St. Katharine's Hospital, and the other was that of the Free School at Scarning, in the County of Norfolk. St. Katharine's Hospital was a wealthy endowment, founded by Queen Matilda in 1148, and it made provision for one master; three brethren, who should be chaplains; three sisters; and the education of six poor children. In 1826, the St. Katharine's Dock Company bought the site for £127,000. A building was erected in Regent's Park, at a cost of, he believed, something like £40,000. A considerable sum was spent upon the building, and he understood that something like £1,000 a-year had since been expended upon it in the shape of repairs, proving how badly it must have been originally constructed. The position of the endowment in 1886, when the Charity Commissioners undertook to institute an inquiry, was that the income amounted to £7,097 4s. 10½d. He hoped the Committee would notice how very particular the Commissioner was as to the halfpence. The Commissioner, Mr. Skirrow, reported, also, that he anticipated for the endowment a future income of £14,832 15s. 10½d. He (Mr. Cremer) proposed to show how the money was spent, and in doing so he would quote from the Report presented by the Commissioner to the Charity Commissioners. Time would not permit him to quote at length from that Report, but he simply referred in passing to the fact that the master, at the period to which he referred, received something like £1,200 a-year for performing very slight services indeed; the services, in fact, which he performed were of the smallest possible kind. In addition to that a house in Regent's Park was provided for the master; but he did not choose to reside there, he preferred to reside in the more aristocratic neighbourhood of St. James's, 513 so he let the house in the Regent's Park for £500 a-year. The Charity Commissioners calculated that the house was worth £700 a-year. Altogether, the emoluments of the office amounted, according to Mr. Skirrow, to about £2,000 a-year. It was said that the master had gone two or three times a week to look at the brothers and sisters in the Hospital, but latterly he had not gone so often as that. He (Mr. Cremer) believed that the Master attended Chapter about three times a-year, and, so far as one could judge from reading Mr. Skirrow's Report, that was the only duty the Master discharged, for which he received nearly £2,000 a-year. Then there were three brothers, each of whom was granted £300 a-year and a house to live in. They did not live in the houses, but preferred to let them, and he thought that the amount they pocketed annually from the endowment amounted to about £550. There were also three sisters, who were provided with an annual income of £200, and two of them, in their turn, let the houses which had been provided for them, so that their income amounted to about £350 a-year each. There were a few scholars, he thought they numbered about 51, who were educated, and who received when they left the school a premium enabling their parents to apprentice them. There were bedesmen and bedeswomen, but it was impossible to ascertain what the duties they performed were. At the period to which he referred the Charity Commissioners instituted an inquiry, as the way in which the money of the endowment was appropriated was fast becoming a public scandal; and the facts he had stated to the Committee were elicited in the course of that inquiry. Mr. Skirrow recommended that some action should be taken, but from 1886 down to the present moment no action whatever had been taken by the Charity Commissioners. He was entitled to ask the hon. Member (Mr. J. W. Lowther), who represented the Charity Commissioners in the House, why it was that the recommendations which Mr. Skirrow made to the Commissioners so long ago as 1886 had not yet been given effect to, and that this shameful waste of an endowment was allowed to continue for another moment? Now, he came to the other case he mentioned at the outset. The Committee would understand 514 the kind of treatment which was meted out by the Charity Commissioners to the wealthy class who profited by the existence of the endowment to which he had referred. They would now see the difference of treatment when he detailed the circumstances of the Free School which originally existed in the village of Scarping in Norfolk. That endowment was left by a gentleman in 1609. Previous to 1886 the people of the village had enjoyed the privilege of free education, a privilege which they, according to the testimony of the vicar, the Rev. William Jephson, who gave very valuable evidence before the Endowed Schools Committee, highly appreciated. But in 1886 the Charity Commissioners, for some reason or other which had never yet been ascertained, which neither the vicar nor the labourers in the village were ever made acquainted with, thought proper to swoop down upon the village. They had only a handful of agricultural labourers to deal with; they swooped down upon the poor, wretched labourers, who had hitherto enjoyed the benefit of free education, because they wished to utilize the endowment for the purpose of some higher education. There had been no dissatisfaction expressed by anybody as to the character of the education that was given in the school; there were no big salaries paid; there was no Master with his £2,000 a-year. There was no necessity, so far as he could discover, for any interference by anybody; but for some reason or other the Charity Commissioners thought this good prey, and they swooped down on this poor unfortunate village of Scarping. They swallowed up the endowment; in fact, in the language of his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton), they stole the endowment from the villagers and appropriated it to the benefit of a class who could very well afford to pay for their own education. A labourer who presented himself for examination before the Committee upstairs said—he (Mr. Cremer) hoped the Committee would pay attention to the fact, because, although this might be a light and trivial matter for gentlemen with thousands a-year, it was a serious matter to labourers with 8s., or 10s., or 12s. a-week—the witness said that the average earnings of the labourers in that village were only 8s. per week. The Commissioners, of course, argued that the school fees 515 would not amount to much, but it came out in evidence that it was not 1d. a-week that labourers had to pay, but that in many cases the school fees amounted to 5d. or 6d. a-week, because a labourer having four or five or six children at school had to pay four or five or six pennies a-week. He had no desire to prolong the debate, and he had simply risen to register an emphatic protest against the action of the Charity Commissioners in regard to endowments benefiting the poorer class of their countrymen, and to point out that they dealt with such endowments in a very different way and fashion from that in which they dealt with endowments affecting the wealthier classes. He begged Members of the Committee to consider seriously what they were doing. They had heard a great deal about confiscation; but did they think that the lessons which nearly every scheme of the Charity Commissioners formulated was not being understood, and was not being driven into the minds of the agricultural labourers and the mass of their countrymen? Talk about Socialism and Communism; they might denounce Socialism, and Communism, and confiscation, as long as they pleased; but, if they continued to set such examples to the mass of the people, and to teach them that confiscation was a very good thing when applied to the property of the poor, but a very wicked thing when applied to the property of the rich, depend upon it, the example they were setting by formulating these schemes, and forcing them on the mass of the people year by year, would not be lost upon the people. By-and-bye, when the time came—and it might come sooner than some hon. Members anticipated—when the masses asked themselves whether they ought to respect the rights of property, as they were continually being told they ought by their teachers and spiritual pastors and masters, they would say to themselves—"Well, if our spiritual pastors and masters and teachers act towards us in this manner, if they take away from us the endowments that have been left for the benefit of the poorer classes of the country, if they filch them from us and apply them for the benefit of a class which can very well afford to pay for its own education, is not the time come when we should teach our spiritual pastors and masters a lesson by giving 516 them a little dose of the physic they have so long administered to us."
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, he must again raise a respectful protest against the manner in which hon. Gentlemen brought forward cases out of the enormous number of cases—31,000—the Commissioners had to deal with, without giving them or the Committee any Notice whatever. Now, with regard to the latter case which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cremer) had spoken of, the case of the Scarping Free School, it was, as the hon. Gentleman knew, fully discussed by the Endowed Schools Committee which sat upstairs. That Committee made their Report in 1887. He was sure the hon. Member would not contradict him when he said that the endowment in that case was for the maintenance of a free school to be kept for ever in a house at Scarping. The hon. Member knew that a great deal of discussion took place as to what was meant by a free school. It was urged very strongly that a "free school" meant a school open to anybody; not open to the poor alone, but open to everybody.
§ MR. CREMER
That was the view taken by the Chairman, but it was not the view adopted by the Committee generally.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, the Committee reported that—Apart from the question whether the term 'free school,' used in Latin or in English, in the old Foundations, meant free from the jurisdiction of the Ordinary, free in the sense of being open to all, or free from payment by scholars, it appears to your Committee that the Commissioners"—that was the Endowed Schools branch of the Charity Commission—have held in view the object of making such Foundations available to the working classes.He maintained that the Charity Commissioners were put on their trial by the Committee. All the cases were fully gone into at that time, and that was the conclusion to which the Committee came. With regard to the Scarping case itself, the Committee said—In the case of Scarning, there was an example of a school which, probably at its foundation, was for higher subjects, but which for a long period, had become a free elementary school.That was all be had to say upon the 517 matter. The case was fully gone into by the Committee, the Committee decided that the Commissioners had acted properly, and there was no condemnation of the Charity Commissioners in the Report of the Committee. With regard to St. Katharine's Hospital, he had only one word to say. It was an endowment of a very peculiar character, having been created by Queen Matilda in 1148, and subsequently added to by every Queen of England. It was especially a Royal endowment. Rules had from time to time been made for it by Lord Chancellors at the instance of Her Majesty herself; and he believed that now a Committee had been appointed, he fancied by Her Majesty herself, to inquire how far, if at all, the buildings of St. Katharine's Hospital, which were situated in Regent's Park, could be utilized as a home for nurses, to which the large sums which were given last year to Her Majesty as a Jubilee present might very properly be applied.
§ MR. GURDON (Norfolk, Mid)
said, that as one of the trustees of the Scarping School the Committee would, no doubt, allow him to say one word. The trustees did not approve of the scheme the Charity Commissioners originally placed before them; they felt they had been hardly used. But it was right he should say that the Charity Commissioners had this year met them in a most handsome manner. The Commissioners had agreed to start a fresh school, and he had every reason to suppose that the result of the fresh scheme would be satisfactory to the people of the parish.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
asked if the scheme for Christ's Hospital would be shortly laid on the Table? This time last year, and this time two years ago, he and his hon. Friend the Member for Haggerston (Mr. Cremer) raised the question of the Christ's Hospital Scheme, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Penrith (Mr. J. W. Lowther) then said the scheme would be laid upon the Table shortly. As yet they had seen nothing of it. The parish of Shoreditch was affected considerably in respect to Webb's Charity, and it would be incumbent upon him and his hon. Friend the Member for Haggerston to oppose the scheme, because of its treatment of Webb's Charity. Perhaps the hon. 518 Gentleman might tell them when they might expect to see the scheme?
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE) (Kent, Dartford)
said, the question was simply one of procedure; the scheme had been approved by the Lord President and himself, and would not be laid on the Table unless a Petition were presented in opposition to it. A reference to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on a point of law would also have the same effect.
§ MR. JAMES STUART
asked if there would be any other opportunity of discussing the scheme except on Petition?
§ SIR WILLIAM HART DYKE
replied, that it would not come before the House in any other way except as he had described.
§ MR. JAMES STUART
desired to take this opportunity of protesting against the treatment meted out to Webb's Charity by the scheme. He would like to call the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the facts, and in doing so would not occupy much time.
The Act provides an appropriate method of dealing with the question. It is competent by Petition to bring the matter before the House, and then the House can express an opinion upon it.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 117; Noes 195: Majority 78.—(Div. List, No. 196.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, that there was certain to be a debate of some length on the Charity Commission Vote, and in it the right hon. Gentlemen the Members for Wolverhampton and Bradford desired to take a part. A question raised some years ago would have to be raised again, and the debate would take some time. He wished the Government to say at once whether it was possible or practicable to go on with that debate at midnight? Personally, he was anxious to reach at once the Motion of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That was a most important matter, and it was desirable it should be carried through as soon as possible. He believed it would 519 be useless to go on with the present debate, and unless some good ground were shown against it, he should move to report Progress.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he was anxious to fall in with the views of the right hon. Gentleman. But, surely, he was aware that under the Rules of the House, if they entered on the debate on the Motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be stopped at midnight?
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that he believed that to be the case, and he did not, therefore, propose to take the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Motion till after midnight. He appealed to the Chairman if his rendering of the Rule were not correct?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, this, of course, altered the case. But there were four unopposed Votes; he would withdraw the one under debate and take the others, thus forwarding Business.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman that there would be a good deal of opposition on the Civil Service Vote. He himself had two or three points to raise.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (3.) £34,720, to complete the sum for the Exchequer and Audit Department.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
said, that with regard to the duties of the Comptroller and Auditor General's Office, he desired to know what provision had been made to enable that officer to institute a proper and efficient examination of the stores of the Military, Naval, Post Office, and Telegraph Departments? An examination of the stores of those Departments would require almost technical knowledge; it certainly would necessitate a considerable increase of the staff, and he wished to know if this had been provided for? As they knew there was a wonderful absence of anything like an independent check or audit in respect to those stores; it was clear the Auditor's staff would have to be considerably augmented, and he would ask the Secretary to the Treasury if in that Vote any pro- 520 vision had been made for such an increase of the staff? If not, was it at all likely that a Supplementary Estimate would be presented in connection with it; and what did the Treasury suppose would be the ultimate charge for each Service?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, the hon. Member had raised a very important question. No doubt he was aware that some time ago the Treasury authorized an examination of the stores of the Admiralty, and the Comptroller and Auditor General made a most exhaustive examination. He had presented a Report to the Public Accounts Committee, and it was now under consideration upstairs. The question was a very large and important one, and it involved more than the mere matter of cost; it involved, indeed, a question of principle as to whether the duty of making the independent audit should be discharged—if it were discharged at all—by the Comptroller and Auditor General, in place of, or in addition to, the examination of stores made by the Departments themselves. They had taken the Admiralty as a test case, and they desired to have the Report of the Public Accounts Committee before deciding whether it was desirable to extend the system to the other Departments. The hon. Member had mentioned the Military Stores. Well, one portion of that question had already been under examination by the accountants who were appointed last year, and who made a very exhaustive inquiry into the matter of keeping the accounts at Woolwich and at the Manufacturing Departments generally. When the Government had their Report and full information before them, they would consider in what form the examination should be continued. The hon. Member asked whether any provision had been made in the Vote for an increase of staff? He must answer that no provision had been made, because, until a decision had been come to on the main question of principle, provision could not properly be made. There was an additional reason for not making any provision in that Vote, for, even if an addition to the staff were required, it might be found possible to supply it by transfers from the Services generally. He hoped the hon. 521 Member would rest satisfied with that answer, would see that the question was a very important one, and that it was receiving the careful consideration of the Government.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, he did not intend to enter into the question whether it was expedient that Stores Accounts should be audited by an officer of the Department from which they proceeded, or by the Comptroller and Auditor General; but he desired to point out to the Secretary to the Treasury that the functions of the Comptroller and Auditor General were fixed by Statute and not by the Treasury. No duties could be assigned to him except under the Statute; and he desired to impress upon the Government that if they arrived at the conclusion on this question that it would be desirable that the Comptroller and Auditor General should audit Store Accounts, he should be directed to do so in the terms of the present or a future Statute, and not under a mere Departmental arrangement.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, they had been informed that the powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General were fixed by Statute. But there was a serious divergence of opinion as to the authority of the Comptroller and Auditor General in dealing with the Accounts of the War and Admiralty Departments. The matter was very important, and it would be well if the Secretary of State for War would inform them distinctly whether the views entertained by the Comptroller and Auditor General were correct, or whether those entertained by the right hon. Gentleman himself would be generally adopted by the Government. There was a great question of principle involved, and he would like to hear from his right hon. Friend how the matter stood at the present moment?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. E. STANHOPE) (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
said, the controversy between the Auditor General and the War Office with regard to the powers of the former under Statute were all fully stated in the Blue Book. How did it stand, he was asked? The correspondence, he would reply, was under the consideration of the Public Accounts Committee; that Committee would have to report, and until that Report had been received it would be premature for him to say a word upon it. But as 522 soon as the Government received the Report they would come to a decision as quickly as possible as to the course they should pursue.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, it was a very difficult question, and he should not be prepared to express an opinion at present as to whether it was desirable to extend the functions and powers of the Comptroller and Auditor General over the War Office or Admiralty. All they were entitled to ask that night was that the matter should receive the careful attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury. It was to their interest that the Accounts should be efficiently audited. He would not pursue the subject any further, but he wanted to call the attention of the Committee to one item in that Vote. Owing to the discussion which took place in the House last year, the Secretary to the Treasury had very properly carried out, on the face of all the Votes, the entire cost to the Service. Well, although the gross total of this Vote was £56,000, £18,700 fell under other Votes; and the Non-Effective Service of this, so to speak, small Office cost no less than £16,813, or rather more than one-third of the cost of the Effective Service. This was a subject to which he intended to recur again, and he believed that one of the most serious questions before them was the enormous growth of their Non-Effective Service. In this case, in an Office established only a few years ago, the Non-Effective Votes exceeded one-third of the Effective Vote. No matter more deserved the speedy consideration of Parliament.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, the Secretary to the Treasury had given him an answer with regard to the Naval and Military Stores, but had said nothing about the Post Office or Telegraph Departments. Were they to understand that there was no issue between the Postmaster General and the Comptroller and Auditor General with regard to the audit of the stores?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, there was no difference of opinion on that question between the Postmaster General and the Comptroller and Auditor General. As he had endeavoured to explain, the Government were first trying to settle the principle, whether it was desirable to entrust to, or impose on, the Comptroller 523 and Auditor General the duty of auditing the stores. Returns were actually furnished to the Treasury by the Post Office and Telegraph Departments showing the condition of the stores; and it might be that if the principle of the Comptroller and Auditor General examining the stores for the War Office and Admiralty were adopted, it would be extended to the Telegraph and Post Offices. But, as yet, no decision had been arrived at.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Is the Treasury on the side of the Comptroller and Auditor General's views, or adverse to them?
§ MR. JACKSON
I do not know quite how to answer that question. The Treasury is, of course, desirous to see the best plan applied to the Accounts of every Department. I think the hon. Member will know, as a Member of the Public Accounts Committee, it will be a great advantage to the House, and I think the Treasury also, to have this question settled.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
Will the hon. Gentleman give the Committee some explanation of the item of £3,831?
§ MR. JACKSON
That question is properly raised, not on this, but on the Non-Effective Vote.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £5,257, to complete the sum for the Friendly Societies Registry.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.