§ (1.) £185,977, to complete the sum for Stationery and Printing.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he hoped that in reference to the last paragraph in the Vote—namely, the advances in aid of the publication of the Parliamentary Debates, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would kindly tell the Committee what the Government intended to do. The sum put down in the Vote was £6,100. He believed that the Treasury had given notice to Mr. Hansard that his contract 653 would expire at the end of the year. Was it to be understood that another sum of £6,100 was intended to be advanced next year? He took it that they were to have a new system of reporting the Debates introduced, and he wished to know whether the Treasury intended to adopt the Report of the majority or of the minority Member of the Joint Committee which sat to consider the question? Were they taking art Estimate for a report similar to the one which was supplied at present, so far as the cost was concerned was it to be a full or a condensed report, and had any arrangement been made to prevent the same kind of imperfect Reports from being given in the future as had been given in the past. The reports hitherto had been simply disgraceful. He knew something personally of condensed reports; but, in the case of the reports of the Parliamentary debates, the condensation has generally consisted of taking some lines oat of one paragraph and adding them to something else in another paragraph, which was a very different thing from condensation. What he wanted to get at now was the position of the Government, and whether they intended to enter into a contract on the basis of an advance of £5,000 a-year, which would ensure the preparation of full and accurate reports.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he should be very glad, in answer to the question of the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), to state the position in which the matter stood, although he thought he had yesterday practically gone into the matter in answer to a question that was put to him when the Vote first came on for discussion. He wished, in the first instance, to correct a misapprehension the hon. Member appeared to be labouring under, which might mislead the Committee. The money which the Committee were asked to vote now was not for next year, but for the current financial year. The sum about to be voted was wanted for the payment of the work done this year. In reference to the future, it would be within the knowledge of the Committee that a Joint Select Committee of both Houses was appointed to consider the whole question of reporting and pub- 654 lishing of the Debates and Proceedings of Parliament. That Committee went most carefully, thoroughly, and exhaustively into the whole question. A great many witnesses were examined, and the Committee obtained, he thought, all the information necessary to enable them to come to a sound decision. They had made a Report. One Member of the Committee did, in some way, dissent from the views of the majority, but there was only one dissentient; and, since the presentation of the Report, the Government had decided upon giving effect to the recommendations contained in it. In pursuance of those recommendations they had asked for tenders in accordance with the specifications put before the Committee; and, under those specifications, the preparation and publication of the reports of the proceedings and debates in Parliament would in future be carried on, in the same way and on the same lines as heretofore. He said in the same way and on the same lines as regarded the work being done by the contractor, and the Government having no official responsibility for it. The report would not in any shape be an official report. Tenders had been asked for and tenders had been received. No decision had yet been come to, and he was not at present in a position to tell the Committee what the decision of the Government upon these tenders would be. He believed, however, that the arrangement that would be made would be found satisfactory. They had made provision that in future the reports, while following the lines hitherto observed, should be much more full than they had been in the past, and care had been taken to provide—he believed that the Members of the Committee would confirm him in this—that Members who had hitherto been considered not to require or not to deserve a long report, should be proportionately reported. Of course this prevision would probably tend to enlarge the extent of the volumes. He should like to take this opportunity of expressing his own opinion—and he believed it was the opinion of the Committee generally—that if the new arrangement should be to terminate their connection with Mr. Hansard, his opinion was that the work 655 done in the past had been of great service to the House and to the public. As far as he was concerned, he should part with Mr. Hansard with very great regret. Of course it was not always possible to continue an old and long standing arrangement, much as some hon. Members might wish to do so, for the times had changed. At the same time, he might say, on behalf of the Treasury, that they had always received from Mr. Hansard, as far as it was in his power, the greatest courtesy and assistance upon any question that may have arisen. Mr. Hansard was so well known and had so long occupied an honourable position in connection with the debates and proceedings of Parliament that he was justified in saying that in the past he had conferred a great benefit upon the public. The Vote now before the Committee was to defray the cost of the work that was being done in the present Session, and the new arrangement would come into force next year.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
said, he thought it would be for the convenience of the Committee if the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would state the number of tenders sent in under the new arrangement. He would not presume to ask the names of those who had sent in tenders.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he had no personal objection to state the number of tenders, but the hon. Member would see that if he was to proceed with the negotiations it would be better to withhold the information he possessed for the present.
§ MR. HENNIKER HEATON (Canterbury)
said, he wished to call attention to a subject which had been referred to yesterday, namely, an item of £10,000 for receipts from the sale of waste paper. Hundreds of thousands of newspapers and illustrated magazines were posted annually for the Colonies, India, and all parts of the Kingdom and the Continent, but owing to insufficiency of stamps and other causes were not delivered. These newspapers and magazines were carted off and sold as waste paper, and the proceeds, which amounted to several thousands of pounds, were handed over to the Stationery Office. It would be a sensible and just thing to credit this amount to the Post Office, instead of placing it every year under the head of the Stationery Office. 656 He should be glad if his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury would tell the Committee who the contractor for this waste paper was.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that these questions were asked yesterday, and he must apologize to his hon. Friend if he had omitted to answer them. If he understood his hon. Friend rightly, he asked that some reconsideration should be given to the question of dealing with waste paper in connection with the Public Offices. He must point out that the waste paper was not confined to Blue Books and Parliamentary Papers, but included all the waste paper of every Department. It had been found desirable that it should be dealt with from one centre and by one Department. Accordingly, the waste paper was now drawn to the Stationery Office and dealt with by that Department. In regard to some portion of it, it was thought desirable that, in the interests of the State, it should be torn up and destroyed. As was suggested by his hon. Friend, it was quite open for consideration whether the present system of disposing of it was the best that could be adopted. It was certainly doubtful whether it could be the most economical or the best course to send waste paper from the Post Office in Glasgow to London. It would be better, probably, to dispose of it in Glasgow. That was a suggestion well worth considering, and he would consider it with the view of ascertaining whether any alteration of the present system was desirable.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
asked, whether the House would be afforded any opportunity of discussing the proposed new Parliamentary reports? Would the present Vote be applicable to payments under the new Vote, and would it apply to reports of the debates of both Houses?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the course he proposed to take in regard to the new Reports was, that when the Government had arrived at a decision, a copy of the contract should be laid upon the Table for the information of the House. Of course the charge would continue to be borne by the Stationery Office.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
said, he thought it would be satisfactory for the Committee to know whether the new contract would be made with printers or with reporters. For his own part, he 657 thought it would be more prudent to deal with reporters, to whom the House would be principally indebted for good work. The reporters would have the important part of the work rather than the printers, who were more concerned with the mechanical part of the work. He did not think that the reporters should be made altogether subsidiary to the printers and printing. There should be a competent staff of reporters, educated to the work. Such a system would he much better than to leave the matter in the hands of a printer, with whom the quality of the reporting might be a minor consideration.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that another important point was to require the contractor to employ his own reporters, and not to continue the present floating system of taking the reports from whatever source they could be obtained. A few years ago he was told by Mr. Cornelius Buck, the publisher of Hansard's Debates, that the size of the reports depended upon the number of copies sold, and that if more Members took copies they would have bigger reports. What he wanted to get at was what the nature of the future reports was to be—whether they were to have reporters who would report both before and after 12 o'clock at night, and whether the reports prepared would be irrespective of the number of copies sold.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he could assure hon. Members that all these questions had been fully and exhaustively gone into by the Joint Committee. He quite agreed and believed that all the Members of the House would desire to endorse what the Secretary to the Treasury had said in regard to the services Mr. Hansard had rendered to the House and the public. A similar feeling prevailed among the Members of the Committee. The impression was that the Report of the Debates might be made more complete and more ample than they had been; and it had, therefore, been thought best to put the work up to public tender in order to arrive at the natural profit which was to be derived from it. The hon. Member for Forfarshire asked the Government to place the work in the hands of a reporter. Various estimates of cost had been put before the Committee, and it was on that ground that they had thought it advisable to submit 658 the matter to public tender. It was almost unavoidable that the tenders should be sent in by printers—he did not think it possible to take them from the actual reporters. There must be some middle man, whether he was a reporter or a printer, who would have to be responsible for the reports. He believed that the reports, although they would not be verbatim, would be much more complete than they were at present. If it were not wrong to compare the reporters to "swine," he might say that sometimes hon. Members "cast their pearls before swine." It was considered desirable that there should be a fair report of what every Member said, whether he happened to talk sense or nonsense; and, if he remembered rightly, the Committee had laid down that a minimum proportion—he thought three-fourths—of what a Member said should be reported. [An hon. MEMBER: One-third.] Every hon. Member would thus have a report of what he said equal in length to three-fourths of his utterances. Whether anybody would read it when it was reported, he really did not know. He had been a Member of the Committee himself, and, for his own part, he thought the reports should be a great deal shorter than that. He might tell the House that, as a matter of fact, the British public did not take a great amount of interest in what went on in that House. There was a time when important debates took place, of which it was desirable that a complete record should be kept, and the daily newspapers printed extra copies in order to meet the demand of the public. Nothing of the sort occurred now, and no newspaper printed extra copies on account of the Parliamentary debates, because there was no demand for them. As a matter of fact, the newspaper reports were reduced to a minimum. A newspaper was a business undertaking, and the business of newspapers was to give to the public what the public wanted. He could assure the Committee that, with rare exceptions, there was no such bad "copy" for newspapers as an ordinary report of what went on in that House. He thought the new system recommended by the Joint Committee would work well; but he hoped the Government would not consider themselves bound to accept the lowest tender. 659 On the contrary, it was desirable that they should look into the matter thoroughly, and secure a satisfactory and highly efficient Report. He might add that the Report of the Committee was unanimous, with the exception of one Member; and if the system recommended by the Committee were tried, he was satisfied that it would meet the views of the House.
§ MR. GILL (Louth, S.)
(who was almost inaudible) was understood to ask for information in reference to the publication of the Brehon Laws. He wished to know if the Government were prepared to accept the suggestion that the work should not be published until it was completed, which would not be for three years to come. A suggestion was made last year that each volume should be published as soon as it was completed, and personally he was of opinion that that would be the best course to adopt. If that were done the House would have an opportunity of judging whether the translation was carried out in a satisfactory manner or not. If no judgment was to be taken until the whole work was completed, it would then be impossible to amend any defect which it might contain. He saw no reason whatever why the Reports of the Brehon Commission should not be given to the public as each volume was completed. There could be no advantage in keeping the work in manuscript, instead of having it set up in type, and placed in the hands of the public volume by volume. He believed that great progress had been made with the translation, and if the Government were not prepared to publish the work as far as it had gone, he hoped that some good reason would be given in justification for the delay. The translation was undertaken by Dr. O'Donovan and Dr. O'Curry, two of the greatest Celtic scholars who had ever lived, and trusted that the work itself would not be subjected on that account to alterations at the hands of the present editors. The text was of the utmost value in its original form, and should be left as it was. He thought that no one had a right to tamper with the text of the manuscripts prepared by two such eminent scholars, although the editor would have a perfect right, in foot-notes, to make corrections. It would be a great mistake, and a most imprudent step, to tamper 660 with the text. He had no wish in making these observations to say a word that would reflect upon the learned professor who was discharging the editorial work. He found, after inquiries in Dublin, that, on the whole, the work, being in Professor Atkinson's hands, was in the hands of the best available man, and he was glad to take this opportunity of withdrawing the strictures which he felt bound to make with regard to Professor Atkinson when this matter was last before the House. He recognized that the Glossary to the Brehonic literature which Professor Atkinson was engaged in making would be a work of the utmost value to students of this subject. His chief object in mentioning the matter was to secure, if possible, that each volume should be published in the ordinary course as soon as it was ready, and should not be withheld from the public for three years, which was the period mentioned for the completion of the work.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, there was one point in connection with this Vote that he wished to mention, and that was the insufficient number of the copies of Parliamentary Papers placed in the Library and available for the use of the House. For instance, he had endeavoured to obtain a copy of the Report of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Reporting, but it was not on the shelf of the Library, and when he asked for another copy he was told that there was never more than one copy supplied. It appeared to him that it was an improper limitation of the number of copies available that there should be only one on the shelf of the Library, and he heard that there was some objection to bring in even that one copy. He knew that the space available was limited, but there were vacant spaces on the shelves in the Lobbies, and he certainly thought that some of the Parliamentary Papers might be placed there, so that hon. Members should not be confined to a single copy.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he knew that great interest was taken in the subject of the Brehon Laws, and he would take care that the observations of the hon. Member (Mr. Gill) were brought before the Commission. He understood the point of the hon. Member to be that when one volume was ready it should be published without waiting for the 661 completion of the work. So far as the Treasury were concerrned, of course they could have no objection. All they had to guard against was that they did not pay for the work beforehand. The rule was to pay for it as it was done. So far, therefore, as the Treasury were concerned, it would make no difference whether the work were published volume by volume or when completed.
§ MR. GILL
said, the hon. Gentleman had not quite comprehended the point of his remarks. At present they were asked to vote a sum of £200 towards the preparation of the work, which they could only know was done when they saw it published, and it had been announced that it would take three years to complete. Why should they be asked for £200 a-year for work which might have been done, but which they had no means of knowing had been done.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he would make inquiries with a view of ascertaining whether the wish of the hon. Member could not be complied with, and each volume published as it was completed. With reference to the point raised by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton), he would point out that the Librarian of the House was the proper person to consult. The copies of Reports that were placed in the Library was not a matter under the control of the Government; but was rather within the cognizance of the Authorities of the House. If it were possible to comply with the wish of the hon. Member, he had no doubt it would be done.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he wished to refer to a question which was raised upon this Vote yesterday—namely, the supply of Blue Books. He was afraid that Her Majesty's Government had displayed a disposition to restrict the supply of Blue Books, and he agreed with the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. J. M. Maclean) that it would be a great mistake to attempt to effect any petty saving in that respect. He had that evening, and upon other occasions, put questions to the Government in reference to the Slave Trade in Africa. It was a subject which excited great interest, not only in Africa and this country, but throughout the world. He was told by the Government that special Papers had been issued, and on going to the Library he found that a 662 Paper, No. 1, 1888, giving a certain amount of information had been issued during the Recess. It was one of the Papers which had not been circulated among Members; but which Members could obtain on application. During the Recess, he was naturally absent from London, attending to the interests of his constituents, and he was, therefore, not aware what Papers had been issued for which it was necessary that he should apply. This Paper, therefore, never came into his possession until he made inquiries about it in the Library. He sincerely trusted that the Government did not intend to effect economy by depriving hon. Members of their Blue Books. He should like to understand what Her Majesty's Government did propose with regard to the Committee for dealing with the question of Parliamentary Papers. He understood the Representative of the Government to say that they were quite willing to appoint a Committee. He hoped they would do so without further delay, so that the question might be expeditiously considered.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (A LORD of the TREASURY) (Wigton)
said, he thought the hon. Gentleman could have hardly understood the explanation which was given yesterday. The proposal was not to deprive hon. Members of any Papers if they desired to receive them, or to prevent any Member of the House, if he so wished, from receiving all the Papers that were printed. If he wished to have them he had only to give an indication of his wishes to the Clerk at the Vote Office, and he would continue to receive them. It was evident, however, from the course of the debate yesterday, that the majority of Members felt the present supply of Papers to be somewhat burdensome, and that they would be glad to be relieved of so great a bulk by the exercise of their own discrimination. It was proposed that a list of all Papers printed should be sent round daily to Members, from which Members would make their own selection. In case an hon. Member did not wish to make a selection, but to receive all, he had only to give notice of his wishes. In regard to the question put to the Government as to the appointment of a Select Committee, the desire of the Government was that the Printing Committee should be allowed to exercise an effective control 663 over the Printing Department. The style of printing might there be regulated, and he believed thus was great room for economy in that respect, so far as the size of the type, and so on, were concerned. He hoped before long that the Committee would be able to carry out an effective arrangement.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he did not quite understand the reply of the hon. Baronet to the question of his hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). He was not able to be present in the House yesterday; but he had carefully read all that passed, and he did not think the Government were justified in giving a decided expression of opinion in what was merely a strictly limited House yesterday aftertoon assembled just after along Adjournment. The opinion expressed by hon. Members under such circumstances could not be taken as anything like an expression of the whole feeling of the House as to the desirability of effecting a change in the distribution of Official information. He was quite prepared to support the appointment of a Committee; but he certainly did object to the plan shadowed forth by the hon. Baronet, that Members should be supplied with a slip of paper every morning, from which they were to find out what they wanted, and determine what Papers they would be supplied with. There were a great many Parliamentary Papers, the value of which could not be known until they were actually in the hands of hon. Members. Upon this question he might, perhaps, be allowed to say a word or two, because he had presided over a Committee which sat on the stationery question a few years ago, and he was able to give his testimony that the enormous expense of this Department did not proceed from the official printing required for the information of Members of the House. He had investigated the amount expended in Returns, and he had found it to be infinitesimal as compared with the general expenditure. When hon. Members asked for Returns and general information, and were told in reply that their wishes could not be complied with on account of the expense, they might be certain that the plea was unreal. There were a great many Blue 664 Books giving in duplication year after year a vast mass of statistical information, which, if given every three or five years, might be valuable. Hon. Members had to look into what were known as a short list and a long list. He did not understand upon what rule this list was prepared, or who was responsible for it; but he was satisfied that a number of Papers and Books might well be put in the short list, while there were in the short list Papers which ought to be in the hands of every hon. Member. He did not see why the Printing Committee should not look into the whole question of this official literature and its due distribution; but he did object to an expression of an opinion in a thin House on a Wednesday afternoon—[Cries of "No!"]—being taken as an expression of the general opinion of the House. He would not contradict the hon. Member who said "No;" but it was stated in the newspapers that the attendance was small, and that a quorum was not formed until the Speaker had been waiting for some time. The matter was one that was well worth considering, but he hoped that hon. Gentlemen would not be deluded by the idea that the enormous expenditure for stationery arose from the printing of Parliamentary Papers. A far greater saving might be effected in the cost of the stationery and printing of the House of Commons if the Treasury would invest the Stationery Department with a greater amount of control than it had at present. The rule of the War Office might be followed, and a strict investigation made into the printing and stationery arrangements of the other Departments, and a saving might be effected vastly greater than any sum that could be got by restricting the distribution of Parliamentary Papers. He hoped the Government would not proceed with precipitancy, and he thought it would be wise fur a Committee to sit on the whole question, the Printing Committee being as good as any other for the purpose. The question had not been properly discussed, and there was a great deal more in it than might appear at first sight. He was most anxious to reduce expenditure, and by the proposed plan, perhaps, from £8,000 to £10,000 a-year might be saved. But a great deal larger saving might be 665 effected by preventing waste and regulating the quality of the paper. He did not believe that any restriction of official information would be wise; and when hon. Members pressed for Returns, although the subjects to which they related might appear trivial, a great deal of time was saved by supplying the information which it was certainly the duty of the Government Departments to supply.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that if his right hon. Friend had been in the House yesterday he would have observed that the House, although small, was a very intelligent one. Was he to continue to be pestered with Blue Books, and have his hall "bunged" up with Parliamentary Papers because his right hon. Friend wished to read them? At the same time, he wished his right hon. Friend to understand that no one was anxious to prevent him from reading the Blue Books morning, noon, and night. All that was asked was that hon. Members should go to the Office and say—"I wish to be supplied with all the Blue Books," and he would continue to receive them. Why should he (Mr. Labouchere) be compelled to have them if he did not want them? A sage had once divided the world into two categories—the wise men, who read few books; and the foolish men, who read many books. He himself was in the first category, but his right hon. Friend insisted upon being in the other. He was sorry for him. The new system might, at least, be given a reasonable trial, and then, if it were not approved of, the old system could be reverted to. It would most unquestionably save the money of the State, and it left it to the option of every Member of the House to say whether he would take the whole of the Papers or not.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he altogether differed from the view which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). The hon. Member wished to be supplied only with the Books and Papers he chose to ask for, but he (Sir George Campbell) would put the matter in another shape. He did not wish to have the responsibility of saying that he did not want a certain Blue Book. He thought every hon. Member should 666 have the whole of the Blue Books if he wanted them, and it was for his hon. Friend and those who thought with him to take upon themselves the responsibility of saying that they did not want them. It was not necessary that much more should be said on the general question. It was quite understood that the Printing Committee was to be called together. He maintained that it was monstrous that a Member who desired to call attention to such an important question as the African Slave Trade should be told that the Papers had been docketed as if they were of very little importance, by they did not know whom—perhaps by the Librarian or by some clerk in the Library. There were many very important Papers that were not placed in the long list, which hon. Members should have facilities for obtaining. He could only hope that the Printing Committee would deal with the matter thoroughly.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, that if the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) would read the Votes daily he would find that a list was given of the Papers issued, and that he could obtain them if he chose to apply for them.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he was one of the foolish people who did read the Parliamentary Papers; but when he was absent from London for a few weeks he did not see the Votes. In regard to the Paper on the African Slave Trade, he had never seen that it had been issued until he came down to the House, nor had he any opportunity of knowing that it had been issued,
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £8,314, 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 Woods, Forests, and Laud Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, that this Vote was a very important one and involved the expenditure of several thousands of pounds. It related to land and property which were handed over to the State at the commencement 667 of the Reign for administration, so that they might be managed properly and as much as possible got out of them. Now, some of the accounts connected with these Offices were never submitted to the House of Commons, and the Vote only gave the salaries and expenses incurred in the Office of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues. There was, indeed, an account which was placed in the Library of the House, but he did not think it was to be found among the Papers that were distributed to Members. At any rate, he would call attention to one fact which showed what little regard was paid to these accounts. Some years ago he had a conversation with a former Secretary to the Treasury about some items of this kind, and, pointing to a particular sum, the hon. Gentleman said—"Why, I never saw it." Although he had been Secretary to the Treasury for some years, he said he had never seen the item to which reference was made before in his life. The attention of Parliament had in recent years been repeatedly drawn to this subject, and no doubt the present Secretary to the Treasury had looked into it, but it could not be expected that other hon. Members should be acquainted with the manner in which the Crown estates were administered, or whether they were administered in the most economical manner or not. He saw that in the legal branch the Solicitor got for himself an annual salary of £1,500, with incidental expenses amounting to £1,195. This gentleman had, he presumed, to consult counsel, instead of acting on his own opinion, because there was an item in the Vote of £2,115 for fees to counsel, and the year previously the amount paid in the same way was £1,160. Now, it did appear to him that if they were to have a legal gentleman at a salary of £1,500 a-year, with clerks under him and incidental expenses, this gentleman ought to be able to form his own opinion without consulting counsel. That, however, was a matter of detail. He proposed to give a few instances to show what the Department really cost, and what the actual expenditure was. Windsor Park and Woods covered 22 square miles; one-third consisted of pasture land and the other of woodland and woods. Pasture land in the neighbourhood of Windsor was of very great value, and 668 many gentlemen would be glad to have it for nothing, and would make a good deal of money out of it. Let the Committee see what the expenditure upon Windsor Park was. The total receipts from the 22 acres fell considerably short of the total expenditure, which amounted to £23,337. When he had drawn attention to this circumstance in a previous Session he was asked to look at the roads. The roads cost £8,358, and setting aside that sum they received £1,300 less than they spent upon the administration of Windsor Park. If hon. Members would look into the various items they would not be surprised that this was the case, seeing that they included the salaries of a deputy ranger, park-keepers, gamekeepers, and other officials who had been foisted upon this item of expenditure. Going further, he found that there were charges for the maintenance of new works and improvements, for a covered way at Ascot, and for drainage at Cumberland Lodge. Why were they to provide a covered way at Ascot, which, he presumed, meant to the racecourse, or for the drainage of Cumberland Lodge? It must be remembered that this was property which the State had taken over for the purpose of administering it economically, and to get as much money from it as possible. A further item was for the laying on of water to Ascot stables and stand, and for the repair of the Royal stables and kennels. The last item was, he believed, in connection with the stag hounds, under the control of the Master of the Buckhounds, the Vote for which came out of the Civil List; but why should the country be called upon to pay for the maintenance of the stables and kennels? Then there was a contribution of £500 for food for game. When he had called attention to this item before, the explanation of the Treasury was somewhat remarkable, and he would take the liberty of repeating it. It might naturally be expected that if a tenant kept up the game, the landlord would pay the expense of the food supplied. But he was simply told that there was once a charge of £1,500 a-year for this purpose. That was not, however, a question which Parliament had to consider now. They were discussing a simple question of a sum of £500 charged as a contribution for food to game. The Government said that if 669 hon. Members would look into the Act of George III. it would be found that in taking over the Crown Lands Parliament accepted all the charges upon the land taken over; that in the Act 1 Vict. these charges were recapitulated, and that Parliament accepted all of them. But it was pointed out that at the time of the passing of the Act of George III. people did not breed pheasants. The authorities admitted that that might be true, but that as the pheasants had been deprived of the fields of buckwheat which existed at that time, other food was substituted as a sort of compensation to the pheasants. This was an instance of the way in which the public money was wasted and squandered. There was another instance which he desired to mention. There was in Leicestershire a village called Billing-borough. The other day the labourers of that village held a meeting, and applied to the Commissioners to grant them allotments. There was a farmer in the parish who farmed 830 acres, at a rent of 32s. per acre, including buildings, &c. This farmer was in the habit of letting out a portion of the land for which he paid 32s. per acre to agricultural labourers at £4 per acre. Well, the Commissioners replied to the deputation which waited upon them that they would grant allotments to these agricultural labourers, but they notified to them that they must pay £4 an acre—that being the price at which the farmer let out his land. The agricultural labourers met together, and unanimously refused to accept the offer, because they said they could not work the land at a profit. He had thought it worth while to mention this fact, because it showed that some investigation was absolutely necessary. But he was going one step further, and he desired the attention of his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. Fowler) to what he was about to say. His right hon. Friend, like many other Members of the House, was a member of the Nonconformist persuasion. He held in his hand a circular sent out by the vicar of the parish of Billingborough and others asking for subscriptions to the much-needed restoration of the chancel of the parish church, and he found that the Office of Woods and Forests had contributed a sum of £500 for a new roof, 670 a new floor, and a new east window. Was there any instance of these gentlemen contributing to the maintenance and repair of Nonconformist places of worship? None. Why should they contribute to one particular sect money paid by all sects in the community? The case was a public scandal. In the case of land being required for a board school an excessive price was charged by the Commissioners. He thought it was monstrous that while the Commissioners refused to give land to a board school, and the board school had to incur a debt, this other sum of money was granted by the Commissioners for an east window in the chancel of the parish church. He was strongly of opinion that a Committee ought to be appointed to inquire into these matters. There had been Committees upon other Public Departments, and he saw no reason why there should not be a Committee upon this. He certainly knew of no Department which more required investigation. The facts he had pointed out in connection with Windsor Park and the village of Billingborough showed that there was something wrong in connection with the Department. He had given Notice of an Amendment upon the Vote, and his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) had given Notice of another on the same point—namely, to reduce the Vote for the salaries of the two Commissioners. He thought those Amendments went to the root of the matter; and if the Committee would agree to that which he proposed to move—namely, the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £500, it would enable the country to repay itself for the contribution to this east window in the chancel of the parish church of Billingborough. He hoped that he might receive an assurance from the Government that next year a Committee would be appointed to look into the whole subject. He should like to go even further than that; but he saw that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) was alone on the Treasury Bench. Neither the First Lord of the Treasury nor the Chancellor of the Exchequer was present, and probably the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would not be able to give an absolute pledge; but he was sure that the hon. Gentleman recognized 671 the fact that some investigation was necessary. The Treasury were of themselves unable to cope with the matter without having Parliament behind them. But he should be content if the Secretary to the Treasury would tell him that he recognized the facts himself, and would do his best to induce his Colleagues to grant a Committee. In that case he would not press the matter further; but in the meantime, in order to afford an opportunity to the hon. Gentleman to tell the Committee what he intended to do, he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £500.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, Wages, and Allowances, be reduced by £500."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, he thought the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had done good service in bringing this Vote under the attention of the Committee. Personally, he was not one of those who advocated economy in the abstract; but he was desirous of seeing it carried out in practice. He hoped the Government would grant the Committee which had been asked for, and for this reason—that, owing to the way in which this Vote came before Parliament and the accounts connected with the Crown Lands, although a Royal Commission had been appointed to inquire into all the Civil Establishments, it would not be possible for that Commission to inquire into matters connected with the administration of the Crown Lands. They could only deal with the actual Establishments for which money was voted by Parliament. He had had the curiosity to look into the Report relating to this Office for last year. In all these matters he entertained a strong opinion that they should not be regarded as questions between the Benches on which he sat and those opposite; but that independent Members sitting on both sides of the House, who were desirous of effecting a reduction in the Expenditure of the country, should unite together. In regard to this Vote, in the first place, he could find no clear statement whatever as to what the nation really got from the Crown Lands; and as he read the statements which were issued from the Office of the Commissioners, some of them 672 were absolutely contradictory in themselves. He would take, for instance, such an important point as the gross amount paid annually into the Exchequer as the balance of Revenue over the ordinary Expenditure. Last year he found, on deducting the Expenditure from the Income, that there was a balance of over £375,000; but that was not the sum actually paid into the Exchequer, because he found, from the Auditor General's Report, that the sum actually paid into the Exchequer was under £370,000. Why was not the exact balance paid in? On looking into the Report for this year he found that in the year 1887–8 the balance between the Receipts and Expenditure was £413,000; but he found that, as a matter of fact, only £390,000 was paid in. Where had the remaining £23,000 gone? No doubt the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to explain; but Parliament ought to insist upon this—that whatever sum was returned as the balance between Expenditure and Income ought to be paid into the Exchequer, every penny of it, and these round sums ought not to be given. It was important that these matters should be looked into, because the nation, as a whole, taking the average of years, was a considerable loser by the bargain which had been made with the Crown. This was not because the Crown Lands were not well able to bring in a much larger return than was actually paid to the Crown—namely, £385,000 a-year; but anyone who inquired into the way in which the Crown Lands were administered would find that the way in which matters stood was something that passed all comprehension. How did the matter stand? He believed that we paid the Crown £385,000 a-year for the Crown Lands. What did they get in return? He found that last year there was paid into the Exchequer a sum of £375,000; but even that did not represent what the nation got. It got a great deal less than that on account of the cost of the Office which they were going to vote that day. Last year the Office expenses amounted to £30,000, and this year to £1,500 more. What they got last year was only £335,000, as against £385,000, or a clear loss of £50,000. People told him it was a delicate matter to inquire into these Crown Lands; but he maintained 673 that the question had nothing to do with the Crown at all. Indeed, it was these very men who, under the guise of loyalty, fattened on the maladministration of these Crown Lands, and that was the essence of the complaint he made. He did not understand why these Reports were not presented as a whole, and why they should be split up. The Committee ought to be able to see at a glance what the Crown Lands brought in, and what the nation had to pay for them. In looking over the Report there were a good many things which suggested thoughts to his mind. In the first place, if he understood the bargain which had been made with the Crown, it was that the nation was to pay to the Crown a sum of 385,000 a-year, and to receive the produce of these lands in return. But he did not find that that was the case, and he wanted to know from the Secretary to the Treasury exactly which of the Crown Lands the public was entitled to the produce of and which not? It should be distinctly put to the nation how they stood in regard to the profits derived from the Crown Lands. It was quite certain, on looking through the Reports of the Commissioners, that it was quite possible to make a great deal more out of them on the one hand, and to spend a great deal loss on them on the other. They were administered by two Commissioners. He was bound to say that, looking at the past administration of the Crown Lands, the two Commissioners had suite enough to do if they attended to that business alone; but, to his astonishment, he found that one of them had been appointed Receiver General for the Duchy of Cornwall. He strongly objected to pluralities of that kind. If the Commissioner in question would fairly attend to his work in connection with the administration of the Crown Lands, he would have plenty to do; and it was improper, he thought, on the part of Her Majesty's Government to sanction the holding of a double Office. He had been anxious to get some general idea of what the Crown Lands were; but he could find no Schedule whatever of the acreage or of the properties in the hands of the Commissioners since 1875. He thought it was high time that there should appear in the next Report a distinct Schedule showing what the 674 Crown Lands were, where they were situated, and what the acreage was. In the absence of any statement of the acreage in the Report, it was utterly impossible to know how they were administered. He was not aware that in any one case, with the exception of Windsor Park, the acreage was mentioned, and in that instance the facts were not very encouraging, because it would appear that out of 23,000 acres only £4,000 was obtained as a return, whereas £24,000 was spent upon them. The whole Report was the most absurd jumble it was possible to imagine. No one could tell what was the charge for permanent improvements, or what was put down for temporary improvements in the current year. It was impossible to say what rents were received as income and what represented capital. No clear distinction could be drawn as to the profits derived from sale and the profits derived from rent. The whole matter, he was bound to say, was more unintelligible than the usual unintelligible documents presented to Parliament, and he was afraid that it was meant to be unintelligible, because he could not be persuaded that it was not possible, with all the talent they had at the Treasury, to submit the accounts in a more intelligible form. Then, again, as to the produce of these Crown Lands, the hon. Member for Northampton had told them something about Windsor Park—the only case in which the acreage was given. He had told them that there were 15,000 acres of woods, 5,000 of timber, and 5,000 of pasture land. Yet the whole estate produced only £4,500 a-year, and the cost was £24,300. The excuse the Commissioners gave for this small amount of income was that, like the Royal Parks in London, Windsor Park was largely used by the public for purposes of recreation; therefore, a profit and loss account was not to be expected. He had looked into the matter, and he found that the only Park which was treated as a public Park was the Home Park, which produced £91 and cost £150. He did see in the Accounts, however, such items as "Chaplain" and "Organist," although he did not know what the public had to do with them in connection with Forests and Woodlands. At the same time there was no account whatever of the acreage of these estates, nor had any account been presented 675 since 1875. Taking the New Forest, which represented the largest of the Crown Lands, he was not aware of the acreage, but he knew that it was pretty considerable, and anyone who knew anything of the management of woodlands was aware that the Forest was most disgracefully managed. There was an ex-Minister (Sir William Harcourt) on the other side of the House who ought to know something about the New Forest, but, to his astonishment, on looking through the Return of last year, he found that the right hon. Gentleman to whom he referred had leased a portion of the New Forest to himself. Now, it was a Rule that Ministers must not lease Crown Lands to themselves, yet in 1883 this right hon. gentlemen had granted to him a lease for 99 years of land which had never been leased before, and at a very cheap rent—namely, £35 a-year for the first three years, and then £100. Not only was this the taking of land which had never been leased before, but it was breaking through the invariable Rule that land of this kind was not to be leased for more than 21 years. He trusted that the House would receive an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman on the subject. With regard to the New Forest itself, if it was intended to lease the Forest in that way, they were certainly not likely to get much profit out of it. What was the Result? There could be no wonder, if this was the management of the Commissioners, that last year the New Forest should have been a dead loss, and that the whole of that vast tract of land brought nothing whatever into the National Coffers, the cost having been more than was obtained from it. Then, again, there was the case of the Forest of Dean. From the enormous extent of woodland in that Forest a profit of only £2,000 was obtained, and that profit was made from the smaller forests. The entire estate was so badly managed that it was only from small portions of it that a profit was realized. There was another question he should like to ask, in connection with this Forest. In former times one of the main purposes for which estates of this nature were kept up was that they might supply timber for the Navy. Upon that point there were two questions he should like to ask. In the first place, what quantity of timber 676 obtained from those forests was now used by the Navy; and whether it was the fact, as he was given to understand, that the Admiralty, instead of buying this timber, obtained what they wanted in another way? Hon. Members might see in the columns of the newspapers an advertisement in which the Woods and Forests proposed to sell a certain amount of timber immediately followed by another advertisement in which the Admiralty wanted to buy timber. He was told that it very often happened that the contractors, seeing these advertisements, bought the timber from the Woods and Forests, and sold it again to the Admiralty at a smart profit. Then, again, he should like to know how far the principle of selling these things by public auction or contract was adopted? On looking over the Returns he found that every sale that took place in regard to the Woods and Forests was a sale by private contract. He was afraid that selling by private contract let in a good deal of jobbery which he should be glad to see stopped. He should certainly like to see much less of this selling by private contract. He had now gone through the Woods and Forests; and he wished, before bringing his remarks to a close, to refer to the ordinary Estates of the Crown—the farms and mines. He found that the produce from them was £440,000 a-year; but the real rent was only £400,000, owing to various sources of expenditure, such as interest and charges of that kind. But what did the Committee think it cost to administer this £400,000? The cost was £84,000, or more than 20 per cent. In fact, it amounted to more than 25 per cent of the gross total. And it must be recollected that these properties were not like ordinary estates. He saw, for instance, that although a certain sum appeared under the head of donations, yet that item was entirely confined to properties in England, and was very small. Then, again, these properties did not pay rates. In some counties that fact gave rise to great inconvenience. For his own part, he could not conceive why the Crown Lands should not be treated for rating purposes like other properties. Any contributions in aid of the rates were given as a free gift, and they were exceedingly small, amounting, he believed, to only £1,000. 677 Another reason why the Crown Lands should be carefully administered was that there were vast arrears, which there was no probability of recovering. In addition to that he found from the Report of the Accountant General, that a heavy charge would fall upon these Estates in 1891, in regard to the Forest of Dean, which would involve a dead loss of £20,000. Another thing which induced him to believe that the estates might be more judiciously administered was a suspicious statement which occurred in the Auditor General's Report, and from which it might be gathered that the banking accounts of the Receivers had not in the past had that close attention which they ought to have had. The Accountant General said that the banking accounts were more satisfactorily arranged, and that the Receivers of the Crown Lands now kept separate banking accounts and bank books, which were of great use in the verification of the accounts. The administration of the Crown Lands appeared to have been bad from the beginning to the end. He trusted that in a matter of this kind they would not have the Liberal on the one side and the Conservatives on the other; but that independent Members would unite in voting against the two Front Benches, each of which was as bad as the other. The matter was one which was entirely separate from Party; and for the reasons he had given, he would most heartily support the Motion of the hon. Member for Northampton.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he agreed with a great deal that had fallen from the hon. Member for Preston, and he hoped that the question would be dealt with on both sides of the House without regard to Party feeling. There were one or two matters which had been brought before the Committee by the hon. Member, on which he thought a word or two of comment was needed. If there had been a bargain between the Crown and the country, that bargain was not of the character which had been shadowed forth in the words used by the hon. Member. The Crown had given up nothing whatever at any time to the country. He said this notwithstanding the opinions which were expressed last year from the Treasury Bench; but from a careful examination of every 678 document relating to the question which he had been able to obtain. The whole history of the matter was exceedingly simple and clear. It dated back only front the time when William III. came to this country. Up to that time no regular Civil List Vote was in existence. In the Civil List Act certain items making up the Civil List Revenue were specifically named, and one of those items was the Crown Lands, such Crown Lands not being the private property of the Sovereign, and the Civil List meaning the whole Civil Expenditure of the nation. As a matter of fact no member of the Royal Family had over given up one inch of private property at any time. The sums which had been voted since the time of William III. had been voted as a free gift from Parliament without any kind of bargain and without any kind of consideration being received from any member of the Royal Family for the gift. He believed it was impossible to contradict that statement, and if any Member of Her Majesty's Government ventured to contradict it he would be prepared to rise again and give quotations from every one of the Statutes and Resolutions of Parliament it had been his duty to examine. At the present moment, however, he did not propose to trouble the Committee with that evidence, but he would deal with a comparison between the Revenue derived from the Crown Lands and the amount paid to the Royal Family. It was not easy to discover precisely what that amount was. He had understood the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to promise last year that the sum would be given in the Estimates this year in a foot note, so as to enable the Committee to ascertain the actual amount paid to the Royal Family. Instead of being £385,000, he believed that it was at least £300,000 more; but as he had said, he did not know what the exact amount was. As a matter of fact, Her Majesty alone received out of property which, in the reign of William III., both by Statute and Resolution of the House of Commons, was regarded as belonging to the nation, amounted to nearly £500,000 a-year. It was necessary for the Committee to bear in mind that this was not a question of Crown Lands, upon which the House was not free to exercise its judgment in 679 the fullest and freest manner. It was as much a part of the income of the country as the sums derived from Excise and Customs and the income from the Post Office and Telegraphs. There was a legal record of what these sources of income, including Crown Lands, were, and they were all set out Statute by Statute, Resolution by Resolution, and Act by Act. Hitherto the nation had not received one farthing from any member of the Royal Family in reference to any property surrendered by the Royal Family. He contended that the so-called Crown Lands were not Crown Lands at all, but lauds belonging to the State. They were as much the property of the State as any of the other property of the State.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
said, he desired to join in the appeal which had been made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the administration of this Department. He also had been very much bewildered by some of the items which the hon. Member for Preston had referred to. He ventured to say that if they took the whole history and record of the administration of the Crown Lands in Wales they would not find anywhere a more disgraceful record of maladministration either in this Kingdom or anywhere out of it. For many generations the vast Crown Lands in Wales had been jobbed away to Party and Court favourites, and then appropriated by Inclosure Acts. When that system was stopped, valuable Crown manors were sold for a mere trifle to the large landowners in Wales. Upon these manors peasants and labouring men had built houses and laboriously cultivated plots. The houses which had been built upon the Crown Lands were handed over to the landlords, and the tenants were charged rent for the houses which they themselves had built and the land they had tilled. In point of fact the Crown Lands, so far as Wales was concerned, were a mere rent extractor, and a very capricious rent extractor too. If a peasant holder had made an encroachment and desired to purchase the freehold, the Crown officials stated that they were unable to sell it on account of the valuable mineral rights connected with it; but if it was a landowner who 680 wanted to buy a whole mountain side, he was able to get it for a mere song, and in one notable case the Crown's rights to royalties in a great slate quarry were sold outright. When mountain sides which had from time immemorial been common to the people were sold to the landowners, they at once proceeded to inclose them, parcel them out to the tenants, and finally to charge rent for them. That was to say, that they took away the rights of the people from time immemorial, and obtained rent upon them. Another objection he had to this administration was that it was a secret and an obscure administration. It was impossible to know the number of acres dealt with by it or to have a map or survey. No information whatever was given in regard to the particular rights in connection with Crown Lands. He had asked for a simple statement of the extent of those lands and of the amounts which had been paid every year from Wales for the last 50 years to the Exchequer, but he had not succeeded in obtaining it. Surely it was not too much that the people of Wales should know once in 50 years what the sum was that they actually paid. Then again, when land was leased or sold, no public notice whatever was given of the sale. The property was sold quietly to the landowner, and the Commissioners said in one of their Reports, some years ago, that no public notice of sale had been given because it was thought better to sell the land to one of the great landowners on account of the sporting rights over it, allowing them to deal with the tenants who had encroached on the Crown Lands. Another charge against the administration was that it was an utterly unproductive administration. An average of £13,000 was received in Wales from those lands every year. A Predecessor of the present Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Frederick Cavendish, admitted that there had been realized from the sale of various Crown Lands in Wales as much as £113,000. For the last 50 years Wales had paid something like £700,000 to the Woods and Forests Office, and what did it get in return? It received, according to the Report, grants towards the support of hospitals, stipends for Ministers and for Universities. He 681 should like to know what the hospitals and Universities were now receiving from this revenue, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to give to the House in some detail, either to-day or on some future day, an account of this interesting item. They did not expend one halfpenny in making inquiries into the mineral wealth of Wales, although, when others tried to get leases in order to do this, they extracted extraordinary sums in law charges. He noticed that the solicitor to this office received a formal salary of £2,800; in addition there were other legal expenses amounting to £1,195 over and above the sum paid in the shape of salary. Yet, if any action had to be taken, the Law Officers of the Crown took it, and no doubt were paid for it. Those persons who required leases had to pay heavily to the Crown for the legal fees. He noticed that there were 21 leases in Wales in reference to mineral property, and for those 21 leases, and a few conveyances of sales of fee-farm rents, the solicitor charged last year £1,067 19s. 10d., or more than £50 for every one of them, the money being paid by persons who were desirous of discovering and developing the mineral wealth those Crown Lands contained.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS
said, they were practically the same, and the form he believed was stereotyped. There was another item of some interest. He found that the sum of £121 5s. was realized last year by the sale of fee farm rents, but it appeared that out of that sum £99 14s. 6d. was paid as commission to the receiver for the sale—more than £99 out of a total of £121 which the sale realized. The last time he referred to this question, when the Local Government Bill was being discussed, he ventured to say that if this property in Wales were well administered the revenue derived from it might be doubled if not quadrupled. He would point out in what way that could be done. In his opinion the most fruitful way of doing it was by planting in Wales. In the Isle of Man planting had been going on with highly satisfactory results; but in Wales, which had been a land of Mammoth forests and which largely supplied at a critical period 682 of the history of England the oak for its Navy, this Office had not spent a single halfpenny in planting. He ventured to say that if a part of the sum taken from Wales every year were spent in this way and planting carried out intelligently and judiciously, there would in 30 years, or at any rate in 60 or 70 years, be a splendid revenue derived from the Crown Lands in Wales. He knew that this would be the case, because in some instances landowners had carried out planting on a small scale in the Principality from 15 to 20 years ago, and even now they were beginning to realize the profit. The plantations had done an immense amount of good in affording shelter, in beautifying the country, and in giving to the farmers on the hill side the value of the thinnings which were necessary. In a very few years more those woods which had been planted by the landowners on what was originally the common land of the people would bring in a large revenue, not to the country, or the peasants whose common lands were taken, but to private landowners. If a similar course were pursued by the Department or by the new County Councils, or, better, a General Council for Wales, he ventured to assert that in the course of a few years a splendid revenue would be derived from the Crown Lands of the nation. Crown Lands in Wales were the ancient tribal common lands, and they should now be administered for the Welsh nation, and the best way of administering them for the nation was to place them in the hands of representative Local Authorities, who would spend a share of the rent extracted upon them, and in a few years obtain an excellent revenue.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, he was not in the House when the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) alluded to him, and called upon him for an explanation; but although he was not in the House at the time, he was in one of the Galleries, and he had gathered what the complaint was. The hon. Member seemed to think he had rather "smelt a job" in this matter. He believed he was able to give a satisfactory explanation. The truth was that in the New Forest, in the old days, for the purpose of forestry, there were a number of lodges built at various times, 683 and round those lodges were patches of 20 or 30 acres. There were probably a dozen or 15 of such places, and they were occupied by the persons who had charge of the deer, but in course of time, when the Deer Removal Act was passed, those lodges became useless, because the Forest was no longer required for the preservation of deer. The Crown had then to consider how they could make use of the land to the best advantage, and they resolved to let them for farms and for different purposes. By slow degrees they got people to take what were originally called these Forest lodges. They were offered in the public market to persons who went to cut the wood, and they were let upon various terms. One of those places being in the market, he had taken the land upon a building lease. Some other of the lodges had been in the market, and had with great difficulty been let, but he believed that one had been let within the last six months.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he could not state upon what term, but he knew that it was a long lease. It must be borne in mind that those places were yielding no rent at all, but were simply occupied by officers having no employment whatever, so far as the New Forest was concerned. The length of the lease was proportionate to the sum to be spent upon the land. The property was let just as a house on Crown Land would be let in Carlton House Terrace on a building lease. The hon. Member seemed to think that he had got a very good bargain in connection with this lease. All he could say was, and he might appeal with confidence to other hon. Members who were lessees of the Crown, that he had never yet heard of the Crown asking too little, and all he could say was that in this instance he simply gave the price asked for it. He hoped that explanation would satisfy the hon. Member. It was all that he had to say on the matter. As, however, he was upon his legs, he had a word or two to say in reference to the New Forest. He was not surprised that hon. Members should be astonished at so large a tract of land yielding so small a revenue. He did not propose to detain the Committee by going into a 684 arge amount of detail upon the matter, but there was a great deal to be said upon it. It should be remembered, and he believed that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) would recollect the fact, that a Committee upon the New Forest, of which the right hon. Gentleman and himself were members, together with the late Mr. Fawcett, Sir Charles Dilke, Lord Edmund Fitz-Maurice, and the late Lord Mount-Temple, was appointed to inquire into the condition of the New Forest, especially with a view of its not being treated solely for the purpose of revenue. There was a great deal of discussion at that time as to the propriety of providing ornamental timber and making new plantations, and it was considered that if the New Forest were dealt with for the purpose of Revenue only, one of the best parts of England might be disfigured. The Committee carefully inquired into the matter, and upon their Report Parliament deliberately restricted the Crown from treating that portion of England as an estate merely for the purpose of Revenue. The Committee sat, he thought, in 1877, and it was considered that just as the Government of the United States had wisely set apart the Yellow Stone Park as a place which retained its ancient wildness of character and great beauty of scenery, so in a country like England and a district like the New Forest, some spirit of the same kind should be shown in protecting that particular district from destruction. At all events, that was the policy deliberately adopted by Parliament, and the Crown was restrained from treating the New Forest as a subject-matter of profit. Practically speaking, the Crown, in reference to many parts of the New Forest, had no power of dealing with the land for the purpose of Revenue; and although there were other purposes for which it might be utilized, which would bring in a larger income, those purposes were not rendered available. He bad thought it right to make this statement. With reference to the general question he had no objection—quite the reverse—that there should be an inquiry into the general administration of the Crown estates. All he could say was that, if they contrasted the net produce of the Crown estates now with what it was in former years 685 before 1852, which was the time when those estates were removed from the control of Parliament—the Commissioner of Woods and Forests being a Parliamentary Officer, and placed at the head of the Department—if they contrasted the net produce then with what it was now that the estates had been placed under a purely administrative department, he believed it would be found that the profit to the Exchequer had nearly doubled. No doubt in those days Parliament was extremely liberal in dealing with the Crown property, and Parliamentary Ministers were subjected to pressure, which certainly was not to the advantage of the Exchequer. It was upon that ground that the control of the Crown Lands was removed from a Parliamentary Officer and placed, by the Government of Lord John Russell, under the administration of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, who were not direct Parliamentary Officers. He had not the figures before him, because he was not aware that the discussion was coming on, but he was sure that if hon. Members would look into them they would find the actual result had been that the net produce from that Department of the revenue had very largely increased. His own impression was that it had something like doubled since the administration was changed. The net produce formerly was something like £200,000 a-year, and he believed that the amount had not far from doubled since. He was not in possession of sufficient information to enable him to support or condemn the administration in all its details, but he maintained that the principle adopted was right. That principle was to place the administration of those Departments under the control of specially selected officers. It was a much bettor system than the old Parliamentary administration; it had answered in other Departments, and he did not see why the one under discussion should be an exception. With regard to the proposal for the appointment of a Select Committee, the administration of other Departments had been subject to investigation, and he saw no reason why there should be an objection to a similar inquiry in this instance. He believed that nothing but good came of inquiries into such matters. Sometimes they disclosed abuses which were not believed to exist, and at 686 other times they removed prejudices and suspicions that were unfounded. He should be glad, therefore, if the Government could see their way to the institution of an inquiry, because he believed that it would be beneficial from every point of view.
§ MR. COMPTON (Hants, New Forest)
said, he was anxious to say a word or two before the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury rose to reply. An attack had been made on his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) in regard to a lease he had entered into for a portion of the New Forest. It must be remembered that land in the New Forest was subject to considerable restrictions imposed by Parliament. The complaint was that in this instance land had been let by the Crown which had never been let before, and that the price paid for it was much too small. He thought it could not be expected that land under considerable restrictions would fetch the same price as if it were unrestricted.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, that his objection was not so much to the price, although he should have thought that 22 acres let upon lease as building land in the very heart of the New Forest for 99 years would have brought more than£35 a-year for five years and £100 afterwards. It was certainly a very low rent. His main objection, however, was that a Minister should lease any part of the Crown Lands to himself, that he should lease land that had never been let before, that in his case an unusual exception should be made, because there was no other piece of land let for so long a term, and all that in contravention of rules to the effect that no piece of land should be let for a longer period than 21 years.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the hon. Member was entirely mistaken in the statement he had made. He did not believe that any one of the leases was confined to 21 years, and he was quite sure that if the hon. Member would inquire into the matter he would find that the land was let for very much longer terms. In the case of the lease recently effected, the term was much longer than 21 years, although he would not say that it was up to 99 years. The policy was to induce persons to build, and no one would do so on a short lease. The consequence was that longer leases were 687 granted. The main part of the land which he had leased was a piece of four acres, upon which he desired to build.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that of course there would be a Return. Probably the whole interest on the outlay would be paid by the buildings erected on this plot of four acres. At some distance there were detached pieces of worthless land which had been let for £25; the rest of the rent would be paid by the piece of land he intended to build upon.
§ MR. COMPTON
said, the complaint was that a piece of land had been let to his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby which had never been let before, and that a longer lease was given than ought to have been granted. The answer to that complaint was that this was one of many small lodges which had been let from time to time within the last 20 years. The hon. Member for Preston was not correct in saying that no lease had been entered into for more than 21 years; he forgot the exact number of years, but lodges had been let for long terms—some for 30 or 40 years.
§ MR. COMPTON
said, he thought he could mention other leases considerably longer than 21 years. In all these cases the length of the lease depended on the amount of money expended upon the land by the tenant. His right hon. Friend had not hired a house, but had built a new one entirely for himself. When the land had been let to his right hon. Friend, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, who was formerly a Member of that House, went to him and said—"Is not this a job?" Sir Henry Drummond Wolff thought it was an opportunity for making an attack on the right hon. Member for Derby, and he and Sir Henry Drummond Wolff went into the matter together. Looking at the price the right hon. Gentleman had paid for the land and the terms the Crown offered, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff came to the conclusion that it was no job at all, but an exceedingly good bargain for the Crown.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
said, he wished to say a word in regard to the administration of the two Gentlemen who had been attacked 688 by the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. He had had considerable experience of property managed by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and he had always found on every occasion that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests drove a very hard bargain on the part of the Crown. He believed they managed the Crown estates with the greatest possible care; they were most courteous to the tenants, and were willing to listen to any representation that was made to them. At the same time, they looked very carefully after the interests of the taxpayers of the country.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he would endeavour to reply to some of the questions which had been put to him, but before doing so he should like to be allowed to say that, so far as the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were personally concerned, he would venture to express his opinion, notwithstanding what his hon. Friend the Member for Preston said of him, that it would be very difficult to find an Englishman who possessed greater knowledge of agricultural land than Colonel Kingscote. It was only right to Colonel Kingscote to say that, so far as he had been able to judge, the whole of the business placed in his care had been managed, not only with the greatest ability, but certainly with the greatest exactness all through. His hon. Friend had mentioned the fact that Colonel Kingscote had just been appointed Receiver General for the Duchy of Cornwall, and his hon. Friend seemed to think that that was a position which would seriously interfere with Colonel Kingscote's duties as a Commissioner in the discharge of his regular work. He did not know whether his hon. Friend was under the impression that by accepting this appointment Colonel Kingscote had made a large increase to his salary; but, as a matter of fact, he believed that there was no salary attached to the office at all. He was further assured that, so far as the duties were concerned, an attendance two or three times a-year was all the work that Colonel Kingscote would be called upon to do. He therefore thought that his hon. Friend the Member for Preston might possibly relieve his mind from the impression that 689 this appointment would seriously interfere with Colonel Kingscote's sphere of usefulness. Mr. Culley, the senior Commissioner, had to deal with all questions relating to mining royalties in various parts, not only of Wales, but of England and Scotland. So far as he was able to judge, Mr. Culley was not only a competent, but a very able public servant. His hon. Friend the Member for Preston had criticized very severely the management, or, as he called it, the disgraceful management, of the Crown Lands in the New Forest. It had already been explained by the right hon. Member for Derby and the hon. Member for the New Forest Division that in dealing with the New Forest the Deputy Commissioner had to deal with property subject to very severe Parliamentary restrictions. He was not able to deal with the property as his hon. Friend was able to deal with his own. Not only had the Act passed some 12 or 15 years ago seriously restricted the manner in which the land was to be dealt with, but there was also a strong public feeling, to which it was necessary to pay some regard at the present time, that steps should be taken to prevent the cutting down of the trees of the New Forest. The result of that restriction was, of course, to prevent the realization of any large amount of income from the Forest. When property was held under these restrictions it was absolutely impossible to obtain revenue from it, and it was also impossible to avoid expenditure, because, among other things, they had to maintain the roads, and the public would complain if anything went wrong in the event of the fences not being kept up and everything being maintained in order. His defence of the arrangements in connection with the New Forest was to say to the Committee that, so long as the New Forest was to be maintained practically for the use of the public, and so long as they had parks like Windsor Park largely used by the public, they need not expect to get revenue from them. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had raised several points of detail, and had been good enough to say that if the Government were willing to have some inquiry into the business administration of the Department he would not feel it necessary to press his Resolution. He had, 690 however, to answer the remarks which had been made by other hon. Members in the course of the debate. His hon. Friend the Member for Preston—if he might venture to say a word as to his speech—had dealt with the question in a very able manner; but while the Government welcomed the criticism and assistance of the hon. Gentleman, he must deprecate the use of such words as "battening" when applied to public servants who were, he believed, honestly trying to do their duty. The hon. Member for Preston had done one great service by pointing out that this was a question of dealing with the practical administration in the hands of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests; that this was not a question of royalties, which question was entirely distinct from it; and, therefore, on those lines he (Mr. Jackson) was authorized to state that not only were the Government willing to grant an inquiry, but that they would welcome it. It was, therefore, not necessary for him to go into and reply to the points raised, although he would refer to some of them. The Government would be prepared to nominate a Committee of the House, who would be charged with the responsibility of looking into the leases and the business management connected with these forests; and that he thought would be satisfactory to the Committee, and would show that the Government were desirous of effecting economy in every direction and improving the administration in every Department over which they had control. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had referred to the fact that the legal expenditure of this year had increased. The explanation of this was very simple, and he would point out that there had been some actions which it was necessary should be tried. One of these was still pending. He believed that the case of the "Attorney General v. Emerson" was before a Division of the Supreme Court, and it related to some foreshore rights at Shoeburyness. Judgment in the first place had been given in favour of the Crown, but an appeal was threatened, and his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke) now informed him that it was being argued to-day. It had, therefore, been necessary to make some addition to what would have been the ordinary expendi- 691 ture for legal purposes. He would point out also that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests dealt with property in every part of Great Britain and Ireland. The hon. Member had also referred to the contribution made towards the restoration of the church at Billing-borough. This case had come before him, end on behalf of the Treasury he had the responsibility for the action that was taken. The position was this—the Crown was the owner of the whole parish, and with the estate was bought the church living, so that the Crown had no power to refuse to carry out its own pact of the bargain, and it had, as he was advised, a legal responsibility for the maintenance of the chancel of the church, and it was in consequence of that obligation that the money was given; and it was given also together with a considerable sum locally raised for carrying out the work. He thought it would be admitted that the estates were managed as far as they could be on the lines on which estates were usually managed by private owners, and, were the land in the possession of private owners, the probability was that they would have discharged the obligation which lay upon the Crown in this case. The hon. Member for Preston had referred to the balance, as he called it, between the total amount received and the amount paid over. He thought the hon. Member would see that taking the estate as a whole, managed as it was by the Crown Commissioners, there must be a certain amount of working capital. The accounts had been audited, and he would point out that certainly this year, and last year also, the Commissioners of Woods and Forests had not been called upon by the Controller and Auditor General for a single explanation of any item in their accounts, which showed that the Controller and Auditor General was satisfied that these had been properly kept, and that all receipts and payments had been duly accounted for. The balance, therefore, in the hands of the Commissioners was simply that which it was necessary to hold in the interest of the Crown. The hon. Member for Preston said that the Crown Lands were not bringing as much as they ought. But he (Mr. Jackson) thought that anyone connected with agriculture, and knowing what the condition of agriculture had been, would be 692 rather surprised if the revenue had not fallen off. There had been reductions in rent involving in some cases from 50 to 60 per cent; indeed, there was a very great difference in the rents paid by tenants now and those paid in former years. The hon. Member had spoken about timber for the National wants. He seemed to think that instead of selling timber as the Commissioners did now, and which was generally put up to tender, sometimes to auction but always to competition, it would be better if it were sold to the Admiralty for ship-building purposes.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that when timber was submitted to public competition and no offer was made, it was, of course, submitted to private contract. But, apart altogether from the question that there was no real connection between these estates and the Navy, it was impossible to deal with timber of this kind except by disposing of it to those who had a use for it. As far as his experience went, and he had had some experience in buying and selling timber, the best plan was to deal with a man who had a market for the various kinds, and that plan he believed produced the best results. The hon. Member had referred to the cost of the Establishment. He (Mr. Jackson) admitted that the cost of the Establishment was considerable, and he believed that it was necessarily so, but he thought the hon. Gentleman was wrong when he said that the cost of management was 25 per cent. In the first place, it was only due to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests that in making calculations as to the cost of management hon. Members should separate the property into two or even three classes. It was not fair to charge agricultural land with the cost of maintaining such Parks as Windsor Park and the New Forest, and call it cost of management. But he had a statement which showed that, charging to the account of collection and management the portion of the whole extent which could fairly be charged, the total cost compared with receipt was 5.5 per cent, and this he did not think a very extravagant charge; but even if that could be reduced to the extent of one-half per cent it would be 693 their duty to make that reduction. Setting aside such items as repairs and improvements, donations to churches, fixed charges, rates, taxes, gratuities in lieu of them, miscellaneous payments, and certain others, the maintenance account showed a total charge of £45,712 which was about 10.3 per cent as compared with the revenue derived. Putting the two items together, the result arrived at was, that the cost of collection and management, coupled with the cost of maintenance and improvements, amounted, on the whole, to about 15.8 per cent. He had made some inquiries on this subject, because he thought that this question would be raised, from men who had large estates, and he was informed, as the result of their experience, that anything between 13 per cent and 20 per cent was about the average cost of collection and management. The cost of managing and maintaining property such as this might naturally be expected to be greater than in the case of private property, and the actual cost—namely, 15.8 per cent—did not appear to him to be extravagantly large. The hon. Member for Merionethshire (Mr. T. E. Ellis) spoke of the cost of certain fee farm rents in Wales; and in reply to this he (Mr. Jackson) had to point out that many of these items were of small amount—even so small as 1s. a year—and yet it was the duty of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to preserve the property, with all its rights and privileges, with which they were entrusted for the time being. This necessarily entailed cost, and he was not sure that in some cases it would not be a matter of economy to sacrifice some of these small sums, although, as he had said, it would be impossible to do this, because the rights of the Crown had to be maintained.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS
said, it was not to the charge for collection to which he referred, but that for the sale of these rents.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the hon. Gentleman would admit that if these rents were divided and sub-divided to the extent he (Mr. Jackson) had described, the cost of collection being large, obviously the cost of disposing of them was large also; because there was exactly the same process to be gone through in selling a fee farm rent of 694 5s. a-year as there was to be selling one of a much higher rent, and the explanation was, he believed, that the farms were so divided that the cost was naturally increased. However, he gathered from the feeling manifested by the Committee that the Government had fairly met the wishes of hon. Members, and he trusted that they would meet the Government in the same spirit of concession, and let the Vote be taken.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, that, having held the Office of Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as that of Secretary to the Treasury, and having been the author in the latter capacity of the Act of 1866, regulating the business in many respects of the Woods and Forests Department, he might be allowed to say one or two words on this subject. In the first place, the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) had mentioned that an arrangement had been made with the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in 1883 by his right hon. Friend (Sir William Harcourt) as to his house in the New Forest, which seemed to the hon. Member open to censure. In that year he (Mr. Childers) was Chancellor of the Exchequer; but, he might say as a matter of fact, that the lease was granted in the previous year, and that the Minister responsible in these matters was the Secretary to the Treasury. He was, however, aware that when the case came before the Treasury, it was by them very carefully considered, and the act of the Commissioners had been sanctioned and entirely approved by them. When he said that the arrangement was equivalent to his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) paying for the land on which his house was built at the rate of £500 an acre capital value, he did not think it could be said that the public interest had been disregarded. But he rose chiefly to say that, in his opinion, it would be extremely advantageous to have the inquiry promised by the Government. The position was that, with respect to the proper charges to make on the income from Crown Lands—which income was strictly the property of the country—a great many different questions arose; there were a number of doubtful points, the clearing up of which by the proposed 695 inquiry was desirable, and would very much assist the Secretary to the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in arriving at a decision on those questions. For that reason, without expressing any opinion on the particular cases brought forward by the hon. Member for Preston, he thought a Committee ought to be appointed. He only suggested that the Committee should be a strong one, and that there should be no unnecessary limit to the inquiry, so that it might cover all transactions on the part of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, there was, no doubt, a good deal of contestable matter in the reply of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury with regard to the amount paid for the repairs of the church at Billingborough; but the Government had met the Committee by promising an inquiry, and he did not see the use of prolonging the general discussion. In asking leave to withdraw his Motion, he would merely say that there was a general demand for inquiry, which, as hon. Members had shown, ought to be granted. With regard to the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), he was sure no Member of the House would doubt that had a job been carried out, in his (Mr. Labouchere's) opinion he would have denounced it with that Roman virtue which they all knew distinguished Sir Henry Drummond Wolff. But he knew that his right hon. Friend had made a bad bargain with the Government. He had himself suggested to a friend that he should take a place in the New Forest as well situated as that which his right hon. Friend had chosen; but that gentleman found there were so many demands made by the Commissioners that he said "he would not take the place as a gift." He believed that any hon. Member who desired it could become a leaseholder in the New Forest on the same terms precisely as those accepted by his right hon. Friend.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. FRASER-MACKINTOSH (Inverness-shire)
said, he rose to move the reduction of this Vote by the sum of £1,000. On the 12th of July this year 696 he had asked the Secretary to the Treasury to inform him of the circumstances under which the Commissioners of Woods and Forests had sold the right of fishing on Loch Morar, in Inverness-shire, a Loch 12 miles long by two broad; upon whose recommendation the sale was made; and whether any attempt had been made to get the best price for it? The hon. Gentleman's reply was unsatisfactory; he declined to state the circumstances under which the right of fishing was sold. Some years ago one of the proprietors in the district converted a large part of the land in the neighbourhood of Loch Morar into deer forest; before that time the public had full right of fishing in the Loch, and also to use it for the purpose of recreation and navigation. So long as the land was held in the ordinary way by tenants, there was no reason why the public should not be allowed to use the Loch for purposes of recreation; but they all knew that immediately land was placed under deer it was necessary to exclude the public as much as possible. Accordingly, having cleared the land, the proprietor, in conjunction with other three, applied to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for the purpose of getting a grant of this Loch. The Commissioners had previously granted the right of salmon fishing in the river Morar, so that it could not be said that their eyes were not opened so far as the public interests and their own were concerned; but, notwithstanding, it was found that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests had sold for very small sums the right of fishing in the Loch to four persons whose lands bordered on the Loch, the public knowing nothing about the matter at the time. Under an Act of Parliament of Will. IV., similar powers of sale as those which up to that time existed in England were given with regard to Scotland, and the English Act required that no sale should take place without a report being first made by a sworn surveyor as to the value of the property. He wanted to know whether or not this sworn surveyor had been appointed under the Act for the purpose of inquiring into the value of the grant, because, as far as had been ascertained, no inquiry had been made. When the Commissioners granted the fishing rights to the proprietors, the tenants and crofters, who had been in 697 the habit of keeping boats on the Loch for their own purposes, were ordered to take them off. This, when it came to the knowledge of the more intelligent of the people, gave rise to some resistance. The proprietors then took proceedings in the Supreme Court of Scotland against four parties who resisted in the neighbourhood, to interdict their using the Loch for any purposes. He and his hon. Friends complained that here an important right had been taken away from the public behind their backs and given away for a most inadequate consideration; for, had it been offered in open market, it would probably have fetched four times the amount for which it was sold. These people were taken into Court and obliged to defend themselves; the object of the proceedings was not only to prevent fishing, but the putting of any boats on the Loch. He pointed out that on one side of the Loch there was no road whatever; that side was impassable, and on the other side of the Loch the road was not a good one. Here was a distinct act of oppression, because it was impossible for the inhabitants, who were a small and peace-abiding body, to go along the Loch by any other means than by boat; and there was, indeed, no access to some places except by water, so that by the action of the proprietors they had been prevented from going to chapel or to their burial grounds. He pointed out that the officer of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in Scotland was a gentleman who, while he received large sums from the Commissioners, was the private legal agent for two of the proprietors who had received these grants, and one of the firm of legal agents now prosecuting the poor people in the Court of Session. He contended that this matter ought to be looked into, and with the object of promoting the inquiry he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum he had mentioned.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, Wages, and Allowances, be reduced by £1,000."—(Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh.)
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he was glad that the Committee of Inquiry asked for by his hon. Friend had been granted by the Government. He was also glad that 698 his hon. Friend who had just spoken (Mr. Fraser-Mackintosh) had persevered in bringing before the House this question of Loch Morar, in which he (Sir George Campbell) and his hon. Friends thought there had been a gross betrayal of the public interests on the part of the Commissioners, who he did not think ought to be allowed to get off scot-free. They did not go into the question as to whether the revenue administration of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests was good or bad; but they contended that the public interests had been sold for an inadequate consideration, under the habitual practice of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, which had been going on in Scotland for years, and continued to-day. It was most necessary that this question should be considered, and he trusted that the Committee about to be appointed to investigate the administration of the Commissioners would not be restricted to inquiring into management only; but, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) had both suggested it should be, a Committee of Inquiry into the whole management and administration of Crown property. They wanted to know whether Crown properties were to be managed in the interests of the public, or in the interests of private individuals? He regretted that his hon. Friend the Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) was not present, who, as hon. Members would be aware, had brought in a Bill, which was receiving a large amount of public sympathy, and which, if it were passed, would enable the public to obtain access to the mountains and parts of Scotland from which they were unfairly excluded; but he thought his hon. Friend's hair would stand on end when he found that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were selling for a mess of pottage these rights which the people had enjoyed so long, a transaction which he and his hon. Friends regarded as a scandalous abuse, and into which they trusted strict inquiry would be made. He was not imputing to the Secretary to the Treasury any want of fairness in dealing with the House; but he was bound to say that his refusal of the Papers in reference to this transac- 699 tion was most extraordinary. He hoped that this was not the result of ignorance, but he could not help thinking that there was something very suspicious about the reticence of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and their disinclination to give information to the House of Commons on this subject. He contended that there had been a substantial breach of the law in this matter. The Act of Parliament required that the Commissioners should submit to Parliament and the country a Report of their administration, and it required that they were to submit not only their accounts, but alsoSuch other matters and things touching the said possessions, lands, and revenues of the Crown as to the said Commissioners shall seem proper and necessary.He submitted that the true meaning of the words was that the Commissioners should submit a substantial Report; but they had simply presented a Paper which did not contain a single word of information or explanation with regard to this transaction. They were bound, in his opinion, to explain the circumstances under which these rights were sold; but they had done nothing of the kind, and when hon. Members asked the Secretary to the Treasury for Papers, they were informed that the matter was not of sufficient importance to justify expenditure on their production. He denied that it was reasonable to refuse information upon such a ground, and that the case was not of sufficient importance to justify the necessary expenditure. It was impossible for him and his hon. Friends to submit to this refusal, and he hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would furnish the Papers which were wanted for the purpose of satisfying the public that there had been fair dealing in this matter. The proprietors were wise in their generation when they approached the Commissioners of Woods and Forests; they approached them secretly, and by a secret arrangement a transfer of rights was made for a mere song, similar to that which took place in the case of Epping Forest, with the object of shutting out the people from its use and enjoyment. As hon. Members would recollect, neighbouring proprietors were encroaching on Epping Forest, and endeavouring to shut out the public; the public rights were being sacrificed, and would have been sacri- 700 ficed but that the great Corporation of the City of London were able to step in and preserve them to the people. In Scotland, in the same way, the rights of the people were being taken from them, and the case which his hon. Friend had laid before the Committee was one which, on account of its serious nature, they felt it their duty to probe to the bottom. This was the most recent case of the kind; but it was only the last in a long series of cases in which the rights of the people had been sacrificed by the Crown. But there was another kind of Crown sale going on, and that was the salmon fishing rights on the coasts of Scotland. Here, again, in secret and in an underhand way, by private bargains, these rights of the Crown were sold for trumpery sums. Fishermen were terribly harassed by them within a distance of three miles of the shore, for if a salmon got into their nets the water bailiffs came down upon them. The fishermen of the North of Scotland were capable, pushing, and active men, who combined to do many things of themselves; and he was sure that if these rights had been offered to them, they would have gladly bought them, in order to get rid of this continuous harassment which they were subject to. He hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would not put himself into the false position of refusing these Papers.
§ DR. R. MACDONALD (Ross and Cromarty)
said, this kind of action was nothing new to the people in the Highlands of Scotland. They never heard of such a thing there as public tenders being made for the right of fishing. These rights were sold privately; the landlord would go to the local representative of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, the rights would be sold, and the landlord would take possession of them without anything about it being known. The prices paid were insignificant. In his own constituency the foreshores were sold to the late Sir James Matheson for £400, and, from a calculation made by the people of Stornoway, the fishing rights now produced a revenue of £1,000 to £1,400 a-year. If the foreshore rights had been sold by public tender, they would, of course, have fetched a much greater sum. These were all hole-and-corner transactions, and were the result of the deer- 701 forest system. No one ever heard of them until deer forests were created; but, after they were, an exclusion of the people immediately took place, and not only were those rights taken away, but a large amount of property was in consequence injured. It was a very hard matter that those poor Catholics who had to cross Loch Morar should be required to walk round the Loch in order to get to a place of worship on Sunday; but such was the way in which things were sacrificed to this deer-forest mania, which was spoiling the whole of his country. Not only that, but tourists were ceasing to come from the South and from England. Formerly large numbers of those used to frequent the Lochs for the fishing, and filled the hotels in the districts; but the landlords now had to tell the people that they must not go there, and their trade was consequently dying out. When the conduct of the Commissioners was examined into, he felt sure that it would be found that it was not immaculate. Could the Secretary to the Treasury, or anyone representing the Department, inform the Committee that these rights were ever put up to public tender? The hon. Gentleman could not say that. It was not the custom in Scotland to do so; but it was the custom, as had been shown, to sell the public rights for a song.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
said, that this was a matter which had occasioned considerable comment in Scotland and raised very wide issues. His hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) had said that the Commissioners sold salmon rights for an old song; but what was morn important was that the Commissioners had been guilty of a dereliction of duty in selling these rights at all. Loch Morar was a vast sheet of water dividing two large districts of the country; the only communication between the two districts being across the water. The shores of the water belonged to four proprietors, but these proprietors had no right of fishing over the Loch. The Loch was Crown property, and the only kind of right of property the Crown reserved in it which could be parted with or transferred to private owners was the fishing rights. This was what the Commissioners had done, and they had done it, apparently, for a very inadequate sum. 702 But he did not think that that was of much account; what was of the greatest importance was the dereliction of duty of which they had been guilty. What had been the consequence of their action? The proprietors to whom the rights of fishing had been transferred had of late been transforming their estates into deer forests, and in order to make their deer forests valuable they had to exclude the public. The proprietors had already given notice to the people who lived on the Loch side that they were no longer to be permitted to use their boats on the Loch; they had also put up gates across the means of access along one end of the Loch. The inhabitants in that part of the world were few and far between, but a few of them combined together and took down the gates. An interdict had been applied for against these people, but had not yet been granted. It was a very costly matter to defend a right of way, and at this moment these individuals had appealed to a public society in Edinburgh and to the public generally in Scotland to help them in the further defence of the public right, knowing perfectly well the long purses of those private individuals opposed to them. The object of the present debate was not merely to bring forward the dereliction of public duty, but also to give as great publicity as could be given to what had taken place in regard to Loch Morar, in order, if possible, that this vast sheet of water and the country surrounding it might not be permanently shut out from the enjoyment of the public, and also to pfevent any such attempts being made in the future in the same direction. It was idle to shut their eyes to the fact that transactions of this sort—not so much the parting with those rights to private proprietors, but the use private proprietors were making of the fishing rights—was stirring up considerable public feeling in Scotland at the present moment. He trusted that they would obtain a distinct pledge from the Government that if a Select Committee was to be appointed to inquire in the management of the estates of the Crown Lands by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, the Committee would be empowered to inquire into the mode in which the Commissioners have dealt with other rights, such as the salmon fishing rights in Loch Morar.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
said, it seemed to him that the demands made by his hon. Colleagues had not gone far enough. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) begged the Secretary to the Treasury to produce Papers which he had formerly refused to produce. Of course, the hon. Gentleman would produce the Papers now, because he was in a very tractable frame of mind. Another hon. Gentleman suggested that a Select Committee should inquire into this matter; he wished to make the matter public. He (Dr. Cameron), however, wanted something further. The allegation was that this was an illegal and informal transaction, and, therefore, what they required was that it should be quashed. Had the conditions of the law been complied with? Had the Treasury sanctioned the sale of the Salmon Fishing Rights?
§ DR. CAMERON
said, then it was the hon. Gentleman himself who was to blame. Did the hon. Gentleman state anything of the sort in answer to the Question put to him in the commencement of this year.
§ DR. CAMERON
said, it was clear, from the answer he gave, that the hon. Gentleman knew nothing whatever about anything. The Commissioners even did not know anything about the effect of their action. Now, however, the hon. Gentleman knew what the effect had been. For the paltry sum of £400 a-year—[Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL: No; not a year]—for the paltry sum of £100 the right of fishing in this great Lake, which was 10 miles long by two miles wide—a Lake which constituted not merely a fishing ground but a public highway—had been parted with. A public road had been shut up; a public ford, a right possessed from time immemorial, had been sacrificed. What made the matter particularly hard was that if, instead of these rights belonging to the Crown, they had belonged to a private individual, such alienation would have been impossible. They had been told that the right of the public to put boats on this Lake was at present being tried in the Quarter Sessions. But 704 there were four rich proprietors trying the case on the one side, and they had a few poor persons on the other. There was room for any amount of appeals, and it was perfectly easy to see what the chances were of a satisfactory termination. His hon. Friend mentioned that certain persons who considered themselves aggrieved had combined together and pulled down a gate. Had he revealed that secret in the days of the late learned Advocate (Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald) he (Dr. Cameron) would have expected to find a criminal prosecution of all the men for mobbing and rioting, and he would not have been surprised if the Forces of the Crown had been sent down to preserve peace. He trusted that they were about to enter on a less military era in respect to the administration of the Highlands, and that under the administrative reign of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) who now held the Office of Lord Advocate, they would have matters on the behalf of the Crown more tenderly managed. What he (Dr. Cameron) and his hon. Friends wished was that the Committee which was appointed should look into not merely the administration of the Crown rights and Crown property in Scotland, but into the validity of a number of transactions which had been made against the public. A very large number of the Department transactions in Scotland had operated against the public. Sales of foreshore were against the public; sales of salmon rights in lochs were against the public; and, as an hon. Friend of his had pointed out, both these were very great and substantial grievances of fishermen. Now, when it came to selling the Crown rights, not only in a great freshwater lake but in an important highway, an aggravation would be added to the many grievances which had arisen out of the action of this Department. He trusted that they would not be compelled to carry on this discussion in the dark as to the facts, for they necessarily did so, not having Papers. Also, he would like to know whether it was the fact that the agent of the proprietors who purchased these rights at a cheap rate was actually the Secretary or the officer of the Woods and Forests Department in Scotland.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY (Forfarshire)
said, the real grievance in this matter 705 arose from the difference between the law of England and of Scotland. In England the Crown could not sell or alienate any salmon fishing rights whatever, and had not done so since the time of Magna Charta. But the law of Scotland was different, and the Crown had sold salmon fishing rights for very inadequate prices. He assured the Committee that there was a very strong feeling in Scotland on this subject. The taste for fishing had increased exceedingly during the last 20 years; a great many people in towns desire to have an opportunity of fishing. The people of England even had more facility for fishing than the people of Scotland. How many people could fish in the Thames, and was there one good river in Scotland in which the public could fish? He trusted that if a Committee were appointed it would inquire into this aspect of the question, and see whether there was any good ground why there should be any difference between the law of Scotland and the law of England in this matter of the sale or alienation of the right of salmon fishing,
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
said, there were one or two points which he should like to have cleared no. He wanted to know, in the first place, at what time the Treasury Warrant was issued for the sale; who signed it; and whether the Secretary to the Treasury would lay on the Table of the House a copy of the Warrant? Then he was anxious to learn who was the Surveyor who made the survey, or ought to have made it under Section 61 of the Act which applied to the subject; at what time he made the survey; and also whether the hon. Gentleman would produce to the Committee a copy of the oath the Surveyor was required by law to take in order to satisfy the Commissioners that the sum offered was a reasonable one?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he could not help thinking there was a great deal more importance attached to the refusal of the Government to give the Papers than the matter deserved. The case, as far as the Treasury and the Department of Woods and Forests were concerned, was extremely simple. He had listened most carefully to what had been said; but he had not yet learned in what sense the action of the Woods and 706 Forests Department had disposed of any rights of the public. The rights of the Crown were not the rights of the public. [An hon. MEMBER: Of course they are.] They were not the rights of individuals. His hon. Friend the Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) rather attacked the Woods and Forests Commissioners because they had not made the most of the property, and now hon. Members from Scotland were attacking the Department because it had sold something, receiving something in return. No indication or illustration had been given at all of how, in any respect, the right of an individual to go on this Loch had been taken away by the action of the Department. In what sense had that right been altered? Everyone who had a right to go on the water before this sale surely had just the same right now. The right of the individual, so far as he understood it, was precisely the same; and in the opinion of the Commissioners of the Woods and Forests their action had not prejudiced in any particular whatever a right in anything possessed before the transaction. He thought that the Correspondence which had taken place ought not to be given; and he trusted hon. Members, after his explanation, would feel that the reason he gave was a fairly proper one. In the first place, the ex adverse proprietors who had become the purchasers in this case—at least one of them—claimed certain rights which were more or less indisputable; and he was told that in the course of the Correspondence and negotiations which took place in confidence some of these disclosed their titles. [An hon. MEMBER: They are all in the Register Office.] Then, if they were, they must be very easy to get. The negotiations were more or less confidential; and, therefore, he felt he would not be justified in making public the Correspondence. That was the only reason for refusal. He had not the smallest objection to the sale being—[Dr. CLARK: Cancelled.] He had no power to cancel it; and, therefore, he should have very strong objections to do that. The hon. Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hunter) asked him various questions which he was unable to answer. He was not able to give the hon. Gentleman the date of the warrant; but he had no doubt the date could be given if the hon. Member would put a 707 Question to him to-morrow. He had no idea that this was such a serious question, and that hon. Members intended to make such an attack upon the transaction. If there was any information he could obtain which would assist hon. Gentlemen from Scotland, he should be very glad to furnish it. Someone had said that this was a case of rich men fighting poor men. They had nothing to do with that; he had no doubt that the poor men in Scotland would get justice from the Courts of Justice there. [Dr. CLARK: What part did Donald Beith play?] He understood that Donald Beith was paid for his services where employed, and that he had nothing whatever to do with the fixing of the grant or the negotiations. The only question in which that gentleman was concerned was that of the title and of the conveyancing.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
asked whether the hon. Gentleman would undertake that no more fishing rights should be sold until the Committee had reported?
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said, he could understand the difficulty of the Secretary to the Treasury in understanding purely Scotch questions. One of the difficulties was that this question was decided by purely English Commissioners, who were compelled to consult the Secretary to the Commissioners in Scotland, he being no other than Donald Beith, the agent of the landlords. The whole of this question was one very much of title, and the Secretary to the Treasury asked in what respect the position of the inhabitants around the Loch had been prejudiced by the grant which the Crown had given. Before this sale by the Crown the crofters were in possession of the Loch. The Loch was 12 miles long by two wide, and it belonged to no individual proprietor in Scotland. The Loch was the property of the Crown, and it was in the possession of the public in the very self-same way as the commons of England were in possession of the people of towns. Before the sale the landed proprietors could not interfere with the right of the people to use the Loch as a highway, or for recreation, or as a fishing ground. The proprietors, however, purchased from the Crown the right of salmon fishing, and now they could go 708 into Court and say—"We have private right of property here, which is being, interfered with by the public using the Loch." That was the reason why the sale on the part of the Crown raised such an important question. One very great matter of complaint was that the Commissioners acted upon the advice of a man who was the landlord's own agent. The assertion was not disputed that in England there were no Crown rights in salmon fishing. What was being done in Scotland was that the Government were taking for the Imperial Exchequer that which they did not take in England. Was that fair, he asked, to the people of Scotland? What was the whole object of this purchase on the part of the landlords? It was not the value of the salmon, but it was to keep the public out of some other interest. The proprietors had now got possession of the Loch, and the Secretary to the Treasury said—"Oh, these poor people will get justice in the Courts of Scotland." He (Mr. Caldwell) believed they would, but was it fair that the Crown should give a weapon to landed proprietors by which they had a plausible title to raise a question which they never could have raised without this sale? Practically, the landlords now came into Court without a title; four of them joined together, and sought to interdict poor men, hoping that by litigation they would eventually gain what they wanted. The Representatives of Scotland were certainly entitled to complain very bitterly of the action of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in this matter.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he wished to ask permission to answer the two questions of the Secretary to the Treasury as to what hon. Members wanted, and what they complained of. What they wanted was to get this sale cancelled. He did not know how that could be done; it might require an Act of Parliament. If so, he hoped the Government would bring in a Bill. What he and his hon. Friends complained of was that the Commissioners had aided and abetted Lord Lovat in this conspiracy to manufacture a few more deer forests. He believed that this was the second loch in Scotland which had gone in the same way, and he would like to say a word or two as to the position of affairs regarding all those fishings. He 709 had an extract of all the sales and leases made since the control had been placed in the hands of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. There had been no sale at all or lease of any salmon fishing in England. The Woods and Forests Department got control in 1848, and from 1848 to 1872 there was not a single salmon fishing right sold. There were any number of leases, and the income derived amounted to £6,204 a-year. The first sale was that of a sea salmon fishing right, and that was made in 1872, so that from the time they got power to control the lochs and the sea coast, the Commissioners never made a single sale till 1872. Then five years elapsed before there was another sale, and then it was that a portion of the rights on Loch Ness was sold. There was traffic through the Loch, and the public had not suffered by the transaction. Two years then elapsed before another sale, and it was only since 1883 that the practice had become persistent. Now, year after year, all the Crown rights were being sold, and the unfortunate fishermen were being troubled by the now proprietors. He believed that, practically, there had been no fishing value sold to Lord Lovat, but that all his Lordship wanted was to put a stop to the public right of user.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, that Lord Lovat did not soak to acquire it. He believed it was with the greatest difficulty Lord Lovat was induced to buy the fishing right.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the negotiations had been going on since 1883, so that Lord Lovat did not appear to have been in any great hurry.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that one reason why Lord Lovat wanted to secure these rights had never yet been brought before the notice of the House. The Commissioners of Supply had now got control of a large number of roads and bridges in the country. He believed it was in 1877 that the Trustees gave over the control of these roads and bridges to the Commissioners of Supply, but only 710 a number of the principal roads were scheduled, and all the roads and bridges which were not scheduled were now practically no one's property, and were lying waste. There used to be a rate levied to keep them up; but now, as they were not scheduled, they did not come under the cognizance of the Commissioners of Supply. Some of the bridges had fallen out of repair, and the proprietors would not rebuild them except they wanted the road. The rights of way were now being shut up. In the district of Loch Morar this remark very much applied. There was a great deal of traffic across the centre of the Loch, and it was to stop this traffic—to stop the rights of way—that this transaction had been concluded, and in order that a big deer forest might be created, and that no rights of way should exist over the forest. What he wanted was to prevent this conspiracy being successful. The matter would be fought out in the Courts. If the proprietors had got a title from the Crown, it must be cancelled. He asserted that there had been corruption in this matter, and maintained that no solicitor employed by the Crown ought to have anything to do with the sale or transfer of any rights to any proprietor for whom he was also acting as solicitor. The very man who had in this matter acted in the double capacity was now, he believed, acting a third part, and that was as prosecutor of the people who had asserted their rights. Unless the Government wished disturbances to occur year after year, they would do something to prevent such sales being made.
§ MR. A. R. D. ELLIOT (Roxburgh)
said, that the Committee must recollect that much was due to the change of time and circumstances, and that a great many sporting rights which were of no pecuniary value some years ago had now become so because of the fashion of the day. The question arose as to what was right or proper for the Crown to do as regarded property, which in the old days was never either let or sold, now that such property had become of considerable pecuniary value? He did not consider that this was a Scotch question as against an English question. What was desired was that the administration of the Woods and Forests should 711 be satisfactory both to England and to Scotland. He was bound to say that he could not agree altogether with the propositions laid down by the Secretary to the Treasury. These rights had become pecuniarily important; and if these rights, though they belonged to the Crown, were to be parted with, perhaps the actual legal rights of persons might not be affected, but undoubtedly their enjoyment of certain privileges would be largely affected, and he could not agree that the Crown would be acting the part of trustee of the public interest if it disregarded those local rights—those local customs which might not be rights at all—on the part of the public. The Crown, on the contrary, was bound to have regard to them, as well as to any pecuniary profit it might make by the sale of the rights. Anyone who came from the part of Scotland he came from—a part particularly unconnected with deer forests—was aware that the salmon fishing rights of private individuals had caused considerable dissatisfaction on the part of the public, who thought that in some way or other their rights were interfered with by the exercise by private owners of their fishing rights. Under the existing state of things he did not think the Crown could be too careful of the way in which it dealt with the right of fishing. The rights of salmon fishing in inland rivers were another thing such as could not be enjoyed by the people of the whole of the Three Kingdoms; but if they were enjoyed by anyone, there must be some sort of limit put on the right of the public to fish—a limit of time, and persons, and so forth. Before sitting down he desired to enforce what was said by his hon. Friend the Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan)—namely, that it would be as well, when inquiring into the exercise of the Crown's rights with regard to woods and forests, that the Reference should be so drawn that the Committee could deal with these sporting rights in Scotland.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, that a very interesting point had been raised in this discussion—namely, how far the Crown, which in this case distinctly represented the great body of the taxpayers, was 712 right or wrong in disposing of certain privileges or rights for which it could get money value; or whether, on the other hand, it ought to allow those rights to lie dormant on account of local considerations which might make it undesirable that any transfer of those rights should take place? Of course, no one would deny that that was incidental to the present discussion; and when hon. Members wished the matter to be referred to a Committee, he understood it was not this particular sale, but the general principle as to how far these rights should be disposed of which it was proposed to refer to the Committee. He was inclined to think it was an extremely important question; but he doubted whether it could be conveniently referred to the same Committee that was to inquire into the general administration and business of the Woods and Forests. The point, however, should not be neglected. He would inquire as to the best means of threshing out this particular point—namely, the disposal of the rights of the Crown. He trusted, however, that the Committee and the public would understand that this was not a case of the Crown acting in any invidious sense as against poor fishermen. This was national property; and the question was, how far, in dealing with national property, they ought to take into account the local claims connected with it? He could quite understand that there were cases in which the disposal of Crown rights for small sums might excite local prejudice and create inconveniences and losses so great that it would be better that the property should not be disposed of. In view of the feeling of the Committee he would undertake that no further sales of this class should take place until there had been ample inquiry, until they could see what was the proper policy to pursue. In the discussion of this question a word had been used which he deeply regretted to see so often used in matters affecting administration, and that was the word corruption. Charges of corruption ought not to be loosely made; but when they were once made, they ought to be established. The Government had to defend public servants, because those servants were not there to defend themselves. Hon. Members would see that it was the bounden duty of the Government not to 713 allow charges to go by default, and to give those against whom charges were made an ample opportunity of vindicating their conduct. What he firmly believed to be the case was that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were extremely anxious to make the very most of the property which belonged to the taxpayers. With that motive, and with no other, did they dispose of property which they thought ought to be realized. In this matter there would be no desire to conceal anything; the subject should be thoroughly investigated, and he had no doubt that if this sale had been illegally made it would be cancelled.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
said, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer could he much surprised at the anxiety of hon. Members in this case, a case which had created great interest, and about which there was much uneasiness. He generally listened to all the statements of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury with great admiration, because the hen. Gentleman was always candid and fair, but he confessed he was surprised to hear the reasons assigned for not giving the papers in this case. It was said giving was something confidential about this matter. What was the transaction? It was a simple sale of the property of the Crown to subjects of the Crown, and they were told by a Minister that the negotiations relating to the sale of the Crown's property had to be kept back from the Committee because there was something confidential between the parties. Had Lord Lovat been asked for the production of the correspondence; and why was it not right that the Committee should be informed upon these matters? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that he would make inquiries; but, however the right hon. Gentleman might investigate the matter, nothing could be so satisfactory to hon. Members as to have the opportunity of investigating for themselves. He did not think, under the circumstances of the case, that they could look upon an inquiry by Government officials with any very great confidence. Personally he would much rather have the Papers before him and examine them for himself. He could not see Low there could be any diffi- 714 culty in the way of the production of the documents, and the attidude of the Government in this matter made hon. members very suspicious of their action.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he would make inquiries as to the documents, and see whether they were such as could properly be produced in the House. He would undertake to communicate with the gentlemen concerned, with a view of complying with the wishes of hon. Gentlemen opposite if he found it possible to do so.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, that probably after what the right hon. Gentleman had said, the Papers would be produced. As to the inquiry the Government had proposed to initiate in regard to the foreshores in Scotland, he desired to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to an important Return issued in 1880 with regard to the granting of these foreshores. It was shown in this Return that many of the grants of foreshores were for very small sums. There was one case in which a grant was made of foreshores to the Duke of Argyll for the sum of £14 10s., and the complaint which was made in this case was one which applied to dozens of other similar cases. The price paid for this acquisition of Crown rights was only £14 10s., but the expenses of making the grant would, in all probability, far exceed that sum, and he, therefore, looked upon it as a ridiculous thing from a revenue point of view for the Government to engage in such a transaction. The great grievance was that in order to obtain a sum which was so small as to be of little or no value to the revenue of the country, they parted with rights which were most valuable to fishermen and others, putting them into the hands of landed proprietors who, he was sorry to say, used them solely to advance their sporting privileges to the detriment of the fishing community, who were excluded from the foreshores. He hoped the Government would appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the salmon fishery rights granted by the Crown, to ascertain the position in which these rights stood at present, and whether or not the granting of these rights to landed proprietors was prejudicial to the interests of the fishing community. By the granting of 715 such Committee it might be possible to arrive at some satisfactory settlement of the question.
§ MR. HUNTER
said, he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not given a more satisfactory promise, and had said nothing whatever to encourage hon. Members to believe that they would find in the servants of the Crown in Scotland, and the servants of the public, protectors of the rights of the Scotch people, instead of men who were ever ready to sell those rights for nothing at all to the landlords round about them. There was nothing in what had fallen from the Government to lead him to take hope from them on that score. He did not intend to allow the case of Loch Morar to pass away as if it was not a case of suspicion. There were two circumstances of grave suspicion connected with that case. In the first place the price paid for the Crown rights in the case of this Loch was one-fourth the amount which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire, who was a capital judge of these matters, declared the rights to be worth, and declared that he would have been willing to give more for them. That, in itself, was a circumstance of strong suspicion, even if it stood alone. But it did not stand alone. It was combined with another circumstance which rendered it even more suspicious, which circumstance was that the Law Agent of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests was himself the solicitor to two of the parties concerned in this transaction. He (Mr. Hunter) asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, therefore, whether, upon those two facts alone, there did not arise such grave suspicion? The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury shook his head. He had evidently had no experience of the Court of Chancery. Finding that the agent of the vendor was the agent of the buyer, and also that the price given was only one-fourth of what the rights would fetch in the market, the Court of Chancery would at once upset the sale, and what the Court of Chancery would do in a case of this kind he maintained that the House of Commons and the Government ought to do. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer might rest 716 sure that the Scotch Members would not be content until they had this case sifted to the very bottom and the truth ascertained. What were the reasons given by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury? The first point was that it was doubtful whether there was any salmon fishing at all in this case. If that were so, could there be a stronger circumstance of suspicion? If there were no salmon fishing, what did the neighbouring proprietors pay this £475 for? If it was not for salmon it must have been paid with some ulterior motive. Was there an ulterior motive? Of course there was. Everyone in Scotland knew the principal object in view was to give the landlord a weapon against the public in order to keep them out of Loch Morar. Then the Committee were told that the Papers could not be disclosed because they contained confidential matter. Before the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury made that remark, he should have remembered that he was an Englishman, and that Scotch law was not on all fours with that of England. The hon. Gentleman objected to proprietors being made to disclose their titles, evidently not being aware of the fact that there were no secret titles in Scotland. His hon. Friend the Member for Inverness had read every one of the titles connected with this case. The statement of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury showed how unsatisfactory were the arguments upon which the Government resisted the demands of the Scotch Members, and showed, furthermore, the disadvantage of having Scotch matters managed by a gentleman who was not a Scotchman. To go to another point, he (Mr. Hunter) maintained that it was bad public policy, and totally unjustifiable, to sell one single right of the Crown consisting of fishings or foreshores in Scotland. Technically the Government had a right to do it, but morally they had no such right. To whom did these rights belong? Why, these rights, which were rights inter regalia, were simply the rights granted to the people by Roman law, and stolen from them by the feudal system. Notwithstanding the feudal law, however, there remained a few rights to the public under the shelter of the Crown, and these rights should continue to be held for the public. Morally speaking, the Crown had no 717 right to sell them. Moreover, he should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer this question: When the Government sold these rights, whose property were they disposing of, and what did they do with the money? The right hon. Gentleman and the Committee must remember that the Crown of Scotland was quite a distinct Crown from the Crown of England. The two Kingdoms were merged into one owing to the fact that the two Crowns happened to belong to one person; but that made no difference in the rights of the people of the two countries. The rights were totally distinct, and all those rights which were called Crown rights in Scotland were the property of the people of Scotland, and not of the people of England; and he maintained that the Government were not justified in selling the property of the Scotch people in the interest of the general taxpayer. Out of this amount realized by the sale of these rights to Scotch proprietors Scotland would only get some £60, the remainder going to England, Ireland, and Wales. He submitted that the Government had no right to sell these public rights of the people of Scotland; and even if they did, they certainly were not justified in putting the money so realized into the pockets of the English taxpayer. There was one other point upon which he should like to say a word before he sat down, with regard to the general question. The appointment of a Committee had been agreed upon to inquire into the system of management in the Woods and Forests Department. Well, he hoped when the Government settled the terms of the Reference of that Committee they would so settle them as to enable the Committee to take into their consideration, with regard to agricultural land, and also with regard to houses, the tenure upon which such properties ought to be held. At the present moment the general tenure a land in agricultural districts was one year, and in towns the tenure of houses was mostly 99 years. Leases granted on these tenures ought to be revised in order to give some inducement to leaseholders to spend more money on repairs. If the terms were extended the effect would be that substantial repairs would be carried out by those who were in enjoyment of the properties. He be- 718 lieved that by the adoption of this suggestion it would be found that a considerable amount of money would be secured to the Treasury.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
asked whether the Government would not refrain from making any further sales until the Committee had reported?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he had said, as distinctly as he could, that no further sales would take place until the Committee had reported, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had also given a similar undertaking.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, he had made an appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury last year, that no further sales should be allowed to take place until the matters complained of had been investigated. Nevertheless——
§ MR. JACKSON
asked whether the transactions which had been referred to did not take place before the date of the hon. Gentleman's appeal?
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said that one of the transactions took place in January, 1887, and the last, he believed, in March, 1887.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, the transaction to which the attention of the Government had been especially directed took place, he believed, on the 3rd of June, 1886. There might have been transactions in January and March, 1887, but the land sales were in June, 1886.
§ MR. J. W. BARCLAY
said, the discussion to which he referred occurred in August, 1887. He had appealed to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury to give a pledge that no more fishings belonging to the Crown would he allowed to go into the hands of private proprietors, and suggested that if the Commissioners wished to make money out of the fishings, they could lease them. He ventured to say that if the Commissioners had leased these fishings, they would have got 10 times better terms than those they had accepted.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
said, he did not wish to prolong the discussion upon the question immediately before the Committee to which the hon. Member for Inverness had alluded. 719 He desired to refer to another point, and he was sorry that the Lord Advocate for Scotland was not in his place to reply to him. Probably, however, the absence of the Lord Advocate would not cause so much inconvenience as it might otherwise have done, as he had reason to believe that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had information upon the subject with which he wished to deal. What he desired was, that the subject on which he was about to speak might be brought under the purview of the Select Committee about to be appointed. There was, he understood, an old Scotch Act under which the foreshores were preserved to the fishermen. Under this Act fishermen could build houses, spread and dry their nets, and otherwise carry on their industries. So far as he was informed, proprietors of land adjoining the foreshores in Scotland had encroached very much on the rights which were reserved in this Act to fishermen. The law was, that if land was under cultivation—that was to say, used for agricultural purposes—the fishermen had no right to the foreshores; but what he was informed had taken place was this—that the proprietors of adjoining properties took means to scratch up the surface of miserable bits of land and put them, technically speaking, under cultivation. Although the land was of no value, they claimed exemption for it under the Act of which he had spoken. They claimed the land and charged the fishermen large rents for the use of the foreshores. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was aware that this matter of tenure was one of great grievance.
I must say I fail to see how the subject the hon. Member is now dealing with is connected with the administration of the Office of Woods and Forests.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
said, he understood that the officials to whom he referred were under the administration of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests.
§ MR. ESSLEMONT
said, then of course they would not come under the purview of the Select Committee about 720 to be appointed, and he would not proceed any further in the matter.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that in the matter of the sale of these rights to the Scotch proprietors no doubt the dates were confusing. What had occurred showed how badly the Commissioners of Woods and Forests kept their accounts. The facts relating to this sale of Loch Morar were published in the 87th Report of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, but they only said that they had made three sales—one for £150, and two for £60 a piece. But in the same Report they gave themselves credit for having received four—two at £150 and two at £60; and in the present Report they found, under the date of April 14th, that four of these rights had been sold. They seemed to put the whole four in the present Report though they had only information with regard to the sale of three. Since the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury gave an assurance that there would be no more of these rights sold, there had been three disposed of. The first was sold in October last—two months after the assurance had been given—in the county of Caithness. It was sold in the county of Caithness to an English gentleman who had bought an estate there and was in trouble with the crofters in regard to the fishing rights. Previously the right had been let to this proprietor and brought in £7 a-year, but last year it was sold to the proprietor for £150. The fishermen of the district would have given the Government twice that amount for it. Probably in the future they would find these men catching fish and having a salmon in one of their nets, and out of that would come no end of trouble. Further rights were sold in January last in the county of Aberdeen, and in February last other rights to salmon fishing were sold in another part of the country.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he thought the Government were getting nearer and nearer to giving up their position with regard to the Papers which were asked for by the Scotch Members in the case of Loch Morar, and he believed that if the debate were continued a little longer, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would yield and allow the Papers to be produced. The hon. Gentleman the Se- 721 cretary to the Treasury did not like to say that the Papers would be submitted, simply because at an earlier period of the debate he had twice refused them. He had given them bad reasons for his refusal, and, those reasons having been argued away, he now told them that he did not like to produce the Papers as they might be confidential. It was necessary that hon. Members should know what those Papers were, as it was not desirable that they should make complaint against public officers until they were sure of their game. How could they be sure of their game, however, unless they had these Papers? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he would consider the matter, and see if it would be possible for him to allow the Papers to be produced, but unless hon. Members pressed their point that evening they would be unable to bring pressure upon him until next year. It was only once a year that private Members had a sort of field day. Their only opportunity of taking the Government to task was when these Estimates came down, and if they surrendered their demand to have these Papers, however favourable the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer might consider the matter, if that consideration did not result in the Papers being produced they would have lost a year—they would have to wait another 12 months before they could bring any further pressure to bear upon him. He (Sir George Campbell) did not see why the Papers should not be given, and he hoped that before the debate closed the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would change his mind and would promise to produce them. With regard to the general question he (Sir George Campbell) quite admitted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had spoken very fair words, but still, with every confidence in that right hon. Gentleman and in his desire to do justice in the matter, he (Sir George Campbell) desired to say that this was a popular question, and that it would be much more satisfactory that some pledge should be given that all the facts would be submitted to the House rather than that they should rest content with the statement that the Government would 722 inquire into the matter. He could understand in a case where they had a valuable right—say, to a salmon fishing bringing in some thousands a year—that that right should be sold for revenue purposes, but in the vast majority of these cases the rights were of small value, and the sales were of no advantage whatever to the Exchequer, and when these rights were parted with for an almost nominal consideration, and the interests of the fishing community were greatly injured thereby, he thought the matter was one constituting a grievance which should be submitted to a Committee of the House. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the case of the Scotch fishermen, so far as these foreshores were concerned, was not precisely on all fours with the Epping Forest case. The sale of a salmon right, he maintained, did not give or take away a right of way, but, as in the case of Epping Forest, where the right of way was doubtful and the dispute was one between a rich man and a poor man, and where the means of fighting the dispute was doubtful, it was a most important thing that the rights of the Crown should be maintained whenever they were calculated to preserve the rights of the public. In the case of Epping Forest the Crown rights—obsolete, no doubt—prevented the proprietors clearing the Forest and shutting out the public from it. The Treasury in those days thought their duty was to get a revenue and to sacrifice their rights, whatever they might be and to whatever extent the interest of the public might depend upon them, and if the City of London had not fought the case in the Courts, Epping Forest would have been entirely lost to the public. This Scotch case which hon. Members had been ventilating that night was exactly similar, only that, unfortunately, there was here no such Corporation of London to fight the matter in the interests of the public. He hoped the Government would consent to the understanding arrived at in the earlier part of the evening and allow all these matters to be gone into by the Committee.
§ DR. CAMERON
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had agreed to refer the question of these 723 sales of Crown rights in Scotland to the Committee to be appointed.
§ DR. CAMERON
said, he wished to make the matter clear. He had understood the hon. Gentleman to agree to suspend further sales until the matter had been inquired into.
§ DR. CAMERON
But the matter was not to be inquired into. He should like to know what was really meant?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I am not quite sure whether the Government have been met in the spirit which marked our proposals. The Committee first asked, on the ground of maladministration in connection with Woods and Forests, and on the ground of extravagance, it being alleged that the cost of the management was too high and that the Commissioners failed to utilize their disposable property, that an inquiry should be instituted by a Select Committee. The gravamen of the charge against the Commissioners was as to the manner in which they conducted their business. The Government assented to the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the mode in which the Commissioners conducted their business. We promised to nominate a Committee, but that promise has now been utilized by hon. Members opposite for other purposes. Hon. Gentlemen wish to raise very important questions indeed, connected with the rights of the Crown, and the sale of those rights, and I understand my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury to answer on that particular point that the request of hon. Members shall be considered. I recognize the full importance of this matter, and I assure the Committee that it would be greatly to the interest and comfort of the Government if we could get rid of these difficult questions by handing them over to a Select Committee, throwing the entire responsibility upon such a Body. There is no more difficult task imposed upon us than the adjustment of claims between the taxpayer and the localities interested in Crown property. But I am doubtful whether the same Committee which we should appoint to inquire into the general business arrangements of the Department of Woods and Forests would be the best tribunal we could select to inquire into the question raised by the 724 Scotch Members, which is a matter of law in which Scotland is especially interested. I should be disposed to think that a Committee to inquire into the disposal of Crown rights would be one on which Scotch Members might wish to be much more strongly represented than on a Committee to inquire into the general administration of the Crown Lands. I should be glad to have the assistance of hon. Members of this House on such a subject as the disposal of Crown rights; but it would be premature to say more than that the Government are anxious to inquire. Perhaps hon. Members will now allow the Government to proceed with the Business of the Estimates. With regard to the question of sales, I may say that no more will take place for the present. I go further than that. I do not think that this class of sales should be proceeded with until the Government have looked into the matter in a broad spirit. I will undertake that instructions shall be given that no more sales of this kind shall take place. The hon. Member opposite quoted a case where he said there had been a sale, there having previously been a lease. I do not know how long the lease in question may have been, but I think the length of the lease must have had something to do with the sale.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We have not got them here, and I must ask the Committee to allow me to look at the Papers in order to see whether they can be produced or not. I cannot, after what has happened, promise them without first examining them.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 69; Noes 114: Majority 45.—(Div. List, No. 280.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, that the organization of the Department was very costly, although he did not complain so much of that fact. The 725 Commissioner received £1,200 a-year and there were, besides, the salaries of a large number of clerks. There seemed, however, to be no persons connected with the Department who knew anything about Woods and Forests. He thought that in a Department of that kind there ought to be some skilled person, and that the Department should resemble that which controlled the forests in India. He would ask the Secretary to the Treasury if he had any Reports from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests as to the amount of land in the hands of the Crown which would be available for the real purpose of the Department, which was the planting and keeping up of woods in the country. Anyone who had travelled on the Continent or in India would be aware that the amount of woodland in this country was extremely small; indeed, if it were not for certain private proprietors, it would be absolutely insignificant, and the effect upon the climate and drainage of the country would be very serious. Foreign Governments considered it absolutely necessary for the industrial resources of the country that there should be considerable areas of woodland. He had read the Report of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and he was bound to say that they had touched extremely little on this important subject. He thought it high time, therefore, that the Secretary to the Treasury should give the House some information on the point, and say whether the attention, of the Commissioners was directed to the replanting of the Crown Lands. He was aware that in the New Forest there was a certain amount of land replanted; but there was only a small portion of the woodlands of this country in which the practice was systematic. He drew attention to this point because he thought it should be attended to during the present year. The importance of this was well known to all the Members of the House who took an interest in the subject of our Woods and Forests in England, Ireland and Scotland. The hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham (Sir Richard Temple), who lately presided over the Forest Committee, was himself anxious to bring this question before the House; but, the Government having confiscated all the days of private Members during the Session, he had been unable to do so. As he (Colonel Nolan) believed that 726 the only opportunity of a private Member to raise the question was when this Vote was before the Committee, he would ask the Government whether they would bring the subject before the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. He would like to see the English people as prosperous as possible, but he quite acknowledged that he took a greater interest in the people of Ireland, where, he was sorry to say, that woodlands were still more conspicuous than in England by their absence; and one might travel over the great plain which lay between Dublin and Galway and see very few woods indeed. If the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had time to devote to the Report of the Committee presided over by the hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham, he would see that it strongly recommended that this Department should take up the question of replanting a portion of Ireland; that it was stated that a large amount of land would be available there; and that the people would willingly surrender grazing land for the purpose. For a long time the Department had been content to collect a certain amount of rent and to sell certain water rights for small sums, as in Scotland, and he thought it was time to do something to re-forest the country, which was the true work and gave the real title to the Department. He would ask whether the Commissioners had directed their attention to the planting of Crown Lands for this purpose? He would also ask the hon. Gentleman how he explained the curious anomaly that in the Woods and Forests Department there did not appear to be any forester? There was a geologist, and he thought it was right that there should be, because the Commissioners had to deal with a large number of mineral rights. It was time—and the Committee, of which he (Colonel Nolan) was a humble Member, had pointed out—that attention ought to be called to this subject in England, and that the Department should in some way include skilled foresters, men trained in technical schools, and that, if such persons were not to be found, men should be sent for training to schools in other countries. He hoped that attention would be paid to this most important subject, and that instead of having a Department of well-paid Commissioners and clerks without any special know- 727 ledge, they would place on the staff one or two skilled persons, and then the Office would be really of use, and be worthy of the name of a Woods and Forests Department. The hon. Baronet the Member for Evesham had tried very hard to get a day for his Motion without success; and the only chance of drawing the attention of the Government to the subject was to bring it before them on the present occasion. He hoped to hear if the hon. Gentleman had obtained a Report, and whether his attention had been turned to this important matter.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan) was, no doubt, a very important one; but he (Mr. Jackson) ventured to think that it was entirely distinct from the Vote before the Committee. He would point out that there was, as he thought, a little misconception in the mind of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, because the duties of the Commissioners were really to administer the estates under their charge mainly front the point of view of making the most that they could out of them. The question whether it was desirable to plant new forests in this country was, in his opinion, an entirely separate one, because he doubted that the Commissioners would be justified in spending money on planting unless they could, by so doing, bring in any more revenue. It was true that there had been some planting in the Isle of Man on land that was well suitable for it, and because it was the best purpose to which it could be put. He had known for many years the gentleman who occupied the position of sub-deputy at the New Forest, and not only did this gentleman give much attention to the subject of forestry, but he was also a man of great competence in that respect. The subject raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was, undoubtedly, one of great interest; and although, as he had said, it was not included in this Vote, it ought not to be lost sight of.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, in this Department, instead of there being an economy, there was an increase of £1,000 in Fees to Counsel, and in Incidental Expenses of £400. The probable reason why the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury was ask- 728 ing so much more for counsel was that the Legal Advisers of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in Scotland had commenced tyrannical proceedings against some unfortunate tenants in Caithness; it was owing to that very prolonged and expensive legislation that a Supplementary Estimate had been asked for, and that this additional £1,000 was now put down. He should advise the hon. Gentleman to see that the Solicitors of the Commissioners in Scotland were paid by salary instead of by fees, because by this litigation they were making rather large fees for themselves. If the Lord Advocate were here he should have said something more on this subject; but the Government had been entirely defeated, and he should therefore say no more on the subject at that moment. In Caithness the same system had been carried out on Crown Lands as on other lands. The crofters had been turned out of the moorlands which they had made valuable, and larger farmers had come in; and in this respect the action of the Crown had been as bad as that of private landlords. He did not believe there were any small tenants in Caithness; but he could get no information about this matter from the Papers, which only gave a lump sum for all the Crown Lands throughout the country. He saw that Scotland brought in about £12,000. The great bulk of the land in Caithness was held by three or four farmers, who paid all the rents, and where there were previously townships there were now farms extending for seven miles. He asked whether anything could be done to carry out in this district the principle of the Crofters' Act? The special grievance in Caithness was that all the small fertile farms so useful to the population had now been made into great farms. A great farm at Scrabster had been let to a large farmer, who probably paid £5,000 or £6,000 rent. He hoped there would be no more of this, and also that something would be done to carry out the principle of the Act, and that the Crown would give a chance for the cultivation of these lands. It might have been at the beginning a little more profitable for the Crown to get rid of all their tenants and bring in some big grazier; but now the men who had made the so-called improvements were nearly all bankrupts, 729 and they were scarcely getting a return for the buildings placed on the farms where desolation had been caused by turning out the small tenants; whereas the proprietors who had not adopted this policy were the only ones in Caithness who were in a prosperous condition. He asked whether the Crown would break up these large farms and convert them into a number of smaller ones? All the arable land was falling into the condition of waste, and places that formerly carried 4,000 or 5,000 sheep could now carry no more than 2,000. He, therefore, hoped they would be able to carry out an extension of the number of holdings, and thereby improve the condition of a large number of crofters. Would the hon. Gentleman instruct the Commissioners of Woods and Forests that when the present leases of the large farms expired they would permit the people who had been driven away to go back to the Crown Lands and have small farms of 20 or 30 acres at rents of £20 or £30 a-year, which would add much to the value of the agricultural property, and, at the same time, be of great advantage to the people of Caithness.
§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
said, he thought it exceedingly desirable that the Crown Lands should, as far as possible, be let in small holdings. It was well known that the great evil in the Highlands was the gradual extinction of small holdings. It was the main cause of the discontent there, and year after year charges were brought against landlords on this account. Surely the Crown, at such a time, ought to set an example of the proper way of dealing with farm lands in this part of the country, which would then be probably followed by the larger landlords. He thought it deplorable that lands which belonged to the nation should be so handled as to become the cause of discontent amongst the people. When the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees held the position of Secretary to the Treasury, he (Mr. S. Smith) had ventured to bring before the House the same proposal—that a beginning should be made to create small peasant holdings; but since then matters had become worse instead of better. He thought it very much to be desired that the suggestion of his hon. Friend should now be acted upon, 730 and for that reason he rose to support it with all his heart.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
said, he wished to point out that there was an increase in the Vote of £1,500, of which £1,135 was for legal Expenses. This item of Legal Expenses, he could not but regard as excessive, and thought that it required some explanation. He hoped that when the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury rose to reply he would explain this increase, and say whether it went into the pockets of the Law Officers of the Crown, or whether it was distributed outside the Government officials. Then there was the salary of £800 a-year for a Mining Inspector, with regard to which he would only say that he was certain a man capable of dealing with the minerals in the Crown Lands could be had for a considerably less sum. The whole arrangement appeared to be thoroughly extravagant, and he was sure the Committee could not be more usefully occupied than in checking the expenditure of the Department, particularly that under the head of Legal Expenditure.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, he desired to know what conclusion the Government had come to with regard to the royalties to be charged on gold and silver mining in Great Britain and Ireland. The last intimation was that a sum would be charged which would make gold mining absolutely impossible in this country; the sum proposed being unknown in any of the gold bearing countries of the world, and in Australia it was but the smallest fraction of that proposed to be charged here. In former times the charge upon the gold industry of the country was one of the causes of that industry dying out. It had now been revived in Wales and in the adjoining district, and the question had become one of great importance. Again, the gold fields of Wicklow at one time produced in a year £60,000 in gold; but the Government of the day imposed charges upon the industry which crushed it entirely. He did not want to see the same thing occur with regard to the new industry arising in this country. He was satisfied that a quantity sufficient to pay would be found, and he might say that such assays as had been 731 made and the samples inspected went to show that the new fields were richer to a considerable extent than many of those which in Australia and America were worked at a considerable profit. It was the bounden duty of the Government to do all they could to advance the industry, and were they to decide to take no royalty at all, he was convinced they would do the best thing for the interest of the country and the people in Wales and Ireland. It was reported that the Government had in one instance granted mining rights in an extent of country two miles wide and eight miles long to private persons; and if that were true they had made one of the worst mistakes possible. In Australia and America an area of no more than 400 yards by 200 yards was given for the purpose of mining, and that represented the result of the experience of the Government of those countries; they knew that if larger areas were granted the land would not be worked at all; that people would be kept from making searches in the district; or, if the land turned out well, that one man would gather the wealth of a whole district. He asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he could deny that this large grant had been made to a single individual; and also what course the Government proposed to take, both as regarded royalties and the maximum area to be given to one person? He hoped to hear the hon. Gentleman announce that the Government had reduced the absurd royalty proposed to an amount which would make it possible for the industry in question to be pursued.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, on the question of the increase of the charge for Legal Expenses, he had already explained that there had been two or three actions at law which had involved additional expenditure, to meet which it was necessary to supply the Department with the money now asked for. The hon. Member for East Bristol (Mr. Handel Cossham) had referred to the salary of the Mining Inspector. The Committee were probably aware that the gentleman holding this position—Sir Warrington Smyth—was as able an authority on the subject of mining as any in the country, and there was no mining lease entered into without being carefully considered by him, and without the advice of the 732 Head of the Department. He believed it was admitted that no bettor man for the position could be found, and that the leases were perfectly safe in his hands. With regard to the proposal of the hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark), that no more land should be sold, he (Mr. Jackson) was obliged to say that he could give no such undertaking, and he did not think that the hon. Gentleman supposed for a moment that he could do so. No doubt it would be very interesting to make experiments with small holdings; but he did not think the Commissioners of Woods and Forests would think they were justified in doing otherwise than carrying on their business on commercial principles and doing the best they could with the land under their control, nor did he think they would be justified in undertaking experiments which might involve a large amount of loss. He would, however, call the attention of the Commissioners to the remarks of the hon. Member, and ask whether they could, in any way, facilitate the object he had in view? The hon. and learned Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy) had asked as to the amount of royalty to be charged on gold. The position which the Commissioners had taken was that the amount of royalty charged where the land belonged to the Crown was 1–15th, and where it was not Crown property 1–13th. These rates, he believed, were not absolutely followed in all cases; but, generally speaking, they were the rates charged. He did not think they were very onerous. [Mr. MOLLOY: Yes; excessively so.] He did not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. They were charged on the amount of gold obtained. He was sorry to say that he was unable to give the information asked for by the hon. and learned Member as to the large extent of mining rights said to have been given to a private individual. The largest licence was for 600 acres, and that was for land not under Crown control. Speaking with some knowledge, he could say that it was the desire of the Government and of the Commissioners to encourage in every way they could the experiment which was being made in England and Wales. The question had been discussed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with the Commis- 733 sioners, and instructions had been given to facilitate the industry in every case and to throw no obstacle in its way.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury spoke of 1–15th as a moderate royalty. He (Mr. Molloy) had no interest in any one of these works; but he had some knowledge of the subject, and could tell the hon. Gentleman that the royalties proposed must have the effect of destroying the industry. If the charge were made on the net profits he would still say it was excessive; but it was much more so when it was taken from the amount of gold obtained. The ores in Wales did not produce more than 4½ penny-weights, from which the expenses had to be deducted, and the result was that the Government were asking 50 per cent of the profit made from the mines. Was this fair, or was it calculated to prosper the industry here? In Australia, at the present time, the whole effort was to get rid of royalties and induce people to go into gold mining, because it was known that the true profit to the State arose from the prosperity of the industry which followed. Was it not a monstrous thing? Here was an industry which never could yield any large sum in this country; and yet, in their avarice to get something more into the Treasury chest, the Government were doing that which would check or kill the industry in a district where it was most wanted. Was it not wise to take counsel in those who were acquainted with these matters? He was sorry some of the Welsh Members, who were interested in the matter, had not taken it up. He hoped they would join with him in pressing upon the Government the necessity of dealing generously—and more than generously—with those who had undertaken researches for the precious metals in this country.
§ DR. CLARK
said, he was not satisfied with the answer he had received from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson), because the position of the Crown as proprietor in the county of Caithness was quite different from its position in the South of England. The Commissioners appointed under the Crofters' Act were able to take the control of land out of the hands of the Crown, and to let the land to the crofters. Unfortunately, there were 15 conditions limiting 734 the power of the Commissioners, and one of these conditions prevented the Commissioners taking land and increasing the holdings in Caithness. If the Government carried out the recommendations of their own Commission, the Sheriff of the county would take land, let it to the poor people, and thus prevent congestion. Now, as to gold mining, he had an experience extending over 20 years; and he had to corroborate the statement of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Molloy), who was the patentee of a process which would make small reefs like those in Wales profitable working. The development of gold mining in South Africa had been considerable during seven years, but instead of getting £1,000,000 sterling a-year, as was now got in the Transvaal, there might be got £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 sterling annually if it had not been that when the country was taken over the then rising and progressing gold industry was crushed. It was only when the Republic was again proclaimed that the industry once more began to rally. The entire royalty charged by the Government there was less than a third of what the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Molloy) proposed. The authorites in the Transvaal only asked the more nominal rate of 6d. per acre while a field was being was developed, and after it was developed all they asked was 2½ per cent. The future of the gold industry in Wales depended upon every facility being given for its development. If the Crown imposed the heavy tax which was asked, the attempt of the new Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Pritchard Morgan) to open up a new industry in the Principality would very likely fail. The Company had to pay a rental to the private owner, and another rental to the Crown. If the loon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil had known that the Crown would step in and put this royalty upon his findings, he would have made a very different arrangement with the owner. He (Dr. Clark) was fully persuaded that the development of gold mining in the poorest county of Scotland—namely, Sutherland—would largely increase the population, and result in a large gold industry there. At present the people were prevented from developing such mines. There were veins in the quartz 735 and granite mountains in Sutherland where nothing could be grown. They could not feed even a snipe upon 20 acres of them, but where there might be a profitable gold industry, if only facilities were given for its development.
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire)
said that as his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the Birr Division of King's County (Mr. Molloy) had appealed to the Welsh Members to say something on this subject, he did not wish the debate to close without saying one word. They all knew that gold mining was an exceedingly speculative kind of industry. It was very doubtful whether the find would last, and the cost of working was always very great. He thought it was a kind of industry which ought to be encouraged in every way by the Government. He quite agreed with his hon. and learned friend that a royalty of 1–15th, not of the net profits but of the gross, was really enormous. He had not gone into the matter closely, but he could conceive that such a royalty would take a very large slice out of what could be found. He put it to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury whether it was worth while, considering what a benefit this industry would be to the Principality of Wales, for the Government, for the sake of the very trifling sum of a few thousand pounds, to insist upon the payment of this heavy royalty? Even from a financial point of view it would be far better for the Treasury to be a little generous rather than kill that which might turn out to be a most valuable boon to an important but poor part of the Kingdom.
§ MR. KENYON (Denbigh, &c.)
said, that as a director in the only Welsh gold mining industry which was paying any dividend at the present time, he desired to say that he and his colleagues had been treated with the greatest courtesy by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the matter of royalty. As far as the mine with which he was connected was concerned, he did not say they were not able to pay the royalty which was demanded, for they had raised as much as five ounces a ton; but he thought that in the interests of gold mining throughout Wales and the rest of the country, the royalty which 736 was demanded was one which would effectually crush a rising industry and prevent numberless other mines which were at the present moment ready to be started from being floated in the market. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he was not prepared to waive the Crown rights, that he would consider whether it was not possible for him to reduce the royalty with a view to encouraging an industry which was likely to employ a very large number of people in a country which greatly required the employment of people? The gold mining industry of Wales 20 years ago had a fair prospect before it. In 1862 the Government drew as royalty from the gold mines of Wales no less than £2,000 in one year. He had been given to understand by people who were acquainted with the industry that to a great extent the industry was crushed out at that time or depressed very largely by the fact that the Government insisted upon this royalty. As there was great doubt as to the existence of a legal right to these mineral royalties, he suggested that it would be wise to appoint a small Commission to inquire into the whole question of Crown rents and mineral royalties, more especially in regard to Wales.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said that he had looked into this question with great care because it was one of some importance. The majority of hon. Members would desire that an infant industry should be allowed to be developed free from any difficulties that could fairly be removed, but the question in this case was not simply one of an infant industry. What the Government had found was that when persons had asked and obtained moderate terms from the Government, those who had received such terms had sold that which had been conceded to them, and had made an extremely good thing out of the transaction. The question was whether the public or particular individuals ought to have the advantage of the discovery of gold? He had been told that one of the Companies now developing this industry was prepared to pay a dividend of 10 per cent. If that were so, the industry could afford to pay to the taxpayers the amount demanded in the shape of royalty. He wished the Committee to understand that there were two sides to this ques- 737 tion. The Government had found that there were plenty of people prepared to accept the terms which had been offered, and he was of opinion that they ought not to part with public property to private individuals except at the full market price. The Government would be doing wrong if they were to encourage any particular Companies to acquire these rights, which were certainly valuable rights, at rates which were not full rates. They were perfectly clear that they had a good title to those rights, and they would defend them in the interests of the taxpayer. These rights belonged to the Crown—they really belonged to the nation, and the Government were bound, in the interests of the nation, to utilize them to the best advantage. They did not wish at all to put so high a value upon them as to discourage general gold mining in Wales. It would be false policy, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had explained; it would be wrong to do so. But, surely, at the same time, there were no Members of the Committee who would wish the Government to put so cheap a price upon these rights as would enable individuals to sell the rights afterwards to Companies able to declare very high dividends. The Government had given every attention to the subject; they hoped to see the gold mining industry in Wales developed; but they considered it their bounden duty to guard against the dangers he had mentioned.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, that the question of the right of the Crown in these matters he knew nothing whatever about; but the point he wished to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that the policy he had just expounded as that of the Government was a policy which was adopted originally in Australia and in the Transvaal, and that in both of those countries it had failed. In both of those countries it was admitted that the policy was a false one. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer asked why should the Government sell to a man a piece of land at a smaller price than he could get for it in the market? That was where the whole policy came in. It was quite true that if they chose to ask 50 per cent of the gross profits, they would 738 still get men to buy from the Government, and who probably might be able, on some wonderfully rich find, to sell to a Company. He granted, if the right hon. Gentleman liked, that all he had said was perfectly true. Everybody knew, who knew anything about mining ventures, that the first two years of a Company were the best years in 95 cases out of 100. It was afterwards, when they got down to the average, that Companies came to the pinch; it was when they came down to the small average of four or five penny-weight that the smallest fraction made the difference between a paying and a non-paying mine. The 15th would then come in, and ruin the industry. What would they get in a few years by their 1–15th per cent; would it make any difference in two years? When these mines came to be developed, small quantities must be got out of them, as in other countries, and then, when the change came, the industry would die out. At the end of the last century there was a gold industry in Ireland; but by a policy such as that which was now being pursued by the Government it was killed. About 40 or 50 years ago there was a little spurt of gold mining in Wales, and identically the same thing happened there. Were the Government going to kill the industry again? Why could they not say that in the beginning of the industry they would seek for no or only a nominal royalty? That he could quite understand; but, as a matter of fact, the Government were fixing a royalty now which might become permanent. This was a working man's question. If they could get only a small amount of gold, the mining would furnish much employment. In the interests of labour, he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reconsider the question, and take counsel with those acquainted with the matter.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that, as he had already explained, he was extremely anxious to see this industry develop; but it must be borne in mind that there were several competitors for these mining rights, and the question was who should have them. Were they to favour anyone in the matter, or were they to give the rights to the highest bidder; or were they to part with them to the first who applied, or to those who 739 could bring most influence to bear upon the Government?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Then it was to be a question simply of those who came first. There were some who believed they could pay the Government 1–15th. Were the Government to part with the rights to gentlemen who were unwilling to pay so much? Earlier in the evening the charge was brought against Government officials that they parted with rights belonging to the Crown at too cheap a rate. That charge might very easily be brought against the Government if they sold the mining rights at 1–30th to friends or supporters of the Government when they might get 1–15th from other parties. Take the case of the hon. Gentleman who had been recently returned to that House (Mr. Pritchard Morgan). That gentleman had acquired a certain amount of these rights. What charge might not be made against the Government if they had parted, not upon the principle of tender or the principle of giving them to the highest bidder, but simply parted with the rights which were worth 1–15th at the rate of 1–30th. He was impressed very much with the desirability of developing the mining industry, and of employing men, and of securing the greatest amount of enterprize and capital, but he was afraid of the middleman. He feared to part with the right, for instance, at 1–30th, to find afterwards that it had been sold again at, say, 1–15th, the profit being secured not by the public, but by a man who had been extremely active in coming first and securing the rights. In the particular case of Mr. Pritchard Morgan, the gentleman who had acquired these rights, the rights which had been parted with by the Government at a cheaper price, had been acquired by him, he believed, but by paying a still higher price for them. The Government must pursue this matter with an anxious desire both to be fair to the Principality of Wales, and, at the same time, to utilize competition up to a proper point.
§ MR. SWETENHAM (Carnarvon)
said, that, as a Welsh Member, he took considerable interest in this question, and he felt the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had just enunciated; but he 740 could not help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman had answered himself. It was clear that if this industry was encouraged more persons would come forward, and the chances were that the royalties which might be payable to the Crown would be increased in bulk. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see the great desirability of giving easy terms to persons who came forward for the purpose of embarking in this industry, which, unquestionably, would prove of very great benefit and advantage to the working men of Wales, who were anxiously looking forward to the time when the mining industry in their country would be developed. If the right hon. Gentleman would make the terms easy, and, at the same time, say to the person who came forward to be the original lessee that it would not be competent for him to sub-lease a mine at any royalty in excess of that paid to the Crown, the difficulty would cease at once. Persons who desired mining leases in Wales considered that a lease of 30 years was not quite sufficient. He believed that if people could get longer leases at more moderate royalties the industry would be still more developed. Men argued that it was a very expensive work to put up the necessary very expensive machinery, and that if they put it up and a considerable amount of gold was obtained, it was quite possible that the Crown might increase the royalties when it was asked for a fresh lease. He did not believe the Crown would do anything of the sort, but people did not think they ought to be satisfied merely with an assertion of the fact.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, it occurred to him that nothing would be easier than that a graduated scale should be introduced which would meet the difficulties contemplated. Not a scale based upon the gross profits, for that was a very variable quantity, but upon the profits declared. Why should not the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer lay down the very simple proposition that 1–20th of the profits devisable should go to the Crown? If the venture was a very successful one, there was no reason in the world why the Crown should not have a proportional profit. For his own part, he thought every possible security which the right 741 hon. Gentleman required would be met by a scale of the kind he suggested. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Denbigh (Mr. Kenyon) had said that a Company with which he was connected had raised this year as much as five ounces of gold per ton, but next year the very opposite might be the case. He (Mr. Illingworth) desired to turn for a moment to an answer which had been given by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson). The hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) referred to the question of the sale of farms in Scotland, and the hon. Gentleman fairly laid it down that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests ought to conduct their business in a businesslike way. What was the policy of the Commissioners in matters of this kind; what was the method adopted where there was no public sale? If the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would give the Committee an assurance that no private transactions took place whereby the Public Exchequer was damnified, he would be satisfied. He held that in a great Public Department of this sort everything should be above-board. The Crown, or at any rate the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Crown, were the largest landowners in the country. They were two great Public Departments, and it was never more important than at the present time that the country should know what policy was pursued in regard to the sale or the purchase of estates.
§ MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, he wished to point out that nothing could be easier than to prevent a person sub-letting a mine without the consent of the Crown by inserting in the licence or take-note a condition against sub-letting or assignment. Gold mining differed from almost every other kind of mining; gold was found in bunches, and the consequence was that the good fortune which might attend a speculation one year might come suddenly to an end the next year.
said, that there was one point in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not given them any reply, and that was prospecting. What he thought the right hon. Gentleman might do was, to get a Return from all the Agent Generals of our Colonies of their 742 gold laws and regulations. He thought that if the right hon. Gentleman would do that he would find that all difficulties would disappear. He well remembered a great row some years ago in Sandhurst. There the owners of the mine wanted to reduce the wages of the miners, the men struck, and the owners locked them out. The then Prime Minister made a speech in which he reminded the owners of the terms on which they acquired the rights, and pointed out that if they locked out the men the Government would be perfectly willing to give the mine to the men themselves. What was wanted in this country was a law similar to that in the Colonies.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he had the greatest sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the objections he took to granting concessions to persons who paid nothing for them. The great thing to be aimed at was, that people asking for concessions of this kind should give evidence of their good faith by entering into some engagement by which they might be held. With regard to the question of gold mining in Wales, it seemed to him that under the present circumstances of the country we were in great want of gold. All that he thought was necessary was that some evidence should be given of the bonafides of promoters of the gold industry. He thought the proper thing to do was to require promoters to get up Companies first, and then get the concessions. He did not believe it was at all impossible to do that. If a man came to the Government and said he had got up a Company, and was ready to enter into stringent obligations to spend the money in working gold, he thought concessions might be made by which he would have to pay no royalty at all.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
said, he desired to press on the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer the suggestion for a sliding scale of royalties, not only for the gold industry, but also for the lead and slate industries. The lead industry of Cardiganshire was crushed largely by restrictive leases, royalties, and way-leaves. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would certainly help to put the industry on its 743 legs again if he adopted the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Bradford (Mr. Illingworth). As long as the Crown exacted the utmost rent and royalties from Wales, amounting to £13,000 a-year, and did nothing in return—neither planting a tree nor facilitating mining enterprize—it deserved to be considered the worst absentee landlord in Wales.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £20,600, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment daring the year ending on the 31st day of March 1889, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Works and Public Buildings.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket) if he had yet arrived at a decision in respect to certain portions of Parks which were inclosed from the public, and the tenancies of which were expiring? He reminded the right hon. Gentleman that earlier in the Session he had said that he hoped soon to be in a position to announce his decision.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, that last year they had a discussion with regard to the Regulations for filling up vacancies in the Office of the Clerk of Works. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would state what had been done in the matter?
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. PLUNKET) (Dublin University)
said, he did not think that any opportunity had existed since the discussion took place of dealing with the subject. Of course, whatever undertaking was given it would be faithfully carried out. With respect to the question put by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), he had to say that the subject had been for a considerable time under consideration, but no final decision had yet been aimed at. The hon. Member was aware that a Return had been made, which showed what part of the Parks were inclosed. No decision had been taken, nor did he think that an opportunity for taking any decided action had arisen.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he thought it right to give the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner Notice that if during the year there appeared to be any more underletting, or what might be called irregular dealing in respect to these inclosures, or making private profit out of them, he should deem it necessary to raise the matter on the first opportunity.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he noticed that there was an item in the Estimates for the inspection of ancient monuments. He objected to this as utter nonsense. He believed there was a Schedule of some of the ancient monuments. They knew there were any number of ancient monuments about the country, and why were all these monuments not to be in the Schedule? Why there should be an Inspector to look after four or five of these monuments he could not understand. For his part, he did not care 6d. about Stonehenge. He thought that they must have been fools who carried huge stones a long distance in order to place them in circles. Now, although they had an Inspector, they did not seem to give him work to do; they did not tell him to look after all the ancient monuments, but empowered him to choose half-a-dozen monuments to look after. What had this Inspector been doing? How had he looked after monuments? Did he live in London? What was he? He would like some explanation on this point.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he would like to know with what object the hon. Gentleman asked this question. The answer was a very simple one. This gentleman was appointed in order to carry out the provisions of an Act of Parliament passed some years ago for the purpose of protecting ancient monuments. He was a gentleman who travelled about the country a good deal for the purpose of carrying out that Act of Parliament, and he charged nothing for the expenses of his journeys; in fact, he (Mr. Plunket) believed the salary paid but little more than covered the expenses to which the gentleman was put. The Inspector selected a certain number of ancient monuments, which were from time to time added to the list. As to the policy of the Act itself, he supposed the hon. Gentleman did not wish him to enlarge upon that. 745 The Act of Parliament was there, and it was the business of the Government to carry it out.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he thought it was well that the Government valuation of this inspection of ancient monuments should be pointed out. He found that the Superintendent of the supply of coal and firewood received £350 a-year. There was also a Superintendent for the supply of oil and candles, who also received a large amount. He did not altogether agree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), that those public monuments should be left to themselves, and not have that superintendence which was necessary to the preservation of these relics of magnificent antiquity; but he would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner whether the duties of the Inspector of public and antique monuments were confined solely to England; whether the duties of that gentleman might not take him to a portion of the Kingdom—namely, Ireland, where were found monuments of greater antiquity than even those found in England? He would certainly like the right hon. Gentleman to explain how it was that if these monuments were worthy of preservation at all, the man who was employed to look after them, and who should have some knowledge of the value of these monuments, and should be prepared to take measures for their preservation, was actually placed on a par with men who looked after the supplying of the Departments with coal and firewood, and candles and oil?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he should like to ask whether the Inspector of Ancient Monuments had made his Report?
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
said, that the day before yesterday certain new Rules were laid on the Table of the House for the regulation of Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. Difficulty had been experienced by those residing in the locality in getting Rules of this kind framed exactly as they desired to have them. They found it difficult to understand how far the new Rules varied from the Rules hitherto in operation. The old Rules were cancelled, and, so far as he could make 746 out, the alteration effected was merely a slight extension of the liberty given to cyclists for the use of the Park. He thought it was a good thing to extend the liberty of cyclists; indeed, he thought that liberty should be extended a little further, for anyone who knew Holyrood Park as well as he did must be aware that there could be no objection to giving cyclists the free use of it, so long as they did not hold races there. The people of Edinburgh desired that the freest use of the Park should be enjoyed by all classes of the community. In regard to cyclists, there were a great number of them in Edinburgh as well as in London, and they were to be seen streaming out of the town on Saturday afternoon in the enjoyment of healthy exercise. He was glad to see this, and therefore welcomed any change which would extend the privilege of this class. There was another question which he had already brought before the attention of the Government—namely, that of the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. Without going into detail, he might express a hope that the Office of Works had considered, and would consider, certain small alterations and regulations for those places that were best suited to the conditions of the locality. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works would not make the same Rules apply to the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh as were applied to Kew Gardens. Everybody who knew the Gardens in Edinburgh must be aware that they differed in their conditions very much from the Gardens near London. Referring again to the question of Holyrood. Park, he (Mr. Buchanan) would impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the desirability of issuing some statement as to the alterations effected whenever new Regulations were issued to supersede old ones.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works whether he would afford the Committee some information as to the particular duties which had to be performed by the Superintendent of Furniture, the Deputy Superintendent of Furniture, the Assistant Deputy Superintendent of Furniture, and other Assistant Deputies, the total salaries of whom amounted to £1,485 a-year. He found 747 that the Assistant Superintendent of Furniture also received an additional sum of £54 12s. a-year in lieu of a residence. Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to state what were the particular duties these officials had to discharge; and whether it was considered necessary that five or six men should be engaged in the inspection of the furniture of the various Government Offices? He would also like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the Committee what were the particular duties of the official who appeared in the Votes as Superintendent of the supplies of coals and firewood? This gentleman received a salary of £350 a-year, and it would be interesting to know whether his duty consisted simply in ordering coal and firewood for the Government Offices, or what else he was expected to do. The Committee were entitled to some information, especially with regard to the first question he had put—namely, the necessity for five men being employed in the inspection of furniture.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, he saw an item of £2,199 for draftsmen and technical assistants. The Vote was £1,800 last year, and he would like to have some reason for the increase.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he did not carry in his memory at that moment the particular circumstances which rendered necessary the increase in the Draftsmen's Department; but the hon. Member for East Finsbury (Mr. J. Rowlands) would see that in the other Departments they had been able to effect some reduction. That increases should occur from time to time in various branches of such an Office as the Board of Works was only to be expected, seeing that the amount of work generally fluctuated from time to time. With regard to the inquiry as to why there were several persons employed for the purpose of looking after furniture, it must be remembered that there were a great many Public Offices in London and different parts of the country where it was necessary to have inspections of furniture from time to time, in order to prevent extravagance and waste. When this subject was debated at an earlier period of the year, he had been able to show that by constant supervision and inspection the Government had reduced to a very small amount the expenditure of all the Public Offices on furniture. 748 He did not believe it would be possible to have the work of inspection as efficiently carried out as it was now if the staff of Inspectors were at all reduced. The present number of officials had been fixed upon after many consultations with the Treasury, and he could assure the hon. Member that it was the desire of the Government always to reduce to the lowest possible extent the number of officials employed. As to the question put by the hon. and learned Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan), the Rules referred to for the regulation of Holyrood Park had been altered very recently; and he (Mr. Plunket) was under the impression, as he thought the hon. Member would find, that the changes which had been made had been effected in order to give greater facilities to cyclists, and had met with the approval of the cyclists of Edinburgh generally. If the hon. and learned Member could suggest any changes, either in the interest of cyclists or in any detail which would make the Parks of Edinburgh more available for the public, he (Mr. Plunket) would be very glad to consider them. As to the ancient monuments, there could be no difficulty if it was desired to embody, in a Return to be laid upon the Table of the House, any information required as to the number of ancient monuments which from time to time had been brought under the operation of recent Acts. As had been truly stated, it was entirely a voluntary thing for anyone who possessed an ancient monument to have it scheduled under the Act. All the Inspector of Ancient Monuments could do was to go about the country persuading the owners of such monuments which he thought were valuable to place them under the Act. As to the matter referred to by the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), he (Mr. Plunket) thought the ancient monuments in Ireland were very well cared for under the present system, and it would be unnecessary to go into further details in that matter.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, they now knew very clearly what the Inspector of Ancient Monuments had to do. He went about the country imploring owners of ancient monuments to put those monuments in the Schedule of the Act. Well, it seemed to him (Mr. Labouchere) a monstrous thing to 749 make the charge which appeared in the Votes for such a ridiculous purpose. The hon. and learned Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) had drawn attention to the Rules and Regulations relating to Holyrood Park, and he (Mr. Labouchere) desired to call attention to the Rules and Regulations affecting Hyde Park. Hyde Park, as the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works knew, was now maintained at the public expense. Other Parks were maintained at the expense of London, but Hyde Park was a national charge. What did he find in connection with that Park, however? Why, that cabs were not allowed to go there, carriages alone being permitted to do so. The aristocracy—members of the upper classes, the privileged classes, people who had carriages—were allowed to use the roads in the Park, and they alone, whilst the sons of toil and others, who sometimes, perhaps, hired a cab to take a drive, were altogether excluded. Twenty years ago he (Mr. Labouchere) brought this subject before the House; it had not made much progress since then he admitted; hut, as some hon. Members might forget what he said on that occasion, he wished now to point out that there was no capital either in Europe or America where such a Regulation as that enforced in Hyde Park was maintained. Go to Paris, for instance. The Bois de Boulogne was open to cabs of all descriptions. So also, in the Vienna Parks and in New York, they found that cabs were permitted to drive through the Central Park; and it was only the fact that the classes were dominant in this country which enabled such a Rule to be maintained in connection with Hyde Park. He knew what the answer to this complaint was 20 years ago; it was that there was not room for cabs as well as carriages in the Parks, and that hundreds and thousands of people derived pleasure from going to look at the carriages of the wealthy classes. Well, he had a contempt for such people, and did not ask the House to legislate for them; but if he took a ride in a cab he desired to be permitted to go through Hyde Park if he thought proper. The people of the country paid for the Park, and they should be allowed to use it, as the people of all other cities in other parts of Europe were to use their Parks. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman, 750 who belonged to that Party which said so much about Tory Democracy, would endeavour to carry out the popular aspirations of the Conservative Party in this matter.
§ MR. CREMER
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had not even attempted to answer one of the questions he had put to him, and the answer which the right hon. Gentleman had given concerning the Superintendent and Assistant Inspectors of Furniture was by no means of a satisfactory character. He (Mr. Cremer) distinctly remembered the question being raised last year, and the right hon. Gentleman stating that there were certain workshops which the Government had provided for the repair of furniture; and when pressed to state where those workshops were, and how many men were engaged in them, it turned out that there were only something like 15 or 16 men employed in repairing the furniture for all the Government Offices. He (Mr. Cramer) could not help entering a protest against this item in the Votes, seeing that there were only a few tables and chairs repaired in the Government workshops which the right hon. Gentleman had referred to. Then the right hon. Gentleman had not replied to the question put to him as to the item for the Superintendent of the supply of coals and firewood. Would the right hon. Gentleman state what were the duties this official had to perform?
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, that naturally the duty of the "Superintendent of the Supplies of Coal and Firewood" was to superintend the supplies of coal and firewood; and if that was not clear to the hon. Member (Mr. Cremer), he (Mr. Plunket) did not know how he could make it clearer. If some official was not appointed to do this work, there would be any amount of extravagance and waste; and, as a result, a large amount of unnecessary public expenditure incurred. His own small experience, as a householder, was that there was nothing in which greater waste could occur than in coals and firewood, unless proper supervision were exercised over these outlays.
§ MR. CREMER
said, he should like to know why a man could not be engaged to perform this work at a less salary than £350 a-year? He thought the duties might be performed for something like half that amount.
§ DR. TANNER
said, that he had heard some suggestion from the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) just now, with which be entirely agreed. He (Dr. Tanner) contended that this question of maintaining Public Parks merely for privileged classes was one in which the people of London took an intelligent interest; and he should like to test the Metropolitan Members to see which way they would vote. He now proposed to take a Division on this question by moving the reduction of the Vote by £633. Everybody who had had the opportunity of visiting the capital cities of Europe would see, as the hon Member for Northampton had mentioned, that everywhere the public were admitted into the Parks in cabs. [A laugh.] The noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranborne) might laugh—no doubt he would laugh so long as these Parks were kept for the classes to which he belonged—but the noble Viscount would not laugh at the people of London when they protested against being deprived of the money they found for these Parks. He (Dr. Tanner) maintained that in this great Metropolis, where they had thousands of working people paying rates and taxes for the purpose of keeping up these Parks, to which they had themselves as much right as the noble Viscount; aye, or the noble Marquess, his father, the Head of Her Majesty's Government, it was desirable that no restrictions should be placed upon the public in the using of the Parks. He protested against the people being denied their just right and privilege. Such a thing was not done in any other State in the world—neither in Paris, which was the capital city of a Republican State, nor in New York, Berlin, or Vienna. Nowhere were there any exclusive rights allowed to the privileged classes. On the contrary, no man who had the right to live and had a desire to employ a public vehicle was deprived of his legitimate right to drive through any of the Public Parks which were maintained by the State. There were a great many Metropolitan Members—notably Conservative Members—who knew full well that the present Regulations in Hyde Park were a burning injustice. He thought a Division might very well be taken on this point; and he would, therefore, move to reduce the Vote by the net increase—namely, the 752 sum of £633, and he sincerely hoped that he should have the Members for the Metropolitan City with him.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £19,967, be granted for the said Service."—(Dr. Tanner.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, there was one road through a Park where even private carriages were excluded—namely, Constitution Hill, and yet this Park was kept up like other Parks. He believed that Privy Councillors and courtiers were allowed to drive along Constitution Hill; but he did not believe that Members of the House were permitted to do so. He was not sure, indeed, that all Privy Councillors were privileged unless they were favourites. Let the Committee observe the graduations. They had one Park through which private gentlemen in carriages were not allowed to drive; they had another Park through which private gentlemen were allowed to drive; but not members of the public in public conveyances. It was said there would be a great crowd in Hyde Park if cabs were allowed to drive through; but that could not be said of Constitution Hill. There was a fabric near Constitution Hill—very seldom inhabited—and it was for the sake of this, he presumed, that the absurd Regulations to which he referred were laid down. He could not conceive, however, that it would injure anyone living in that fabric, or anyone in the world, if the public were allowed to drive through Constitution Hill. Cabs at present went nearer to this sacred edifice than over Constitution Hill, for they passed immediately in front of Buckingham Palace. He had never been able to fathom the mysterious reason why only privileged persons were allowed to drive over Constitution Hill.
§ MR. W. A. M'ARTHUR (Cornwall, Mid., St. Austell)
said, he must urge the Government to answer the question as to what work was done by the Inspector of Coals and Firewood?
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he was not aware that the Parks were so conducted as to exclude poor people from their use. That was not his experience, and his experience of London was as wide as that of most people. He certainly thought that some of the Regulations 753 about cabs were stupid. Since a road had been thrown open through St. James's Park no difficulty in the way of crowding had been experienced, and the alteration in the Regulations had been of great convenience to the public. He would suggest, therefore, that similar facilities, where they had not been hitherto given, should be conferred on the public. However, he could not vote for this reduction upon the ground on which it had been moved. He had seen thousands of children of poor people lying on the ground in Hyde Park, and he would not give his sanction to a vote which would spread the notion that Members of the House of Commons believed that the poor were excluded from the use of the Park.
§ DR. TANNER
said, that he might, perhaps, be allowed to point out that whilst poor children were allowed to go into the Parks on foot in order to recruit their health, there were numbers of invalids who left the large Metropolitan hospitals, who, with the same object, would like to drive through the Parks in cabs, but were not permitted to do so. [Laughter.] That was no laughing matter. There were numbers of convalescents coming out of the large Metropolitan hospitals who, though unable to walk, could and most probably would take an airing in the Park if allowed to do so. These people could not employ carriages, as the charge would be too heavy for the luxury; and he could not see why a person who could only afford to pay 1s. should be deprived of the pleasure of driving through a Park maintained at the public expense. He failed to see why poor people should be deprived of the rights which the rich could enjoy. That was a burning question, and was one which would certainly be settled sooner or later. If the present House of Commons, which was eminently aristocratic in its constituents, did not settle the question now, thank goodness! the next General Election would rectify the evil.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
said, he was afraid he could not vote for the reduction, his reason being similar to that advanced by the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). He (Sir John Lubbock) should be glad, however, if the right hon. Gentleman 754 the First Commissioner of Works could give an undertaking to consider the matter. He certainly thought that if Constitution Hill were thrown open it would be a great convenience to the public. He would venture to express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman would take this matter into his favourable consideration before they came to discuss it another year.
§ MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)
said, he should like to add to what had fallen from the hon. Baronet the Member for London University (Sir John Lubbock) that even if the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works could not see his way to opening Constitution Hill for the whole of the year, he might, at least, do it while Her Majesty was out of town.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, he hoped the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) would go to a Division on this matter. There was a principle of justice and fair play at stake; and he (Mr. Illingworth), for his part, did not propose even to give a silent vote with regard to it. Furthermore, he objected to place the matter on the narrow ground put by his hon. Friend. The question was not whether people were ill or well; but it was whether the classes should be privileged as against the masses. If the Park would not enable large numbers of vehicles to be driven through it, let the classes suffer together with the masses. Why a distinction should be made by the Governing Body of this country between certain sections of the population he could not understand, especially as such an idea never entered into the mind of any Municipality of the country; and, if that were so, why should it enter into the mind of the Government? The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works had practically made no defence in this matter. They knew how this question had sat in the past. They had had great class distinctions recognized in days gone by; but now they had done away with those distinctions almost entirely, and he did not see why they should still be maintained in connection with the Parks, The time would certainly come when it would be absolutely necessary for the First Commissioner of Works to give an infinitely better reason than the right hon. Gentleman had given that evening, or had 755 given in the past, for the maintenance of this spirit of exclusion.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he could not vote for the Motion for the reduction of the Vote, as the effect of such a Regulation as that proposed would be to destroy the Park for amusement and recreation. If the Park were open for cabs, every cabman driving from Edgware Road to the South would take a short cut through the Park rather than go down Park Lane. He agreed, however, with what had been said with regard to Constitution Hill. Now that the road in front of Buckingham Palace had been opened and a great amount of traffic was allowed to go through the Park he thought the other part of the Park ought also to be thrown open. If they could get some sort of satisfactory answer from the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, perhaps it would be as well to divide the question, and to vote upon that part affecting Constitution Hill. He (Dr. Clark) should not be prepared to give his vote for the two objects the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) had in view, although he was prepared to support one.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he should like to remind the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works that there was an important Member of his own Party, whom he (Mr. Conybeare) did not see in the House that night—he meant the hon. Member for the Central Division of Sheffield (Mr. Howard Vincent)—who took great interest in this matter, and who, if he had been present, would have supported the Motion under consideration. So far as it related to the opening of Constitution Hill, the right hon. Gentleman to whom he referred had put Questions in the House upon the matter, and, in fact, had a Notice of Motion on the Order Book bearing upon it. He (Mr. Conybeare) had had the pleasure of conversing with the hon. Member with regard to it more than once; and the hon. Member had declared that his sympathy was not only with the opening of Constitution Hill, but with the removal of all the barriers to the public which aristocrats had put up from time to time in various parts of London. He (Mr. Conybeare) would support this hon. Member in his view in trying to break down all those barriers, 756 which were a great hindrance to traffic. He agreed with those who brought this matter forward on the broad general principle that all classes who had to pay for the Parks should be allowed to use them. He failed to see why they should set up upon a pedestal those who were wealthy or aristocratic enough to keep their own gigs. He would now ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works to do what he could to enlighten him on one or two points on which he desired information. In the first place, he should like to have some information as to the item for the inspection of ancient monuments. ["Oh, oh!"] He was told that during his unavoidable absence his hon. Friend the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had gone into that question. He (Mr. Conybeare) would not repeat what had been said, but would merely ask for a little information as to why they had five different Superintendents and Deputy Superintendents of Furniture. ["Oh, oh!"] Oh! he understood that probably a most satisfactory explanation had been given on that point also; therefore he would content himself by looking into the reports of the proceedings of the House in to-morrow's newspapers. There was one point, however, which he believed had not been touched upon, and that was the Architects' Office. He desired to know whether the promise the right hon. Gentleman had given as to the adoption of better Regulations for governing the admission of working men and others into the Architects' or Building Department of the Board of Works had been carried out since the last occasion the subject was discussed? No doubt the right hon. Gentleman recollected the circumstance and the particulars of the case to which he (Mr. Conybeare) referred. He only wished to be satisfied that the representations which he had made on a previous occasion had had some effect.
§ DR. TANNER
said, he did not wish to divide the Committee on the question of the rights of the public so far as Constitution Hill was concerned. He wished rather to divide on the broader issue of the rights of all classes of spring vehicles for the carriage of passengers to use Hyde Park. He should like hon. Members to divide upon that question in a serious spirit, and to take the 757 matter up as one of the rights of the masses, and not of the classes. He should like the Committee to say whether it was going to continue the privilege to certain classes in the use of Hyde Park which was not allowed to the classes in any other capital in the world? He trusted that hon. Members would divide upon that issue alone, leaving Constitution Hill altogether out of the question. It was not a question of traffic, but was a question as to whether people paying money for the maintenance of one of these Public Parks were to be allowed the right to drive through it or not. That, and that only, was the issue he wished to put before the Committee in the Division he was about to take.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would explain what this Vote really was. The hon. Member for Caithness (Dr. Clark) said he would hesitate to vote for the reduction of the Vote, because if cabs were allowed to drive through Hyde Park, there would be such a rush that the Park would be destroyed for the purposes of amusement and recreation. As a matter of fact, however, cabs were allowed to drive through the Park along one particular road at present; and there was not found to be any rush, or crush, or interference with the recreation of the public. His hon. Colleague (Mr. Bradlaugh) had declared that he would not vote for the proposed reduction, because he did not wish to interfere with the children who played on the grass. Well, nobody wanted to drive on the grass. They wanted the children to play on the grass, but they desired also that the parents should be allowed to drive in cabs and look at the children playing on the grass. They supported this Motion for the reduction of the Vote on the general principle that anyone who could hire a vehicle should have a right to drive in it along any road in Hyde Park. With regard to Constitution Hill, who were allowed to drive in it at the present moment? Probably they had all heard the story of what had occurred in the Reign of George III., when a gentleman asked the King if he might be permitted to drive through Constitution Hill. His Majesty replied that he could not allow that, but he would make him an Irish Peer; and no doubt the descendants of Noblemen who had entered the Peerage 758 in that way were now occupying seats in "another place." Was it still the fact that it was easier to make an Irish Peer than to grant permission to use Constitution Hill? He (Mr. Labouchere) desired to know who were allowed to use the Hill; and why those who were not allowed to use it were debarred the privilege?
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he was not so conversant with the difficulties in the way of obtaining an Irish Peerage as the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) seemed to be; therefore he could not place against that difficulty the difficulty of obtaining the right to drive through Constitution Hill. He hoped the hon. Member, for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) would not take up the time of the Committee by a Division on this subject. He (Mr. Plunket) would, however, explain how the matter stood. There was no distinction made between any section of the public in the permission granted for the use of any of the Public Parks which were maintained by the general taxpayer. The only part of Hyde Park where there was any necessity for permitting public vehicles to be driven was on the road which ran through the Park from north to south, and there vehicles of all classes were allowed to go. There was only a very small part of that Park where restrictions were enforced, and it was obvious that it would be impossible to maintain that drive, which he believed was full of interest and conferred great enjoyment on those who went in large numbers on foot to see the carriages, as it ought to be maintained if all kinds of vehicles were allowed to pass there. In spite of all the magnificent talk they had heard about the masses and the classes, and the sons of toil, he believed that if it were put to the public generally whether or not the Park should be thrown open entirely to all sorts of vehicles there would be a great outcry raised against the proposal made by the hon. Gentleman opposite. The enjoyment of the great majority would be seriously interfered with by its adoption.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 163: Majority 119.—(Div. List, No. 281.)
§ Original Question again proposed.759
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, the Committee had not yet had an answer to the two questions raised; and, seeing the manner in which the Committee had been reinforced, it might be well to raise the subject again, in the hope of getting some sort of assurance as to what should be done in reference to Constitution Hill, and a promise of the removal of the restrictions to the use of that thoroughfare.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £5,000, 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, in Aid of the Mercantile Marine Fund.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, this Office was now being revised, and he would suggest the desirability of transferring all the control to the Board of Trade. At the present time one portion of the fund was in the hands of the Board of Trade, and the other portion it was difficult to say where. The Treasury said they were not responsible for the spending of this money and all Members could do was——
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.